Chapter 11


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While the advent awakening was in progress in Europe and on other continents, a parallel awakening was taking place in the United States. The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw widespread interest in Bible prophecy, which brought a large production of books, pamphlets, and periodical articles. Much preaching was done on the subject, and particular attention was given to the prophetic time periods—the 1260 days and the 2300 days, and the millennium. Other phases of study included the Ottoman Empire and the papacy. Men like Timothy Dwight, president of Yale College; Lyman Beecher, later president of Lane Theological Seminary; and Elias Boudinot, first president of the Continental Congress, expounded the prophecies in sermons and written form. Preachers, teachers, lawyers, college presidents, and others proclaimed and circulated their views. While the majority did not have the imminent return of Christ in mind, there were many who did.

As has been previously pointed out, spiritual conditions immediately following the American Revolution were anything but salutary. Bacon's summary is to the point: “The closing years of the eighteenth century show the lowest low-water mark of the lowest ebb tide of spiritual life in the history of the American church. The demoralization of army life, the fury of political factions, the catch-penny materialist morality of Franklin, the philosophic deism of men like Jefferson, and the popular ribaldry of Tom Paine, had wrought, together with other untoward influences, to bring about a condition of things which to the eye of little faith seemed almost desperate.”—Leonard


Leonard Woolsey Bacon, A History of American Christianity, The American Church History Series, vol. 13, p. 230.

But out of this apparently hopeless situation came a period of revival that reached such proportions that it has come to be commonly called the Great Revival. The result of this movement brought increased emphasis on Bible study and on the broad distribution of the Scriptures. This meant the creation of new organizations to foster the circulation of the Bible in foreign lands and to sponsor missionary activity. The British and Foreign Bible Society was formed in 1804 and the American Bible Society was launched in 1816, as well as the American Home Missionary Society. In 1824 scattered Sunday-school units merged into the American Sunday School Union. In 1810 the Congregationalists formed the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Other denominations joined in the general missionary movement.

William Miller

Of the men preaching the second advent during the early nineteenth century, the one who ultimately came into greatest prominence was William Miller. Miller was born at Pittsfield, Massachusetts, February 15, 1782; but when he was a small child the family moved to Low Hampton, New York. This became Miller's permanent home, except for a thirteen-year residence at Poultney, Vermont. The Miller household was a religious one. William, the oldest of sixteen children, was strictly trained by his mother, who was the daughter of a Baptist minister. Two of her brothers became Baptist ministers. Facilities for education were limited, but Miller's passion for books and his persistence in reading at night by the light of the fireplace or pine knot, enabled him to be classified as well educated. Access to libraries of friendly well-to-do neighbors broadened his education.

In his early twenties Miller made the acquaintance of a


number of deists. He enjoyed his discussions with them, and eventually joined them in their thinking—partly because of the inconsistencies he saw in the lives of professing Christians, and partly because of the conflicting opinions of the ministers to whom he asked questions about the Bible. His change of viewpoint regarding the Bible and the church did not alter the general trend of his life. He was honest, truthful, and clean, and he enjoyed the respect of his fellow townsmen. He served acceptably as constable, justice of the peace, and sheriff. The war of 1812 called for Miller's services, and he spent two years as a captain in the infantry. He came out of the war disillusioned about his deistic beliefs. Though he did not join the church, Miller became a regular attendant at the Low Hampton Baptist Church, of which his uncle was the minister.

On occasions, when it was known that the minister was to be away from the church, Miller did not attend the service. He excused himself on the basis that the sermon was so poorly read by the substitute that he got nothing out of it. He hinted that if he could do the reading at such times he would attend. The church officers extended him an invitation to do so. Some time later, during his reading of a sermon on Isaiah 53, Miller was overcome with emotion and was forced to sit down. As a result of deep conviction, he accepted Christ as his Saviour, and found the satisfaction he had long been seeking.

For two years, from 1816-18, Miller's attention was given to Bible study. He set aside commentaries and, as far as possible, all preconceived ideas, and launched into his investigation of Bible teachings, using only his Bible and Cruden's Concordance. The longer his study continued, the deeper became his confidence in the Scriptures; but the further he found himself from some of the popular theological teachings of the time. Miller's own statement of what he calls “The Result Arrived At,” published in a pamphlet, should be given careful scrutiny:

“While thus studying the Scriptures, I became satisfied, if the prophecies which have been fulfilled in the past are any


criterion by which to judge of the manner of the fulfillment of those which are future, that the popular views of the spiritual reign of Christ, a temporal millennium before the end of the world, and the Jews' return, are not sustained by the word of God; for, I found that all the Scriptures on which those favorite theories are based, are as clearly expressed as are those that were literally fulfilled at the first advent, or at any other period in the past. I found it plainly taught in the Scriptures that Jesus Christ will again descend to this earth, coming in the clouds of heaven, in all the glory of his Father: that, at his coming the kingdom and dominion under the whole heaven will be given to Him and the saints of the Most High, who will possess it forever, even forever and ever: that, as the old world perished by the deluge, so the earth that now is, is reserved unto fire, to be melted with fervent heat at Christ's coming, after which, according to the promise, it is to become the new earth wherein the righteous will forever dwell: that, at his coming, the bodies of all the righteous dead will be raised, and all the righteous living be changed from a corruptible to an incorruptible, from a mortal to an immortal state; that they will all be caught up together to meet the Lord in air, and will reign with him forever in the regenerated earth: that, the controversy [of] Zion will then be finished, her children be delivered from bondage, and from the power of the tempter, and the saints be all presented to God blameless, without spot or wrinkle in love; that, the bodies of the wicked will then all be destroyed, and their spirits be reserved in prison until their resurrection and damnation; and that when the earth is thus regenerated, the righteous raised, and the wicked destroyed, the kingdom of God will have come, when his will will be done on earth as it is done in heaven; that the meek will inherit it, and the kingdom become the saints'. I found that the only millennium taught in the word of God is the thousand years which are to intervene between the first resurrection and that of the rest of the dead, as inculcated in the twentieth of Revelation; and that it must


necessarily follow the personal coming of Christ and the regeneration of the earth: that, till Christ's coming, and the end of the world, the righteous and wicked are to continue together on the earth, and that the horn of the Papacy is to war against the saints until his appearing and kingdom, when it will be destroyed by the brightness of Christ's coming; so that there can be no conversion of the world before the advent; and that as the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, is located by Peter after the conflagration, and is declared by him to be the same for which we look, according to the promise of Isa. 65:17, and is the same that John saw in vision after the passing away of the former heavens and earth; it must necessarily follow that the various portions of Scripture that refer to the millennial state must have their fulfillment after the resurrection of all the saints that sleep in Jesus. I also found that the promises respecting Israel's restoration are applied by the apostle to all who are Christ's,—the putting on of Christ constituting them Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”—William Miller, Apology and Defence, pages 7-9. (This is a pamphlet of thirty-six pages, written in 1845.)

In the next two sections of his pamphlet, Miller presents the basis for the conclusion that he was living at the end of the fulfillment of such outline prophecies as Daniel 2. He asserted that all prophetic time periods are calculated on the year-day principle. The following section tells of his conclusion that the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 begin with the seventy-week period of Daniel 9:24, and that they would terminate “about A.D. 1843.” “I was thus brought, in 1818, at the close of my two years' study of the Scriptures, to the solemn conclusion, that in about twenty-five years from that time [about 1843] all the affairs of our present state would be wound up.”—Ibid., pp. 11, 12.

To Miller the matter seemed clear and the conclusions sound, but they were so different from those generally held that he felt it was his duty to restudy the whole matter. He was unaware that some excellent scholars in Europe and in America


had come to virtually the same conclusions on many points. In order to be certain of his positions, Miller spent the next four years, 1818-1822, in assiduous study, again giving his attention to the Bible without the aid of other books except his concordance. The search confirmed the essentials of his earlier convictions and enlarged his grasp of the prophecies, which he recognized to be only a part of the whole gospel message. He prepared a list of twenty points in which he declared his faith. The list was wider than the statement in his Apology and Defence quoted above, but on similar points the conclusions were unchanged.*

During the next nine years Miller quietly, in private and in letters, told others of his expectation of the second advent. At times he wrote for one or another of the papers. Few persons seemed interested, and this Miller had difficulty to understand. As the years passed, there came to him the increasing conviction that the nearness of the end required him to help warn the world. This, of course, would require public presentation of his findings, and that he felt he could not do. The inner struggle between the sense of duty and the sense of inadequacy seems to have reached a climax about the middle of August, 1831.

On Saturday morning of August 13, Miller spent a little time in his study after breakfast. As he rose from his desk to go about some task, the conviction filled his mind with greater urgency than ever before: “Go, tell it to the world.” It was as though God had spoken audibly. The impression was so vivid that he sat down again and said, “I can't go, Lord.” The question seemed to come, “Why not?” There were all sorts of reasons. He was too old. He was not a preacher. He had no training. He was slow of speech. But the arguments, singly or combined, could do nothing to still the voice of conviction and conscience. His distress became so marked that he then

* The twenty articles may be read in Sylvester Bliss, Memoirs of William Miller, pages 77-80, or LeRoy Edwin Froom, Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4, pp. 466, 467. Miller's rules of prophetic interpretation will be found in Bliss, op. cit., pp. 70, 71.


and there promised the Lord that if He would definitely open the way, William Miller would respond and perform his duty. “What do you mean by opening the way?” the voice seemed to ask. “Why,” he replied, “if I should have an invitation to speak publicly in any place, I will go and tell them what I have found.” With the making of the bargain, relief came to him. He was certain that no invitation would be forthcoming.

But at the moment Miller's burden seemed rolled away, Irving Guilford was on his way from nearby Dresden to Low Hampton with an invitation for his Uncle William to come and tell the members of the Dresden Baptist Church his views on the second coming. Their pastor was to be away. Miller's sister Sylvia, and her husband Silas Guilford, knew of his beliefs, and proposed that Miller be invited to come Sunday and tell of his convictions. When the lad had delivered his message, the farmer-Bible-student was thunderstruck. Then he was angry with himself for the covenant he had made only a half hour before. “I rebelled at once against the Lord, and determined not to go.” Without a word he left the house and went to the maple grove to pray.

The longer he prayed the deeper became his conviction. The only answer he received to his plea for release from his promise was, “Go, and tell it to the world.” “Will you make a covenant with God and break it so soon?” his conscience wanted to know. Then the decision was made, the only kind of decision a man of Miller's character could make: “Lord, I will go.” The next morning the neighbors flocked to the Guilford home for the Sunday service to hear William Miller's first sermon. When he had finished, the listeners insisted that he continue his studies through the week.

When Miller returned home the following Monday, a letter awaited him with an invitation to speak at Poultney, a few miles away. Sermons by the hundreds followed in quick succession in Baptist, Methodist, Congregational, and other churches throughout New England, in eastern Canada, and a


little later as far west as Ohio and south to Maryland. The Millerite movement, as it was later known, was well under way. In 1834 he began to devote his whole time to preaching. In nine years he preached four thousand sermons in about five hundred towns and cities.

Beginning in 1831, William Miller worked for seven years without any associates to counsel with him or to share the burdens of his task. But in 1838, Josiah Litch, a Methodist minister, accepted the message Miller was preaching and took his place beside him. As a preacher, author, and editor, Litch creatively contributed to the spread of Miller's prophetic interpretations. He maintained his connection with the Methodist Church until 1841, when he felt that it was best that he should sever this tie and devote himself entirely to the second-advent cause. He served as editor or associate editor of various Millerite publications, traveled widely while lecturing on the prophecies, and accompanied Miller on numerous preaching missions. Litch is probably best remembered now for his exposition of the seven trumpets of Revelation 8; 9; 11, and his confident prediction that the downfall of the Ottoman Empire would occur in August, 1840.

Litch was instrumental in bringing Charles Fitch to Miller's teaching. This man was the former pastor of the Marlboro Street Congregational Church in Boston, and the Free Presbyterian Church of Newark, in Newark, New Jersey. After a considerable tour of preaching in a number of states, Fitch returned, in 1841, to Haverhill, Massachusetts, where he began to restudy the subject of the second advent, which he had been inclined to accept a few years before, but from which he had turned away. Josiah Litch, knowing of the earlier experience, called at Fitch's home to urge him to study and accept the advent teachings. After a severe struggle in his own mind, Fitch made his decision and took his place with Miller and Litch. He soon became one of the most beloved and successful preachers of the advent movement. Fitch was the designer of


the well-known 1843 prophetic chart which was so widely used by the advent preachers and which was the progenitor of the numerous prophetic charts originated since that time.

Other than Miller, the man who likely contributed most to the success of the Millerite movement was Joshua V. Himes. Pastor of the Second Christian Church of Boston when the advent message came to him in 1839, Himes soon threw all of his many talents and energies into the task of propagating the advent message. Himes was a powerful preacher, and a man of deep spirituality and perfect integrity. His personality was attractive and he had a gift for popular, appealing presentation of his message. His ability in the pulpit was outshone only by his unusual gifts as an editor and an organizer. Soon some of the best publishing facilities in the country were enlisted for the publication of the numerous papers, tracts, books, pamphlets, songbooks, charts, broadsides, and handbills issued under his direction. When an evangelistic series was conducted in New York City, Himes started a daily newspaper, the Midnight Cry, to publicize the advent teachings. For a time ten thousand copies a day were sold or given away on the streets.

It was Joshua Himes who was responsible for drawing Miller out of the small towns and villages into the large cities, and his promotional ability provided more openings for sermons than could be filled. Tens of thousands of persons attended the camp meetings Himes organized and managed, and more thousands were added as the movement spread beyond his personal supervision. “In approximately 130 camp meetings held in 1843 and 1844 between 500,000 and 1,000,000 were estimated to have attended—and the total population of the States was only 17,0000,000.”—Ibid., p. 554.

Of the many who might be included, one must not be passed by—Joseph Bates, a retired sea captain. Bates heard a lecture on the second coming of Christ about the same time that Joshua Himes was becoming interested in William Miller's work. His response was wholehearted. Bates preached, attended


many of the camp meetings, and was a member of numerous committees studying and planning for the extension of the movement. Moderately well-to-do at the beginning of his connection with the advent movement, Bates soon invested all he had in the enterprise. He was a stalwart leader, firm in his convictions, wise in his leadership, and tireless in his search for truth. His influence was widely felt and deeply appreciated.

A Question of Time

General and local conferences of believers in the second advent were held with increasing frequency as the tempo of the movement speeded up. Christ was going to return about the year 1843, and the time was near. Urged to define his year “1843,” in the Signs of the Times of January 25, 1843, Miller declared: “I am fully convinced that some time between March 21st, 1843, and March 21st, 1844, according to the Jewish mode of computation of time, Christ will come.” The months of 1843 and early 1844 rolled by, with increased expectancy on the part of the believers in the advent. The proceedings were watched by many unbelieving observers, and skepticism, prejudice, or mockery grew.

It had never been Miller's intention to form a new church. He, and those associated with him, thought to benefit all churches by bringing new light on Bible prophecy, and leading to revival in preparation for the advent. At first they had been heartily received by pastors of churches of many denominations, but emphasis on the 1843 date and the premillennial advent began to cause the rejection of the message by many who earlier had listened eagerly. Doors once open began to close to Millerite preachers. By the summer of 1843, it was clear that a separation was taking place. Resolutions were made, bans on adventist teachings were issued, members were disfellowshiped, ministers were relieved of their credentials and discharged. The consequence was natural—adventist preachers began to call for


the people who were loyal to the advent teachings to separate from their churches and form adventist congregations. Miller did not take part in the call for separation, and he felt that some of his brethren went too far; but the invitation, “Come out of her, My people,” issued slowly at first, soon spread.

Men did not stop studying even though the advent believers in general had great confidence in Miller's conclusions. As early as the summer of 1843 some of Miller's associates began to recognize that the rabbinical reckoning of the beginning and ending of the Jewish year which was being followed by Miller was different from the true Jewish year. The Jewish year as commonly calculated was governed by the spring equinox, and it was from this that Miller concluded that the particular Jewish year coming twenty-three hundred years after the decree of Artaxerxes to restore and build Jerusalem (457 B.C.) extended from March 21, 1843, to March 21, 1844. Actually, according to true Jewish reckoning, that year ended about the middle of April.

Another fact began to take shape in their thinking. They had accepted 457 B.C., the seventh year of Artaxerxes, as the beginning of the twenty-three hundred years. Miller's calculations were on the basis of the twenty-three hundred years reaching from the beginning of 457 B.C., to the spring of 1844. However, the decree had not gone into effect at the beginning of the year, but in the autumn. Thus, if the twenty-three hundred years were to be full years, they would not end in the spring of 1844, but in the autumn of the year. Then the students became impressed with the thought that the Day of Atonement in the ancient sanctuary service occurred on the tenth day of the seventh month of the Jewish religious year. That, too, would throw the antitypical day of atonement into the autumn of 1844. The whole picture of the time elements in the relation of the typical to the antitypical day of atonement began to form more clearly.* Therefore, some of the careful

* Because of the technical nature of the calculations involved, details cannot be included here. A full explanation will be found in Froom, op. cit., pp. 784-809.


students of the prophecies were neither surprised nor dismayed when the spring of 1844 passed without the return of Christ.

“Beginning first with an article written February 16, 1844, and continuing progressively throughout 1844, Samuel S. Snow emphasized the autumnal Jewish seventh month, Tishri, as the true ending of the prophetic 2300-year span, with the beginning dated from the autumn of 457 B.C.—Ibid., p. 799. Snow slowly gained some support in his position, but there was no general acceptance of it until after his presentation to the group attending the Exeter, New Hampshire, camp meeting which began August 12, 1844. Clearly and logically Snow presented his evidences that Christ would return in the autumn of that year. The following day he repeated the presentation in more detail, and it became clear to those who listened that the 2300 years would end, and the antitypical day of atonement come on October 22, 1844. This, they believed, would be the day of the return of Christ in power and great glory. It was now near the end of August; there were only a few weeks left to complete the task of giving the warning.

Anticipation and Disappointment

Shortly after this meeting, the result of the new understanding of the time, Joseph Bates said: “When that meeting closed, the granite hills of New Hampshire rang with the mighty cry, Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him! As the stages and railroad cars rolled away through the different States, cities, and villages of New England, the rumbling of the cry was still distinctly heard, Behold the Bridegroom cometh! Christ is coming on the tenth day of the seventh month! Time is short, get ready! get ready !—General excitement and looking with awful and unparalleled interest to a definite point. What a striking and perfect fulfillment. Who does not still remember how this message flew as it were upon the wings of the wind—men and women moving on all the cardinal points of the


compass, going with all the speed of locomotives, in steamboats, and rail cars, freighted with bundles of books and papers, wherever they went distributing them almost as profusely as the flying leaves of autumn.”—Joseph Bates, Second Advent Way Marks and High Heaps, page 31. This, they felt, was the “midnight cry” referred to in the parable of the ten virgins: “While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” Matthew 25:5, 6.

Property was sold and the money poured into the advent cause. Bills were paid, wrongs were made right, crops were neglected as unneeded, good-bys were said. Then the presses stopped rolling, and the advent company, and the world, waited in expectation for the dawn of October 22. The long hours of the day passed, and each hour increased the expectancy of the waiting thousands. But the day ended with darkness; then midnight came. There came also the moment of which the angel had spoken: “‘Take it and eat; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.’ And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it,” the prophet tells; “it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter.” Revelation 10:9, 10, R.S.V.

Hiram Edson's feelings, as set forth in a manuscript fragment of his life experience, seem to have been typical: “Our fondest hopes and expectations were blasted, and such a spirit of weeping came over us as I had never experienced before. It seemed that the loss of all earthly friends could have been no comparison. We wept, and wept till the day dawn. I mused in my own heart, saying, My advent experience has been the richest and brightest of all my Christian experience. If this had proved a failure, what was the rest of my Christian experience worth? Has the Bible proved a failure? Is there no God, no heaven, no golden home city, no paradise? Is all this but a cunningly devised fable? Is there no reality to our fondest hope


and expectation of these things? And thus we had something to grieve and weep over, if all our fond hopes were lost. And as I said, we wept till the day dawn.”

By far the majority of those who had espoused the advent cause turned from it almost immediately after the disappointment of October 22, 1844. Many persons felt that the whole movement had been based on faulty interpretation of the Scriptures, and that there was no point in continued allegiance to it. On the other hand, there were those who, after the disappointment, still believed that although some mistake had been made, the basic understanding of the prophecies was correct, and in due time Christ would return. From among the latter stemmed three groups: (1) those who became extremists and repeatedly set times for the return of the Saviour, and who, after a few years ceased to exist in any organized form; (2) those who continued in the advent hope, but differed little from other Protestants, and became First Day Adventists or Advent Christians; (3) those who ultimately became Seventh-day Adventists, whose membership today is approximately one million. What was it that made the difference between this latter group and the two others? It was the acceptance of additional light that the Lord sent soon after the disappointment of October 22.

Three distinctive teachings, added to the message of the second advent, set the group apart from all others. God began leading them into an understanding of these truths soon after the disappointment. On October 23, Hiram Edson, a Millerite, gained a correct understanding of the work of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. Edson describes the incident:

“‘After breakfast I said to one of my brethren, “Let us go and see, and encourage some of our brethren.” We started, and while passing through a large field I was stopped about midway of the field. Heaven seemed open to my view, and I saw distinctly and clearly that instead of our High Priest coming out of the Most Holy of the heavenly sanctuary to come to this earth on the tenth day of the seventh month, at the end of the 2300


days, He for the first time entered on that day the second apartment of that sanctuary; and that He had a work to perform in the most holy before coming to this earth.’”—Quoted by Francis D. Nichol, The Midnight Cry, page 458.

The ultimate conclusion of the believers was that they had been correct in their calculations of the time of the end of the 2300 years, but mistaken as to the event to take place at the end of the period. With the correct view of the ministry of Christ, they could see the reason for their disappointment, and yet not abandon their former positions on other prophecies and doctrines. They realized that their difficulties had arisen not because of any failure on the part of God to keep His promise, but because of their incomplete understanding of the operation of the antitypical service in the heavenly sanctuary.

Within a few weeks a second distinctive feature closely related to our major theme, was injected into the thinking of the advent believers. On a December day in 1844, a little group of five women were kneeling in prayer in the Haines home in South Portland, Maine, when one of the group, Ellen Gould Harmon, underwent an experience destined to have a profound effect upon the advent believers. Later she described what happened in these words:

“While we were praying, the power of God came upon me as I had never felt it before.

“I seemed to be surrounded with light, and to be rising higher and higher from the earth. I turned to look for the advent people in the world, but could not find them, when a voice said to me, ‘Look again, and look a little higher.’ At this I raised my eyes, and saw a straight and narrow path, cast up high above the world. On this path the advent people were traveling to the city which was at the farther end of the path. They had a bright light set up behind them at the beginning of the path, which an angel told me was the ‘midnight cry.’ This light shone all along the path, and gave light for their feet, so that they might not stumble.


“If they kept their eyes fixed on Jesus, who was just before them, leading them to the city, they were safe. But soon some grew weary, and said the city was a great way off, and they expected to have entered it before. Then Jesus would encourage them by raising His glorious right arm, and from His arm came a light which waved over the advent band, and they shouted ‘Alleluia!’ Others rashly denied the light behind them, and said that it was not God that had led them out so far. The light behind them went out, leaving their feet in perfect darkness, and they stumbled and lost sight of the mark and of Jesus, and fell off the path down into the dark and wicked world below.”—Life Sketches, pages 64, 65.

The revelation continued with a description of the second advent of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the righteous dead, the translation of the righteous living, and some of the things to be seen by the redeemed when they will enter the New Jerusalem. Soon the revelation was told to the advent believers in Portland. Knowing the character of Ellen Harmon, and the circumstances under which the vision was given, as well as the nature of the communication itself, the believers were persuaded that the vision was a message from God to strengthen and encourage them. The revelation did not explain the reason for the disappointment—an understanding of that would be gained when the light that had come to Hiram Edson was published and circulated—but it did assure them that God had been with them in their disappointment. Their confidence was confirmed that if they continued to walk in the light as they had done during the past months, the Lord would open the way before them and they would be guided to the City of God.

A second vision was given Ellen Harmon about a week after the first, in which she was given instruction relating to the delivery of the messages. Soon she began to travel as opportunity was afforded, to meet with believers, and to tell of her visions. Though there was opposition to her work, her influence began immediately to draw together, unify, and strengthen a


number of the scattered elements. As time passed, more and more of the advent believers accepted Ellen Harmon's revelations as from God, and accepted her as the Lord's messenger.

The third distinctive doctrine that bound this little body of adventists together, and which more than ever set them apart from those about them, was the seventh-day Sabbath. At about the time of the disappointment a few advent believers had accepted the Sabbath at Washington, New Hampshire. Early in 1845, Joseph Bates read an article by T. M. Preble, of Nashua, New Hampshire, published in The Hope of Israel, which led him to an acceptance of the claims of the fourth commandment. In turn, Bates taught the Sabbath truth to others, and wrote tracts explaining its significance and urging its observance. In August, 1846, Bates published a tract, “The Seventh-day Sabbath a Perpetual Sign,” a copy of which came into the hands of James White and Ellen Harmon White at about the time of their marriage that same month. They, too, began to observe and teach the fourth commandment. The Sabbath teaching spread quickly among the scattered adventists who had already accepted the sanctuary light given through Edson and the revelations to Ellen White.

In ways unrecognized by themselves, the believers in the second advent who accepted these three doctrines were laying the foundation for the building of a solid structure of Bible teachings which would enable them to withstand the attacks of enemies who would attempt to destroy, by mocking or attack, the message they would ultimately carry to all the world. In our present study we shall turn our attention to only one of the three—that of the revelations given to Ellen White.


1. The European advent awakening had its parallel in America.

2. William Miller became the leading exponent of the second-advent teaching in America.


3. Miller and his associates widely publicized the advent doctrine, and they believed Christ would return in 1843 or 1844.

4. After the passing of the time period set by Miller, the attention of the advent believers was turned to October 22, 1844, as the date of the return of Christ.

5. As a result of their misunderstanding of the event that would take place at the close of the 2300-day prophetic period, the advent believers were disappointed on October 22.

6. Soon after the disappointment, additional light began to come to them, and they realized that God had been with them through the disappointing experience, and would continue to lead them.

7. The revelations given to Ellen G. Harmon were accepted by a group of adventists as light from heaven.


1. Do you think there is any significance in the fact that the leading advent preacher in America was a self-educated, unordained, farmer-preacher rather than a leading Bible scholar?

2. Was Miller's method of Bible study valid?

3. If God was guiding to an understanding of the second-advent doctrine, why do you suppose He permitted the misunderstanding that resulted in the 1844 disappointment?

4. What factors contributed to the break-up of the large body of advent believers soon after the disappointment? Do their reasons appear to you sufficient justification for abandoning their former positions?

5. What reasons can you see for the early introduction to the advent group of additional light on the sanctuary, the revelations to Ellen Harmon, and the seventh-day Sabbath?



Loughborugh, J. N., The Great Second Advent Movement, pp. 148-201.

Our Firm Foundation, vol. 2, pp. 79-182.

Spicer,W. A., Certainties of the Advent Movement, pp. 114-145, 155-160. Washington, D.C., Review and Herald Publishing Assn., 1929.

Backgrounds in America

Froom, L. E., The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4, PP. 82-442.

Miller and Millerite Movement

Bliss, Sylvester, Memoirs of William Miller, Boston, Joshua V. Himes, 1853.

Froom, L. E., The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4, PP. 443-809.

Nichol, F. D., The Midnight Cry, pp. 17-227. Washington, D.C., Review and Herald Publishing Assn., 1944.

White, James, The Christian Life and Public Labors of William Miller. Battle Creek, S.D.A. Publishing Assn., 1875.

———, The Early Life and Later Experience and Labors of Elder Joseph Bates. Battle Creek, S.D.A. Publishing Assn., 1878.

———, Life Sketches. Ancestry, Early Life, Christian Experience, and Extensive Labors, of Elder James White, and His Wife, Mrs. Ellen G. White, pp. 24-124. Battle Creek, S.D.A. Publishing Assn., 1880.


Froom, L. E., The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4, PP. 810-876.

Nichol, F. D., The Midnight Cry, pp. 228-260.

Spalding, A. W., Captains of the Host, pp. 77-90. Washington, D.C., Review and Herald Publishing Assn., 1947.

White, Ellen G., Christian Experience and Teachings, pp. 45-56.

———, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 48-58.

After the Disappointment

Froom, L. E., The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4, PP. 827-905.

Nichol, F. D., The Midnight Cry, pp. 261-287.

Spalding, A. W., Captains of the Host, pp. 91-105.

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