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Sketches of the Christian Life and Public Labors of William Miller

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    “IN the interval between Mr. Miller’s return from Boston to his home at Low Hampton and the recommencement of his public labors, he was visited by his dearly beloved friend, the late Elder Nathaniel Southard, who wrote as follows of”‘THE HOME OF WILLIAM MILLER.SLWM 262.2

    “It was Saturday forenoon when we passed over the rough road, and stopped at a one-storied house, where a post-office is kept. It is the residence of William S., oldest son of Bro. Miller, P. M., at the office, which, for distinction, is called Low Hampton. He was not at home; but one of his little daughters told us the residence of her grandfather was in sight on the hill, Without waiting for her to point it out, I easily recognized it - from previous description - among the good-looking farm-houses in sight. It was not the largest or handsomest. The back part of it only, which is painted red, could be seen. It is two stories high. The northern front and ends are painted white. On the way we passed the small, plain meeting-house of the Baptist church to which Bro. M. belongs.SLWM 262.3

    “‘At the gate of his hospitable mansion we met a young man in a wagon, with crutches by his side, whose round, open countenance showed him to be a son of William Miller. He gave us a cordial invitation to enter. Three visitors were already in the house, to whom myself, wife and child, being added, made a number which we feared would be burdensome. We soon found ourselves perfectly at home, though we had never before seen one of the family but its venerable head.SLWM 263.1

    “‘The next day other visitors arrived, one of whom was a lady from Iowa, and three from Vergennes. The day was very stormy. We went to the place of worship, and found a congregation consisting of fewer persons than we left at the house. The preacher, Bro. Increase Jones, gave a plain, practical sermon on the text, “The end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” In the afternoon we opened the Scriptures, and tried to pursue the apostolic method in speaking of Jesus and the resurrection.SLWM 263.2

    “‘On our way from the meeting, after referring to the number of guests, we asked Robbins if they usually had as much company.SLWM 263.3

    “‘Pretty nigh,’ said he; ‘I wish I had kept count of the number of visitors for the last six months.’SLWM 263.4

    “‘Did they come in such numbers when Bro. Miller was sick?’ we inquired.SLWM 264.1

    “‘It seemed to make but little difference,’ he replied.SLWM 264.2

    “‘We just then passed by the open carriage gate into the spacious inclosure at the west end of the house.SLWM 264.3

    “‘It seemed to be the hardest task,’ he proceeded, ‘to make friends understand that it was not friendly to visit a sick man in such numbers. I have had to stand here and keep people out of the house, and sometimes there were six asking admission at once.’SLWM 264.4

    “‘As it was, I have no doubt company added weeks to his sickness, and dollars to the doctor’s bill. I afterward learned that the expenses of his sickness were one hundred dollars.SLWM 264.5

    “‘Let us try to get a glimpse at his wealth and resources. Twelve years ago he was the owner of about two hundred acres of land, less than half of which was capable of cultivation, yielding a liberal return to hard labor. No one, who knows with what energy, diligence, and firmness, Bro. Miller has prosecuted the labors he seems to have been raised up to perform, will need to be told that he is a man of industrious, temperate, frugal habits. Such a man in such a place, with a help meet for him, could not be poor and thriftless. Twenty-five years ago he built his house. Other buildings were erected as they became necessary, but none within the last dozen years, except a bee-house, and small, plain shed, or boiling-house, where food is prepared for his hogs.SLWM 264.6

    “‘He showed me his home farm, consisting of ninety-six acres, lying wholly on the south side of the road. There is some common wall upon it; but the moss-grown, weather-beaten stones unanimously contradict the foolish and malicious lies which have been told about its recent origin. He also owns a rough tract of fifty acres, north of the road, and twenty acres of interval a little distance to the east. When he let out his farm to his son, he sold him $500 worth of stock, and has since sold seventy acres of land to his son-in-law. What he has thus realized, and $100 yearly for the use of his farm, have enabled him to meet the expenses of traveling, printing, and giving away books, company, sickness, etc.SLWM 264.7

    “‘He has brought up eight children, two others having died in early life. His whole family, like Job’s, originally consisted of seven sons and three daughters. Four of them are now in the house with him, and two sons are at the West. As a specimen of the fertility of his farm, he showed us a potato weighing two pounds and seven ounces.SLWM 265.1

    “‘While contemplating this lovely family, and their plain but comfortable dwelling-place, equally free from the marks of wasteful neglect or extravagant expenditure, I saw, as never I saw before, the folly and malignity of those falsehoods which have been so industriously told about them. Look at them.SLWM 265.2

    “‘A diligent student of the Bible tells us he finds prophetic periods reaching down to the resurrection and the second coming of Christ.SLWM 265.3

    “‘Nonsense!’ cries one, who must stand at the Judgment seat of Christ; ‘Mr. Miller is a man of property, and he holds on to it.’SLWM 265.4

    “‘But won’t you please to look in the Bible, and see the evidence that these periods are just running out?’SLWM 265.5

    “‘Humbug!’ says another, who must give an account for the manner in which he treats that message from Heaven; ‘Mr. Miller is building a solid brick wall round his farm.’SLWM 266.1

    “‘But will you not consider and discern the signs of the times, which show that the kingdom of Heaven is nigh, even at the doors?’SLWM 266.2

    “‘It is all a money-making scheme,’ says a third, who must soon give up his stewardship; ‘Mr. Miller is putting up some large buildings in New Haven, and he has a barrel of jewels in his house, which have been given him where he has preached.’SLWM 266.3

    “‘The amazing stupidity of these fictions almost hides from view the malice which invented them. But when we look at his wife and daughter, to whom a husband and father’s reputation is as the apple of the eye, we begin to feel them as a personal injury, though they are nothing, in this view, in comparison with the public mischief they occasion.SLWM 266.4

    “‘Bro. Miller’s faith remains unwavering. He said he should be happy if he felt as sure of Heaven as he did that he had the truth on the prophecies of Daniel.SLWM 266.5

    “‘His eyesight is improved since his sickness, so that he now uses spectacles which he had laid aside as being too young several years ago. He reads the small Polyglot Bible with the greatest ease. He is a diligent reader of Second Advent papers. After he has received one he seldom lays it aside till he has become acquainted with all its contents. The rest of his reading is nearly confined to the Scriptures. He is able to write freely, and it requires no small share of his time to attend to the numerous letters he receives.SLWM 266.6

    “‘He starts early next week (Providence permitting) on his way to Rochester, Lockport, and Buffalo, N.Y. It will be necessary for one of his sons to accompany him, as he is not strong enough to travel alone.SLWM 267.1

    “‘We were interested in seeing his old family Bible, which cost $18.50, and his quarto copy of Cruden’s Concordance, which was originally purchased in 1798, for $8. These two books were almost the only ones he looked at while preparing his lectures. A clergyman once called at his house in his absence, and, being disappointed in not seeing him, wished the privilege of looking at his library. His daughter conducted the visitor into the north-east room, where he has sat so many hours at his ancient desk. Those two books, and no others, lay upon the table. “That is his library,” said she. The clergyman was amazed. Her remark was strictly true, as far as theological writings were concerned. He never had a commentary in his house, and did not remember reading any work upon the prophecies, except Newton and Faber, about thirty years ago.SLWM 267.2

    “‘When we spoke to him about the stories in relation to his property in new Haven, he pleasantly remarked that those who believed them could easily satisfy themselves; for he had sold to Bro. McDonald, of Williamsburg, near New York city, all his property, real or personal, out of Low Hampton, for five dollars, and the purchaser had offered to give half of it to any one who would find any.SLWM 267.3

    “‘Monday afternoon we reluctantly took leave of this peaceful spot, which had been our pleasant home for two days, rejoicing that calumny could there find no truthful basis on which to found its reckless and cruel assertions.SLWM 267.4

    “‘N. SOUTHARD.
    “‘Carleton, Vt., October 23, 1843.

    “In company with his wife and son George, Mr. Miller started for Rochester, N.Y., on the 9th of November. On his passage down the canal from Whitehall, by request of the passengers on the boat, he spoke to an attentive audience from Titus 2:13.SLWM 268.1

    “From the 12th to the 19th of November, he gave his first course of lectures in the city of Rochester, speaking to full houses on the afternoon and evening of each day. The ground had been previously prepared for him by a course of lectures in June, delivered by Mr. Himes and others, in connection with the ‘great tent.’SLWM 268.2

    “Mr. Himes had commenced a paper there called the Glad Tidings, and published thirteen numbers of it, which were extensively circulated; and the late Elder Thomas F. Barry, a devoted brother, had remained in that field during the summer. By those instrumentalities quite an interest had been created, and the labors of Mr. Miller there were abundantly blessed.SLWM 268.3

    “Receiving a pressing invitation from Rev. Elon Galusha, pastor of the Baptist church, and sixty-eight others, in Lockport, N.Y., to visit that place, he lectured there from the 21st to 30th of November. The salvation of some souls and a general expression of interest in the subject of his discourses, were the result of his labors.SLWM 268.4

    “From the 2nd to the 10th of December he lectured in Buffalo, N.Y., in the theater, to a house full of attentive hearers. Writing from that place, on the 4th, he says: ‘Yesterday I saw the tears of some in the congregation, who, I am informed, were old, hardened infidels.’SLWM 268.5

    “In compliance with an invitation from Rev. A. Claghorn, pastor of the Baptist church, and twenty-three others, he next lectured in Lewiston, N.Y., from the 11th to the 17th of December. There were many hearers present from Canada, as well as from the American side of the line, who gave him a respectful hearing. Writing respecting this place, Mr. M. says:-SLWM 269.1

    “‘I was here, as at Rochester and Lockport, challenged to a public debate by a Universalist. I will not contend with them. It would be an admission that they might be right, which I cannot for a moment believe. Michael would not contend with the devil. Why? Because he would not admit he could be right. Was he afraid of the devil? No. But he said, “The Lord rebuke thee, Satan!” And so say I to his minister.’SLWM 269.2

    “Being invited to visit Penfield, N.Y., by Rev. David Bernard and the unanimous vote of his church, he lectured in the Baptist meeting-house there, from the 20th to the 27th of December. Some souls professed conversion, and the pastor and a number of his people avowed their faith in the near coming of Christ.SLWM 269.3

    “Mr. Miller returned to Rochester on the 29th of December, continued there a few days, gave five discourses, and on the 3rd of January 1844, he left for home by the way of Troy. After reaching Low Hampton, he wrote;-SLWM 269.4

    “‘On Saturday, January 6, I arrived home, having been absent about eight weeks, and given eighty-five lectures. I have seen a number of infidels converted to God; and more than one hundred have obtained a hope where I have been.’SLWM 269.5

    On the 28th of January he again visited Boston, and gave a course of lectures in the Howard-street Tabernacle. This was his ninth visit to Boston, and his seventh regular course of lectures there. On no previous occasion had such crowds been present to hear as were than assembled in that capacious building. On the Sabbath (January 28), all day and evening, the seats and aisles were filled with as many as could find a place to sit or stand. Many of the young with the middle-aged, and even men with gray hairs, stood and listened to the story of the coming One, with the evidences of his near approach. Had the Tabernacle been twice its size, it would hardly have held the multitude who sought admittance. The interest continued during his entire course of lectures, which closed on the 4th of February.SLWM 270.1

    “On the 5th of February, in company with Mr. Himes, he left for New York city; but the weather was inclement, the boat was delayed in the Sound all the next day by ice, and the passage was uncommonly tedious. Mr. Fowler, the phrenologist, being one of the passengers, to while away the time, gave, by request, a lecture on his science. After the lecture he was blindfolded, and in that state examined quite a number of heads. At the request of the company, Mr. Miller’s head was examined. All were eager to hear the opinion of the lecturer. Among other things he said:-SLWM 270.2

    “‘This man has large benevolence. His object is to do his fellow-beings good. He has great firmness - is a modest man, open, frank, no hypocrite, good at figures, a man of great mental power, might make a noise in the world, has no personal enemies; if he has enemies, it is not because they know him, but on account of his opinions.’SLWM 271.1

    “At the close of the examination his blindfold was removed, and he was introduced to Mr. Miller, to the no small amusement of the company.SLWM 271.2

    “They arrived in New York on the evening of the 6th of February, 1844, and found a conference assembled in Franklin Hall. Mr. Miller gave two discourses there on the 7th; when, finding the place too small, they adjourned to the Broadway Tabernacle, where he lectured in the afternoon and evening of the 8th and 9th of February, to crowded assemblies. It was estimated that not less than five thousand persons were present. The audiences were solemn and attentive.SLWM 271.3

    “On the 10th of February they went to Philadelphia, and on the 11th Mr. M. commenced a course of lectures in the saloon of the Chinese Museum, closing on the 18th. That immense hall was filled to overflowing.SLWM 271.4

    “While laboring here, a friend gave the following description of Mr. Miller’s personal appearance:-SLWM 271.5

    “‘There is a kindness of soul, simplicity, and power, peculiarly original, combined in his manner; and he is affable and attentive to all, without any affectation of superiority. He is of about medium stature, a little corpulent, and, in temperament, a mixture of sanguine and nervous. His intellectual developments are unusually full, and we see in his head great benevolence and firmness, united with a lack of self-esteem. He is wanting in marvelousness, and is naturally skeptical. His countenance is full and round, while there is a peculiar expression in his blue eye, of shrewdness and love. Although about sixty-two years of age, his hair is not gray, but of a light, glossy auburn; his voice is full and distinct, and his pronunciation somewhat northern-antique. In his social relations, he is gentle and affectionate, and insures the esteem of all with whom he mingles. In giving this charcoal sketch to the public, I have merely sought to correct numerous misstatements, and gratify the honest desire of many distant believers with a faint outline of the character and appearance of the man.’SLWM 271.6

    “While drawing crowded houses of intelligent and attentive hearers, his name was seldom mentioned in the religious press, except by way of ridicule or denunciation; and many churches, particularly those of his own denomination, were taking disciplinary steps with those who had embraced his views. This called forth from him the followingSLWM 272.1


    “‘DEAR BRETHREN: We would ask, in the name of our dear Master, Jesus Christ, by all that is holy, by the fellowship of the saints, and the love of the truth, why you cast us off as if we were heretics? What have we believed, that we have not been commanded to believe by the word of God, which you yourselves allow is the rule and only rule of our faith and practice? What have we done that should call down such virulent denunciations against us from pulpit and press, and give you just cause to exclude us (Adventists) from your churches and fellowship? In the name of all that is dear, all that is holy and good, we call upon some of you to come out and tell us wherein our great sin lies. Have we denied the faith once delivered to the saints? Tell us, we pray you, or, wherein is our fault? If there is an honest man among you, of which we cannot doubt, we shall expect to see your reasons publicly and honestly avowed; and if we are guilty of heresy or crime, let the Christian community know it, that we may be shunned by all who know and love the truth.SLWM 272.3

    “‘Is it heterodox to believe that Jesus Christ will come again to this earth, to receive his saints to himself, and to reward all men as their work shall be? If so, then our fathers, and our ministers, our creeds, and our Bibles, have taught us heresy; and from our infancy we have misunderstood our teachers, and misapplied our Bible. Do tell us what mean a class of texts like these? John 14:3: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also.” Acts 1:11: “Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.: 1 Peter 1:7 and 13: “That the trial of our faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it may be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ. Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 1:7: “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.”SLWM 273.1

    “‘Does our crime consist in looking for him and loving his appearing? This, too, we charge upon our fathers and teachers; we have heard, ever since we had consciousness, as our duty explained and enforced, to watch and look, to love and be prepared for his return, that when he comes we may enter into the marriage supper of the Lamb. We also have Christ and the apostles for our example in so doing. Witness Matthew 24:44; 25:13; Mark 13:34-37; Philippians 3:20, 21; 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 3:12; Revelation 14:15.SLWM 274.1

    “‘Or are we to be severed from our brethren because we believe the prophecies of the Old and New Testaments to be the true prophecies of God; or because that we think we can understand them, and see in the history of our world their fulfillment? Are we to be cut off from our connection with your churches because we believe as your ministers have told us we ought to for ages past? Acts 24:14: “But this I confess unto you, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.” 26:22: “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets?” 1 Timothy 4:14: “That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Revelation 1:4: “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein; for the time is at hand.’SLWM 274.2

    “‘Again, let me inquire: Are we treated as heretics because we believe Christ will come this year? Are we not all commanded to watch? Mark 13:37: “And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch.” And I would ask, Is it not our duty to watch this year? If so, will you tell us how a man can watch, and not expect the object for which he watches? If this is the crime, we plead guilty to the charge, and throw ourselves upon the word of God, and the example of our fathers, to justify us in so doing. Ecclesiastes 8:5, 6: “Whoso keepeth the commandments shall feel no evil thing; and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment; because to every purpose there is time and judgment.” Daniel 12:6, 7: “And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man clothed in linen which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth forever, that it shall be for a time, times and a half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” 1 Peter 1:9, 13: “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you, with the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”SLWM 275.1

    “‘Now, if we are wrong, pray show us wherein consists our wrong. Show us from the word of God that we are in error; we have had ridicule enough; that can never convince us that we are in the wrong; the word of God alone can change our views. Our conclusions have been formed deliberately and prayerfully, as we have seen the evidence in the Scriptures; and all reasoning against our views has only served to confirm us in them.SLWM 276.1

    “‘Or, are you ready to say that our crime consists in examining the Bible for ourselves? We have inquired “Watchman, what of the night?” We have besought and entreated them to give us any signs of the coming morning, and have waited patiently for an answer; but have waited in vain; have been turned off with some German or French philosophy, or had the book closed in our face, and been insulted for our deep anxiety. We have, therefore, been obliged to study for ourselves; and if we are to be cut off for honestly believing in the exactness of prophetic time, then Scott and Wesley, and the Newtons, and Mede, Gill, and others, should all be excommunicated for the like offense. We, therefore, once more call upon you to show us our errors; and until this is done, we must continue to believe the Lord will come in this Jewish year.SLWM 276.2

    “‘WM. MILLER.’

    “On the 17th of February, Messrs. Miller, Himes, and Elder Josiah Litch, left Philadelphia for Washington city, which they reached on the 20th. On the evening of that day they held their first meeting in the Baptist house, near the Navy-yard. It became so thronged that, on the 26th, they moved to the Apollo Hall, near the President’s mansion, where they continued till the 2nd of March.SLWM 277.1

    “During these lectures, on the 28th of February, the ‘Peacemaker,’ on board of the ‘Princeton,’ exploded, killing Colonel Gardiner and Mr. Upshur, the United States Secretary of State, and wounding others. That event added interest and solemnity to the lectures, and caused them to be more fully attended. There were present at the lectures a goodly number of persons belonging to both houses of Congress.SLWM 277.2

    Writing from Washington on the day of that explosion, but before the occurrence, Mr. Miller said:-SLWM 277.3

    “‘They throng us constantly for papers, books, and tracts, which Bro. Himes is scattering gratuitously by thousands, containing information on this subject. They send in from this vicinity and from “old Virginia” for papers and lecturers; but one-hundredth part of their requests can never be complied with. Never had I been listened to with so deep a feeling, and with such intense interest, for hours.’SLWM 277.4

    “Mr. Miller gave nineteen lectures in this place, and Messrs. Himes and Litch fifteen.SLWM 278.1

    “Calls for them to extend their tour further south came up from Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Geo., Mobile, Ala., and from many other of the larger places in the Southern States. Some of these were very importunate, but previous arrangements prevented a compliance with those requests.SLWM 278.2

    “They returned north, held meetings in Baltimore from the 3rd to the 8th of March, and, on the 9th, returned to Philadelphia. There Mr. Miller gave two more discourses on the 10th; on the 11th he lectured in Newark, N.J., in the Free Presbyterian meeting-house; on the 12th he gave one discourse in New York; on the 13th he spoke in Brooklyn and Williamsburg, N.Y., and on the 14th he returned to Low Hampton.SLWM 278.3

    “He seems to have kept no minute of his subsequent labors, but closes his note-book, at the termination of this tour, with these words: ‘Now I have given, since 1832, three thousand two hundred lectures.’SLWM 278.4