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

By Catherine A. Brekus | Go to book overview

Epilogue
Write the Vision

Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

-- Habakkuk 2:2-3

When Christ did not return to earth in 1844 as the Millerites had hoped, the most devout argued that there would be a "tarrying time" of a few more months or years. Even though it seemed as if their millennial dreams had come to nought, many refused to give up hope. "As to my faith, it is increasing every day," H. A. Parks testified in 1845. "The hour of our last and final meeting will soon arrive." Echoing her words, Lauretia Fassett wrote: "To doubt that the righteous will soon realize the promised glory, is impossible. I can as soon doubt my own existence."1 The Great Disappointment was not the end of their pilgrimage, but only a new beginning.

Like Parks and Fassett, many other female preachers continued to hold meetings during the 1840s and 1850s, and they resigned themselves to waiting for both the return of Christ and true equality between the sexes. They believed that only God could elevate women to their rightful place in history, and yet inscrutably, God had decided that their time had not yet come. Even though he had called them to preach the gospel, he had also sent them into a sinful world to be oppressed and rejected. In despair, Harriet Livermore asked, "How long, O Lord, how long, ere woman shall be clothed with the

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