As we look back upon the great Advent movement, with its joyful expectations and bitter disappointments, its prosperity and adversity, its triumphant victories and its trials, it appears just like the work of God in separating a people from the world, to purify, make white, and try, and thus make them ready for the coming of their Lord. Have Adventists been disappointed? So were the Israelites, in not immediately entering Canaan, and the disciples, as Jesus died upon the cross. Have the faith and patience of Adventists been tried? So were the faith and patience of the Israelites tried in their term of forty years’ wandering in the wilderness. And that of the disciples was severely tested in the unexpected death of their beloved Teacher. Have but comparatively few of the once happy expectants of the King of glory held fast their faith and hope? And have many cast away their confidence in this work and drawn back to perdition? Caleb and Joshua alone, of the six hundred thousand male adults that left Egypt, entered the goodly land. And what of the chosen twelve in the hour of our Lord’s apprehension? “Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.” Matthew 26:56.
God has never been able to make anything very great or very good of man. It has been His plan to prove His people in every age, to test their faith and patience. This has been for the good of man and the glory of His name. It was necessary that such noble characters as Noah, Abraham, Job, and Daniel, should suffer the severest tests. And how unlike the work of God in all past time, had the many thousands of Adventists triumphantly entered the kingdom at the point of expectation, with hardly a single trial. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life.” James 1:12. This is God’s unfading glory. As I “call to remembrance the former days,” touching the Advent movement, and see its adaptation to the wants of the people, and God’s great plan of saving men, my soul says, “He hath done all things well.”
It was necessary, in order that the first message should arouse the people and separate those who should receive it from the spirit of the world, that it should not only relate to the fearful realities of the Judgment, but also to the period when it might be expected. “Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His Judgment is come.” The proclamation of the time was a part of God’s plan. This brought the coming of the Lord very near. This was right. This was necessary to move the people. And when the time passed, instead of calling the attention of believers to some period in the future to which they might look for the coming of the Lord, the Spirit of God sweetly and powerfully applied to their consecrated minds and hearts, such passages as, “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.”
How long this little while would be, no one knew. It was not best that anyone should know when it would terminate. And more, it was God’s plan that this should not be known; but that they should move along through the period of the patience of the saints, Revelation 14:12, up to the coming of the Lord, ever keeping that event just before them. Those who have taught the three messages the past twenty years, have all the way presented the coming of Christ at hand. This has been as God designed. And those who would murmur at God’s ministers for this, murmur against the providence of God.
It is painful to hear those who have their faces set toward Egypt, complain that the message was not properly preached to them. The coming of the Lord was presented too near. And that if they had understood the matter, they should have laid their plans for the future differently, and now their property might be double its present value. These murmur against the direct providences of God. The coming of the Lord was brought very near in 1844, to rid men of the love of this world, that they might share the love of the Father, and seek a preparation for the coming of His Son. They cannot have both. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15. And it was designed that the coming of Christ should be viewed near by believers, every step of the way from the disappointment in 1844 to the gates of the golden city, to keep them free from the love of this world.
An energetic Advent minister, on visiting the believers at Roxbury, Mass., being asked, “What is your message now, Bro. B.?” [He] answered, “Come out of her my people.” Soon after the passing of the time he visited that people again, and in reply to the inquiry, “What is your message now, Bro. B.?” [he] made the apt and appropriate reply, “Stay out of her my people.” So Heaven designed that the coming of Christ should be brought very near to tear from men the love of this world, and that in their faith they should ever hold His coming just before them all the way till faith should be lost in the blazing glories of the coming of the Son of Man. If we keep the coming of Jesus ever near, and live consistently with such a faith, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, we may be saved. But remove the coming of the Lord to the distant future, become imbued with the love and spirit of this world, and remain in such a state, and perdition is certain. Let the painful history of the past relative to those who have said in their hearts, “My Lord delayeth His coming,” have apostatized and have been scattered to the world and to Satan, be a warning to all to be ever “looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God.”
When the warning voice of the first angel was first heard, it found the nominal churches asleep upon the subject of the second advent, dreaming of the world’s conversion. But the truth was clear, and, in the hands of devoted men, was powerful. Every where the message was proclaimed it produced general conviction. The Scriptures were searched as never before; a great revolution in religious belief took place in a few short years; and at least fifty thousand in America alone, became decided believers. The prophetic times in connection with that message served their purpose, and terminated with that message. The first angel’s message was a time message. The second and third are not time messages. That aroused men in view of the fast approaching Judgment. These tell them what they must do to be saved. And it has been Satan’s grand object to institute numerous time movements among certain Adventists since 1844, to contravene this work of preparation. The passing of each time has weakened the faith of believers, and has caused unbelievers to look upon Adventists with increasing disgust. And confusion and irreligion have resulted from these spurious time movements everywhere they have reached.
The title page of this work calls attention to the great Advent movement as illustrated by the three angels of Revelation 14. The truth and work of God in this movement, commencing with the labors of William Miller, and reaching to the close of probation, is illustrated by these three angels. The first was a time message, and related to the Judgment. The second described the condition of corrupted Christianity. The third is a solemn warning relative to what men may not do, and what they must do, in order to be saved at the coming of Christ. These angels illustrate the three great divisions of the genuine movement. They do not illustrate the numerous time movements which have appeared since 1844; therefore, to say the very least, these movements were not from Heaven.
Seventh-day Adventists hold fast the great Advent movement, hence have use for the messages. They explain them in their sermons, treat upon them in their books, and give them a place with the other prophetic symbols upon their charts. They cannot spare these links in the golden chain of truth, that connect the past with the present and future, and show a beautiful harmony in the great whole.
Timeists, and in fact all Adventists who do not acknowledge the special providence of God in the work of William Miller and his associates, in 1843 and 1844, have no use for the three angel’s messages. They do not introduce them into their sermons and printed expositions of prophecy, unless it be to oppose us. They find no place for them among the other prophetic symbols upon their charts. Indeed, they treat them with all that neglect that would be justifiable, were they a wicked interpolation by men who sought to corrupt the sacred Scriptures. And no reason can be given why these men should pursue their fanatical course in relation to definite time, and other fancies not symbolized by the three angels, and therefore no part of the great movement, and resist the truth of God for this time, unless it be that in consequence of not receiving and retaining the love of the truth of the fulfillment of the prophecy in the Advent movement, God has given them over to strong delusions. I repeat it. The three messages symbolize the three parts of the genuine movement. That which has appeared not symbolized by the three angels, though it be branded “Adventism,” is spurious.
Again, the sanctuary was the heart of the typical system. It was the repository of the ark of God, in which ark His law was deposited. By this law the people had the knowledge of sin. It was also the place where they, in figure, found pardon for their sins through the offerings there made. This entire system, with its great center, the sanctuary, was but the shadow of the realities of the present system of salvation. The shadow was on earth; the realities in Heaven. The facts are stated by the apostle in few words: “We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” Hebrews 8:1, 2. The sanctuary of the new covenant, which is in Heaven, is the great heart of the plan of redemption. There Christ offers His blood for the sins of men. In the real tabernacle there are two holies, if there were two in the shadow. In the holiest is the ark of God, containing the ten precepts of His law, if they were in the holiest of the shadow. Here is a theme worthy the attention of all Christians. And it is one in which they should feel the deepest interest, as each has a case of eternal consequence pending there.
The work of cleansing this sanctuary, at the close of the 2300 days, is a subject which should materially interest all Adventists. It pertains to the confession, pardon, and blotting out of sins. A correct and intelligent faith sees the adorable Redeemer in the most holy of the true tabernacle, offering His blood before the mercy seat for the sins of those who have broken the law of God beneath it in the ark. True faith reaches within the second vail, where Jesus and the ark of God are seen. There, by the law we have the knowledge of sin, and through the blood of Jesus we may find pardon, and share eternal redemption. The subject of the cleansing of this sanctuary, then, is one of most thrilling interest, especially to all Adventists. It is the key to the great Advent movement, making all plain. Without it the movement is inexplicable.
Seventh-day Adventists dwell upon this subject with great delight. It opens to them the ark of God, in which is seen the ten precepts of His law. They keep them. It presents Jesus before the mercy-seat, ready to plead the cause of sinners, who in the spirit of penitence and confession, go to Him for help. They love and seek to obey Him, so that it is said of them, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” They treat upon the subject of the sanctuary in their sermons and books, and find a place for it among the symbols of prophecy upon their charts. Seventh-day Adventists cannot spare the subject of the sanctuary, as it is the great center around which all revealed truth relative to salvation clusters, and contributes more toward defining their present position, than any other.
But nominal Adventists treat the subject as one of no interest or importance to them. Having in their own hearts abolished the ten commandments, they have no use for the ark of God, and cast it aside as an antiquated and unfashionable piece of furniture. Their sermons, and their printed essays and expositions, do not refer to the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, unless it be to oppose the views of Seventh-day Adventists, and ridicule them, and ignorantly and contemptuously talk of Heaven being dirty, and needing cleansing. And as in the case of the three angels, you do not find the sanctuary represented upon their prophetic charts.
But these we value above all earthly good, and make them prominent in all our religious teachings, because the truth of God for this time, or present truth, is in them. And for this reason those who “call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter,” cast this subject from them, as unworthy of their notice, unless it be to oppose, denounce and ridicule.