Autobiography of Joseph Bates


     Autobiography of Joseph Bates   - 1868          

Chapter 26 -  pages 287 to 294

The Three Corners - Crowded Meeting - Singing - Universalism - Places for Meeting - Opposition - Dream - Extensive Front Yard - Slaves Ordered to go to the Advent Meeting - Convicted of the Truth - Return Home from Maryland - Visit to some of the Islands of the Sea - First Disappointment in the Second Advent Movement - Waiting for the Vision - Tarrying Time

  On our arrival at the place called "The Three Corners," we feared from its appearance we should have but few hearers. An academy, a tavern, and a Methodist meeting-house in the distance, with a few scattered dwellings, were about all there was to be seen. Our appointment was to commence the meeting that evening. The Methodist trustees refused us the use of their house. We finally obtained the academy for our evening meeting, and put up at the "Universalist tavern," kept by a Mr. Dunbar. A Methodist preacher on this circuit said to us, "I held a meeting in the academy last first-day, and had but eighteen hearers; I suppose your doctrine will call out a few more." Imagine our surprise at the hour of meeting to find the house crowded, so that a great portion of the congregation were perched on top of the seats, looking over each other's heads. We found a place finally to hang up the "'43 chart." Bro. Gurney began to sing one of the favorite Advent hymns, which stilled them into silence, and the meeting continued with deep interest to the close. We then stated our wish to hold four meetings more, and commence the next afternoon, but we had no place open for us. After waiting a moment, our landlord said: "Gentlemen, appoint your meeting at my house." I hesitated, doubting whether it would be proper to appoint an Advent meeting where liquor was vended and drank without restraint. As no other person spoke, I made the appointment at Mr. Dunbar's tavern, the next afternoon! I believe it was two o'clock. After getting to the tavern, Mr. D. came in, followed by a number of ladies, saying: "Gentlemen, these ladies have come to hear you sing more of your new hymns; they are delighted with the singing, and interested about your doctrine."  {1868 JB, AJB 287.1}

  After breakfast next morning, our host began in a very gentlemanly manner to show the inconsistent views of professed Christians, and the beauties of the doctrine of Universalism. In order to relieve us both from long arguments, we told him we had nothing to do with the Universalist doctrine. We had come there to preach the coming of Christ, and we wanted him and his neighbors to get ready. Our conversation closed here, and he went out. After a while he came home, saying, "Well, gentlemen, the Methodist meeting-house is open for you to lecture in. The trustees have had some feeling about refusing you the use of their house. It is now ready for your meeting this afternoon. I did not believe they would let you hold your meetings in my house." {1868 JB, AJB 288.1}

  Soon after our meeting commenced in the afternoon, a well-dressed, intelligent-looking man entered and seated himself near the center of the house, and while I was explaining a passage of scripture from the book of Revelation, he looked at me earnestly and shook his head. I said to the audience, "Here is a gentleman shaking his head. He don't believe." Before I had finished my discourse, and was quoting another passage from the same source, he repeated the operation. I said, "This gentleman is shaking his head again. He does not believe." His countenance changed, and he appeared confused. As Bro. Gurney and myself came down from the pulpit after closing the meeting he pressed his way through the crowd and took my hand, saying, "I want you to go home with me to-night." I thanked him and said, "I would with pleasure, but I have a friend here." Said he, "I want him to go, too, and I want you should bring that chart (pointing to it) with you." Another man pressed us to ride home with him, some two miles, to supper. Said this gentleman, "I'll go, too." He did so.  {1868 JB, AJB 288.2}

  In the evening our congregation was larger, and very attentive. After meeting, our new friend took us into his coach with his wife. Soon after we left, he asked his wife if she remembered the dream that he told her. She said, "Yes." "Well," said he, "these are the two angels that I saw."  Here he began to relate his dream. The following, in substance, is about all I now remember: {1868 JB, AJB 289.1}

  Just previous to our coming to the place, he dreamed of being in company with two angels that were declaring good news, and he remembered particularly how they looked. "Then," said he, "when you spoke about my shaking my head the second time, I looked again. I thought I had seen you. Here my dream came to me, and I knew by your sallow countenances that you were the two persons, and more especially you, because of that mole on your right cheek, which I saw there in my dream."  {1868 JB, AJB 289.2}

  He stepped out and opened his gate, and I thought surely we shall be at the house soon. After a while we learned from him that it was three miles from his front gate to his house! His plantation was large, with a great number of slaves. He was a man of leisure, and had learned from some author peculiar notions about the book of Revelation. This was why he shook his head at my application, because of the opposite views. He and his wife entertained us a good part of the night, and until time for meeting the next afternoon, asking questions about the doctrine of the advent, the chart, etc. When Mr. Hurt's carriage was ready, he apologized for his remissness in not asking us to address his servants (slaves). I felt relieved at this, as I had rather speak to them in the mixed congregation. But as we were getting into the coach, he said to his hostler, who was holding the reins, "Sam" - Harry, or some such name - "do you tell all hands to come to meeting this evening." "Yes, massa." "Don't you forget - ALL OF THEM." "No, massa." This was cheering to us - we wanted them to hear with their master. {1868 JB, AJB 290.1}

  The preceptor of the academy, and Mr. Dunbar, the landlord, were the two great leading Universalists in that section of the country. Both of them had now become interested in this new doctrine. The preceptor closed his school to attend the last afternoon meeting, and came in with three great books under his arm, expecting, I suppose, to confound us in some of our expositions of the prophecies by quotations from the dead languages. He appealed to his books but once, and, failing to prove his point, said no more. From their appearance, I was satisfied that he and Mr. D. were deeply convicted of the truth. As he was lugging home his books after meeting, I said in passing him, "What do you think of the subject now?" Said he, "I will give up." {1868 JB, AJB 290.2}

  In the evening the gallery was crowded with colored people; unquestionably the majority of them were Mr. Hurt's slaves. They listened with marked attention. Any thing that would work deliverance from perpetual bondage was good news to them. The congregation appeared remarkably willing to hear. At the close of the meeting we stated that our appointment had gone forward to Elktown, twenty-five miles north, for us to meet with the people the next evening, and we wished to engage one of their teams to carry us. Mr. Hurt courteously offered to see us there in his private carriage, and engaged us to tarry with him for the night. While waiting for the carriage after meeting, Mr. Dunbar came to us privately to ask if this doctrine was preached at the North, and also in England, and if this was the way Mr. Miller presented it. We answered that it was, only that Mr. Miller set it forth in a superior manner, and in far clearer light than we had ability to do. He walked about seemingly in deep distress. {1868 JB, AJB 291.1}

  Mr. Hurt now rode up, and we passed on with him. He seemed much troubled while he related the experience of himself and wife, and how he had refused to be a class-leader among the Methodists, and regretted that they could not be baptized. On our way in the morning we stopped at the tavern, and when we came out of our room with our baggage to settle our fare, Mr. Dunbar and the preceptor sat in the bar-room, with their {1868 JB, AJB 291.2}  page 292

  Bibles open, listening to Mr. Hurt's dream concerning us, and his faith in the advent doctrine. Mr. Dunbar and the preceptor said they saw the truth as never before, and importuned us to stay and continue our meetings. "Besides," said they, "you are invited to lecture in a town some twelve miles east from this." We replied that our previous appointment at Elktown required us to be there that evening. They then pressed us to return, but as our arrangements were still farther north, we could not comply with their request. {1868 JB, AJB 292.1}

  From this place Mr. Hurt took us in his carriage to Elktown, some twenty-five miles distant, introducing us and the message to his friends on the way. In Elktown also he exerted himself to open the way for our meetings. When parting with us, after praying with him, he said, "I would give all I possess here, if I could feel as I believe you do in this work." We heard no more from him. {1868 JB, AJB 292.2}

We held five meetings in the court house in Elktown. Some professed to believe, and were anxious to hear further, if we could have staid with them longer. From Elktown we took the cars to Philadelphia, and thence to New York city. Here we met with Mr. Miller, who had just returned from Washington, D.C., where he had been to give a course of lectures. At New York we took passage for the east, on board a Long Island steamer, for Fall River, Mass. In the evening, after passing Hurl Gate, we hung up the chart in the center of the passengers' cabin; by the time we had sung an advent hymn, a large company had collected, who began to inquire about the pictures on the chart. We replied, if they would be quietly seated, we would endeavor to explain. After a while they declared themselves ready to hear, and listened attentively for some time, until we were interrupted by an increasing heavy gale from the east, which caused us to bear up for a harbor. In consequence of the violence of the gale, the route of the boat was changed, and the passengers landed on the Connecticut shore, who proceeded in the cars to Boston. The subject of the advent of the Saviour was resumed on board the cars, and continued to be agitated until we separated at the passenger station at Boston. {1868 JB, AJB 292.3}

  Before the passing of the time, we visited some of the islands in the sea, belonging to Massachusetts and Rhode Island, namely, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, and Block Island. Of the ten or twelve thousand inhabitants on these islands, many professed to believe, and united in the advent movement. {1868 JB, AJB 293.1}

  As we came down to the spring of 1844, and approached the long-looked-for time published by Mr. Miller and others, for the closing up of the prophetic periods of Daniel's vision, and coming of our Lord and Saviour, the work became more and more exciting. Probably nothing since the flood, in the days of Noah, has ever equaled it. {1868 JB, AJB 293.2}

  The most difficult point then to settle, was, where in the history of the world the 2300 days commenced. It was finally settled that 457 years before Christ was the only reliable time. Thus the sum of 457 years before Christ, and 1843 full years after Christ, made just 2300 full and complete years. {1868 JB, AJB 293.3}

  Scripture testimony was also clear that every year commenced with the new moon in the spring, just fourteen days before the yearly passover. See Ex.xii,1-6; xiii,3-4. It was therefore settled that the 17th day of April, 1844, Roman time, was the close of the year 1843, Bible time. {1868 JB, AJB 293.4}

The passing of this time was the first disappointment in the advent movement. Those who felt the burden of the message were left in deep trial and anguish of spirit. They were surrounded by those who were exulting with joy because of the failure of their calculation. In this trying time the Scriptures were searched most diligently, to ascertain, if possible, the cause of their disappointment. In the prophecy of Habakkuk were found a few points relative to the vision, which had never been particularly examined before. It reads thus: "For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry."  Hab.ii,2,3. {1868 JB, AJB 294.1}

At this period it was said that there were some fifty thousand believers in this movement in the United States and Canada, who never, until the passing of the time, had realized or understood that there was a tarry or waiting time in the vision. This, and other scriptures of like import, encouraged the tried ones to hold on with unyielding faith. They were often attacked by their opponents with, "What are you going to do now, your time is past? You know you set the time for Christ to come at the termination of the 2300 days of Daniel's vision. Your time is now past, and he has not come; now why don't you confess your mistake, and give it all up?" Ans. "Because the Lord said, 'Wait for it.'" "Wait for what?" ANS. "The vision." "How long?" ANS. "He did not say; but he did say, "WAIT FOR IT; BECAUSE IT WILL SURELY COME.' Give it up, did you say? We dare not!" "Why?" "Because the command of the Lord to his confiding and disappointed people, at this particular point of the second advent movement, was to WAIT."  {1868 JB, AJB 294.2}


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