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Sketches of the Christian Life and Public Labors of William Miller - Contents
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    “ON the 24th of April he commenced a course of lectures in the large hall of Apollo, 410 Broadway, in the city of New York, as usual to large audiences, closing on the 10th of May.SLWM 160.2

    “On the 7th of May, he visited Newark, N.J., and gave two discourses in the Universalist chapel in that city. In compliance with three very urgent requests from Rev. Joshua Fletcher, pastor, and the unanimous vote of the Baptist church, in Saratoga, N.Y., Mr. M. again visited that place, and lectured from the 14th to the 22nd of May. From the 24th to the 28th of May, he gave his seventh course of lectures in Boston; and from the 29th of May to the 3rd of June, 1842, he lectured in Newburyport, Mass. At the commencement of his lecture, in the evening of the first day, an egg was thrown into the hall, at him, but fell upon the side of the desk. At the close, stones were thrown through the windows, by a mob outside, who indulged in some characteristic hootings and kindred noises. The congregation dispersed without damage, save the glass of lamps and windows. Under those circumstances the town authorities closed the hall, and the lectures were adjourned to the chapel in Hale’s Court. They continued till Friday, June 3, a goodly number having received Christ to the joy of their souls.SLWM 160.3

    “From the 4th to the 12th of June, he gave a second course of lectures in the Casco-street church, Portland, Me. They were attended by crowds of anxious hearers, and many Christians were refreshed, while some sinners were converted to God. From the 16th to the 26th of June, he lectured at Three Rivers (in Palmer, Mass.) A member of the Baptist church there afterward wrote, through the Christian Reflector, the organ of that denomination as follows:-SLWM 161.1

    “‘DEAR BROTHER GRAVES;- It is with gratitude to God that I am able to turn aside from the joyful scenes around me to inform the friends in Zion what God hath wrought for us. Rev. William Miller, on the 16th of June last, commenced a course of lectures on the second advent of Christ to this world in 1843. The lectures were delivered in our meeting-house, which, however, would hold but a small part of the audience, it being estimated at five thousand; and notwithstanding prepossessions, prejudices, and the slanderous reports circulated about this man of God, the people gave heed to the word spoken, and seemed determined to examine the Scriptures, to see if these things were so; and deep solemnity pervaded the vast assembly. The children of God were soon aroused to a sense of their duty; sinners were seen weeping, and heard to say “Pray for me!” The number increased, until one hundred in an evening prayer-meeting were seen to arise to be remembered in the prayers of the saints. Soon converts began to tell us what the Lord had done for them. Some deists, some Universalists, and many of the thoughtless, of both the middle-aged and the youthful part of the community, have been brought to submit their hearts to God, and are now waiting for and hasting to the coming of the day of God. As to the character of the work, let me say, I have never seen a more thorough conviction of the total depravity of the heart, and the utter helplessness of the sinner, and that, if saved, it must be by the sovereign grace of God, than has been manifest in all that have given a relation of their experience.’SLWM 161.2

    “On the 29th of June, 1842, Mr. M. commenced a course of lectures on the camp-ground at East Kingston, N.H. This was the first camp-meeting held by believers in the advent near, and was noticed by a writer in the Boston Post as follows:-SLWM 162.1

    “‘The Second Advent camp-meeting, which commenced at East Kingston, N. H., on Tuesday, June 29, and continued from day to day until Tuesday noon, July 5, was attended by an immense concourse of people, variously estimated at from seven to ten thousand.....SLWM 162.2

    “‘The meeting was conducted with great regularity and good order from beginning to end. The ladies were seated on one side, and the gentlemen on the other, of the speaker; meals were served uniformly and punctually at the times appointed, and the same punctuality was observed as to the hours appointed for the services.SLWM 162.3

    “‘The preachers were twelve or fifteen. Mr. Miller gave the only regular course of lectures - the others speaking occasionally. Many of the people, without doubt, assembled from motives of curiosity merely; but the great body of them, from their solemn looks and close attention to the subject, were evidently actuated by higher and more important motives. Each tent was under the supervision of a tent-master, who was responsible for the good order within the same, where religious exercises were kept up at the intermissions between the public exercises and meals, and where lights were kept burning through the night....SLWM 163.1

    “‘Some fault was found, or dissatisfaction felt, with that part of the regulations which precluded all controversy, i.e., which prevented people of opposite theological sentiments from occupying the time or distracting the attention of the audience, which would otherwise have introduced confusion and defeated the object of the meeting. Nothing could be more reasonable than this regulation, and no peace-loving person would make any objection.... The meeting broke up with harmony and good feeling.’SLWM 163.2

    “A few years later, a distinguished American writer and poet, J.G. Whittier, who was present at this meeting, made the following reference to it:-SLWM 163.3

    “‘Three or four years ago, on my way eastward, I spent an hour or two at a camp-ground of the Second Advent in East Kingston. The spot was well chosen. A tall growth of pine and hemlock threw its melancholy shadow over the multitude, who were arranged upon rough seats of boards and logs. Several hundred - perhaps a thousand - people were present, and more were rapidly coming. Drawn about in a circle, forming a background of snowy whiteness to the dark masses of men and foliage, were the white tents, and back of them the provision stalls and cook shops. When I reached the ground, a hymn, the words of which I could not distinguish, was pealing through the dim aisles of the forest. I know nothing of music, having neither ear nor taste for it; but I could readily see that it had its effect upon the multitude before me, kindling to higher intensity their already excited enthusiasm. The preachers were placed in a rude pulpit of rough boards, carpeted only by the dead forest leaves and flowers, and tasselled, not with silk and velvet, but with the green boughs of the somber hemlocks around it. One of them followed the music in an earnest exhortation on the duty of preparing for the great event. Occasionally he was really eloquent, and his description of the last day had all the terrible distinctness of Anelli’s painting of the “End of the World.”SLWM 163.4

    “‘Suspended from the front of the rude pulpit were two broad sheets of canvas, upon one of which was the figure of a man - the head of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly of brass, the legs of iron, and feet of clay - the dream of Nebuchadnezzar! On the other were depicted the wonders of the Apocalyptic vision - the beasts - the dragon - the scarlet woman seen by the seer of Patmos - oriental types and figures and mystic symbols translated into staring Yankee realities, and exhibited like the beasts of a traveling menagerie. One horrible image, with its hideous heads and scaly caudal extremity, reminded me of the tremendous line of Milton, who, in speaking of the same evil dragon, describes him as” ‘Swinging the scaly horrors of his folded tail.’SLWM 164.1

    “‘To an imaginative mind the scene was full of novel interest. The white circle of tents - the dim wood arches - the upturned, earnest faces - the loud voices of the speakers, burdened with the awful symbolic language of the Bible - the smoke from the fires rising like incense from forest altars - carrying one back to the days of primitive worship, whenSLWM 165.1

    “‘The groves were God’s first temples, ere men learned
    To hew the shaft, and lay the architrave,
    And stretch the roof above it.’

    “There were near thirty tents on the ground, and the interest of the meeting continued to the last. Mr. Miller left the ground on the 4th of July, for Northampton, Mass., where he lectured from the 5th to the 7th, and then proceeded to Low Hampton.SLWM 165.2

    “He remained at home till past the middle of August. On the 20th of that month he commenced a course of lectures at Brandon, Vt., which continued till the 28th. On the 25th, a large tent had been pitched at Chicopee, Mass., where Mr. Miller was anxiously expected; but he did not arrive so as to commence his lectures till the 1st of September. He then lectured each day till the 4th, when the meeting closed. That was a very large gathering and, as was estimated, some four hundred or more found peace in believing.SLWM 165.3

    “From the 7th to the 11th of September, he lectured at Castine, Maine. On returning to Boston, on the 12th at the request of the passengers, he gave a lecture on the boat. He went to Albany on the 13th, lectured there in the evening, and on the next day took the canal-boat, on which he also lectured, on his way to Granville, N.Y., where he lectured from the 18th to the 23rd of September. From the 8th to the 16th of October, he lectured in Whitehall, N.Y., and from the 20th to the 30th, at Benson, Vt., where Mr. Himes held a tent-meeting in connection with his lectures.SLWM 166.1

    “On the 3rd of November, Mr. Himes erected the big tent in Newark, N.J. Mr. Miller was not able to be present till the 7th, from which time to the 14th he gave fifteen discourses. Five days before the close of that meeting the weather became so inclement that the meetings could not be continued in the tent, and they were adjourned to the Presbyterian church in Clinton street, which was kindly opened during the week. On Sunday, the 13th, the meeting was held in the morning in Mechanic’s Hall, which was crowded to suffocation, and found to be altogether too strait for them. At 2 p.m., Mr. Miller spoke from the steps of the court house to nearly five thousand people. Notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather, and their being thus driven from pillar to post, the meetings were very interesting, and were productive of much good.SLWM 166.2

    “At the close of the meeting in Newark, he commenced a course of lectures in New York city, which continued till the 18th of November. On the 19th of November, he commenced a course of lectures in New Haven, Ct., in the M.E. church, Rev. Mr. Law, pastor. On Sunday, the 20th, although the house was large, it was crowded; and in the evening many were unable to gain admittance. He continued there till the 26th, the interest continuing during the entire course. The Fountain, a temperance paper published in that city, gave the following account of the meeting:-SLWM 166.3

    “‘Mr. William Miller, the celebrated writer and lecturer on the second advent of our Saviour, and the speedy destruction of the world, has recently visited our city, and delivered a course of lectures to an immense concourse of eager listeners in the First Methodist church. It is estimated that not less than three thousand persons were in attendance at the church, on each evening, for a week; and if the almost breathless silence which reigned throughout the immense throng for two or three hours at a time is any evidence of interest in the subject of the lectures, it cannot be said that our community are devoid of feeling on this momentous question.SLWM 167.1

    “‘Mr. Miller was accompanied and assisted by Rev. J.V. Himes, who is by no means an inefficient coadjutor in this great and important work. We did not attend the whole course, the last three lectures being all we had an opportunity of hearing. We were utterly disappointed. So many extravagant things had been said of the “fanatics” in the public prints, and such distorted statements published in reference to their articles of faith, that we were prepared to witness disgusting, and perhaps blasphemous exhibitions of “Millerism,” as the doctrine of the second advent is called.SLWM 167.2

    “‘In justice to Mr. Miller we are constrained to say that he is one of the most interesting lecturers we have any recollection of ever having heard. We have not the least doubt that he is fully convinced of the truth of the doctrine, he labors so diligently to inculcate, and he certainly evinces great candor and fairness in his manner of proving his points. And he proves them, too, to the satisfaction of every hearer; that is, allowing his premises to be correct, there is no getting away from his conclusions.SLWM 168.1

    “‘There was quite a number of believers in attendance from other places, and a happier company we have never seen. We have no means of ascertaining the precise effect of these meetings on this community, but we know that many minds have been induced to contemplate the Scripture prophecies in a new light, and not a few are studying the Bible with unwonted interest. For our own part, this new view of the world’s destiny is so completely at variance with previous habits of thought and anticipation that we are not prepared to give it entire credence, though we should not dare hazard an attempt to disprove it.SLWM 168.2

    “‘The best part of the story is, that a powerful revival has followed the labors of Messrs. Miller and company. We learn that over fifty persons presented themselves for prayers at the altar of the Methodist church on Sunday evening. On Monday evening the number was about eighty.’SLWM 168.3

    “In the month of May following, Rev. A. A. Stevens (Orthodox Cong.), then a member of Yale College, in a letter to the Midnight Cry, stated that ‘the powerful and glorious revival which then commenced, continued for some two months, with almost unabated interest.’SLWM 168.4

    “At the close of these lectures, Mr. M. returned to New York city, where he gave six discourses, from the 27th to the 29th of November, and then returned to Low Hampton. Arriving home, he wrote as follows:-” ‘LOW HAMPTON, DEC. 7, 1842.SLWM 169.1

    “‘DEAR BROTHER HIMES: ..... I did not get home till 10 o’clock, P.M., same day we left New York, we were brought up all standing in a snow-bank, which we kept bunting, with two or three locomotives, until the next evening at 7 o’clock. On Thursday, by the mighty power of three locomotives, we gained twelve miles from Great Barrington, where we were brought up the night before, to the state line, where they left us and we waited for the Boston cars, which had been due thirty hours. That night we slept in the cars, as the night before, and Friday we got as far as Lansingburg. Saturday I came home, cold and weary, worn out and exhausted. On my arrival, I found a messenger after me and my wife, to visit her mother, who was supposed to be dying. My wife went, and soon returned with the news of her death. After attending the funeral, we came home on Monday night and yesterday I got some rest. This morning I feel some refreshed. But the fatigue of body and mind has almost unnerved this old frame, and unfitted me to endure the burdens which Providence calls upon me to bear. I find that, as I grow old, I grow more peevish, and cannot bear so much contradiction. Therefore I am called uncharitable and severe. No matter; this frail life will soon be over. My Master will soon call me home, and soon the scoffer and I shall be in another world, to render our account before a righteous tribunal. I will therefore appeal to the Supreme Court of the Universe for the redress of grievances, and the rendering of judgment in my favor, by a revocation of the judgment in the court below. The World and Clergy vs. Miller.SLWM 169.2

    “‘I remain, looking for the blessed hope,
    SLWM 170.1