THE SEVENTH MONTH MOVEMENT--DISAPPOINTMENT--THE NOBLEMAN AND HIS SERVANTS--NEED OF PATIENCE--CONFERENCE AT LOW HAMPTON--ETC.
"For a few months previous to this time, the attention of some had been directed to the tenth day of the seventh month of the current Jewish year, as the probable termination of several prophetic periods. This was not generally received with favor by those who sympathized with Mr. Miller, till a few weeks previous to the time designated, which, on that year, following the reckoning of the Caraite Jews, fell on the 22d day of October. Mr. Miller had, a year and a half previous, called attention to the seventh month(1) as an important one in the Jewish dispensation; but as late as the date of his last letter (September 30, 1844,) he had discountenanced the positiveness with which some were then regarding it. On the 6th of October he was first led to favor the expectation which pointed to that month, and thus wrote: 'If Christ does not come within twenty or twenty-five days, I shall feel twice the disappointment I did in the spring.'
"About the same time, also, the belief in the given day was generally received. There were exceptions, but it is the duty of the impartial historian to record the fact that those who had embraced the views of Mr. Miller did, with great unanimity, heartily and honestly believe that on a given day they should behold the coming of the King of glory.
"The world cannot understand how that could be; and many who professed the name of Christ, have spoken contemptuously of such an expectation. But those who in sincerity love the Saviour, can never feel the least emotion of contempt for such a hope. The effect on those entertaining this belief is thus described by Mr. Miller, in a letter dated October 11, 1844:--
"'I think I have never seen among our brethren such faith as is manifested in the seventh month. "He will come," is the common expression. "He will not tarry the second time," is their general reply. There is a forsaking of the world, an unconcern for the wants of life, a general searching of heart, confession of sin, and a deep feeling in prayer for Christ to come. A preparation of heart to meet him seems to be the labor of their agonizing spirits. There is something in this present waking up different from anything I have ever before seen. There is no great expression of joy: that is, as it were, suppressed for a future occasion, when all Heaven and earth will rejoice together with joy unspeakable and full of glory. There is no shouting; that, too, is reserved for the shout from Heaven. The singers are silent: they are waiting to join the angelic hosts, the choir from Heaven. No arguments are used or needed: all seem convinced that they have the truth. There is no clashing of sentiments: all are of one heart and of one mind. Our meetings are all occupied with prayer, and exhortation to love and obedience. The general expression is, "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him." Amen. Even so come, Lord Jesus.
"The natural heart would be unable to realize that any emotion, but that of fear and dread, could fill the minds of those thus believing. But when the secrets of the great day shall be made known, it will be seen that the coming of Christ was ardently desired by them, and that their hearts were filled with a holy joy, while they were subdued by awe, as standing in the presence of the Governor of the universe. The state of mind thus produced was a great moral spectacle, upon which those who participated in it will ever look back with pleasure, and without regret.
"The time immediately preceding the 22d of October was one of great calmness of mind and of pleasurable expectation on the part of those who regarded that point of time with interest. There was a nearness of approach to God, and a sweetness of communion with him, to which those who experienced it will ever recur with pleasure. During the last ten days, secular business was, for the most part, suspended; and those who looked for the advent gave themselves to the work of preparation for that event, as they would for death, were they on a bed of sickness expecting soon to close their eyes on earthly scenes forever.
"There were some cases of extravagance, as there have been in all great movements; and it would have been strange had there not been. But the published accounts of these were greatly exaggerated, and hundreds of reports had no foundation in fact. All reports respecting the preparation of ascension robes, &c., and which are still by many believed, were demonstrated over and over again to be false and scandalous. In the investigation of the truth of such, no labor and expense was spared; and it became morally certain that no instance of the kind anywhere occurred.
"The most culpable incident, which had any foundation in fact, was in Philadelphia. In opposition to the earnest expostulations of Mr. Litch and other judicious persons, a company of about one hundred and fifty, responding to the pretended vision of one C. R. Georgas, on the 21st of October went out on the Darby-street road, about four miles from Market-street bridge, and encamped in a field under two large tents, provided with all needed comforts. The next morning, their faith in Georgas' vision having failed, all but about a dozen returned to the city. A few days later the others returned. That was an act the report of which was greatly exaggerated. It met the emphatic disapproval of Mr. Miller and the Adventists generally, and its folly was promptly confessed by the majority of those who participated in it.
"The day passed, and the expectation of the advent at that time was proved to be premature. The friends were at first quite saddened, but were not disheartened by the passing of the time. This was the only specific day which was regarded by intelligent Adventists with any positiveness. There were other days named by those whose opinions were received with no favor; but their unauthorized declarations should not be imputed to the body.
"The fact that many suspended their business for a few days was censured by opponents; but it was only acting consistently with their faith, opponents being judges. Dr. Dowling, a celebrated Baptist clergyman in New York city, in a review of Mr. Miller, used this strong language:--
"'Were this doctrine of Mr. Miller established upon evidence satisfactory to my own mind, I would not rest till I had published in the streets, and proclaimed in the ears of my fellow-townsmen, and especially of my beloved flock, "The day of the Lord is at hand! Build no more houses! Plant no more fields and gardens! Forsake your shops and farms, and all secular pursuits, and give every moment to preparation for this great event! for in three short years this earth shall be burnt up, and Christ shall come in the clouds, awake the sleeping dead, and call the living before his dread tribunal."'
"In the first communication received from Mr. Miller after this time, he wrote from Low Hampton, Nov. 10, 1844:--
"'DEAR BRO. HIMES:--I have been waiting and looking for the blessed hope, and in expectation of realizing the glorious things which God has spoken of Zion. Yes, and although I have been twice disappointed, I am not yet cast down or discouraged. God has been with me in Spirit, and has comforted me. I have now much more evidence that I do believe in God's word; and although surrounded with enemies and scoffers, yet my mind is perfectly calm, and my hope in the coming of Christ is as strong as ever. I have done only what after years of sober consideration I felt it to be my solemn duty to do. If I have erred, it has been on the side of charity, the love of my fellow-man, and my conviction of duty to God. I could not see that I should harm my fellow-men, even supposing the event should not take place at the time specified, for it is a command of our Saviour to look for it, watch, expect it, and be ready. Then if I could by any means, in accordance with God's word, persuade men to believe in a crucified, risen, and coming Saviour, I felt it would have a bearing on the everlasting welfare and happiness of such. I had not a distant thought of disturbing our churches, ministers, religious editors, or departing from the best biblical commentaries or rules which had been recommended for the study of the Scriptures. And even to this day, my opposers have not been able to show where I have departed from any rule laid down by our old standard writers of the Protestant faith. I have only interpreted Scripture in accordance with their rules, as I honestly believed. And not one honest man, who understands this question, will deny this assertion of mine. But that, over which I could have no control, transpired to produce on the public mind an unhappy effect.
"'The public excitement commenced some six years ago. Although I had been proclaiming the Second Advent for six years before, there was not one of our churches that I visited but what acknowledged the happy effects of the doctrine; and many were hopefully converted, who united themselves with the several sects as their own judgment dictated. In 1839 and 1840, the opposition to the doctrine began to rage, united with ridicule and misrepresentation. The Universalists commenced the contest, and were followed by every sect in our country. Then the brethren who loved the appearing of our Saviour, found themselves among opposers. And instead of meeting sound argument and light among their former brethren, they were almost universally met with scoffing, ridicule, and misrepresentation. Odious names and cruel epithets were applied to us; and in many cases our motives were impugned, and a war of extermination was commenced against the Advent faith. Many of our brethren caught a measure of this spirit, and began to defend themselves in like manner, against the attacks of the several sects. The name of "Babylon," and I am sorry to say it, was applied to all of our churches without any discrimination, although in too many instances it was not unjustly applied. We were thus placed at the time we expected our deliverance; and if Christ had come and found us in this condition, who would have been ready, purified, and made white? But the time passed, and the Adventists were humbled; and thus we see that our God was wise and good, in the tarrying of the vision, to humble, purify, and prepare us for an admittance into his blessed kingdom.
"'I would now beg and pray, my brethren, that we may humble ourselves, avoid disputes, and enter into our chambers, and hide ourselves for a little while until the danger is over. Hold no unnecessary controversy with the despisers of our blessed hope, let us separate ourselves from them in very deed. We have thus far done all we could--and now is the time of their triumph, but it will be short. I am determined by the grace of God to follow this rule. God will fight our battles for us, and in due time we shall see who is the only Potentate. Now let patience have its perfect work. Our duty now is to comfort one another with these words, strengthen those that are weak among us, comfort the feeble, establish the wavering, raise up the bowed down, speak often one to another, and forsake not the assembling of ourselves together; let our conversation be in Heaven from whence we look for the Saviour, for the time has now come for us to live by faith, a faith that is tried like gold seven times purified. Let us hold fast our profession without wrath or doubting, for he is faithful who has promised, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Let us be careful that we become not overcharged with the things of this world, and so that day come upon us unawares; but know, brethren, that the day will not come upon you as a thief; you will see and know the sign of the Son of man.
"'I would advise you, Bro. Himes, to continue publishing your papers in Boston and New York. We must have a medium of communication with one another, so that amid the moral darkness which has shrouded the people on the prophecies, we may have light in all our dwellings. This cannot be far from the time. I feel confident that God will justify his word, and the time which we have preached; for we cannot have varied far from the truth in our own views of the seven times, the 2300 days, the 1335 days, the trumpets, &c.
"'Brethren, hold fast; let no man take your crown. I have fixed my mind upon another time, and here I mean to stand until God gives me more light--and that is To-day, TO-DAY, and TO-DAY, until he comes, and I see HIM for whom my soul yearns. Permit me to illustrate by parable.
"'A certain nobleman about taking a long journey, called together his servants, gave instructions to every one respecting their work, and commanded them to be faithful in their several occupations; and at his return, he would reward every one as his work should be. He also informed them how many days he should be absent; but the time of night when he should return, he did not make known; yet, if they would watch, they should know when he was near, even at the door. And he informed them how they might know. They would first see the lights of his carriage in the distance, and they would hear the rumbling of his carriage wheels, and go out to meet him, and open the portal gates for him immediately. Whether he should come in the first, second, third, or fourth watch, he would not then inform them; but commanded them to watch. After he was gone, many of the servants began to neglect their master's business, and to form plans for their own amusement. Thus engaged, the days appointed for their master's return were forgotten. The giddy whirl of dissipation had filled their mind, and time passed rapidly along; and the days were nearly run out when some of the servants discovered in the steward's book the number of days recorded when their master should return. This was immediately read in the hearing of the servants, and created no small excitement among them. Some said the time was not revealed, because the master said the watch was not known. Others said the master would never return, he would send his principal servant, and then they would have a feasting time to their own liking.
"'Thus they were wrangling and disputing until the days, according to the best reckoning they could make, had run out, and the night came, in which some of them expected him. The porter, and a few others determined to watch, while the remainder of the servants were feasting and drinking. The porter and his companions kept a good lookout; for, at the first watch, they expected their master. They thought they saw the light and heard the rumbling of the wheels. They ran among the servants, and cried, "Behold, the master cometh." This caused no small stir among them, and many made preparation for their master's return. But it proved to be a false alarm. Then those servants ridiculed the porter and his friends for their fears as they called it, and returned to their feasting again. But the porter and his friends were still vigilant until the second watch, when they were again disappointed, and the servants were more vexed than ever. They now scoffed, and mocked, and then turned some of them out of doors. Again they waited for the third watch, and again they were disappointed. Now the majority of the servants, being more angry than ever, beat and bruised the porter and his friends, and turned them all out of the house, locked the doors, and laid themselves down to sleep. At the fourth watch the master came, and found the porter and a few of his companions watching. The doors were barred and the remainder of the servants were asleep.
"'Now let me ask, Will the master condemn the porter and his friends for making three false alarms? Will he punish them for disturbing their carousing brethren? Which of these two classes of servants will have shown the most love for their master? Let every one answer to himself these questions, and decide his own case justly. Our former brethren say they watch, but do not expect him.
"'Bro. Himes, give us the signification of the word WATCH. Yours as ever, looking, &c.
Again Mr. Miller wrote on the 18th of November from Low Hampton:--
"'DEAR BRO. HIMES: Be patient, establish your heart, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. For you have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while and he that shall come will come and will not tarry. This is the time for patience, it is the last trial the dear Second Advent brethren are to experience. For this will carry us to the coming of the Lord. "Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord." James 5:7. This is the way God will sanctify his host. Now there will be a great falling away, for the want of this grace, patience. But all that endure this last trial unto the end, the same shall be saved. 2 Pet. 1:4-11. As our father Abraham did, who hoped against hope, and so after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. It is evident as the sun at noon that we are in this time of patience. We have done the will of God in this thing. We have written the vision and made it plain, we have run all our published time out, and the world say that "every vision faileth," and therefore we have now need of patience, to wait unto the coming of the Holy One. Then let us have patience, and exercise it; for we can see, this trial will bring joy and the hope of glory. Rom. 5:2-5. "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." James 1:12. Hearken, then, my brother, is not the trial of our faith more precious than gold? and shall we not stand in this last trial of our faith by patience? "For whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus." Rom. 15:4, 5. Then whatever was written, was for our example who live in this our last day; let us then through patience have hope. "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Titus 2:13.
"'We have done our work in warning sinners, and in trying to awake a formal church. God, in his providence, has shut the door;(2) we can only stir one another up to be patient, and be diligent to make our calling and election sure. We are now living in the time specified by Malachi 3:18; also Daniel 12:10; Rev. 22:10-12. In this passage we cannot help but see that, a little while before Christ should come, there would be a separation between the just and unjust, the righteous and wicked, between those who love his appearing and those who hate it. And never since the days of the apostles has there been such a division line drawn as was drawn about the 10th or 23d day of the 7th Jewish month. Since that time, they say, "they have no confidence in us."
"'We have need of patience after we have done the will of God, that we may receive the promise; for he says, "Behold, I come quickly, to reward every one as his work shall be." You may inquire, how long quickly means. The falsehearted professor will tell you it may mean ages upon ages yet to come; but the real lover of Christ will hope it is near. Christ has told us how near. Matt. 24:32, 33. Again, the apostle James has told us that we are to have patience, for it is nigh. He then tells us that the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. How long then does the husbandman wait? The former rains, in Judea, fell after the autumnal equinox, at their seed time, to quicken the grain; and the latter rains, after the vernal equinox, to insure a plentiful crop. [Carpenter's Introduction, p. 334.] "Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." How nigh? It cannot be seen by the reading of the passage, that we are to be in this patient waiting for his coming, after we have done the will of God, sown the seed, given the midnight cry, longer; and it may be much less than the husbandman waited. Therefore let us stablish our hearts, be determined to go forward, let us not look back, "Remember Lot's wife."
"'I think the event for which we look cannot be afar off. I know of no rule by which we can fix on any day or hour. But Christ tells us we may know when it is near even at the door. James 5:9, tells us, when this time of patient waiting comes, then, "Behold, the Judge standeth before the door." I feel as confident as ever that God will justify us in fixing the year. And I believe as firmly that this Jewish year will not terminate before this wicked and corrupted earth's history will all be told. The amount of scoffing and mocking at the present time is beyond any calculation. We can hardly pass a man, professor or non-professor, but what he scoffingly inquires, "You have not gone up," or "God cannot burn the world," &c., ridiculing the Bible itself, and blaspheming the word and power of God. And yet ministers and moral editors wink at it. And some of them are performing the same, to the no small joy of the most depraved characters in the community.
"'If this is not a sign of the last day, we are sure never to see fulfilled 2 Pet. 3:3, 4, "Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation;" nor Jude 18, "How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts." I pity the inhabitants who may live in an age of the world that is worse than this. I cannot believe this earth will ever again be so cursed. Where are our moral judges and rulers? Has virtue fled from the earth? and is there no fear of God in all the land?
"'Come, Lord Jesus, oh! come quickly, or we shall be as when God overthrew the cities of the plain, like unto Sodom and Gomorrah. Where are the watchmen upon the walls of Zion? Can the sign of Peter and Jude be fulfilled before their eyes, and they not see it? Do they not know that one sign plainly fulfilled is proof enough? for God is not man that he should lie, nor is like unto the sons of men that he should be mistaken. I would beg to know what could be called scoffing and mocking, if the conduct of all classes of men opposing the Second Advent doctrine is not. Paul tells us, 1 Thess. 4:17, "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord." And some are tauntingly inquiring, "Have you not gone up?" Even little children in the streets are shouting continually to passers-by, "Have you a ticket to go up?" The public prints, of the most fashionable and popular kind, in the great Sodoms of our country, are caricaturing in the most shameful manner the "white robes of the saints," Rev. 6:11, the "going up," and the great day of "burning." Even the pulpits are desecrated by the repetition of scandalous and false reports concerning the "ascension robes," and priests are using their powers and pens to fill the catalogue of scoffing in the most scandalous periodicals of the day. England and France, with their sinks of pollution, London and Paris, cannot, will not, and dare not, compete with our Boston, New York, or Philadelphia, in scoffing. If these will not open the eyes of our good men in these cities, then I shall believe there is none there. And at any rate, the world must and will be burned up, and few men left. Adieu, my brother, I am patiently waiting for my King, &c.
On the 29th of November he wrote to Eld. I. E. Jones, which appears in the Advent Herald for Dec. 25, 1844:--
"'DEAR BRO. JONES.--Yours of the 23d inst. was received yesterday, and I am now seated to answer it. The disappointment which we have experienced, in my opinion, could never have been foreseen or avoided, and we have been honest men and believed in the truth of the Bible. I have had time a few weeks past to review the whole subject, and with all the aid of Stuart, Chase, Weeks, Bush, and the whole school of modern writers, I cannot see why we are not right. And even by taking the whole together, instead of disproving the position we have taken, as it respects prophecy, they confirm me in my views. But, say you, time has shown we are wrong. I am not so certain of that. Suppose Christ should come before this year of Jewish time should expire. Then every honest man would say we were right. But if the world does stand two, or even three, years more, it would not in the least alter the manner of the prophecy, but would affect the time. One thing I do know, I have preached nothing but what I believed, and God's hand has been with me, his power has been manifested in the work, and much good has been effected; for people have read the Bible for themselves, and no one can honestly say that they have been deceived by me. My advice has always been for every one to study the evidences of their faith for themselves.
"'Again, I can see no object that Satan could have in publishing a doctrine which his own subjects would so generally oppose. No one can possibly plead that those who have excited the mobs, or the mobs themselves who have committed violence, were obeying the example or spirit of Christ. This would be blasphemy in the highest sense. Very well; then Satan would be opposing Satan, but on the part of the Adventists, Satan would be a non-resistant. Can this be true? If it is, then I have no rule by which to judge where the Spirit of Christ may be known. To tell us that those who have headed the most violent mobs in our country were performing the will of God, is an insult to common sense. Yet in no case have the nominal churches dealt with their brethren for such an offense.
"'It cannot be that we are deceived. That Christ will come and justify us yet I will not doubt. Our meetings are like yours, sweet and heavenly refreshings from the presence and Spirit of God, with no wicked to molest us; they have left us entirely. For some time in October they crowded our house night and day; but now "there is room enough." The trap is laid for them, they appear to know that Christ will never come. They that were crying for mercy a few days since, are now scoffing and mocking us, and ridiculing each others' fears. Even some old professors are worse than the world. Have not such individuals sinned against the Holy Ghost? And when they say, Peace and safety, will not sudden destruction overtake them? While the wicked were thus expecting him, how could the Scriptures have been all fulfilled if he had come? They could not. But now they are ready for the snare, and out of their own mouths will God judge them; for they well knew they were unprepared, and the way they knew, or why were they so anxious for mercy? But when the danger was past, all of their preparation was over.
"'I feel confident that we shall see very serious times. We shall need much patience. And this peculiar grace will last us through, "unto the coming of the LORD." I am almost certain we shall not need patience longer than the farmer waits for the precious fruits of the earth, and hath long patience for it until he receive the early and latter rain. But I will try to be patient. James 5:7-11. To whom did the apostle address himself in his exhortation? To what age of the church? To that age where the coming of the Lord draweth nigh, and the Judge standeth at the door. Why did he caution them to be patient? Because he supposed they would be impatient to have the Lord come. Is there any sign among our nominal churches and sects, that they are impatient for Christ to come? No, evidently it is the reverse; they desire him not to come. Then if the Judge standeth at the door, are they not James' brethren? No. Will you tell me who are James' brethren in this age? They are those who are converted from Judaism and scattered. Chap. 1:1-4. They ask wisdom of God, in faith, not wavering. Verses 5 and 6. The poor among them are exalted, and the rich are made low. Verses 9 and 10. They endure temptation without wavering, and after their trial are blessed with a crown of life. Verse 12. They are begotten of God with his work of truth, and doers as well as hearers of the word. Verses 18-22. They have forsaken creeds, and look and continue in the law of liberty. Verse 25. They visit the afflicted and have no fellowship with the world. Verse 27.
"'They must not countenance nor support war, for that cometh from lust. Chap. 4:1-3. They must not have respect to the rich, and despise the poor; for that is judging unrighteously. Chap. 2:1-10. They must show their faith by their works, and have no boasting where their works are not made manifest. Verses 14-26. They must not strive to be masters or rulers of their brethren, and have but few D. Ds. or A. Ms. among them. James 3:1-12. They must have no envying or striving against the truth, and be possessed of that wisdom which cometh down from above. Verses 13-18. They are to humble themselves and speak no evil of the brethren. Chap. 4:10-17. They are to cry unto the Lord in their afflictions and persecutions and make no resistance. Chap. 5:4-6. They will stablish their hearts in faith by patience, and grieve not the brethren. Verses 7-9. They will take the prophets for their example, and remember that the end of Job's trials from the Lord was his patience. Verses 10 and 11. They will not swear nor take any oath. Verse 12. If afflicted, they will pray; if merry, sing; if they are sick, call for the elders to pray, and if they sin, confess their faults; and if others sin, restore if possible. Verses 13-20.
"'And now, my brother, if you can find such a band, they are the apostle's brethren. Say to such, "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord, be ye also patient; stablish your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." Read this to all the holy brethren; for it is the best and only advice I can give them; and tell them I request their prayers, that I may follow the same advice; for their prayers are better to me than the world's love, and much more to be desired than a good name from those who hate my King. I ask no favors of Caesar's household, but that I may enjoy in peace my blessed hope. I have never courted the smiles of the proud, nor quailed when the world frowned. I shall not now purchase their favor; nor shall I go beyond duty to tempt their hate. I shall never seek my life at their hands; nor shrink, I hope, from losing it, if God in his good providence so orders. I thank God for your steadfastness in the truth, and pray him that you may endure unto the end. I remain as ever looking for, and expecting the King in his glory soon. WM. MILLER.'
Again Mr. Miller writes for the Herald, Dec. 3, 1844:--
"'DEAR BRN. HIMES AND BLISS.--I cannot sit down to write without the reflection that this letter may never reach its destination. Yet I believe in occupying until Christ shall come. Therefore, I still feel it to be my duty to occasionally drop you a line, to let you know how my soul prospers, and how my faith holds out. As it respects the soul, I have never enjoyed more calmness of mind, nor more resignation to the holy will of God, and patience of spirit, than I have within a few weeks past. My soul, I think, is stayed on God and I enjoy peace like a river. For years past I have often had a spirit of impatience for Christ to come, and I have felt grieved in soul because I found in my heart so much of what I called a spirit of fretfulness and a mind full of impatience. But I bless God I have had but little of that recently. I have had great reason to thank God for his abundant goodness in this respect. My faith is stronger than ever; and this is somewhat remarkable, when I reflect on the disappointment I have met in my former expectations. But here, too, I see the good hand of God in my strength of faith.
"'I have read with much interest and great satisfaction your "Address to the Adventists." And I am perfectly satisfied it is the right ground for you to take. I believe the ground we have formerly stood upon, as it regards the chronology of prophecy, is the only ground we can take; and if the defect is in human chronology, then no human knowledge is sufficient in this age to rectify it, with any degree of certainty; and I see no good that can be accomplished by taking a stand for any future period, with less evidence than we had for 1843-4. For those who would not believe, with the evidence we then produced, we cannot expect will now believe with much less testimony.
"'Again it is to me almost a demonstration that God's hand is seen in this thing. Many thousands, to all human appearance, have been made to study the Scriptures by the preaching of the time; and by that means, through faith and the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, have been reconciled to God. And those of us who have been familiar with the fruits and effects of the preaching of this doctrine, must acknowledge that he has been with us in so doing, and his wisdom has in a great measure marked out our path, which he has devised for such good as he will accomplish in his own time and manner; as in the case of Ninevah by the preaching of Jonah. If this should be the real state of the case, and we should go on to set other times in the future, we might possibly be found frustrating, or trying to, at least, the purposes of God, and receive no blessing. I think my brethren will all admit that God has been in the work, and he has tried our faith in the best possible manner. The vision has been made plain on tables. We have had a tarrying time. And now we are having our time of patience unto the coming of the Lord. Then I say, Let patience have its perfect work. I have great hope, and a good confidence. I think I may safely say that the Lord will make his appearance yet before this Jewish year shall terminate. And if so, and we should be looking for years to come, we should not do well. Therefore, the only safe measure for me to pursue, under the best light I can now get, is to keep what light I have burning, and look and expect him every day until he comes. This is my present position, and the greatest danger which those are in who take this position, will be the loss of patience and a neglect of watching and prayer. To remedy this, I would advise that we keep ourselves as much as possible from worldly associations, vain and trifling conversation, wrangling or disputing on any subject; and when we do hold conversation, let it be with those whose conversation is in Heaven, from whence we look for the Saviour. And when we pray, remember God hears every word, and knows every motive which dictates our prayers; and be sure that we be honest before God.
"'If the experience which we have passed through, from the beginning of the present year,--the tarrying time from April until October and the sanctifying influence of the seventh month, with the humiliation and patience of those who are evidently looking for the redemption of the true Israel,--is not the beginning and preparation of the final cleansing of the sanctuary, then I will acknowledge I am deceived. The great fault with us who have been expounding the time of the fulfillment of prophecy, is, we have crowded all these things into a very unwarrantable short space of time, we have given no time for preparation, we were too impatient. Therefore, we are exhorted to be patient, and James says, "The Judge standeth at the door." I am fully convinced the work has already begun. Let us then have patience, brethren, from this time until he comes; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
"'We have erred in many things, and even the second advent brethren were not prepared for the coming of Christ; they had, many of them, left the work of the Lord, and had been doing their own work. The work of the Lord, which he had commanded us to do, was to make the vision plain, to write it on tables, to give the alarm, the midnight cry, and wake up the virgins; and while these things, and these things only were attended to, our work prospered, and God was with us. And now, my dear brethren, permit me to be plain: I hope all who are worth saving are humble enough to bear my reproof, and I mean to give it with the sincerest of motives, and with the kindest affection of my heart.
"'The causes which required God's chastising hand upon us, were, in my humble opinion, PRIDE, FANATICISM, and SECTARIANISM. Pride worked in many ways. We ascribed our conquest in argument over our opponents to ourselves. We were seeking the honors or applause of men more than of God. We were some of us seeking to be leaders, instead of being servants--boasting too much of our doings. And Fanaticism: I know our enemies accused of this before we were guilty; but this did not excuse us for running into it. A thousand expressions were used, without thought or reflection, and I thought sometimes very irreverently, such as, "Bless God," &c. I was afraid it was done in very many cases to the appearance of outward piety, rather than as the hidden manna of the heart. Sometimes our meetings were distinguished by noise and confusion, and, forgive me, brethren, if I express myself too strongly, it appeared to me more like Babel than a solemn assembly of penitents bowing in humble reverence before a holy God. I have often obtained more evidence of inward piety from a kindling eye, a wet cheek, and a choked utterance, than from all the noise in Christendom. Sectarianism: this is always produced by some private opinion of man, rather than by the plain declaration of God's Word. For years after I began to proclaim this blessed truth of Christ at the door, I never, if possible to avoid it, even alluded to sectarian principles; and the first objection my Baptist brethren brought against me, was, I mixed with, and preached unto, all denominations, even to Unitarians, &c. But we have recently, my brethren, been guilty of raising up a sect of our own; for, the very things which our fathers did, when they became sects, we have been doing. We have, like them, cried Babylon! Babylon!! Babylon!!! against all but Adventists. We have proclaimed and discussed, "pro et con," many sectarian dogmas which have nothing to do with our message. May God forgive us. And now, brethren, we have need of patience, that after we have done the will of God, we may receive the promise. Yours as ever,
On the 28th and 29th of December, 1844, a Conference was held at Low Hampton, where the following address, prepared by Bro. Miller at the request of the brethren, was presented by a committee, and unanimously adopted by the Conference:--
"'ADDRESS TO ADVENT BELIEVERS.
To the dear Second Advent brethren, scattered abroad: despised, but not forsaken; poor, yet making many rich; discarded by the proud Pharisees of our day, yet not discouraged; cruelly treated for the doctrine you love, and yet holding firmly to your hope of salvation at the door.
"'We the undersigned, partakers of the same hope, children of the same faith, looking for the same deliverance, loving the same Lord, feeding on the same word, enjoying the same Spirit, suffering the same trials, subjected to like disappointments, and having the same care and fellowship for your welfare and furtherance in the truth, as ye have one for another and for us, address you by this our epistle, in the way of consolation and advice; knowing that while we may comfort and console your hearts, we are establishing and strengthening our own. For if through many disappointments, temptations and trials, you stand fast in the faith once delivered to the saints, we rejoice in your steadfastness, are comforted together with you, and are strengthened even in the inner and the outer man.
"'We thank God always on your behalf, when we hear, as we already have heard, that your and our late disappointment has produced in you, and we hope in us also, a deep humiliation and close inspection of our hearts; and although we are humbled, and in some measure pained in our hearts to see and hear the scoffs and jeers of a wicked and perverse generation, yet we are in nowise terrified or cast down by the adversaries of our faith. We pray you, then, brethren, to "let patience have its perfect work," knowing "that patience worketh experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed." No, we are not ashamed, for we all know why we hope. You can and will, all of you, from the least of you to the greatest, old or young, when inquired of for the reason of your hope, open your Bibles and with meekness and fear show the inquirer why you hope in the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. You need not in a single instance refer the inquirer to your minister to give the reason of your faith and hope.
"'We bless God for you, my brethren, that you are all taught of the Lord. Your creed is the Scriptures; your spelling-book is the Bible; your grammar is the word indited by the Spirit; your geography respects the promised inheritance of the holy land; your astronomy respects the bright starry crown of righteousness; your philosophy is the wisdom which cometh down from God; your bond of union is the love and fellowship of the saints; your teacher is the Holy Ghost; and your professor, the Lord Jesus Christ; your recitation room is your closet; your recitations are heard in your prayers, and your songs fill up your vacations. We speak not of rewards, diplomas, and degrees, for these are reserved in Heaven for us, when these dusty walls of this tabernacle shall be dissolved, and we are called home into the new heavens and new earth, to a full fruition of that hope of which we are not ashamed. Ashamed of this hope? No. Ashamed of looking for this hope? No. Ashamed of expecting Jesus? Why, what a question!! When we look, do we not expect? The ministers of our formal churches, some of them, say "they look, but do not expect." Yet, brethren, we have expected time and again and have been disappointed, but are not ashamed.
"'We would not yield a hair's breadth of our expectations for all the honors of Caesar's household, with all the popular applause of a worldly church. We exhort you, then, by all the love and fellowship of the saints, to hold fast to this hope. It is warranted by every promise of the word of God. It is secured to you by the two immutable things, the council and oath of God, in which it is impossible for God to lie. It is ratified and sealed by the death, blood, resurrection and life of Jesus Christ. You have already had a fortaste of the bliss of this hope, in the seventh month, when every moment you looked for the heavens to open and reveal unto your anxious gaze the King of glory. Yes, then your whole soul was ravished with a holy joy, when you expected every moment to hear the shout of the heavenly host descending from the Father's glory, to welcome you, a weary pilgrim, to your blessed abode of eternal rest. In that eventful period where was the world with all its vain allurements and empty show? It was gone.
"'If our Saviour then had come as we expected, no tears would have fallen for a receding world, nor sighs have heaved our breasts for a dissolving earth, with all its pomp, its pleasures, or its praises. All this was then no more to us than is a bubble in Niagara's cataract. God's goodness gave us then a slight repast, like Elijah's meat, that lasted forty days. And how can you, or we, give up a hope so full of joy, of holy love and heavenly anticipation, as is this? The world may frown and scoff; the unbelieving church may laugh and sneer and try to call us back. They may and will report their slanderous tales to complete our trials, vainly supposing they can wound our pride, and by this means take away our hope, and make us, like themselves, a whited sepulcher. In all our trials those who have obtained this blessed hope by the study of the Scriptures have remained steadfast and immovable among the scoffs and jeers with which we have been assailed.
"'This, to us, is a source of great joy; and it shows conclusively where our faith is founded and our hope predicated. It is upon the sure word of prophecy, and no other evidence, that we rely. This is our main support, as even our opposers will, and do, admit; or why do they, in their attacks upon us, first try to show that prophecy is not to be understood, or if it is, that it is couched in such mystical and ambiguous language, that the ignorant and unlearned (as they are pleased to call us poor Bible students, in their mighty elemency) cannot comprehend its true import? Or why do they ridicule us as a set of fanatical, unlearned heretics, in trying to understand the sure word of prophecy, without first coming to our bishops, or themselves, to learn what the original text may mean? Why do they use these and similar arguments in order to overthrow us if they are not sensible of the fact that the prophecies of God's word are our main pillar? Why do they, without any discrimination, try to make our sure word of prophecy so dark, mysterious, and incomprehensible, and in many instances acknowledge their own ignorance, and then call us heretics because we search and believe what to us looks clear, consistent, and harmonious with every part of God's holy word? But, say they, "time has proved you in an error; unerring time has favored us, and proved what you say we failed to do."
"'True, gentleman, time has failed us in one or two instances, yet you cannot show why? And as you do not show any reason for the failure, permit us to give ours before we take your ground and deny that prophecy can be understood. Every man of common intellect and information knows that we are dependent in some things on what we call human chronology for the conclusion of our premises as it respects time. Again, they well know that our most learned and studious writers and historians disagree in the chronology of the events from which we date, some four or five years. It is true that we who have been most efficient in presenting this subject before the public, have chosen, and we think wisely too, the earliest possible time at which these momentous things might be expected to transpire, believing that it would be infinitely better for the souls of our fellow-beings to come short of the time, rather than to pass over. And indeed, we do not see any good reason now why we should not have done in this matter as we have; for if we had looked only to the very last point of disputed time, and the accomplishment had come before that, or even at that time, how could there have been a tarrying time as the Bible perdicts?
"'How could there have been a time for the trial of our faith and patience, and the purifying and sanctifying of the whole house of the true Israel? If we had not anticipated the time a little, with what propriety could the wicked scoffer and those who professedly belong to the house of Israel say, "The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth"? and what has God said we shall answer this rebellious house of Israel with? With another specified time? No. How then shall we ever silence their caviling and scoffing, if we can fix no future time? We answer, That is not our work to do. God has promised to do that work. Hark! and hear what the Lord saith. "I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel." God will perform his engagements in his own time and manner. We have only to believe and be patient.
"'But we are taunted with, "Oh! you have prolonged your vision again and again; and you have failed every time; now won't you give it up and come back to us? You are not honest if you will not." When they thus call us dishonest, have we nothing we can say? If we altogether hold our peace, they will be wise in their own cenceits, and go and report that they have shut up our mouths so that we could not say a word for ourselves; and thus the cause would be injured. But never fear, brethren; God has told you what to say; do as he bids you, and he will take care of the consequences. God says, "But say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision." See Eze. 12:21-25. So we see God has been in this thing; he well knew into what a straightened place we should be brought; he knew what the rebellious house of Israel would say, and he has given us the best weapon of defense.
"'The word of God has a sufficiency of all armor, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work. We therefore hope that none of us will try to change the chronology of the visions; for they must all fail in all our eyes; and if any vision should be so construed as to fix on another definite time in the future, we cannot conceive how the Scripture would be fulfilled, that "every vision faileth." Let us then be satisfied in patiently waiting for God's time. But let us be careful that we do not lay off our armor, cease our watching, go to sleep at our post, or be caught in a snare, when the Son of man shall come. It is better to be ready before the time, and wait a while, than not to be ready when the time shall come, and be lost. We exhort you then with the Lord's advice, "be like men waiting for their Lord, that when he cometh they may open to him immediately."
"'Again, we exhort you, brethren, that every one may edify, and be edified, that ye forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, as often as your situation and circumstances shall permit; that we may comfort and console each other in our trials, be established ourselves in the present truth, and our minds be stirred up to remember that our Judge is now standing at the door. How can we who have taken so great delight in the study of the blessed Bible, again return to the beggarly elements of vain philosophy and tradition of the fathers? We cannot sit under preaching where the Bible is discarded from the pulpit, except as a text-book, and the plainest passages of Scripture are mysticised and explained away, our hope in the resurrection of the body taken from us, and the kingdom of Heaven preached as in this state of division, persecution and death, and the promise of being caught up in the air, ridiculed by the oft-repeated slang of ascension robes. These things we cannot fellowship; we will not hear them repeated. We therefore advise you, dear brethren, to hold meetings for prayer, reading of the Scriptures, exhortation and singing, if you may not be able to obtain a lecturer or preacher. And may the Spirit of God bless you with his presence, and preserve you blameless unto his coming.
"'Again we exhort you, brethren, to be faithful in business. Let every one labor with his hands, in the several callings in which God has placed us, that none of us may be a burden to any, and that we may all of us have wherewith to communicate and do good, for it is more blessed to give than to receive; and that we may none of us give any occasion to our enemies to reproach us with being busybodies in other men's matters, or as not providing for our own house. In thus doing we may put to silence the reproaches of those who are seeking every occasion to destroy the doctrine that we rejoice to believe. We may, while we are engaged in our several occupations, be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. If we could not, it would be evidence that we were not engaged in a proper calling; or, that our hearts were not right with God. Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, labored with his hands, that he might not be chargeable to the saints; and what was duty then, will be duty as long as the gospel remains to be preached. And we thank God we have never preached any other doctrine, you yourselves being our judges.
"'We also beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye be not led about by every spirit; but try the spirits. For every spirit is not of God; and it is now evident that there are many spirits in the earth,--even the three unclean spirits which are working miracles, and deceiving not only kings, but the whole earth. It therefore becomes us to be very cautious by what spirit we are led. The spirit of error will lead us from the truth; and the Spirit of God will lead us into truth. But, say you, a man may be in error, and think he has the truth. What then? We answer, The spirit and word agree. If a man judges himself by the word of God, and finds a perfect harmony through the whole word, then we must believe we have the truth; but if he finds the spirit by which he is led does not harmonize with the whole tenor of God's law, or book, then let us walk carefully, lest we be caught in the snare of the devil and fall from our own steadfastness; and so be deceived, and lose the crown for which we are running. Let us follow the teachings of the apostle Paul in Titus 2:12, "That denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." Or, as Peter tells us in his second epistle, chap. 3:11, "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness." In both cases the context teaches us to look for the coming of the day of God; or, which is the same thing, "the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."
"'There are a few individuals among us who are teaching that Christ has come, and that we were not mistaken in the time, but only in the manner of his coming. Let us be careful lest we cease from our watchfulness and so that day come upon us unawares. Remember that the same Jesus will come in like manner as they saw him ascend; and every eye shall see him, and we shall see him as he is, and be like him, when that day shall come for which we look; and then "the heavens being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements melt with fervent heat." If the one can be spiritualized away, all the rest must of course be spiritualized in like manner; and it would make the whole description of the Judgment but a jumble of nonsense. We hope but few will be carried away by such vain trifling with the Bible.
"'If God does not mean what he says, to whom shall we go for instruction? Who has been his counselor? and who has set in the council chamber of the Almighty? Man is but grass, and the flower thereof fadeth. He is but of yesterday, and his life but a breath. "Cursed is the man who trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord." Hold on then, brethren, to the sure word of prophecy, for you will reap soon the fruits of your faith, if you faint not.'
"January 29, 1845, by the action of an ecclesiastical council, Mr. Miller and the majority of the church in Low Hampton were virtually separated from the Baptist denomination. About this time Mr. Miller wrote the following, which appeared in the Advent Herald for Feb. 12, 1845:--
"'DEAR BRO. BLISS: I have received a number of letters from almost every part of the country, almost all of them propounding the same questions, viz., What I thought of the experience we had in what was denominated the seventh month? And also, What was my opinion concerning the closing of the door of mercy, or probation for sinners? To save a multiplicity of letters, I thought best to answer these queries through the Herald, if you should think proper.
"'1. The experience of the seventh month. The sympathetic and simultaneous movement on the minds of almost all the Second Advent brethren, and on many others preceding the tenth, the rapidity with which that sentiment was received, the general credence that was given to it, by nearly all of those who were looking for immediate redemption, the humbling effect it produced on the hearts and conduct of those who believed,--in the abandonment of all worldly objects, the sacrifice of earthly goods, and in many cases the total dedication of soul and body to God,--the deep and anxious feelings of heart which many of us felt, all marked its character. Then we expected every moment the heavens would open and reveal to us the dear Saviour with all his shining hosts, and we should see the graves open and the loved forms of our relations rising from their dusty beds in immortal bloom and eternal life; and we ourselves pass the sudden change from mortality to immortality, from time to eternity. Then, as we verily thought, we had bid adieu to this world of sin, of misery and woe, and expected to be ushered into the new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. Oh, blissful day! How solemn, yet how interesting. I hope to see another day like this, and literally realize what I then expected. It was a day long to be remembered, and I cannot account for it on any other principle than to suppose God's benevolent hand and wisdom was in the movement. . . . . . . .
"'But you ask why I do not show whether the probation of sinners is ended.(3) I answer, It is a close point, and if handled at all, it ought to be done very wisely and with a great deal of humility. I would not grieve, if possible to avoid it, one of Christ's little ones. There is much sensitiveness on this point among our good brethren, therefore I would much rather keep my views in my own breast, if I could, and do right, than run the risk of hurting the oil and the wine. You will, therefore, permit me to give my views by the Scripture; and first, Dan. 12:10, "Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand." It will be readily seen by this text, that before the end, the people of God must be "purified, made white, and tried." Now if probation goes on until the last moment of time, how can those who are regenerated in this last moment have their faith and patience tried?
"'Again, Rev. 7:13, 14, "And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." How can it be said, that those made white "came out of great tribulation," if in the next moment after they experience the new birth, they are beyond all tribulation and trial? Also in the first passage, the wicked are to do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand. Yet if one of these wicked is converted after the time specified, then the word none could not be true in fact. This must be in time, it cannot mean in eternity.
"'Zech. 13:9, "And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on my name, and I will hear them; I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, The Lord is my God." Here we learn that they are tried in this state, where they will need to pray.
"'Mal. 3:18, "Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not." When shall that test be given, which shall make us discern between the righteous and the wicked? The answer is plain, before the day cometh that shall burn as an oven. For in that day no doubt could rest on any mind, who is who, or what is the character each individual would appear in.
"'Rev. 22:11, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still." This text is perfectly plain and needs no comment. The 12th verse, "And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be," shows that a little while before Christ comes, every character will be determined. "He," that is, any one, or every one who is unjust or filthy, let him be so still; and so on the other hand, he that is righteous or holy, let them be so still. "And behold," connects the sentence before and what follows after, and is a caution for us to take particular notice of the reason why they are in this peculiar situation or fixed state, as though the idle servants could have no more time to mind their day's work, which God had given them in their day of probation to perform.
"'The eleventh hour was passed, and no chance for them to enter the master's vineyard now, in this last hour. While on the other hand, the good servant might know that the good master was at the door, and he would quickly pay them their wages, and relieve them from their toils. See Matt. 20:1-16.
"'Then this agrees with St. Paul, Heb. 10:36, 37, "For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry." After we have done our work, we have need of patience to wait for the Master, "for yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry." I did believe, and must honestly confess I do now, that I have done my work in warning sinners, and that in the seventh month. I know my feelings are no rule for others; therefore, let every one who feels he has a duty to do for sinners, let him do it. I will have no hard feelings. But I must be honest; when I am inquired of, I must state my own conviction honestly. I have done it, and given my reasons from the word of God. And now let me say, brethren, we will have no contention on this point, for we be brethren. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind, and so let them speak or preach, as God and their own consciences may dictate.
"'I have a strong expectation that Christ will come before the Jewish year will expire; but let us all see to it that we are ready every day, so that when he comes we shall not be ashamed before him. This letter must suffice for all those friends who have requested my views on the subject. My love to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ and pray for his kingdom.
"The editors of the Advent Herald replied to Mr. Miller's arguments, and contended that probation only terminated with the personal coming of Christ. His letter, as published, gave little satisfaction to either party. Both claimed him. To determine his actual position, Prof. N. N. Whiting wrote him, and Mr. Miller replied as follows:--
"'LOW HAMPTON, MARCH 10, 1845.
"'MY DEAR BROTHER:--Your favor of the 5th was gladly received, and I take this early opportunity to answer your inquiries as far as my memory or knowledge will admit.
"'As it respects your first question, whether, in my judgment, "the time of probation came to an end on the 22d of October or not," I answer, My mind was not definite on that day. But the experience and scenes of that month were astounding to me, and my mind was brought to a conclusion that God, by his invisible angels, was separating the two classes of men, the chaff from the wheat. But to say my judgment was fully convinced that it was closed, I must say, No. I know it is true that, in answer to a score of letters, making the same inquiries as yourself, in my letter, published in the Herald, of February 12, I gave several texts, which, to me, were evidence that, before Christ came, there would be a time when men would seek, knock, and cry, and it would not be opened; for, how sinners could or would knock in the eternal state, I have no means of knowing. The editors of the Herald, knowing more about the controversy which had begun in the ranks of the Adventists than I did or could, in order to prevent the mischief or harm which they supposed my letter might do, attached their notes, which gave the brethren on the other side of the question more reason to suppose I had taken the ground that the door was shut in the seventh month. . . . . . . . .
"'With our present light, it would be impossible for any man to prove that the door is shut; it can only be a conjecture, founded upon circumstances in the case. There are two cases which I will mention: one would be the cessation of the operation of the Spirit upon the hearts of the truly pious in laboring and praying for sinners; and the other must be the fearful looking for the fiery indignation, which, I think, according to the Scripture, must seize upon the hearts of those who have willfully rejected Christ. The hypocrite is given over to believe a lie, considering himself safe in his profession; and, consequently, the despair of some, and the perfect recklessness of others, and the restraint of the Holy Spirit being withdrawn from the minds of the impenitent, would immediately produce a time of trouble such as Daniel 12:1 speaks of: "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great Prince which standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." These would at least be evidences to my suspicion, if not to my full assurance. It was a fact, for a few days in the seventh month in the circle of my acquaintance, that the reports I heard from every quarter led me to have strong suspicion that we had approached the time which I cannot but believe we must experience before the end. I think at present the evidence is strong against the idea of the door being shut; but those brethren who have adopted the suspicion at least ought to be treated with a great deal of kindness. I do not like much I have seen published and spoken on both sides of the question. It is one of that kind of questions which is calculated to divide warm friends; for it cannot be settled satisfactorily but by time and experience.
"'The arguments, in my humble opinion, on both sides, want a great quantity of brotherly love to make them digest easily. I, then, beg and pray, my brethren, that we may let contention alone before it is meddled with.(4) And I now plead with those who have supposed the door to be shut to yield the point to our brethren of the opposite view; for it is evident at present that all the evidence is against its being now shut, if we can believe the reports of our brethren from different parts; and surely my soul will not permit me to doubt their veracity who have been with us as pioneers in the work of calling up the world to this important point of our faith, the second advent of Jesus. Let us be silent at least for two months, if Christ does not come before, and by that time I think we shall obtain more light; and if Christ does come, we shall not wish to be found contending with brethren of a like precious faith on a subject dependent wholly on circumstances in which we may be so likely to err. I do hope my advice will be heeded in this thing, and that we will be patient, and not grieve each other; for the Judge is at the door.
. . . . WILLIAM MILLER.'
Writing on the 7th of April, he referred to these things as follows:--
"'LOW HAMPTON, APRIL 7, 1845.
"'MY DEAR BRO. HIMES: I should utterly despair of the second advent cause were it not evident, by its past and present history, that God is for us. You know, my dear brother, there was a time when you and I, with a few choice brethren, stood alone. . . . . We acknowledged our weakness, and claimed no superiority over our fellows. We provoked no one to combat, and made no attack on the prevailing or popular institutions of the day; yet they began to be alarmed. Why? Because, as the people began to hear the foolish reports of our enemies, they became more and more anxious to know what these things meant. . . .
"'Among the many pious who took sides with us were some of those uneasy, ever-changing, unstable, insubordinate, and self-exalted spirits, who stood ready to jump on and ride into notice and power the moment they saw how the case would go. This kind of spirits have always seized the reins of government, are never satisfied with their present position, and will change with every new moon. There are many of this class among us, if not of us, at the present time, who are trying to lead away followers after them.
"'This is a peculiar time. The greatest variety of fanciful interpretations of Scripture are now being presented by new luminaries, reflecting their rays of light and heat in every direction. Some of these are wandering stars, and some emit only twilight. I am sick of this everlasting changing; but, my dear brother, we must learn to have patience. If Christ comes this spring, we shall not need it long; and if he comes not, we shall need much more. I am prepared for the worst, and hope for the best. God will not forsake us, unless we forsake him. . .
"'It is a small thing to be judged of man's judgment, says the apostle; so that you need not fear man. I have often been consigned to perdition, and yet I have a blessed hope. I often think, when I hear a brother judging and condemning another, what an excellent pope he would make. Therefore, fear them not; for if we judge and condemn our brother, we are making ourselves "judges of the law, rather than doers of the law." . . . WM. MILLER.'
We find in the Signs of the Times for March 12, 1845, a statement from Mr. Miller relative to himself and the Bible, taken from The Investigator, an infidel paper published in Boston.
"'TO THE EDITOR OF THE INVESTIGATOR.
"'Sir,--Your kind offer to publish all the letters from those who have been converted from infidelity to Millerism, prompts me to give you a short account of my own conversion, which may enable you the better to judge what Millerism is.
"'When I was of age, I settled in a village where all the heads of the families were deists, as they were then called, and they put into my hands all the deistical writings of that age. I soon became one of them, and the consequence was, I denied the Bible being of divine origin, calling it a "book of priestcraft," and argued that the professors of it themselves must, if honest, concede that it could not be from God; because it professed to be a revelation from God, and yet more than half was a mystery which could not be understood. And some went as far as to say we ought not to try to understand it. This, to my mind, was a plain and palpable contradiction. I therefore rejected the Bible, when I ought to have rejected the expounders of it. Thus, from 1804 to 1816, I was a firm, and, as I then thought, a consistent, opposer of the Christian faith. In 1816, by the grace of God, my eyes were opened to see the weakness and folly of my own faith, founded on nothing but the philosophy, assumptions and fancies of erring mortals. I saw a great want of evidence for a faith in these matters, more substantial and certain than anything I then had. I felt in my inmost soul that eternal consequences might hang upon my faith in these things, for anything to the contrary which I could show. I had often laughed at my Christian friends for having a "blind faith," believing what they could not understand. I now saw that my faith was as blind as theirs, if not more so, for I could prove nothing hereafter, and of course I had no reasonable hope.
"'This brought me to examine for myself the evidence of the Christian's hope. I therefore laid by my former prejudices, prepossessions, commentators, writers, pro and con, and determined in my own mind to examine the Bible for myself. And if the Bible did prove itself to be of divine origin, I would believe it, let the consequences be as they might; but if it did not, then I would reject it and be a deist still. Then I began the Bible, determined in my own mind to know whether God or man was the author. I spent the greater part of two years in reading and comparing scripture with scripture, prophecy with history, and I had not gone half through with the reading of it, before I was perfectly satisfied of its divine origin. No mortal man, or men, could have written with such harmony, wisdom, and truth, without inspiration. The Bible answered all my inquiries, settled all my doubts, established my faith, and gave me hope which has been nearly or quite twenty-seven years an anchor to my soul. I have seen much of it fulfilled, since then, and I can truly say, If there is any one thing on earth which I love above all others, it is the Bible.
"'And now, sir, let me tell you, Millerism is to believe, try to understand, love, and proclaim to others, the good news contained in the Bible. This is all I have ever done to call down the slander of the several sects which I have received. I can say, honestly, I have never designed to proclaim or publish any sentiment, word, or doctrine, but such as I found clearly taught in that blessed inspired volume. Let God be my judge, I know I believe it. And I pray God that you, my dear sir, may become a Millerite too.
"'For I believe there is no religion in our world that gives such a blessed hope as the religion of the Bible. All others are dark and incomprehensible concerning a future state. "To be, or not to be," was a question which the ancient philosophers of Greece and Rome could never settle among themselves. Nor all the wisdom of our modern writers were able to settle this important point for our hope. But you will acknowledge, if the Bible is the word of inspiration, then that point is forever settled, and we have an answer to the question of immortality and eternal life.
"'I admire your frankness and generosity as an opponent, and believe you are not wishing to bind men to your particular views or creed; but are willing to search yourself, and to let all others search for true light, on so important a subject as I think this matter is,--the truth or falsity of what I call the blessed Bible. I have strong hope, my dear sir, that you will give this subject a thorough investigation. As it respects the statement of Bro. Himes, if you will keep open your columns as fairly as you hitherto have done, you will soon be convinced it was not a very random shot. I am, sir, a lover of an honest man. Yours, &c., WM. MILLER.'
(1) "1. The ark rested on the seventh month, seventeenth day. This has an appearance of a type, the rest of the gospel ark at the judgment. Gen. 8:4.
"2. The sanctuary and worshipers, and all appertaining to it, were cleansed on the seventh month, tenth to seventeenth day. Lev. 16:29-34. Surely this is a type.
"3. The Israelites of God were to afflict their souls, from the evening of the ninth to the evening of the tenth day, seventh month. Lev. 23:27-32, a type of the troubles, Dan. 12:1.
"4. The holy convocation of all Israel, seventh month, 1-15th day, Lev. 23:24; Num. 29:1. Is not this a type of the gathering of the elect? Ps. 81:3,4; 98:6-9.
"5. The great feast, seventh month, fifteenth day, all Israel appeared before the Lord. Lev. 23:34; 1 Kings 8:2. Type of the marriage supper. Heb. 9:9,10.
"6. The jubilee trump sounded, seventh month, tenth day, throughout all the land. Lev. 25:9,10. Type of final redemption. 1 Thess. 4:14-17.
"7. The time of release of all Hebrews in bondage, seventh month, fifteenth day. Deut. 15:1-15; 31:10,11; Jer. 34:8-14, at the feast of the tabernacles. This evidently is typical of the release of the Israel of God.
"8. The atonement was made on the tenth day of the seventh month, and is certainly typical of the atonement Christ is now making for us. Lev. 16:1-34, antitype. Heb. 9:1-28.
"9. When the high priest came out of the holy of holies after making the atonement, he blessed the people. Lev. 9:22, 23; 2 Sam. 6:18. So will our great High Priest. Heb. 9:28. This was on the seventh month, tenth day.
"10. This was in harvest time, the feast of harvest was kept in the seventh month, from the tenth day to the seventeenth. Lev. 23:10. And the end of the world is compared to the harvest. Matt. 13:30. Christ says plain in "harvest time."
"11. Also in the feast of tabernacles, in the great day of the feast in the last day. John 7:2,37. So in the last great day, Jesus' voice will call forth the righteous dead. John 5:28, 29; 1 Thess. 4:16."--Wm. Miller in Signs of the Times for May 17, 1843
(2) Here Mr. Miller expresses the views and feelings of the Adventists generally for a time after the disappointment in October, 1844. Many of the leading men in the movement soon became impatient, and backed out of this position by rashly condemning the time movements of 1843 and 1844 as the result of error, and they took the majority of believers with them. This division left those who took good heed to the godly exhortations of Mr. Miller exposed to great trials and the ravages of fanaticism.
God had the great sanctuary question in reserve for the Adventists, which, in connection with the three messages of Rev. 14, if they had waited patiently in the position where his word and providence had brought them, would have explained the past, given certainty to the then present, and would have opened before them the future work of the third message. J. W.
(3) From this communication, the reader will be able to gather much relative to the trials of the time when it was written. Mr. Miller had not the true light upon the sanctuary question, consequently held that the 2300 and 1335 days reached to the second coming of Christ. But at the same time, his convictions were so very strong that the hand of God had been in the distinct movements of 1843 and 1844, that leading Adventists could not influence him to reject the work of God in his past deep experience. This communication called out a reply nearly twice its length from the editors of the Herald. He respected and loved these his fellow-laborers; and any statement that he was not influenced by them to a greater or less extent would be unreasonable. And although at a later period he did enter the lecturing field, he held firmly, to the day of his death, that he was fully justified in preaching the time. J. W.
(4) The leading object in giving matter of this kind from the pen of Mr. Miller is to let the Christian character and tender spirit of the man appear, whom God had raised up to do a great work. He had been a brave soldier in the service of his country, and had fearlessly stood in defense of unpopular truth, and had dared to meet opposition, scoffs, and even scandal, from the popular churches. But now, under the most trying circumstances, we see the aged Christian warrior, clothed with humility as with a garment, and his spirit all softened and sweetened by divine grace, tenderly entreating his brethren to be patient, gentle, true, and kind. J. W.
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