Seeking an Opening in Britain
As soon as Dr. Thomas arrived in England he found that news of his intended visit had already reached the Campbellite community in the country, and that efforts were being made to prevent him gaining a hearing in their meeting-places.
He sent a letter to Mr. Wallis, Editor of the British Millennial Harbinger, the recognised Campbellite magazine circulating in Britain, together with a copy of the New York Morning Star containing the notice of his mission.
Dr. Thomas was not altogether unknown to Mr. Wallis. In the past the latter had printed various articles originally published in the Apostolic Advocate in his Millennial Harbinger, so that the Doctor’s name was known to some extent by the readers of the latter magazine. Later, when Alexander Campbell repudiated Dr. Thomas and his teachings, Mr. Wallis ceased to reprint anything from the Advocate or the Herald.
In view of the past association Dr. Thomas was surprised to find in the July issue of Mr. Wallis’ magazine the following notice.
“Mr. John Thomas. —We have heard through the medium of some of the Second Advent proclaimers that Mr. John Thomas, M.D., from Richmond, Virginia, is on his way to England, if he has not already landed. We feel justified in stating to the brethren, and to our readers, that Mr. Thomas, in his magazine, some time ago, publicly abjured all connection with the Churches of the Reformation in the United States, more especially with brother Campbell and his associates. He not only renounced what he had learned from them, but also what he taught whilst among them, as being altogether erroneous. He has also been re-baptised, or baptised for the first time, into what he calls the hope of Israel; so that he has discovered not only that the baptism of all others of our brethren is faulty, but that his own also which he received some years ago from the hands of brother Walter Scott, and for which he has pleaded so strenuously, has no foundation in truth.”
“What is the express object of Mr. Thomas in visiting this country, we do not know. In his writings, he still appears very confident of the non-resurrection of infants, idiots, and heathens; and, at the same time, he is shortly expecting (he says within twenty years) the coming of the Lord Jesus, to set up the everlasting kingdom, the seat of government in the land of Palestine, for at least one thousand years, introductory, as we suppose, to that glorious and eternal rest which remains for the people of God. With these views and feelings, we conclude that Mr. Thomas is coming to England to lift up his warning voice, that a people may be prepared for the thousand years’ glorious and triumphant reign of Messiah with his resurrected saints, which is the true hope of Israel. But we may be mistaken in this supposition as to the object of his visit. He has friends residing in London, and it may be only a friendly visit on family matters.”
“Be that as it may, the Second Advent brethren—or those who believe in the personal, literal, visible reign of Christ for a thousand years in this world—are anticipating a high treat on the occasion. Now, we ask, as none of our brethren emigrating to America are received into the fellowship of the churches there without a well-attested recommendation from brethren in this country, ought not the same principle to be adopted in reference to all parties coming from America to this country? —J.W.”
In reply to this note the Doctor transmitted to Mr. Wallis the following letter of introduction from a New York Campbellite brother: -
“217, Spring Street, N.Y., May 30th, 1848
“Beloved Brother Wallis, —Before repairing to our house, No. 80, Green Street, to hear him once more, I cannot rob myself of the honour of writing you a word by which to introduce to your personal acquaintance and Christian courtesies, our very highly esteemed brother, Dr. John Thomas, Richmond, Virginia, United States. He is on a tour through England and Scotland to proclaim, at his own charge if necessary, in this fearful crisis of the world’s history, the ‘gospel of the kingdom.’ In submitting to the divine injunction, ‘prove all things, hold fast that which is good,’ I am sure you will procure a hearing for him, and if so you will have the riches of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms laid before you, and all made to enhance the glory of Christ whom you love, and to adorn the everlasting kingdom over which he must quickly descend to take possession, and to reign in with all his saints gloriously. Receive him kindly, brother Wallis, and you will prove him to be both a Christian and a gentleman, conflicting testimony to the contrary notwithstanding. Accept my own and Sarah’s Christian love, all of you, and oblige yours in the hope of incorruptibility when Christ comes.
J. & S. Beadman.”
In answer to this, the Doctor received the following letter: -
“Nottingham, July 5th, 1848.
“Dear Sir, —The letter of introduction given to you by our much esteemed brother Beadman, of New York, with the announcement of your address in the city of London, was duly received yesterday morning. In the evening of the same day they were both read, and made the subject of consideration by the brethren assembled for worship in Barker Gate Meeting-house in this town.
While the brethren all felt desirous of manifesting proper respect for the letter sent by brother Beadman, who some years ago emigrated from us to the United States, yet from certain facts known to them, they could not but deeply regret that you had abjured all connection with, and even avowed open hostility to those whom we consider to be the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ in the United States, renouncing most if not all you had learnt whilst among them as being altogether erroneous and vain.
With these facts before us—while we desire not to exercise any power of control over any man in carrying out his conviction of truth before God—it was nevertheless deemed by the brethren present, including all the officers of the church, to be inexpedient and improper on our part, either to invite you to Nottingham, or in any way to lend you our influence in furthering the object of your visit to this country.
We remain, dear sir, on behalf of the church, your well-wishers,
“To Mr. John Thomas.”
To this Dr. Thomas answered as follows: -
“3, Brudnel Place, New North Road, Hoxton, July 8th, 1848,
A.M. 5934—true A.D. 1844.
“To the congregation assembled at Barker Gate Meeting house, represented by Messrs. J. Wallis, Jonathan Hine, Henry Meekly, William Powers, and William Marriott,
“Greeting. —A communication of an epistolary character signed by the gentlemen above recited, ‘on behalf of the congregation,’ is before me. When I look at it, it creates in me no little astonishment. I did not write to the Barker Gate congregation; why then does it address me thus? I forwarded to Mr. Jas. Wallis and Mr. Jonathan Hine letters of introduction from a mutual friend, and behold here is an epistle, signed by six persons, of an accusative, judicial, and repudiative nature. Is this the way letters of introduction to individuals are disposed of in these realms? I have a letter of introduction to Dr. Adler, the Chief Rabbi of England. Will it be submitted to the Synagogue of the Jews before I am admitted to personal civilities, and the urbanities of life? If this be indeed a custom which has grown up in my fatherland since I left it, I humbly conceive that it is one ‘more honoured in the breach than in its observance.’ But from this marvellous breach of etiquette, so unique in all its phases, let us turn our attention to the no less incongruous epistle before us: ‘Representatives of the Congregation’; Since, then, you have undertaken to address me thus, I proceed to remark that the things you state as ‘facts before you’ are nothing more than inferences, either yours or those of persons inimical to what I believe and teach. I have, indeed, ‘abjured’ all connection with, and avowed open hostilities to, those whom you consider to be the disciples of the lord Jesus Christ in the United States! You have no proof of this, unless you regard Alexander Campbell as the incarnation of ‘the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ in the United States!’ The evidence is against your supposed ‘facts’ in the very introductory letters submitted to the congregation by Messrs. Wallis and Hine! In your congregational epistle you speak of my friend as ‘our esteemed brother James Beadman,’ to whose letter ‘the brethren all felt desirous of manifesting proper respect.’ The sentiments expressed in his letter, not to your congregation, but to Messrs. Wallis and Hine, show that I am not in ‘open hostility’ to him, whom you style your ‘esteemed brother.’ On the contrary, he is a member of ‘the Disciples’ Church,’ 80, Green Street, New York, where I spoke on the night but one previous to my leaving that city for this country, and on which occasion two persons came forward and were immersed in their baptistery. Do you not esteem or ‘consider’ the New York ‘Disciples’ Church’ disciples? I believe you do, for they are orthodox at Bethany. Now the majority of that congregation, without its being suggested by me, offered me the use of their house that I might address them, which for their sakes I accepted. Is this evidence that ‘I have abjured all connection with’ those you call your brethren? Ought you not to acquaint yourselves with the real facts before you jump to conclusions by which you create ‘facts,’ and by your resolves founded upon these suppositious premises, cut yourselves off from the knowledge of things which might establish you in that ‘full assurance of hope’ which is the rarest community of these latter days.”
“Another of your ‘facts’ is that I had renounced all I had learned and taught whilst among the reformers, as altogether vain and erroneous. This is utterly untrue. While I was ‘among them,’ as you say, I learned from the word the things I now hold, and which have substantially appeared in the Christian Messenger, edited by Mr. J. Wallis, and continued to be published there with approval by him and many others in this country, until, as I have been informed, the monied aristocracy of the party in this region put their veto upon them. Emigrants to the United States possessed me of this solution of the problem of the sudden stop put to the publication in the Messenger of anything from my pen.”
“I still teach what I have taught for years, though I admit that I did not see that some of the things taught belonged to the faith which justifies. Must a man never progress? If he discovers an error in his premises, must he for ever hold to it for the sake of consistency? May such a calamity never befall me! Rather let me change every day, till I get right at last.”
“Will you judge a man after the fashion of the Inquisition—by the reports of his enemies? Does your conscience or the word teach you to hear only one side of a case before you give your verdict? If such be your practice, I thank God that your justice and morality are not mine. But I hope better things of you, though at present you seem under a cloud. That you may judge whether I have renounced all, &c., I will just state in brief what I teach, that I may henceforth also leave you without excuse, if you repeat so unfounded a statement:
“I. —I believe and teach that the Scriptures of the prophets and apostles are able of themselves to make men wise unto salvation, and that whatever is not according to these ought not to be received. There is nothing which can be shown to be taught here, but what I do and will receive it with all my heart.”
“II. —I believe the promises made to the fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in their literal or grammatical import, and in the everlasting covenant made with David.”
“III. —I believe in that kingdom spoken of by Daniel and the prophets, which will soon be set up by the God of Heaven upon the ruins of all states and empires.”
“IV. —I believe that the Son of Man is to possess this kingdom and the dominion of the globe, but that he was first to be a sufferer, become obedient unto death, rise from among the dead, lead captivity captive, sit at the right hand of the Ancient of Days until the time comes to set up the kingdom; then come in power and great glory to rule men justly in the fear of the Lord.”
“V. —I believe that Jesus of Nazareth is this prophetic sufferer and glorious king of men; the Son and anointed one of God, and the great captain designed to lead many sons to glory.”
“VI. —I believe that the gospel comprehends the things concerning this promised kingdom, AND, not or, but and the things concerning the name of Jesus Christ.”
“VII. —I believe that the obedience of the gospel consists in a believer of the things indicated in No. 6, being immersed into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that in submitting himself to this act of faith, his faith, like Abraham’s, is counted to him for righteousness, or remission of past sins. This I understand to be baptism for the remission of sins.”
“VIII. —I believe that man is a sinner by constitution and by practice, and by both entitled only to the good and evil of the present state, to death and corruption.”
“IX. —I believe that glory, honour, incorruptibility, and life are attributes of the kingdom of God, and not of the kingdom of God, and not of sinful flesh, and that whosoever is accounted worthy of the kingdom will receive them. Hence they are set before us as matters of hope, and recompense of reward.”
“X. —I believe that the promises are a part of the faith that justifies the obedient, as it is written, ‘through the knowledge . . . are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that BY THESE ye might be partakers of the DIVINE NATURE.’ To obtain the kingdom a man must be a partaker of the divine nature, or he cannot share with the model of that nature—even Jesus, in the inheritance. One of the distinguishing features of this nature is justice. ‘Why do ye not of yourselves judge that which is right?’
“XI. —I believe in the resurrection of the righteous to possess the kingdom; and of the unrighteous, . . . to judgment, &c.”
“XII. —I believe that Jesus will come soon, in propria persona, to the salvation of those ‘who look for him,’ and to raise his saints, and to ‘take away the dominion’ of the nations from their present rulers.”
“XIII. —I believe the saints shall rule the world for 1,000 years.”
“XIV. —I believe more about the present eventful times that I can write now.”
“XV. —I believe in that repentance which results from the belief of the exceeding great and precious promises, which is essentially the disposition of the fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and known by the fruit of the spirit—that it is the goodness of God, and not terror, that leads men to repentance.”
“XVI. —I believe it is the duty and privilege of the faithful to ‘contend earnestly for the faith originally delivered to the saints’; to meet every first day to break bread, for mutual edification, &c.; and that the apostolic churches had a plurality of elders, &c.”
“These things I believe and teach as the doctrines of the word. If you can prove from that word that a single
item is not there, I will renounce it. If I can prove them, will you be equally candid and receive them. If you say we do believe them, then between you and me, at least, there is no controversy. We must, therefore, be agreed. But woe to you if we do not agree, and you forbear to cooperate in their advocacy, from fear of man on this or the farther side of the Atlantic ocean. Remember that, ‘the fearful’ are classed among the ‘abominable,’ and therefore as certain to be excluded from the kingdom as ‘the unbelieving’.”
In the fifth number of the British Millennial Harbinger there is a notice concerning certain ‘Evangelists’ expected from America. In that notice the editor says”:
“ ‘We fear the present state of the country—the dread of fever, cholera, &c., together with the prosperity of the cause in the United States (! ! !) will prevent many from undertaking the benevolent enterprise for the present year. Still in this conjecture we may be mistaken’!”
“Among the ‘items of news’ one says: -
“ ‘I herewith send you an order for 10 pounds, being the contribution of the congregation in this place to the fund for supporting an evangelist; and hope one will soon be obtained, with spirit and wisdom, to go forth publishing the glorious gospel of the blessed God. Have you heard anything certain as to who is to come from America for this good work’?”
“Again, another says: -
“ ‘What of the evangelist from America? Our brethren from various districts are calling for us to visit them, and they are in hopes of good being done where one or two set apart to the preaching of the Word’.”
“And still another says: -
“ ‘I trust we shall soon hear of brother Campbell finding an evangelist or two, who will come over and help us in this country. We are doing nothing here, nor can we get any to help us in the work’.”
“From these extracts, put into my hands by ‘our esteemed brother Beadman,’ before I left the States, there seems to be a general wish for someone to come over and help you. Are these Macedonian cries mere party invitations and sighs? Or is there a sincere desire to have THE WORD preached? If the latter, the question will not be who preaches, but what is preached. The state of Europe (for I am now going to France), the state of England, the dread of fever or cholera, have not deterred me from coming over expressly to offer you the truth without stipulated fee or reward. Though I pretend not to be an ‘evangelist’ (a believer of the gospel of the kingdom, inspired and attested by the Spirit, and not only a bearer of the good message, but a worker of miracles and an ordainer of elders), but simply an expounder and teacher of the Word; I believe I can give an impulse to things in England, if I can obtain a hearing, which American ‘evangelists’ cannot, because they do not study, and therefore, do not understand the Prophets, which they treat as an old almanack, and fit only for Jews. Excuse me for saying this much concerning myself; Paul said much more when his claims were disputed by those who sought popular favour at his expense.”
“Perceiving the lifeless condition in which you are in England, though surrounded by such stirring scenes, my ‘benevolence’ was aroused in your behalf; and without begging or borrowing, milking the goats or fleecing the sheep on vain pretences, but by means of my slender resources, I have encountered all the hazards by which American ‘evangelists’ are supposed to be deterred, to arouse you to spiritual consciousness and to show you more of the Lord’s mind and will than I am persuaded you are acquainted with. I come not to dispute with you, but to teach you, if indeed you are teachable; nor to convert ‘Campbellism,’ unless you force it upon me; nor to justify myself, unless you compel me—I come to urge upon you the truth, for its own sake, stripped of all the meretricious appendages thrown around it by the folly and imbecility of partisans. But alas! Thus far you ‘judge yourselves unworthy’ of this ‘labour of love and work of faith.’ How unwise in every point of view. Do you think you can bind the Word of the kingdom because you approve not the speaker? Are you not aware that God has often put men to the proof by employing instruments unpalatable to them? Should I speak to you the truth and you receive it, certain sure should we be that you received it not for my sake; but we could not be so sure of this if one spoke to you in whom you delight. Well, my friends, if you persist in shutting your doors and closing your eyes and ears, who, I pray you, will be the loser? It will be you alone. I shall save my time, labour, money, and mental tranquillity. I ask you for nothing. I go not on the Americo-evangelical principle now becoming a sine qua non of ‘no pay no preach.’ I inquire not the state of your funds. I am entitled to nothing, except so far as the truth I unfold thaws the heart of the receiver. I expect only tribulation; if I am assisted with temporalities, it is more than I reckon upon in these evil days. I believe that ‘the labourer is worthy of his hire,’ but he must first work for the Lord; ‘he that preacheth the gospel must live of the gospel,’ but he must first preach; ‘thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn,’ but he must first tread before he can eat. I believe and feel that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive.’ What then do you fear? Do you fear God? Then you will ‘prove all things and hold fast that which is good.’ Do you fear man? Then you either fear me, a faction in England, or a man in America; if so, then you will, as you say, deem it inexpedient and improper on your part either to invite me to Nottingham or in any way lend me your influence in furthering the object of my visit to this country, which object is, as stated in the New York Morning Star, sent to Messrs. Wallis and Hine, ‘to invite public attention to European affairs, as evidential of the near approach of the kingdom of God’.”
“In conclusion, I have replied to your uninvited congregational epistle faithfully and candidly. I have spoken plainly in the spirit of truth, not intending to offend you; I trust, therefore, that you will receive it with equanimity. I know that the soft and honeyed words of ceremony which are generally thrown around truth to make it palatable, and to conceal oftentimes the real animus of the writer, and to gain for him the undeserved credit of ‘speaking the truth in love’—I know, I say, that these might sound, and perhaps be more agreeable; but I confess to you that I am not adept at flattery and circumlocution. I endeavour to speak and write so as to be fully understood, and desire to be judged not by the sycophancy of a fawning speech, which I despise, but by the sterling matter of the discourse.”
“I have sent you a pamphlet on ‘The Hope of the World and the Hope of Israel.’ If you can find any flaw in the argument, I should like to know it; if you cannot, then like honest men circulate it as wide as your means will enable you. Time is short. The day for trifling is past. Popular favour or the kingdom of God is the alternative. Who can hesitate which to choose?”
“I have much more to say to you, but cannot say it now. Do with this letter what you please, provided only that you do not use it as the clergy do the Bible.”
“In the hope that you may enter the kingdom of God by a resurrection or transformation when the Lord comes, I subscribe myself,
Your servant for the truth’s sake,
“ADDENDA. —Since the above was written, the July British Millennial Harbinger has been put into my hand, by brother King of Camden Town. I perceive that your epistle is a transcript in part of a notice concerning me on the cover of the magazine. Jesus styled Herod ‘a fox,’ which you know is a very cunning little animal. If foxes could handle the pen, I should say a fox had written it. Its manifest design is to forestall public opinion by creating a determination not to hear what I have to say, lest it should be discovered that all wisdom, knowledge, and truth are not yet incorporated in ‘this reformation.’ This ruse, however, will fail to accomplish its design. It may influence the partisans of A. Campbell in this country; but, I feel persuaded it will have no influence on those whom the truth has freed. The writer, after the fashion of American reformers, sneers at the idea of ‘the hope of Israel,’ saying: ‘He (Dr. Thomas) has been re-baptised, or baptised for the first time, into what he calls the hope of Israel’; but, instead of sneering at Israel’s hope, he would rejoice in it with joy unspeakable and feel highly honoured to suffer reproach for it, if he understood it, and found it ‘expedient’ honestly to avow it. As Paul sent for the elders of the Roman synagogue to speak to them about the hope of Israel, so I wish to speak to you about it likewise. The writer of the notice, I suppose, would read Acts 28:20, after his own style, thus: ‘For this cause, therefore, Paul called for them, to see them, and to speak with them; because that for the hope of Israel, as he calls it, he was bound with a chain!’ Thus he treads the pearls of the gospel casket under his feet.”
“I have the honour to confess that, in this faithless age, I have been immersed into the faith of the hope of Israel, which was not the case when immersed by Mr. Scott. If my memory serves me aright, I think I heard that the writer had himself been re-immersed, for some reason, and from his letters to me, I know, unless my mind has become a blank, he was once in favour of re-immersion. I presume he was so, because he also ‘had discovered that the baptism of his brethren was faulty,’ &c. But he appears to have fallen from his steadfastness in more points than one. Like the old craftsmen of Ephesus, he raises a party cry, such as ‘Infants, idiots, and heathens, brethren, they do rise again.’ This is a mere ad captandum vulgus; an appeal to female weakness and popular superstition, which is highly discreditable to a man of intellect and honesty, and who pretends to advocate a candid and dignified investigation of the truth. Why did he drag in this shibboleth by the horns? Certainly, for no honourable purpose, for he must have sense enough to know that, whether they rise or not, is entirely extra to the main question: immortality an attribute of the kingdom of God. But he errs ignorantly or wilfully. I do not say that no heathen will rise again; but that the Scriptures positively declare that SOME of them ‘SHALL NOT RISE.’ He has not stated correctly my view of ‘the true hope of Israel,’ as revealed in the word. I am sorry he undertakes to write upon things he does not comprehend. Wisdom dwells with prudence, not with cunning. A man should first hear, learn as a little child, and when master of the divine science of the truth, speak. This is the wisdom of prudence. “Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath’; but this gentleman ‘rushes a-head’ blindly, and speaks before he knows the matter, to his own confusion, as he will find if he do not take care.”
“This article before me is concluded with a dark insinuation against character. This is quite in keeping with American policy, political and ecclesiastical. A man, be he who he may, whose model is A. Campbell, will not fail to wind up by exciting suspicion against the character of an opponent whose arguments are too strong for him. What do you call ‘well attested recommendation?’ Are not the two letters from ‘your esteemed brother Beadman’ good attestations? I have more letters with me than I expect to use. But, perhaps I am expected to produce ‘well attested recommendations’ from ‘A. Campbell and his associates,’ who have compassed sea and land to create such a prejudice against me as will secure them from appearing before the public in their true colours. As well might Jesus and his apostles and their brethren be expected to produce attestations from the Scribes and Pharisees. Paul’s epistle known and read of all, were the brethren who received him; and mine are those hundreds of reformers in the United States who condemn ‘A. Campbell and his associates’ for their proscriptive and slanderous proceedings.”
“The congregation in London is satisfied with my attestations. I worshipped at the table they surrounded last Lord’s day morning; and they heard me gladly (for so many declared, and some ‘wished brother Wallis had been there’) at half-past six in the evening. I speak there again next Lord’s day eve. What action do you propose in view of these premisses?
This letter was sent by the Doctor to the last of the six who signed the Barkergate epistle. The Doctor sent it to him in consequence of hearing that he was favourably disposed towards the doctrines for which Dr. Thomas stood, and because he was afraid that if he sent it to Mr. Wallis it might be suppressed. Mr. Marriott, however, supposing each of the six subscribers to the said epistle had received a copy of the Doctor’s reply, held the communication as personal to himself, and instead of communicating it to the Campbellite congregation at Barker Street, sent it to the Millerite church at New Radford, with whom the Campbellites had been on terms of cooperation, but who were now somewhat estranged. This Millerite church had been hurt at the notice of the Doctor’s coming, which appeared on the cover of the British Millennial Harbinger, and were only waiting an opportunity to open the door which the Campbellites were so anxious to keep closed. The letter, sent to Marriott, and by him submitted to them, gave them the opportunity, and evoked the following epistle: -
New Basford, Near Nottingham, July 17th, 1848.
“Dear Brother Thomas. —Although to us personally a stranger, yet we address you as a brother in the Lord, to congratulate you upon your safe arrival in this country, to express to you the interest we take in the object of your mission, and our wish for your success in the cause of truth.”
“We have observed with feelings of regret and dissatisfaction a notice put forth upon the cover of the British Millennial Harbinger for July; the object of which seems to be to throw discredit upon your mission to this country, and thus to impede the benevolent object you have in view. We think it our duty to address you to express our sympathy towards you on this trying occasion, and to assure you that the sentiments expressed in that most unchristian-like document by no means represent the feelings and wishes of the great body of believers here.”
“We say unchristian-like, because the very reasons assigned for the refusal to receive you into the fellowship are founded upon an anti-christian principle. The great founder of Christianity taught us to ‘resist not evil.’ We have in this notice an accusation made against the brethren in America, ‘that none of the brethren emigrating to America are received into the fellowship of the churches there without a well-attested recommendation,’ and in the spirit of retaliation, the question is asked ‘Ought not the same principle to be adopted in reference to all parties coming from America to this country’?”
“We ask not whether the charge made against the brethren in America is founded upon facts or not; we assume that it is as stated, and find even in that case that the principle adopted is not a Christian one, but utterly at variance with the precept taught by the Lord, ‘Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you’.”
“J. Wallis states further that the ‘Second Advent brethren, or those who believe in the personal, literal, visible reign of Christ for 1,000 years in this world, are anticipating a high treat on the occasion of’ your visit. This is true, and he might have added with equal truth, that a great body of the ‘New Testament disciples’ anticipated this treat also. Now in order that we and they may not be disappointed, we have unanimously agreed to offer you the use of our Hall of worship at any time you may make it convenient to visit Nottingham. We have accommodation for 300 to 400; and we might, if it were deemed necessary, perhaps be able to obtain the use of some larger place. Our chapel is situated at New Radford, about ten minutes’ walk from the centre of the town of Nottingham. Our society is not composed of the rich and influential—according to the world’s estimation—but we are united, and waiting the speedy fulfilment of the promises made to the fathers, and rejoice in the hope of Israel. There is an earnest desire on the part of the brethren to see and hear one who holds the like views and entertains the same hope as themselves; and although it may not be in their power to extend to you that accommodation they could wish, yet they are ready and willing to receive you as a brother—to give you encouragement and God speed in your labour of love, and to contribute in temporalities in so far as the Lord may enable them.”
“That the Lord may direct your course and uphold and strengthen you in the cause of truth, is our earnest prayer. Believe me, dear brother, yours in the blessed hope, on behalf of the Advent brethren, —
D. Widdowson, Secretary.”
In a postscript to this letter the beliefs of the New Radford church were given; they included the promises to Abraham, to be fulfilled at the resurrection, at the appearing of Christ, the millennial reign of Jesus and the saints.
“Thus,” says Dr. Thomas, “from an unexpected and unknown source, a door of utterance was opened to us in ‘the Jerusalem of this Reformation’ in Britain, even in Nottingham, where it was ‘deemed inexpedient and improper’ by the Simon Pures of that town for us to receive an invitation to visit. The invitation, however, came, and we accepted it, promising to deliver our first discourse at the Second Advent Meeting House on Lord’s Day morning, July 30th, 1848.”
The following letters will show how his introduction to Nottingham opened the way for visits to Derby, Lincoln, Birmingham, and Plymouth.
“New Basford, near Nottingham, July 24th, 1848.
“Dear Brother, —I have received your kind letter announcing your intention to be here on the 29th, which was received with joy by the church yesterday.”
“I now hasten to inform you of the arrangements which have been made thus far.”
“We have, in the first place, arranged that you should take up your abode at my house during your stay here: it is a short distance from the town, but it may not be the less agreeable on that account.”
“It was announced yesterday that you would preach at the chapel in Denman Street, New Radford, on Sunday, 30th instant, morning and evening. Further arrangements for the ensuing week will be made this evening. We have communicated with the brethren at Derby, Lincoln, and Birmingham, stating that you are intending to pay us a visit. If you have a desire to go to the places, openings may be made for you; also Plymouth; but this must be decided according to your own arrangement when here.”
“Have the kindness to write in the course of this week, stating at what hour on Saturday you will arrive at Nottingham Station, and I, or some of the brethren will meet you at the train. That you may know us, one of us will hold in his hand one of your papers on the Sisterhood of Nations. If perchance we miss you, please enquire for brother Grimshaw, superintendent of the Goods Department at the station, Nottingham: his house is near the station.”
“Some of the brethren are desirous to obtain the copies of the article you enclosed to me. Have the goodness to enclose three or four in your next letter. Should there be any other communication of importance, I will write to you again.
Yours faithfully, D. Widdowson.”
“New Basford, Near Nottingham, July 25th, 1848.
“Dear Brother, —After writing the note enclosed herewith, I thought the delay of a post would not in that case be of much importance, and delayed sending until after the evening meeting, as there might probably be somewhat more to communicate.”
“One of our brethren had made application for the use of the Chapel in Barker Gate during the week-day evenings, being more commodious than our own. Mr. Jas. Wallis attended last night to state that it could not be granted, consequently thus far, the arrangements for your speaking remain as stated in my note of yesterday. Mr. Wallis also informed us that a letter which had been written by you to the church in Barker Gate had not been received by them until yesterday; that numerous letters had been received by him from other churches, in various parts of the country, requesting to know what steps the society in Barker Gate intended to take in reference to you; that answers had been returned, stating ‘that no answer had been received by them to the communication made to you; that seeing that the matter stood in so awkward a position, Mr. Wallis requested us to explain to you, when you came here, how the circumstances happened.’ I do so now (briefly) in order that you may have a correct understanding of what has occurred.”
“It appears that the answer you returned to the church in Barker Gate was enclosed with a pamphlet to one of their deacons (Mr. Marriott), he (as I suppose) thinking that each of his brethren had received one likewise, held it as a communication to himself personally, and used it accordingly. It was handed by him to one of our brethren for perusal, and also to others, and was also sent to Lincoln (the church in Barker Gate being all this time unconscious that any letter had been sent by you to them).”
“Thus the matter stands. I have stated it briefly, and, as I believe, strictly correct.”
“The Millennial Harbinger is on the eve of publication, and in it are some articles (as I understand Mr. Wallis) in reference to your visit to this country, and your communication with him (Mr. W.) or the society with which he stands connected. Perhaps without the aid of the information I have now given you, what may be published in the Harbinger might not be properly understood. Waiting your arrival here, I remain, yours faithfully,
Something more may be said about the adventures of the letter Dr. Thomas addressed to Mr. Marriott. Marriott sent it to the Millerite church, which transmitted it to the church at Lincoln. It finally found its way to Mr. Wallis, dirty, worn and torn like an old newspaper. Wallis seems to have been in a quandary at its strange adventures. His troubles, however, were not over when he received the tattered and torn letter. A few days after, a portion of it was published in the August number of the Gospel Banner. This was sent to Dr. Thomas in London, by which he became aware of the existence of such a paper in Britain. His surprise at seeing a part of the reply to the letter in print, was as great as Mr. Wallis’s at its meanderings for sixteen days between London and Nottingham. He could not unriddle the affair, but waited until a solution should turn up in the course of events. Everything seemed to have worked together happily for the promotion of his purposes. The Gospel Banner might be useful.
The Millerites originated about 1830 consequent on a William Miller preaching on the Second Coming of Christ, which, he said, would take place in 1843. When that date passed the body taught that the event was near, but that the exact date was an open matter. Later the Millerites became divided, the principal section being known today as Seventh Day Adventists.
Berean Home Page