THE PASSING OF THE TIME--HIS POSITION--LINES ON HIS DISAPPOINTMENT--CONFESSION--VISIT OF ELD. LITCH--MR. MILLER AND THE METHODIST MINISTERS--TOUR TO OHIO--RETURN, ETC.
"THE vernal equinox of 1844 was the furthest point of time to which Mr. Miller's calculation of the prophetic periods extended. When this time passed, he wrote to Mr. Himes as follows:--
"'LOW HAMPTON, MARCH 25, 1844.
"'MY DEAR BROTHER HIMES:--I am now seated at my old desk in my east room. Having obtained help of God until the present time, I am still looking for the dear Saviour, the Son of God from Heaven, and for the fulfillment of the promise made to my fathers, and confirmed unto us by them that heard him, that he would come again and would receive us to himself, or gather in one body all the family of the first-born in Heaven and earth, even in him. This, Paul has told us, would be in the fullness of times. Eph. 1:9, 10.
"'The time, as I have calculated it, is now filled up; and I expect every moment to see the Saviour descend from heaven. I have now nothing to look for but this glorious hope. I am full in the faith that all prophetic chronology except the 1000 years in the 20th of Rev. is now about full. Whether God designs for me to warn the people of this earth any more, or not, I am at a loss to know; yet I mean to be governed, if time should continue any longer than I have expected, by the word and providence of Him who will never err, and in whom I think I have trusted, and been supported during my twelve years arduous labors, in trying to awaken the churches of God, and the Christian community, and to warn my fellow-men of the necessity of an immediate preparation to meet our Judge in the day of his appearing.
"'I hope I have cleansed my garments from the blood of souls. I feel that, as far as it was in my power, I have freed myself from all guilt in their condemnation. It is true, but not wonderful, when we become acquainted with the state and corruption of the present age of the Laodicean church, that I have met with great opposition from the pulpit and professed religious press; and I have been instrumental, through the preaching of the Advent doctrine, of making it quite manifest, that not a few of our theological teachers are infidels in disguise. I cannot for a moment believe that denying the resurrection of the body, or the return of Christ to this earth, or of a judgment day yet future, is any the less infidelity now than it was in the days of infidel France; and yet, who does not know that these things are as common as pulpits and presses are? And which of these questions are not publicly denied in our pulpits and by the writers and editors of the public papers?
"'Surely, we have fallen on strange times. I expected of course the doctrine of Christ's speedy coming would be opposed by infidels, blasphemers, drunkards, gamblers and the like; but I did not expect the ministers of the gospel and professors of religion would unite with characters of the above description, at stores and public places, in ridiculing the solemn doctrine of the Second Advent. Many who were not professors of religion have affirmed to me these facts, and say they have seen them, and have felt their blood chilled at the sight.
"'These are some of the effects which are produced by preaching this solemn and soul-stirring doctrine among our Pharisees of the present day. Is it possible that such ministers and members are obeying God, and watching and praying for his glorious appearing, while they join these scoffers in their unholy and ungodly remarks? If Christ does come, where must they appear? and what a dreadful account they will meet in that tremendous hour? But I feel almost confident that my labors are about done, and I am, with a deep interest of soul, looking for my blessed and glorious Redeemer, who will then be King over all the earth, and God with us forevermore.
"'This I can truly say is my chief desire. It is my meditation all the day long. It is my song in the night, and my faith and hope amidst the scenes of this sin-cursed earth. It consoles me in sickness, comforts me in tribulation, and gives me patience to endure the scoffs and tauntings of an ungodly, selfish, and unfeeling world. My faith and confidence in God's word is as strong as ever; although he has not come in the time I expected. I still believe the time is not far off, and that God will soon, yes, too soon for the proud scoffers, justify himself, his word, and the cry of alarm which has been given through your indefatigable labors, with others whom God has raised up to assist in giving the midnight cry.
"'I am highly gratified with your present position; if you had gone to criticising words in order to find another time, yet future, men would not have thought you honest in your views, would have lost all confidence in you, and the good you have done would have been neutralized, had you shifted or changed your ground.
"'You have good, honest and sure ground yet to stand upon; for Christ says, "So likewise ye when ye shall see all these things, know that he is near, even at the door." Now we have lived to see all the signs fulfilled, the time accomplished. "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come."
"'This is the position I have now to take, and what more work I have to do, will be done in this manner. I will,
"'1. PROVE BY SCRIPTURE AND HISTORY THAT TIME IS FULFILLED.
"'2. SHOW THE SIGNS ALL COMPLETED.
"'3. THE DUTY OF WATCHING, FOR WE KNOW NOT WHAT HOUR THE LORD MAY COME. And if God has anything more for me to do in his vineyard, he will give me strength, open the door, and enable me to do whatever may be his will, for his glory and the best good for man.
"'To him I leave the event, for him I watch and pray, saying, "COME, LORD JESUS, COME QUICKLY. AMEN. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
"On the 2d of May he wrote as follows:--
"'TO SECOND ADVENT BELIEVERS.
. . . . . .
"'Were I to live my life over again, with the same evidence that I then had, to be honest with God and man I should have to do as I have done. Although opposers said it would not come, they produced no weighty arguments. It was evidently guess-work with them; and I then thought, and do now, that their denial was based more on an unwillingness for the Lord to come than on any arguments leading to such a conclusion.
"'I confess my error and acknowledge my disappointment; yet I still believe that the day of the Lord is near, even at the door; and I exhort you, my brethren, to be watchful, and not let that day come upon you unawares. The wicked, the proud, and the bigot, will exult over us. I will try to be patient. God will deliver the godly out of temptation, and will reserve the unjust to be punished at Christ's appearing.
"'I want you, my brethren, not to be drawn away from the truth. Do not, I pray you, neglect the Scriptures. They are able to make you wise unto eternal life. Let us be careful not to be drawn away from the manner and object of Christ's coming; for the next attack of the adversary will be to induce unbelief respecting these. The manner of Christ's coming has been well discussed.
"Shortly after this he wrote the following lines respecting his disappointment:--
"'How tedious and lonesome the hours,
While Jesus, my Saviour, delays!
I have sought him in solitude's bowers,
And looked for him all the long days.
"'Yet he lingers--I pray tell me why
His chariot no sooner returns?
To see him in clouds of the sky,
My soul with intensity burns.
"'I long to be with him at home,
My heart swallowed up in his love,
On the fields of New Eden to roam,
And to dwell with my Saviour above.'
"During the last week of May, the Annual Conference of Adventists was held in the Tabernacle at Boston. Mr. Miller was present, and, at the close of one of the meetings, in accordance with a previous notice, arose, and frankly confessed his mistake in the definite time at which he supposed the prophetic periods would have terminated. The following notice of this confession, written by a hearer, appeared in the Boston Post on the 1st of June following:--
"'FATHER MILLER'S CONFESSION.--Many people were desirous of hearing what was termed Father Miller's Confession, which, according to rumor, was to be delivered at the Tabernacle on Tuesday evening last, when and where a large concourse assembled, myself among the number, to hear the "conclusion of the whole matter;" and I confess I was well paid for my time and trouble. I should judge, also, by the appearance of the audience, and the remarks I heard from one or two gentlemen not of Mr. Miller's faith, that a general satisfaction was felt. I never heard him when he was more eloquent or animated, or more happy in communicating his feelings and sentiments to others. Want of time and space will not permit me to give even a mere sketch of his remarks, which occupied more than an hour. He confessed that he had been disappointed, but by no means discouraged or shaken in his faith in God's goodness, or in the entire fulfillment of his word, or in the speedy coming of our Saviour, and the destruction of the world. Although the supposed time had passed, God's time had not passed. "If the vision tarry, wait for it." He remained firm in the belief that the end of all things is at hand, even at the door. He spoke with much feeling and effect, and left no doubt of his sincerity. D.'
"His disappointment in the passing of the time was great; but it did not at all impair his confidence in God, or affect his usual cheerfulness of disposition. Eld. Josiah Litch, who visited him on the 8th of June, at Low Hampton, thus wrote:--
"'I found both himself and family well and in fine spirits. Indeed, I have never seen him when he seemed to enjoy himself better than at present. If any evidence of his sincerity in preaching the advent of Christ in 1843 were wanting, in addition to his arduous and unrequited toil of twelve years, his present humble submission to his disappointment, and the spirit of meekness with which the confession of disappointment is made, is sufficient to satisfy the most incredulous that nothing but a deep conviction of duty to God and man could have moved such a man to such a work. That he is greatly disappointed in not seeing the Lord within the expected time, must be evident to all who hear him speak; while the tearful eye and subdued voice show from whence flow the words he utters.
"'Although disappointed as to time, I never saw him more strong than now in the general correctness of his expositions of Scripture and calculation of prophetic times, and in the faith of our Lord's speedy coming.'
"In company with his son George and Mr. Himes, Mr. Miller left home on the 21st of July, 1844, for a tour as far west as Cincinnati. They reached Rochester, N. Y., on the 23d, and on the 24th commenced a series of meetings in a beautiful grove in Scottsville, near that city. Mr. Miller was listened to with unusual interest.
"From Rochester they visited Buffalo, N. Y., Toronto, C. W., Lockport, N. Y., Cleveland, Akron, Cincinnati, and other places in Ohio. At this last place he lectured, on the evening of August 19, to an audience of about four thousand persons, and continued there one week.
"They had proposed going further west, but freshets in the rivers in those parts prevented. They returned from Cincinnati, up the Ohio and Muskingum rivers, to McConnellsville, which they reached on the 28th of August, and where Mr. M. delivered five lectures.
"On the 2d of September they left this place by steamboat, down the Muskingum river to Marietta, from thence to take a boat to Pittsburg, on their way to Philadelphia. On board the boat for Marietta they found from thirty to forty Methodist ministers, who were on their way to attend the Methodist Episcopal Conference in that city.
"Mr. M. noticed some sly glances from one to another, which seemed to say, 'We will have some sport with the old gentleman.' He, however, took no notice of them, but went to a retired part of the deck, and commenced reading. Soon a dandy-looking minister walked past him several times, and finally asked him:--
"'Is your name Miller?'
"Mr. M. replied in the affirmative, and kept on reading.
"He then asked him if he was the Miller who had prophesied the end of the world.
"Mr. M. said he did not prophesy, but supposed that he was the one to whom he referred.
"The minister said that he did not believe we could know when the world was to end.
"Mr. M., thinking he had a right to his unbelief, made no reply.
"The minister then said he did not believe God had revealed the time.
"Mr. M. replied that he could prove by the Bible that God had revealed it; and that, if he was an honest man, he would make him acknowledge it, by asking him a few questions in reference to the Bible, if he would answer them.
"The man retired, procured his Bible, and returned with about twenty other ministers, who gathered around him. An elderly one, who looked like an honest man, took his seat in front, on the capstan. All were attention. Mr. M. asked the man to read the first three verses of Dan. 12.
"This he did aloud.
"Mr. M. then asked if the resurrection was brought to view in those verses.
"The man looked at them for a while, and said he did not know that it was.
"Mr. M. asked him if he would tell what they did mean.
"He said he did not choose to do so.
"'Oh! very well,' said Mr. M.; 'we have nothing more to say together; for I did not agree to convince you, if you would not answer a few questions.'
"The elderly minister then asked him why he would not answer.
"'Because I do not choose to do so.'
"'Why,' said the old gentleman, 'I should have no objection to answering that question. It does refer to the resurrection.'
"'Well, father,' said Mr. M., 'I perceive you are an honest man. I will, if you please, ask you a few questions.'
"The old gentleman said he would answer them if he could.
"Mr. M. asked him to read the 6th verse--'How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?'--and say what wonders were referred to.
"The dandy minister then spoke--'Don't answer that question; he will make a Millerite of you.'
"The elderly minister said he was not afraid of the Bible, let it make what it would of him; and replied, that the 'wonders' referred to must mean the resurrection, &c.
"'Well,' said Mr. M., 'is the reply of the one clothed in linen, who sware "that it should be for a time, times, and an half," given in answer to the question, how long it will be to the resurrection?'
"Here the dandy minister again spoke--'Don't answer that question; for, if you do, he will make a Millerite of you.'
"The other gave him to understand that he was afraid of no result to which an honest investigation of the Scriptures might lead, and that he should answer any questions he choose to. The admission of the dandy minister, that honest answers could not be given to a few simple questions on a portion of Scripture, without making men 'Millerites,' excited the interest of all to the highest point.
"The elderly minister replied that he thought it must be given in answer to that question.
"On hearing the answer, the dandy minister shrunk back, closed his mouth, and interfered no more.
"Mr. M. asked who it was that gave this answer.
"The other readily replied that he was undoubtedly the Lord Jesus Christ.
"'Well, then,' said Mr. M., 'if the Lord Jesus Christ, in answer to the question, How long it should be to the resurrection, has sworn with an oath that it shall be for a time, times, and an half, is not the time revealed?'
"'But,' said the other, 'you can't tell what that time, times, and an half mean.'
"'I did not agree,' said Mr. M., 'to do that; our understanding of it is another thing. But has not God there revealed the time, and sworn to it with an oath?'
"'Yes,' said the other, 'he has.'
"'Well, then,' said Mr. M., 'I have proved all I agreed to.'
"'Why,' said the minister, 'I never saw this in this light before. Can you tell what is meant by time, times, and an half?'
"Mr. M. 'I will try. Read, if you please, the 6th verse of Rev. 12.'
"Min. '"And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three-score days."'
"Mr. M. 'Now read the 14th verse.'
"Min. '"And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time."'
"Mr. M. 'Do not those two denote the same period of time?'
"Mr. M. 'Then must not the time given in answer to the question be the same as the 1260 days?'
"The minister acknowledged it must be so.
"Mr. M. pointed him to the various places where the same period is presented under different forms,--forty-two months, 1260 days, time, times, and half a time--and showed him how 30 days to a month, and 12 months to a year, would make 3 1/2 years, equal to 1260 days. He then asked him if we might not know that God had revealed the time to the resurrection in days.
"He said, Yes; but asked if we could know how to reckon them.
"Mr. M. pointed him to Dan. 7:25, the time of the continuance of the saints in the hands of the little horn, a period of the same length, and asked if that could denote simply 1260 days; 'for' said he, 'you know that they persecuted the saints more than so many literal days.'
"This he admitted; but asked, if not literal days, what they were.
"Mr. M. showed him that the language was symbolical; that if it had been given in literal time, it would have had a bad effect on past generations, as they would have seen that the judgment could not come in their day, and they might not have lived in continual readiness for it, as they should do. He then referred to Num. 14:34, and Eze. 4:6, where God has appointed a day for a year; showed him how the 70 weeks were fulfilled in 490 years--as many years as there were days in 70 weeks--and showed there were just 1260 years from the time the decree of Justinian went into effect, A. D. 538, to 1798, when the papacy was subverted by Napoleon.
"The minister acknowledged the pertinency of these references, and confessed that the time sworn to by Christ must denote 1260 years.
"Mr. M. then showed how the 2300 days and the four great kingdoms, &c., bring us down to the end, and how they must terminate about this time; but confessed that the expected time had gone by. He spoke about an hour, during which the strictest attention was given by those who stood around. Many confessed they never thought that 'Millerism' was anything like that.
"On arriving at Marietta, Mr. M. was detained a part of the next day in the boat, and the inhabitants came down with the request that he would stop and lecture, offering him the Methodist house. But he was obliged to hasten on, and could not comply with their invitation.
"They arrived at Harrisburg, Pa., on Sunday, the 8th, and lectured four days in the old Methodist chapel to good audiences. On the 11th Mr. Miller wrote to the Signs of the Times as follows:--
"'HARRISBURG, SEPT. 11, 1844.
"'DEAR BRO. BLISS:--We are now in this place laboring to prove to the people that the Bible is the revealed will of God, and that all may and will be known which concerns us, to make us perfect in every good work, by every sincere and candid inquirer, in this age of general expectation of some moral or physical revolution in the earth. And we believe, and we so teach, that the revolution so much expected, and so long desired by every child of God, is the coming of King Jesus, the marriage of the Lamb, and the completion of all the promises given us who believe in God's word. We are as confident as faith in the blessed word can make us, that Christ is now at the very door, and soon our wondering eyes will be ravished by all the beauty, splendor, pomp and glory of our descending King.
"'These thoughts make me happy while I write; but, O God! what then will be my feelings, when faith will end in sight, and hope in fruition? I know that my mind is too feeble to imagine, my faculties too weak to comprehend the emotion of my soul, when I shall stand before him; yes, and see him as he is, and be like him; yes, more than that, ten times more grand, more glorious still than all, shall be forever with him. No more a stranger in this giddy world, no more a pilgrim from the dizzy maze of life's ten thousand cares, no more a wanderer from my father's house, no more to meet the scoffs of friends or foes, or meet the upturned lip, or curl of scorn from that black coat, and hear the oft-repeated epithet, in accents of deep derision, "There goes old Miller." My soul rejoices when I think a few more days, at most, and all these scenes will be forgotten in the eternal sunshine of his glory. Why not begin the song of everlasting gratitude to God for this blessed hope.
'"I find in every place where Bro. Himes and myself have traveled and labored, the same selfish, Pharisaical bigotry among the sects, and more especially among the several editors of pretended religious newspapers. Many of these misrepresent and falsely accuse their brethren of other sects in their trade--and they only fatten on the destruction of those who do not wear their sectarian badge. This would be a dark picture for the Christian religion, were it not for a few exceptions in the moral heavens; but there is now and then a brilliant star in the galaxy, that shines the brighter in consequence of the surrounding darkness; and in every sect we find a few of their numbers whose faithful hearts and honest lives denote they have not bowed the knee to Baal. Were it not for this, I long ago would have yielded up the point, that wicked men and devils, and the gates of hell, had in this our day prevailed against the church. But thank the Lord, a remnant yet is left; the Bible yet is true, and these men are but the tares which soon will be gathered and burned. I do believe few men will be left.
"'The organ of the "Church of God," so called, in this place, has spit his venom out, and I hope his poison will not taint his own body; but if it does, and should he reap the fruits, I hope he will remember his false assertions only go to show the bird was hit, and all his gall falls harmless at the feet of those he meant to wound. I will write you again when I get home.
"'I remain as ever "looking for the blessed hope," &c. WILLIAM MILLER.'
"They then passed on to Middletown, where they remained two days; to Sandersville, where Mr. M. gave one lecture; and to Philadelphia, where they arrived on the 14th of September. On the 16th, Mr. M. commenced his lectures at the Museum Saloon, in Julian street.
"On the 19th, Mr. M. reached New York city, and the next day gave a discourse in Franklin hall. On Sunday, P. M., he preached in the church in Chrystie street, from these words: 'But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things that are written in the law and the prophets; and have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.' Acts 24:14, 15. He spoke with great ease and clearness respecting the reasons which had fixed his mind on 1843. He acknowledged that there had been a mistake, but expressed his assurance in the near coming of Christ, for which event he entreated all to be in readiness. In the evening, he spoke in the same place, to a crowded and attentive audience, upon the seven last plagues of Rev. 16:15-17, six of which he believed had been poured out; during the last three hundred years.
"His health was at this time suffering considerably from the fatigues of the western tour; and, feeling it his duty to rest for a season, he declined the many urgent invitations which were then pressing upon him for lectures elsewhere, and returned to his family at Low Hampton. From that place he wrote as follows:--
"'SEPTEMBER 30, 1844.
"'DEAR BROTHER:--I am once more at home, worn down with the fatigue of my journey, my strength so exhausted and my bodily infirmities so great that I am about concluding I shall never be able again to labor in the vineyard as heretofore. I wish now to remember with gratitude all those who have assisted me in my endeavors to awaken the church and arouse the world to a sense of their awful danger.
"'I pray God, my brethren and sisters, that you may receive a reward in this life of a hundred fold, and, in the world to come, eternal life. Many of you have sacrificed much--your good names, former associations, flattering prospects in life, occupation, and goods; and with me you have received scorn, reproach, and scandal from those whom it was our souls' desire to benefit. Yet not one of you to whom my confidence has ever been given, has, to my knowledge, murmured or complained. You have cheerfully endured the cross, despised the shame, and with me are looking for and expecting the King in all his glory. This is to me a cause of gratitude to God. May he preserve you unto the end. There have been deceivers among us, but God has preserved me from giving them my confidence to deceive or betray. . . . . . .
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