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Sun Turned Into Darkness

The Dark Day
Key Text
"Immediately after

the tribulation

of those days shall the sun be darkened." Matthew 24:29
Twenty-five years after the

Great Earthquake

appeared the next sign mentioned in

Revelation

6:12,--the darkening of the sun and moon. What rendered this more striking was the fact that the time of its fulfillment had been definitely pointed out. In the

Saviour

's conversation with his

disciples

upon

Olivet

, after describing the long period of trial for the church--the

1260 years

of

papal persecution

, concerning which he had promised that the

tribulation

should be shortened--he thus mentioned certain events to precede his coming, and fixed the time when the first of these should be witnessed: "In those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light." Mark 13:24. The 1260 days, or years, terminated in

1798

. A quarter of a century earlier,

persecution

had almost wholly ceased. Between these two dates, according to the words of

Christ

, the sun was to be darkened.

On the 19th of May, 1780, this prophecy was fulfilled. It was not an eclipse. Timothy Dwight says, "The 19th of May, 1780, was a remarkable dark day. Candles were lighted in many houses; the birds were silent and disappeared, and the fowls retired to roost. ... A very general opinion prevailed, that the

day of judgment

was at hand." Quoted in Connecticut Historical Collections, compiled by John Warner Barber (2nd ed.; New Haven: Durrie & Peck and J.W. Barber, 1836) p. 403. For further commentary on this event please continue reading.

The Dark Day
"Almost if not altogether alone as the most

mysterious

and as yet unexplained phenomenon of its kind, . . . stands

the dark day

of

May 19, 1780

,--a most unaccountable darkening of the whole visible heavens and atmosphere in

New England

." That the darkness was not due to an eclipse is evident from the fact that the moon was then nearly full. It was not caused by clouds, or the thickness of the atmosphere, for in some localities where the darkness extended, the sky was so clear that the stars could be seen. Concerning the inability of science to assign a satisfactory cause for this manifestation, Herschel the

astronomer

declares: "The dark day in North

America

was one of those wonderful phenomena of nature which philosophy is at a loss to explain."

"The extent of the darkness was also very remarkable. It was observed at the most easterly regions of New England; westward, to the farthest part of Connecticut, and at Albany, N. Y.; to the southward, it was observed all along the sea coast; and to the north, as far as the American settlements extended. It probably far exceeded those boundaries, but the exact limits were never positively known. With regard to its duration, it continued in the neighborhood of Boston for at least fourteen or fifteen hours."

"The morning was clear and pleasant, but about eight o'clock there was observed an uncommon appearance in the sun. There were no clouds, but the air was thick, having a smoky appearance, and the sun shone with a pale, yellowish hue, but kept growing darker and darker, until it was hid from sight." There was "

midnight

darkness at noonday."

"The occurrence brought intense alarm and distress to multitudes of minds, as well as dismay to the whole brute creation, the fowls fleeing bewildered to their roosts, and the birds to their nests, and the cattle returning to their stalls." Frogs and night hawks began their notes. The cocks crew as at daybreak. Farmers were forced to leave their work in the fields. Business was generally suspended, and candles were lighted in the dwellings. "The Legislature of Connecticut was in session at Hartford, but being unable to transact business adjourned. Everything bore the appearance and gloom of night."

The intense darkness of the day was succeeded, an hour or two before evening, by a partially clear sky, and the sun appeared, though it was still obscured by the black, heavy mist. But "this interval was followed by a return of the obscuration with greater density, that rendered the first half of the night hideously dark beyond all former experience of the probable million of people who saw it. From soon after sunset until midnight, no ray of light from moon or star penetrated the vault above. It was pronounced 'the

blackness of darkness

!'" Said an eye-witness of the scene: "I could not help conceiving, at the time, that if every luminous body in the universe had been shrouded in

impenetrable darkness

, or struck out of existence,

the darkness

could not have been more complete." Though the moon that night rose to the full, "it had not the least effect to dispel the death-like

shadows

." After midnight the

darkness

disappeared, and the moon, when first visible, had the appearance of

blood

.

The poet Whittier thus speaks of this memorable day:--

"'Twas on a May-day of the far old year
Seventeen hundred eighty, that there fell
Over the bloom and sweet life of the spring,
Over the fresh earth, and the heaven of noon,
A horror of great darkness."
"Men prayed, and women wept; all ears grew sharp
To hear the doom-blast of the trumpet shatter
The black sky."

May 19, 1780, stands in history as "The Dark Day." Since the time of

Moses

, no period of darkness of equal density, extent, and duration has ever been recorded. The description of this event, as given by the poet and the historian, is but an echo of the words of the Lord, recorded by

the prophet Joel

, twenty-five hundred years previous to their fulfillment: "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come." Joel 2:31.

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