William Miller Biography CHAPTER VIII.


"ON the 31st of January, 1841, Mr. Miller again visited Boston, and commenced his fourth course of lectures in that city. He continued there till the 19th of February. The first eighteen lectures were given in the Chardon-street Chapel, 'which was crowded almost to suffocation, and thousands were obliged to retire for want of room.' Beginning on the 9th, a second course of eighteen lectures was delivered, by invitation of the Baptist church in South Boston, Thomas Driver, pastor.

"In compliance with an invitation from Rev. N. Hervey, pastor of the Baptist church in Andover, Mass., Mr. M. commenced a course of lectures in their house on Sunday, February 21, 1841. The students of the orthodox institution there requested him to lecture only evenings, that they might attend his full course; but he could not consistently comply with their wishes. His labors continued there till March 2, and were attended by a very large and attentive audience. Mr. Hervey, in whose church they were delivered, has given the following sketch of them:--

"'His exposition of the prophecies, together with his earnest and impressive appeals to Christians and sinners to prepare for the coming of the Lord, was the means of arousing Christians to action, and of the conversion of a number of persons who before were without hope and without God in the world. In the course of the lectures, an incident occurred which shows his familiar acquaintance with the Scriptures and promptness to meet objectors to his views. About the fourth day of his labors he received a letter, signed "Anonymous," containing a long list of passages from the Old and New Testaments, which were evidently quoted by "Anonymous" from memory, without naming their chapter and verse. These passages were thought by the author of the letter to be directly opposed to Mr. Miller's view of the near approach and personal reign of Christ on earth. To these texts was affixed a single question. The letter, on being taken from the office, was presented to Mr. Miller, who read it through, and immediately said: "Anonymous" has not quoted a single text right. In the evening, previous to his lecture, he took the letter from his pocket, and inquired if there was a person in the audience by the name of Anonymous. If so, he would like to have him stand up. The house was filled on that evening by a large congregation. Mr. Miller waited some time for the appearance of "Anonymous;" the congregation remained in breathless silence to see the stranger. But no one answered to the call. Mr. Miller then read the letter, and, as he read each passage, also read the same from the Bible. The audience were satisfied that not one text was correctly quoted. Mr. Miller again repeated the call for "Anonymous" to stand up, if he was present. No one arose. Mr. Miller then read the question which closed the letter, namely--"Mr. Miller, how dare you assert your theory with so much confidence without a knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek languages?" To this Mr. Miller promptly replied, "If I am not acquainted with the HEBREW and GREEK, I know enough to quote the English texts of the Scriptures rightly." "Anonymous" never made himself known, and it was the impression of many of the audience that the author of the letter, if he was skilled in the Hebrew and Greek, was exceedingly deficient in his knowledge of the English Scriptures.

"'During Mr. Miller's stay in Andover several persons called to converse with him on the topics of his lectures, and he was very ready to devote his time to conversation with persons desirous of receiving information. He entered into the conversation with all his heart, and hundreds will remember with delight and devout gratitude to God the interviews they have enjoyed with him, and the instructions they have received from his lips. He was ever ready to answer all reasonable questions, and could generally distinguish between the caviler and the sincere inquirer after truth. Two young men, who were in the course of study at the Theological Seminary at Andover, called to see Mr. Miller while at the house of the writer, and spent some time in conversation with him upon the advent of Christ. After the conversation, as they were about leaving, one of the young men asked Mr. Miller the following question: "Well, if the Lord is coming so soon, Mr. Miller, what shall we do who are studying for the ministry? We have some time yet to prepare for the pastoral office."

"'To this the good man promptly replied: "Young men, if God has called you to study, keep on in your course, and I will aid you all in my power; but if he has called you to preach, study your Bibles, and commence preaching immediately."

"'The young men bade their adviser good day.

"'N. H.'

"From the 3d to the 13th of March, he lectured to crowded audiences at the Marlboro' Chapel, his fifth course of lectures in Boston. From the 13th to the 19th of the same month, he lectured in Fairhaven, Mass.; from the 20th to the 26th, in New Bedford, Mass.; and from the 27th of March to the 5th of April, to large audiences in Providence, R. I. The Town Hall, a commodious building, was granted by the City Council for that purpose. On Sunday, the 4th, by the invitation of Rev. Mr. Jameson, of the 3d Baptist Church, he lectured there all day to full and solemn congregations. His keeping no journal, makes it impossible to give the particular results of these lectures; but in each of the last three places a large number of intelligent members, in the several churches, embraced his views.

"From the 8th to the 15th of April, 1841, he labored in Lowell, Mass., when, after an absence of three months, he returned home to enjoy a season of rest. At this time he estimated that, since the 1st of October, 1839, he had 'traveled four thousand five hundred and sixty miles, and preached six hundred and twenty-seven lectures, averaging one and a half hours each, resulting in about five thousand hopeful conversions.'

"On the 23d of May, in compliance with a very urgent request from Addison, Vt., he commenced a course of lectures there, which continued till the 30th, when he was taken sick with a painful inflammation in his left limb. He immediately returned home, when the other limb was similarly affected. This terminated in painful swellings and copious discharges, which began to heal about the 10th of June, but confined him to his room till the last of August; so that he rested from labor during the summer.

"From the 12th to the 20th of September, he lectured in Hartford, N. Y., to crowded houses. On the 26th of September, and onward to October 6, he lectured at Ballston, N. Y.; and on the 10th of October, he commenced a course of lectures at Galway, N. Y., which closed on the 17th. With these lectures a revival commenced, which, according to a letter from Rev. Wm. B. Curtis, pastor of the Baptist church, extended into the neighboring towns. Under date of March 12, 1842, he wrote to Mr. Miller as follows:--

"'The glorious work soon became general and powerful, and we continued our meetings (including the week you were with us) eight weeks, with only a day or two intermission. I find I have over one hundred names of persons who profess to have obtained hope in the pardoning mercy of God. Including those converted in other meetings originating from this revival, it is probable that from one hundred and fifty to two hundred have been converted to God in this vicinity since your labors here. In justice to yourself and the truth, I must say that the extent and power of this glorious revival was greatly promoted by your lectures. Many converts date their first impressions from hearing you. The work has prevailed principally in the Baptist, Methodist, and Christian societies, while there have been but few conversions among the Presbyterians, who stood aloof from you when here.'

"On the 18th of October he returned to Low Hampton, and presided at a Conference of Second Advent believers, which assembled in the Baptist church there, from the 2d to the 5th of November, 1841.

"On the 10th of November, in compliance with an invitation numerously signed, he commenced a course of lectures in the town-house at Claremont, N. H., and continued to the 18th. A letter signed 'J. Andrews,' written soon after, states: 'Now all the town is aroused to the subject of religion. The Baptist, Methodist, and Congregational societies are all united in this work. Some are converted, and from sixty to seventy-five are anxiously seeking the Lord.'

"On the 14th of November, the First Baptist Church, Mr. Parker, pastor, in Cambridgeport, Mass., voted unanimously to renew an invitation, which they had some time before extended to Mr. Miller, and with which he had been unable to comply, to give a course of lectures there. In compliance with that request, he made arrangements to commence there on Sunday, the 21st of November; but, in consequence of the breaking down of the stage on Saturday, he was detained in Nashua over the Sabbath, and gave three lectures to the citizens of that place. He reached Cambridgeport on the 23d, and continued till the 28th. On the day following, he commenced his sixth course of lectures in Boston, at Boylston Hall, where he addressed large audiences each day and evening till the 9th of December.

"These repeated series of discourses in Boston had a powerful effect on the community. As usual, large numbers went away, unable to gain admittance, and many were hopefully converted from sin to holiness. This last was a common feature in all his labors, and was one great reason why calls from those who did not entertain his views were so frequent and urgent. This reason is given in an invitation extended to him by the Baptist church in New Ipswich, N. H., November 29, 1841. Their pastor, J. M. Willmarth, thus writes: 'The majority desire you to come, principally because they have understood that your addresses to sinners are plain and pungent, and frequently attended with the divine blessing in the conversion of souls.'

"A course of lectures in Dover, N. H., continuing from the 11th to the 19th of December, terminated his labors for the year 1841.

"From the 8th to the 16th of January, 1842, he lectured at Fonday's Bush, N. Y.; from the 17th to the 26th of January, in Jamesville, N. Y.; and from the 27th of January to the 3d of February, in the Presbyterian church at Sandy Hill, N. Y. A conference of Advent believers was held in this church, commencing on the 1st of February and closing on the 4th. The services were held the last evening at the court-house. On that occasion about one hundred persons arose for prayer, and a revival commenced which continued for weeks. On this evening an incident occurred which did much to deepen the impressions made by the lecture. H. B. Northop, Esq., a prominent lawyer of that county, arose, at the close of the meeting, and remarked that he had stood at that bar many times and addressed a jury of twelve sensible men, presenting evidence and arguments which he knew were weak and fallacious, and he knew others might have seen it; but he had sat down with the confident expectation that those twelve men would give him their verdict. He had attended these lectures, and had done it with a mind strongly predisposed to reject the doctrine, and exceedingly skeptical. He had attended with a determination, if possible to overthrow the theory, and to exult with a feeling of triumph if he succeeded. He had watched every word and sentence, and made an effort at every point where he thought there was a possibility of making a breach; but had been unable to do it. And now, after making himself acquainted with history, sacred and profane, with prophecies and prophetic periods, so far as his circumstances would permit him to do, he would frankly confess that he had never found any theory that would compare with this for strength of evidence. He would not say he believed the event would come in 1843, or within ten years of that; but he could see no reason why it would not take place then! At any rate, he was satisfied, if there was any truth in the Bible, the event was near; and this is the nearest calculation we can possibly come to respecting the time.

"The effect of such a declaration, from such a source, can be better imagined than described.

"Rev. Seth Ewer, in a letter of the 2d of March following, wrote:--

"'For about four weeks we continued meetings, day and evening. . . . . We find new cases of conviction daily, and frequent hopeful conversions. Our house of worship is thronged every evening. Last Sabbath evening the question was put, whether they wished to continue the services; and hundreds arose in the affirmative. . . . Between fifty and sixty profess to have obtained a hope.'

"From the 12th of February, 1842, to the 17th, he lectured in Benson, Vt. At the close of this meeting he took a violent cold, which prevented him from speaking for a few days. He commenced a course of lectures at Nashua, N. H., on the 24th of February; but, after speaking a few times to crowded houses, the state of his lungs and the want of a suitable place to speak in compelled him to relinquish his labors there on the third day.

"From the 6th to the 9th of March, Mr. Miller lectured in Medford, Mass. While here a friend took him to a phrenologist in Boston, with whom he was himself acquainted, but who had no suspicion whose head he was about to examine. The phrenologist commenced by saying that the person under examination had a large, well-developed, and well-balanced head. While examining the moral and intellectual organs, he said to Mr. Miller's friend:--

"'I tell you what it is, Mr. Miller could not easily make a convert of this man to his hair-brained theory. He has too much good sense.'

"Thus he proceeded, making comparisons between the head he was examining and the head of Mr. Miller, as he fancied it would be.

"'Oh, how I should like to examine Mr. Miller's head!' said he; 'I would give it one squeezing.'

"The phrenologist, knowing that the gentleman was a particular friend of Mr. Miller, spared no pains in going out of the way to make remarks upon him. Putting his hand on the organ of marvelousness, he said: 'There! I'll bet you anything that old Miller has got a bump on his head there as big as my fist;' at the same time doubling up his fist as an illustration.

"The others present laughed at the perfection of the joke, and he heartily joined them, supposing they were laughing at his witticisms on Mr. Miller.

"'He laughed; 't was well. The tale applied

Soon made him laugh on t' other side.'

"He pronounced the head of the gentleman under examination, the reverse, in every particular, of what he declared Mr. Miller's must be. When through, he made out his chart, and politely asked Mr. Miller his name.

"Mr. Miller said it was of no consequence about putting his name upon the chart; but the phrenologist insisted.

"'Very well,' said Mr. M.; 'you may call it Miller, if you choose.'

"'Miller, Miller,' said he; 'what is your first name?'

"'They call me William Miller.'

"'What! the gentleman who is lecturing on the prophecies?'

"'Yes, sir, the same.'

"At this the phrenologist settled back in his chair, the personation of astonishment and dismay, and spoke not a word while the company remained. His feelings may be more easily imagined than described.

"The following description of Mr. Miller's phrenological developments were furnished by a phrenological friend in 1842, and may be of some interest to those acquainted with that science:--

"ORGANS VERY LARGE.--Amativeness, Adhesiveness, Combativeness, Firmness, Conscientiousness, Benevolence, Constructiveness, Ideality, Calculation, Comparison.

"LARGE.--Philoprogenitiveness, Alimentiveness, Acquisitiveness, Self-Esteem, Imitation, Mirthfulness, Form, Size, Order, Locality, Eventuality, Time, Language, Causality.

"FULL.--Inhabitiveness, Concentrativeness, Caution, Approbation, Wonder, Veneration, Weight, Color, Tune.

"MODERATE.--Marvelousness, Secretiveness, Hope, Individuality.

"From the 12th to the 20th of March, he lectured in the Town Hall in Worcester, Mass. The meetings were well attended, the hall being crowded during most of the time; two thousand people were judged to have been present. While explaining the 7th chapter of Daniel, Mr. M. very significantly inquired how there could be a millennium, according to the common understanding of it, while the little horn warred with the saints, which he was to do till the coming of the Ancient of Days? A Baptist clergyman arose, and offered to answer that question the following morning. The next morning he came in and requested additional time, and his answer was postponed another day. When that time arrived he came in and presented the common view respecting the millennium, and inquired if there was no way to harmonize that text with it. Mr. M. said, that was what they were waiting for him to do! But he left it there. This caused Mr. M. to be listened to with more than usual interest. A revival attended his labors, and considerable effect was produced on the public mind.

From the 22d to the 28th, he lectured in the City Hall in Hartford, Ct. From two hundred to three hundred persons in that city became favorable to his views as the result of those lectures. Mr. M. was prevented from giving his whole course of lectures, on this occasion, by a severe attack of catarrh and influenza, which made him unable to proceed. The Hartford Christian Secretary, a Baptist periodical, said of these meetings:--

"'One fact connected with this conference struck us somewhat forcibly; and that was, the immense crowd which attended the whole course of lectures. We are unable to speak of the attendance during the day, but in the evening the large hall was filled to overflowing with attentive listeners. Probably not less than from fifteen hundred to two thousand persons were in attendance every evening. This large mass of hearers was made up from nearly or quite every congregation in the city. How many of them have become converts to this new doctrine we have no means of judging, but presume the number is not very small. Of one thing we are satisfied, and that is this: unless the clergy, generally, present a better theory than the one offered by Mr. Miller, the doctrine will prevail to a very general extent.'

"It was on this occasion that the writer of this became convinced that the second advent is to be pre-millennial; and the first resurrection, a 'resurrection out from among the dead.' At the close of these labors, Mr. M. returned to Low Hampton, for that rest which his overtasked frame now greatly needed.

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