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Friday, February 5, 2010

Biography of George Storrs

Rev. GEORGE STORRS was born in Lebanon, N. H., December 13, 1796. His father, Col. Constant Storrs, was originally from Mansfield, Conn., and served as a wheelwright in the Revolutionary army. After the war closed he married Lucinda Howe; emigrated to New Hampshire; settled at Lebanon, then almost a wilderness, and became a wealthy farmer. George was the youngest of eight children, seven sons and one daughter, and at the age of 19 united with the Congregational church.

At 22 he married, and at 28 was received into the Methodist Episcopal Church, and commenced preaching. He joined the New Hampshire Conference in 1825. His first wife having died, he married her sister, Martha, daughter of Col. Thomas Waterman, a prominent citizen of Lebanon, and the first child born in that town. Mr. Storrs continued in the regular work until 1836, when he became a local preacher, and was three years without an appointment, but during that time he traveled extensively, lecturing on the subject of slavery. He ardently espoused and ably advocated the antislavery cause, and exerted himself to create a strong public sentiment in its behalf. He was prominent in a most critical period, and was environed with perils. His arrest at an anti-slavery meeting in Pittsfield, N. H., while on his knees in prayer, caused great excitement and intensified the feeling against slavery. Mr. Storrs was a delegate to the General Conference of 1836, and one of the leading spirits in pressing the subject on the attention of the Conference. Failing to commit it to the radical views of himself and his associates, he severed his connection with the church in 1840. He had strong convictions on the subject of slavery, and was impatient at the conservative tendency of the church.

After residing at Montpelier, Vt., for a short time, he removed to Albany, N. Y., where he ministered for three years or more at the “House of Prayer” to a large congregation. In 1842 he preached his “six sermons” on “Immortality,” which were subsequently printed and extensively circulated. He soon thereafter became interested in the Second Advent doctrine, and labored with great effectiveness in promulgating his views on that subject in the New England, Middle, and Western states, spending several months in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and vicinity. In 1843 he commenced the publication of the “Bible Examiner,” in which he advocated his theory of “no immortality or endless life, except through Christ alone,” which publication was continued in different forms, either occasionally or regularly, until his death.

He was editor of The Herald of Life and of the Coming Kingdom from October 21, 1863 to August, 1871, during which time the “Bible Examiner” was suspended. He resided at Philadelphia nine years, and preached there mainly; but frequently visited other localities and was constantly occupied in lecturing or issuing his publications. He was a man of irreproachable purity of character, pious, exemplary, zealous, noble, generous, magnanimous, very vigorous and effective as a writer and preacher, conscientious, fearless and untiring in advocating what he considered the truth. His integrity, sincerity, and piety, were unquestioned. Possessing great decision of character and marked characteristics, he was true to his convictions, inflexible in his firmness, and boldly announced his views, whether popular or otherwise. He died at his residence, No. 72 Hicks street, Brooklyn, N. Y., Dec. 28, 1879, aged 83. His widow, Martha Waterman Storrs, died at the same place March 15, 1882, aged 82. Their only son, George F. Storrs, died at Brooklyn, January 31, 1867, aged 41, leaving a widow, who now resides at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. One other child, Harriet, lives in Brooklyn, unmarried. Mr. Storrs, while a member of the New Hampshire Conference, was a strong man, able and influential in its councils, and the beloved pastor of several important churches. He was stationed at Portsmouth in 1831.

- The Granite Monthly, a New Hampshire Magazine, July 1883, Vol. VI. No. 10, page 315-316.


Millerite preacher and writer, chief proponent of conditional immortality. Born in New Hampshire, he was first a Congregationalist, then a Methodist. He withdrew from the Methodist ministry in 1840 to lecture against slavery. However, three years earlier Storrs had been led, by a small tract written by Henry Grew, of Philadelphia, to search the Scriptures carefully on the question of the final destiny of human beings and on their state in death. After several years of investigation, conversation, and correspondence with certain ministers, he reached the conclusion that human beings do not possess inherent immortality, but receive it only as a gift through Christ, and that the wicked who refuse the gift will be utterly exterminated through fire at the second death. In 1841 he issued An Enquiry: Are the Souls of the Wicked Immortal? In Three Letters, written originally to a friend and published anonymously.

By 1842 he felt impelled to speak out clearly to his small congregation on his views on the nature of humanity. He gave six sermons, which he revised and published as An Enquiry: Are the Souls of the Wicked Immortal? In Six Sermons (Albany, N.Y., 1842).

Soon afterward, convinced that the Adventist positions were correct, he left his ministry in Albany in 1842 to travel and preach the Adventist message. He did not introduce his personal views on the nature of humanity into these public services but, beset with inquiries, he revised his Six Sermons, and distributed them at his own expense. In 1843 the Six Sermons were also published in England. Charles Fitch accepted the doctrine of conditional immortality in January 1844, becoming Storrs’s first ministerial convert. Other ministers followed. But there was opposition. William Miller himself took Storrs to task, Litch issued a little paper, the Anti-Annihilationist, against Storrs’s position, and I. E. Jones protested in a letter to Miller.

In 1843 Storrs started the Bible Examiner in Albany, which advocated Miller’s view of the coming of Christ in 1843–1844. He wrote a small book, in question-and-answer form, also called the Bible Examiner, a verse-by-verse exposition of the leading chapters of Daniel and of Revelation, together with Isa. 55, Zech. 14, and Matt. 24.

An effective writer and preacher, Storrs was one of the most vigorous advocates of the seventh-month expectation, but, immediately after the great disappointment of 1844 he was one of the first to disclaim the movement, attributing it to “mesmeric influence.” In 1845 he embraced “Judaistic” millennial views, that is, the Literalist interpretation (see Premillennialism), according to which the kingdom prophecies were to be fulfilled literally to the literal Jews during the millennium. The Adventists continued to cite Storrs against Storrs on this subject.

In the next decade he accepted the view, advocated first by his associate editor on the Bible Examiner, that none of the wicked dead would be resurrected at all. He became president of the “Life and Advent Union,” organized in 1863 to propagate this doctrine. He later returned to the view of the resurrection of all the dead.

- IMS Media Online Library