The tenth day of the seventh month of the Jewish year of 1844, came and passed, and left impressions upon the minds of believers not easily effaced; and although a quarter of a century has passed since that memorable period, yet that work has not lost its interest and force upon the minds of those who participated in it. Even now, when one who shared in that blessed work, and who feels its hallowed influence rekindling upon his mind—if in obedience to the injunction of the apostle when he says, “Call to remembrance the former days in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions, partly whilst ye were made a gazing stock, both by reproaches and afflictions, and partly whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.”—shall speak of that solemn work, of that consecration of all, made in full view of eternal scenes, and of that sweet peace and holy joy which filled the minds of the waiting ones, his words will not fail to touch the feelings of all who shared the blessings of that work and have held fast.
And those who participated in that movement are not the only ones who can now go back in their experience, and feast upon the faith-reviving, soul-inspiring realities of the past. Those who have since embraced the Advent faith and hope, and who have seen in the three messages, of Revelation 14, the past consecration and blessedness, the present work of preparation, and the future glory, may go back with us to the autumn of 1844, and with us share the rekindling of the heavenly illumination. Was that our Jerusalem, where we waited for, and enjoyed, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Then as all Christians, as well as Christ’s first disciples who were present on the occasion, looked back to the day of Pentecost with pleasure and profit, so may these who have embraced the doctrine of the Second Advent since the memorable seventh-month movement, look back to that period with all that interest those can who participated in it.
The impressions made and left upon the minds of believers were deep and lasting. However far one has since departed from God and his truth, there still remains upon the soul of the apostate traces of the work. Let him hear the subject afresh; let the simple facts be again brought before his mind, and he will feel upon this subject as he can feel upon no other. And those who took part in that work, who are far backslidden from God, yet cherish regard for the word of God and Christian experience, will yet feel deeply over this subject, and the faith of many of them will be resurrected to new life. God grant that these pages may prove a blessing to many such.
The disappointment at the passing of the time was a bitter one. True believers had given up all for Christ, and had shared His presence as never before. They had, as they supposed, given their last warning to the world, and had separated themselves, more or less, from the unbelieving, scoffing multitude. And with the divine blessing upon them, they felt more like associating with their soon-expected Master and the holy angels, than with those from whom they had separated themselves. The love of Jesus filled every soul, and beamed from every face, and with inexpressible desires they prayed, “Come Lord Jesus, and come quickly.” But He did not come. And now to turn again to the cares, perplexities, and dangers of life, in full view of the jeers and revilings of unbelievers who now scoffed as never before, was a terrible trial of faith and patience. When Elder Himes visited Portland, ME, a few days after the passing of the time, and stated that the brethren should prepare for another cold winter, my feelings were almost uncontrollable. I left the place of meeting and wept like a child.
But God did not forsake His people. His Spirit upon them still abode, with all who did not rashly deny and denounce the good work in the Advent movement up to that time. And with especial force and comfort did such passages as the following, to the Hebrews, come home to the minds and hearts of the tried, waiting ones: “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” Hebrews 10:35–39. The points of interest in this portion of Scripture are—
Those addressed are in danger of casting away their confidence in that in which they had done right.
They had done the will of God, and were brought into that state of trial where patience was necessary.
The just at this time are to live by faith, not by doubting whether they had done the will of God, but faith, in that in which they had done the will of God.
Those who should not endure the trial of faith, but should cast away their confidence in the work in which they did the will of God, and draw back, would take the direct road to perdition.
But why apply all this to the subject of the second advent? Answer: Because Paul applies it there. His words, in the very center of the foregoing quotation from his epistle to the Hebrews, forbid any other application: “For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” No one will for a moment question that the second advent is the subject upon which the apostle treats. The peculiar situation of those who should be looking for the second appearing of Jesus, is the burden of his exhortation. And how wonderfully applicable to those who were sadly disappointed, tempted and tried, in the autumn of 1844, are his words. With great confidence had they proclaimed the coming of the Lord, with the assurance that they were doing the will of God. But as the time passed, they were brought into a position exceedingly trying to the faith and patience. Hence the words of Paul to them, just then, and just there. “Cast not away therefore your confidence . . . Ye have need of patience . . . Ye have done the will of God.” To the decision of the apostle every true Adventist, who tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, in the movement of 1844, will respond, Amen.
But how fearful the words which follow: “Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back My soul shall have no pleasure in him.” As Adventists have came up to the point of expectation in the blazing light of unsealed prophecy, and the rapidly-fulfilling signs that Christ’s coming was at the doors, they walked, as it were, by sight. But now they stand with disappointed hopes, and stricken hearts, and live by faith in the sure word, and the work of God in their Second-Advent experience. With these who hold fast, God is well pleased; but in those who draw back He has no pleasure. These believe to the saving of the soul; while those who become impatient, cast away their confidence in the way God has led them, and give it up as the work of man, or of Satan, and draw back to perdition.
This and many other portions of Scripture of like import, having a direct application to the condition of believers at that time, served not only as an encouragement to them to hold fast their faith, but as a warning to them not to apostatize. And a general impression remained upon the minds of the believers for some time after the disappointment, that the seventh-month movement was in the direct providence of God, and that those who had been engaged in this work and done His will.