Written: February, 1844 (from Memoirs of William Miller, 249–253, by Sylvester Bliss, 1853.)
Dear Brethren—We would ask in the name of our dear Master, Jesus Christ, by all that is holy, by the fellowship of the saints, and the love of the truth, why you cast us off as if we were heretics? What have we believed that we have not been commanded to believe by the Word of God, which you yourselves allow is the rule and only rule of our faith and practice? What have we done that should call down such virulent denunciations against us from pulpit and press, and give you just cause to exclude us (Adventists) from your churches and fellowship? In the name of all that is dear, all that is holy and good, we call upon some of you to come out and tell us wherein our great sin lies. Have we denied the faith once delivered to the saints? Tell us, we pray you, or, wherein is our fault? If there is an honest man among you, of which we cannot doubt, we shall expect to see your reasons publicly and honestly avowed; and if we are guilty of heresy or crime, let the Christian community know it, that we may be shunned by all who know and love the truth.
Is it heterodox to believe that Jesus Christ will come again to this earth, to receive His saints to Himself, and to reward all men as their works shall be? If so, then our fathers, and our ministers, our creeds, and our Bibles, have taught us heresy; and from our infancy we have misunderstood our teachers, and misapplied our Bible. Do tell us what mean a class of texts like these:
- John 14:3: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
- Acts 1:11: “Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.”
- I Peter 1:7, 13: “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ. Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
⦁ Revelation 1:7: “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him.”
Does our crime consist in our looking for Him and loving His appearing? This, too, we charge upon our fathers and teachers; we have heard, ever since we had consciousness, as our duty explained and enforced, to watch and look, to love and be prepared for His return, that when He comes we may enter into the marriage supper of the Lamb. We also have Christ and the apostles for our example in so doing. Witness Matthew 24:44; 25:13; Mark 13:34–37; Philippians 3:20, 21; II Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13; II Peter 3:12; Revelation 14:15.
Or are we to be severed from our brethren because we believe the prophecies of the Old and New Testament to be the true prophecies of God; or because that we think we can understand them, and see in the history of our world their fulfillment? Are we to be cut off from our connection with your churches because we believe as your ministers have told us we ought to for ages past?
- Acts 24:14: “But this I confess unto you, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the prophets.”
- Acts 26:22: “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets?”
- I Timothy 6:14: “That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Revelation 1:3: “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
Again, let me inquire: Are we treated as heretics because we believe Christ will come this year? Are we not all commanded to watch?
- Mark 13:37: “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” And I would ask, Is it not our duty to watch this year? If so, will you tell us how a man can watch, and not expect the object for which he watches? If this is the crime, we plead guilty to the charge, and throw ourselves upon the Word of God, and the example of our fathers, to justify us in so doing.
- Ecclesiastes 8:5, 6: “Whoso keepeth the commandments shall feel no evil thing; and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment; because to every purpose there is time and judgment.”
- Daniel 12:6, 7: “And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by Him that liveth forever that it shall be for a time, times, and a half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.”
- I Peter 1:9–13: “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Now, if we are wrong, pray show us wherein consists our wrong. Show us from the Word of God that we are in error; we have had ridicule enough; that can never convince us that we are in the wrong; the Word of God alone can change our views. Our conclusions have been formed deliberately and prayerfully, as we have seen the evidence in the Scriptures; and all reasoning against our views has only served to confirm us in them.
Or, are you ready to say that our crime consists in examining the Bible for ourselves? We have inquired, “Watchman, what of the night?” We have besought and entreated them to give us any signs of the coming morning, and have waited patiently for the answer; but have waited in vain; have been turned off with some German or French philosophy, or had the Book closed in our face, and been insulted for our deep anxiety. We have, therefore, been obliged to study for ourselves; and if we are to be cut off for honestly believing in the exactness of prophetic time, then Scott, and Wesley, and the Newtons, and Mede, Gill, and others should all be excommunicated for the like offense. We, therefore, once more call upon you to show us our errors; and until this is done, we must continue to believe the Lord will come this Jewish year.