« PreviousContinue »
We hold the doctrine of a man's responsibility for the sentiments which he publishes, whether they are his own or another's. He is accountable to the community, and will be held accountable at the great tribunal, for the good or the evil they produce. We have had this thought in view in all that we have done to give publicity to Mr. Miller's writings; both in the publication of the Boston edition of his Lectures, and of the numerous Essays and Letters from his pen which have appeared in the “Signs of the Times” during the past year.
Notwithstanding the fears of many, esteemed wise and good, that the effect of this class of writings upon the community would be deleterious; we have, on the contrary, witnessed, as we expected, the most happy results. Their moral and religious influence upon all classes who have given them a candid examination has been most salutary.
We are now induced to add a second volume on similar subjects, with a short memoir of Mr. Miller's life. We send it forth with the fullest assurance of its usefulness to the church and the world. It will be a valuable aid to an understanding of the chronology of his Lectures; as also the dictionary of prophetic figures, and principles of interpretation, will be of great service to the biblical student.
As it respects the general views of Mr. Miller, we consider them in the main to be in accordance with the word of God. We do not, however, adopt the peculiarities of any man. We call no man master. Yet we frankly avow that there is much in his theory that we approve and embrace as gospel truth. For example: His views of the literal interpretation of the prophecies—The character and divinity of Christ, and his personal reign on the earthThe restoration of Israel according to the faith of Abraham, with the rejection of the "judaizing notion " of the return of the carnal Jew to Palestine-The true millennium of the saints in the resurrection state; and the utter rejection of the modern notion of a temporal millennium-The first and second resurrections and judgments—The final destiny of the righteous and the wicked : on all these points we fully agree with him.
On the question of "prophetic periods,” and of his labo. rious and learned chronology, we are not competent, with our limited erudition on the subject, to decide with such positiveness as on the other topics; having never given our attention to the critical study of the subject till within the last year. We, however, believe in the definiteness of prophetic periods, and feel satisfied that we live near the end of time. We have come to this conclusion by the prophetic times of Daniel and John, and not from the fact only that the kingdom has always been at hand. These "times,” (to which we might refer, if it were proper in this place,) are nearly accomplished, as all who believe in prophetic, periods agree. Some have fixed upon the year 1866, some 1847, while Mr. Miller fixes upon 1843 as the time of the end." We think he has given the more satisfactory demonstration of the correctness of his calcu. lation. The advent is near. It is possible that we may be mistaken in the chronology. It may vary a few years, but we are persuaded that the end cannot be far distant.
With these views, we proclaim continually the gospel of the kingdom at hand. And not being able with the voice alone, and our limited abilities, to give the "midnight cry” the extent which we think the subject demands, we have availed ourself of the aid of the press. Accord ingly, Mr. Miller's Lectures were put into the hands of a popular bookseller, who has in the last year circulated five thousand copies. In the mean time, fifty thousand numbers of the “Signs of the Times” have been sent abroad in the United States and in Europe ; and two thou. sanc. copies of the full Report of the General Conference on the Second Advent have just been issued from the press,
for distribution. We now send out this volume to bear the same message, and arouse a slumbering world to duty.
Some repetitions may be noticed in this work, in consequence of many of the articles having been written at dif. ferent times, without reference to publication in a connected series. But these the reader will find of advantage, on the whole, as they will present the subjects in various and new aspects.
The work claims nothing of literary merit. It is given in a plain English dress, that will present to the reader the various subjects discussed in a distinct and intelligible style.
We are not insensible of the fact, that much obloquy will be cast upon us in consequence of our association with the author of this work. This, however, gives us no pain. We had rather be associated with such a man as William Miller, and stand with him in gloom or glory, in the cause of the living God, than to be associated with his enemies, and enjoy all the honors of this world.
Finally, whatever may be the truth upon the subject treated in this volume, it is certainly one that commends itself to the serious and careful examination of all persons, whether saints or sinners. If, indeed, the grand drama of this world's wickedness and wrongs is about to close up--if, indeed, the Son of God is about to descend from heaven, to take vengeance on them who obey not the gospel, and to receive his saints to their final rest,—then how important is it that we should all know ihese factsthe wicked to tremble if they will not repent, and the righteous to wait with calm faith, and a certain hope of the coming of the Lord. Do not dream that all is well because you see no threatening signs of the great day. Did the inhabitants of the old world stand in fear of the flood ? Yet the flood came and "took them all away." All great calamities which come upon the nations by special interposition of divine Providence have been sudden, and, by the mass, unexpected.