February 24, 2010

Years 1843-1844 were a Time of Great Expectation Worldwide

Around the world, believers of different faiths -- Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroasrrians, Jews, Christians, Muslims, American Indians – all, expected the coming of a Great World Teacher. Many Christians expected the return of Christ, and these very years --1843-1844-were a time of great expectation. Bible scholars studying independently in different parts of the world had arrived at the same exciting conclusion: This was the time promised for Christ’s return!
"Now is the hour!" was announced from pulpits in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Australia. "Christ may come at any moment," was the message. "Watch, therefore, and pray." The message of Christ's return and the coming of the judgment hour was written in pamphlets and reported in the press. More than a thousand ministers in Great Britain and America alone preached the news. One of these was the eloquent evangelist Harriet Livermore [1], who not only preached throughout the United States, but also at the seat of power -- the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.

Livermore, who was the daughter of a former Congressman, had persuaded the Speaker of the House to allow her to address Congress on more than one occasion. Increasingly her attention had become more focused on her belief in the imminent return of Christ. In 1843, from the Speaker's chair in the House of Representatives, she shared her passion with an estimated crowd of a thousand -- so many that the doors were left open for spectators, who lined up outside the hall and into the street. Harriet Livermore herself would travel five times to Jerusalem, for it was there, she felt, that Christ would appear.

Even so, the greater number of Christians in all these places did not take the message seriously. Most of those who heard the passionate speeches listened with tolerance, then went about their business. Yet the dedicated and faithful made preparations for the Great Event, each in his own way. Many shopkeepers sold their merchandise at reduced prices or gave it away in acts of charity. People sold their possessions to pay off their debts. There were farmers who decided not to plant crops, for they did not expect to see a harvest time.

Some people confessed to crimes they had committed. A woman confessed to murder and wanted to stand trial. A man sent $120 to an insurance company with the note, "The Lord is at hand. This was unlawfully taken from you and I ask forgiveness, for the Lord has given me much."

In the last days before Christ's predicted return, many of the sincere left their jobs and devoted their full energies to spiritual preparation for the time at hand. Some attempted to persuade others to prepare as well, for many were convinced that Christ's return would mean the end of the world.
( Druzelle Cederquist, The Story of Baha’u’llah, Promised One of All Religions)
[1] Harriet Livermore preached to Congress first in January 1827, again in1832 and 1838, and finally in 1843. She was one of at least one hundred women who were evangelical preachers in the early antebellum United States, a group largely forgotten in American history. Most of them did not preach the imminent return of Christ, however, as Livermore did.