TWO MORE DAYS
A Millerite family waits expectantly for the Second Advent.
What as it like to be a Millerite a day or two before the expected return of Christ on October 22, 1844? What would be your feelings if you believed that you had only two days left on planet Earth?
It is Sunday morning, October 20, 1844, and young Cyrus Farnsworth has arrived early at the little white church in the woods near the town of Washington, New Hampshire. He has lit the fires which will warn the room by the time the worshipers arrive for their last Sunday service together. Christ will return on Tuesday, just two days from now! Cyrus is overwhelmed by its imminence, and its implications for him, a young man with tender feelings toward a certain young lady in the community! We become his audience as he reflects aloud on the remarkable events which have affected this Millerite community during the past nine months.
As Cyrus muses, we are taken back to the early spring of 1844 when Mrs. Rachel Oakes, a Seventh Day Baptist, arrives in Washington to be near her daughter, Delight, who teaches school locally and stays in the Farnsworth home. One of Rachel's visits at the Farnsworth home coincides with a visit from the Methodist-turned-Millerite pastor, Elder Frederick Wheeler, who soon finds himself in an argument over Sabbath versus Sunday worship. But Rachel herself is convicted about the Advent Near and joins the Millerites who await the imminent return of their Lord.
Christ does not come in the spring of 1844 as had been expected, however, and the Millerites become discouraged and disillusioned during the long hot summer. We look in on William and Sally Farnsworth one August afternoon as they share their feelings of spiritual abandonment. But their mood of despair changes dramatically to excited anticipation when they have a surprise visit from their friends, the Huntleys, just returned from a Millerite camp meeting at Exeter. The Huntleys tell of a camp electrified by a scriptural discovery that the long period of waiting will end on October 22, less than two months away! The mood of exhilaration in the Farnsworth home is quickly tempered, however, by the sounds of rocks thrown onto their roof by a mob of taunting youth outside.
Cyrus Farnsworth's musings come to an end as the Millerite believers arrive at the church on October 20th for their last Sunday service. Elder Wheeler is there to give a brief final message of restrained joy, but the tone of the gathering is one of reflection as the believers share memories of good and bad times leading up to this anticipated day of triumph. With the singing of a hymn, the believers disperse, and there we leave them, their faces aglow with the expectations of Christ's coming in just two days!
The early Advent believers sincerely looked forward to the coming of Christ during their lifetime. The preaching of William Miller and his associates led them to expect the return of Christ in 1843, and then in the spring of 1844. The failure of the Lord to appear at that time caused widespread disappointment, and some believers abandoned the Blessed Hope. Many, however, clung to the certainty of the scriptures and waited through the summer of 1844.
Then suddenly, in mid-August, Samuel Snow appeared at a Millerite camp-meeting at Exeter, New Hampshire, and delivered the message that the Lord was expected on Tuesday, October 22. The excitement at this prospect spread quickly through the towns and villages of New England, as Millerites prepared to meet their Lord. But the final weeks and days of waiting were not easy for them. Their neighbors ridiculed them for selling property, and for failing to harvest their crops. Some believers suffered persecution and violence. Yet it all seemed worthwhile since there would be no sorrow in heaven.
In hundreds of communities throughout New England, Millerites believers prepared for the second coming of Christ on October 22, 1844. It was indeed a bitter disappointment when He did not return.
List of Sources:
Maxwell, C. Mervyn. Tell it to the World: The Story of Seventh-day Adventists. Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1976.
Miller, Mabel Robinson. William and his Twenty-two. Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1959.
Spalding, Arthur W. Origin and History of Seventh-day Adventists. Vol. 1. Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1961.
Young, David M. "When Adventists became Sabbath-keepers." Adventist Heritage, Vol. 2, No. 2 (1975), pp. 5-10.
Cyrus Farnsworth One of the sons of Daniel and Patty Farnsworth. He was twenty-one and single at the time of the 1844 Disappointment, but later married Delight Oakes.
Daniel Farnsworth "Father" of the Farnsworths of Washington, New Hampshire. His home was about two miles from the church, near the shore of Millen Lake. His sons William and Cyrus both appear in the play.
John Farnsworth Ten year old son of William and Sally Farnsworth.
Patty Farnsworth Wife of Daniel Farnsworth
Sally Farnsworth Wife of William Farnsworth. Her given name was Sarah, but everyone called her Sally.
William Farnsworth Son of Daniel Farnsworth, and himself the father of a total of twenty-two children. Seven had been born to him by 1844, six of whom were then living. William was probably the first member of the Farnsworth family to accept the Sabbath in the spring of 1844.
Willis Huntley A Millerite believer in the Washington area. Little is know about him.
Mrs. Huntley Wife of Willis Huntley. (Her given name is not known)
Newell Meada Millerite believer of the Washington area. One of his older sisters, Sarah, was the wife of William Farnsworth.
Delight Oakes Daughter of Rachel, who came to teach school at Washington in the winter of 1844. She lived with Daniel Farnsworth family until her mother came to Washington. Three years after the Disappointment she married Cyrus Farnsworth.
Rachel Oakes A Seventh Day Baptist who came to Washington, New Hampshire in the spring of 1844 to be near her daughter, Delight, who taught school there. When she tried to introduce the Sabbath to the Advent congregation in Washington, she found them so engrossed in their preparation for the imminent return of the Lord that most paid little attention to her. Later, however, several believers in Washington accepted the seventh-day Sabbath. She later married Nathan Preston so is sometimes referred to as Rachel Oakes Preston.
John Stowell A Millerite believer of Washington, New Hampshire.
Frederick Wheeler A Methodist circuit preacher who included Washington, New Hampshire, in his group of churches. He became spiritual leader of the Millerite congregation in Washington, and accepted the seventh-day Sabbath truth from Rachel Oakes. He later became a Seventh-day Adventist minister.
TWO MORE DAYS
The scene is the Millerite church in the woods near Washington, New Hampshire, on the morning of October 20, 1844. Cyrus Farnsworth saunters in on the main floor, below the stage, singing to himself and seemingly oblivious of the audience. He stops at the center front, leaning against the stage, but ignores the audience as he reminisces.
Cyrus: (Singings) You will see your Lord a-coming,
You will see your Lord a-coming,
You will see your Lord a-coming,
In a few more days.
(Chuckles) Guess it's less than "a few" now. (Sings again.)
You will see your Lord a-coming,
In just two more days.
Two more days! It's hard to believe! Seems like only yesterday we were saying "Only two months till the Lord comes!" Then it was "one month to go" . . . "this time next week" . . . five days . . . four . . . three . . . and now just two days.
It's kind of frightening in a way. Wonderful, yet scary. And p'raps even a teeny bit sad. Would be sort of nice to be married before the Lord comes. (Sighs)
(Suddenly he appears to become aware of his audience. He moves a step forward to face audience.)
Sorry, guess I haven't introduced myself. I'm Cyrus – Cyrus Farnsworth. I'm the next to the youngest son of Daniel and Patty Farnsworth. They sent me here an hour before church service this morning to light the fires. That way it should be cosy and warm when everyone gets here. I live about two miles from here, on the west wide of Millen Pond. I've lived here in Washington all of my life (all twenty-one years of it!). When my grandparents moved to this area over seventy-five years ago, there wasn't even a village here yet. I guess you could say the Farnsworths were among the pioneers of Washington.
But Washington won't be on the map for very much longer. We're looking for the Lord to return to this earth on October 22 – that's two days from now. It's hard to believe it when you look around at the farm, the lake, the big maple trees, this little white church – all the places we know so well. They're all going to be burned up. But it's real, because the Bible says so: "Unto two thousand and three hundred days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." It's all going to happen in just two days from now!
Eighteen forty-four. It's been quite a year! It seems like everything important that has ever happened has taken place this year. Here in Washington the year started with the arrival of Miss Oakes to teach at our school. Delight Oakes – and she's as pretty as her name. (Sighs) If it weren't for the Lord coming so soon, I would be asking her to marry me. She boarded at our house for most of the winter. She believes the Bible too. At first she didn't understand about the Advent Near, but she came to church with us every Sunday and of course it wasn't long before she was convinced about the prophecies. So now she's one of us.
Then her mother, Mrs. Rachel Oakes, came over from Verona, New York, to live here in Washington. She told us she was a Seventh Day Baptist, which means she keeps Saturday for Sunday, but there aren't any other Seventh Day Baptists around here, so she agreed to worship with us on Sundays. But she wasn't too happy with some of the things our parson, Elder Wheeler, said. Join me as we re-live the scene in my home one evening last spring, a few days after Mrs. Oakes arrived.
(At this point, Cyrus joins Scene 1 on stage.)
SCENE 1. The living room of the Daniel Farnsworth home. Seated from left to right are: Rachel Oakes, Delight Oakes, Patty Farnsworth, Cyrus, Daniel Farnsworth. The ladies are busy knitting or peeling vegetables for supper.
Rachel: Mr. Farnsworth, I must say again how grateful I am for your kindness in making me welcome here. You have all been so kind to me.
Daniel: Oh, it's a pleasure, Sister Oakes. Your daughter, Delight, seems to enjoy staying with us, and we certainly enjoy having her here. (Cyrus and Delight exchange glances.)
Patty: Delight is such a help with the cooking and house-keeping. And after teaching her class all day too!
Delight: I am sure the Lord led me here, Mr. Farnsworth. If I hadn't come to stay with you, I would never have understood the prophecies about the Lord's coming this year, and I would not have been ready. I would have perished with all the wicked.
Rachel: Yes, Delight has hardly been able to talk of anything else. And after attending your lovely little church last Sunday, I think I could . . . (She is interrupted by knocking at the door.)
Daniel: Someone at the door. Excuse me. (Goes to door and opens it.) Elder Wheeler, come in! Were always glad to see you.
(He assists Wheeler to remove winter coast and gloves.)
Wheeler: Thank you, my brother. I have just been visiting with your son, William, and his family, and I thought I would just stop by for a few minutes. (Cyrus gets up to allow Wheeler to have his seat.)
Patty: Oh, do sit down, Elder Wheeler. We also loves to have you call.
Daniel: Cyrus, would you go out and care for Mr. Wheeler's horse. Get some hay from the barn. (Cyrus goes out.)
Wheeler: Thank you, Cyrus. That's a fine lad you have, Brother Farnsworth. Hello, Delight. (Sits) And Mrs. Oakes. I saw you in my congregation last Sunday, and I have wanted to make your acquaintance. We have been happy to have your lovely daughter attend our services from week to week.
Rachel: And I wanted to meet you, Elder Wheeler. You remember that in your communion sermon on Sunday you said that if we confess Jesus Christ we should obey all the commandments of God?
Wheeler: Yes, I did say that, Sister Oakes.
Rachel: Well, I came near getting up in the meeting right then, and saying something.
Wheeler: Yes, I noticed that. But what did you have in mind to say?
Rachel: I wanted to tell you that you had better set that communion table back and put the cloth over it, until you begin to keep all the commandments of God.
Wheeler: (Taken aback.) Whatever do you mean, Mrs. Oakes?
Rachel: (To Delight) Pass me my Bible, dear. (Opens it.) Here in Exodus chapter 20 the fourth commandment says, "The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God," but you keep the first day. You observe the pope's Sunday instead of the Lord's Sabbath.
Daniel: I have never thought of the fourth commandment as being all that important as far as the actual day was concerned.
Wheeler: Well, Sister Oakes, you are right when you say the fourth commandment tells us to keep holy the Sabbath Day. It is also true that Christ Himself kept the seventh-day while He was on earth. But at the cross, the law was changed . . .
Rachel: (Interrupting) Show me one text of scripture which proves that Christ changed the Sabbath from the seventh-day to the first day.
Wheeler: (Fumbles in his Bible for a few moments.) Well, I'm sure there are several texts . . . (Decides on a different approach.) Sister Oakes, I am aware that you are an adherent of the Seventh Day Baptist faith, and I respect the doctrinal viewpoints of the Seventh Day Baptists. But many of us are convicted that the important truth for this hour is the proclamation of the imminent return of Jesus Christ sometime during the spring of this very year. You see, we of the Advent Near have come out of so many of the great churches of our day – William Miller of course was a Baptist, many of our believers are Congregationalists, and I am a circuit preacher of the Methodist Church. We dont expect Adventists to give up any of the particular doctrines of their churches, but neither do we expect them to try to impose their beliefs on all other Adventists. Do you see that?
Rachel: Mr. Wheeler, since when do we ignore a clear command of scripture as an unimportant truth? Christ said, "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." Do you love Christ, Mr. Wheeler?
(As Wheeler prepares to answer, Cyrus returns to his position in front of stage. As he resumes his narrative, the members of Scene 1 move off stage.)
Cyrus: I wish you could have been there that evening last spring. Elder Wheeler went home quite confused, but he studied the texts that Mrs. Oakes gave him, and came to the conclusion that she really was right about keeping Saturday instead of Sunday. He even preached a sermon about it to his congregation at Hillsboro (that's about fifteen miles east of here,) but they didn't like it. He must really believe it, thought, because he and Mrs. Wheeler keep Saturday privately at home; and Delight and her mother join them most times. Delight thinks we should be all doing the same, but it doesn't seem to matter which day we keep in view of the Lord's coming so soon.
Most of us expected that the Lord would come during the spring of this year, as Mr. Miller had been preaching, but it didn't happen. We all felt disappointed and defeated, but we didn't dare to cast away our hope. What else could we do, anyway? Many Millerites had been forced to leave their churches because of their belief in His coming, and they couldn't face the thought of crawling back and saying they had made a mistake. Expecting the Lord's coming at any moment had become a way of life for us, and it's mighty hard to change that. So we spent most of this past summer feeling rather blue and discouraged inside, but trying not to show it on the outside. We kept telling each other that He must come before this year is out, because we know the Bible is true.
Well, that's about how it was two months ago, in the middle of August, something exciting happened. Let's join my brother William and his wife at home when they heard something really astounding!
(Cyrus goes out, as Scene 2 begins.)
SCENE 2. Interior of the William Farnsworth home. Sally is sitting on a sofa at left, knitting a garment. William enters from outside the house, dressed in farm clothes. Sally looks up as he enters.
Sally: I guess you're about ready for supper, dear.
William: (Wearily removes hat, which he hangs up.) Oh, no hurry, Sally. Sure is hot out there this afternoon. What are you making my dear?
Sally: (Speaks as if guilty.) It's a cardigan for young Stephen. I started it last winter, but then we thought the Lord was coming in the spring, so I just put it aside. (Sighs) But if we're still here this winter, Stephen will need something warm. He's outgrown the one I knitted for John three or four years ago. (Sighs again.) Oh William, I know it looks as though I don't have faith in His coming, but we've got six children who will be cold this winter if we are still here!
William: (William sits beside her.) I'm thinking that you are doing the right thing, Sally. But I know the feeling you have about it. Every time I walk by our potato patch, I wonder if I did right in planting them in the first place. Yes, we thought that we would be in glory before this, but the fact is we're not, and we can't tell whether He will come before this winter. So I guess it is business as usual.
Sally: The hard thing is not knowing when He is coming.
William: Yes. (Pause) If only we could be sure He will come this year – the month even. (Shakes head, discouraged.)
Sally: (After a pause.) William, we haven't been to a camp meeting all summer.
William: No, Sally, we haven't. Seems like we have lost some of our enthusiasm for camp meetings this summer. Willis Huntley wanted us to go along with them to the meetings at Exeter this week, and I guess we should have gone along. Remember how those camp meetings always made us excited about the Lord's coming. Made it seem so certain, and so soon!
Sally: I suppose the meetings at Exeter will be over by now. Though I haven't seen any of the Huntleys around, have you?
(Young John Farnsworth, aged ten, comes in from outdoors.)
John: Pa, Mr. and Mrs. Huntley are here! Mr. Huntley asked me whether you were out in the hay field, but I told him you were inside here. (William jumps up and goes to the door.) Is supper ready yet, Ma?
Sally: No, not for an hour yet, John. You've still got time to do your chores, if you start right away.
John: Oh it's too hot out there to be chorin'.
Sally: Yes, it is hot out there.
(John remains in the room, flops down on the floor near his mother, and whittles. William meets Mr. & Mrs. Huntley at the door.)
William: Why, come in, Willis. And nice you could come too, Mary.
(All four exchange greetings. The two ladies sit together.)
Willis: This is just a brief visit. We only got back from camp-meeting this morning, and we've got some exciting truth to share with you folk – with all our believers in Washington.
William: New truth? From Scripture?
Willis: Yes, indeed! William and Sally, the Lord is coming nine weeks from now. On October 22 of this year.
William & Is that true? October 22? How do you know?
Mrs. Willis: Yes, it is true! Brother Snow explained it to us.
Sally: Who is Brother Snow? How does he know?
William: Does he know from the Bible?
Willis: Yes, it is in the scriptures. "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." Weve all known how that scripture refers to the cleansing of the earth by fire at the second coming of Christ, haven't we? But what we didn't understand is that this verse refers back to the annual cleansing of the Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. It's all there in Leviticus. And according to the Jewish calendar, the Day of Atonement this year falls on October 22. So doesn't it make sense that the Lord will cleanse this earth of all its sin on the Day of Atonement, the day of cleansing, on October 22, 1844?
Mrs. Willis: Isn't it amazing that we didn't see it before! And Brother Snow explained it so well.
Sally: Who is this Brother Snow?
Mrs. Willis: Samuel Snow. I'm sure you must have seen some of his articles in the Midnight Cry earlier in the year. He told us all about it at camp meeting.
Willis: William, I wish you and Sally could have been at the meetings. It was the best camp meeting we have ever had, and such a revival experience!
Mrs. Willis: And it was the best attended camp meeting they've had for a long while. People came from all over New England. Some from Canada even!
Willis: It's strange, but even before the meetings started, we all felt that it was time for something to happen. You know how there has been a slackening of interest in camp meetings since the disappointment last spring. But there was such a large group of believers at Exeter, and this uncanny feeling that the Lord was about to reveal something new to us.
Mrs. Willis: Then Bother Snow arrived half way through the week.
Willis: Yes, it was on the third day of the meetings, and Brother Joseph Bates had been invited to speak. He is a retired sea captain who lives in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. Oh, it was a hot day, muggy and no breeze – like today – and by the time Brother Bates got ten minutes into his sermon, the congregation was asleep or nigh on half of it! Mind you, his message was good, on the Blessed Hope, but somehow there seemed to be no life in it.
William: Isn't that the way we've all been feeling since last spring.
Willis: Well, Brother Bates had been preaching for quite a while – about half way through his sermon – when we noticed a rider dismount from a panting horse just outside our meeting circle. It turned out to be Brother Samuel Snow, and pretty soon one of the sisters got up and interrupted Brother Bates. She said, "It's too late, Brother Bates, to spend our time going over and over what we already know so well." She said, "There's someone here with a special message for us, and it will be meat in due season."
Sally: Poor Brother Bates. What did he say?
Willis: Well, he almost seemed to be expecting it. He just stopped preaching and asked Brother Snow to come forward. So Brother Snow came right up tot he front and told us what he had been studying about the Old Testament Day of Atonement, and how it will all end with the coming of Christ on October 22. It was astounding!
William: Well, praise the Lord!
Mrs. Willis: That's what everyone was shouting at the meeting. I just wish you could have been there with us. It was like . . . like as if a great wind had suddenly sprung up and rustled the leaves of the maple trees.
Willis: A wonderful meeting! Thrilling!
William: So Christ is coming back on October 22! Why, that's only nine weeks from now! Then at last we'll all go home! Sally, you won't have to finish that sweater after all!
John: Is Jesus really coming on October 22, Ma?
Sally: (Wiping tears.) Yes sonny, He's really coming. Isn't it wonderful!
(Just then there is the sound off-stage of a rock hitting a tin roof, then of a window breaking, followed by loud laughter.)
William: What was that? (All now stand, listening.)
Voices Off: When are you going up, Farnsworth? Let's take his horse – he won't be needing it
up there. (Laughter)
(All exit hurriedly. Cyrus returns to front, below stage, and continues his
Cyrus: The Devil has sure been trying to make our lives miserable during the last few weeks. It's especially hard when people who used to be your friends suddenly change and become your enemies. Several of my old school friends now ridicule and taunt me whenever our paths cross. Some of our believers right here in Washington had rocks thrown at them; one of our neighbors had his barn burned down last week.
But Jesus said to be happy when men persecute and revile us, because they persecuted Him too. And in two days from now, Christ will come and destroy all the wicked, and there will be no more fear and hate.
Two more days! Today is Sunday, October 20, the last Sunday meeting in our little white church here in Washington, New Hampshire. It's a crisp fall morning, so they sent me along early to light the stoves so that the church will be warm and cozy when it's time for the service to begin. I see that some of the folks are starting to arrive right now. Why don't you all join us for our last meeting together.
(Enter John Stowell. He and Cyrus rearrange the stage, placing of pulpit, etc. as Millerites begin to enter the church from the rear doors.)
SCENE 3. Interior of the Washington Church. The organ begins playing Millerite hymns as members of the congregation enter, and take their places in the audience. Elder Wheeler enters, greeting several members in their pews. Then he and Stowell come onto the platform.
Wheeler: Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Advent Near, this is both a solemn and a joyous occasion. Solemn, because this is the last time we shall meet together in Sabbath fellowship on this old earth. Joyous, because the day for which we have waited so long is about to burst upon us!
Just two days from now, on Tuesday, our Lord and Savior will appear from the skies to take his faithful ones home. There will be shouts of triumph as thousands of Advent believers are lifted bodily from this earth and are drawn upward to a home beyond the stars. There at last is rest, my brothers and sisters, rest from persecution, rest from heartache, rest from the weariness of age, rest from the turbulence of youth. Eternal rest.
This morning I do not plan to preach a sermon. I want merely to take a few moments to review some words of scripture. It is a scripture which every believer in the Advent Near has heard and repeated many times; a scripture which has been the text of every true Advent sermon. It is the scripture which Father Miller himself has used most frequently in his preaching It is the very heart of the Midnight Cry. Turn with me to Matthew 25.
(Wheeler reads Matthew 25: 1-6.)
Friends, the hour of midnight is indeed here. In recent days and weeks the cry has gone forth everywhere, "Behold the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him!" And in response to the cry, the wise ones in every town and village have arisen and trimmed their lamps, and now stand ready for the arrival of the Bridegroom.
It has been a long and painful time of waiting – a time of suffering, a time of fear and loneliness, a time of heartache and despondency, a time when we have been sorely tempted to give up our faith. But the time of waiting is almost over. We are almost there, almost home. Eternity is just before us.
Let us sing together this morning a hymn which we all know and love: "Lo, What a Glorious Sight Appears" The words are in our beloved hymnal, The Millennial Harp. [SDAH 446]
(Wheeler leads the congregation in singing.)
Stowell: My dear friends, I want to tell you how much I have been longing for the day of Christ's coming. It has been an anxious period of waiting for many of us. It was just two years ago when most of us first heard the truth of the Advent Near. Remember the day when Brother Joshua Goodwin came here to Washington and preached the first Advent sermon here in our little church? (Amens) And we accepted the new truth. What a glorious message it was! (Loud amens)
These past two years have been very difficult ones for us. Many times I have felt discouraged and weary from the waiting and the hardships we have endured. But I thank God He has given me the strength to carry on. (Amens) May we each cling to the Word of God as we wait our these final days and hours. (Amens)
Daniel: (Stands) Brother Stowell has just reminded us of the trials and hardships we have experienced during these last two years. But how many of us remember the night just three years ago when we met in y son William's house to discuss the idea of forming a Christian Society here on the outskirts of Washington? How many of you remember that night? (Several hands raised.) It was that night, my friends, that we signed an agreement to build this little church as our meeting house on Sundays.
As we met together that night at William's house, not one of us could have foreseen that the Lord would be here in three years to take us all home to heaven! I suppose we would not have taken the trouble to build this church had we known it would only serve us for three years. But this morning I praise God that most of the families who met together on that night three years ago are here today, ready and waiting for the Lord's return. (Amens) I am especially glad that all the members of my family are with me in this joyous hour. (Amens)
Rachel: (Stands) As Brother Farnsworth has been speaking, I could not help remembering the day this past spring when I arrived here in Washington. As you all know, I had come to be near my daughter, Delight, who was teaching at the schoolhouse. As I alighted from the coach in Washington Center, I was feeling cold and tired. But there was dear Brother Farnsworth with his buggy, waiting to take me to his home, where Sister Farnsworth had a warm bath and a bed ready for me. So I thank God for the wonderful Farnsworth family.
But more than that, I praise God that He used the Farnsworths to teach me this wonderful truth of the near Advent of Jesus Christ. (Loud amens.)
I also want to thank God for the precious knowledge of the true Sabbath, which I accepted when I was baptized into the Seventh Day Baptist faith many years ago. God blesses those who seek to obey all of His commandments. (Silence, then one solitary amen from Wheeler.)
Willis: (Stands) My friends, there is something that worries me this morning as we worship here. Have you noticed that the members of the Ball family are not present? I believe I know why they are not here with us. A year or two ago, Brother Ball incurred a large debt which he has been unable to repay. When I talked with him a few weeks ago, he was much concerned about the debt, and expressed the wish that he could somehow be free of it before the Lord returns. He has tried to do that by selling everything that he and his family own. They have sold their furniture, all of their horses, and their dray and wagon. I believe that is why they are unable to come here today.
But in spite of selling everything, Brother Ball still has a considerable debt remaining. It worries him very much, and I wish that we could help him in some way. Many of us have been blessed with means, and I would urge that we use these means to alleviate Brother Ball's debt.
Wheeler: Brother Huntley, I understand there are one or two other Advent believers who have unpaid debts at this time. I believe these dear folk are rightly concerned about these obligations. The Word of God admonishes us to "owe no man anything." So I think that we do have a Christian obligation to assist our needy brethren and sisters as they seek to be truly ready for the Lord's coming.
Many of us have means which will be entirely worthless in just two days from now. Then we will live on streets of gold! I would like to suggest that we take up a collection right here this morning to help our believers free themselves of their debts before the Lord comes. Brother Stowell, will you appoint some of the brethren to wait on us, and I would urge that we empty our pockets and purses today in the cause of our needy believers.
(Stowell appoints three or four Millerites from the congregation to collect the offering. The organ plays while it is taken.)
Wheeler: Brothers and Sisters, these final hours of waiting will be the most difficult ones for us, and we will need great patience and trust in the Lord. Let us spend the time in meditation from the scriptures and in prayer. Let us cling together as families, and visit to encourage one another as the great day of God approaches.
The Lord willing, Mrs. Wheeler and I will be here in our little church about sunrise on Tuesday, unless perchance the Lord has already come before that hour. We plan to spend the remaining hours of waiting right here in God's house. May we encourage each of you to join us here so that we might spend these last hours together, reading and singing, watching and praying, till the moment arrives.
Before we go our way this morning, let us sing a hymn of triumph together. "Watch Ye Saints" has become a favorite for many of us during this year. [SDAH 598]
(Audience stands to sing the hymn, with organ accompaniment.)
Wheeler: (In benediction) Even so come, Lord Jesus. Amen.
(Millerites greet one another as they leave the church.)