Strangers & Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740-1845

By Catherine A. Brekus | Go to book overview

8
Your Sons and Daughters Shall Prophesy Female Preaching in the Millerite Movement

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit.-- Joel 2:28-29 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bride- groom cometh; go ye out to meet him.-- Matthew 25:6

On a summer night in June of 1842, Olive Maria Rice sat listening to a sermon by William Miller, a Baptist clergyman who had recently become famous for his apocalyptic predictions. As he quoted verse after verse from the books of Daniel and Revelation, she paged through her Bible in shock and exhilaration. Could his interpretation possibly be true? In a moment as climactic as her experience of conversion, she suddenly realized that all of the Bible's prophetic books pointed to the same extraordinary conclusion: God would destroy the world in 1843. Looking around the crowded church, Rice shuddered to think that all of the people assembled for worship that evening were truly living in the end times, the last months or days before the "midnight cry." Christ the Savior--the "Alpha and Omega, the be inning and the end"--would soon bring the cycle of history to a terrifying completion. 1

Rice left that meeting with a new sense of divine calling. As a member of the

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