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Thursday, November 26, 2009

William Miller's Death (1849)

Mr. Miller continued to travel and preach at intervals, as bis failing health would permit, with his usual earnestness and success up to the spring of 1849, when he wrote to the brethren assembled in the Annual Conference in New York: " My multiplied infirmities admonish me that the time of my departure is drawing nigh." During the following summer he was visited by very many of the ministry and laymen to onjoy their last interview in mortality with that faithful man of God. On the 20th of December he " fell asleep " in the joyful hope of being soon awakened to eternal life by the coming of the Lord for whom he had so confidently waited and faithfully labored. The religious, political, and secular papers, throughout this country and in Europe, gave extended notice of the good man's death, and appended many comments, according to their fancies, prejudices, or judgment, of the character of the man and bis work. We append a few as illustrations of the popular mind :

"william Miller.—The celebrated Wm. Miller, distinguished as the founder of the sect known as ' Second Adventiats, or Hitlerites,' recently died at his residence in the State of New York, at an advanced age. Mr. Miller was one of the remarkable men of the age, and his character, acts, opinions, and ministrations are destined to live and be canvassed by this and succeeding generations. That he was a sincere, devoted, and a good man, we have not a shade of doubt . But in his views he embodied that which was really in advance of much of the learned theology of the day."—Christian Repository.

" Father Miller Dead.—Mr. William Miller, familiarly known as ' Father Miller,' and as ' Miller the Prophet,' died at his home in Hampton, Washington County, on tho 20th inst., aged about sixty-eight. Mr. Miller was a native of Pittsfield, Mass., and during the last war with England served as a captain of volunteers on the northern frontier. He began to speak in public assemblies upon the subject of the Millennium in 1833, and in the ten years which preceded the time which he had set for tho consummation of all prophecy he labored assiduously in tho Middle and Northern States, averaging, it is said, nearly one sermon a day for more than half that period. He was uneducated, and not largely read in even the common English commentaries; his views were absurd and supported but feebly; yet he succeeded in building up a sect of some thirty or forty thousand disciples, which disappeared rapidly after tho close of tho ' day of probation,' in 1843, after which time Mr. Miller himself did not often advocate or defend his views in public."—N. T. Tribune.

In reply to this a correspondent sent the following, which appeared in the Tribune of Dec. 29:

"the Late William Miller.—Sir: I saw in your paper of Tuesday a short, incorrect notice of Mr. Wm. Miller, which I presume you will correct, on better information, as you wish others to do so to you when misrepresented.

"You call him 'the Prophet.' In tho usual sense of the term he was not, nor over pretended to be. The only grounds for it was his explaining the prophecies, historically and chronologically, which Bishop Mede, Vitringa, Daubuz, Wesley, Fletcher, Clarke, tho Newtons, and somo scores of other able, pious, and learned divines of the Episcopal and dissenting churches of England and America have done, with nearly the samo manner and result; i. e., they show the prophecies mostly fulfilled, and the chronological periods to terminate near this time, and tho Millennium begin. And many, as Dr. Duffield, Dr. Lord, President of Dartmouth College, and President Weethee, of the United States, and Dr. Clinton, Elliott, Birks, Brooks, Cunningham, Noel, etc., of England, that it is in this generation or age they terminate, and the Lord personally comes at the Millennium. Are their views absurd ?

" You say ' he was not well read in commentaries,' etc. This is a mistake. In his early life, for many years, he had a great thirst for reading, and had access to several large libraries, as Hon. Matthew Lyon's, Judge James Witherell's, and Alexander Cruikshanks', esq., and in commentaries and history few men were better read. -To grammar and the exact sciences he made no pretensions.

" You say he drew for a time 30,000 or 40,000 followers, but they soon disappeared. There were more than 100,000 a while; there are about 50,000 now.

" You say his views were absurd. They appear so to most, we admit, and so do yours on Fourierism, but does that make them so ? You call to the test of reason; he to the Scriptures."

"death Of William Miller.—From the manner in which some of our contemporaries, religious as well as secular, notice the departure of this distinguished advocate of the Advent doctrine, we must think they have little of the delicacy of feeling which inclines most men to ' tread lightly on the ashes of the dead.' They speak of him sneeringly as ' Miller the Prophet.' They say he was ignorant, fanatical, feeble, etc., etc. To say such things of a dead man, even though they might be true, would be no proof either of courage or of good taste. But in this case they are not true. Those who knew Mr. Miller knew that, however limited may have been his early educational advantages, he was by no means an ignorant man. He was neither fanatical nor feeble. As a strong and sober reasoner, he proved himself not inferior to many who had enjoyed far greater facilities of mental culture. As to the prophetic character, he never made any pretensions to it. True, he sought earnestly to obey the divine injunction, 'Whoso readeth, let him understand' (Matt. xxiv. 15), and to secure the blessedness pledged to ' him that readeth, and to them that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things written therein.—Rev. i. 3. After diligent efforts to discover the significancy of the prophetic numbers, he believed, and hesitated not to declare his belief, that the point indicated by them as that of the second Advent was ' about the year 1843.' But when the passing of that point had proved him to be in error, he was equally frank in acknowledging his mistake."— Western Christian.

- History of the Second Advent Message and Mission, Doctrine and People. By Isaac C. Wellcome, 1874

Enter the cemetery and you will find William Miller’s grave just about in the center of the left half of the cemetery. It is a monument nearly six feet (1.8 meters) tall with a scroll-type design on the top of it. Buried beside him are his wife, parents and other members of the Miller family. Find a Grave:

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