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    Chapter 22

    First Call for a Second-Advent Conference — Convened in Boston, Mass. — Conference Address Sent Forth to the World — Diving-Bell — Clearing the Ship Channel — Wm. Miller’s Lectures in Fairhaven, Mass. — Also in New Bedford — Address to Ministers — Ministers’ Meeting — Antiochus Epiphanes — Thirty-two Square Rods for Every Person — Second Second-Advent Conference.

    THE Signs of the Times, of Boston, Mass., Sept. 1 and 15, 1840, published a call for a General Conference on the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, saying:—LELJB 258.2

    “The undersigned, believers in the second coming and kingdom of the Messiah at hand, cordially unite in the call for a General Conference of our brethren of the United States, and elsewhere, who are also looking for the advent near, to meet at Boston, Mass., Wednesday, October 14, 1840, at 10 o’clock, A. M., to continue two days, or as long as may then be found best. The object of the Conference will not be to form a new organization in the faith of Christ, nor to assail others of our brethren who differ with us in regard to the period and manner of the advent, but to discuss the whole subject faithfully and fairly, in the exercise of that spirit of Christ, in which it will be safe to meet him immediately at the Judgment-seat.LELJB 259.1

    “William Miller, David Millard,
    Henry Dana Ward, L. D. Fleming,
    Henry Jones, Joseph Bates,
    Henry Plumer, Chas. F. Stevens,
    John Truar, P. R. Russell,
    Josiah Litch, Isaiah Seavy,
    Joshua P. Atwood, Timothy Cole,
    Daniel Merrill, J. V. Himes.”
    LELJB 259.2

    In accordance with the call, the General Conference convened in Chardon-Street chapel, Boston, Mass., October 14, 1840, and continued two days with increasing interest; at the close of which the communion of the Lord’s supper was administered to about two hundred communicants of different denominations. Many of them were from remote distances.LELJB 259.3

    From this Conference, an address of 150 pages, in pamphlet form, was circulated in the United States and foreign lands. Eld. Joshua V. Himes entered into this work apparently with all the zeal of Joshua of old, in his preaching and editorial work, in circulating all the light which could be elicited from every quarter on the subject of the second advent of the Saviour.LELJB 259.4

    Previous to the Conference I had engaged myself as one of the proprietors of the New Bedford Bridge, to superintend its repairs, and at the same time keep it passable for carriages and footmen; hence there was some doubt about my getting to the meeting. At that time we were engaged with a vessel and diving-bell, in removing the stones that by some means had got into the channel of the draw-bridge, and were an obstruction to the heavy-laden ships passing through at low tides.LELJB 260.1

    As some of my readers may wish to understand something respecting the operation of picking up rocks and stones from the bottom of the ocean, twenty-five or thirty feet under water, I will try to explain it.LELJB 260.2

    A schooner, or two-masted vessel, is hauled up and secured by ropes close to the draw-bridge. There is a tackle between her mast-heads, the lower part of which is hooked into an iron eye-strap, which is fastened to the top of a diving-bell, standing on the schooner’s deck.LELJB 260.3

    The bell itself was in the form of a sugar-loaf, or cone, about nine feet high, and six feet in diameter at the bottom. It was provided with a seat inside for two persons, and when sunk to the bottom of the sea, the water would rise up about three feet in the open bottom. 1Sink a tea-cup or bowl, bottom side up, in a pail of water, and you will have a very fair illustration of a diving-bell. The space inside, above water, contained our allowance of air. For two persons it would last about an hour and a half; then it became necessary to be hoisted up to the surface for a supply of fresh air. To communicate with our companions on deck, three telegraphic lines, or cords, were in working order, the lower ends being hitched up inside of the bell. A few small glass blocks were set into the upper part of the bell, which lighted up our apartment while under water, about equal to the light above, at sunset.LELJB 260.4

    I went down with the diver a few times, for the purpose of ascertaining more correctly how the work could be accomplished. The bell was provided with guys to change its position when at the bottom, and a kind of basket to put the stones in. It was then hoisted from the deck, and we crawled underneath and up into the seats about four feet from the bottom. When the bell reached the water, by lowering the tackle, and began to shut all the air out except what was contained where we were, it produced a shuddering sensation, and a singular cracking noise in our heads, more especially in the ears, causing an involuntary working of the fingers there to let more air in, and relieve us of the painful sensation, which continued to some extent while under water.LELJB 261.1

    After the bell reached the bottom, we could telegraph to be moved any way within a small circle. When the diver loaded the basket with rocks and stones, by means of his iron instruments, it was made known to those on deck by pulling one of the cords, and then it was hoisted up and emptied. By means of a rope attached to the lower end of the basket, the diver would pull it back again, and thus he might continue his risky work until admonished for life to pull the telegraphic cord, and be hoisted up for a fresh supply of God’s free air.LELJB 261.2

    While at the bottom of the sea, we could learn very quickly when the tide turned to flow in, or ebb out, by its motion over the shells and stones, which we could see as plainly as in a little brook of water. No matter how deep the water, its ebbing and flowing moves the whole body alike from top to bottom. Where the tide ebbs and flows, the vast bodies of river and harbor waters are in constant rushing motion, from the top to the bottom. But this is only while the change of tide is taking place. And twice every twenty-four hours a new body of rushing waters is rolled into the harbors from the mother ocean, adding fresh sources of healthy action to the fish that swim, and the stationary shell-fish, and those buried beneath the sand at low-water mark.LELJB 262.1

    By persevering in our new business, in picking up rocks and stones from the bottom of the sea, the ship channel was cleared in time for me to leave with my companion, and be present at the opening of the first Second-Advent Conference in the world, much to our gratification and pleasure.LELJB 262.2

    In March, 1841, Bro. Miller commenced a course of lectures in the Washington-Street meeting-house, in Fairhaven, Mass. I thought if he could be obtained to lecture on the second coming of Christ, to my friends and neighbors, I would willingly give my seat in the meeting-house to others, if the house should be crowded. I had been reading his lectures, and supposed I understood the most he would preach. But after hearing his first lecture, I felt that I could not be denied the privilege of hearing the whole course, for his preaching was deeply interesting, and very far in advance of his written lectures.LELJB 262.3

    The house was crowded so that a great portion could not be seated, and yet all was quiet and still as night. It seemed as though the people were hearing for themselves. I believe they did then. Passing round among them the day after the lecture, one would hear another inquiring of his neighbor, “Were you at the meeting last night?” “Yes.” “Did you ever hear such preaching before?” “No.” “What do you think of his doctrine?” Many called on Bro. Miller to converse with him relative to the doctrine he taught, and seemed highly pleased with his prompt and ready quotations of Scripture in reply. Elders Himes and Cole accompanied him to Fairhaven. His week’s labor with us seemed to work a very apparent change among the people.LELJB 263.1

    His next course of lectures commenced the next week, in the North Christian meeting-house, in the city of New Bedford, about two miles distant. It was supposed that here he had about fifteen hundred hearers, the number that the house would accommodate at one time. A large portion of the aristocracy and ministers were in attendance. No such religious excitement for the time was ever heard of there. The interest seemed deep and wide-spread. At the close of the last meeting, Bro. Miller affectionately addressed the ministers, and exhorted them to faithfulness in their responsible work, and said, “I have been preaching to your people on the soon-coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, as I understand it from the Scriptures,” and added that, if they thought he was right, it was highly important that they should teach it to their respective congregations. But if he was wrong, he much desired to be set right, and expressed a strong desire to meet with them before he left the place, and examine the subject with them. The Baptist minister proposed the vestry of his church, in William Street, at 9 o’clock next morning.LELJB 263.2

    I was not a minister then, but I had a strong desire to attend this meeting, to learn how the ministers received the Second-Advent doctrine. By request, a number of lay members, with myself, were permitted to attend. When the meeting commenced in the morning, I counted twenty-two ministers present, belonging to the place and within a circle of a few miles around the city, and about forty lay members. After the meeting was organized, Bro. Miller proposed that they begin with the prophecy of Daniel, and requested the reader of the Scriptures to commence with the second chapter. Occasionally Bro. Miller would request the reader to pause, and then ask the ministers how they understood what had just been read. At first they looked upon each other in silence, seemingly unwilling to expose their ignorance in this matter, or to see who would reply. After some time, one of the learned ministers replied, “We believe it as you do, sir.” “Well,” said Bro. M., “if you are all agreed on this point, we will proceed.” No other one replied. The reader proceeded until another question. All was silent again until the same learned minister answered, “We believe this as you do, sir.” And thus they professed to believe with him to the end of the chapter. It was truly cheering to see how all these ministers of the various denominations were admitting and believing the doctrine of the second advent. They then commenced with chapter 7, and continued in harmony with Bro. M., until an objection was raised respecting the little horn of the fourth kingdom. The reader of the Scriptures, who raised the objection, said he wanted a little time for consideration here, and wished to know if the meeting could not be adjourned until the next day. A motion was made for an adjournment, and carried.LELJB 264.1

    The next morning the adjourned meeting convened, when the reader of the Scriptures introduced his commentary, and attempted to prove therefrom that Antiochus Epiphanes, one of the kings who had ruled in the kingdom of Syria, was the little horn of the fourth kingdom. Bro. M. ’s statement that it could not be so, but that the little horn was Rome, failed to satisfy them. Here the meeting closed without any further effort on their part. Since that time the subject of the little horn of Daniel 7 and 8, has been thoroughly criticised, and it has been settled that Rome is the power in question.LELJB 265.1

    Says Eld. J. N. Andrews on this subject:—LELJB 265.2

    “Out of many reasons that might be added to the above, we name but one. This power was to stand up against the Prince of princes. Daniel 8:25. The Prince of princes is Jesus Christ. Revelation 1:5; 17:14; 19:16. But Antiochus died one hundred and sixty-four years before our Lord was born. It is settled therefore that another power is the subject of this prophecy. To avoid the application of this prophecy to the Roman power, pagan and papal, the papists have shifted it from Rome to Antiochus Epiphanes, a Syrian king, who could not resist the mandates of Rome. See notes of the Douay [Romish] Bible on Daniel 7, 8, 9. This application is made by papists to save their church from any share in the fulfillment of the prophecy; and in this they have been followed by the mass of opposers to the Advent faith.”LELJB 265.3

    For further proof that Rome was the power, and that our Lord and Saviour was the Prince which that power stood up against, as noted in the prophecy, see Acts 3:15; 5:31; 4:26, 27.LELJB 266.1

    Among the many questions with reference to the second advent of the Saviour, Bro. Miller was asked the following: “How can the whole human race stand upon the earth at one time, as mentioned in Revelation 20, at the last Judgment?”LELJB 266.2

    Ans. “Allow 800,000,000 for every thirty years in six thousand years, and it will give 160,000,000,000. Allow fifty million square miles for the earth, and it would make five trillion one hundred and twenty thousand millions of square rods. This divided among 160,000,000,000 of inhabitants, would give thirty-two square rods to every individual on the globe!”LELJB 266.3

    The second Second-Advent Conference was held in the city of Lowell, Mass., June 15-17, 1841. At this meeting Bro. Josiah Litch, of Boston, Mass., was present. Bro. L., in the year 1838, sent out his exposition of the ninth chapter of Revelation, predicting the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the close of the prophetic period, “an hour and a day and a month and a year, which would expire August 11, 1840, when the sixth angel would cease to sound, and the second woe be past. Having obtained official accounts of the revolution that had then just closed in the Ottoman Empire, he came to this meeting prepared to prove the accomplishment of his calculation, to which tens of thousands with intense anxiety had been looking. The mass of evidence in the official accounts connected with the prophecy of his interesting discourse, proved that the Ottoman supremacy did cease on the 11th day of August, 1840. “And the second woe was passed, and behold, the third woe cometh quickly.” This wonderfully aroused the people of God, and gave a mighty impulse to the Advent movement.LELJB 266.4

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