Love Under Fire


Chapter 21—Reaping the Whirlwind

William Miller and his associates had tried to help people who claimed to be religious see the true hope of the church and their need of a deeper Christian experience. They also worked to help those who were unconverted see their need to repent and be converted. “They made no attempt to convert anyone to a sect. They worked among all parties and sects.” Miller said: “I wanted to benefit everyone. I thought that all Christians would rejoice that Christ's coming was near, and that those who could not see as I did would not love any less those who did embrace this doctrine. I did not imagine there would ever be any need for separate meetings.... The great majority of those who were converted under my preaching joined the various existing churches.”1 LF 157.1

But as religious leaders decided against the advent doctrine, they denied their members the privilege of going to hear preaching about the Second Advent or even speaking of their hope in the church. The believers loved their churches. But as they saw their right to investigate the prophecies taken away, they felt that loyalty to God would not allow them to submit. So they felt justified in separating. In the summer of 1844, about fifty thousand left their churches. LF 157.2

In most of the churches, for years people had been gradually but steadily conforming more and more to worldly practices and declining in spiritual life. But in that year there were signs of a sharp drop in nearly all the churches throughout the country. Both the press and the pulpit commented widely on this fact. LF 157.3

Mr. Barnes, author of a commentary and pastor of one of the leading churches in Philadelphia, “stated that ... now there are no awakenings, no conversions, not much apparent growth in grace among church members, and none come to his study to talk about their salvation.... There is an increase of worldly-mindedness. It is this way with all the denominations.”2 LF 157.4

In February of the same year, Professor Finney of Oberlin College said: “In general, the Protestant churches of our country were either careless or hostile to nearly all the moral reforms of the age.... Spiritual apathy is almost everywhere, and is fearfully deep. The religious press of the whole land testifies to this.... So many church members are becoming worshipers of fashion, joining hands with the ungodly in parties of pleasure, in dancing, in festivities, etc.... The churches generally are becoming sadly corrupted. They have gone very far from the Lord, and He has withdrawn Himself from them.” LF 157.5