Thus it happened that, because Harkness housed him in the hope of working upon Eliza, and because Trenholme happened to have had a brother at Turrifs Station, the strange old preacher found a longer resting place and a more attentive hearing in the village of Chellaston than he would have been likely to find elsewhere.
There was in Chellaston a very small and poor congregation of the sect called Adventists. The sect was founded by one Miller, a native of New York State, a great preacher and godly man, who, from study of prophecy, became convinced that the Second Coming of the Lord would take place in the year 1843. He obtained a large following; and when the time passed and his expectation was not fulfilled, this body, instead of melting away, became gradually greater, and developed into a numerous and rather influential sect. In the year of Miller’s prediction, 1843, there had been among his followers great excitement, awe and expectation; and the set time passed, and the prediction had no apparent fulfilment, but lay to every one’s sight, like a feeble writing upon the sands of fantasy, soon effaced by the ever flowing tide of natural law and orderly progression. Now, that this was the case and that yet this body of believers did not diminish but increased, did not become demoralised but grew in moral strength, did not lose faith but continued to cherish a more ardent hope and daily expectation of the Divine appearing, is no doubt due to the working of some law which we do not understand, and which it would therefore be unscientific to pronounce upon.
The congregation of Adventists in Chellaston, however, was not noticeable for size or influence. Some in the neighbourhood did not even know that this congregation existed, until it put forth its hand and took to itself the old preacher who was called Lazarus Cameron. They understood his language as others did not; they believed that he had come with a message for them; they often led him into their meeting-place and into their houses; and he, perhaps merely falling into the mechanical habit of going where he had been led, appeared in his own fashion to consort with them.
There, was something weird about the old preacher, although he was healthy, vigorous, and kindly, clean-looking in body and soul; but the aspect of any one is in the eye of the beholder. This man, whose mind was blank except upon one theme, whose senses seemed lost except at rare times, when awakened perhaps by an effort of his will, or perhaps by an unbidden wave of psychical sympathy with some one to whom he was drawn by unseen union, awoke a certain feeling of sensational interest in most people when they approached him. The public were in the main divided into two classes in their estimate of him—those who felt the force of his religion, and argued therefrom that his opinions were to be respected; and those who believed that his mind was insane, and argued