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Sketches of the Christian Life and Public Labors of William Miller

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    “RULES OF INTERPRETATION

    “1. Every word must have its proper bearing on the subject presented in the Bible. Proof, Matthew 5:18.SLWM 48.2

    “2. All Scripture is necessary, and may be understood by a diligent application and study. Proof, 2 Timothy 3:15-17.SLWM 48.3

    “3. Nothing revealed in Scripture can or will be hid from those who ask in faith, not wavering. Proof, Deuteronomy 29:29; Matthew 10:26, 27; 1 Corinthians 2:10; Philippians 3:15; Isaiah 45:11; Matthew 21:22; John 14:13, 14; 15:7; James 1:5, 6; 1 John 5:13-15.SLWM 48.4

    “4. To understand doctrine, bring all the Scriptures together on the subject you wish to know; then let every word have its proper influence; and, if you can form your theory without a contradiction, you cannot be in error. Proof, Isaiah 28:7-29; 35:8; Proverbs 19:27; Luke 24:27, 44, 45; Romans 16:26; James 5:19; 2 Peter 1:19, 20.SLWM 49.1

    “5. Scripture must be its own expositor, since it is a rule of itself. If I depend on a teacher to expound to me, and he should guess at its meaning, or desire to have it so on account of his sectarian creed, or to be thought wise, then his guessing, desire, creed, or wisdom, is my rule, and not the Bible. Proof, Psalm 19:7-11; 119:97-105; Matthew 23:8-10; 1 Corinthians 2:12-16; Ezekiel 34:18, 19; Luke 11:52; Matthew 2:7, 8.SLWM 49.2

    “6. God has revealed things to come, by visions, in figures and parables; and in this way the same things are oftentimes revealed again and again, by different visions, or in different figures and parables. If you wish to understand them, you must combine them all in one. Proof, Psalm 89:19; Hosea 12:10; Habakkuk 2:2; Acts 2:17; 1 Corinthians 10:6; Hebrews 9:9, 24; Psalm 78:2; Matthew 13:13, 34; Genesis 41:1-32; Daniel 2nd, 7th & 8th; Acts 10:9-16.SLWM 49.3

    “7. Visions are always mentioned as such. 2 Corinthians 12:1.SLWM 49.4

    “8. Figures always have a figurative meaning, and are used much in prophecy to represent future things, times and events - such as mountains, meaning governments; Daniel 2:35, 44; beasts, meaning kingdoms; Daniel 7:8, 17; waters, meaning people; Revelation 17:1, 15; day, meaning year, etc. Ezekiel 4:6.SLWM 49.5

    “9. Parables are used as comparisons to illustrate subjects, and must be explained in the same way as figures, by the subject and Bible. Mark 4:13.SLWM 50.1

    “10. Figures sometimes have two or more different significations, as day is used in a figurative sense to represent three different periods of time, namely, first, indefinite; Ecclesiastes 7:14; second, definite, a day for a year; Ezekiel 4:6; and third, a day for a thousand years. 2 Peter 3:8. The right construction will harmonize with the Bible, and make good sense; other constructions will not.SLWM 50.2

    “11. If a word makes good sense as it stands, and does no violence to the simple laws of nature, it is to be understood literally; if not, figuratively. Revelation 12:1, 2; 17:3-7.SLWM 50.3

    “12. To learn the meaning of a figure, trace the word through your Bible, and when you find it explained, substitute the explanation for the word used; and, if it make good sense, you need not look further; if not, look again.SLWM 50.4

    “13. To know whether we have the true historical event for the fulfillment of a prophecy: If you find every word of the prophecy (after the figures are understood) is literally fulfilled, then you may know that your history is the true event; but if one word lacks a fulfillment, then you must look for another event, or wait its future development; for God takes care that history and prophecy shall agree, so that the true believing children of God may never be ashamed. Psalm 22:5; Isaiah 45:17-19; 1 Peter 2:6; Revelation 17:17; Acts 3:18.SLWM 50.5

    “14. The most important rule of all is, that you must have faith. It must be a faith that requires a sacrifice, and, if tried, would give up the dearest object on earth, the world and all its desires - character, living, occupation, friends, home, comforts and worldly honors. If any of these should hinder our believing any part of God’s word, it would show our faith to be vain. Nor can we ever believe so long as one of these motives lies lurking in our hearts. We must believe that God will never forfeit his word; and we can have confidence that He who takes notice of the sparrow’s fall, and numbers the hairs of our head, will guard the translation of his own word, and throw a barrier around it, and prevent those who sincerely trust in God, and put implicit confidence in his word, from erring far from the truth.SLWM 51.1

    “‘While thus studying the Scriptures,’ - continuing the words of his own narrative, - ‘I became satisfied, if the prophecies which have been fulfilled in the past are any criterion by which to judge of the manner of the fulfillment of those which are future, that the popular views of the spiritual reign of Christ - a temporal millennium before the end of the world, and the Jews’ return - are not sustained by the word of God; for I found that all the Scriptures on which those favorite theories are based are as clearly expressed as are those that were literally fulfilled at the first advent, or at any other period in the past.SLWM 51.2

    “‘I found it plainly taught in the Scriptures that Jesus Christ will again descend to this earth, coming in the clouds of heaven, in all the glory of his Father: 1See John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 1:7; Matthew 16:27; 24:30; Mark 8:38; 13:26; Daniel 7:13. that, at his coming, the kingdom and dominion under the whole heaven will be given unto Him and the saints of the Most High, who will possess it forever, even forever and ever: 2Daniel 7:14, 18, 22, 27; Matthew 25:34; Luke 12:32; 19:12, 15; 22:29; 1 Corinthians 9:25; 2 Timothy 4:1, 8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4. that, as the old world perished by the deluge, so the earth, that now is, is reserved unto fire, to be melted with fervent heat at Christ’s coming; after which, according to the promise, it is to become the new earth, wherein the righteous will forever dwell: 41 Corinthians 15:20, 23, 49, 51-53; Philippians 3:20, 21; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17; 1 John 3:2. that, at his coming, the bodies of all the righteous dead will be raised, and all the righteous living be changed from a corruptible to an incorruptible, from a mortal to an immortal state; that they will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air, and will reign with him forever in the regenerated earth.SLWM 51.3

    “The controversy with Zion will then be finished, her children be delivered from bondage, and from the power of the tempter, and the saints be all presented to God blameless, without spot or wrinkle, in love; 5Isaiah 34:8; 40:2, 5; 41:10-12; Romans 8:21-23; 1 Corinthians 1:7, 8; 4:14; 15:54, 56; Ephesians 5:27; Colossians 1:22; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Hebrews 2:13-15; Jude 24; Revelation 20:1-6. that the bodies of the wicked will then be all destroyed, and their spirits be reserved in prison and damnation; 1Psalm 50:3; 97:3; Isaiah 60:15, 16; 24:21, 22; Daniel 7:10; Malachi 4:1; Matthew 3:12; John 5:29; Acts 24:15; 1 Corinthians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; 1 Peter 1:7; 2 Peter 3:7, 10; Jude 6, 7, 14, 15; Revelation 20:3, 13-15. and that, when the earth is thus regenerated, and the righteous raised, and the wicked destroyed, the kingdom of God will have come, when his will will be done on earth as it is in Heaven; that the meek will inherit it, and the kingdom become the saint’s. 2Psalm 37:9-11, 22, 28, 29, 34; Proverbs 2:21, 22; 10:30; Isaiah 40:21; Matthew 5:5; 6:10.SLWM 52.1

    “I found that the only millennium taught in the word of God is the thousand years which are to intervene between the first resurrection and that of the rest of the dead, as inculcated in the twentieth of Revelation; and that it must necessarily follow the personal coming of Christ and the regeneration of the earth 3Revelation 20:2-7. that, till Christ’s coming, and the end of the world, the righteous and wicked are to continue together on the earth, and that the horn of the papacy is to war against the saints until his appearing and kingdom, when it will be destroyed by the brightness of Christ’s coming; so that there can be no conversion of the world before the advent;SLWM 53.1

    “This is the same that John saw in vision after the passing away of the former heavens and earth; it must necessarily follow that the various portions of Scripture that refer to the millennial state must have their fulfillment after the resurrection of all the saints that sleep in Jesus. 1Romans 2:14, 15; 4:13; 9:6; 10:12; 11:17; Galatians 3:29; Ephesians 2:14, 15. I also found that the promises respecting Israel’s restoration are applied by the apostle to all who are Christ’s - the putting on of Christ constituting them Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.SLWM 53.2

    “I was then satisfied, as I saw conclusive evidence to prove the advent personal and pre-millennial, that all the events for which the church look to be fulfilled [in the millennium] before the advent, must be subsequent to it; and that, unless there were other unfulfilled prophecies, the advent of the Lord, instead of being looked for only in the distant future, might be a continually-expected event. In examining the prophecies on that point, I found that only four universal monarchies are anywhere predicted, in the Bible, to precede the setting up of God’s everlasting kingdom; that three of those had passed away - Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Grecia - and that the fourth - Rome - had already passed into its last state, the state in which it is to be when the stone cut out of the mountain without hands shall smite the image on the feet, and break to pieces all the kingdoms of this world.SLWM 54.1

    “I was unable to find any prediction of events which presented any clear evidence of their fulfillment before the scenes that usher in the advent. And finding all the signs of the times, and the present condition of the world, to compare harmoniously with the prophetic descriptions of the last days, I was compelled to believe that this world had about reached the limits of the period allotted for its continuance. As I regarded the evidence, I could arrive at no other conclusion.SLWM 54.2

    “Another kind of evidence that vitally affected my mind was the chronology of the Scriptures. I found, on pursuing the study of the Bible, various chronological periods extending, according to my understanding of them, to the coming of the Saviour. I found that predicted events, which had been fulfilled in the past, often occurred within a given time. The one hundred and twenty years to the flood; Genesis 6:3; the seven days that were to precede it, with forty days of predicted rain; Genesis 7:4; the four hundred years of sojourn of Abraham’s seed; Genesis 15:13; the three days of the butler’s and baker’s dreams; Genesis 40:12-20; the seven years of Pharaoh’s; Genesis 41:28-54; the forty years in the wilderness; Numbers 14:34; the three and a half years of famine: 1 Kings 17:1; the sixty-five years to the breaking of Ephraim; Isaiah 7:8; the seventy years’ captivity; Jeremiah 25:11; Nebuchadnezzar’s seven times; Daniel 4:13-16; and the seven weeks, threescore and two weeks, and the one week, making seventy weeks, determined upon the Jews; Daniel 9:24-27; the events limited by these times were all once only a matter of prophecy, and were fulfilled in accordance with the predictions.SLWM 55.1

    “When, therefore,I found the 2300 prophetic days, which were to mark the length of the vision from the Persian to the end of the fourth kingdom, the seven times’ continuance of the dispersion of God’s people, and the 1335 prophetic days to the standing of Daniel in his lot, all evidently extending to the advent, 1The supposition that two of the periods of Daniel extended to the second advent constituted Mr. Miller’s mistake, hence the consequent disappointment. with other prophetical periods, I could but regard them as ‘the times before appointed,’ which God had revealed ‘unto his servants the prophets.’ As I was fully convinced that ‘all Scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable,’ - that it came not at any time by the will of man, but was written as holy men were moved by the Holy Ghost, and was written for our learning, that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope, - I could but regard the chronological portions of the Bible as being as much a portion of the word of God, and as much entitled to our serious consideration, as any other portion of the Scriptures.SLWM 55.2

    “I, therefore, felt that, in endeavoring to comprehend what God had in his mercy seen fit to reveal to us, I had no right to pass over the prophetic periods. I saw that, as the events predicted to be fulfilled in prophetic days had been extended over about as many literal years; as God, in Numbers 14:34, and Ezekiel 4:4-6, had appointed each day for a year; as the seventy weeks to the Messiah were fulfilled in 490 years, and the 1260 prophetic days of the papal supremacy in 1260 years; and as these prophetical days extending to the advent were given in connection with symbolic prophecy, I could only regard the time as symbolical, and as standing each day for a year, in accordance with the opinions of all the standard Protestant commentators. If, then, we could obtain any clue to the time of their commencement, I conceived we should be guided to the probable time of their termination, and, as God would not bestow upon us a useless revelation, I regarded them as conducting us to the time when we might confidently look for the coming of the Chiefest of ten thousand, One altogether lovely.SLWM 56.1

    “From a further study of the Scriptures, I concluded that the seven times of Gentile supremacy must commence when the Jews ceased to be an independent nation, at the captivity of Manasseh, which the best chronologers assigned to B.C. 677; that the 2300 days commenced with the seventy weeks, which the best chronologers dated from B.C. 457; and that the 1335 days commencing with the taking away of the daily, and the setting up of the abomination that maketh desolate, Daniel 12:11, were to be dated from the setting up of the papal supremacy, after the taking away of pagan abominations, and which, according to the best historians I could consult, should be dated from about A.D. 508. Reckoning all these prophetic periods from the several dates assigned by the best chronologers for the events from which they should evidently be reckoned, they would all terminate together, about A.D. 1843.SLWM 57.1

    “I was thus brought in 1818, at the close of my two years’ study of the Scriptures, to the solemn conclusion that in about twenty-five years from that time all the affairs of our present state would be wound up; that all its pride and power, pomp and vanity, wickedness and oppression, would come to an end; and that, in the place of the kingdoms of this world, the peaceful and long-desired kingdom of the Messiah would be established under the whole heaven; that, in about twenty-five years, the glory of the Lord would be revealed, and all flesh see it together - the desert bud and blossom as the rose, the fir-tree come up instead of the thorn, and, instead of the briar, the myrtle-tree - the curse be removed from off the earth, death be destroyed, reward be given to the servants of God, the prophets and saints, and them who fear his name, and those be destroyed that destroy the earth.SLWM 57.2

    “I need not speak of the joy that filled my heart in view of the delightful prospect, nor of the ardent longings of my soul for a participation in the joys of the redeemed. The Bible was now to me a new book. It was indeed a feast of reason; all that was dark, mystical or obscure, to me, in its teachings, had been dissipated from my mind before the clear light that now dawned from its sacred pages; and oh, how bright and glorious the truth appeared!SLWM 58.1

    “All the contradictions and inconsistencies I had before found in the word were gone; and, although there were many portions of which I was not satisfied I had a full understanding, yet so much light had emanated from it to the illumination of my before darkened mind, that I felt a delight in studying the Scriptures which I had not before supposed could be derived from its teachings. I commenced their study with no expectation of finding the time of the Saviour’s coming, and I could at first hardly believe the result to which I had arrived; but the evidence struck me with such force that I could not resist my convictions. I became nearly settle in my conclusions, and began to wait, and watch, and pray for my Saviour’s coming.SLWM 58.2

    “The above are the conclusions to which he arrived on the general subject of prophecy; but his view on other scriptural topics may not be uninteresting in this connection. His general theological opinions may be inferred from his connecting himself with a Calvinistic Baptist church, as the one most congenial to his faith. But he has left, among his papers, an unfinished compendium of his belief, which bears date, and is appended to the annexed certificate, as follows:-SLWM 59.1

    “‘LOW HAMPTON, SEPT. 5, 1822.
    “‘I hereby acknowledge that I have long believed it my duty ... to leave, for the inspection of my brethren, friends and children, a brief statement of my faith (and which ought to be my practice); and I pray God to forgive me where I go astray. I made it a subject of prayer and meditation, and, therefore, leave the following as my faith, - reserving the privilege of correction.
    “‘(Signed,) Wm. MILLER.

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