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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Advent Christian Association

a branch of the Adventists (q.v.), which now includes the great majority of those who believe in the speedy coming of Christ to rule the world in his own person. In 1852 Jonathan Cummings, one of the ministers of the Advent body in the earlier days, claimed to have obtained " new: light on. the commencement, and terminus of the periods of Daniel." He predicted with the utmost positiveness that. the resurrection would take place in 1854. About this time F. H. Berrick wrote a book entitled The Lord Soon to Come to sustain the same theory. The time movement having failed with the earlier Adventists as a body, there was no disposition on the part of the managers of- the official periodicals to permit any extended discussion of the theory in their columns. In consequence of this the advocates of the new doctrine held a mass meeting at Lowell, Mass., in January, 1854, and decided to establish a paper to give currency to their views. As a result The World's Crisis was issued at Lowell in March of that year. Mr. Cummings gathered about him several hundreds of followers on the plan of a community of goods, but that feature of the enterprise failed. When the year 1854 had passed, The World's Crisis was obliged to confess the error of its doctrine in regard to time, but certain other differences existed which prevented its supporters from returning to their former fellowship. They appointed a conference to meet at Worcester, Mass., June 5, 1855, where doctrinal views were set forth, but no organization was effected. In February, 1856,The World's Crisis office was removed to Boston, where it has remained ever since. Another mass convention was assembled at Worcester, Nov. 6,1861, at which "The Advent Christian Association" was organized. This association consisted of those who believed in the entire mortality of man, the sleep of the soul in death, and the final destruction of the wicked. By the evangelical class they were termed materialists. Although their number was limited at the beginning, those who belonged to the original organization gradually came over, until this branch now comprises the greater part of the Adventists in Africa. It has about one thousand ministers, and some thirty state and sectional conferences meeting annually. Its form of Church government is Congregational. See Wellcome, list. of the Second Advent Message, p. 594 sq.

Adveritists, a name applied to those Christians who. believe in the speedy coming of Christ to reign over his kingdom in the world. From intimations in Paul's Second Epistle to the Thessalonians (2:2, 3), it would appear that there were those even so early as that time who were looking for the immediate coming of Christ in his own person; and frequently along the ages since, the same expectation has been revived, with various changes as to circumstances and dates. Among the early prophets of this type was Ludovick Muggleton, a journeyman tailor in the time of Cromwell, who, with his companion Reeves, absolved and condemned according to their own pleasure. They claimed that they were the two last witnesses spoken of in Revelation, who were to appear previous to the destruction of the world. (See MUGGLETONIANS).

The Fifth Monarchy Men (q.v.-) in the days of Cromwell formed another class of prophets whose influence was but short-lived. The Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman were the four great monarchies, and these men, believing that the spiritual kingdom of Christ made the fifth, bore the name by which they are distinguished. They aimed at the subversion of all human government. In the 17th century, Thomas Burnet (q.v.), in his Theory of the Earth, taught that in the latter period of time, Christ shall live and reign on the earth for a thousand years, and that this period shall be-the seventh millenary of the world. For as God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, so the world, it-is argued, will continue six thousand years, and the seventh thousand will be the great Sabbatism or holy rest to the people of God.

Men of very different denominational creeds have written freely on this subject. For example, the Restorationist, Mr. Winchester, in his Lectures on Prophecy suggests that all the large rivers in America are on -the; eastern side, in order that the Jews may be carried the more easily down to the Atlantic, and then across that ocean to the Holy Land; that Christ will appear at the equinox, either in March or September; and, finally,: that the body of Christ will be luminous, and be suspended in the air over the equator for twenty-four hours, and will be seen with circumstances of peculiar glory from pole to pole by all the inhabitants of the world. The author of a work entitled Illustrations of Prophecy contends that in the period commonly called the millennium a melioration of the human race will take place,. by natural means, throughout the world. .Robert Hall, Dr. David Bogue, and others, in the latter part of the. 18th century, and others still later, published varying views of the matter. Edward Irving (q.v.) also published two volumes on prophecy, in which he contends, for a millennium involving the personal reign of Christ on earth, commencing in 1866. However Millenarians may differ among themselves respecting the nature of.! this great event, they all agree that a 'revolution will be effected in the latter days by which vice and its attendant misery will be banished from the earth. It is remarkable that the subject of the second advent of Christ has generally been made most prominent by its adherents when the public mind has been more than usually excited about other matters, such as the prevalence of the plague, a disastrous epidemic, or frequent earthquake shocks. (See PREMILLENARIANS).

I. Origin of the Modern Phase of Adventism. The agitation of the question began in America about the' close of the last century. In 1796 the Rev. Joshua Spaulding, minister at the Tabernacle in Salem, Mass., published a series of. sermons on The Coming and Kingdom of Our Lord Jesus Christ, advocating the speedy appearance and reign of Christ. In 1800, Benjamin Farnham published a work at East Windsor, Conn. on the premillennial advent of Christ. Other works were published at various subsequent dates. In 1808, Elias Smith, a Christian Baptist minister, produced the first religious newspaper devoted to this subject ever published in the world, at Portsmouth, N. H. It was called The Herald of Gospel Liberty, and advocated the premillennial personal coming of Christ, and nearly all the views of what are now called Adventists. About this time, students of prophecy began to predict, from an examination of Daniel's seventy weeks" and 2300 days, that the coming of Christ would take place in 1843 or 1847, according as the "seventy weeks" ended with the: death of Christ, or four years later. Among these was William Miller (q.v.; also for an account of his followers and their doctrines (See MILLERITES)). The preaching of Mr. Miller was followed by a great awakening. Thousands were converted to God,. and many ministers and. members of other denominations, either through his public addresses or through the reading of his published works, were led to embrace his views and change their denominational connections. The first general conference of Adventists assembled in Boston, Oct. 14, 1840. It was designed to be undenominational, and. accordingly, was composed of ministers of various communions. The Conference convened. in Chardon Street Chapel, and the pastor, Joshua V. Himes, read the call for this assembly as follows:

"The undersigned, believers in the Second Coming and Kingdom of the Meissah at hand, cordially unite in the call for a general conference of our brethren of the United States and elsewhere, who are also looking for the advent near, to meet at Boston, Mass., Oct. 14,1840, at 10 o'clock A.M., to continue two days, or as long as may then be found best. The object of the conference will not be to form a new organization in the faith of Christ, nor to assail others of our brethren who differ from us in regard to the period and manner of the advent, but to discuss the whole subject faithfully and fairly, in the exercise of that spirit of Christ in which it will be safe immediately to meet him at the judgment-seat. By so doing, we may accomplish much in the rapid, general, and powerful spread, of the everlasting gospel of the kingdom at hand, that the. way of the Lord may be speedily prepared, whatever may be the precise period of his coming."

The Conference remained in session two days. and at. its close published a report of its proceedings and issued a Circular Address to all those of the same faith. During the year 1841, conferences were held at Lowell, Mass., June 15-1-7; at Portland, Me., Oct. 12-14; in New York city, Oct. 25, 26; and at Dover, N. H., Dec. 14.

On the 18th of May, 1842, the "Second Advent Association of New York City and Vicinity" was formed. The members were to pay a monthly contribution to defray expenses of forwarding the message of Christ's immediate coming. A few days later another enterprise was started, which had a large influence in extending the doctrines of Adventism. At the Second Advent Conference held in Boston, May 24, 1842, a committee was appointed to provide a place and select a time for holding a camp- meeting " for Christians to worship God, to awaken sinners, and purify Christians by giving the midnight cry, viz., to hold up the immediate coming of Christ to judge the world." The first camp meeting was held at Hadley, Lower Canada, commencing June 21,1842. Another was held at East Kingston, N. H., commencing June 29. Others followed in quick succession, and all of them were attended by large numbers of people, many of whom were earnest seekers of religion. The preaching was of the same year a large tent was finished and set up in Concord, N. H., capable of accommodating nearly .4000 people. This was carried from place to place, and the enterprise resulted in awakening more interest than had been done by the camp-meetings.

As the year 1843 drew nigh. the expectations of the Adventists began to rise. Mr. Miller had predicted the personal appearing of Christ some time between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. Others had fixed the time very early in the former year. The earliest date fixed upon by any of the Adventists was Feb. 10, forty-five years from the time the French army took Rome in 1798. The next day which was thought the most probable was the 15th of February. After this date had passed without any unusual occurrence, attention was turned to the Passover season as the one most likely to bring the second advent. The 14th of April was a point of time anticipated with the deepest solicitude by many. But the day came and went, as did all the other set times, without any remarkable occurrences. After the 21st of March, 1844, Mr. Miller had to confess his disappointment, but declared that, although mistaken, his confidence in God was not shaken, nor yet his belief in the speedy coming of Christ. All Advent believers who still remained in the faith continued, and still continue, to look for the advent of the Messiah. The following declaration of Fundamental Principles on which the Second Advent cause is based was made about the time of this disappointment, and is still held:

"I. The Word of God teaches that this earth is to he regenerated, in the restitution of all things, and restored to its Eden state as it came from the hand of its Maker before the fall, and is to be the eternal abode of the righteous in their resurrection state;

"II. The only millennium found in the Word of God is the thousand years which are to intervene between the first and second resurrection, as brought to view in the 20th of Revelation. And the various portions of Scripture which are adduced as evidence of such a period of time are to have their fulfilment only in the New Earth, - wherein dwelleth righteousness.

"III. The only restoration of Israel yet future is the restoration of the saints to the New Earth, where the Lord my God shall come, and all his saints, with him. all been given; and the prophecies have all been fulfilled but those which relate to the coming of Christ, the end of this world, and the restitution of all things.

"V. There are none of the prophetic periods, as we understand them, that extend beyond the, [Jewish] year 1843.

"'The above we shall ever maintain as the inmutable truths of the Word of God, and therefore till our Lord chime we shall ever look for his return as the next event in historical prophecy."

After the passing-away of the Jewish year 1843, the great body of the Adventists settled down in the belief that they could henceforth reckon particular times with no degree of positiveness. They believed that 'they had reached the end of all the prophetic periods, at the termination of which the advent was expected, and that while they should have to wait only the little while that their chronology might vary from God's time, yet they believed that they could have no more clew to the definite date. The time movement had failed. Every preparation had been made by the great majority of these believers for the final, coming of the Lord on Oct. 22, 1844. The Advent periodicals issued large editions and suspended publication, considering their work ended; and many thousands of believers gave up all worldly pursuits, disengaged themselves from all worldly alliances, and sat down' in the firm expectation of the coming of the Messiah. The day came and went, and nothing unusual occurred. From that time a new phase of the movement was necessary to its existence. Under various leaders it assumed various forms. The great body of Adventists, however, remained in the line of the originators of the movement. .The publishers resumed their work, and declared their firm belief in the doctrine which they had been proclaiming, only varied in minor details. The following is from the pen of Joshua V. Himes, Mr., Miller's earliest and most zealous-follower in the proclamation of the immediate coming of the Lord: "We have now passed every point of definite time in which we looked for our blessed Saviour, and yet I do not give up the question; I only give up the point that our chronologies are to be depended upon for literal exactness as to time. But we are in the circle of a short period, and may look now every hour for the advent." Such was the view held by the principal leaders in the movement, and they began anew their labors, somewhat cautiously at first, yet more vigorously afterwards. But while the great body went forward in harmony with the original leaders, there were many side-issues which drew to themselves varying numbers, thus creating division in the ranks and causing much discredit to, all concerned. The first question that produced a distracting influence was Judaism, which taught the conversion and restoration of the natural Jews. These not finding satisfaction in the discussions of the question in the regular Advent papers, started the American Millenarian in Boston in 1842, and afterwards removed it to New York. A considerable number left the main body on account of these differences of opinion.

The next disturbing cause was a strange fanaticism. originating with John Starkweather, who had become assistant to Mr. Himes 'at Chardon Street Chapel, Boston. He was, a turbulent spirit, and was noted for making divisions wherever he went. His principal theme was the necessity of a preparation for the Saviour's coming. He taught that conversion, however full and thorough, did not fit one for God's favor without a second work, and that this second work was usually indicated by some bodily sensation. Accordingly, the losing of strength and other spasmodic phenomena were manifested and hailed as evidences of the great power of God in the sanctification of those who were already Christians. This he called the sealing power. The fanaticism grew to such proportions in the Church that measures had to be taken to remove it. All who spoke in opposition to such manifestations were charged with "offending against the Holy Ghost." Notwithstanding these denunciations, however, Starkweather and his followers were forced to withdraw, and worship in another place. Meetings were held in various places, camp- meetings were organized, and a conference attempted. Some followers were gathered, and many' disgusting and disgraceful scenes enacted; but the movement assumed only small proportions.

The "shut-door" theory is next in order among the issues dividing Adventists. This notion originated with Joseph Turner, of Maine, and: several others in various places, who simultaneously claimed to have ii impressed upon them by the Holy Spirit, on "the tenth day of the seventh month." Mr. Turner proclaimed in at a camp- meeting held at Woodstock, Me., Oct. 22 1844, while some penitents were presented for prayers he repeating "Every one to your tents, O Israel," and declaring that Christ had left the mercy-seat. With him it soon settled into a theory, and he with others began to proclaim throughout the Advent societies that the door of mercy was shut from and after Oct. 22,1844: but that all who remained steadfast in their experience of the movement of 1844 were already members of Christ's kingdom. This theory found adherents, and was confirmed by one Ellen G. Harmon, who travelled from town to town, where she was strangely exercised in body and mind, usually talking in assemblies until nature was exhausted, and then falling to the floor, remaining for a considerable time in an epileptic state. Afterwards she would relate the wonders which had been revealed to her during the trance, even professing to have seen Christ and the records contained in. the book of life. Some of the Advent publications defended the theory, and others were controlled temporarily by its advocates. Extravagant views were held by most of the adherents of this theory, such as visions and dreams. Feet- washing and kissing were declared to be Gospel ordinances.

Another branch of this class of believers was established, with "visions" and "revelations," which had been so systematically organized as to deserve separate treatment. (See ADVENTISTS SEVENTH-DAY).

II. Organization. - As has already been intimated, the purpose of these zealous heralds of the second advent of Christ was simply to arouse the world to a consideration of their message, and induce the careless and impenitent to turn to God and prepare to meet the Lord at his coming. They aimed at no separate denominational organization, considering the time too short for any such necessity. But circumstances made it necessary to organize in some localities. Converts to the faith existed in such numbers: as to require organization into societies. It frequently happened that the Adventists of a congregation were a minority, and were expelled from fellowship in their churches. Opposition on the part of believers of the various denominations drove many from their doors, and thus societies sprang up in various places from the beginning of the movement, while thousands who embraced the doctrine continued to hold their Church relationship as they had always done.

But after the disappointment of 1843-44, some plan of operations was required for the prosecution of the work in hand. To define more clearly the views of the Adventists, and determine who were of their number, it was decided to call a conference to meet at Albany, N.Y., April 29,1845.' As a result of the deliberations of that body, a report-was adopted setting forth their views and recommending a course of action. This report formed the basis of subsequent .organizations, and from it we present the following extract: In view of the many conflicting opinions, unscriptural views, leading to unseemly practices, and the sad divisions which have been caused by. some professing to be Adventists, we deem it incumbent on us to declare to the world our belief that the Scriptures teach, among others, the following important truths:

"1st. That the heavens and earth, which are now, by the Word of God, are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. That the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the. elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up. That the Lord will create new heavens and a new earth, wherein righteousness-that is, the righteous-will forever dwell (2 Pet. iii, 7, 10, 13). And that the kingdom and the dominion under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose Kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him (Daniel 7:27)..

"2d. That there are but two advents or appearing of the Saviour to this earth (Hebrews 9:28). That both are personal and visible (Acts 1:9; Acts 1:11). That the first took place in the days of Herod (Matthew 2:1), when he was t conceived of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 1:18), born of the Virgin Mary (Matthew 1:25), went about doing good (Matthew 11:5), suffered on the cross, the just for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18), died (Luke 23:46), was buried (Luke 23:53), arose again on the third day, the first fruits of them that slept (1 Corinthians 1:15), and ascended into the heavens (Luke 24:51), which must receive him until the time of the restitution of all things, spoken of by the mouth of all the holy t prophets (Acts 3:21). That the second coming or appearing will take place when he shall descend from heaven, at the, sounding of the last trump, to give his people rest (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:52), being revealed from heaven in flaming tire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8). And that he will judge the quick and the. dead at his appearing and kingdom (2 Timothy 4:1).

"3d. That the second coming or appearing is indicated to be now emphatically nigh, even at the doors (Matthew 24:33), by the chronology of the prophetic periods (Daniel 7:25; Daniel 8:14; Daniel 9:24; Daniel 12:7; Daniel 12:11-12; Revelation 9:10; Revelation 9:15; Revelation 11:2-3; Revelation 12:6; Revelation 12:14; Revelation 13:5), the fulfillment of Prophecy (Daniel 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12; Revelation 9, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17), and the signs of the times (Matthew 24:29; Luke 21:25-26). And that this truth should be preached both to saints and sinners, that the first may rejoice, knowing their redemption draweth nigh'(Luke 21:28; 1 Thessalonians 4:18), and the last be warned to flee from the wrath to come (2 Corinthians 5:11), before the Master of the house shall rise up and shut to the door (Luke 13:24-25).

"4th. That the condition of salvation is repentance toward God and faith in our: Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21; Mark 1:15); and that those who have repentance and faith will live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-13).

"5th. That there will be a resurrection of the bodies of all the dead (John 5:28-29), both of the just and the unjust (Acts 24:15); that those who are Christ's will be raised at his coming (1 Corinthians 15:23); that the rest of the dead will not live again until after a thousand years (Revelation 20:5); and that the saints shall not all sleep, but shall. be changed in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

"6th. That the only millennium taught in the Word of God is the thousand years which are to intervene between the first resurrection and that of the rest of the dead, as inculcated in the 20th of Revelation (1 Corinthians 15:2-7); and that the various portions of Scriptures which refer to the millennial state are to have their. fulfilment after the resurrection of all the saints who sleep in Jesus (Isaiah 11; Isaiah 35:1-2; Isaiah 35:5-10; Isaiah 65:17-25).

"7th. That the promise that Abraham should be the heir of the world was not to him or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith (Romans 4:13); that -they are not all Israel which are of Israel (9:6); that there is no difference, under the Gospel dispensation, between Jew and Gentile (x, 12); that the middle wall of partition that was between them is broken down, no more to be rebuilt (Ephesians 2:14-15); that God will render to every man according to his deeds (Romans 2:6): that if we are Christ's, then we are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:29); and that the only restoration of Israel- yet future is the. restoration of the saints to the earth created anew, when God shall open the graves of those descendants of Abraham who died in faith without receiving the promise with the believing Gentiles who have been grafted with them into the same olive-tree, and shall cause them to come up out of their graves and bring them, with the living who are changed, into the land of Israel (Ezekiel 37:12; Hebrews 11:12-13; Romans 11:17; John 5:28-29).

"8th. That there is no promise of this world's conversion (Matthew 24:14); that the horn of the papacy will war with the saints and prevail against them until the Ancient of Days shall come and judgment be given to the saints of the Most High, and the time come that the saints possess the kingdom (Daniel 7:21-22); that the children of the kingdom and the children of the wicked one will continue together until the end of the world, when all things that offend shall be gathered out of the kingdom and the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father {Matthew 13:37-43) that the man of sin will only be destroyed by the brightness of Christ's coming (2 Thessalonians 2:8); and that the nations of those which are saved and redeemed to God by the blood of Christ, out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation, will be made kings and priests unto God, to reign forever on the earth (Revelation 5:9-10; Revelation 21:24).

"9th. That it is the duty of the ministers of the Word to continue in the work of preaching the Gospel to every creature, even unto the end (Matthew 28:19-20); calling upon them to repent, in view of the fact that the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Revelation 14:7), that their sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19-20).

"And 10th. That the departed saints do not enter their inheritance or receive their crowns at death (Daniel 12:13; Revelation 6:9-11; Romans 8:22-23);' that they without us cannot be made perfect (Hebrews 11:40); that their inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, is reserved in heaven, ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:4-5); that there are laid up for them and us crowns of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give at the day of Christ to all that love his appearing (2 Timothy 4:8); that they will only be satisfied when they awake with Christ's likeness (Psalms 17:15); and that when the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, the King will say to those on his right hand, ' Come, ye blessed of my. Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the worlds (Matthew 25:34). Then they will be equal to the angels, being the children of God and of the resurrection (Luke 20:36)."

The same conference recommended the organization of societies to be governed according to the independent plan, acknowledging only the New Test. as an authoritative guide in Church government. Yet many of the Advent believers still continue to hold their membership in the churches to which they formerly belonged, not departing, except in this particular, from their former faith. There are many others also who, not finding their views 'exactly met by the common belief of any one religious body, have no denominational connection; still they are reckoned as Adventists.

A mission was begun in England in 1846 by sending Joshua V. Himes, R. Hutchinson, and F. G. Brown thither in June of that year to proclaim the advent of the Messiah at hand., A paper - the European Advent Herntld- was published one year, and many lectures and sermons were delivered; but the mission was abandoned in 1847 for want of men and means. A similar mission to the British West India Islands was undertaken by L. I). Mansfield and wife. This also failed, and was abandoned in the: following year. Several missionary societies have been in existence from time to time, among which are " The American Advent Mission Society," organized in 1865, and " The Union Female Missionary Association," organized in 1867.

After the death of Mr. Miller, there was considerably more division of opinion among his followers than had been formerly, and this gave rise to denominational divisions, which are considered in the articles on (See ADVENT CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION): (See ADVENTISTS, EVANGELICAL); and (See ADVENTISTS, SEVENTH-DAY).

III. Literature. The publications called forth by the agitation of this question have been very numerous. Perhaps not less than one thousand books and pamphlets have appeared in this country, while many have come to us from England. Of periodicals of all kinds, about one hundred have been published at one time or another. The oldest paper published by Adventists was started about the year 1840, under the title of The Signs of the Times, but is now called Messiah's Herald. (See ADVENTISTS, EVANGELICAL). The other principal periodicals of this class are The World's Crisis (Boston), Advent Herald (ibid.), The Christian (ibid.), Herald of Life (Springfield, Mass.), and Advent Review and Herald of the Sabbath (Battle Creek, Mich.). See Wellcome, Hist. of the Second Advent Message (Yarmouth, Me., 1874).

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Advent Christian Association'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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