A Prophet Among You


Chapter 11—The Rise Of The Advent Movement

While the advent awakening was in progress in Europe and on other continents, a parallel awakening was taking place in the United States. The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw widespread interest in Bible prophecy, which brought a large production of books, pamphlets, and periodical articles. Much preaching was done on the subject, and particular attention was given to the prophetic time periods—the 1260 days and the 2300 days, and the millennium. Other phases of study included the Ottoman Empire and the papacy. Men like Timothy Dwight, president of Yale College; Lyman Beecher, later president of Lane Theological Seminary; and Elias Boudinot, first president of the Continental Congress, expounded the prophecies in sermons and written form. Preachers, teachers, lawyers, college presidents, and others proclaimed and circulated their views. While the majority did not have the imminent return of Christ in mind, there were many who did. APAY 184.1

As has been previously pointed out, spiritual conditions immediately following the American Revolution were anything but salutary. Bacon’s summary is to the point: “The closing years of the eighteenth century show the lowest low-water mark of the lowest ebb tide of spiritual life in the history of the American church. The demoralization of army life, the fury of political factions, the catch-penny materialist morality of Franklin, the philosophic deism of men like Jefferson, and the popular ribaldry of Tom Paine, had wrought, together with other untoward influences, to bring about a condition of things which to the eye of little faith seemed almost desperate.” Leonard Woolsey Bacon, A History of American Christianity, The American Church History Series, vol. 13, p. 230. APAY 184.2

But out of this apparently hopeless situation came a period of revival that reached such proportions that it has come to be commonly called the Great Revival. The result of this movement brought increased emphasis on Bible study and on the broad distribution of the Scriptures. This meant the creation of new organizations to foster the circulation of the Bible in foreign lands and to sponsor missionary activity. The British and Foreign Bible Society was formed in 1804 and the American Bible Society was launched in 1816, as well as the American Home Missionary Society. In 1824 scattered Sunday-school units merged into the American Sunday School Union. In 1810 the Congregationalists formed the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Other denominations joined in the general missionary movement. APAY 185.1