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Entored according to Act of Congress, in the year 1840, by Thomas WHITTEMORE, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
These sermons are published in the hope, that they may enlighten the community in regard to the important subjects which are therein discussed. William Miller was invited to deliver his lectures in the Baptist Meeringhouse in Cambridgeport; and many efforts were made to get up an excitement, miscalled a revival of religion. Several very respectable citizens of that peaceful village, entirely disapproving the course of those who had introduced Mr. Miller into the place, and wishing to defend the sacred Scriptures against his manifest perversions, so fatally calculated to turn the Bible into ridicule, and lead men into infidelity, invited the Rev. 0. A. Skinner to prepare and deliver these discourses in that place; and subsequently obtained the use of the Universalist Chapel for that purpose. Mr. Skinner reluctantly consented to discharge this duty, thinking it a poor compliment to the
good sense of community, to judge any formal refutation of so absurd a theory to be necessary But it was urged upon his consideration, that much injurious excitement had been already produced ; and that men, who, in themselves, are deserving of no attention at all, may be made worthy of it, when those who profess to be the pastors and guides of the flock, make use of them as tools to accomplish sectarian purposes. For these reasons, and these alone, this work is now given to the public. We hope it will be read, not with an idle curiosity, but with a sincere desire to know what the word of God says on the subject of the coming of Christ, and its attendant events. These lectures will be found to cover all the principal ground of Mr. Miller's theory ; and they are sent out with the ardent prayer, that they may be instrumental of much good.
MILLER'S THEORY EXPLODED.
CHRIST'S COMING AT THE DESTRUCTION OF
" Therefore, be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh.” Matt. xxiv. 44.
In the short series of Lectures, which I have been requested to deliver in this place, I am to consider the theory which has recently been advocated among you, respecting the destruction of the world in the year 1843. This theory, though entirely without foundation, and fraught with the greatest absurdities, has produced much excitement wherever it has been promulgated.
And it is this circumstance, that has induced me to comply with the invitation I have received, to reply to some of the leading arguments on which it is established. What may be in itself considered wholly unworthy of notice, may demand our immediate and special attention, in consequence of the injury it is doing, and the dangerous excitement it is creating. An ignorant, superstitious nurse may, by her marvellous stories, produce the greatest possible terror and alarm among a family of children, and not only render them deeply wretched, but unfit for either duty or study. In such a case, no judicious and reflecting
parent would say, “ The nurse is unworthy of notice, and the stories are absurdly false and ridiculous.” No; he would look at his children, at their unhappy condition, and at the tendency of the stories they had heard to make them the slaves of superstition; and thus he would be led to embrace the earliest opportunity to correct their errors and remove their fears.
It is the same with regard to the theory about the destruction of the world, A. D. 1843. Very many have been greatly moved by it; terror has been spread over many portions of the community; it does not become us, therefore, to stand still and say, It is an absurd notion, and advocated by a man who is either artful and designing, or wild and superstitious; we are to look at what it is doing, and estimate its claims to notice accordingly. For aught we know, it may yet produce an incalculable degree of mischief. A warning voice comes down to us from the past, bidding us to beware. History informs us, that many have risen up in different ages, who have advocated the immediate destruction of the world. And all these have had their followers ; all these have deluded many. In some cases, people have been so affected, as to forsake their business, abandon their several employments, and leave their families unprovided with the necessaries of life. In others, ihey have sold their possessions, and given up all to the church; hoping, thereby, to secure the salvation of their souls. Hence, it would be no new thing, if some who receive this theory should forsake their employments, abandon their houses and lands, and give themselves up to excitement and fear; to what they would call a preparation for