The cause of all religious fanaticism is ignorance. As knowledge is power, so ignorance is the mother of various religious follies, fanaticisms and superstitions. One sect surpasses the other in its peculiar ideas. Such people know everything. They are always ready to condemn those who differ from them in religious questions. If they only can get a leader they are ready to follow him whithersoever he leads. Evidences and arguments for what one shall believe are not required. Take everything they say for granted.
I wish to submit some proofs of the foregoing statement:
The Kansas City Star for August 30, 1911, contained a story of a party from Findlay, Ohio, who had been informed by their leader that they must be baptized in secret water in order to receive secret power, and therefore it was necessary for them to go to California. To obtain the required funds they sold their houses and farms thus raising the amount of ten thousand dollars. The money was deposited with the leader who at the arrival to their destination suddenly absconded and found a hiding place, as it was believed, somewhere in Pennsylvania. The party consisted of twenty-six persons. Another party were ready to follow the first one, but had to send their money to help their deluded brethren in California.
A sect calling themselves "waterwalkers" pretends that its members can walk on the water. Some people in the South made a trial of walking on water in 1911, but all were drowned. One of the leaders said at a meeting, that if they had met an accident at sea they would have been able to walk on the water. There was seemingly some reason in this. Then it happened that some members went out on a lake excursion. The boat sprang a leak. All came into the water. Now they had a fine opportunity to show their ability to walk on the wet element; but not one could keep himself above the surface. They all went down.
July 14, 1912, I read of a party from Kamsack, Canada, who had heard from a preacher that Christ had come down somewhere on the prairies of western Canada to fetch a prepared people. But it was necessary to meet him in the costume our first parents had in Eden. Clothes and money were burnt the same night and with as little apparel as possible they set out to meet Christ. The Northwest Mountain police received word about it and started out with blankets to protect them. Some were taken to jail, and others were sent to Veregin, where they had their headquarters.
In the Chicago Daily News for Jan. 26, 1912, we read that thirty fanatical women from Lodz in Russian Poland had chosen a certain man for their Saviour, whom they also worshipped as the Son of God. Soon the idea struck them that he should be crucified; if he could rise again on the third day he must be the right one. The man refused to concede to their wishes. Then his adherents stormed the house, and if the police had not interfered no one could predict what would have happened.
When William Miller, the founder of Adventism, began to preach the second coming of Christ he was ignorant of the Word of God. We have no objection to the preaching of this doctrine, but he started from a mistaken ground. He even went so far as to set the time on two different occasions. Several thousand followed him, most of them belonging to the ignorant class. (International Cyclopedia, Vol. I, page 112)
Reason is the most valuable gift that God has given us. When the light of reason is extinguished the victim is a burden to himself and others. Several times I have seen insane people who have been out for an airing. What a sight! One is ready to exclaim, "My God, whatever be my lot in this life, let me keep my reason!"
The mind should be cultivated. In 2 Peter, 1st chapter, we read that God "hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Christ." Here are also mentioned nine different kinds of fruits. If we want to become possessors of these fruits and be partakers of divine nature we must aim to obtain knowledge of God. If we lack these fruits Peter says we are blind and cannot see afar off.
We should learn to think for ourselves. We should dare to think. Just think, how many there are who believe what others have said without understanding in the least. Let not other people so hedge in your mind that all your thoughts belong to somebody else. To take other people's thoughts is good if they are true and throw any light upon the desired questions. If you do not dare to think for yourself but set your mind aside, your opinions will be those of some other person. If his opinion is wrong, and you take it without investigation, you will also have a wrong opinion.
Let us use our understanding and think freely as well as correctly. Should you become a freethinker it matters not, if you don't become an atheist.
It happens frequently that people ask us what we believe in regard to a certain question. Formerly I used to give a ready answer and was always sure I was right. Lately my answer is, that it is of very small importance what I believe, but what I know. We may believe one thing and be sure in our belief, but if our belief is without a foundation in fact or science it does not amount to very much. And the things I know I don't need to believe.
"Both periods of time shall begin there." — "If this view is correct, then it is so." — "We think it is so." — "If it is as we believe, then it is right." — "Without any doubt it is meant prophetic time." — " According to our opinion it belongs here or there." — "If we are right, now, then the Turk becomes the King in the North." — "If this application is correct, then the time of the end commenced A. D. 1798."
But when we now will prove to you, that the end of the time is not A. D. 1798, that the end of time has nothing whatever to do with 1798, are you then willing to accept the truth and admit that your application is wrong?
The whole doctrine of the Adventists is built on "ifs" and "buts," suppositions, imaginations, fancies and assertions. It has gone so far that they don't think it is necessary to examine the foundation.
If one of their number comes to the conclusion, that one-half times one-half equals one, then it is so. But let us think a little. If one-half times one-half is not one, what then? Many have discussed the question how much one-half times one-half makes, and said it is one, of course. If this problem were a matter of faith, you could not do anything with it. But arithmetic is a science and "figures do not lie," therefore they may be examined and the one who is right can prove his statement. And the same thing can be said about the foundation, upon which the Adventists have built their message. It can be proved with mathematical certainty that it is absolutely wrong and rests only upon the loose suppositions of some mistaken leaders. It is my intention to point out in this book, that their message does not correspond with the certain and well known facts of the Bible and history, and I advise every reader to think over and study carefully each statement, before drawing any conclusions. I do not promise to send out a book that is perfect, errors may occur, but let the reader apply the exhortation of St. Paul, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."
As a rule a number of good people mistake true science for worldly wisdom which the apostle warns against. When you try to prove to them from history that their suppositions are wrong, they often answer that for God everything is possible, because it says so in the Bible. But there are in fact many things that God cannot do. It is just as impossible for him as for you and me to make two times two anything but four. He can do a miracle today if he so desires, but to make two times two equal anything else but four would not be a miracle. That would simply be an untruth or a falsehood. Lying doesn't require miraculous power, folks have been able to do that a long time. But God cannot lie. All truth must be in harmony with itself.
All truth is valuable from whatever source it comes. But unfortunately there are many people who dare not believe in anything that is not subscribed to or promulgated by their own denomination. Their church is inspired, she alone has the truth, everyone else is in the wrong. If they find that their theology does not harmonize with the Bible or history, then these sources must be changed, because their theology must be correct. But is it not a better method to investigate the questions in doubt, and if you find that your theology is wrong, do not fear to accept the truth. Truth will be victorious at last, no matter what position you take in regard to it.
A Seventh-day Adventist pastor, whose eyes were opened in regard to the question of the Sanctuary, began to show others their mistakes. He was excluded from their communion. One of his former colleagues said to him lately, "I know you are right, my brother, but if I should commence to preach this I would be expelled, and what should I then do?"
Ministers of the Gospel! We sympathize with you if you have to lose your daily bread because you speak the truth. But fear not. Truth is worth more than anything else. Preach the truth and you will have bread enough. In Rev. 21:8 we read of a sinful company among whom are counted the "fearful." The Lord does not compromise.
Heb. 5:14 has something to say about strong meat belonging to them that are of full age, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil. With St. Paul we say, we are not perfect but are reaching forth unto those things which are before.
Of what use is our reading if we do not understand what we read, or if we are receiving a wrong impression of the word? It is by far better to get the right meaning. The way of salvation is plain and simple, it is true, so a wayfaring man can see it. But when theological disputes are to be settled, the Bible is no easy book to comprehend. Even those, who make the greatest ado about the Spirit who shall lead them, have made great mistakes. Those who claim to be in possession of the whole truth, only show their ignorance. The Bible has many different versions and has been differently translated, giving various meanings of the same verse. The pertinent question often arises, "Which is the correct meaning?"
"Believe all," some say. No, we want the facts. Then it is good to have the senses exercised by reason of use to discern between good and evil. I have often been attacked as one who falsifies the Bible when I call attention to some of its discrepancies. Let me quote some examples.
Take for instance the story of David's sinful treatment of Uriah and his wife Bath-Sheba (2 Sam. 11). In 1 Kings 15:5 we see, that David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord as long as he lived, save only in the matter of Uriah. In the first book of Chronicles (21:1) it says that Satan provoked David to number Israel, and in 2 Sam. 24:1 it is plainly stated that it was the Lord who moved David to number Israel and Judah. And a little further on (verse 10), "David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done." There is certainly reason to inquire, how can this be?
God had forbidden Israel to go in to see the ark when the holy things are covered lest they die (Num. 4:20). When the ark was brought to Beth-she-mesh (1 Sam. 6:19) it is said that the Lord killed fifty thousand and three score and ten men, because they had looked into the ark. Now history tells us that this particular place never had over five thousand inhabitants. This passage should read fifty princes and three score and ten men.
In Luke 17:20 the Pharisees asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God should come, and he answered (v. 21), the Kingdom of God is within you. One D.D. wrote in a paper that this is meant the disciples, but that is to falsify the text. Other commentators say that it should read, "The Kingdom of God is among you." By reason of use we now discern between right and wrong and say, the Kingdom of God was not in the Pharisees but among them. And the Kingdom of God is neither in the modern Pharisees who attack me for calling their attention to these things.
Bitter contentions have been going on regarding the meaning of Isaiah 9:6, the child that was born, the son that was given. Most people admit that this has reference to Christ. But then his name is The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. It is impossible that Jesus can be mighty God and everlasting Father, when God himself is it. One commentator suggests the following reading, "The one in council wonderful and mighty God and everlasting Father shall call him Prince of Peace." Then there is only one everlasting God and Father. To this I say, Amen; the reader may think what he pleases.
The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (chapter 9) has placed the golden censer within the veil in the Holiest of all. This is an error. In an Adventist paper they had got the censer in two different places in the same issue. If you tell them this is impossible, you distort the Scripture.
Of Stephen we read in the 6th chapter of the Acts, that he was full of faith and the Holy Ghost, grace and power; but in his address before the Council he made several errors. In chapter 7 he says, "Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran (Haran), and said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred . . . Then came he out of the land of the Chaldeans." Abraham did not come out from his kindred and from the country of the Chaldean; for his father Terah went out from there with his kindred and Abraham went with his father (Gen. 11:31). Terah was seventy years old when Abraham was born (Gen. 11:26). Abraham was seventy-five when he came out of Charran (Gen. 12:4). Terah was therefore seventy plus seventy-five, or one hundred and forty-five years when Abraham left Charran. When Abraham's father had died, Stephen says, Abraham came out of Charran. But in Gen. 11:32 we are informed that Terah was two hundred and five years when he died in Charran. The difference between two hundred and five and one hundred and forty-five is sixty. Abraham could not attend his fathers funeral sixty years before the latter was dead. We believe therefore that Terah lived sixty years after Abraham had left Charran, that the Old Testament is reliable here and that Stephen was wrong or there may have been some error in the translations. Is it fair to accuse a person of distorting the Scripture because he shows that some parts do not harmonize?
If the leaders of this sect should be dealt with according to their merits this would be an astounding book. But we will leave them to him who says, "Vengeance is mine." A number of smaller treatises have been published against various mistakes in their system, or showing them where they are wrong, so there is no excuse for their ignorance. And if any of their professors, preachers or members tried to open the eyes of the believers, their answer has invariably been, "We have the whole truth. Out with him who does not think like we do. Mrs. White is an inspired and true prophetess." And as long as they adhere to this belief neither God nor man can do anything for them. Not to believe in her visions means eternal damnation. This the deluded people believe and are therefore bound in fetters. Fortunately there are some who begin to doubt her inspiration; and if it is in my power to throw some light upon their path out of ignorance and superstition I shall consider myself well repaid for my efforts.
Fifteen years ago there appeared a small book by J. Nyquist on the eighth and eleventh chapters of Daniel's prophecy, which are the real foundation of their doctrines. When glancing over the pages the first time, I found an expression which alone is powerful enough to sound the death knell over their doctrine. It made me ashamed not to have thought of that before. This book has been criticized by their preachers; but they have not seen that it is sufficient to demolish their interpretation of the prophecies. They well deserve the epithet "leaders of the blind." Most of their people burn the books of other authors. They cry, This is Babylon, Babylon! I shall return to the fatal argument later on.
...is William Miller, a farmer, who was born at Pittsfield, Mass., 1781, and died 1849. He enjoyed but slender educational advantages. During the war of 1812 he served as a volunteer with the rank of captain. About 1833, while a resident of Low Hampton, N. Y., he began his career as an apostle of a new doctrine, which taught that the world would come to an end in 1844. The main argument on which he rested his belief was Daniel 8:14, "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." This passage he misunderstood. We will here only state his arguments and postpone the refutation of the same till later on.
The ninth chapter of Daniel relates that the prophet was engaged in prayer. While he was speaking and praying the angel Gabriel came forth and announced that he was sent from God to give him skill and understanding. "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city," the angel said (v. 24). In the following verse we read that this time should begin at the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, etc. One day means one year in Daniel's chronology. Seventy weeks are thus 490 years. Miller thought that this commandment went forth in the seventh year of the Persian king Artaxerxes, when he sent Ezra up from his captivity, to restore the Jewish polity at Jerusalem (Ezra 7) in the year 457 B. C., and that there was no other prophetic time from which to cut off the 490 years than from the 2,300 days. He therefore dated these two periods from the year 457 B. C. He ended the 490 years (or seventy weeks) in A. D. 33 with the crucifixion of Christ and the 2,300 days ended A. D. 1843. He thought furthermore that the earth was the sanctuary to be cleansed by fire according to 2 Pet. 3:10,12.
No one doubts that Miller was a sincere and honest reasoner, a humble and devoted Christian man; but he was impervious to any argumentation that contradicted his set opinions.
A conference was held in Boston, Oct. 22-24, 1840. Miller was present. Dr. Ward was elected chairman. He called Miller aside and asked him not to fix a certain time for the second coming of Christ, according to Mark. 13:32, "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." Other members of the conference said the same: How do you pretend to know the time when the Son and the angels do not know it? Nothing could change his opinion. He went home and preached as before. Religious fanatics always claim a great measure of God's Spirit. The Spirit will make up for the lack of knowledge. But they forget that the Spirit leads according to the word.
A person who can make such a mistake as this will commit any blunder. There is not a sound thought in his doctrine. The 2,300 days are not years. They did not begin 457 B. C, and did not end A. D. 1843. The earth is not the sanctuary. This I intend to prove to the satisfaction of any whose mind is open for conviction.
If Miller had used his reason for ten minutes he would have thought, The power which is represented by the little horn in Dan. 8:9 should cast down the place of the sanctuary at the beginning of the 2,300 days. If the earth is the sanctuary, does history record that this power cast down the earth 457 B. C.? No, history does not know any sanctuary which was cast down the year 457.
The power which was to destroy the sanctuary should appear, according to the angel, toward the end of Alexander's divided kingdom (Greece). It is proved that this time was between 176 — 30 B. C. This power could no more destroy the sanctuary in 457 B. C. (281 years before its beginning) than Miller could preach the second coming of Christ in the year 1498, or 281 years before he was born.
But nevertheless the History of the Advent Message is bold enough to declare on page 596 that this is God's truth as sure as the Bible. There is no possibility of a mistake this time. Those who reject this light are lost. Those who do not accept these arguments are reprobates.
When a person will contradict the plain statements of the Word of God, we think that he has no message from the Lord and that he is not led by God's Spirit, no matter how sincere are his intentions.
"It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father has set within his own authority." (Acts 1:7.)
"I know the time," says Miller; "1843 is the right time. I have calculated that Christ shall return then."
The predicted year went by, but Miller's calculation was wrong. Then he and his followers made the great discovery that the commandment was given late in the year 457 B. C., and accordingly the end of time could not occur before late in the fall of 1844.
Jesus says, "No man knoweth the day."
Miller said, "Now we know the day with certainty; it is Oct. 22, 1844. There is no mistake about it this time. He who does not believe this is lost."
There is no need of proving that this message also was false — the Lord has not come in these sixty-eight years since then.
When 1844 had gone by, Miller and most of the Adventists admitted they were mistaken; Miller himself being honest enough to make a public statement to that effect, saying that it was wrong and dishonest to deny the facts. (History of the Second Advent Message, page 383)
As we have seen, Miller did the right thing to admit his error, when his calculations had failed. But the Adventists took up his false way of reasoning and have gone further than he did. They still insist that the 2,300 days are just so many years, beginning 457 B. C. and ending A. D. 1844. If these dates are false, then their whole doctrinal system is crumbling to the ground with all they have built thereon.
We are going to prove with unalterable facts that these two dates are resting upon, a loose and shaky foundation.