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    Chapter 21

    Moral Reform — Culture of Silk — Proposed Manual-Labor School — Second Advent of Christ — William Miller’s Theory — His Lectures in Boston — First Second-Advent Paper — Eld. D. Millard’s Letter — Eld. L. D. Fleming’s Letters — H. Hawley’s Letter — Wm. Miller in Portland.

    IN connection with these portentous signs in the heavens, moral reform was working its way like leaven throughout the United States. To all appearance, some unseen agency was assisting those who were struggling in the up-hill work of opposing the masses, while they were soliciting and enlisting the energies and sympathies of men, women, and children, to help stay the tide of intemperance and slavery, which, to all human appearance, if not stayed, would demoralize and debase us below the moral standard of all the civilized nations of the earth, before the then rising generation should pass from the stage of action.LELJB 250.1

    What appeared the most inexplicable in moving forward this work, was to see ministers whose Christian characters were before unsullied in the community, pleading in favor of slavery, upholding rum-drinking and rum-selling, and keeping a large majority of their churches and congregations under their influence. Others were mute, waiting to see how their friends would decide. Some there were, however, who took a noble stand in the work of reform.LELJB 250.2

    Moral-reform societies were multiplied in various places, as were also peace societies, having for their object the abolition of war. They proposed to settle all disputes or difficulties of importance, by reference to a Congress of Nations.LELJB 251.1

    After finishing the buildings on my farm, before mentioned, I commenced the work of raising mulberry-trees, to obtain their foliage to feed the silk-worm, designing to enter into the culture of silk. I had erected a school-house on my place, in which I designed to have a manual-labor school for youth. I calculated to employ them a certain portion of the time to gather the mulberry foliage, and attend to the feeding of the silk-worms, and, as the work advanced, other branches of the business also, such as reeling and preparing the silk for market. By an examination of able writers on the subject, I was satisfied that silk could be produced to advantage in New England as well as in Europe. While my trees were maturing, we raised and fed the silk-worm two or three seasons on a small scale, which satisfied me that by attention and care the business could be made profitable. Many that commenced the business about the time I did, entered into the speculation and excitement about raising the Chinese multicaulis-tree for sale, which enriched some, disappointed many, and caused a failure, because silk-culture could not be made a money-making business in its infancy. I was endeavoring to raise my trees first, before entering upon the business, and had many trees which had begun to bear fruit, and my third orchard in a thriving condition, designing, if I lived, to attend to that business only.LELJB 251.2

    In the fall of 1839, while engaged in my orchard, one Eld. R., an acquaintance of mine, and a preacher in the Christian connection, called upon me and inquired if I would like to go to New Bedford, about two miles distant, that evening, and hear him preach on the SECOND COMING OF CHRIST. I asked Eld. R. if he thought he could show or prove anything about the Saviour’s coming. He answered that he thought he could. He stated that the North Christian meeting-house in New Bedford was offered him, in which to give a course of five lectures on that subject. I promised to go with him, but I was very much surprised to learn that any one could show anything about the time of the Saviour’s second coming.LELJB 252.1

    A little previous to this, while spending an evening in a social company of friends, Eld. H. stated that he had heard that there was a Mr. Miller preaching in the State of New York that the Lord Jesus Christ was coming about the year 1843. I believe this was the first time I had ever heard the subject mentioned. It appeared so impossible that I attempted to raise an objection, but was told that he brought a great deal of Scripture to prove it. But when I heard Eld. R. present the Scripture testimony on the subject in his first lecture, I was deeply interested, as was also my companion. After meeting, we rode some distance toward home, absorbed in this important subject, when I broke the silence by saying, “That is the truth!” My companion replied, “Oh, you are so sanguine always!” I argued that Eld. R. had made it very clear to my mind, but we would hear further. The meetings continued with crowded congregations and increasing interest to the close, and I felt that my mind was much enlightened on this important subject.LELJB 252.2

    I now obtained Wm. Miller’s book of nineteen lectures, which I read with deep interest, especially his argument on the prophetic periods of Daniel’s vision, which heretofore, when I read the Bible in course, appeared to me so intricate, and led me to wonder what importance there could be attached to those days connected with his pictorial prophecy of chapters 7 and 8. But I now began to learn that those days were so many years, and those years were now to close about 1843, at which period of time, according to Mr. Miller’s view of the prophecies, Christ would personally appear the second time.LELJB 253.1

    With my limited views of the subject of the second advent, I saw that if Mr. Miller was correct respecting the soon-coming of the Saviour, then the most important point in his theory was to learn WHERE to commence Daniel’s prophetic periods, and trace them to their termination. The first issue in pamphlet form by Mr. Miller is dated 1832. Some say his first lecture on the second coming of Christ was delivered in August, 1833. His first lectures in Boston, Mass., in the Chardon-Street and Marlborough chapels, were in the winter of 1840. This opened the way for Eld. Joshua V. Himes, of Boston, to issue, as editor, the first periodical published on the second advent of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, called the Signs of the Times, in Boston, Mass., March, 1840.LELJB 253.2

    As Eld. J. V. Himes was as destitute of means as any other minister who at that time boldly preached and advocated the necessity of moral reform, and was expressing an anxious desire to get up a paper on the subject of the second advent, an aged sea-captain from the State of Maine, being present, handed him a silver dollar. “With this one dollar,” said Eld. Himes, “we commenced to publish the Signs of the Times.LELJB 254.1

    To give some idea of the effect of Mr. Miller’s preaching on the second coming of Christ, in New England, I will here give some extracts from letters published in the Signs of the Times, April 15, 1840. The first is from the pen of Eld. D. Millard, Portsmouth, N. H. He writes:—LELJB 254.2

    “On the 23rd of January, Bro. Miller came into town and commenced a course of lectures in the chapel on the second coming of Christ. During the nine days 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 in the evening. Such an awful spirit of solemnity seemed to settle down on the place that hard must have been the sinner’s heart that could withstand it. All was order and solemnity. Generally, as soon as souls were delivered 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. 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 before witnessed in Portsmouth by the oldest inhabitants. It would be difficult at present to ascertain the number of conversions in town. It is variously estimated at from 500 to 700. Never, while I linger on the shores of mortality, do I expect to enjoy more of Heaven than we have in some of our late meetings, and on baptizing occasions. At the water-side thousands would gather to witness this solemn institution, and many would return from the place weeping.”LELJB 254.3

    Another letter is from Eld. L. D. Fleming, of Portsmouth, N. H. He says:—LELJB 255.1

    “Things here are moving powerfully. Last evening about two hundred came forward for prayers, and the interest seems constantly increasing. The whole city seems to be agitated. Bro. Miller’s lectures have not the least effect to affright; they are far from it. The great alarm is among those that did not come near. But those who candidly heard are far from excitement and alarm. The interest awakened by the lectures is of the most deliberate kind, and though it is the greatest revival I ever saw, yet there is the least passionate excitement. It seems to take the greatest hold on the male part of the community. What produces the effect is this: Bro. Miller simply takes the sword of the Spirit, unsheathed and naked, and lays its sharp edge on the naked heart, and it cuts, that’s all. Before the edge of this mighty weapon, infidelity falls and Universalism withers.”LELJB 255.2

    April 6 he writes again:—LELJB 256.1

    “The fire is being kindled through the whole city and all the adjacent country. A number of rumsellers have turned their shops into meeting rooms, and those places that were once devoted to intemperance and revelry are now devoted to prayer and praise. Infidels, Deists, Universalists, and the most abandoned profligates, have been converted. Prayer-meetings have been established in every part of the city by the different denominations, or by individuals, and at almost every hour. I was conducted to a room over one of the banks, where I found from thirty to forty men of different denominations engaged with one accord in prayer at eleven o’clock in the daytime! In short, it would be almost impossible to give an adequate idea of the interest now felt in this city. One of the principal booksellers informed me that he had sold more Bibles in one month, since Bro. Miller came here, than he had in any four months previous.”LELJB 256.2

    H. Hawley, writing from Groton, Mass., to Eld. Himes, April 10, 1840, said:—LELJB 256.3

    “During an interview I had with you a few days since, you requested me to give a statement of the results, so far as I had witnessed them, of Mr. Miller’s lectures in this vicinity. Before complying with your request, I beg leave to say that I am not a believer in the theory of Mr. Miller. But I am decidedly in favor of the discussion of the subject. I believe that Mr. Miller’s lectures are so fraught with gospel truth that, whatever may be his error in regard to the time of our Lord’s appearing, he will do great good. I rejoice that there is a subject being discussed in the community so happily adapted to wake up the public mind to the great things of religion, and to check the growing worldliness and sensuality of the present age. Mr. Miller has lectured in this and other adjoining towns with marked success, by precious revivals of religion in all of these places. I am bold to declare that I see nothing in the theory at all calculated to make men immoral; but I do believe it will have the opposite effect. Facts speak too plainly on this subject not to be credited.”LELJB 256.4

    The Maine Wesleyan Journal of May, 1840, says:—LELJB 257.1

    “Mr. Miller has been in Portland lecturing to crowded houses in Casco-Street church on his favorite theme, the end of the world. As faithful chroniclers of passing events, it will be expected of us that we say something of the man and his peculiar views.LELJB 257.2

    “Mr. Miller is about sixty years of age; a plain farmer, from Hampton, in the State of New York. He is a member of the Baptist Church in that place, from which he brings satisfactory testimonials of good standing and license to improve publicly. He has, we understand, numerous testimonials from clergymen of different denominations favorable to his general character. We should think him a man of but common-school education, evidently possessing strong powers of mind, which, for about fourteen years, have been almost exclusively bent on the investigation of Scripture prophecy. The last eight years of his life have been devoted to lecturing on this favorite subject. Mr. Miller’s theory is, that in 1843 Christ will make his personal appearance on earth. In a very ingenious manner he brings all the mystic numbers in the Scripture prophecy to bear upon the important epoch of 1843. First, he makes the 2300 days (or years) of Daniel 8:14, to commence at the same time as the seventy weeks (or 490 years), which latter period terminated in the cutting off of the Messiah, A. D. 33. The former period, then, extends 1810 years longer, or till 1843, when the end will come.LELJB 257.3

    “Mr. Miller is a great stickler for literal interpretation, never admitting the figurative unless absolutely required to make correct sense, or meet the event which is intended to be pointed out. He doubtless believes, most unwaveringly, all he teaches to others. His lectures are interspersed with powerful admonitions to the wicked, and he handles Universalism with gloves of steel.”LELJB 258.1

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