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EXPLANATIONS OF THE TERMS USED.
1. By “organizations” is meant church societies, or congregations. The returns under this head include chapels, missions, stations, etc., when they are separate from churches and have separate services.
2. Under the title “church edifices” are given all buildings erected for divine worship. Chapels under separate rooms are counted as distinct buildings. The fractions which appear in this column indicate joint ownership. A large number of church edifices are owned and occupied by two or more denominations, and the proportion which each owns is expressed by the fractions 4, 72, 23, etc. The tables do not show how many churches are thus owned. Many fractions have disappeared in the process of addition. If
for example, twenty churches in a State or conference or diocese or presbytery, in which a particular denomination had a fractional interest of 12 each in eighteen, %3 in another, and 4 in another, the eighteen halves would be converted into nine integers in the footing, and the sum of %3 and 4, or 72, would be the only fraction that would appear.
3. Seating capacity” indicates the number of persons a church edifice is arranged to seat. The accommodations of halls and schoolhouses are given separately, and those of private houses are not counted at all. 4. “ Value of church property
covers only the estimated value of church edifices with their chapels, the ground on which they stand, and their furnishings. It does not embrace parsonages, cemeteries, or colleges, or convents, only the chapels belonging thereto. No deductions are made for church debts.
5. “Communicants” embraces all who have the privilege of partaking of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and of members in denominations like the Friends, Unitarians, etc. The Jewish returns are mostly for heads of families who are pewholders. Those for Unitarians are larger, in proportion, than those for the Universalists, because the terms of Unitarian membership are less restrictive.
6. The statistics given in this volume are for the United States only. No returns are included for missions or churches in other lands.
RELIGIOUS FORCES OF THE
THE movement out of which the various Adventist bodies have come began about the year 1831 with a series of lectures on the personal coming of Christ, delivered by William Miller. Mr. Miller, a native of Massachusetts, was converted and joined the Baptist Church at Low Hampton, N. Y., in 1816. He had been a Deist, according to his own statement. A diligent study of the Bible inclined him to the belief in 1818 that the millennium was to begin not before but after the end of the world, and that the second advent of Christ was near at hand. Further examination of the Scriptures fully convinced him of the correctness of this view, and in August, 1831, he began to lecture on the subject. His study of the Apocalypse and the Gospels satisfied him that the "only millennium” to be expected " is the thousand years which are to intervene between the first resurrection and that of the rest of the dead"; that the second coming of Christ is to be a personal coming; that the millennium “must necessarily follow the personal coming of Christ and the regeneration of the earth"; that the prophecies show that “only four universal monarchies are to precede the setting up of God's everlasting kingdom,” of which three had passed awaythe Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, and the Grecian—and the fourth, that of Rome, was in the last stage; that the periods spoken of in the Book of Daniel of “ 2300 days," of the "seven times of Gentile supremacy,” and of “1335 days,” were prophetic periods, and, applied chronologically, led to a termination in 1843, when Christ would personally descend to the earth and reign with the saints in a new earth a thousand years. In 1833 he published a pamphlet entitled “ Evidences from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ, about the Year 1843, and of His Personal Reign of One Thousand Years."
He made many converts to his views, both among ministers and laymen of the Baptist, Christian, Methodist, and other denominations, and the new doctrine was widely proclaimed. In 1840 a general gathering of friends of the cause was held in Boston, and an address issued which stated that while those who participated in the conference were not in accord in fixing the year of the second advent, they were unanimously of the opinion that it was “specially nigh at hand.” A number of papers, one of which was a daily, appeared, bearing such titles as The Midnight Cry, The Signs of the Times, The Trumpet of Alarm, etc., and helped greatly to spread Mr. Miller's views. When the year in which the advent was fully expected had passed, Mr. Miller wrote a letter confessing his "error" and acknowledging his “ disappointment,” but expressing his belief that “the day of the Lord is near, even at the door." He also attended a conference of Adventists held in Boston late in May, 1844, and made a similar statement, admitting that he had been in error in fixing a definite time. Subsequently he became convinced that the end would come on or about the 22d of October, 1844, and said if Christ did not then appear he should "feel twice the disappointment” that he had already felt. Some of those who had joined the movement left it after the time for the end of the world had passed without a fulfillment of their expectations; but many still believed that the great event was near at hand, and urged men to live in a constant state of readiness for it.
Various views were developed among the Adventists, after the second date had passed without result, respecting the resurrection of the body, the immortality of the soul, and the state of the dead, and these differences resulted in course of time in different organizations.
At a general conference of Adventists held in Albany, N. Y., April 29, 1845, a report was adopted holding to the visible, personal coming of Christ at an early but indefinite time, to the resurrection of the dead, both the just and the unjust, and to the beginning of the millennium after the resurrection of the saints, denying that there is any promise of the world's conversion, or that the saints enter upon their inheritance, or receive their crowns, at death.
Small companies of Adventists at various times after the failures of 1843 and 1844 set new dates for the second advent, and there were gatherings in expectation of the great event; but the “time brethren,” as they are often called, have at no time since 1844 formed a large proportion of the Adventists.
Ministers are ordained to the office of elder by the laying on of hands, upon the recommendation of the churches