Letter to Rev. J. Litch, on the Second Coming of Christ


My Dear Brother Litch:-You will, doubtless, remember that when you called at my house some months ago, you requested me to examine the Bible doctrine respecting the second coming of Christ, and write you the result of my investigations. LJL 5.1

Having now looked at the subject, until I feel that my mind is settled and established, and my feet placed on “the Rock,” I take great pleasure in attempting to communicate my views and feelings to you, according to your request. LJL 5.2

Permit me here to say, that it is my wish to bear testimony, on this momentous subject, to the world, as extensively as the Lord shall permit. I shall therefore endeavor to lay before you, as briefly as possible, my convictions, on the main points of truth touching the doctrines of Christ’s second coming, with the chief arguments on which my own mind rests, for proof of the positions which I regard as fully established; hoping that the Lord will open a way whereby this communication may go into the hands of my friends as extensively as possible, and of as many others, as shall seem good to Him, before whom I expect soon to render my last account. I take pleasure in saying, to the praise of God, that I enter upon this work with a sweet and delightful witness in my soul, (from God’s Spirit, as I fully believe,) that I am doing that which pleases Him; sincerely desiring thereby to glorify the name of Jesus Christ, my God and Savior, and to do good to souls for whom he shed his blood. LJL 5.3

I will here state the process of mind, by which, in the providence of God, I have come to my present convictions respecting the truth of the Bible on the subject under consideration. LJL 6.1

It is now somewhat more than three years and a half, since the lectures of William Miller, on this subject, were put into my hands. At that time I had neither read nor heard anything of the views which he advocates, nor did I know anything of the subject of which his work treated, except that it was concerning the millennium. His book, therefore, was to my mind an entire novelty. I took it up, as we often say, by mere casualty; but, as I fully believe, by the wise direction of Him who numbers the hairs of our heads. I devoured it with a more intense interest than any other book I had ever read; and continued to feel the same interest in it, until I had read it from beginning to end for the sixth time. My mind was greatly overwhelmed with the subject, until I felt that I could truly love Christ’s appearing, and that I could therefore hope with Paul, that there was laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which God, the righteous Judge, should give me at that day.” The subject then seemed to me to be surrounded, and fortified, on all sides, with an array of scriptural testimony, which nothing could overthrow. LJL 6.2

In this state of mind, I wrote to Mr. Miller; but as I have no copy of the letter, I do not remember whether I did, or did not, express myself to him as fully convinced of the truth which he advocated. It is my impression, however, that I did. About the same time, also, I wrote and preached to the people in Boston, with whom I was then laboring, a couple of sermons, designed to lay before them the theory of Christ’s second coming at hand, which Mr. Miller advocated, and the evidence on which the truth of the doctrine rested; telling them that I expressed no opinion of my own, but wished them to examine the subject for themselves. Having also, at the same time, an appointment, to read an essay for criticism, before the Suffolk South Asssociation of Congregational Ministers, of which I was then a member, I laid the same subject before them. In expressing their minds with regard to it, the first said “moonshine;” the second said “ditto;” and another said “the prophecies can’t be understood.” I think there were two whose feelings seemed revolted at the idea that the prophecies could not be understood; but there were none present who seemed to sympathize in the impression that there was truth in the subject, or that it was worthy of investigation. I left the meeting much pained, and, if I rightly remember, not a little mortified; for there was much laughter over the subject, and I could not help feeling that I was regarded as a simpleton, for entertaining the thought that there could be any truth, in what seemed to them such palpable nonsense. I did not feel ready to say to them that I coincided with Mr. Miller; for the subject was new to me, and I had not sufficiently surveyed and examined the ground to attempt much by way of defending it, even if I had had an opportunity. Soon after this, I found opportunity to converse with an aged clergyman, for whom I have great respect, and who, as I then believed, had given more attention to the prophetic parts of the Scriptures than any other man in this country, and had written and published much, and with great acceptance. The firmness and fluency with which he opposed Mr. Miller’s views, led me to feel that it might be owing to my ignorance that I was so much impressed on reading his book; and the reproach, which I saw would come upon me, if I advocated them, led me to lay the matter aside. Some time after, when a member of the Association asked what I then thought of Miller’s book, I said, (for the sake of retaining his good opinion,) “I was much overwhelmed with it at first, but now I don’t think anything of it.” The truth is, that the fear of man brought me into a snare; I was unwilling at this time to appear as an advocate of the truth defended by Mr. Miller; but neither Scripture nor argument had ever settled the convictions of my mind to the contrary. LJL 7.1

After this, I left Boston and went to New Jersey, where my mind became deeply absorbed in examining the subject of full sanctification by faith in Christ. So fully had all my previous teachings set me against that doctrine, and so unprepared was I in my experience to appreciate its value, and the blessedness to be derived from it, that it was a long time before I felt established and confirmed in the belief and experience of it, as a doctrine of the Bible. But I was at length led by the Holy Spirit to cast myself by faith upon the faithfulness of Him, who is declared “faithful to sanctify us wholly, and to preserve our whole spirit and soul and body blameless unto the coming of Christ.” In doing this, I have found a blessedness in Christ, which is indeed a “peace that passeth all understanding,” and a “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Such was the power of the gospel which I now felt in my own soul, that I thought, if God were to fill the whole earth, as He had filled me, with the blissful manifestations of his spiritual presence, it would make this world a blessed place indeed; and as I knew that he was “able to do for us exceeding abundantly, above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” and had said, “But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord,” I preached, as the expected millennium, the universal prevalence, and experience of entire sanctification. Respecting the Christian’s delightful privilege, to be “sanctified wholly, and preserved in spirit, soul and body, blameless to the coming of Christ,” through his faith in the faithfulness of Him who hath called him, and will do it; I have the same blessed convictions and. experience that I have for a considerable time entertained: but I think that I now better understand what that coming of Christ meant, to which God is faithful to preserve us blameless; and also better what Paul meant by exhorting “as many as be perfect,” like him to “forget the things behind, and reach forth unto those before; and thus follow after, to apprehend that for which they are apprehended by Christ Jesus, if by any means they may attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” In the state of mind which I have described, I remained up to the time when you called upon me, having delightful enjoyment in my soul, from receiving Christ as “of God made unto me sanctification,” as well as “wisdom, righteousness, and redemption,” and endeavoring, by all means in my power, to urge the blessed doctrine and experience of holiness, or full sanctification through faith in Christ, upon all who call themselves his people. I rejoice, dear brother, in thus opening my feelings to you on this subject, that you are prepared to appreciate my feelings, by your connection with that branch of Christ’s visible church, whose founder, and whose ministry, for the most part, I trust, to this day, have felt and preached the importance and practicability of being fully sanctified to God; and many of whose members, I believe, from my acquaintance with the writings of some, and my delightful personal intercourse with others, have, and do now enjoy this blessing in its rich experience. To “abide in Christ and sin not,” I believed to be the privilege of all God’s people, and felt that I had been taught it by the Holy Ghost; and when I thought of the coming of Christ, I said, the great question is, “Who shall abide the day of His coming, and who shall stand when he appeareth?” Let us see to it that we are prepared, by being wholly the Lord’s, and then it matters not when the day arrives. LJL 9.1

For preaching the doctrine and experience of entire sanctification, I lost my church connection, and became, in part, an ecclesiastical outcast. But I gained deliverance, in this process, from the fear of man, and learned the blessedness of fearing God, and Him only, and of relying on His arm, instead of that fleshly arm of ecclesiastical countenance and support, on which I had been accustomed to lean. LJL 11.1

I cannot say, my brother, that I felt anything like cordiality in seeing you; but I now bless God, and give you thanks for the call, and praise the name of the Lord, that I was so far emancipated from the power of the beast, as not to be afraid to examine a subject because it was unpopular. LJL 12.1

After you left me, I examined the books which you gave me, and felt my former convictions respecting the truth and importance of the subject reviving. I looked into the words of Moses, and searched the prophets and the Psalms, not forgetting that Christ said, “All things written” therein “concerning me must be fulfilled.” I felt myself surrounded with light and truth; but still I seem to have been more in the condition of one swimming, than of one who had found a firm place for his feet. About this time, I set apart a day of fasting and prayer, and laid myself before the Lord. While lying upon my face at the feet of my blessed Savior, I felt the following blessed promise most sweetly applied to my mind: “The meek shall he guide in judgment, and the meek shall he teach his way.” I could not doubt that this application was by the Holy Spirit. I know that some may deride this idea, but I believe that it is the privilege of Christ’s disciples to know the Comforter, and understand his teachings. Christ said, “the world cannot receive” him, “because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” During this day of fasting and prayer, I was made to feel the unspeakable blessedness of being disposed of forever to the highest honor of Jesus. It seemed to me that there was a perfect heaven in the thought of being placed, forever and ever, in just that position in the universe where I should be. made the highest honor to him who had, for my sake, suffered polluted sinners to spit in his face, and heap upon him every manner of foulest insult and hellish cruelty, and then to cast him out and put him to death with thieves. My whole being seemed to flow out in one gushing desire to this effect,-let Christ have all his due of me, let him have all the glory that belongs to him; and I felt that to be disposed of to that end, would be to me the perfection of bliss. I felt that I had no wish either to live or die, either to soar and shine with the highest and brightest in glory, or to lie among the most obscure in the lowliest position that a ransomed soul will ever fill in heaven, if I might but have just the place where I should forever render to Christ the full meed of praise, which he has so abundantly deserved from me. On searching the Bible, and examining truth, since that time, all has appeared delightfully plain to me. God’s word, in His great and glorious plan of salvation, has seemed full of light, and the things of His glorious and eternal kingdom easy to be understood. LJL 12.2

My mind is now in a state of delightful rest in the Lord, touching the whole matter; and I feel fully prepared, and happy, to lay before you what I believe to be the truth, and the arguments by which I find it supported. LJL 14.1