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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    VIII. Boston Conference Launches Charts and Camp Meetings

    While the special meetings in New York City in Apollo Hall were progressing gratifyingly, the leaders around Boston arranged to hold a general rally of Adventist believers in Boston during what was called Anniversary Week. Most of the benevolent societies of New England-Bible, Peace, Educational, Missionary, Pastoral, Tract, Sabbath School, and Foreign Missions-were convening in Boston during the last week of May. So the Millerites announced, “We shall hold ours in common with them, during the entire week.” 37Signs of the Times, May 25, 1842, p. 60. The commodious Melodeon Auditorium was accordingly secured, beginning May 24. The meetings opened auspiciously, with a large attendance. This proved to be the most important conference of the series in far-reaching plans and results. The points of faith were defined more sharply than heretofore. Joseph Bates was chairman and J. V. Himes secretary. On the committees were William Miller, Charles Fitch, Josiah Litch, Apollos Hale, T. M. Preble, and various other Adventist ministers and lecturers. And among the anniversary meetings of the week none received a greater share of attention and interest than the Adventist Anniversary Conference.PFF4 614.1

    This succession of General Conferences, held in different cities, coordinated the thinking and planning of the leadership. They had started out as an interchurch movement, but this was now slowly changing. These conferences constituted the main stream in the onward flow of the movement. They presented to the public a series of considered declarations of belief, and were the most representative reflection of the movement. The Low Hampton (fifth) Conference had stressed the point that the time had come for the “Midnight Cry” to be given concerning the Bridegroom’s imminent appearance. And as that was the first General Conference Miller had been able to attend in person, it was apparent that the movement was marching steadily onward, with Miller or without Miller. The Sandy Hill (ninth) Conference had urged the utilization of every opening offered in the churches to herald the approaching advent.PFF4 615.1

    At the very opening of the twelfth General Conference, back again at Boston-where the first conference had convened eighteen months prior-Charles Fitch and Apollos Hale presented their prophetic chart, soon to become famous as the “1843 Chart.” It was painted on cloth, and was designed to simplify and unify the public presentations of the Adventist speakers. The conference voted to lithograph three hundred copies, of large size, this quickly becoming the standard chart. It was thenceforth uniformly used by the Millerite preachers and lecturers, superseding the various personal charts of prior days. It is described in a subsequent section, on page 733. (See facsimile on p. 616.) Joseph Bates, chairman of the conference, tells of it:PFF4 615.2

    “At the opening of this meeting Br. Chs. Fitch and A. Hale of Haverhill, presented us the Visions of Daniel and John which they had painted on cloth, with the prophetic numbers and ending of the vision, which they called a chart. Br. F., in explaining the subject said in substance as follows: he had been turning it over in his mind, and felt that if something of this kind could be done, it would simplify the subject, and make it much easier for him to present it to the people. Here new light seemed to spring up. These brethren had fulfilled a prophecy given by Hab.[akkuk] 2468 years before, where it says, ‘And the Lord answered me and said, write the vision and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.’ This thing now became so plain to all, that it was unanimously voted to have three hundred of these charts lithographed forthwith, that those who felt the message may read and run with it.” 38Bates, Second Advent Way Marks and High Heaps, pp. 10, 11.PFF4 615.3

    This composite chart on the prophecies of Daniel and the revelation, designed by Charles fitch and Apollos Hale, was adopted and lithographed by Millerite general conference action, and superseded all previous charts. Its use became an identifying mark in public representations of the movement, until the seventh-month phase, which was based on “1844,” not on “1843”
    Page 617
    PFF4 617

    This conference also took “higher ground,” as they termed it, on the question of the advent, because of the “stupidity” of the church and the shortness of time. There was widespread conviction among the delegates that the times require that the Midnight Cry be given in “unequivocal terms,” not only the manner, but also the time, of Christ’s second advent—about the year “1843.” The committee recommended that the conference “distinctly avow this sentiment to the world,” and “urge it with double diligence upon all men.” Accordingly, a poll was taken of all who rejected the doctrine of a temporal millennium, and of a restoration of the Jews to Palestine, either before or after the second advent of Christ, and declared the first resurrection to be the next great event of prophetic history. The conference then passed a series of thirteen resolutions, which reveal the precise views of the leadership at this time. Because of their importance they are given in full:PFF4 617.1

    “Therefore resolved, that in the opinion of this Conference, there are most serious and important reasons for believing that God has revealed the time of the end of the world and that that time is 184S;PFF4 617.2

    “Resolved, That the time has fully come for those, who believe in the Second Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ in 1843, to show their faith by their works.PFF4 617.3

    “Resolved, That we cannot discharge our duty to God and the souls of our fellow men, without doing our utmost to lay before the world as extensively as possible the truth of God on this subject as we find it in the Holy Scriptures.PFF4 617.4

    “Resolved, That we are all called upon, loudly, and for the last time, to bring to this work the best employment of all the means we have at command.PFF4 617.5

    “Resolved, That we are all bound to make this year such an one as we would wish should close our probation, and carry us to the judgment seat of Christ.PFF4 617.6

    “Resolved, That we should keep it distinctly in mind, that we are this year to do our last praying, and make our last efforts, and shed our last tears for a perishing world.PFF4 617.7

    “Resolved, That, as all those portions of prophecy which carry us down to the end of the world, exhibit to us the existence of widely extended political and ecclesiastical powers of iniquity, until the coming of Christ, by whom they are to be destroyed; and as it is impossible, in the nature of things, for the gospel to prevail universally, and the world to be converted during the existence of this state of things; therefore the theory of a 1000 years spiritual reign before the coming of Christ is without foundation in the word of God.PFF4 618.1

    “Resolved, That we regard the notion of a Millennium previous to the coming of Christ, when all the world shall be converted, and sinners in great multitudes saved, as a fearful delusion, a cry of peace and safety, when sudden destruction is at the door, that will doubtless prove eternally fatal to thousands of souls-and that the nearer such a millennium is represented, the more dangerous is its tendency, because the more likely to encourage present impenitence, with the hope of future conversion to God.PFF4 618.2

    “Resolved, That no portion of the New Testament scriptures give the most indirect intimation of the literal restoration of the Jews to old Jerusalem; we believe that the arguments drawn from the Old Testament prophecies are based on a mistaken view of those prophecies; and that they have been fulfilled in what the gospel has already done, or remain to be fulfilled in the gathering all the spiritual seed of Abraham into the New Jerusalem.PFF4 618.3

    “Resolved, That we regard the notion of the return of the carnal Jews to Palestine either before or after the Second Advent, as a snare by which many will be lost forever.PFF4 618.4

    “Resolved, That the notion of a probation after Christ’s coming, is a lure to destruction, entirely contradictory to the word of God, which positively teaches that when Christ comes the door is shut, and such as are not ready can never enter in.PFF4 618.5

    “Resolved, That as our time for giving the Midnight Cry is short, it becomes us to avail ourselves of all wise and prudent means for the advancement of our work; and that as Campmeetings afford some facilities which we cannot otherwise avail ourselves of, we recommend to this Conference the adoption of these meetings, for the furtherance of our enterprize.” 39Signs of the Times, June 1, 1842, p. 69.PFF4 618.6

    It was thought best to hold several other General Conferences in New England, if time continued during the winter months. But most important of all, during the week the proposal was pressed of trying out some camp meetings during the ensuing summer. These had been popularized by the Methodists, and many who held the second advent beliefs were, or had been, Methodists. Some, however, demurred. How could a comparative handful of Adventists undertake such a large enterprise. Others said, “Try!” So they agreed to make the attempt. 40Litch, “The Rise and Progress of Adventism,” Advent Shield, May, 1844, p. 68. A camp meeting committee-Ezekiel Hale, Henry Plummer, and Timothy Cole—was set up to carry the plan into effect, and a most vigorous effort outlined for the “spread of this great light.” This will be noted soon.PFF4 618.7

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