A Higher Standard – Part 4

TimeWatch Editorial
January 27, 2017

Finally, in order that we might see the established importance of the impact of William Miller’s work upon the times in which he lived, studied and preached here are two letters from well known individuals revealing the response to his work.

From Rev Charles Fitch, pastor at the Marlboro' Chapel, Boston:"Boston, March 5, 1838.

"MY DEAR BROTHER: - I am a stranger to you, but I trust that, through the free sovereign grace of God, I am not altogether a stranger to Jesus Christ, whom you serve. I am the pastor of an Orthodox Congregational church in this city. A few weeks since your lectures on the Second Coming of Christ were put into my hands. I sat down to read the work, knowing nothing of the views which it contained. I have studied it with an overwhelming interest, such as I never felt in any other book except the Bible. I have compared it with Scripture and history, and I find nothing on which to rest a single doubt respecting the correctness of your views. Though a miserable, guilty sinner, I trust that, through the Lord's abounding grace, I shall be among those that 'love his appearing.' I preached to my people two discourses yesterday on the coming of our Lord, and I believe a deep and permanent interest will be awakened thereby in God's testimonies. My object in writing you, my dear sir, is twofold.

"1st. Will you have the kindness to inform me, by letter, in what history you find the fact stated that the last of the ten kings was baptized A. D. 508, and also that the decree of Justinian, giving the Bishop of Rome power to suppress the reading of the Scriptures, was issued in 538? All the other data which you have given I have found correct, and I know of no reason to doubt your correctness in these. But, as I have not yet been able to find a statement of those facts, you will do me a great favor by just informing me where I may find them; and I shall then feel prepared to defend the truth, and to point others to the right source of information.

"There is a meeting of our Ministerial Association to-morrow, and, as I am appointed to read an essay, I design to bring up this whole subject for discussion, and trust that I may thereby do something to spread the truth.

"2nd. My second object in writing was to ask if you would put me in the way to obtain a dozen copies of your lectures. I know of none to be obtained here. I know of several individuals who are very desirous to obtain the work, and if you can tell me of any place where it can be obtained in this city, or in New York, you will greatly oblige me. If you can give me any information of importance on the subject, not contained in your book, I should greatly rejoice, because, as I stand a watchman on the walls, I wish to 'give the trumpet a certain sound,' and to make that sound as full, and explicit, and convincing as possible.

"Yours in the faith of Jesus Christ, "CHARLES FITCH"

The second letter that we will look at will be one sent by Frederick S. Parke, March 12, 1838. Notice the following.

On the 12th of March, Mr. M. commenced a course of lectures, and continued eight days, at Benson, Vt. Previous to this he had received urgent requests from the Rev. Mr. Hill, of the First Church in Troy, N. Y., and Rev. Mr. Parke, of the church in West Troy, uniting with their respective churches, for a course of lectures in each place; and they were expected, in West Troy, to have been commenced previous to those in Benson, Vt. Their disappointment, and the great anxiety of ministers and people, at that period, to secure his services, may be judged of by the following letter from the pastor of the church in that place:

"West Troy, March 12th, 1838.


Dear Sir, - I received a line from you, dated March 1st, and was glad to hear that Father Miller had concluded to visit West Troy on Saturday last. With much anxiety all looked forward to that day, expecting the privilege of hearing something upon the subject of Christ's Second Coming. But, alas! we are disappointed. Dear sir, I write these few lines, letting you know something of the state of feeling in this place upon the subject of Mr. Miller's lectures. In the street, in the house, in short, wherever (almost) you meet an individual, the first thing is, Has Mr. Miller come yet? When is Mr. Miller going to be here? What is the reason he does not come? etc. If the old gentleman can possibly come down to West Troy, I wish him to come as soon as possible. I hope he will not delay. I think we have a little claim upon him, if our wishes may be brought into account.
Dear Sir, upon the reception of this, please write me the reason of the disappointment; also, when he will come, if at all, that I may give an answer to them that ask.

"Yours in haste, "FREDERICK S. PARKE"

Our look at the ministry of William Miller clearly shows the impact of the message contained in the 2300 day prophecy. That message, regardless of the disappointment that occurred when Christ did not return, sowed a well grounded seed in the faith of many. For instance,

“The Advent Christian Church Founded in 1860, grew out of the body of Adventists who reorganized in 1845 following the Great Disappointment . While William Miller was not directly involved in the founding of this church, his preaching and teachings concerning the Second Coming of Christ formed the basis for Advent Christian theological, biblical, and organizational thought.”
Harold Bloom, “The American Religion” (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992)

“Charles Taze Russell was the founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses in 1870. After abandoning his Presbyterian/Congregational upbringing, he found resonance with early 19th Century Adventists. However, eventually he broke with the Adventists over their view that the second coming would be in the flesh rather than in the spirit.” Harold Bloom, “The American Religion” (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992)

The impact of Miller’s preaching indeed was strong. The message profound.

Cameron A. Bowen

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