The Second Angel's Message
THE churches that refused to receive the
first angel's message rejected light from heaven. That message was sent in mercy to arouse
them to see their true condition of worldliness and backsliding, and to seek a preparation
to meet their Lord.
It was to separate the church
of Christ from the corrupting influence of the world that the first angel's message was
given. But with the multitude, even of professed Christians, the ties which bound them to
earth were stronger than the attractions heavenward. They chose to listen to the voice of
worldly wisdom, and turned away from the heart-searching message of truth.
God gives light to be
cherished and obeyed, not to be despised and rejected. The light which He sends becomes
darkness to those who disregard it. When the Spirit of God ceases to impress the truth
upon the hearts of men, all hearing is vain, and all preaching also is vain.
When the churches spurned the
counsel of God by rejecting the advent message, the Lord rejected them. The first angel
was followed by a second, proclaiming, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great
city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her
fornication." Rev. 14:8. This message was understood by Adventists to be an
of the moral fall of the churches in consequence of their rejection of the
first message. The proclamation, "Babylon is fallen," was given in the summer of
1844, and as the result, about fifty thousand withdrew from these churches.
Those who preached the first
message had no purpose or expectation of causing divisions in the churches, or of forming
separate organizations. "In all my labors," said William Miller, "I never
had the desire or thought to establish any separate interest from that of existing
denominations, or to benefit one at the expense of another. I thought to benefit all.
Supposing that all Christians would rejoice in the prospect of Christ's coming, and that
those who could not see as I did would not love any the less those who should embrace this
doctrine, I did not conceive there would ever be any necessity for separate meetings. My
whole object was a desire to convert souls to God, to notify the world of a coming
judgment, and to induce my fellow men to make that preparation of heart which will enable
them to meet their God in peace. The great majority of those who were converted under my
labors united with the various existing churches. When individuals came to me to inquire
respecting their duty, I always told them to go where they would feel at home; and I never
favored any one denomination in my advice to such."
For a time many of the
churches welcomed his labors, but as they decided against the advent truth, they desired
to suppress all agitation of the subject. Those who had accepted the doctrine were thus
placed in a position of great trial and perplexity. They loved their churches, and were
loth to separate from them; but as they were ridiculed and oppressed, denied the privilege
of speaking of their hope, or of
attending preaching upon the Lord's coming, many at last
arose and cast off the yoke that had been imposed upon them.
Adventists, seeing that the
churches rejected the testimony of God's Word, could no longer regard them as constituting
the church of Christ, "the pillar and ground of the truth;" and as the message,
"Babylon is fallen," began to be proclaimed, they felt themselves justified in
separating from their former connection.
Since the rejection of the
first message, a sad change has taken place in the churches. As truth is spurned, error is
received and cherished. Love for God and faith in His Word have grown cold. The churches
have grieved the Spirit of the Lord, and it has been in a great measure withdrawn.
When the year 1843 entirely
passed away unmarked by the advent of Jesus, those who had looked in faith for His
appearing were for a time left in doubt and perplexity. But notwithstanding their
disappointment, many continued to search the Scriptures, examining anew the evidences of
their faith, and carefully studying the prophecies to obtain further light. The Bible
testimony in support of their position seemed clear and conclusive. Signs which could not
be mistaken pointed to the coming of Christ as near. The believers could not explain their
disappointment; yet they felt assured that God had led them in their past experience.
Their faith was greatly
strengthened by the direct and forcible application of those scriptures which set forth a
tarrying time. As early as 1842, the Spirit of God had moved upon Charles Fitch to devise
the prophetic chart, which was generally regarded by Adventists as a fulfillment of the
command given by
the prophet Habakkuk, to "write the vision, and make it plain upon
tables." No one, however, then saw the tarrying time which was brought to view in the
same prophecy. After the disappointment the full meaning of this scripture became
apparent. Thus speaks the prophet: "Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables,
that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the
end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely
come, it will not tarry." Hab. 2:2, 3.
The waiting ones rejoiced
that He who knows the end from the beginning had looked down through the ages, and,
foreseeing their disappointment, had given them words of courage and hope. Had it not been
for such portions of Scripture, showing that they were in the right path, their faith
would have failed in that trying hour.
In the parable of the ten
virgins, Matthew 25, the experience of Adventists is illustrated by the incidents of an
Eastern marriage. "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins,
which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom." "While the
bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept."
The widespread movement under
the proclamation of the first message, answered to the going forth of the virgins, while
the passing of the time of expectation, the disappointment, and the delay, were
represented by the tarrying of the bridegroom. After the definite time had passed, the
true believers were still united in the belief that the end of all things was at hand; but
it soon became evident that they were losing, to some extent, their zeal and devotion, and
were falling into the state denoted in the parable by the slumbering of the virgins during
the tarrying time.
About this time fanaticism
began to appear. Some who professed to be zealous believers in the message rejected the
Word of God as the one infallible guide, and, claiming to be led by the Spirit, gave
themselves up to the control of their own feelings, impressions, and imaginations. There
were some who manifested a blind and bigoted zeal, denouncing all who would not sanction
their course. Their fanatical ideas and exercises met with no sympathy from the great body
of Adventists; yet they served to bring reproach upon the cause of truth.
The preaching of the first
message in 1843, and of the midnight cry in 1844, tended directly to repress fanaticism
and dissension. Those who participated in these solemn movements were in harmony; their
hearts were filled with love for one another, and for Jesus, whom they expected soon to
see. The one faith, the one blessed hope, lifted them above the control of any human
influence and proved a shield against the assaults of Satan.
Copyright © 1974
The Ellen G. White Estate, Inc.
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