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    RISE AND PROGRESS OF ADVENTISM

    A wide field is before me, and I must study brevity upon this subject, or it will crowd more important matter out of this volume. I can therefore give but a brief sketch of the most prominent features of this great movement. I shall be principally indebted to an article published in the Advent Shield for May, 1844, written by J. Litch, for what is said upon this subject. The first period of expectation had just passed, when Mr. Litch reviewed the entire ground, and presented facts in the case for the edification and encouragement of believers. These facts can never lose their interest to all true believers, till the Advent hope shall be consummated.LIFIN 120.2

    “The rise of the Advent cause, as it has been developed by Mr. Miller, may be dated A.D. 1831. For although he discovered his principles as early as 1818, it was not until 1831 that he first began to publish them abroad.LIFIN 121.1

    “His first step in this work was the publication of a series of articles on the subject of Christ’s second coming, which appeared in the Vermont Telegraph, a Baptist paper, published in Brandon, Vt. Those articles were written to rid himself of the strong impression which followed him, that he must go and publish this thing to the world.LIFIN 121.2

    “But after writing and publishing the above, instead, as he expected, of finding relief from his responsibilities, he only found the inward monitor the more earnestly pressing him, saying, ‘Go and tell it to the world, or their blood will I require at thy hand.’ To rid himself of this strong impression, he wrote a synopsis of his views, and in the spring of 1832 he published it in pamphlet form, and spread it over the country, and sent it to different parts of the world among the missionary stations.”LIFIN 121.3

    Invitations for Mr. Miller to lecture came in from all directions, which he accepted, and he continued to travel and labor with great success among the people, but with little encouragement from the ministry.LIFIN 121.4

    “In 1836 Mr. Miller found a friend who undertook the publication of a volume of lectures, the series which he usually gave as a course. The publication of those lectures constituted a new era in the history of the Advent cause; for, from that time, wherever he went and lectured, the written lectures which were left behind continued to preach and establish those who were partially convinced of the truth. His labor, by this means, ceased to be like writing upon the sand, as formerly. It is one of those strongly-marked demonstrations which history presents of the power and influences of the press for good or evil.LIFIN 121.5

    “Those books gradually spread abroad, where he had never been in person, and created an interest in the public mind to investigate the subject for themselves. It was not, however, until the winter of 1837 - 8, that the work attracted much attention in Massachusetts. About the month of February, in 1838, several copies of the lectures found their way into Massachusetts, and awakened quite a sensation. One copy fell into the hands of the editor of the Boston Daily Times, and most of the lectures were re-published in that paper, and obtained quite an extensive reading. The effect was so great that it was found necessary to provide an antidote, in the shape of two letters from the pen of Rev. Ethan Smith.”LIFIN 122.1

    Mr. Litch introduces his own interesting experience in the Advent cause in the following language:LIFIN 122.2

    “About the time of the appearance of those lectures in the Boston Times, a copy of the work was put into the hands of the present writer, with a request that he should read it and give his opinion of its merits. The idea of an attempt to discover the time of Christ’s second advent was to him so strange, that he could scarcely make up his mind to give the book a perusal. No doubt came into his mind but what he could entirely overthrow the whole system in five minutes. For, thought he, according to Paul, [2 Thessalonians 2,] the falling away must first come, and the Man of Sin be revealed; which the great body of commentators understood to be the Papal system. But, according to Daniel and John, that power is to continue for 1260 days, or years; and the date assumed by the most learned writers of the age, for the commencement of the period, was 606, and consequently it would not end until 1866. This was a decisive argument. However, to gratify a friend, and from a curiosity to know what arguments could be adduced in support of so novel a doctrine, the book was read. There was no difficulty in adopting most of the sentiments advanced in the first lecture. Prejudice began to give way, and the idea of the glorious reign of Christ on the earth renewed, was most delightful. From that, the 1260 days came up, and the evidence presented, by which it was clearly shown that those days terminated in 1798, having begun in 538. The great argument against the coming of the Lord, which had appeared so strong and invulnerable, soon vanished; and a new face shone forth from Paul’s argument. The substance of it was, the predicted period having gone by, and the Papacy having been consumed away by the spirit of the Lord’s mouth, he is next to be destroyed by the brightness of Christ’s coming. Then there can be no millennium until Christ comes - for the reign of the Man of Sin and a glorious millennium cannot coexist. Thus the old fabled millennium was lost.LIFIN 122.3

    “Before concluding the book, I became fully satisfied that the arguments were so clear, so simple, and withal so scriptural, that it was impossible to disprove the position which Mr. Miller had endeavored to establish.LIFIN 123.1

    “The question of duty then presented itself thus: ‘If this doctrine is true, ought you not, as a minister of the gospel, to understand and proclaim it?’ Yes, certainly I had. ‘Then why not do so?’ Why, if it should after all, prove false, where will my reputation be? And besides, if it is not true, it will bring the Bible into disrepute, after the time has gone by. But there is another view to be taken of this subject. How shall we know whether it is true or false? Can it be known except by the testimony of the Scriptures? What do they teach? This is the true question. If it is true that the Lord is coming so soon, the world should know it: if it is not true it should be discussed, and the error exposed. I believe the Bible teaches the doctrine; and while I believe thus, it is my duty to make it known to the extent of my power. It is a scriptural subject, and one full of interest; and the discussion of it cannot do harm. These prophecies and periods are in the Bible, and mean something - if they do not mean this, what do they mean? Thus I reasoned, until the Lord, in a night-dream, showed me my own vileness, and made me willing to bear reproach for Christ, when I resolved, at any cost, to present the truth on this subject.”LIFIN 124.1

    As soon as Mr. Litch came to this decision, he published a synopsis of Mr. Miller’s views in a pamphlet, entitled the Midnight Cry. He continued to lecture, and also published a second work of 204 pages, entitled “The Probability of the Second Coming of Christ about A.D. 1843.”LIFIN 124.2

    “It was in this work that the calculation on the fall of Ottoman supremacy on the 11th of August, 1840, was first given to the world. So also the argument on the 1260 days, showing how all the events which were to precede the time, times and a half, centered in 538, while the decree of Justinian was given in 533.LIFIN 124.3

    “This work circulated through New England, and excited something of an interest. The subject rested here, with the exception of a few newspaper articles published in Zion’s Herald, of Boston, and Zion’s Watchman, of New York, until the spring of 1839.LIFIN 125.1

    “In that year (1839) Mr. Miller was invited into Massachusetts to lecture. In that tour he visited and lectured in Randolph, Lowell, Groton, and Lynn. His introduction was principally through the influence of Elder T. Cole, of Lowell, a minister of the Christian connection. Again, in the autumn and winter of the same year, he returned and lectured in Exeter, New Hampshire, and Haverhill, Massachusetts, where a good effect was produced.LIFIN 125.2

    “It was at this Exeter meeting that he first became acquainted with Elder J.V. Himes, and received his first invitation to visit Boston and give a course of lectures in the Chardon-Street Chapel. His first course of lectures in that place constituted altogether a new era in the history of Adventism. An excitement was produced in Boston which demanded light, and prepared the public mind to sustain the enterprise of hiring the Marlboro’ Chapel for a course of lectures. From that point an influence was extended through all the adjacent country; and such was the demand for light that it was determined to issue a new and revised edition of the lectures. This work was undertaken, without fee or reward, by that devoted friend of the cause. He cheerfully undertook the revision of the work and the superintendence of publication, which a Boston publisher agreed to do if he could have the profits arising from an edition of five thousand copies. This he had. Mr. Miller has often been blamed for securing the copyright, and hence it is but just to him and the cause to say, that it was the only condition on which the publisher would undertake to issue the work. After selling the five thousand copies, Mr. Mussey, the publisher, concluded that the demand was over. For the purpose of supplying the public, Mr. Himes then undertook, at the earnest solicitation and advice of friends, the publication of the work himself. At the same time he abandoned the copyright, and thus, to save reproach on the cause, exposed himself to the competition of any and all who chose to compete with him. The same course has been pursued in reference to all his other publications. Notwithstanding all this, all that the tongue of slander could invent has been heaped upon him for the stand he took and the self-denying course he pursued on this subject.LIFIN 125.3

    “During Mr. Miller’s lectures in Boston, a work entitled ‘Illustrations of Prophecy, by David Campbell,’ appeared. Some other works of an ephemeral character, from Orthodox, Infidel, Universalist, and other ists, appeared about the same time, and accomplished each their work, by overthrowing - not Mr. Miller - but one another.LIFIN 126.1

    “Under these repeated attacks from the pulpit and press, it was felt that some organ of communication should be opened, by which the public mind could be disabused in reference to the varied reports which were circulated in reference to Mr. Miller and his views. He had long sought for some one to take the supervision of a paper through which he could speak to the public; but such a man could not be found, who for love or money would undertake the task, and bear the scorn of an unbelieving world.LIFIN 126.2

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