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Sketches of the Christian Life and Public Labors of William Miller

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    “‘We took a prejudice against this good man when he first came among us, on account of what we supposed a glaring error in interpreting the Scripture prophecies so that the world would come to an end in 1843. We are still inclined to believe this an error or miscalculation. At the same time we have overcome our prejudice against him by attending his lectures, and learning more of the excellent character of the man, and of the great good he has done and is doing. Mr. Miller is a plain farmer, and pretends to nothing except that he has made the Scripture prophecies an intense study for many years, understands some of them differently from most other people, and wishes, for the good of others, to spread his views before the public. No one can hear him five minutes without being convinced of his sincerity, and instructed by his reasoning and information. All acknowledge his lectures to be replete with useful and interesting matter. His knowledge of Scripture is very extensive and minute; that of the prophecies, especially, surprisingly familiar. His application of the prophecies to the great events which have taken place in the natural and moral world is such, generally, as to produce conviction of their truth, and gain the ready assent of his hearers. We have reason to believe that the preaching or lecturing of Mr. Miller, has been productive of great and extensive good. Revivals have followed in his train. He has been heard with attention, wherever he has been.....SLWM 124.3

    “‘There is nothing very peculiar in the manner or appearance of Mr. Miller. Both are at least equal to the style and appearance of ministers in general. His gestures are easy and expressive, and his personal appearance every way decorous. His Scripture explanations and illustrations are strikingly simple, natural, and forcible; and the great eagerness of the people to hear him has been manifested wherever he has preached.’SLWM 125.1

    “On his way home he lectured at the following places:- Commencing on the 16th of June at Westford, Vt.; the 23rd at Cambridge, Vt., and on the 30th at Colchester, Vt. As a result of his labors in Colchester, twenty-three were added to the Baptist church between that time and the 2nd of December following.SLWM 125.2

    “The letters addressed to him and his son at this period show that a report was in circulation that he was dead; and, that as soon as that was successfully contradicted, another was current that, on re-examining his calculations, he had discovered a mistake of one hundred years. Both of these rumors were several times subsequently revived, and had to be as often contradicted.SLWM 126.1

    “On the 15th of September, in compliance with ‘the wish of many in Rutland, Vt.,’ who were ‘very anxious to hear’ his ‘course of lectures,’ he visited that place, and lectured each day, to the 22nd, when he returned to his family, and made arrangements for a second visit to Massachusetts.SLWM 126.2

    “He commenced his labors at Groton, Mass., on the 13th of October, and lectured ten days. In reference to these lectures and others in neighboring towns, Rev. Silas Hawley, Congregational minister, wrote from Groton, on the 10th of April, 1840, as follows:-SLWM 126.3

    “‘Mr. Miller has lectured in this and adjoining towns with marked success. His lectures have been succeeded by precious revivals of religion in all those places. A class of minds are reached by him not within the influence of other men. His lectures are well adapted, so far as I have learned, for shaking the supremacy of the various forms of error that are rife in the community.’SLWM 126.4

    “Closing his lectures in Groton, Mr. M. gave a third course of lectures in Lowell, continuing from the 23rd of October to the 1st of November. These, like the previous lectures in that place, were attended with precious fruits.SLWM 126.5

    “From the 2nd to the 10th of November, he lectured in Haverhill, Mass., where he made the acquaintance of Elder Henry Plummer, pastor of the Christian church, who embraced his views, and was a steadfast friend till Mr. Miller’s decease.SLWM 127.1

    “On the 11th of November, Mr. M. commenced a course of lectures in Exeter, N.H., which continued till the 19th. On the 12th, a conference of the Christian Connection was in session there, and they called on Mr. Miller in a body. He was a stranger to nearly all of them; and few of them regarded his views with anything more than mere curiosity. Several of them questioned him respecting his faith; but they were speedily silenced by the quotation of appropriate texts of Scripture.SLWM 127.2

    “It was on this occasion that he became acquainted with Elder Joshua V. Himes, then pastor of the Chardon-street church, Boston. Elder H. had written to Mr. M., on the 19th of October, inviting him to give a course of lectures in his chapel. He now renewed his invitation, and got the promise of a course of lectures in December. Before commencing there, Mr. Miller gave a second course of lectures in Stoughton, Mass., from the 24th to the 29th of November, and one in Canton, Mass., from the 1st to the 6th of December. In this last place, he writes to his son, that he ‘lectured three times on the last day, to a house jammed full.’ Pressing invitations for further labors in the surrounding region had to be disregarded, in order to fulfill his engagement in the metropolis of New England.SLWM 127.3

    “He arrived in Boston on the 7th of December, and from the 8th to the 16th lectured in the Chardon-street chapel, - his first course of lectures in that city.SLWM 127.4

    “On the 12th of December, Mr. Miller writes from Boston to his son:- ‘I am now in this place lecturing, twice a day, to large audiences. Many, very many, go away unable to gain admittance. Many, I am informed, are under serious convictions. I hope God will work in this city.’SLWM 128.1

    “At this time he stopped at the house of Elder Himes, who had much conversation with him respecting his views, his plans for the future, and his responsibilities. Elder H. became impressed with the correctness of Mr. M.’s views respecting the nearness and nature of Christ’s coming; but was not fully satisfied respecting the time. He was, however, sufficiently convinced that Mr. Miller was communicating important truths, to feel a great interest in their promulgation.SLWM 128.2

    “‘When Mr. Miller had closed his lectures,’ says Elder H., ‘I found myself in a new position. I could not believe or preach as I had done. Light on this subject was blazing on my conscience day and night. A long conversation with Mr. Miller than took place, on our duties and responsibilities. I said to Bro. Miller, “Do you really believe this doctrine?”SLWM 128.3

    “‘He replied, “Certainly, I do, or I would not preach it.”SLWM 128.4

    “‘What are you doing to spread or diffuse it through the world?’SLWM 128.5

    “‘I have done, and am still doing, all I can.’SLWM 128.6

    “‘Well, the whole thing is kept in a corner yet. There is but little knowledge on the subject, after all you have done. If Christ is to come in a few years, as you believe, no time should be lost in giving the church and world warning, in thunder-tones, to arouse them to prepare.’SLWM 128.7

    “‘I know it, I know it, Bro. Himes,’ said he; ‘but what can an old farmer do? I was never used to public speaking; I stand quite alone; and, though I have labored much, and seen many converted to God and the truth, yet no one, as yet, seems to enter into the object and spirit of my mission, so as to render me much aid. They like to have me preach, and build up their churches; and there it ends with most of the ministers, as yet. I have been looking for help - I want help.’SLWM 129.1

    “‘It was at this time that I laid myself, family, society, reputation, all, upon the altar of God, to help him, to the extent of my power, to the end. I then inquired of him what parts of the country he had visited, and whether he had visited any of our principal cities.SLWM 129.2

    “‘He informed me of his labors,’ as given in the foregoing pages.SLWM 129.3

    “‘But why,’ I said, ‘have you not been into the large cities?’SLWM 129.4

    “‘He replied that his rule was to visit those places where invited, and that he had not been invited into any of the large cities.SLWM 129.5

    “‘Well,’ said I, ‘will you go with me where doors are opened?’SLWM 129.6

    “‘Yes, I am ready to go anywhere, and labor to the extent of my ability to the end.’SLWM 129.7

    “‘I then told him he might prepare for the campaign; for doors should be opened in every city in the Union, and the warning should go to the ends of the earth! Here I began to “help” Father Miller.’SLWM 129.8

    “With this epoch commenced an entire new era in the spread of the doctrine of the advent. B.B. Mussey, Esq., a distinguished Boston publisher, undertook the publication of a revised edition, of five thousand copies, of Mr. Miller’s Lectures, on condition that Mr. Miller would secure the copyright. Mr. M. did so, which subjected himself to some blame, where the reason for the act was not known. Mr. M. gave to Mr. Mussey the entire profits of the edition for two hundred copies of the work, which Mr. Mussey gave him.SLWM 130.1

    “On the 17th of December, Mr. M. lectured in Westford, where he was refused the use of the Congregational church - the first place of worship that was ever closed against him. From the 19th to the 26th of December, he lectured in Littleton, Mass. The result of these lectures is indicated by a letter of Rev. Oliver Ayer (Baptist), who writes, in January:- ‘I baptized twelve at our last communion. I shall, probably, baptize from fifteen to twenty next time. There have been from thirty-five to forty hopeful conversions. There is also quite a work in Westford, ten or twelve conversions, and twenty or thirty inquirers. The work is still going on.’SLWM 130.2

    “On the 28th he returned to Boston, and repeated his course of lectures in Mr. Himes’ chapel, closing on the 5th of January, 1840. The day following, by request of the Baptist church under the care of the Rev. Mr. Parker, he visited Cambridgeport, and lectured there each day till the 13th of January. From the 14th to the 20th, he gave a second course of lectures to Elder Plummer’s society, in Haverhill, Mass.SLWM 130.3

    “On the 21st of January, 1840, he visited Portsmouth, N.H., and commenced his first course of lectures in that city. The following article, in reference to them, from the pen of Elder David Millard, pastor of the Christian Society there, appeared in the columns of the Christian Herald a few weeks subsequently:-SLWM 130.4

    “‘On the 21st of January, Bro. William Miller came into town, and commenced, in our chapel, his course of lectures on the Second Coming of Christ. During the nine days that he remained, crowds flocked to hear him. Before he concluded his lectures, a large number of anxious souls came forward for prayers. Our meetings continued every day and evening for a length of time after he left. Such an intense state of feeling as now pervaded our congregation we never witnessed before in any place. Not unfrequently from sixty to eighty would come forward for prayers on an evening. Such an awful spirit of solemnity seemed to settle down on the place that hard must be that sinner’s heart that could withstand it. Yet, during the whole, not an appearance of confusion occurred; all was order and solemnity. Generally, as soon as souls found deliverance, they were ready to proclaim it, and exhort their friends, in the most moving language, to come to the fountain of life. Our meetings thus continued, on evenings, for six weeks; indeed, they have thus continued, with very little intermission, up to the present.SLWM 131.1

    “‘Probably about one hundred and fifty souls have been converted in our meetings; but a part of these were from other congregations, and have returned to their former meetings. Among the converts are a considerable number from the Universalist congregation; these still remain with us. From our meetings this blessed work soon spread into every congregation in town favorable to revivals. In several of them it is at present spreading with power. For weeks together, the ringing of bells for daily meetings rendered our town like a continual Sabbath. Indeed, such a season of revival was never witnessed before in Portsmouth by the oldest inhabitant. It would be difficult, at present, to ascertain the exact number of conversions in town; it is variously estimated at from five hundred to seven hundred. We have received into fellowship eighty-one; nine of these were received on previous profession. We have baptized sixty-seven, and the others stand as candidates for baptism. Never, while we linger on the shores of mortality, do we expect to enjoy more of Heaven than we have in some of our late meetings, and on baptizing occasions. At the waterside, thousands would gather to witness this solemn institution in Zion, and many would return from the place weeping. Our brethren at the old chapel have had some additions, we believe some over twenty.’SLWM 131.2

    “The Rev. Mr. Peabody, of Portsmouth, in a sermon published soon after, spoke of the revival which commenced there in connection with Mr. Miller’s labors, as follows:-SLWM 132.1

    “‘If I am rightly informed, the present season of religious excitement has been, to a great degree, free from what, I confess, has always made me dread such times, I mean those excesses and extravagances which wound religion in the house of its friends, and cause its enemies to blaspheme. I most cheerfully express my opinion that there will be, in the fruits of the present excitement, far less to regret, and much more for the friends of God to rejoice in - much more to be recorded in the book of eternal life - than in any similar series of religious exercises which I have ever had the opportunity of watching.’SLWM 132.2

    “At the time of these lectures, Eld. D.I. Robinson was stationed in Portsmouth, as the pastor of the Methodist church, and attended a part of the course. He writes:-SLWM 133.1

    “‘I heard him all I could the first week, and thought I could stop his wheels and confound him; but, as the revival had commenced in the vast congregation assembled to hear, I would not do it publicly, lest evil should follow. I therefore visited him at his room, with a formidable list of objections. To my surprise, scarcely any of them were new to him, and he could answer them as fast as I could present them. And then he presented objections and questions which confounded me and the commentaries on which I had relied. I went home used up, convicted, humbled, and resolved to examine the question.’SLWM 133.2

    “‘The result was, that Eld, R. became fully convinced of the nearness of the advent, and has since been a faithful preacher of the kingdom at hand. Eld. Thomas F. Barry, also, at this time embraced Mr. Miller’s views, and continued an able and consistent advocate of the same till his death, at Oswego, N.Y., July 17, 1846.SLWM 133.3

    “On the 30th and 31st of January, Mr. M. again lectured in Exeter, N.H., and from the 2nd to the 6th of February in Deerfield, N.H., after which he returned to Boston.SLWM 133.4