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ADVENTISTS: The general name of a body embracing several branches, whose members look for the proximate personal coming of Christ. William Miller, their founder, was a converted deist, who in 1816 joined the Baptist Church in Low Hampton, N. Y. He became a close student of the Bible, especially of the prophecies, and soon satisfied himself that the Advent was to be personal and premillennial, and that it was near at hand. He began these studies in 1818, but did not enter upon the work of the ministry until 1831. The year 1843 was the date agreed upon for the Advent; then, more specifically, Oct. 22, 1844, the failure of which divided a body of followers that had become quite numerous. In the year of his death (1849) they were estimated at 50,000. Many who had been drawn into the movement by the prevalent excitement left it, and returned to the churches from which they had withdrawn. After the second failure, Miller and some other leaders discouraged attempts to fix exact dates. On this question and on the doctrine of the immortality of the soul there have been divisions. There are now at least six distinct branches of Adventists, all of which agree that the second coming of Christ is to be personal and premillennial, and that it is near at hand. The Seventh-day Adventists and the Church of God are presbyterial, the others congregational in their polity. All practise immersion as the mode of baptism.
1. Evangelical Adventists: This is the oldest branch, indeed the original body. The members adopted their Declaration of Principles in conference in Albany, N. Y., in 1845, and in 1858 formed the American Millennial Association to print and circulate literature on eschatology from their point of view. Their organ was the weekly paper The Signs of the Times, which had been established in Boston in 1840; subsequently its name was changed to The Advent Herald and later still to Messiah’s Herald, its present (1906) title. The paper has always been published in Boston. The Evangelical Adventists differ from all the other branches in maintaining the consciousness of the dead in Hades and the eternal sufferings of the lost.
Bibliography: H. F. Hill, The Saint’s Inheritance, Boston, 1852; D. T. Taylor, The Reign of Christ, Peacedale, R. I., 1855, and Boston, 1889.
2. Seventh-day Adventists: This branch dates from 1845, in which year, at Washington, N. H., a body of Adventists adopted the belief that the seventh day of the week is the Sabbath for Christians and is obligatory upon them. In 1850 their chief organ, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, was first issued at Battle Creek, Mich., which was made the headquarters of the body: and there in 1860 a publishing association, in 1862 a general annual conference, in 1866 a health institute, and in 1874 an educational society and a foreign mission board were established. In 1903 the publishing business and the general headquarters were removed to Washington, D. C. Their organ is now styled The Review and Herald. Besides the tenet which gives them their name they hold that man is not immortal, that the dead sleep in unconsciousness, and that the unsaved never awake. They practise foot-washing and accept the charismata, maintain a tithing system, and pay great attention to health and total abstinence. They accept Mrs. Ellen G. White as an inspired prophetess.
Bibliography: J. N. Andrews, History of the Sabbath and First Day, Battle Creek, 1873 (3d ed., 1887); Life Sketches of Elder James White and his wife Mrs. Ellen G. White, 1880; J. N. Loughborough, Rise and Progress of the Seventh-Day Adventists, ib. 1892.
3. Advent Christians: The organization under this name dates from 1861, when a general association was formed. The organ of these Adventists is The World’s Crisis and Second Advent Messenger, published in Boston. Their creed is given in the Declaration of Principles, approved by the general conference of 1900. They believe that through sin man forfeited immortality and that only through faith in Christ can any live forever; that death is a condition of unconsciousness for all persons until the resurrection at Christ’s second coming, when the righteous will enter an endless life upon this earth, and the rest will suffer complete extinction of being; that this coming is near; that church government should be congregational; that immersion is the only true baptism; and that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath.
Bibliography: I. C. Wellcome, History of the Second Advent Message, Yarmouth, Me., 1874.
4. Life and Advent Union: This may be said to have existed since 1848, but it was not until 1862 that it was organized, at Wilbraham. Mass., under the leadership of Elder George Stores. Its organ is The Herald of Life and of the Corning Kingdom, published at Springfield, Mass., weekly since 1862. It holds that all hope of another life is through Jesus Christ, and that only believers in him, who have manifested in their daily lives the fruits of the Spirit, attain to the resurrection of the dead, which will take place at Christ’s coming, and that such coming will be personal, visible, and literal, and is impending. The Union holds four camp-meetings annually: two in Maine, one in Connecticut, which is the principal one, and one in Virginia.57
Bibliography: O. S. Halsted, The Theology of the Bible, Newark, 1860; Discussion between Miles Grant and J. T. Curry, Boston, 1863.
5. Church of God: This is a branch of the Seventh-day Adventists, which seceded in 1866 because its members denied that Mrs. Ellen Gould White was an inspired prophetess. Their organ is The Bible Advocate and Herald of the Coming Kingdom, published at Stanberry, Mo., which is their center. Like the parent body, the Church of God has tithes, sanatoriums, and a publishing house.
Bibliography: A. F. Dugger, Points of Difference between the Church of God and Seventh-Day Adventists, Stanberry, Mo.; J. Brinkerhoff, Mrs. White’s Visions. Comparison of the early Writings of Mrs. E. G. White with later Publications, showing the Suppressions made in them to deny their erroneous Teaching; D. Nield, The Good Friday Problem, showing from Scripture, Astronomy and History that the Crucifixion of Christ took Place on Wednesday, and his Resurrection on Saturday.
6. Churches of God in Christ Jesus, popularly known as the Age-to-come Adventists: These have existed since 1851, when their organ, The Restitution (Plymouth, Ind.), was established, but they were not organized till 1888, when the general conference was formed. They believe in the restoration of Israel, the literal resurrection of the dead, the immortalization of the righteous, and the final destruction of the wicked, eternal life being through Christ alone.
Bibliography: J. P. Weethee, The Coming Age, Chicago, 1884.
The statistics of the Adventists are thus given by H. K. Carroll in The Christian Advocate for Jan. 25, 1906:
|Life and Advent Union||60||28||3,800|
|Church of God||19||29||647|
|Churches of God in Christ Jesus||54||95||2,872|
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