The Midnight Cry
"WHILE the bridegroom tarried, they all
slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh;
go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps." Matt.
In the summer of 1844
Adventists discovered the mistake in their former reckoning of the prophetic periods, and
settled upon the correct position. The 2300 days of Daniel 8:14, which all believed to
extend to the second coming of Christ, had been thought to end in the spring of 1844; but
it was now seen that this period extended to the autumn of the same year, and the minds of
Adventists were fixed upon this point as the time for the Lord's appearing. The
proclamation of this time message was another step in the fulfillment of the parable of
the marriage, whose application to the experience of Adventists had already been clearly
As in the parable the cry was
raised at midnight announcing the approach of the bridegroom, so in the fulfillment,
midway between the spring of 1844, when it was first supposed that the 2300 days would
close, and the autumn of 1844, at which time it was afterward found that they were really
to close, such a cry was raised, in the very words of Scripture: "Behold, the
Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him."
Like a tidal wave the
movement swept over the land. From city to city, from village to village, and into remote
country places it went, until the waiting people of God were fully aroused. Before this
proclamation fanaticism disappeared, like early frost before the rising sun. Believers
once more found their position, and hope and courage animated their hearts.
The work was free from those
extremes which are ever manifested when there is human excitement without the controlling
influence of the Word and Spirit of God. It was similar in character to those seasons of
humiliation and returning unto the Lord which among ancient Israel followed messages of
reproof from His servants. It bore the characteristics which mark the work of God in every
age. There was little ecstatic joy, but rather deep searching of heart, confession of sin,
and forsaking of the world. A preparation to meet the Lord was the burden of agonizing
spirits. There was persevering prayer and unreserved consecration to God.
The midnight cry was not so
much carried by argument, though the Scripture proof was clear and conclusive. There went
with it an impelling power that moved the soul. There was no doubt, no questioning. Upon
the occasion of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the people who were assembled
from all parts of the land to keep the feast, flocked to the Mount of Olives, and as they
joined the throng that were escorting Jesus, they caught the inspiration of the hour and
helped to swell the shout, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord."
Matt. 21:9. In like manner did unbelievers who flocked to the Adventist meetings--some
from curiosity, some merely to ridicule--feel the convincing power attending the message,
"Behold, the Bridegroom cometh!"
At that time there was faith
that brought answers to prayer--faith that had respect to the recompense of reward. Like
showers of rain upon the thirsty earth, the Spirit of grace descended upon the earnest
seekers. Those who expected soon to stand face to face with their Redeemer felt a solemn
joy that was unutterable. The softening, subduing power of the Holy Spirit melted the
heart, as wave after wave of the glory of God swept over the faithful, believing ones.
Carefully and solemnly those
who received the message came up to the time when they hoped to meet their Lord. Every
morning they felt that it was their first duty to secure the evidence of their acceptance
with God. Their hearts were closely united, and they prayed much with and for one another.
They often met together in secluded places to commune with God, and the voice of
intercession ascended to heaven from the fields and groves. The assurance of the Saviour's
approval was more necessary to them than their daily food, and if a cloud darkened their
minds, they did not rest until it was swept away. As they felt the witness of pardoning
grace, they longed to behold Him whom their souls loved.
but Not Forsaken
But again they were destined
to disappointment. The time of expectation passed, and their Saviour did not appear. With
unwavering confidence they had looked forward to His coming, and now they felt as did
Mary, when, coming to the Saviour's tomb and finding it empty, she exclaimed with weeping,
"They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him." John
A feeling of awe, a fear that
the message might be true, had for a time served as a restraint upon the
world. After the passing of the time this did not at once disappear; they dared not
triumph over the disappointed ones, but as no tokens of God's wrath were seen, they
recovered from their fears and resumed their reproach and ridicule. A large class who had
professed to believe in the Lord's soon coming renounced their faith. Some who had been
very confident were so deeply wounded in their pride that they felt like fleeing from the
world. Like Jonah, they complained of God, and chose death rather than life. Those who had
based their faith upon the opinions of others, and not upon the Word of God, were now as
ready to again exchange their views. The scoffers won the weak and cowardly to their
ranks, and all united in declaring that there could be no more fears or expectations now.
The time had passed, the Lord had not come, and the world might remain the same for
thousands of years.
The earnest, sincere
believers had given up all for Christ, and had shared His presence as never before. They
had, as they believed, given their last warning to the world, and, expecting soon to be
received into the society of their divine Master and the heavenly angels, they had, to a
great extent, withdrawn from the unbelieving multitude. With intense desire they had
prayed, "Come, Lord Jesus, and come quickly." But He had not come. And now to
take up again the heavy burden of life's cares and perplexities, and to endure the taunts
and sneers of a scoffing world, was indeed a terrible trial of faith and patience.
Yet this disappointment was
not so great as was that experienced by the disciples at the time of Christ's first
advent. When Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, His followers believed that He was
about to ascend the throne of David and deliver Israel from
her oppressors. With high
hopes and joyful anticipations they vied with one another in showing honor to their King.
Many spread out their garments as a carpet in His path, or strewed before Him the leafy
branches of the palm. In their enthusiastic joy they united in the glad acclaim,
"Hosanna to the Son of David!"
When the Pharisees, disturbed
and angered by this outburst of rejoicing, wished Jesus to rebuke His disciples, He
replied, "If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry
out." Luke 19:40. Prophecy must be fulfilled. The disciples were accomplishing the
purpose of God; yet they were doomed to a bitter disappointment. But a few days had passed
ere they witnessed the Saviour's agonizing death and laid Him in the tomb. Their
expectations had not been realized in a single particular, and their hopes died with
Jesus. Not till their Lord had come forth triumphant from the grave could they perceive
that all had been foretold by prophecy, and "that Christ must needs have suffered,
and risen again from the dead." Acts 17:3. In like manner was prophecy fulfilled in
the first and second angels' messages. They were given at the right time and accomplished
the work which God designed to accomplish by them.
The world had been looking
on, expecting that if the time passed and Christ did not appear, the whole system of
adventism would be given up. But while many, under strong temptation, yielded their faith,
there were some who stood firm. They could detect no error in their reckoning of the
prophetic periods. The ablest of their opponents had not succeeded in overthrowing their
position. True, there had been a failure as to the expected event, but even this could not
shake their faith in the Word of God.
God did not forsake His
people; His Spirit still abode with those who did not rashly deny the light which they had
received, and denounce the advent movement. The apostle Paul, looking down through the
ages, had written words of encouragement and warning for the tried, waiting ones at this
crisis: "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of
reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might
receive the promise. For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will
not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have
no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that
believe to the saving of the soul." Heb. 10:35-39.
Their only safe course was to
cherish the light which they had already received of God, hold fast to His promises, and
continue to search the Scriptures, and patiently wait and watch to receive further light.
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The Ellen G. White Estate, Inc.
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