The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more
It was the desire for liberty of conscience that inspired the Pilgrims to brave the perils of the long journey across the sea, to endure the hardships and the dangers of the wilderness, and with God's blessing to lay, on the shores of America, the foundation of a mighty nation. Yet honest and God-fearing as they were, the Pilgrims did not yet comprehend the great principle of religious liberty. The freedom which they sacrificed so much to secure for themselves, they were not equally ready to grant to others. The doctrine that God has committed to the church the right to control the conscience, and to define and punish heresy, is one of the most deeply rooted of papal errors.
A kind of state church was formed, all the people being required to contribute to the support of the clergy, and the magistrates being authorized to suppress heresy. Thus the secular power was in the hands of the church. It was not long before these measures led to the inevitable result—persecution.
Religious liberty in USA begins with Roger Williams
Roger Williams was respected and beloved as a faithful minister; yet his steadfast denial of the right of civil magistrates to authority over the church, and his demand for religious liberty, could not he tolerated. He was sentenced to banishment from the colonies, and, finally, to avoid arrest, he was forced to flee, amid the cold and storms of winter into the unbroken forest.
Making his way at last, after months of change and wandering, to the shore of Narragansett Bay, he there laid the foundation of the first state of modern times that in the fullest sense recognized the right of religious freedom. The fundamental principle of Roger Williams' colony was "that every man should have liberty to worship God according to the light of his own conscience" (Martyn, vol.5, p. 354). His little state, Rhode Island, became the asylum of the oppressed, and it increased and prospered until its foundation principles—civil and religious liberty—became the cornerstones of the American Republic.
USA Constitution guarantees religious liberty
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
"The framers of the Constitution recognized the eternal principle that man's relation with his God is above human legislation, and his rights of conscience inalienable. . . . It is an inborn principle which nothing can eradicate" (Congressional documents [U.S.A.], serial No. 200, document No. 271).
Bible principles underlie USA greatness
The Bible was held as the foundation of faith, the source of wisdom, and the charter of liberty. Its principles were diligently taught in the home, in the school, and in the church, and its fruits were manifest in thrift, intelligence, purity, and temperance. One might be for years a dweller in the Puritan settlement, and "not see a drunkard, or hear an oath, or meet a beggar" (Bancroft, pt. 1, ch. 19, par. 25). It was demonstrated that the principles of the Bible are the surest safeguards of national greatness. The feeble and isolated colonies grew to a confederation of powerful states, and the world marked with wonder the peace and prosperity of "a church without a pope, and a state without a king."
The union of the church with the state, be the degree never so slight, while it may appear to bring the world nearer to the church, does in reality but bring the church nearer to the world.
The Protestant Reformation had stalled
New Light in the New World
One of the most solemn and yet most glorious truths revealed in the Bible is that of Christ's second coming to complete the great work of redemption When the Savior was about to be separated from His disciples, He comforted them in their sorrow with the assurance that He would come again: "In My Father's house are many mansions. . . . I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go, . . . I will come again, and receive you unto myself" (John 14:1-3).
"The Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him." "Then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations" (Matthew 25:31, 32).
The coming of the Lord has been in all ages the hope of His true followers. Amid suffering and persecution, the "appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ" was the "blessed hope."
Second coming prophecies are fulfilled
In fulfillment of this prophecy there occurred, in the year 1755, the most terrible earthquake that has ever been recorded. Though commonly known as the earthquake of Lisbon, it extended to the greater part of Europe, Africa, and America. It was felt in Greenland, in the West Indies, in the islands of Madeira, in Norway and Sweden, Great Britain and Ireland. It pervaded an extent of not less than four million square miles.
The dark day of 1780
"In most parts of the country it was so great in the daytime, that the people could not tell the hour by either watch or clock, nor dine, nor manage their domestic business, without the light of candles" (William Gordon, History of the Rise, Progress & Establishment of the Independence of the U.S.A., vol. 3, p. 57).
May 19, 1780, stands in history as "The Dark Day." Since the time of Moses no period of darkness of equal density, extent, and duration, has ever been recorded. The description of this event, given by eyewitnesses, is but an echo of the words of the Lord, recorded by-the prophet Joel, twenty-five hundred years previous to their fulfillment: "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come" (Joel 2:31).
A work of reform needed
Absorbed in worldliness and pleasure seeking, the professed people of God were blinded to the Savior's instructions concerning the signs of His appearing. The doctrine of the second advent had been neglected. Especially was this the case in the churches of America.
To prepare a people to stand in the day of God, a great work of reform was to be accomplished. God saw that many of His professed people were not building for eternity, and in His mercy He was about to send a message of warning to arouse them from their stupor and lead them to make ready for the coming of the Lord.
Messages of the three angels of Rev. 14
This message is declared to be apart of "the everlasting gospel." The work of preaching has not been committed to angels, but has been entrusted to men. Holy angels have been employed in directing this work, they have in charge the great movements for the salvation of men; but the actual proclamation of the gospel is performed by the servants of Christ upon the earth. Faithful men, who were obedient to the promptings of God's Spirit and the teachings of His Word, were to proclaim this warning to the world.
William Miller chosen to lead
Endeavoring to lay aside all preconceived opinions, and dispensing with commentaries, he compared scripture with scripture. As he studied with earnest prayer for divine enlightenment, that which had before appeared dark to his understanding was made clear. He experienced the truth of the psalmist's words: "The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple" (Psalm 119:130).
With intense interest he studied the books of Daniel and the Revelation, and found, to his great joy, that the prophetic symbols could be understood. He saw that the prophecies, so far as they had been fulfilled, had been fulfilled literally; that all the various figures, metaphors, parables, similitudes, etc., were either explained in their immediate connection, or the terms in which they were expressed were defined in other scriptures, and when thus explained, were to be literally understood. Link after link of the chain of truth rewarded his efforts, as step by step he traced the great lines of prophecy. Angels of heaven were guiding his mind and opening the Scriptures to his understanding.
Miller studied second coming prophecies
At His coming the righteous dead will be raised, and the righteous living changed. "We shall not all sleep," says Paul, "but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (l Corinthians 15:51-53). And in his letter to the Thessalonians, after describing the coming of the Lord, he says: "The dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).
Key text: Daniel 8:14 - 2300 days
With a new and deeper earnestness, Miller continued the examination of the prophecies, whole nights as well as days being devoted to the study of what now appeared of such stupendous importance and all-absorbing interest. In the eighth chapter of Daniel he could find no clue to the starting point of the 2300 days; the angel Gabriel, though commanded to make Daniel understand the vision, gave him only a partial explanation. As the terrible persecution to befall the church was unfolded to the prophet's vision, physical strength gave way. He could endure no more and the angel left him for a time. Daniel "fainted, and was sick certain days." "And I was astonished at the vision," he says, "but none understood it."
Yet God had bidden His messenger, "Make this man to understand the vision." That commission must be fulfilled. In obedience to it, the angel some time afterward returned to Daniel, saying: "I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding;" "therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision" (Daniel 8:27, 16; 9:22, 23, 25-27). There was one important point in the vision of chapter 8 which had been left unexplained, namely, that relating to time—the period of the 2300 days; therefore the angel, in resuming his explanation, dwells chiefly upon the subject of time:
70 weeks (490 years) for the Jews
The angel had been sent to Daniel for the express purpose of explaining to him the point which he had failed to understand in the vision of the eighth chapter, the statement relative to time—"unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." The very first words of the angel are: "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy Holy City." The word here translated "determined" literally signifies "cut off." Seventy weeks, representing 490 years, are declared by the angel to be cut off, as specially pertaining to the Jews. But from what were they cut off? As the 2300 days was the only period of time mentioned in chapter 8, it must be the period from which the seventy weeks were cut off; the seventy weeks must therefore be a part of the 2300 days, and the two periods must begin together. The seventy weeks were declared by the angel to date from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. lf the date of this commandment could be found, then the starting point for the great period of the 2300 days would be ascertained.
2300 years started in 457 B.C.
"From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks"—namely, sixty-nine weeks, or 483 years. The decree of Artaxerxes went into effect in the autumn of 457 B.C. From this date, 483 years extend to the autumn of A.D. 27. At that time this prophecy was fulfilled. In the autumn of A.D. 27 Christ was baptized by John and received the anointing of the Spirit. After His baptism He went into Galilee, "preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled" (Mark 1:14, 15).
The 70th "week" of the prophecy
"In the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease." In A.D. 31, three and a half years after His baptism, our Lord was crucified. With the great sacrifice offered upon Calvary, ended that system of offerings which for four thousand years had pointed forward to the Lamb of God. Type had met antitype, and all the sacrifices and oblations of the ceremonial system were there to cease.
The 490 years ends in 34 A.D.
Thus far every specification of the prophecies is strikingly fulfilled, and the beginning of the seventy weeks is fixed beyond question at 457 B.C, and their expiration in A.D. 34. From this data there is no difficulty finding the termination of the 2300 days. The seventy weeks—490 days—having been cut off from the 2300, there were 1810 days remaining. After the end of the 490 days, the 1810 days were still to be fulfilled. From A.D. 34, 1810 years extend to l844. Consequently the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 terminate in 1844. At the expiration of this great prophetic period, upon the testimony of the angel of God "the sanctuary shall be cleansed." Thus the time of the cleansing of the sanctuary—which was almost universally believed to take place at the second advent—was definitely pointed out.
The last sign of second coming