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    Chapter 16—The Tarrying Time

    When the year 1843 [See Appendix, note 4.] entirely passed away unmarked by the advent of Jesus, those who had looked in faith for his appearing were for a time left in doubt and perplexity. But notwithstanding their disappointment, many continued to search the Scriptures, examining anew the evidences of their faith, and carefully studying the prophecies to obtain further light. The Bible testimony in support of their position seemed clear and conclusive. Signs which could not be mistaken pointed to the coming of Christ as near. The believers could not explain their disappointment; yet they felt assured that God had led them in their past experience.4SP 241.1

    Their faith was greatly strengthened by the direct and forcible application of those scriptures which set forth a tarrying time. As early as 1842, the Spirit of God had moved upon Charles Fitch to devise the prophetic chart, which was generally regarded by Adventists as a fulfillment of the command given by the prophet Habakkuk, “to write the vision and make it plain upon tables.” No one, however, then saw the tarrying time, which was brought to view in the same prophecy. After the disappointment, the full meaning of this scripture became apparent. Thus speaks the prophet: “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” [Habakkuk 2:2, 3.]4SP 241.2

    A portion of Ezekiel's prophecy also was a source of much strength and comfort to believers: “And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, what is that proverb that ye have in the land of Israel, saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth? Tell them therefore, Thus saith the Lord God:” “The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision.” “I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged.” “They of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off. Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God: There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done.” [Ezekiel 12:21-25, 27, 28.]4SP 242.1

    The waiting ones rejoiced that He who knows the end from the beginning had looked down through the ages, and, foreseeing their disappointment, had given them words of courage and hope. Had it not been for such portions of Scripture, showing that they were in the right path, their faith would have failed in that trying hour.4SP 242.2

    In the parable of the ten virgins, Matthew 25, the experience of Adventists is illustrated by the incidents of an Eastern marriage. “Then shall the kingdom of Heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.” “While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” The wide-spread movement under the proclamation of the first message, answered to the going forth of the virgins, while the passing of the time of expectation, the disappointment, and the delay, were represented by the tarrying of the bridegroom. After the definite time had passed, the true believers were still united in the belief that the end of all things was at hand; but it soon became evident that they were losing, to some extent, their zeal and devotion, and were falling into the state denoted in the parable by the slumbering of the virgins during the tarrying time.4SP 242.3

    About this time, fanaticism began to appear. Some who professed to be zealous believers in the message rejected the word of God as the one infallible guide, and, claiming to be led by the Spirit, gave themselves up to the control of their own feelings, impressions, and imaginations. There were some who manifested a blind and bigoted zeal, denouncing all who would not sanction their course. Their fanatical ideas and exercises met with no sympathy from the great body of Adventists; yet they served to bring reproach upon the cause of truth.4SP 243.1

    Satan was seeking by this means to oppose and destroy the work of God. The people had been greatly stirred by the Advent movement, thousands of sinners had been converted, and faithful men were giving themselves to the work of proclaiming the truth, even in the tarrying time. The prince of evil was losing his subjects; and in order to bring reproach upon the cause of God, he sought to deceive those who professed the faith, and to drive them to extremes. Then his agents stood ready to seize upon every error, every failure, every unbecoming act, and hold it up before the people in the most exaggerated light, to render Adventists and their faith odious. Thus the greater the number whom he could crowd in to make a profession of the Advent faith while his power controlled their hearts, the greater advantage would he gain by calling attention to them as representatives of the whole body of believers.4SP 243.2

    Satan is an accuser of the brethren, and it is his spirit which inspires men to watch for the errors and defects of the Lord's people, and to hold them up to notice, while their good deeds are passed by without a mention. He is always active when God is at work for the salvation of souls. When the sons of God come to present themselves before the Lord, Satan comes also among them. In every revival he is ready to bring in those who are unsanctified in heart and unbalanced in mind. When they have accepted some points of truth, and gained a place with believers, he works through them to introduce theories that will deceive the unwary. No man is proved to be a true Christian because he is found in company with the children of God, even in the house of worship and around the table of the Lord. Satan is frequently there upon the most solemn occasions, in the form of those whom he can use as his agents.4SP 244.1

    The great deceiver will profess anything, in order to gain adherents. But should he claim to be converted, should he, if it were possible, enter Heaven and associate with the angels, he would not be changed in character. While the true worshipers would be bowed in adoration before their Maker, he would be plotting mischief against God's cause and people, devising means to ensnare souls, considering the most successful method of sowing tares.4SP 244.2

    Satan contests every inch of ground over which God's people advance in their journey toward the heavenly city. In all the history of the church, no reformation has been carried forward without encountering serious obstacles. Thus it was in Paul's day. Wherever the apostle would raise up a church, there were some who professed to receive the faith, but who brought in heresies, that, if received, would eventually crowd out the love of the truth. Luther suffered great perplexity and distress from the course of fanatical persons who claimed that God had spoken directly through them, and who therefore set their own ideas and opinions above the testimony of the Scriptures. Many who were lacking in faith and experience, but who had considerable self-sufficiency, and who loved to hear and tell some new thing, were beguiled by the pretensions of the new teachers, and they joined the agents of Satan in their work of tearing down what God had moved Luther to build up. The Wesleys also, and others who blessed the world by their influence and their faith, encountered at every step the wiles of Satan in pushing over-zealous, unbalanced, and unsanctified ones into fanaticism of every grade.4SP 245.1

    Wm. Miller had no sympathy with those influences that led to fanaticism. He declared, with Martin Luther, that every spirit should be tested by the word of God: “The devil has great power over the minds of some at the present day. And how shall we know what manner of spirit they are of? The Bible answers: ‘By their fruits ye shall know them.’” “There are many spirits gone out into the world; and we are commanded to try the spirits. The spirit that does not cause us to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world, is not the spirit of Christ. I am more and more convinced that Satan has much to do in these wild movements.” “Many among us, who pretend to be wholly sanctified, are following the traditions of men, and apparently are as ignorant of truth as others who make no such pretensions, and are not half so modest.” “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 he must believe he has 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 him walk carefully, lest he be caught in the snare of the devil.” “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.”4SP 245.2

    The enemies of the Reformation charged all the evils of fanaticism upon the very ones who were laboring most earnestly against it. A similar course was pursued by the opposers of the Advent movement. And not content with misrepresenting and exaggerating the errors of extremists and fanatics, they circulated unfavorable reports that had not the slightest semblance of truth. These persons were actuated by prejudice and hatred. Their peace was disturbed by the proclamation of Christ at the door. They feared it might be true, yet hoped it was not, and this was the secret of their warfare against Adventists and their faith.4SP 246.1

    The fact that a few fanatics worked their way into the ranks of Adventists is no more a reason to decide that the movement was not of God, than is the presence of fanatics and deceivers in the church in Paul's or Luther's day a sufficient excuse for discarding or ridiculing their work. Let the people of God arouse out of sleep, and begin in earnest the work of repentance and reformation, let them search the Scriptures to learn the truth as it is in Jesus, let them make an entire consecration to God, and evidence will not be wanting that Satan is still active and vigilant. With all possible deception will he manifest his power, calling to his aid all the fallen angels of his realm.4SP 247.1

    It was not the proclamation of the Advent message that created fanaticism and division. These appeared in the summer of 1844, when Adventists were in a state of doubt and perplexity concerning their real position. The preaching of the first message in 1843, and of the midnight cry in 1844, tended directly to repress fanaticism and dissension. Those who participated in these solemn movements were in harmony; their hearts were filled with love for one another, and for Jesus, whom they expected soon to see. The one faith, the one blessed hope, lifted them above the control of any human influence, and proved a shield against the assaults of Satan.4SP 247.2

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