Millerites, or Adventists
Millerites, Or Adventists as they are sometimes called, are those millenarians, SEE MILLENNIUM who adhere to the doctrines as expounded by William Miller (q.v.). When in 1833 he first began to proclaim millennial doctrines, the earnestness of his manner, his evident familiarity with the Scriptures and with history, and the bold confidence with which he proclaimed his views, made so deep and wide an impression that he everywhere left in his wake large numbers examining the evidences for themselves. Among his most ardent followers was Joshua V. Himes, a minister of the Christian connection, who, having become a believer, commenced, in 1840, without subscribers or funds, the publication of a semi-monthly journal entitled Signs of, the Times and
Exposition of Prophecy; and, meeting with success, two years later issued a weekly, under the title of the Advent Herald, which largely aided in disseminating the doctrines of the Adventists, who now comprise many thousands, in the United States, British America, and Great Britain. This journal (still published in Boston, Massachusetts), together with the labors of Mr. Miller, who gave his time, his energies, and his property to the. extension of his views, and the efforts of numerous proselytes that everywhere rose up, soon established great numbers in a belief in the general correctness of Mr. Miller's interpretation of the prophecies, and the personal appearing of the Lord was eagerly looked for by some 50,000 followers. Though disappointed at the time set, and frequently from time to time since, there are still many adherents to Miller's views. Their aggregate number is quite respectable, and their efforts for the dissemination of their convictions generous and unfaltering.. While as a body they make little or no pretension to influence, as individuals they are necessarily close Bible students; are liberal, according to their means, to the poor and for the support of the Gospel; and noticeable in the main for the modesty and uprightness of their walk, and their careful conformity to virtue and to law. As a body they accept the great leading doctrines of the evangelical Church, and are distinguished only for their peculiar belief in the personal coming of Christ, and his bodily reign with his saints on the earth. They have no creed nor form of discipline other than the Word of God, which they regard as a sufficient rule of faith and duty. They hold conferences, composed of lay and clergy, as often as it is deemed necessary for the discussion of such subjects and measures as the interests of the cause may demand; but these are purely voluntary and advisory, and claim to exercise no authority over the conscience of any.
In round numbers the Millerites are supposed to comprise in this country from fifteen to twenty thousand, scattered over all the states of the Union, in which estimate those in the different churches, who are numerous, are not included.
General Doctrines of Belief. They cannot see, if, according to Isa 7:14, Christ was foretold to be born of a virgin, and it came to pass (Mt 1:18-25); if, as foretold (Mic 5:2), Christ was literally born in Bethlehem (Mt 2:1); if, as foretold (Da 9:26), Messiah came at the expiration of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. (Mr 1:15), and if after the sixty-two weeks Messiah was literally cut off; if, as foretold (Isa 53:8-9), he was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of his people, and made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death; if (Ps 16:10) Christ's soul was not left in hell, nor did his flesh see corruption; if (Ps 110:1) Christ did sit on the right hand of God, and is to sit there till his enemies be made his footstool-if all these predictions have literally come to pass, and they think they have, then they cannot see ground for doubting that the same rule will be observed in the fulfilment of all other predictions relating to Christ.
2. Prophecy (Ge 22:18) foretells Christ as the seed of Abraham, in whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed. It also promises to the seed of Abraham all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, in connection with Abraham himself (Ge 17:8); hence the land is called Emanuel's land (Isa 8:8). But, when Christ was on earth, he had not where to lay his head. Therefore he must return personally to inherit it.
3. Christ is the predicted Son of David. who is to sit forever on David's throne; he is the Son of David according to the flesh (Ps 132:11). But, while on earth, he never sat on David's throne. He went to Jerusalem, as foretold, on an ass's colt; claimed his rights, and was proclaimed king by the children, but rejected by the rulers (Matthew 21). Hence he must return to enjoy his kingdom and reign over the house of Jacob forever (Lu 1:32-33).
4. Christ has the promise of the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession (Ps 2:8), but he never yet had it. Therefore he must come back to earth to possess it.
5. Prophecy (Da 7:13-14) points out the coming of Christ to receive his kingdom and dominion over all nations, to be in the "clouds of heaven." But he has never yet come thus. He must, therefore, fulfil the prediction in futurity, at his second advent. He cannot have universal dominion till he does.
6. Christ rose from the dead in the identical body in which he was crucified and buried, and was so identified (Joh 20:24-31). Those who thus identified his person; of flesh and bones, saw him go from earth up into heaven, and a cloud received him out of their sight. They were told by divine messengers that this same Jesus, whom they saw go into heaven, "shall so come back again in like manner" (Ac 1:2-11). .
7. That the second advent will be pre-millennial. First, because the millennial reign is placed after the first resurrection (Re 20:1-6), which cannot be till the second advent of Christ. Those who have part in the first resurrection are saints, and will live forever. The second death has no power on them. But they that are Christ's are to be raised at his coming; and that is the order of the resurrection to follow Christ's resurrection (1Co 15:23). Christ's coming, and the resurrection of the just, must therefore precede the millennial reign.] Second, because the millennial period follows the casting the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire, and the shutting up of the devil in the bottomless pit (Re 19:20; Re 20:1-3). Third, because thus, before the millennium, all the great anti-Christian powers are to be put down. The man of sin, however, the son of perdition, is only to be destroyed by the brightness of Christ's coming (2Th 2:8). The coming of Christ, for his destruction, must therefore be pre-millennial.
8. That there will be two resurrections, a thousand years apart, viz. the "first resurrection," "the resurrection of life," "the resurrection of the just;" and the "resurrection of the rest of the dead," the "resurrection of damnation," the "resurrection of the unjust."
9. That the general view that the millennium will be a thousand years of peace, and be introduced by the conversion of the world to Christ, and consist in his universal spiritual reign; and the millenarian view that though Christ will come and reign personally on earth during the millennium, yet that that period will be one of probation, in which the heathen who had never heard of Christ, and the Jews who have been cut off during the Christian dispensation, will have the Gospel preached to them and be converted, are both unscriptural and not to be received, -because both the general and specific teachings of the Bible are against it. Thus the dream of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2) foretells four universal empires which are to fill up the period from then till the everlasting kingdom of God comes and destroys them, and fills the whole earth. But there can be no everlasting kingdom without immortality, which cannot be till the resurrection at the second advent of Christ. The seventh chapter of Daniel presents, in vision, the same four empires, with the divisions and successions of the fourth empire, which only end (verses 13,14) when the Son of Man comes in the clouds of heaven to receive his everlasting dominion, which is also universal. Till the judgment. the little blasphemous horn wears out the saints, and prevails against them. So, also, in the twenty-fourth of Matthew, the course of events from the time of Christ to his second coming and the end of the world is given. There were to be wars, famines, pestilences, persecutions of the saints, false prophets, false Christs, abominations, great tribulations, mournings by all the tribes of the earth, the preaching of his Gospel to all the. we rid for a witness to all nations, and then the end should come, and they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. There is no peace in the prediction till he comes. Therefore he will come personally to judge the world and reign, and not spiritually to convert and save the world. The tares and wheat, too (the righteous and wicked), are to grow together till the end of the world or age, and then they are to be cast off and punished, and the other glorified in the kingdom of God (Mt 13:24-43). For these and many other reasons, they cannot believe in the conversion of the world before the second advent of the Saviour.
10. That the thousand years will be one of judgment rather than probation. For they read in the second Psalm that when the heathen are given to Christ for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession, that he is to break or rule them (Re 12:5; Re 2:27) with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel, which they consider to be anything else besides conversion. They also read in Psalm 149 that all the saints will "bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron, and execute upon them the judgments written." From Isaiah 60 and Zechariah 14 they likewise learn that the worship and service of the heathen will be compulsory service.
11. That final and eternal retribution will be awarded to all nations when the Son of Man comes in his glory (Matthew 25 and Luke 13).
12. That the promises made to Israel of a yet future and final gathering to the land of Canaan will be literally accomplished, and Israel forever dwell there in peace. But that this cannot be fulfilled before the resurrection of the just, when the believing remnant of Israel, of every generation, including Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, will be raised from the dead, and restored to their own land. This Ezekiel 37 declares will be the way the whole house of Israel will be restored: "I will open your graves, and bring.you up out of your graves, and bring you into your ownland." The resurrection, according to Paul is "the hope of Israel." But if the resurrected and glorified Israel are to have the land and dwell there forever, the Jews in flesh and blood, as a nation, cannot have it forever. All the promises, however, of a future return, promise an everlasting possession of the land. But mortal Jews cannot possess it forever — glorified and immortal ones can. Therefore they are the heirs of promise.
13. That the coming of the Lord is at the door for the following reasons, viz.: First, the four great empires are to be succeeded by the kingdom of God; and it is very manifest that the last — the Roman government — has passed its predicted divisions, and must soon end. Second, the waning of the Ottoman or Mohammedan power is another index pointing to the speedy coming of the kingdom of Christ. Third, the universal movements and agitations, the famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, the wars and rumors of wars, together with the signs in the sun, moon, and stars, etc., are conclusive evidence of his speedy approach. Fourth, the Gospel, which was to be preached in all the world, for a witness to all nations, is now completing its work.
14. That the advent doctrine, embracing, as it does, the resurrection of the body, the personal and visible appearance and reign of Christ on earth, the restitution of the heavens and earth to their paradisical state, as the eternal inheritance of the saints, etc., is the only view which will explain and harmonize the Word of God.
The intelligent reader will perceive, however, that most of the above arguments are merely precarious inferences from passages of Scripture whose meaning is greatly disputed. SEE MILLENNIUM. (J.H.W.)