Bates Discovers The Ultimate Reform

February 3  Bates Discovers The Ultimate Reform


But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in whcih righteousness dwells. 2Peter 3:13, RSV.

Bates first encountered the teaching of Christ's soon return through a local minister. But the idea didn't make much progress in his mind until 1839. In the fall of that year he heard about William Miller's preaching that Christ would come about 1843.

When Bates objected to the idea, someone told him that Miller used a great deal of Scripture to prove his point. Soon Bates attended an Adventst series of meetings and was "very much surprised to learn that any one could show anything about the time of the Saviour's second coming." On the way home from the first lecture he declared, "That is the truth," to his wife.

His next step was to read Miller's Evidence From Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ, About the Year 1843. Bates wholeheartedly accepted Miller's teaching, thus becomeing the first of those who would later become Seventh-day Adventists to embrace and participate in the Millerite Advent movement.

Millerism soon dominated Bates' life, eventually usurping the time that he had previously devoted to social reform. At that point some of his friends asked him why he no longer attended the meetings of the temperance and abolitionist societies. "My reply was," he told them, "that in embarcing the doctrine of the second coming of the Saviour, I found enough to engage my whole time in getting ready for such an event, and aiding others to do the same, and that all who embraced this doctrine would and must necessarily he advocates of temperance and the abolition of slavery."

Bates went on to tell his friends that "much more could be accomplished in working at the fountainhead" of the problem. After all, the vices that the various reform societies sought to eradicate were the product of sinful existence. But Christ's return would result in a "sudden and total obliteration of all evil." Thus Millerism became for Bates "the ultimate reform." He had concluded that "corrupt humanity could not reform corruption." The advent of Christ would be the only real and permanent solution.

From the beginning Bates became a significant leader in Millerism, being one of 16 people who called the first General Conference session in 1840 and chairing the one in May 1842.

Those responsibilities placed him in a position from which he could eventually engineer the rise of Sabbatariam Adventism in the late 1840s.

God directed Bates' life step by step. And He does the same for you and me. Our job is not to run ahead but to follow His leading day by day.

In their ministry the angels are not as servants, but as sons. There is perfect unity between them and their Creator. Obedience is to them no drudgery. Love for God makes their service a joy. So in every soul wherein Christ, the hope of glory, dwells, His words are re-echoed, "I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart." Psalm 40:8(TFMB 109).