A Great Religious Awakening.

27 Jan

A great religious awakening under the proclamation of Christ’s
soon coming, is foretold in the prophecy of the first angel’s message
of Revelation 14. An angel is seen flying “in the midst of
heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that
dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue,
and people.” “With a loud voice” he proclaims the message,
“Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 369
is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the
sea, and the fountains of waters.”590
The fact that an angel is said to be the herald of this warning,
is significant. By the purity, the glory, and the power of the heavenly
messenger, divine wisdom has been pleased to represent the
exalted character of the work to be accomplished by the message,
and the power and glory that were to attend it. And the angel’s
flight “in the midst of heaven,” the “loud voice” with which
the warning is uttered, and its promulgation to all “that dwell
on the earth,”—“to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and
people,”—give evidence of the rapidity and world-wide extent
of the movement.
The message itself sheds light as to the time when this movement
is to take place. It is declared to be a part of the “everlasting
gospel;” and it announces the opening of the judgment. The [356]
message of salvation has been preached in all ages; but this
message is a part of the gospel which could be proclaimed only
in the last days, for only then would it be true that the hour
of judgment had come. The prophecies present a succession
of events leading down to the opening of the judgment. This
is especially true of the book of Daniel. But that part of his
prophecy which related to the last days, Daniel was bidden to
close up and seal “to the time of the end.” Not till we reach this
time could a message concerning the judgment be proclaimed,
based on a fulfilment of these prophecies. But at the time of the
end, says the prophet, “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge
shall be increased.”591
The apostle Paul warned the church not to look for the coming
of Christ in his day. “That day shall not come,” he says,
“except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be
revealed.”592 Not till after the great apostasy, and the long period
590 Rev. 14:6, 7.
591 Dan. 12:4.
592 2 Thess. 2:3.
370 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
of the reign of the “man of sin,” can we look for the advent of
our Lord. The “man of sin,” which is also styled the “mystery of
iniquity,” the “son of perdition,” and “that wicked,” represents
the papacy, which, as foretold in prophecy, was to maintain its
supremacy for 1260 years. This period ended in 1798. The
coming of Christ could not take place before that time. Paul
covers with his caution the whole of the Christian dispensation
down to the year 1798. It is this side of that time that the message
of Christ’s second coming is to be proclaimed.
No such message has ever been given in past ages. Paul, as we
have seen, did not preach it; he pointed his brethren into the then
far-distant future for the coming of the Lord. The Reformers did
not proclaim it. Martin Luther placed the judgment about three
hundred years in the future from his day. But since 1798 the
book of Daniel has been unsealed, knowledge of the prophecies
has increased, and many have proclaimed the solemn message of
[357] the judgment near.
Like the great Reformation of the sixteenth century, the Advent
Movement appeared in different countries of Christendom
at the same time. In both Europe and America, men of faith and
prayer were led to the study of the prophecies, and tracing down
the inspired record, they saw convincing evidence that the end
of all things was at hand. In different lands there were isolated
bodies of Christians who, solely by the study of the Scriptures,
arrived at the belief that the Saviour’s advent was near.
In 1821, three years after Miller had arrived at his exposition
of the prophecies pointing to the time of the judgment, Dr.
Joseph Wolff, “the missionary to the world,” began to proclaim
the Lord’s soon coming. Wolff was born in Germany, of Hebrew
parentage, his father being a Jewish rabbi. While very young, he
was convinced of the truth of the Christian religion. Of an active,
inquiring mind, he had been an eager listener to the conversations
that took place in his father’s house, as devout Hebrews daily
assembled to recount the hopes and anticipations of their people,
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 371
the glory of the coming Messiah, and the restoration of Israel.
One day hearing Jesus of Nazareth mentioned, the boy inquired
who He was. “A Jew of the greatest talent,” was the answer; “but
as He pretended to be the Messiah, the Jewish tribunal sentenced
Him to death.” “Why,” rejoined the questioner, “is Jerusalem destroyed,
and why are we in captivity?” “Alas, alas!” answered his
father, “because the Jews murdered the prophets.” The thought
was at once suggested to the child, “Perhaps Jesus was also a
prophet, and the Jews killed Him when He was innocent.”593 So
strong was this feeling, that though forbidden to enter a Christian
church, he would often linger outside to listen to the preaching.
When only seven years old, he was boasting to an aged Christian
neighbor of the future triumph of Israel at the advent of the
Messiah, when the old man said kindly, “Dear boy, I will tell you
who the real Messiah was: He was Jesus of Nazareth, … whom [358]
your ancestors have crucified, as they did the prophets of old. Go
home and read the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, and you will be
convinced that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”594 Conviction at
once fastened upon him. He went home and read the scripture,
wondering to see how perfectly it had been fulfilled in Jesus of
Nazareth. Were the words of the Christian true? The boy asked
of his father an explanation of the prophecy, but was met with a
silence so stern that he never again dared to refer to the subject.
This, however, only increased his desire to know more of the
Christian religion.
The knowledge he sought was studiously kept from him in
his Jewish home; but when only eleven years old, he left his
father’s house, and went out into the world to gain for himself an
education, to choose his religion and his life-work. He found a
home for a time with kinsmen, but was soon driven from them
as an apostate, and alone and penniless he had to make his own
way among strangers. He went from place to place, studying dili-
593 “Travels and Adventures of the Rev. Joseph Wolff.” Vol. I, p. 6 (ed. 1860).
594 “Travels and Adventures of the Rev. Joseph Wolff,” Vol. I, p. 7.
372 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
gently, and maintaining himself by teaching Hebrew. Through
the influence of a Catholic instructor, he was led to accept the
Romish faith, and formed the purpose of becoming a missionary
to his own people. With this object he went, a few years later,
to pursue his studies in the College of the Propaganda at Rome.
Here his habit of independent thought and candid speech brought
upon him the imputation of heresy. He openly attacked the abuses
of the church, and urged the necessity of reform. Though at first
treated with special favor by the papal dignitaries, he was after a
time removed from Rome. Under the surveillance of the church
he went from place to place, until it became evident that he could
never be brought to submit to the bondage of Romanism. He was
declared to be incorrigible, and was left at liberty to go where
he pleased. He now made his way to England, and professing
the Protestant faith, united with the English Church. After two
[359] years’ study he set out, in 1821, upon his mission. While Wolff
accepted the great truth of Christ’s first advent as “a man of
sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” he saw that the prophecies
bring to view with equal clearness His second advent with power
and glory. And while he sought to lead his people to Jesus of
Nazareth as the Promised One, and to point them to His first
coming in humiliation as a sacrifice for the sins of men, he taught
them also of His second coming as a king and deliverer.
“Jesus of Nazareth, the true Messiah,” he said, “whose hands
and feet were pierced, who was brought like a lamb to the slaughter,
who was the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, who
after the scepter was taken from Judah, and the legislative power
from between his feet, came the first time; shall come the
second time in the clouds of heaven, and with the trump of the
Archangel,”595 “and shall stand upon the Mount of Olives; and
that dominion, once consigned to Adam over the creation, and
forfeited by him (Gen. 1:26; 3:17), shall be given to Jesus. He
595 Wolff, “Researches and Missionary Labors,” p. 62 (ed. 1835).
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 373
shall be king over all the earth. The groanings and lamentations
of the creation shall cease, but songs of praises and thanksgivings
shall be heard…. When Jesus comes in the glory of His Father,
with the holy angels, … the dead believers shall rise first. 1 Thess.
4:16; 1 Cor. 15: 23. This is what we Christians call the first
resurrection. Then the animal kingdom shall change its nature
(Isa. 11:6-9), and be subdued unto Jesus. Psalm 8. Universal
peace shall prevail.”596 “The Lord again shall look down upon
the earth, and say, ‘Behold, it is very good.’ ”597
Wolff believed the coming of the Lord to be at hand, his
interpretation of the prophetic periods placing the great consummation
within a very few years of the time pointed out by Miller.
To those who urged from the scripture, “Of that day and hour
knoweth no man,” that men are to know nothing concerning the
nearness of the advent, Wolff replied: “Did our Lord say that that
day and hour should never be known? Did He not give us signs
of the times, in order that we may know at least the approach [360]
of His coming, as one knows the approach of the summer by
the fig-tree putting forth its leaves? Matt. 24:32. Are we never
to know that period, whilst He Himself exhorteth us not only to
read Daniel the prophet, but to understand it? and in that very
Daniel, where it is said that the words were shut up to the time
of the end (which was the case in his time), and that ‘many shall
run to and fro’ (a Hebrew expression for observing and thinking
upon the time), ‘and knowledge’ (regarding that time) ‘shall be
increased.’ Dan. 12:4. Besides this, our Lord does not intend to
say by this, that the approach of the time shall not be known,
but that the exact ‘day and hour knoweth no man.’ Enough, He
does say, shall be known by the signs of the times, to induce us
to prepare for His coming, as Noah prepared the ark.”598
Concerning the popular system of interpreting, or misinter-
596 “Journal of the Rev. Joseph Wolff,” pp. 378, 379 (ed. 1839).
597 Idem, p. 294.
598 Wolff, “Researches and Missionary Labors,” pp. 404, 405.
374 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
preting, the Scriptures, Wolff wrote: “The greater part of the
Christian church have swerved from the plain sense of Scripture,
and have turned to the phantomizing system of the Buddhists,
who believe that the future happiness of mankind will consist
in moving about in the air, and suppose that when they are
reading Jews, they must understand Gentiles; and when they
read Jerusalem, they must understand the church; and if it is
said earth, it means sky; and for the coming of the Lord they
must understand the progress of the missionary societies; and
going up to the mountain of the Lord’s house, signifies a grand
class-meeting of Methodists.”599
During the twenty-four years from 1821 to 1845, Wolff traveled
extensively: in Africa, visiting Egypt and Abyssinia; in
Asia, traversing Palestine, Syria, Persia, Bokhara, and India. He
also visited the United States, on the journey thither preaching
on the island of St. Helena. He arrived in New York in August,
1837; and after speaking in that city, he preached in Philadelphia
and Baltimore, and finally proceeded to Washington. Here, he
says, “on a motion brought forward by the ex-president, John
[361] Quincy Adams, in one of the houses of Congress, the House
unanimously granted to me the use of the Congress Hall for
a lecture, which I delivered on a Saturday, honored with the
presence of all the members of Congress, and also of the bishop
of Virginia, and of the clergy and citizens of Washington. The
same honor was granted to me by the members of the government
of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, in whose presence I delivered
lectures on my researches in Asia, and also on the personal reign
of Jesus Christ.”600
Dr. Wolff traveled in the most barbarous countries, without
the protection of any European authority, enduring many hardships,
and surrounded with countless perils. He was bastinadoed
and starved, sold as a slave, and three times condemned to death.
599 “Journal of the Rev. Joseph Wolff,” p. 96.
600 “Journal of the Rev. Joseph Wolff,” pp. 398, 399.
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 375
He was beset by robbers, and sometimes nearly perished from
thirst. Once he was stripped of all that he possessed, and left to
travel hundreds of miles on foot through the mountains, the snow
beating in his face, and his naked feet benumbed by contact with
the frozen ground.
When warned against going unarmed among savage and hostile
tribes, he declared himself “provided with arms,”—“prayer,
zeal for Christ, and confidence in His help.” “I am also,” he said,
“provided with the love of God and my neighbor in my heart, and
the Bible is in my hand.”601 The Bible in Hebrew and English he
carried with him wherever he went. Of one of his later journeys
he says, “I … kept the Bible open in my hand. I felt my power
was in the book, and that its might would sustain me.”602
Thus he persevered in his labors until the message of the
judgment had been carried to a large part of the habitable globe.
Among Jews, Turks, Parsees, Hindoos, and many other nationalities
and races, he distributed the word of God in these various
tongues, and everywhere heralded the approaching reign of the
Messiah.
In his travels in Bokhara he found the doctrine of the Lord’s
soon coming held by a remote and isolated people. The Arabs [362]
of Yemen, he says, “are in possession of a book called ‘Seera,’
which gives notice of the second coming of Christ and His reign
in glory; and they expect great events to take place in the year
1840.”603 “In Yemen … I spent six days with the children of
Rechab. They drink no wine, plant no vineyard, sow no seed,
and live in tents, and remember good old Jonadab, the son of
Rechab; and I found in their company children of Israel, of the
tribe of Dan, … who expect, with the children of Rechab, the
speedy arrival of the Messiah in the clouds of heaven.”604
601 Adams, W. H. D., “In Perils Oft,” p. 192.
602 Idem, p. 201.
603 “Journal of the Rev. Joseph Wolff,” p. 377.
604 Idem, p. 389.
376 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
A similar belief was found by another missionary to exist in
Tartary. A Tartar priest put the question to the missionary, as to
when Christ would come the second time. When the missionary
answered that he knew nothing about it, the priest seemed greatly
surprised at such ignorance in one who professed to be a Bible
teacher, and stated his own belief, founded on prophecy, that
Christ would come about 1844.
As early as 1826 the advent message began to be preached in
England. The movement here did not take so definite a form as in
America; the exact time of the advent was not so generally taught,
but the great truth of Christ’s soon coming in power and glory was
extensively proclaimed. And this not among the dissenters and
non-conformists only. Mourant Brock, an English writer, states
that about seven hundred ministers of the Church of England
were engaged in preaching this “gospel of the kingdom.” The
message pointing to 1844 as the time of the Lord’s coming was
also given in Great Britain. Advent publications from the United
States were widely circulated. Books and journals were republished
in England. And in 1842, Robert Winter, an Englishman
by birth, who had received the advent faith in America, returned
to his native country to herald the coming of the Lord. Many
united with him in the work, and the message of the judgment
[363] was proclaimed in various parts of England.
In South America, in the midst of barbarism and priestcraft,
Lacunza, a Spaniard and a Jesuit, found his way to the Scriptures,
and thus received the truth of Christ’s speedy return. Impelled to
give the warning, yet desiring to escape the censures of Rome,
he published his views under the assumed name of “Rabbi Ben-
Israel,” representing himself as a converted Jew. Lacunza lived
in the eighteenth century, but it was about 1825 that his book,
having found its way to London, was translated into the English
language. Its publication served to deepen the interest already
awakening in England in the subject of the second advent.
In Germany the doctrine had been taught in the eighteenth
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 377
century by Bengel, a minister in the Lutheran Church, and a
celebrated biblical scholar and critic. Upon completing his education,
Bengel had “devoted himself to the study of theology,
to which the grave and religious tone of his mind, deepened
and strengthened by his early training and discipline, naturally
inclined him. Like other young men of thoughtful character,
before and since, he had to struggle with doubts and difficulties
of a religious nature, and he alludes, with much feeling, to the
‘many arrows which pierced his poor heart, and made his youth
hard to bear.’ ”605 Becoming a member of the consistory of
Würtemberg, he advocated the cause of religious liberty. “While
maintaining the rights and privileges of the church, he was an
advocate for all reasonable freedom being accorded to those who
felt themselves bound, on grounds of conscience, to withdraw
from her communion.”606 The good effects of this policy are still
felt in his native province.
It was while preparing a sermon from Revelation 21 for “Advent
Sunday” that the light of Christ’s second coming broke in
upon Bengel’s mind. The prophecies of the Revelation unfolded
to his understanding as never before. Overwhelmed with a sense
of the stupendous importance and surpassing glory of the scenes
presented by the prophet, he was forced to turn for a time from
the contemplation of the subject. In the pulpit it again presented [364]
itself to him with all its vividness and power. From that time he
devoted himself to the study of the prophecies, especially those
of the Apocalypse, and soon arrived at the belief that they pointed
to the coming of Christ as near. The date which he fixed upon as
the time of the second advent was within a very few years of that
afterward held by Miller.
Bengel’s writings have been spread throughout Christendom.
His views of prophecy were quite generally received in his own
state of Würtemberg, and to some extent in other parts of Ger-
605 Encyclopædia Britannica, art. Bengel (ninth edition).
606 Ibid.
378 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
many. The movement continued after his death, and the advent
message was heard in Germany at the same time that it was
attracting attention in other lands. At an early date some of the
believers went to Russia, and there formed colonies, and the faith
of Christ’s soon coming is still held by the German churches of
that country.
The light shone also in France and Switzerland. At Geneva,
where Farel and Calvin had spread the truths of the Reformation,
Gaussen preached the message of the second advent. While a student
at school, Gaussen had encountered that spirit of rationalism
which pervaded all Europe during the latter part of the eighteenth
and the opening of the nineteenth century; and when he entered
the ministry he was not only ignorant of true faith, but inclined to
skepticism. In his youth he had become interested in the study of
prophecy. After reading Rollin’s “Ancient History,” his attention
was called to the second chapter of Daniel, and he was struck
with the wonderful exactness with which the prophecy had been
fulfilled, as seen in the historian’s record. Here was a testimony
to the inspiration of the Scriptures, which served as an anchor
to him amid the perils of later years. He could not rest satisfied
with the teachings of rationalism, and in studying the Bible and
searching for clearer light he was, after a time, led to a positive
faith.
As he pursued his investigation of the prophecies, he arrived
at the belief that the coming of the Lord was at hand. Impressed
[365] with the solemnity and importance of this great truth, he desired
to bring it before the people; but the popular belief that the
prophecies of Daniel are mysteries and cannot be understood,
was a serious obstacle in his way. He finally determined—as
Farel had done before him in evangelizing Geneva—to begin
with the children, through whom he hoped to interest the parents.
“I desire this to be understood,” he afterward said, speaking
of his object in this undertaking, “it is not because of its small
importance, but on the contrary because of its great value, that I
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 379
wished to present it in this familiar form, and that I addressed it
to the children. I desired to be heard, and I feared that I would not
be if I addressed myself to the grown people first.” “I determined
therefore to go to the youngest. I gather an audience of children;
if the group enlarges, if it is seen that they listen, are pleased,
interested, that they understand and explain the subject, I am sure
to have a second circle soon, and in their turn, grown people will
see that it is worth their while to sit down and study. When this
is done, the cause is gained.”607
The effort was successful. As he addressed the children, older
persons came to listen. The galleries of his church were filled
with attentive hearers. Among them were men of rank and
learning, and strangers and foreigners visiting Geneva; and thus
the message was carried to other parts.
Encouraged by this success, Gaussen published his lessons,
with the hope of promoting the study of the prophetic books in
the churches of the French-speaking people. “To publish instruction
given to the children,” says Gaussen, “is to say to adults,
who too often neglect such books under the false pretense that
they are obscure, ‘How can they be obscure, since your children
understand them?’ ” “I had a great desire,” he adds, “to render a
knowledge of the prophecies popular in our flocks, if possible.”
“There is no study, indeed, which it seems to me answers the
needs of the time better.” “It is by this that we are to prepare for
the tribulation near at hand, and watch and wait for Jesus Christ.” [366]
Though one of the most distinguished and beloved of preachers
in the French language, Gaussen was after a time suspended
from the ministry, his principal offense being that instead of the
church’s catechism, a tame and rationalistic manual, almost destitute
of positive faith, he had used the Bible in giving instruction to
the youth. He afterward became teacher in a theological school,
while on Sunday he continued his work as catechist, addressing
607 Gaussen, L., “Daniel the Prophet,” Vol. II, Preface.
380 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
the children, and instructing them in the Scriptures. His works
on prophecy also excited much interest. From the professor’s
chair, through the press, and in his favorite occupation as teacher
of children, he continued for many years to exert an extensive
influence, and was instrumental in calling the attention of many
to the study of the prophecies which showed that the coming of
the Lord was near.
In Scandinavia also the advent message was proclaimed, and
a wide-spread interest was kindled. Many were roused from
their careless security, to confess and forsake their sins, and
seek pardon in the name of Christ. But the clergy of the state
church opposed the movement, and through their influence some
who preached the message were thrown into prison. In many
places where the preachers of the Lord’s soon coming were thus
silenced, God was pleased to send the message, in a miraculous
manner, through little children. As they were under age, the law
of the state could not restrain them, and they were permitted to
speak unmolested.
The movement was chiefly among the lower class, and it was
in the humble dwellings of the laborers that the people assembled
to hear the warning. The child-preachers themselves were
mostly poor cottagers. Some of them were not more than six or
eight years of age; and while their lives testified that they loved
the Saviour, and were trying to live in obedience to God’s holy
requirements, they ordinarily manifested only the intelligence
and ability usually seen in children of that age. When standing
before the people, however, it was evident that they were moved
[367] by an influence beyond their own natural gifts. Tone and manner
changed, and with solemn power they gave the warning of the
judgment, employing the very words of Scripture, “Fear God,
and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.”
They reproved the sins of the people, not only condemning immorality
and vice, but rebuking worldliness and backsliding, and
warning their hearers to make haste to flee from the wrath to
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 381
come.
The people heard with trembling. The convicting Spirit of
God spoke to their hearts. Many were led to search the Scriptures
with new and deeper interest, the intemperate and immoral
were reformed, others abandoned their dishonest practices, and a
work was done so marked that even ministers of the state church
were forced to acknowledge that the hand of God was in the
movement.
It was God’s will that the tidings of the Saviour’s coming
should be given in the Scandinavian countries; and when the
voices of His servants were silenced, He put His Spirit upon the
children, that the work might be accomplished. When Jesus drew
near to Jerusalem attended by the rejoicing multitudes that, with
shouts of triumph and the waving of palm branches, heralded
Him as the Son of David, the jealous Pharisees called upon
Him to silence them; but Jesus answered that all this was in
fulfilment of prophecy, and if these should hold their peace, the
very stones would cry out. The people, intimidated by the threats
of the priests and rulers, ceased their joyful proclamation as they
entered the gates of Jerusalem; but the children in the temple
courts afterward took up the refrain, and waving their branches
of palm, they cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”608 When the
Pharisees, sorely displeased, said unto Him, “Hearest Thou what
these say?” Jesus answered, “Yea; have ye never read, Out of the
mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise?” As
God wrought through children at the time of Christ’s first advent,
so He wrought through them in giving the message of His second [368]
advent. God’s word must be fulfilled, that the proclamation of
the Saviour’s coming should be given to all peoples, tongues, and
nations.
To William Miller and his co-laborers it was given to preach
the warning in America. This country became the center of the
608 Matt. 21:8-16.
382 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
great Advent Movement. It was here that the prophecy of the
first angel’s message had its most direct fulfilment. The writings
of Miller and his associates were carried to distant lands. Wherever
missionaries had penetrated in all the world, were sent the
glad tidings of Christ’s speedy return. Far and wide spread the
message of the everlasting gospel, “Fear God, and give glory to
Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.”
The testimony of the prophecies which seemed to point to the
coming of Christ in the spring of 1844, took deep hold of the
minds of the people. As the message went from State to State,
there was everywhere awakened wide-spread interest. Many
were convinced that the arguments from the prophetic periods
were correct, and sacrificing their pride of opinion, they joyfully
received the truth. Some ministers laid aside their sectarian views
and feelings, left their salaries and their churches, and united in
proclaiming the coming of Jesus. There were comparatively few
ministers, however, who would accept this message; therefore
it was largely committed to humble laymen. Farmers left their
fields, mechanics their tools, traders their merchandise, professional
men their positions; and yet the number of workers was
small in comparison with the work to be accomplished. The
condition of an ungodly church and a world lying in wickedness,
burdened the souls of the true watchmen, and they willingly
endured toil, privation, and suffering, that they might call men
to repentance unto salvation. Though opposed by Satan, the
work went steadily forward, and the advent truth was accepted
[369] by many thousands.
Everywhere the searching testimony was heard, warning sinners,
both worldlings and church-members, to flee from the
wrath to come. Like John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ,
the preachers laid the axe at the root of the tree, and urged all
to bring forth fruit meet for repentance. Their stirring appeals
were in marked contrast to the assurances of peace and safety
that were heard from popular pulpits; and wherever the message
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 383
was given, it moved the people. The simple, direct testimony of
the Scriptures, set home by the power of the Holy Spirit, brought
a weight of conviction which few were able wholly to resist.
Professors of religion were roused from their false security. They
saw their backslidings, their worldliness and unbelief, their pride
and selfishness. Many sought the Lord with repentance and
humiliation. The affections that had so long clung to earthly
things they now fixed upon heaven. The Spirit of God rested
upon them, and with hearts softened and subdued they joined to
sound the cry, “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of
His judgment is come.”
Sinners inquired with weeping, “What must I do to be saved?”
Those whose lives had been marked with dishonesty were anxious
to make restitution. All who found peace in Christ longed to
see others share the blessing. The hearts of parents were turned
to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents. The
barriers of pride and reserve were swept away. Heartfelt confessions
were made, and the members of the household labored for
the salvation of those who were nearest and dearest. Often was
heard the sound of earnest intercession. Everywhere were souls
in deep anguish, pleading with God. Many wrestled all night in
prayer for the assurance that their own sins were pardoned, or for
the conversion of their relatives or neighbors.
All classes flocked to the Adventist meetings. Rich and poor,
high and low, were, from various causes, anxious to hear for
themselves the doctrine of the second advent. The Lord held the
spirit of opposition in check while His servants explained the [370]
reasons of their faith. Sometimes the instrument was feeble; but
the Spirit of God gave power to His truth. The presence of holy
angels was felt in these assemblies, and many were daily added
to the believers. As the evidences of Christ’s soon coming were
repeated, vast crowds listened in breathless silence to the solemn
words. Heaven and earth seemed to approach each other. The
power of God was felt upon old and young and middle-aged.
384 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
Men sought their homes with praises upon their lips, and the glad
sound rang out upon the still night air. None who attended those
meetings can ever forget those scenes of deepest interest.
The proclamation of a definite time for Christ’s coming called
forth great opposition from many of all classes, from the minister
in the pulpit down to the most reckless, Heaven-daring sinner.
The words of prophecy were fulfilled: “There shall come in
the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying,
‘Where is the promise of His coming?’ for since the fathers fell
asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the
creation.”609 Many who professed to love the Saviour, declared
that they had no opposition to the doctrine of the second advent;
they merely objected to the definite time. But God’s all-seeing
eye read their hearts. They did not wish to hear of Christ’s
coming to judge the world in righteousness. They had been
unfaithful servants, their works would not bear the inspection
of the heart-searching God, and they feared to meet their Lord.
Like the Jews at the time of Christ’s first advent, they were not
prepared to welcome Jesus. They not only refused to listen to the
plain arguments from the Bible, but ridiculed those who were
looking for the Lord. Satan and his angels exulted, and flung the
taunt in the face of Christ and holy angels, that His professed
people had so little love for Him that they did not desire His
appearing.
“No man knoweth the day nor the hour,” was the argument
most often brought forward by rejecters of the advent faith. The
[371] scripture is, “Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not
the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”610 A clear and harmonious
explanation of this text was given by those who were
looking for the Lord, and the wrong use made of it by their
opponents was clearly shown. The words were spoken by Christ
in that memorable conversation with His disciples upon Olivet,
609 2 Peter 3:3, 4.
610 Matt. 24:36, 3, 33, 42-51.
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 385
after He had for the last time departed from the temple. The
disciples had asked the question, “What shall be the sign of Thy
coming, and of the end of the world?” Jesus gave them signs,
and said, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is
near, even at the doors.”611 One saying of the Saviour must not
be made to destroy another. Though no man knoweth the day
nor the hour of His coming, we are instructed and required to
know when it is near. We are further taught that to disregard His
warning, and refuse or neglect to know when His advent is near,
will be as fatal for us as it was for those who lived in the days of
Noah not to know when the flood was coming. And the parable
in the same chapter, contrasting the faithful and the unfaithful
servant, and giving the doom of him who said in his heart,
“My Lord delayeth His coming,” shows in what light Christ will
regard and reward those whom He finds watching, and teaching
His coming, and those denying it. “Watch therefore,” He says;
“blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall
find so doing.”612 “If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come
on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come
upon thee.”613
Paul speaks of a class to whom the Lord’s appearing will come
unawares. “The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the
night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden
destruction cometh upon them, … and they shall not escape.” But
He adds, to those who have given heed to the Saviour’s warning,
“Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake
you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of
the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.”614 [372]
Thus it was shown that Scripture gives no warrant for men to
remain in ignorance concerning the nearness of Christ’s coming.
611 Ibid.
612 Ibid.
613 Rev. 3:3.
614 1 Thess. 5:2-5.
386 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
But those who desired only an excuse to reject the truth closed
their ears to this explanation; and the words, “No man knoweth
the day nor the hour,” continued to be echoed by the bold scoffer,
and even by the professed minister of Christ. As the people
were roused, and began to inquire the way of salvation, religious
teachers stepped in between them and the truth, seeking to quiet
their fears by falsely interpreting the word of God. Unfaithful
watchmen united in the work of the great deceiver, crying, Peace,
peace, when God had not spoken peace. Like the Pharisees in
Christ’s day, many refused to enter the kingdom of heaven themselves,
and those who were entering in, they hindered. The blood
of these souls will be required at their hand.
The most humble and devoted in the churches were usually
the first to receive the message. Those who studied the Bible
for themselves could not but see the unscriptural character of the
popular views of prophecy; and wherever the people were not
controlled by the influence of the clergy, wherever they would
search the word of God for themselves, the advent doctrine
needed only to be compared with the Scriptures to establish its
divine authority.
Many were persecuted by their unbelieving brethren. In order
to retain their position in the church, some consented to be silent
in regard to their hope; but others felt that loyalty to God forbade
them thus to hide the truths which He had committed to their
trust. Not a few were cut off from the fellowship of the church
for no other reason than expressing their belief in the coming
of Christ. Very precious to those who bore this trial of their
faith were the words of the prophet, “Your brethren that hated
you, that cast you out for My name’s sake, said, Let the Lord
be glorified: but He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be
[373] ashamed.”615
Angels of God were watching with the deepest interest the
615 Isa. 66:5.
20. A Great Religious Awakening. 387
result of the warning. When there was a general rejection of the
message by the churches, angels turned away in sadness. But
there were many who had not yet been tested in regard to the
advent truth. Many were misled by husbands, wives, parents, or
children, and were made to believe it a sin even to listen to such
heresies as were taught by the Adventists. Angels were bidden
to keep faithful watch over these souls; for another light was yet
to shine upon them from the throne of God.
With unspeakable desire those who had received the message
watched for the coming of their Saviour. The time when they
expected to meet Him was at hand. They approached this hour
with a calm solemnity. They rested in sweet communion with
God, an earnest of the peace that was to be theirs in the bright
hereafter. None who experienced this hope and trust can forget
those precious hours of waiting. For some weeks preceding the
time, worldly business was for the most part laid aside. The
sincere believers carefully examined every thought and emotion
of their hearts as if upon their death-beds and in a few hours to
close their eyes upon earthly scenes. There was no making of
“ascension robes;”616 but all felt the need of internal evidence
that they were prepared to meet the Saviour; their white robes
were purity of soul,—characters cleansed from sin by the atoning
blood of Christ. Would that there was still with the professed people
of God the same spirit of heart-searching, the same earnest,
determined faith. Had they continued thus to humble themselves
before the Lord, and press their petitions at the mercy-seat, they
would be in possession of a far richer experience than they now
have. There is too little prayer, too little real conviction of sin,
and the lack of living faith leaves many destitute of the grace so
richly provided by our Redeemer.
God designed to prove His people. His hand covered a mistake
in the reckoning of the prophetic periods. Adventists did not [374]
616 See Appendix.
388 The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
discover the error, nor was it discovered by the most learned of
their opponents. The latter said: “Your reckoning of the prophetic
periods is correct. Some great event is about to take place; but it
is not what Mr. Miller predicts; it is the conversion of the world,
and not the second advent of Christ.”617
The time of expectation passed, and Christ did not appear for
the deliverance of His people. Those who with sincere faith and
love had looked for their Saviour, experienced a bitter disappointment.
Yet the purposes of God were being accomplished:
He was testing the hearts of those who professed to be waiting
for His appearing. There were among them many who had been
actuated by no higher motive than fear. Their profession of faith
had not affected their hearts or their lives. When the expected
event failed to take place, these persons declared that they were
not disappointed; they had never believed that Christ would
come. They were among the first to ridicule the sorrow of the
true believers.
But Jesus and all the heavenly host looked with love and sympathy
upon the tried and faithful yet disappointed ones. Could
the veil separating the visible from the invisible world have been
swept back, angels would have been seen drawing near to these
steadfast souls, and shielding them from the shafts of Satan.

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