Introduction: Highlights of Relevant History

The following compilation of quotes (mostly from the Spirit of Prophecy) is presented to review the most essential aspects of the relevant history leading up to and including the creation of the 1843 and 1850 charts.

All quotes with references in brackets {} may be found in the Ellen G. White Writings Comprehensive Research Edition CD-Rom. All quotes are from the Spirit of Prophecy unless otherwise indicated.

Oppression of the Dark Ages (6th-18th Century)

It has ever been the design of Satan to draw the minds of the people from Jesus to man, and to destroy individual accountability. Satan failed in his design when he tempted the Son of God. He succeeded better as he came to fallen man. The doctrine of Christianity was corrupted. Popes and priests presumed to take an exalted position, and taught the people to look to them to pardon their sins, instead of looking to Christ for themselves. The Bible was kept from them, in order to conceal the truths which would condemn them.

The people were entirely deceived. They were taught that the popes and priests were Christ’s representatives, when in fact they were the representatives of Satan; and when they bowed to them, they worshiped Satan. The people called for the Bible; but the priests considered it dangerous to let them have the word of God to read for themselves, lest they become enlightened, and their sins be exposed. The people were taught to look to these deceivers, and receive every word from them, as from the mouth of God. They held that power over the mind, which God alone should hold. And if any dared to follow their own convictions, the same hate which Satan and the Jews exercised towards Jesus would be kindled against them, and those in authority would thirst for their blood. I was shown a time when Satan especially triumphed. Multitudes of Christians were slain in a dreadful manner because they would preserve the purity of their religion.  {1SG 108.1-2}

Main Responses to Oppression

Protestant Reformation

Thus the Waldenses witnessed for God centuries before the birth of Luther. Scattered over many lands, they planted the seeds of the Reformation that began in the time of Wycliffe, grew broad and deep in the days of Luther, and is to be carried forward to the close of time by those who also are willing to suffer all things for “the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 1:9.  {GC 78.1}

 

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Foremost among those who were called to lead the church from the darkness of popery into the light of a purer faith, stood Martin Luther. Zealous, ardent, and devoted, knowing no fear but the fear of God, and acknowledging no foundation for religious faith but the Holy Scriptures, Luther was the man for his time; through him God accomplished a great work for the reformation of the church and the enlightenment of the world.  {GC 120.1}

American Revolution

The English Reformers, while renouncing the doctrines of Romanism, had retained many of its forms. Thus though the authority and the creed of Rome were rejected, not a few of her customs and ceremonies were incorporated into the worship of the Church of England. {GC 289.1}

Many earnestly desired to return to the purity and simplicity which characterized the primitive church. They regarded many of the established customs of the English Church as monuments of idolatry, and they could not in conscience unite in her worship. But the church, being supported by the civil authority, would permit no dissent from her forms. Attendance upon her service was required by law, and unauthorized assemblies for religious worship were prohibited, under penalty of imprisonment, exile, and death.  {GC 290.1}

It was the desire for liberty of conscience that inspired the Pilgrims to brave the perils of the long journey across the sea, to endure the hardships and dangers of the wilderness, and with God’s blessing to lay, on the shores of America, the foundation of a mighty nation. Yet honest and God-fearing as they were, the Pilgrims did not yet comprehend the great principle of religious liberty. The freedom which they sacrificed so much to secure for themselves, they were not equally ready to grant to others. {GC 292.3}

Eleven years after the planting of the first colony, Roger Williams came to the New World. {GC 293.1}

Making his way at last, after months of change and wandering, to the shores of Narragansett Bay, he there laid the foundation of the first state of modern times that in the fullest sense recognized the right of religious freedom. The fundamental principle of Roger Williams’s colony was “that every man should have liberty to worship God according to the light of his own conscience.”–Ibid., vol. 5, p. 354. His little state, Rhode Island, became the asylum of the oppressed, and it increased and prospered until its foundation principles–civil and religious liberty–became the cornerstones of the American Republic.  {GC 295.1}

In twenty years from the first landing at Plymouth, as many thousand Pilgrims were settled in New England.  {GC 296.1}

To secure the object which they sought, “they were content to earn a bare subsistence by a life of frugality and toil. They asked nothing from the soil but the reasonable returns of their own labor. No golden vision threw a deceitful halo around their path. . . . They were content with the slow but steady progress of their social polity. They patiently endured the privations of the wilderness, watering the tree of liberty with their tears, and with the sweat of their brow, till it took deep root in the land.”  {GC 296.2}

The Bible was held as the foundation of faith, the source of wisdom, and the charter of liberty. Its principles were diligently taught in the home, in the school, and in the church, and its fruits were manifest in thrift, intelligence, purity, and temperance. One might be for years a dweller in  the Puritan settlement, “and not see a drunkard, or hear an oath, or meet a beggar.”–Bancroft, pt. 1, ch. 19, par. 25. It was demonstrated that the principles of the Bible are the surest safeguards of national greatness. The feeble and isolated colonies grew to a confederation of powerful states, and the world marked with wonder the peace and prosperity of “a church without a pope, and a state without a king.”  {GC 296.3}

In that grand old document which our forefathers set forth as their bill of rights–the Declaration of Independence–they declared: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” And the Constitution guarantees, in the most explicit terms, the inviolability of conscience: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  {GC 295.2}

“The framers of the Constitution recognized the eternal principle that man’s relation with his God is above human legislation, and his rights of conscience inalienable. Reasoning was not necessary to establish this truth; we are conscious of it in our own bosoms. It is this consciousness which, in defiance of human laws, has sustained so many martyrs in tortures and flames. They felt that their duty to God was superior to human enactments, and that man could exercise no authority over their consciences. It is an inborn principle which nothing can eradicate.”–Congressional documents (U.S.A.), serial No. 200, document No. 271.  {GC 295.3}

French Revolution (1789 – 1799)

In the sixteenth century the Reformation, presenting an open Bible to the people, had sought admission to all the countries of Europe. Some nations welcomed it with gladness, as a messenger of Heaven. In other lands the papacy succeeded to a great extent in preventing its entrance; and the light of Bible knowledge, with its elevating influences, was almost wholly excluded. In one country, though the light found entrance, it was not comprehended by the darkness. For centuries, truth and error struggled for the mastery. At last the evil triumphed, and the truth of Heaven was thrust out. “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.” John 3:19. The nation was left to reap the results of the course which she had chosen. The restraint of God’s Spirit was removed from a people that had despised the gift of His grace. Evil was permitted to come to maturity. And all the world saw the fruit of willful rejection of the light.  {GC 265.1}

The war against the Bible, carried forward for so many centuries in France, culminated in the scenes of the Revolution. That terrible outbreaking was but the legitimate result of Rome’s suppression of the Scriptures. It presented the most striking illustration which the world has ever witnessed of the working out of the papal policy–an illustration of the results to which for more than a thousand years the teaching of the Roman Church had been tending.  {GC 265.2}

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” Psalm 14:1. And the Lord declares concerning the perverters of the truth: “Their folly shall be manifest unto all.” 2 Timothy 3:9. After France had renounced the worship of the living God, “the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity,” it was only a little time till she descended to degrading idolatry, by the worship of the Goddess of Reason, in the person of a profligate woman. And this in the representative assembly of the nation, and by its highest civil and legislative authorities! Says the historian: “One of the ceremonies of this insane time stands unrivaled for absurdity combined with impiety. The doors of the Convention were thrown open to a band of musicians, preceded by whom, the members of the municipal body entered in solemn procession, singing a hymn in praise of liberty, and escorting, as the object of their future worship, a veiled female, whom they termed the Goddess of Reason. Being brought within the bar, she was unveiled with great form, and placed on the right of the president, when she was generally recognized as a dancing girl of the opera. . . . To this person, as the fittest representative of that reason whom they worshiped, the National Convention of France rendered public homage.  {GC 275.1}

Unhappy France reaped in blood the harvest she had sown. Terrible were the results of her submission to the controlling power of Rome. Where France, under the influence of Romanism, had set up the first stake at the opening of the Reformation, there the Revolution set up its first guillotine. On the very spot where the first martyrs to the Protestant faith were burned in the sixteenth century, the first victims were guillotined in the eighteenth. In repelling the gospel, which would have brought her healing, France had opened the door to infidelity and ruin. When the restraints of God’s law were cast aside, it was found that the laws of man were inadequate to hold in check the powerful tides of human passion; and the nation swept on to revolt and anarchy. The war against the Bible inaugurated an era which stands in the world’s history as the Reign of Terror. Peace and happiness were banished from the homes and hearts of men. No one was secure. He who triumphed today was suspected, condemned, tomorrow. Violence and lust held undisputed sway. {GC 282.2}

All too well the people had learned the lessons of cruelty and torture which Rome had so diligently taught. A day of retribution at last had come. It was not now the disciples of Jesus that were thrust into dungeons and dragged to the stake. Long ago these had perished or been driven into exile. Unsparing Rome now felt the deadly power of those whom she had trained to delight in deeds of blood. “The example of persecution which the clergy of France had exhibited for so many ages, was now retorted upon them with signal vigor. The scaffolds ran red with the blood of the priests. The galleys and the prisons, once crowded with Huguenots, were now filled with their persecutors. Chained to the bench and toiling at the oar, the Roman Catholic clergy experienced all those woes which their church had so freely inflicted on the gentle heretics.” {GC 283.2}

And to add to the general misery, the nation [of France] became involved in a prolonged and devastating war with the great powers of Europe. {GC 283.1}

1798

The 1260 years of papal supremacy began with the establishment of the papacy in A. D. 538, and would therefore terminate in 1798. At that time a French army entered Rome, and made the pope a prisoner, and he died in exile. Though a new pope was soon afterward elected, the papal hierarchy has never since been able to wield the power which it before possessed.  {GC88 266.2}

 

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What nation of the New World was in 1798 rising into power, giving promise of strength and greatness, and attracting the attention of the world? …the United States of America. {GC88 440.2}

 

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Since France made war upon God’s two witnesses, they have been honored as never before. In 1804 the British and Foreign Bible Society was organized. This was followed by similar organizations, with numerous branches, upon the continent of Europe. In 1816 the American Bible Society was founded. When the British Society was formed, the Bible had been printed and circulated in fifty tongues. It has since been translated into many hundreds of languages and dialects.

For the fifty years preceding 1792, little attention was given to the work of foreign missions. No new societies were formed, and there were but few churches that made any effort for the spread of Christianity in heathen lands. But toward the close of the eighteenth century a great change took place. Men became dissatisfied with the results of rationalism and realized the necessity of divine revelation and experimental religion. From this time the work of foreign missions attained an unprecedented growth.

The improvements in printing have given an impetus to the work of circulating the Bible. The increased facilities for communication between different countries, the breaking down of ancient barriers of prejudice and national exclusiveness, and the loss of secular power by the pontiff of Rome have opened the way for the entrance of the word of God. {GC 287.2 -288.1}

Adventism Begins

Like the great Reformation of the sixteenth century, the Advent movement appeared in the different countries of Christendom at the same time [not many years after 1798]. In both Europe and America, men of faith and prayer were led to the study of the prophecies, and, tracing down the inspired record, they saw convincing evidence that the end of all things was at hand. In different lands there were isolated bodies of Christians, who, solely by the study of the Scriptures, arrived at the belief that the Saviour’s advent was near.  {GC88 356.3}

 

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(P. Gerard Damsteegt)

During the early part of the 19th century among evangelical Christians there was an increasing emphasis on the study of Bible passages which alluded to the Second Advent – the parousia. First, the emphasis on eschatology, which was stimulated by the events of the French Revolution, took place in Europe; later it arose in America. Many participating in these studies became convinced that Christ’s return and the Day of Judgment were imminent and would inaugurate the millennium-a view designated as premillennialism. Consequently, these individuals strongly opposed the current postmillennial views. The principal exponent of premillennialism in America during this period was William Miller (1782-1849). He was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, just following the Revolutionary War in which his father was a captain. Eldest in a family of sixteen children, he was reared in a religious atmosphere in Low Hampton, in northeastern New York State. During his youth he satisfied his thirst for knowledge largely through self-study. He came to be considered unusually well read, self-educated, and conspicuously methodical in all his ways. After marriage he lived for a few years in Poultney, Vermont, where at times he served as deputy sheriff and justice of the peace. Through his friendship with various prominent citizens who were deists Miller gave up his religious convictions and became a deist. In the war between the U.S.A. and Britain (1812-14) he served as lieutenant and captain, which seems to have disillusioned him about his deistic principles as he began to realize the sinful nature of man. When he left the army and began to work as a farmer he devoted more time to existential questions regarding man’s predicament. During this quest for a deeper significance of life he attended the Baptist Church regularly, though he was not a member. In 1816, while publicly reading a sermon on Is. 53, Miller experienced conversion and joined this church. Challenged by his deist friends, he began an intensive study of the Bible so that he might justify his decision to accept the Christian faith. On the basis of a two-year investigation, he concluded that, according to Scripture, the Second Advent was premillennial instead of postmillennial and within his lifetime, indicating there could be no world conversion before Christ’s return at the beginning of the millennium. Miller continued the study of the Bible until, as the result of an invitation, he made his first public appearance in 1831 when there was already some excitement in the various Protestant churches over the imminence of the parousia.  From that time onward until 1844, he lectured wherever he had a chance. In 1831 Miller prepared a series of eight articles for a Baptist weekly, the Vermont Telegraph, which were published during 1832-33.  In 1833 these articles were incorporated in a pamphlet entitled Evidences from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ About the Year A.D. 1843, and of His Personal Reign of 1000 Years. During the same year he was provided by the Baptists with a license to preach. From 1834 onward he devoted all his time to the proclamation of the Second Advent. In 1836 his lectures were published in a book which was reprinted and enlarged several times, and received nation-wide publicity.

In many churches Miller gained numerous followers who became known as the “Millerites.” This interconfessional movement swelled into a crusade which reached a climax in the years 1843 and 1844. In North America about 200 ministers accepted Miller’s views and “Advent congregations” were established which had a total number of approximately 50,000 believers. Some of the most influential personalities in this movement were Joshua V. Himes, a minister of the Massachusetts Christian Conference, Josiah Litch, a minister and member of the New England Methodist Episcopalian Conference, Dr. Henry Dana Ward, a prominent Episcopalian clergyman, Charles Fitch,  a minister of the Congregational Church and the Presbyterian Church, Apollos Hale,  a Methodist minister, and Sylvester Bliss,  a Congregationalist. For some, Miller’s prediction must have implied an instant utopia, especially after the financial depression which prevailed throughout the nation; for others, who were disillusioned with the movements of the 1830s, the premillennial ideas of Miller offered a way out of the religious ultraism which had failed to redeem civilization. Still others saw in his prediction a culmination of their desires for the “blessed hope” and deliverance from an evil world.

In summarizing the religious situation at the beginning of the 19th century in the U.S.A. one could say that it provided a climate conducive to the development of new religious movements. There was a relative weakness of the major churches, a religious plurality and the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion which stimulated individual religious expression independent from the larger churches. The democratizing of the American culture, the Second Great Awakening, and further revivalism contributed also to increasing religious individualism. New movements developed from the larger Protestant bodies. With the passing of the era of benevolence, schism and controversy began to reign. The financial depression of 1837, disillusionment with the millennial dreams, and a fast growing Roman Catholicism created feelings of insecurity and discontentment. It was in such an environment that Adventists successfully developed as one of various new religious movements. {1977 PGD, FSDA 13.1 – 16.1}

 

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God sent His angel to move upon the heart of a farmer who had not believed the Bible, to lead him to search the prophecies. Angels of God repeatedly visited that chosen one, to guide his mind and open to his understanding prophecies which had ever been dark to God’s people. The commencement of the chain of truth was given to him, and he was led on to search for link after link, until he looked with wonder and admiration upon the Word of God. He saw there a perfect chain of truth. That Word which he had regarded as uninspired now opened before his vision in its beauty and glory. He saw that one portion of Scripture explains another, and when one passage was closed to his understanding, he found in another part of the Word that which explained it. He regarded the sacred Word of God with joy and with the deepest respect and awe.

As he followed down the prophecies, he saw that the inhabitants of the earth were living in the closing scenes of this world’s history, yet they knew it not. He looked at the churches and saw that they were corrupt; they had taken their affections from Jesus and placed them on the world; they were seeking for worldly honor, instead of that honor which cometh from above; grasping for worldly riches, instead of laying up their treasure in heaven. He could see hypocrisy, darkness, and death everywhere. His spirit was stirred within him. God called him to leave his farm, as He called Elisha to leave his oxen and the field of his labor to follow Elijah. With trembling, William Miller began to unfold to the people the mysteries of the kingdom of God, carrying his hearers down through the prophecies to the second advent of Christ. With every effort he gained strength. As John the Baptist heralded the first advent of Jesus and prepared the way for His coming, so William Miller and those who joined with him proclaimed the second advent of the Son of God.  {EW 229.1-2}

Adventism Empowered

In the year 1840, another remarkable fulfillment of prophecy excited widespread interest. Two years before, Josiah Litch, one of the leading ministers preaching the second advent, published an exposition of Revelation 9, predicting the fall of the Ottoman empire, and specifying not only the year but the very day on which this would take place. According to this exposition, which was purely a matter of calculation on the prophetic periods of Scripture, the Turkish government would surrender its independence on the eleventh day of August, 1840. The prediction was widely published, and thousands watched the course of events with eager interest.

At the very time specified, Turkey, through her ambassadors, accepted the protection of the allied powers of Europe, and thus placed herself under the control of Christian nations. The event exactly fulfilled the prediction. When it became known, multitudes were convinced of the correctness of the principles of prophetic interpretation adopted by Miller and his associates, and a wonderful impetus was given to the Advent movement. Men of learning and position united with Miller, both in preaching and publishing his views, and from 1840 to 1844 the work rapidly extended.  {GC88 334.4-5}

1843 Chart

(Joseph Bates)

In May, 1842, a General Conference [of Millerites] was convened in Boston, Mass. At the opening of this meeting, Brn. Charles Fitch and Apollos Hale, of Haverhill, presented the pictorial prophecies of Daniel and John, which they had painted on cloth, with the prophetic numbers, showing their fulfillment. Bro. Fitch in explaining from his chart before the Conference, said, while examining these prophecies, he had thought if he could get out something of the kind as here presented it would simplify the subject and make it easier for him to present to an audience. Here was more light in our pathway. These brethren had been doing what the Lord had shown Habbakuk in his vision 2468 years before, saying, “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.” Hab.ii,2.

After some discussion on the subject, it was voted unanimously to have three hundred similar to this one lithographed, which was soon accomplished. They were called “the ’43 charts.” This was a very important Conference. A camp meeting was now appointed to convene the last week in June, at East Kingston, N.H., where an immense multitude assembled to hear the good news and glad tidings of the coming of our blessed Lord. I had not the pleasure of attending this meeting, but heard most stirring reports of what was accomplished there. Camp meetings and conferences were now being multiplied throughout the Middle and Northern States, and Canada, and the messengers were proclaiming in the language of the message, “THE HOUR OF HIS JUDGEMENT IS COME!” {1868 JB, AJB 262.1 – 263.1}

 

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As early as 1842, the Spirit of God had moved upon Charles Fitch to devise the prophetic chart, which was generally regarded by Adventists as a fulfillment of the command given by the prophet Habakkuk, “to write the vision and make it plain upon tables.” {4SP 241.2}

 

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The Lord showed me that the 1843 chart was directed by his hand, and that no part of it should be altered; that the figures were as he wanted them. That his hand was over and hid a mistake in some of the figures, so that none could see it, until his hand was removed.  {RH, November 1, 1850 par. 10}

 

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(J. G. Whittier)

Three or four years ago, on my way eastward, I spent an hour or two at a campground of the Second Advent in East Kingston. The spot was well chosen. A tall growth of pine and hemlock, threw its melancholy shadow over the multitude, who were arranged upon rough seats of boards and logs. Several hundred–perhaps a thousand people were present, and more were rapidly coming. Drawn about in a circle, forming a back ground of snowy whiteness to the dark masses of men and foliage, were the white tents, and back of them the provision stalls and cook shops. When I reached the ground, a hymn, the words of which I could not distinguish, was pealing through the dim aisles of the forest. I know nothing of music, having neither ear nor taste for it–but I could readily see that it had its effect upon the multitude before me, kindling to higher intensity their already excited enthusiasm. The preachers were placed, in a rude pulpit of rough boards, carpeted only by the dead forest leaves and flowers, and tassalled, not with silk and velvet, but with the green boughs of the sombre hemlocks around it. One of them followed the music in an earnest exhortation on the duty of preparing for the great event. Occasionally he was really eloquent, and his description of the last day had all the terrible distinctness of Anelli’s painting of the “End of the world.”

Suspended from the front of the rude pulpit, were two broad sheets of canvass, upon one of which was the figure of a man–the head of gold–the breast and arms of silver–the belly of brass–the legs iron, and feet of clay,–the dream of Nebuchadnezzar! On the other were depicted the wonders of the Apocalyptic vision–the beasts–the dragons–the scarlet woman seen by the seer of Patmos oriental types and figures and mystic symbols translated into staring Yankee realities, and exhibited like the beasts of a travelling menagerie. One horrible image, with its hideous heads and scaly caudal extremity, reminded me of the tremendous line of Milton, who, in speaking of the same evil Dragon, describes him as

“Swindging the scaly horrors of his folded tail.”

To an imaginative mind, the scene, was full of novel interest. The white circle of tents–the dim wood arches–the upturned, earnest faces–the loud voices of the speakers, burdened with the awful symbolic language of the Bible–the smoke from the fires rising like incense from forest altars–carry one back to the days of primitive worship, when

“The groves were God’s first temples, ere men learned

To hew the shaft, and lay the architrave,

And stretch the roof above it.”

{November 6, 1844 JVHe, HST 99.15-19}

Disappointment of 1843

But the time of expectation [the year 1843] passed. This was the first close test brought to bear upon those who believed and hoped that Jesus would come in the clouds of heaven. The disappointment of God’s waiting people was great. The scoffers were triumphant, and won the weak and cowardly to their ranks. Some who had appeared to possess true faith seemed to have been influenced only by fear; and now their courage returned with the passing of the time, and they boldly united with the scoffers, declaring that they had never been duped to really believe the doctrine of Miller, who was a mad fanatic. Others, naturally yielding or vacillating, quietly deserted the cause.

We were perplexed and disappointed, yet did not renounce our faith. Many still clung to the hope that Jesus would not long delay His coming; the word of the Lord was sure, it could not fail. We felt that we had done our duty, we had lived up to our precious faith; we were disappointed, but not discouraged. The signs of the times denoted that the end of all things was at hand; we must watch and hold ourselves in readiness for the coming of the Master at any time. We must wait with hope and trust, not neglecting the assembling of ourselves together for instruction, encouragement, and comfort, that our light might shine forth into the darkness of the world.

Our calculation of the prophetic time was so simple and plain that even children could understand it. From the date of the decree of the king of Persia, found in Ezra 7, which was given in 457 before Christ, the 2300 years of Daniel 8:14 were supposed to terminate with 1843. Accordingly we looked to the end of this year for the coming of the Lord. We were sadly disappointed when the year entirely passed away, and the Saviour had not come.

It was not at first perceived that if the decree did not go forth at the beginning of the year 457 B. C., the 2300 years would not be completed at the close of 1843. But it was ascertained that the decree was given near the close of the year 457 B. C., and therefore the prophetic period must reach to the fall of the year 1844. Therefore the vision of time did not tarry, though it had seemed to do so. We learned to rest upon the language of the prophet: “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 2:3. {CET 49.1 – 50.1}

Midnight Cry of the Seventh Month Movement

Our hopes now centered on the coming of the Lord in 1844. This was also the time for the message of the second angel, who, flying through the midst of heaven, cried, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city.” Revelation 14:8. That message was first proclaimed by the servants of God in the summer of 1844. As a result, many left the fallen churches. In connection with this message the “midnight cry” [See Matthew 25:1-13.] was given: “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him.” In every part of the land light was given concerning this message, and the cry aroused thousands. It went from city to city, from village to village, and into the remote country regions. It reached the learned and talented, as well as the obscure and humble.

This was the happiest year of my life. My heart was full of glad expectation; but I felt great pity and anxiety for those who were in discouragement and had no hope in Jesus. We united, as a people, in earnest prayer for a true experience and the unmistakable evidence of our acceptance with God. {CET 50.4 – 51.1}

 

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Near the close of the second angel’s message, I saw a great light from heaven shining upon the people of God. The rays of this light seemed bright as the sun. And I heard the voices of angels crying, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him!”

This was the midnight cry, which was to give power to the second angel’s message. Angels were sent from heaven to arouse the discouraged saints and prepare them for the great work before them. The most talented men were not the first to receive this message. Angels were sent to the humble, devoted ones, and constrained them to raise the cry, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him!” Those entrusted with the cry made haste, and in the power of the Holy Spirit sounded the message, and aroused their discouraged brethren. This work did not stand in the wisdom and learning of men, but in the power of God, and His saints who heard the cry could not resist it. The most spiritual received this message first, and those who had formerly led in the work were the last to receive and help swell the cry, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him!”

In every part of the land, light was given upon the second angel’s message, and the cry melted the hearts of thousands. It went from city to city, and from village to village, until the waiting people of God were fully aroused. In many churches the message was not permitted to be given, and a large company who had the living testimony left these fallen churches. A mighty work was accomplished by the midnight cry. The message was heart-searching, leading the believers to seek a living experience for themselves. They knew that they could not lean upon one another.

The saints anxiously waited for their Lord with fasting, watching, and almost constant prayer. Even some sinners looked forward to the time with terror; but the great mass manifested the spirit of Satan in their opposition to the message. They mocked and scoffed, repeating everywhere, “No man knoweth the day nor the hour.” Evil angels urged them on to harden their hearts and to reject every ray of light from heaven, that they might be fastened in the snare of Satan. Many who professed to be looking for Christ had no part in the work of the message. The glory of God which they had witnessed, the humility and deep devotion of the waiting ones, and the overwhelming weight of evidence, caused them to profess to receive the truth; but they had not been converted; they were not ready for the coming of their Lord.

A spirit of solemn and earnest prayer was everywhere felt by the saints. A holy solemnity was resting upon them. Angels were watching with the deepest interest the effect of the message, and were elevating those who received it, and drawing them from earthly things to obtain large supplies from salvation’s fountain. God’s people were then accepted of Him. Jesus looked upon them with pleasure, for His image was reflected in them. They had made a full sacrifice, an entire consecration, and expected to be changed to immortality. But they were destined again to be sadly disappointed. {EW 238.1 – 239.1}

October 22, 1844

(P. Gerard Damgsteet)

Shortly before the expected event nearly all Millerites participated in the proclamation of the True Midnight Cry of the Seventh Month movement, and it was stated that “the time has been almost universally received by all the Adventists.” Miller anticipated that probationary time for mankind would terminate a few days before October 22, stating, “I am strong in my opinion that the next [October 13] will be the last Lord’s day sinners will ever have in probation and within ten or fifteen days from thence, they will see him, whom they have hated and despised.” {1977 PGD, FSDA 99.1}

When Tuesday, October 22, passed, the Millerites experienced a very great disappointment that could be best described by those who experienced it. Hiram Edson, a Millerite with Methodist background, said:

Our expectations were raised high, and thus we looked for our coming Lord until the clock tolled 12 at midnight. The day had then passed and our disappointment became a certainty. Our fondest hopes and expectations were blasted, and such a spirit of weeping came over us as I 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 experiences. 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.

Some Millerites renounced their beliefs and either returned to their former churches or rejected the Christian faith altogether. However, many of those who had separated themselves from the churches remained faithful, waiting the return of Christ which could occur any moment. Now most of their attention was directed toward encouraging one another and looking for signs which would indicate the inauguration of the Second Advent. {1977 PGD, FSDA 100.1}

 

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Our disappointment was not so great as that of the disciples. When the Son of man rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, they expected Him to be crowned king. The people flocked from all the region about, and cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” Matthew 21:9. And when the priests and elders besought Jesus to still the multitude, He declared that if they should hold their peace, even the stones would cry out, for prophecy must be fulfilled. Yet in a few days these very disciples saw their beloved Master, whom they believed would reign on David’s throne, stretched upon the cruel cross above the mocking, taunting Pharisees. Their high hopes were disappointed, and the darkness of death closed about them. Yet Christ was true to His promises. Sweet was the consolation He gave His people, rich the reward of the true and faithful.

Mr. Miller and those who were in union with him supposed that the cleansing of the sanctuary spoken of in Daniel 8:14 meant the purifying of the earth by fire prior to its becoming the abode of the saints. This was to take place at the second advent of Christ; therefore we looked for that event at the end of the 2300 days, or years. But after our disappointment the Scriptures were carefully searched, with prayer and earnest thought; and after a period of suspense, light poured in upon our darkness; doubt and uncertainty were swept away.

Instead of the prophecy of Daniel 8:14 referring to the purifying of the earth, it was now plain that it pointed to the closing work of our High Priest in heaven, the finishing of the atonement, and the preparing of the people to abide the day of His coming.  {LS 62.3 – 63.2}

Light Given to Ellen G. White

From this time, up to December, 1844, my joys, trials and disappointments were like those of my dear Advent friends around me. At this time I visited one of our Advent sisters, and in the morning we bowed around the family altar. It was not an exciting occasion, and there were but five of us present, all females. While praying the power of God came upon me as I never had felt it before, and I was wrapt up in a vision of God’s glory, and seemed to be rising higher and higher from the earth, and was shown something of the travels of the Advent people to the Holy City, as will be seen in the vision hereafter.  {ExV 5.3}

While praying at the family altar, the Holy Ghost fell upon me, and I seemed to be rising higher and higher, far above the dark world. 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 first end 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 they might not stumble. And 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 they 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 glorious light which waved over the Advent band, and they shouted Hallelujah! 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 got their eyes off the mark, and lost sight of Jesus, and fell off the path down in the dark and wicked world below. {ExV 10}

 

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Why have I not claimed to be a prophet?–Because in these days many who boldly claim that they are prophets are a reproach to the cause of Christ; and because my work includes much more than the word “prophet” signifies.

When this work was first given me, I begged the Lord to lay the burden on some one else. The work was so large and broad and deep that I feared I could not do it. But by his Holy Spirit the Lord has enabled me to perform the work which he gave me to do.

God has made plain to me the various ways in which he would use me to carry forward a special work. Visions have been given me, with the promise, “If you deliver the messages faithfully and endure to the end, you shall eat of the fruit of the tree of life, and drink of the water of the river of life.”  {RH, July 26, 1906 par. 7-9}

1850 Chart

(Merlin D. Burt [Director, Ellen G. White Estate Branch Office, Loma Linda, CA])

During the last part of 1850, God began giving Ellen G. White visions on the need for a new Adventist Prophetic chart. On November 1, 1850, she wrote a letter, “God shewed me the necessity of getting out a chart. I saw it was needed and that the truth made plain upon tables would effect much and would cause souls to come to the knowledge of the truth.” In a post script to the letter, James White wrote, “The chart is being executed in Boston. God is in it. Brother Nichols has the charge of it.” (Manuscript Release #1163) Otis Nichols, of Dorchester, Massachusetts, was an Adventist lithographer. The chart was first offered for sale in the January 1851 Review and Herald. The next month the price was settled at $2.00 for the hand-colored version.

The 1850 chart bore a remarkable resemblance to the 1843 chart produced by Charles Fitch and Apollos Hale. Significantly, the 1850 chart added new information on the heavenly sanctuary and the third angel’s message. As James and Ellen G. White, Joseph Bates, Hiram Edson and others restudied the prophecies after the disappointment of October 22, 1844 they became convinced that Jesus had begun a special work in the heavenly sanctuary at that time. The third angel’s message (Revelation 14:9-12) with its focus on the law of God, and especially the Sabbath, also was seen as a vital part of the end-time prophecy.

Considered to be the first Seventh-day Adventist prophetic chart, it was hand-colored and measured approximately 31” x 44”. Only a few of the original 300 have survived. . .

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