From Here to Forever


Chapter 21—Reaping the Whirlwind

William Miller and his associates had sought to awaken professors of religion to the true hope of the church and their need of a deeper Christian experience. They labored also to awaken the unconverted to repentance and conversion. “They made no attempt to convert men to a sect. They labored among all parties and sects.” Said Miller, “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 less those who should embrace this doctrine, I did not conceive there would ever be any necessity for separate meetings. ... The great majority of those who were converted under my labors united with the various existing churches.”1 HF 233.1

But as religious leaders decided against the advent doctrine, they denied their members the privilege of attending preaching upon 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 denied, they felt that loyalty to God forbade them to submit. Hence they felt justified in separating. In the summer of 1844 about fifty thousand withdrew from the churches. HF 233.2

In most of the churches, there had been for years a gradual but steadily increasing conformity to worldly practices and a corresponding decline in spiritual life. But in that year there were evidences of a marked declension in nearly all the churches of the land. The fact was widely commented on by both the press and the pulpit. HF 233.3

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 in professors, and none come to his study to converse about the salvation of their souls. ... There is an increase of worldly-mindedness. Thus it is with all the denominations.”2 HF 234.1

In the month of February of the same year, Professor Finney of Oberlin College said: “In general, the Protestant churches of our country, as such, were either apathetic or hostile to nearly all the moral reforms of the age. ... Spiritual apathy is almost all-pervading, and is fearfully deep; so the religious press of the whole land testifies. ... Very extensively church members are becoming devotees of fashion, join hands with the ungodly in parties of pleasure, in dancing, in festivities, etc. ... The churches generally are becoming sadly degenerate. They have gone very far from the Lord and He has withdrawn Himself from them.” HF 234.2