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WILLIAM MILLER

AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM

George R. Knight

Pacific Press'" Publishing Association


Nampa, Idaho
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
www.pacificpress.com
Contents
Cover design by Gerald Lee Monks
Cover resources: © Review and Herald ® Publishing Association.
Artist: Russ Harlan
Inside design by Aaron Troia

Copyright © 2010 by Pacific Press® Publishing Association A Word to the Reader ..........................................................................................................7
Printed in the United States of America
PART I: Moving Toward the Year of the End
All Rights Reserved
Chapter 1: Millennial Passion ........................................................................................... 13
The author assumes full responsibility for the accuracy of all facts and quotations as • Revival of the Study of Prophecy • Millerism and the Second Great Awaken-
cited in this book. • Millennial Conflict · ing

Chapter 2: The Making of a Millennialist: William Miller's Early Years ........................ 21


You can obtain additional copies of this book by calling toll-free 1-800-765-6955 or • Not Always a Rebel • An Enthusiastic Bible Student
by visiting http://www.adventistbookcenter.com. • The Deistic Years and the War of 1812 • To Preach or Not to Preach
• Back to Christianity

Chapter 3: Miller's Mission to the World .........................................................................38


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:
• A Profile of Miller the Man • A Profile of Miller's Results
• A Profile of Miller's Message
Knight, George R.
William Miller and the rise of Adventism / George R. Knight. Chapter 4: EnterJoshua V. Himes: Mission Organizer...................................................56
p. cm. • Meet J. V. Himes • Organizational Strategist
• Himes Meets Miller • Himes Under Criticism
Includes bibliographical references (pp. 291-321) and index.
• "The Napoleon of the Press"
ISBN 13: 978-0-8163-2432-3 (pbk.)
ISBN 10: 0-8163-2432-8 (pbk.) Chapter 5: More Millennial Missionaries ..... ,,, .................................................................78
1. Miller, William, 1782-1849. 2 M·ll • Josiah Litch Joins the Adventist Mission • Additional Millerite Leaders
1 ente
· movement. 3. Adventists-History.
I. Title. • The Millerite Camp Meetings • Black and Female Lecturers
• The Zealous Charles Fitch
BX6193.M5K65 2010
286.709-dc22 PART II: The Year of the End
2010034678 Chapter 6: Entering the Year of the End ......................................................................... 105
• Progressively Focusing on the Time • Non-Millerite Responses to the
• A Year of Expectancy and Evangelism Arrival of the Year

Chapter 7: Coming Out of Babylon ................................................................................ 119


10 11 12 13 14 • 1 2 3 4 5 • "Boundary Crisis" • Toward Millerite Separatism
• Growing Resistance to Millerism • "Babylon Has Fallen"
Chapter 8: The Spring Disappointment .......................................................................... 134
• A "Final" Evangelistic Thrust • But Christ Did Not Come

Chapter 9: The Tarrying Time .........................................................................................141


• Persevering in "the Work" • Fanaticism in the Ranks
A Word to the Reader
Chapter 10: The "True Midnight Cry" ............................................................................159
• A New Message • "Real" and "Perceived" Fanaticism
• New Leaders in the Seventh Month
• Older Leaders Join the Seventh-Month • Moving Toward October 22
Movement

Chapter 11: The Octob er Disappointment ..................................................................... 184


• Immediate Reactions • The Shut Door and the Forming of
• A Leadership in Turmoil the Battle Line

W
• The Scattering Time
ILLIAM MILLER HAS BEEN CALLED "THE most famous millenarian in Amer­
PART III: Moving Away From the Year of the End ican history."1 Between 1840 and 1844, his message that Christ would
Chapte� 12: Adventism's Radical Fringe .........................................................................209 come "about the year 1843" swept across the United States and beyond.
• The Rise of the Spiritualizers • The Shaker Temptation Although seen as a harmless aberration at first, by 1843 Miller's teaching polarized
• Aberrant Adventism • 'Who Is We?" individuals and churches as they faced the year of the end of the world.
After the passing of the year of the end, several Adventist denominations arose out
Chapter 13: The Albany Reaction....................................................................................228
. uP to Albany • From Albany to Miller's Death · of the ranks of the disappointed Millerites. The most significant of those denomina­
• Albany • The Albany Denommat10 · · ns tions were the Advent Christians and the Seventh-day Adventists.
• Immediately After Albany William Miller and the Rise ofAdventism provides a historical overview of Miller­
ism. Part 1 deals with the personalities and ideas that shaped Millerite Adventism as
�hapte� 14 : Th e �abbatarian Disentanglement ..............................................................251 it approached the time of the expected Second Coming. Part 2 examines the events
B om m Con fu s10n • The Third Angel
• New Personalities • The Gathermg · T'1me and tensions of that climactic year. And part 3 treats the development of Adventism
.
• New Doctnnes: The Answer to Confusion after the passing of the expected time for Christ to come.
Thus a first purpose of this book is to set forth a comprehensive overview of Mil­
lerism. While several books have appeared on the topic, none thus far have sought to
be comprehensive. William Miller and the Rise ofAdventism seeks to fill that gap.
A second purpose of this volume is to explore possible reasons for Millerism's
surprising success. Beyond the usual sociological explanations that highlight external
NOTES ............................................................................................................................291 factors for that success, the present work argues that the vital internal dynamic that
INDEX ............................................................................................................................. J27 thrust the Millerites into the fl.ow of history was a deep certainty, based upon concen­
trated study of the apocalyp tic prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, that Christ

7
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM
AwORD TO THE READER
was coming soon and an impelling con­ saw the publication of five significant the doctoral dissert ations of Alberto
:Needles ro say, the volumes and re-
viction of personal responsibility to warn studies on the history ofMillerism: Clyde Timm19 and Merlin Burt. 20 The Advent-
5 earch
listed above have greatly increased
the world of that good yet fearful news. E. Hewitt's Midnight and Morning e of bothMillerism and the ist Classic Library sponsored by Andrews
In short, the Millerites were mission driven (1983)4; David L. Rowe's Thunder and our knowledg
ld ill which it developed. The present University Press has also made several
because they saw themselves as a prophetic Trumpets: Millerites and Dissenting Reli­ additions to the study of Millerism a nd
::�knot only builds upon previous �ub-
people with a message that the world desper­ gion in Upstate New York, 1800-1850 research mto the rise of Adventism. Included in that
ately needed to hear. That certitude appears (1985)5 ; Michael Barkun's Crucible ofthe lished and unpublished
Millerisrn, bl! t it endeavors to extend and series are republications of Isaac Well-
to be the internal mainspring that led the Millennium: The Burned-over District of come's History of the Second Advent Mes-
Millerites to dedicate their all to their New York in the 1840s (1986)6 ; Ruth Al­ �n·ch that research. I have indicated my
er scholarly debts in the notes. sage with an introduction by Gary Land,2 1
01any oth
task. den Doan's The Miller Heresy, Millennial­
.As noted above, the original title of Sylvester Bliss' Memoirs of William Miller
Such a deeply held conviction seems ism, and American Culture (1987) 7 ; and with an essay by Merlin Burt,22 Joseph
to be a precondition to success in all types the volume edited by Ronald L. Num­ his book was Nlillennial Fever and the
�nd of the World. Outside of editorial . Bates' Autobiography with �n ess�y by
of millennial movements. Without that bers and Jonathan M. Butler entitled The
,
ch anges and the updating of statis tics Gary Land,23 and James White s Life In-
prophetic certainty and its accompanying Disappointed· Millerism and Millenarian­ . .
and some of the bibliographic entries, the czdents with an essay by Jerry Moon.241n
sense of urgent responsibility, millennial ism in the Nineteenth Century (1987). 8
content remains largely the same. I have, addition to those works, my 1844 and the
Rise of Sabbatarian Adventism repub­
movements begin to atrophy. With their My own work on the topic w as first
mainspring absent, they lose their dy­ published in 1993 as Millennial Fever however, corrected those factual errors
that have come to my attention. lished many of the most important Mil-
namic for vit ality and growth. and the End of the World: A Study ofMil­
Since the initial publication in 1993 lerite and early S abbat arian Adventist
Scholars largely neglected serious lerite Adventism. 9 I w as indebted not on
ly several works dealing withMiller and the documents along with introductory es­
study of Millerism until the 1980s. For to those scholars listed above, but
also to rise of Adventism have come off the says.25
decades that study was largely frozen be­ the unpublished work of many othe
r stu­ press. Foremost among those especially My appreciation continues to go out
tween the poles of Clara Endicott Se ars' dents. Of special value were t
he u�pub­ dedicated to Millerism have been David to the many libraries a nd archives t hat
Days ofDelusion (1924)2 and Francis D. lished research of D avid
Arthur10 and Rowe's God's Strange Work: William Miller provided me with d ocuments du ring
Nichol's The Midnight Cry (1944). While Everett Dick. 11 Two othe
3
r info rm ative and the End of the World 14 and the doc- the fifteen years of my initial study of
the first of those books was anecdotal and studies have been P. Gerar
d Damsteegt's toral dissertation py Tommy L. Faris on Millerism. Foremost among those li­
critical, the second was scholarly but ad­ Foundations of the Sevent
h-day Adventist William Miller as a man of "common b raries and arch ives wer e t hose at A n-
mittedly apologetic. In spite of its defen­ Message and Mission12
and the fo urth vol­ sense."15 Another valuable contribution to drews University, Aurora University,
sive flavor, Nichol's work did much to ume of LeRoy E. Froom
's The Prophetic the field is Gary Land's historiographical Oberlin College, Cornell University, the
correct misconceptions about Millerism Faith of Our Father
s. 13 While those last essay onMillerism. 16 New works especially Massachusetts Historical Society, and the
in scholarly works touching upon the two focus more on
Miller's system of pro­ helpful on the post-disappointment rise American Antiquarian Society. Ongoing
topic. phetic interpretation than on the history of Sabbat ari an Adventism inrlude Ger­ gratitude for my early study of the topic
The 1980s witnessed a flurry of book­ of Millerism,
they provide students of ald Wheeler's fames White: Innovator and is also extended to Sandra White of the
length studies in this neglected are a of Millerite hist
ory with an abundance of in­ Overcomer, 17 my Joseph Bates: The Real interlibrary loan department of Andrews
American religious history. That decade sight unav
ailable in other secondary works.
Founder of Seventh-day Adventism, 18 and University, to Louise Dederen and Jim
8
9
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM

Ford of the Adventist Heritage Center at Timm, and Richard Schwarz for reading
Andrews University, and to Susan L. Craig the manuscript; to Bonnie Tyson-Flyn,
of Aurora University and her staff in the who guided the book through the edito­

Part I
Jenks Memorial Collection of Adventual rial process; and to the administration of
Materials. For copies of the photographs Andrews University who provided finan­
used in this work and its predecessor, I am cial support and time for research and
indebted to the late David Arthur of Au­ writing.
rora University, Jim Nix of the Ellen G. Special appreciation for the revised

MOVING TOWARD
White Estate, and Janice Little of Loma edition goes to my wife Bonnie for the
Linda University. endless hours she has spent developing
Additional appreciation for the initial an electronic copy of the manuscript and
publication of this material goes to Bon­
nie Beres, who typed the manuscript; to
entering in corrections and changes.
Without her dedication and patience the
THEYEAROF
publication of William Miller and the Rise
THEEND
Heidi Bergan, who spent countless hours
searching out and copying documents; to ofAdventism would have been impossible.
Joseph Karanja, who also assisted in doc­
ument collection; to Donald Dayton, George R. Knight
Ronald Knott, Gary Land, Alberto Rogue River, Oregon

10
Chapterl
MILLENNIAL PASSION

I
N 1818 A RECENT CONVERT TO Christiaqity came to the shocking conclusion that
Jesus Christ would personally and visibly return to earth to set up His eternal
kingdo m i.n about twenty-five years-1843. That conclusi on filled William
Miller with both joy and uneasi ness. The joy stemmed from his belief that the sor­
rows of earth would soon be over; the uneasiness, from both the realization that he
had a responsibility to warn the world if his conclusions were true and the nagg ing
fear that his calculations could be wrong. 1

Revival of the Study of Prophecy


Miller was not alone in his hope for a soon-coming millennial kingdom . "America
in the early nineteenth century," claims Ernest S andeen, "was drunk on the millen ­
nium ."2 Christians of all stripes believed they were on the very edge of the king dom
of God.
The frightfully destructive Lisbon earthquake of 1755 had directe d the minds of
many to the topic of the end of the world , but the most important stimu lus found
rootage in the events of th e French Revolutio n in the 1790s. The social and political
upheavals then taking place reminded people of biblical descriptions of the end of the
world . Eyes were turned to the biblical prophecies of D aniel and the Revelation by
the violence and mag nitude of the French catastrophe. 3
In particular, many B ible students soon developed an interest in the time prophe­
cies and the year 1798. In February of that year, N apoleon's genera l B erthier had

13
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM MILLENNIAL PASSION

marched into Rome and dethroned Pope Bible's apocalyptic prophecies. ''But the heavens and one thousand years.
didn't Peter write:
Pius VI. Thus 1798, for many Bible A belief in the fulfillment of Daniel h are now, by the same As a result, George Bush, professor of
scholars, became the anchor point for 12:4 and the unlocking of the 1260-year/ the earth, whic
store, reserved unto fire Hebrew and Oriental literature at New
word are kept in
correlating secular history with biblical day prophecy of Daniel 7:25 encouraged York City University, could write to
ainst the day of judgment and perdi­
prophecy. Using the principle that in students of prophecy to continue their
prophecy a day equals a year, they saw exciting explorations. They soon came
! 0 of ungodly men'' (2 Peter 3:7)? Miller:
)Y1iller's ultimate conclusion was that
the capture of the pope as the "deadly across the 2300-day prophecy of Daniel the While I have no question that well­
che cleansing of the earth by fire at
wound" of Revelation 13:3 and the ful­ 8:14: "Unto two thousand and three hun­ informed students of prophecy will
end of the 2300 days represented the
fillment of the 1260-year/day prophecy dred days; then shall the sanctuary be 8 admit that your calculation of the
corning of Christ in judgment. There­
of Daniel 7:25 and Revelation 12:6, 14 cleansed." LeRoy Froom has documented Times ... is not materially erroneous,
fore, the Second Advent would take place
and 13:5.4 the fact that more than sixty-five exposi­ they will still, I believe, maintain that
about 1843, before the one thousand
Bible scholars, notes Sandeen, be­ tors on four continents between 1800 you have entirely mistaken the nature
yea rs, or millennium, of Revelation 20.
lieved they now had "a fixed point in the and 1844 predicted that the 2300-year/
At that time of the events which are to occur when
prophetic chronology of Revelation and day prophecy would be fulfilled some­ those periods have expired. . . . The
Daniel. Some of them felt certain that time between 1843 and 1847. While expiration of these periods is to intro­
the dead saints or bodies will arise,
they could now mark their own location there was a general consensus on the time . duce, by gradual steps, a new order of
those children of God who are alive
in the unfolding prophetic chronology."5 of the prophecy's fulfillment, however, things, intellectual, political and
then, will be changed, and caught up
At last, many suggested, the prophecy there were widely differing opinions over moral. ...
to meet the Lord in the air, where
of Daniel 12:4 was being fulfilled. Six the event to transpire at its conclusion.6 The great event before the world is
they will be married to him. The
hundred years before the birth of Christ, Thus there was a sense in which Miller not its physical conflagration, but its
World and all the wicked will be
Daniel had written: "But thou, 0 Daniel, was in good company. After all, he also moral regeneration. 10
burnt up (not anihilated [sic]) and
shut up the words, and seal the book, had come to his conclusion through
then Christ will descend and reign
even to the time of the end: many shall studying the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14.7 Charles Finney, the greatest Ameri­
personally with his Saints; and at the
run to and fro, and knowledge shall be Miller, however, radically differed with
end of the 1000 Years the wicked will can evangelist of the second quarter of
increased" (cf. v. 9). Because of world nearly all of his contemporaries on the
be raised, judged and sent to everlast­ the nineteenth century, also set forth the
events, many came under conviction that
concluding event of the prophecy. ing punishment.9 prevailing view when he penned in 1835
they had arrived at the "time of the end."
Beyond the 2300 days, the key, sym­ that "if the church will do her duty, the
As never before, the eyes of Bible stu­
bols of Daniel 8:14 were the sanctuary Millennial Conflict millenium [sic] may come in this country
dents literally "ran to and fro" over Dan­
and its cleansing. Through systematic The conclusion that Christ would in three years." A few years later, Finney
iel's prophecies as they sought to get a
study, Miller concluded that the only come about 1843, before the millennium, wrote: "I have examined Mr. Miller's
clearer understanding of end-time events.
things the sanctuary could represent in was the point at which Miller differed theory, and am persuaded, that what he
The late eighteenth and early nineteenth
the 1840s were the earth and the church. from nearly all of his contemporaries. expects to come after the judgement, will
centuries witnessed an unprecedented
come before it [i.e., the millennium]."
11
He also had come to believe that the The conventional wisdom of the day was
number of books being published on the The Oberlin Evangelist, in combating
cleansing would be by fire. After all, that Christ would come at the close of the
14 15
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE R1sE oF AovENTISM MILLENNIAL PASSION

Millerism, noted in 1843 that "the world ment that would be as a "city upon a hill " -e maJ· or factors in Ameri. can cul- citizens of the twenty-first century, who
beca,p .
is not growing worse but better " because to enlighten the Old World. ll!e· I n addition, there were societies es- have witnessed two world wars and in ­
of the efforts at reform being carried out t
That perspective was greatly height­ the promotion of public numerable holocausts in the political,
tablished for
by the churches and other reformers. ened by the American Revolution and its er treatment of the de�, economic, and social realms, to grasp its
Henry Cowles could write in like manner resulting democratic "experiment." Even education; bett
tated, and pns­ power. Modern people have come to see
blind, mentally incapaci
that "the golden age of our race is yet to secular Americans came to have a sense sexes and races; that new inventions do not necessarily
onersj the equality of the
come; ...numerous indications of Prov­ of millennial destiny in the nineteenth social realm, one mean social and moral progress. They
and so on. Beyond the
idence seem to show that it may not be century as they came to see themselves as know that too often the technological
finds organizations spon oring p�rsona
l
very distant." But, he hastened to add, "God's New Israel" and a "Redeemer Na­ m and communicative advances of the last
betterment in such areas as moral refor
"the event cannot take place ... without tion. " Thus Ernest Tuveson can speak of can two centuries have been put to less than
and health-including the Ameri
appropriate human instrumentality. . . . a "secular millennialism." 13 Undergirding · ty.14 constructive uses.
Vegetarian Soc1e
The Church therefore might have the such perspectives were the extremely As a result, the optimism of the early
Religionists and secularists generally
Millenium [sic] speedily if she would."12 positive evaluations of human nature and nineteenth century has evaporated. On
pooled their energies and resources in t�e
In summary, Bush, Finney, Cowles, a concept of the infinite perfectibility the other hand, that optimism was quite
of hope of perfecting society through social
and others were not out of harmony with humanity that the nineteenth century real to people 170 years ago. In fact, it
in­ and personal reform. But religionists
Miller on the nearness of the millennium herited from the previous century's was the mainspring that fueled their
En­ went beyond their contemporaries
but on its meaning and the events needed lightenment. many. efforts to bring about the millen ­
through the establishment of such enti­
to bring it about. For them the soon ­ In other words, social and religious nium.If people worked harder at reform,
ties as Bible societies, home and foreign
coming millennium would be a thousand leaders believed that, in spite of the belief ran, they could have a part in
a rather mission societies, Sunday-school unions,
years of earthly peace and plenty brought brutish past, recen t political ushering in the thousand years of increas­
and techno­ and associations for the promotion of
about through social reform, nation:tl logical breakthroughs had ing peace anq plenty that would climax
begun to pro­ Sunday sacredness.
progress, and personal perfection. It was vide the machinery for with the second coming of Christ at the
the creati9n of The first half of the nineteenth centu-
that vision that fueled the multiplicity of heaven on earth, with end of the millennium.
the United States ry was awash in formal societies aimed at
social and personal reforms characteriz- leading the way. Based
, upon such individual and social perfection.Such as­ It was that positive millennial vision
ing much of the nineteenth century. One thoughts, the Anglo-Saxo and hope that Millerism challenged. It was
n world of the sociations were not at the edges of Amer­
of the cenwry's most powerful ideas was early nineteenth centu a challenge to the core belief of mainline
ry was filled with ican society, but at its very heart. While
that the millennial kingdom could be hu�dreds of social America that the golden age could be
and personal reform the roots of the reform efforts are found
brought about by human effort. movements for the betterment of human brought about through human effort.
in the late eighteenth century, such ef­
That idea not only stood at the center society. Thus what Ruth Alden Doan has called
forts came to a climax between the 1820s
of religious reform, but it also energized Reform societies arose in the early the "Miller Heresy" was not in Advent­
and the 1840s.
American.s in the political realm. From as nineteenth centu
ry in almost every con­ Thus Millerism was born into a world ism's doctrines but in its "radical super­
early as the 1630s, the founders of the ceivable area of
human interest. It was in rife with millennial expectation: a world naturalism."15
Puritan commonwealth had seen New these decades that At Millerism's very fo1.1ndation was a
campaigns for the aboli­ affected by millennial passion to such an
England as a religious/political experi- tion of slavery, pessimism that human society would not
war, and the use of alcohol extent that it is almost impossible for
16 17
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM MILLENNIAL PASSION

achieve its grandiose schemes. Instead, of a generation of Americans (including Again, David Rowe notes, "Millerites eral natural disasters of the period) made
the solution to the human problem would William Miller, as we shall see in chapter ing because they were so many wonder what had happened to hu­
are not fascinat
come through God's breaking into his­ 2) were affected by that change. Between one else but because man progress.20
different from every
tory at the Second Advent. That alterna­ 1800 and 1850, the percentage of church their neighbors." Unlike Thus Miller's message spoke to the
they were so like
tive solution set forth in God's Word members in the nation increased from and other times. It is probably no accident that en­
the Mormons and Shakers
would have at least two effects: (1) It about 5 or 10 percent to about 25 per­ period, the Miller­ thusiasm for his message took a giant
radical groups of the
would make the Adventist solution im­ cent.16 Beyond membership fi res, orthodox step forward in 1838 and 1839. In addi­
gu ·tes were both traditional and
mensely popular with those sectors of the Christianity saw a new birth in the life of �n their theology and lifestyle. 'To this tion, we should keep in mind the fact
population that were also becoming disil­ the nation. One effect of that new birth that agricultural prices, after falling
fact," Rowe points out, "lies the secret of
lusioned with human programs in the was the millennial drive inherent in many 18 most sharply between 1841 and 1843, finally
their success." It was easy for
late 1830s and early 1840s, and (2) it of the reform movements noted above. reached their lowest point in March
Americans to accept Millerism once they
would eventually lead to a showdown in 1843, at the very time that Millerism was
Millerism was born into a world ex­ accepted the premillennial return of
the churches between the optimistic be­ cited with religion and religious themes. moving into its climactic phase.21
Christ, since they did not need to adjust
lievers in human effort and the pessimis­ Religion was a dynamic, growing enter­ In the troubled world of the late
other aspects of their belief structure.
tic Adventists as the "year of the end" ap­ prise in the United States in the 1830s By the late 1830s, the revivalistic en­ 1830s, Millerism began to make sense to
proached. and 1840s, and Millerism was well thusiasm of the period between 1825 and more people. People were looking for an­
adapted to capitalize on that dynamic ex­ 1835 was beginning to wane. Even the swers in both their personal and social
Millerism and the Second Great pansion. Billy Graham of the day-Charles worlds.
Awakening Recent scholarship has repeatedly Finney-had settled into a professorship Miller had a message that seemed to
Meanwhile, the rise of Adventism pointed out the essentially orthodox na­ at Oberlin College in Ohio, from which many to provide those answers. As a re­
took place during America's greatest reli­ ture of Millerite Adventism. As Whitney he still made annual evangelistic forays. sult, throughout the 1830s and early
gious revival. That revival, known as the Cross put it, aside from Millerism's ad­ 1840s, he (and later his ministerial col­
But evangelism was no longer his full­
Second Great Awakening, did more than vocacy of the personal coming of Christ time business.19 leagues) received an unending stream of
anything else in the history of the young in the 1840s, invitations to hold revivals in the churches
Beyond the waning of evangelistic ex­
nation to transform the United States of the evangelical denominations. Pas­
citement, the severe Panic (or economic
into a Christian nation. tors found in Miller a man who could
Miller achieved no startling novelty. depression) of 1837 and its continuing
The early decades of the nineteenth His doctrine in every other respect effects into the early 1840s had damp­ revive the sagging evangelistic thrust of
century saw (1) a turning away from De­ virtually epitomized orthodoxy. His ened the optimism of many Americans the Second Great Awakening.
ism (a skeptical belief that rejects Christ­ chronology merely elaborated and re­ regarding the efficacy of human effort to Millerism, therefore, has been viewed
ianity with its miracles and supernatural fined the kind of calculations his con­ bring about the millennium. It should be by several scholars as the final segment of
revelation), which many had come to as­ temporaries had long been making noted that "prices fell farther between the Awakening. Everett Dick has dem­
sociate with the atrocities of the French but became more dramatic because it 1839 and 1843 than between 1929 and onstrated that the "maximum point in
Revolution, and (2) a turning toward was more exact, and because the pre­ 1933-42 percent as against 31 percent." gains [of church members in several de­
evangelical Christianity. A large portion dicted event was more startling.17 Such brutal statistics (coupled with sev- nominations] came at the exact time that
18 19
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM

Miller expected Christ's advent." And economic depression and dis illusionment
Richard Carwardine notes that "in strictly with reform. But the phenomenon ex­
statistical terms the peak of the Awaken­ tends beyond those explanations.

ing came in this adventist phase of 1843- The present book argues that the vital
44."22 conviction that thrust the Millerites into Chapter2
The Millerite crusade, therefore, the flow of h istory was a deep cer tainty,
should not be seen as a separate move­
ment from the Second Great Awaken­
based upon concentrated study of the THE MAKING OF A MILLENNIALIST:
apocalyptic prophecies of D aniel and
ing, but as an extension of it. As such,
Dick is probably correct in his assessment
Revelation, that Christ was coming soon
and that they had a personal responsibil­
WILLIAM MILLER'S EARLY YEARS
that 'William Miller may justifiably be ity to warn the world of that good yet
considered the greatest evangelistic influ­ fearful news. In short, they saw them­

A
ence in the northeastern United States selves as a prophetic people with a mis­
between 1840 and 1844."23 sion to present a message that the world N UNLIKELY CANDIDATE TO BECOME A p�eacl�er. :hat w�uld have been the
t ies.
Unfortunately for Miller and his desperately needed to hear. obvious evalu ation of those who knew Miller m his twen
making fun of
cause, most converts made by Adventist Just as the postmillennial churches In fact, William Miller at that time was more interested in
he found those preachers in his own
preachers between the 1830s and mid- were thrust into social reform in the be­ preachers than in emulating them. In particular,
of rnn. Those "f:avore_d" bY �uch
family to be especially good targets for that brand
L.
1842 were probably converts to general lief that they needed to do their part to
ster) and his uncle Ehhu Miller,
Christianity rather than to Adventism's bring about the millennial kingdom, so activity were his grandfather Phelps (a Baptist mini
peculiar premillennial doctrine. But that the Miller ite Adventis ts were catapulted of the Low Hampton Baptist Church .
nal peculiarities afforded
would change as Millerism approached into a "preaching frenzy" by their convic­ Miller's mimicking of his grandfather's and uncle's devotio
the year of th e end of the world. tion in the nearness of the Second Com­ high ent ertainment for his skeptica
l associates. He imitated, with "ludi�rous grav�ty,"
d even the gnef th ey might
Students of American history have ing. Their mathematical demons trations his relatives' "words, tones of voice, gestures, fervency, an
1
put forth several reasons for what Cross of that nearness greatly intensified that manifest for such as himself."
functioned as a state-
calls " the amazingly rapid growth" of burden as they sought to warn a world of Beyond entertainment for his friends, such exhibitions also
times of rap id cultural
Millerism.24 Part of that growth can be the rapidly approaching climactic event ment of who young Miller was. Like other young people in
expl ained by such sociological forces as of the ages. transition, Miller had gone through his own
identity crisis. Part of his rebellion
against his family had undoubtedly b een an
aspect of the perennial struggle of ado­
ts.
2
lescents to discover who they are in contradistinction to their paren
s and �dolesce�ts.
That struggle, unfortuna tely, is equally hard on both parent
of his entertain­
Such was the case ofWilliam's deeply r eligious mother, who knew
he r el des t so n
ing antics but found them anything but funny. To her, the actions of _
, Will iam had no t a lw a y s b e en a reli-
were "the bitterness of death." Interestingly
3

gious rebel.

20 21
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE R1sE OF AnvENTISM
THE MAKING OF A MILLENNIALIST: WILLIAM MILLER'S EARLY YEARS
Not Always a Rebel that time still a decade and a half away.
eventually include six­ William, however, had his own plans.
Far from being a congenital religious This self-portrait of a fearful-of-judgment home that would
meant that, due to financial When he believed the other members of
rebel, William in his earliest years had preadolescent goes a long way to explain teen children
. ency' William's education was not the family to be asleep, he would read by
been intensely and painfully devout. In his adolescent rejection of religion. It string
. lied with a large parental library. the light of hoarded pitch wood, which
fact, the first page of his diary (which he also helps explain why he developed a ennc
'lbe Bible, the Psalter, and the prayer he secreted each day during his wood­
began to keep in his teens) contains the vengeance toward his uncle Elihu, who,
only books De- chopping duties. That plan worked well
statement: "I was early educated and as pastor of William's local church, un­ book were his parents' :
th e lack ' his mothe taught him to until the night his father awoke to the
taught to fear the Lord." Being the only doubtedly exacerbated his anxiety sp1·te r

descriptive statement about himself in read Beyond that, between his ninth and light of the unexpected fire and thought
through preaching the hellfire sermons
the diary's introduction, it must have fourteenth years, he attended the rather the house was burning. Sylvester Bliss re­
that were standard Baptist pulpit fare of
seemed important to him as a distin­ primitive local school for three months ports that the father "hurried from his
the times. Such pressure on a tender con-
guishing characteristic. 4 each winter after the farm work was com­ bed, and when he saw his son's . . . em­
science probably also explains his indeco­
Earlier, between ages seven and ten, pleted for the year. Unfortunately, the ployment, he seized the whip, and pursu­
rous caricature of his grandfather Phelps.
William reports that he was often con­ caliber of teachers employed then by ru­ ing his flying son, cried out, in a manner
His grandfather, however, while per­
cerned with the welfare of his soul, espe­ ral schools left much to be desired, and which made it effectual for some time,
haps not as sensitive as he could have
cially in regard to future destiny. "I William soon transcended their limited 'Bill, if you don't go to bed, I'll ho rsewhip
been in his evangelism, later showed keen
spent," he later wrote, abilities. As a result, he was largely self­ you.,, "9
insight toward the struggle taking place 8
taught through reading. By William's fourteenth year, his fa­
in the rebellious heart of his postadoles­
much time in trying to invent some Reading, of course, implied that he ther had mellowed to the extent that he
cent grandson. Phelps sought to console
plan, whereby I might please God, had access to both books and time to agreed to a,plan whereby the son could
William's mother regarding the mimick­
when brought into his immediate spend with them. Young Miller's inge­ purchase a book now and then if he
ing by saying, "Don't afflict yourself too
presence. Two ways suggested them­ nuity in obtaining both commodities says earned the money by extra wood chop­
deeply about William. There is some­
selves to me, which I tried. One was, a lot about him as a person. ping during his leisure hours. The first
thing for him to do yet, in the cause of
to be very good, to do nothing wrong, The stringent economy of the Miller two books attained under that p rog ram
were the History of Crusoe and a novel en­
God."6 Unfortunately for her, it would
tell no lies, and obey my parents. But family meant that William would have to
titled The Adventures ofRobert Boyle. 10
take time for that prophecy to reach ful­
I found my resolutions weak, and borrow books if he were to have anything
fillment.
soon broken. The other was to sacri­ to read. But even borrowing books did Meanwhile, the better-positioned gen­
In the meantime, young William de­
fice; by giving up the most cherished not solve the problem, since he had to tlemen in William's locale, seeing his po­
veloped along other fronts. Of special
objects I possessed. But this also work long hours on the family farm if his tential, continued to loan him books.
import was his love of books and learn­
failed me; so that I was never settled parents were to make ends meet. Because Thus in late adolescence he became a stu­
ing, an aspect of his character that would
and happy in mind, until I came his father feared that night reading might dent of ancient and modern history, pro­
to have much to do with both his departure
Jesus. 5 interfere with the efficiency of William's viding a background that would eventually
from and his reconciliation to Christian­
daily work, he insisted that William go to help him in his study of the Bible. "By
ity.?
That coming to Jesus, however, wa bed at the same time as the rest of the the kindness of these gentlemen," Joshua
s at Being born into a frontier farmer's
family. Himes wrote in 1842, "he was enabled to
22
23
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM THE MAKING OF A MILLENNIALIST: WILLIAM MILLER'S EARLY YEARS

store his mind with a vast collection of had led to his imprisonment under the reachers themselves.
14
tion of conflict on the horizon, he had
historical facts, which have since been of Sedition Act of 1798. Lyon held to the P It was in that state of mind that Miller been elected as a lieutenant of the Ver­
so much service to him in the illustration Deism of Ethan Allen, under whom he moved to Poultney, where his new deistic mont militia in 1810. Early in the war he
of the prophecies." During that same had served in the Revolutionary War. s was promoted to militia captain, and by
contacts discussed the difficultie that
time, young Miller was beginning to flex The ex-Congressman had amassed a "in so plausible a the end of the conflict in 1815, he was a
had perplexed him
his writing skills, becoming the local large personal library that served as the he concluded that "the Bi­ captain in the regular army. Much of his
01 an ner" that
"scribbler-general" for young people who "reference center" for his neighbors, in­ tour of duty was spent in being an "evan­
ble was only the work of designing tnen;
needed "verses made." 11 cluding Miller. Both Lyon's books and gelist" (recruiter) for the army, another
and," he penned, ''I discarded it accord­
his companionship aided Miller's drift ingly." He now viewed the Bible as "a talent as a leader and inspirer of people
The Deistic Years and the War of toward Deism. 13 system of craft, rather than of truth." Its that he would later put to a vastly differ­
1812 Miller's doubts about the Bible, how­ rnain function seemed to be to "enslave ent use.17
Miller reached a major turning point ever, did not begin with the move to The war with Britain provided another
the mind of man." On the other hand,
in 1803, when he married Lucy Smith of Poultney. He later admitted that he had turning point in Miller's life. Before
after the manner of Deism, he still be­
Poultney, Vermont. He not only married always been perplexed by what he deemed the war, he had begun to harbor doubts
lieved in a Supreme Being as refleded in
a woman from Poultney, but moved there to be "inconsistencies and contradictions about the adequacy of Deism along at
the world of nature and in a hereafter in
himself That move would be consequen­ in the Bible" that he had been unable to least two lines. First, he had begun to
which happiness would be correlated
tial for him because it put him in contact harmonize, for he reasoned that if the suspect that Deism "tended toward a
with one's moral virtue in the earthly
with both the amply supplied public li­ Bible were what it purported to be, one belief of annihilation, which," he
state. 15
brary of Poultney and the village's deistic must be able to harmonize the seeming Miller remained a Deist for twelve wrote, "was .always very abhorrent to
intelligentsia. "They put into my hands," discrepancies. years. During that period he became a my feelings." Thus he had begun to
penned Miller, "the works of Volt�ire, Before his doubts about the Bible be­ member of the Masons (advancing to the find an incongruity in the deistic struc­
Hume, Paine, Ethan Allen and oth�r de­ came serious, Miller had been "exceed­ highest rank available), became a locally ture of belief. While Deists claimed to
istical writers." Miller also continued to ingly anxious to reconcile all its various active Jeffersonian Democrat, and filled believe in afterlife, in actual fact their
read widely in history. Fortunately for parts, and, unsuccessfully, resorted to all the offices of constable, sheriff, ahd jus­ presuppositions logically led to noth­
him, his new wife was much more favor­ means" within his reach to do so. "I was," tice of the peace. Beyond those accom­ ingness after death.
able to his scholarly bent than his father he wrote, "particularly anxious to have plishments, he owned a relatively pros­ Miller became convinced of that un­
had been, making "it her pleasure and them harmonized by the preachers of the perous farm. All in all, by 1812 William settling reality upon questioning one of
business to relieve him as much as possi­ word; and accordingly embraced every Miller had become one of the foremost his learned Poultney friends, who com­
ble from all the family cares which might opportunity, to present for their removal, citizens of his community. 16 pared life to a candle that burns to noth­
call him away from his books."12 the difficulties under which I labored. But ing. "I was then satisfied," Miller noted,
Given Miller's leadership role in his
Of special importance to Miller's in­ I obt�ined from them no satisfaction." community's civil affairs, it is not surpris­ "that Deism was inseparably connected
tellectual development was Matthew They u�ually referred him to the opinions with, and did tend to, the denial of a fu­
ing to find him in a similat positibn in
Lyon, an anti-Federalist whose political of biblical commentators, which, Miller ture existence." Miller found even the
the military conflict with Great Britain
activities while a member of Congress noted, were as contradictory as the heaven and hell of the Bible preferable to
during the War of 1812. With intima-
24
25
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM THE MAKING OF A MILLENNIALIST: WILLIAM MILLER'S EARLY YEARS

that view but had as yet no basis for re­ It is a solemn thought. Yet, could I be away from his deistic friends and toward
ples (hope of an afterlife and human
garding the Bible as inspired.18 sure of one other life, there would be pri. n ci his Christian heritage. These turnings were
question. Meanwhile, the
The second flaw that Miller began to oodness) into
nothing terrific; but to go out like an symbolized by moving his family from
g in September 1814
perceive in the deistic gospel came from gBatcle of Plattsbur. .
extinguished taper, is insupport­ Poultney back to his parental home in Low
d :Miller to question a thi rd de1st1c. doc-
his wide reading in history. Deism, in able-the thought is doleful. No! lt:eJ'.J. O al pillar-the nonintervention of God
Hampton, New York, and by his again at­
contradiction to traditional Christianity, rather let me cling to that hope which . hurnan affairs. In that battle an Amer-tending the Baptist church that had once
posed that human nature at its best was 1n
warrants a never-ending existence; a been the pulpit of his uncle Elihu.26
basically good and upright. But Miller ican "ap ology for an army" made up of
future spring, where troubles shall Miller's return home with its church at­
and four thou­
could not find that view in history. "The fifteen hundred regulars
cease, and tears find no conveyance; tendance did not mean that he had become
fifteen
more I read," he wrote, "the more dread­ sand volu nteers met and defeated
where never-ending spring shall a Christian. To the contrary, for many
rs, some
fully corrupt did the character of man ap­ thousand crack British regula
flourish, and love, pure as the driven months he lived in the confused no
pear. I could discern no bright spot in the recently having been victorious over Na-
snow, rest[s] in every breast.21 man's land between Deism and Chris­
history of the past. Those conquerors of po1eon.24
tianity. True, he went to church and had
"At the commencement of the Bat-
the world, and heroes of history, were ap­ The hard facts of life were pushing begun seriously to doubt Deism with part
Cap­ tle," penned Miller, "we looked upon our
parently but demons in human form... . tain Miller toward the faith he had of his mind, but with the other he still
once own defeat as almost certain, and yet we
I began to feel very distrustful of all so vigorously rejected. clung to the positive aspects of Deism
were victorious. So surprising a result
men."19 Not only did the war bring Miller's and wrestled with the problematic por­
Miller's war years would bring his De­ Deism to crisis in against such odds, did seem to me like the
the area of death and work ofa mightier power than man." Com­ tions of biblical belief.
ism to crisis in both areas of his discon­ annihilationism
, but it also brought his paring the United States to the children The next turning point in Miller's life
tent. For one thing, the conflict brought doubts about huma
n nature to a climax. of Israel and God's vanquishing of theircame in May 1816, when he discovered
him face to face with the reality of death. While his histo
rical reading had led him himself "in the act of taking the name of
foes, Miller later noted that it appeared
On the civilian front, December 1812 to the conclusion
that human nature was that "the Supreme Being must have God in vain." He had acquired the prac­
saw one of his sisters and his father die not as good
as Deism claimed, he "fondly tice in the army but had come under con­
watched over the interests of this country
within three days of each other.20 cherished the idea" that he would "find in an especial manner, and delivered us viction-probably through the influence
Beyond family deaths, the war years one bright spot
at least in the human char­ from the hands of our enemies."25 of the Low Hampton Baptists-that
made Miller face up to death in a way he acter, as
a star of hope: a love ofcountry­ such a practice was sinful. 27
It was shortly after Plattsburg that
had never had to before. The brutal fact pATRIOTISM "22
Miller began to write letters home about The act of May 1816 may seem small
of death forced him to contemplate his
.
"But," he penned, "two years in the to most people, but Miller's mind had
death (noted above) that held indications
own mortality and its meaning. He wrote
service was enough to convince me that I been agitated on the subject of religion
of a richer and more personal faith. The
to his wife along that line on October 28,
was in an error in this thing also. When I timing was far from accidental; the war for some time. As a result, that "small
1814.
left the service I had become completely act" precipitated an important crisis in
had redirected Miller's religious thinking.
disgusted with man's public character."23 his life. "In the month of May, 1816," he
But a short time, and, like Spencer Thus, on the negative side, the War of later wrote, "I was brought under convic­
[an army friend], I shall be no more.
Back to Christianity
1812 brought two of Deism's cardinal At the close of the war, Miller turned tion; and 0, what horror filled my soul! I
26
27
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AnvENTISM THE MAKING OF A MILLENNIALIST: WILLIAM MILLER'S EARLY YEARS

33 those friends asked Miller point blank


forgot to eat. The heavens appeared like After that, the still-deistic Miller was my delight, and in Jesus Ifound afriend "
brass, and the earth like iron. Thus I con­ regularly invited to read the preselected Again, Miller wrote: how he knew there was a Savior and how
tinued till October, when God opened sermon.30 he knew the Bible was true. He then
my eyes."28 That was the situation on September Jesus Christ became to me the chief­ challenged Miller with his own argu­
Two things happened in September 15, 1816, when the deacons chose a ser­ est among ten thousand, and the ments regarding the Bible's inconsisten­
1816 that prepared Miller for the resolu­ mon on the "importance of Parental Du­ Scriptures, which before were dark cies, contradictions, and mysticism.
tion of his crisis in October. The first ties." Miller choked up soon after begin­ and contradictory, now became the Miller replied that if the Bible was
event was the celebration of the Battle of ning the reading.Before long the moved lamp to my feet and light to my path. God's Word, everything it contained
Plattsburg on September 11.Miller and congregation witnessed the emotionally My mind became settled and satis­ could not only be understood but harmo­
his friends were making preparations for overwrought reader sit down in the midst fied. I found the Lord God to be a nized. Then, Miller later recalled, "I said
a festal ball in "high glee," when they of the message. Miller had reached his Rock in the midst of the ocean of life. to him that if he would give me time, I
stopped their work to attend a sermon spiritual crisis point.31 The Bible now became my chief would harmonize all these apparent con­
the evening before the big party. They re­ A few weeks later, as Miller put it, study, and I can truly say I searched it tradictions, to my own satisfaction, or I
turned from the sermon deeply thought­ "God opened my eyes; and 0, my soul, with great delight.... I wondered would be a Deist still."36
ful. The glee was gone. Mirth and what a Savior I discovered Jesus to be!" why I had not seen its beauty and Miller's response to his deistic friend
thoughts of the dance had been replaced Yet that discovery was not immediate.32 glory before, and marveled that I drove the new convert into an intense
by prayer and praise as the veterans re­ Miller wrestled with himself for some could ever have rejected it. I found study of the Bible that would not only af­
called the circumstances and significance time after September 15. "How," he everything revealed that my heart fect him personally but would also make
of the bitter battle and their "surprising" thought, "can it be proved that such a could desire, and a remedy for every a mark on the course of Christian history.
victory.29 Being does exist?" After all, "to believe in disease of the soul. I lost all taste for
The second event leading toward the such a Savior without evidence, would be other reading, and applied my heart An Enthusiastic Bible Student
resolution of Miller's spiritual crisis took visionary in the extreme." But Miller was to get wisdom from God. 34 William Miller was not one to do
place the following Sunday, September forced to concede the fact that the Bible something halfway. His approach to Bi­
15. Months before that date, Miller's brought to view just the kind of Savior he Thus in 1816 Miller had gone through ble study can be characterized as ener­
mother had discovered that he absented needed to rescue him from his agony. On a conversion experience quite like many getic, thorough, and methodical. He
himself from church whenever the pastor the other hand, he was "perplexed to find of the former Deists of his generation as commenced with Genesis and read each
was out of town. On such occasions the how an uninspired book should develope the Second Great Awakening increas­ verse, "proceeding no faster than the
reading of a message from Prouqfoot's [sic] principles so perfectly adapted to the ingly eroded the ranks of the skeptics.
35 meaning of the several passages should
Practical Sermons was delegated to one of wants of a fallen world." He was finally But some of Miller's acquaintances had be so unfolded, as to leave" him "free
the deacons. Upon inquiry, she discov­ forced to admit to himself that the not forgotten the strength of his former from embarrassment respecting any mys­
ered that Miller did not find the level of "Scriptures must be a revelation from convictions and the forcefulness of his ticism or contradictions."37
the deacon's reading ability to be edify­ God." His point of personal break­ arguments against the Bible and Chris­ "Whenever," he explained,
ing. Miller intimated that if he could do through had been reached. Subsequently tianity.
the reading, he would always be present. he could rejoice that the Scriptures "became Shortly after his conversion, one of I found any thing obscure, my practice

28 29
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM THE MAKING OF A MILLENNIALIST: WILLIAM MILLER'S EARLY YEARS

was to compare it with all collateral Before mentioning his views to any­ flew in the face of the doctrines of the rightly."' On another occasion, he noted
passages; and by the help of one else, however, Miller decided to put that the Bible contains a system of re­
highly educated clergy of his day. Beyond
CRUDEN['s concordance], I examined his conclusions to the test of further Bi­ vealed truths, "so clearly and simply given
that, we should briefly examine the
all the texts of Scripture in which ble study. As a result, between 1818 and that the 'wayfaring man though a fool
thought world of the early nineteenth
were found any of the prominent 1823 he studied every objection that century so that we can better understand need not err therein.' "43
words contained in any obscure por­ came to his mind regarding the soon both Miller and the eventual popularity Closely related to the Jacksonian view
tion. Then by letting every word have coming of the Lord. "During that time," of the potential of ordinary people was
of his movement.
its proper bearing on the subject of he wrote in 1845, "more objections arose The first thing to note is that individu­ the "common-sense" philosophy that had
the text, if my view of it harmonized in my mind than have been advanced by become central to American Christian­
alism had always been strong in North
with every collateral passage in the my opponents since; and I know of no America. That individualism and its ac­ ity. Common-sense philosophy avoided
Bible, it ceased to be a difficulty.38 objection that has been since advanced, companying self-reliance were on the complicated rational explanations and
which did not then occur to me." How­ verge of taking giant steps forward as the focused on the facts (including biblical
Miller pursued his Bible study in that ever, each objection disappeared under 1810s turned into the 1820s. The subse­ facts) as they appeared to the person on
manner for two years, becoming fully careful investigation; "the car of truth quent period in American history would the street. 44
persuaded that the Bible was its own in­ rolled over them, unimpeded in its prog­ come to be known to historians as the Thus Josiah Litch could rejoice that
terpreter. During that study he became ress."41 age of the common man or the Jackson­ Millerism had given the world "a simple,
quite convinced that the chronological By September 1822, Miller felt com­ ian era. plain, common-sense system of interpre­
portions of the Bible deserved serious fortable enough with his conclusions to In the mind-set of the times, a person tation of the sacred canon, so that every
consideration. Thus he did not skip over formally set down a twenty-point state­ did not need to be an expert to run for man, who will take the trouble of reading
the time prophecies of Daniel and Reve­ ment of his beliefs. All of them fit into public office, practice medicine, or do the Bible, and collating the different por­
lation.39 the orthodoxy of the day except article theology. Every person could exercise tions of it, may understand, the word of
It was through the study of such pas­ 15, which stated: "I believe that the sec­ his or her God-given talents. Thus in God without the aid of learned commen­
sages as those referring to the 2300- and ond coming of Jesus Christ is near, even Miller's rules for Bible interpretation, he taries."45
1335-year/day prophecies that in 1818 at the door, even within twenty-one could state that individuals could arrive The Millerite approach had been to
Miller came to the conclusion that Christ years,-on or before 1843."42 Even at truth through their own prayerful make the Bible into a "self-interpreting
would come about the year 1843. He had though by 1822 Miller was secure enough study of the Bible, even "though they book" so that all could understand it.
not been looking for that information in his beliefs to put his conclusions in may not understand Hebrew or Greek." That approach to Scripture, coupled with
and at first "could not believe it." But af­ writing, he still had a long way to go be­ In 1841 Miller was challenged in regard relatively new ways of looking at the Bi­
ter wrestling with his shocking conclu­ fore he would feel free to publicly preach to his capabilities to teach his views, since ble as a historical book and at numbers as
sion, Miller finally made up his mind them. the unlockers of universal secrets, pro­
he did not know the biblical languages.
that "whatever the Bible teaches I will Before moving to Miller's preaching, vided Miller and his followers a powerful
He promptly replied to his detractor: "'If
hold on to it."40 That decision would however, we should ask how it was that a avenue for reaching out to the American
I am not acquainted with the HEBREW
eventually bring him to the center of na­ population through collating the Bible
layperson like Miller could be so auda­ and GREEK, I know enough to quote
tional controversy. with history and mathematical certainty.
cious as to develop theological ideas that the English texts of the Scriptures
30 31
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM THE MAKING OF A MtLLENNIALIST: WILLIAM MILLER'S EARLY YEARS

Such a composite methodology greatly Christianity in a way that it had not been
at h is hearers' heads rather than their been an avid reader for most of his life. In
appealed to a population only then be­ for most of Christian history. Restora­
hearts or emotions. a world in which much of the published
coming a "calculating people" in the tionism provided a religious perspective Literalism also stood close to the spirit literature was theological and biblical, it
1820s and 1830s. Given the recent devel­ that tended to byp ass such modes of au­ seems to be quite reasonable to assume
of Miller's time. Most people believed
opments in mathematical literacy, almost thority as the church, tradition, philo­ that he had examined vatious religious
that literalistic interpretations of the Bi­
anyone could perform the necessary sophical speculation, and all human the­ and biblical works before he began his
ble spelled faithfulness, while allegorical
computations, once provided the histori­ dries.47 intense study of the Bible in 1816. It was
or metaphorical interpretations implied
cal starting dates, to arrive at Miller's Millerism found itself in the mind-set only at that time that he said: "I laid by
that the Bible was not being taken seri-
conclusions.46 of the restorationist drive as it both di­ all commentaries, former views and pre­
ous1y.50
Another important element in Amer­ rected people back to the Bible and possessions, and determined to read and
Miller was in tune with that mentality
ican Christianity in the early nineteenth sought to restore the "true" (or New Tes­ when he wrote in his rules of Bible inter­ try to understand for myself."52
century that greatly influenced and aided tament) doctrine of the Second Coming. pretation that if a Bible passage "makes It is also reasonable to believe that a
Millerism was restorationism. Christian As a result, restorationism provided Mil­ good sense as it stands, . . . then it must man with Miller's breadth of interest in
restorationism at its heart is the drive to lerism with both a theological method be understood literally." Beyond that, reading along historical and religious
get back to and to restore the ideals of the and a dynamic force that propelled it once he had discovered the biblical pas­ lines could not have been completely ig­
Bible. across the nation. Along that line, histo­ sages that unlocked their symbolism, norant of the interpretations of his day.
Undergirding restorationism is the rian Whitney Cross has noted
that "no Miller even gave literal, historical mean­ After all, he did have, he claims, some
belief that the New Testament church is other enthusiasts of the half centur
y .. . ings to :figurative passages of Scripture, views to lay aside. In addition, even in his
the ideal model for God's people in all stuck so closely and exclusively
to the such as the parables and prophetic imag­ deistic days, he was aware that the views
ages. That model had been lost in the Bible as did the Millerites."48
ery. Such a straightforward approach of biblical commentaries were as diverse
medieval period. Recovery of New Tes­ Two final points that we should note made Miller's exegesis appealing and as those of preachers. That statement
tament Christianity had begun iri the about the thought world of
the times of perhaps, notes Ernest Sandeen, gave the shows at least a minimal a�quaintance
Reformation, but the post-Reformation William Miller are that it put
a premium Millerites "their most effective recruiting with such works. Along that same line,
churches had not completed their task of on rationalism and literali
sm. The ratio­ argument."51 one of his daughters remarked in i843
getting altogether back to the forms and nalistic element was the
heritage of the So far we have seen that both William that two authors on the prophecies that
doctrines of :first-century Christianity. eighteenth-century Enlightenment and Miller's theological views and his meth­ he distinctly remembered having read
That task, many evangelical believers its religious expression, Deism
. Miller ods were in harmony with his times. That prior to 1816 were Newton and Faber.
in the new nation held, was part of their and his generation lived
in a world highly inevitably raises the question as to whether Beyond those facts, there appears to be
millennial mission. Such a view of Chris­ appreciative of ration
al approaches to he really got his interpretation of proph­ some validity to Michael Barkun's assess­
tian mission drove people back to the everything, includ
ing religion. Thus ecy from independent Bible study or ment that "the congruence between his
Bible in their attempt to recover what Miller could refer
to his experience with whether he imbibed it from others. Biblical interpretations and older read­
had been lost. Thus the Bible in the early Scripture as a
"feast of reason."49 Fol­ The answer to that query is probably ings of millenarian symbols strongly im­
nineteenth century became a potent force lowing that
lead, Miller's evangelistic much more complex than is generally plies access to an oral if not a written ex­
in the development of new forms of method, as we
shall see, definitely aimed granted. On the one hand, Miller had egetical tradition."53
32 2-W.M. 33
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM THE MAKING OF A MILLENNIALIST: WILLIAM MILLER'S EARLY YEARS

On the other side of the issue, there is Miller's home in his absence. Being dis­ their origin, that was rectness of his original conclusions, his
conc lusions, not .
every indication that in formulating his appointed at not being able to meet with ment. protect10n was gone. "The duty, " he
prophetic position he stuck to his inten­ the essential ele
Miller, the clergyman requested the priv­ Toe core of those conclusions was wrote, "of presenting the evidence of the
tion of studying the Bible alone through ilege of examining his library. "His nearness of the advent to others .. . again
:Miller's conviction that Christ would
the aid of Cruden's Concordance. Even be­ daughter conducted the visiter [sic] into His came home to me with great force."61
come about the year 1843 to rescue
fore his deistic years he had developed a the northeast room, where he has sat so In an attempt to allay his conscience,
;
eople and to cleanse the earth (sanctu­
distaste for commentaries. Again, one of
his most fundamental beliefs relating to
many hours at his . . . desk." Only two ry of Daniel 8:14) with fire. That con­ Miller began in 1823 to privately explain
books-the Bible and Cruden's-"lay his views more clearly to some of his
viction, he penned, filled his heart with
Bible interpretation was that upon the table. 'That is his library,' said neighbors and even to some ministers.
"joy," but it also laid on his conscience a
she. The clergyman was amazed."55 duty to warn the world of coming judg­ Their response certainly did not embold­
scripture must be its own expositor, In spite of the above facts, Miller un­ en the reluctant prophet with confidence.
ment. 58
since it is a rule of itself. If I depend derstood by the early 1840s that his find­ Most thought it an "idle tale,'' and few
on a teacher to expound it to me, and ings were in harmony with those of other listened with any interest. Miller's great­
To Preach or Not to Preach
he should guess at its meaning, or de­ prophetic interpreters. Thus he could est disappointment came in not being
It was "immediately" after he discov­
sire to have it so on account of his write that he believed that "all commen­ able to find a preacher to take his burden
ered the nearness of the advent that Miller
sectarian creed, or to be thought wise, taries agree that these days are to be un­ began to feel a pressing burden for souls. from him.62
then his guessing, desire, creed, or wis­ derstood years." There are several such Thereafter, Miller continued to find
From the beginning he had believed that
dom, is my rule, not the Bible.54 statements by Miller and his colleagues. refuge from responsibility in Bible study.
multitudes of Christians would rejoice in
By the early forties, either Miller himself the good news he had discovered. He That ploy, however, was counterproduc­
Such a belief not only ruled out com­ or his associates had done some compar­ tive, since that very book fueled his anxi­
had no intimations of rejection by either
mentaries, but it fit in perfectly with the ative study between his prophetic system ety. Thus he became "more and more
the churches or their ministers, even
restorationist imperative to get back to and that of other expositors.56 convinced" that he had a "personal duty
though he did suppose "that it would call
the New Testament by bypassing human Sandeen notes that "few non-Adventist forth the opposition of the ungodly."59 to perform respecting this matter."
interpretations. It also linked up with the scholars would contest the general posi­ 'When I was about my business,'' he
Yet he hesitated to present his mes­
Jacksonian faith in the ability of the com­ tion of Adventist historians that Miller penned,
sage to anyone as yet. After all, he could
mon man to understand the Bible with­ formulated his positions on the return be in error. That thought, as we noted
out the aid of experts. of Christ in 1843 quite independently." it was continually ringing in my ears,
above, drove him into another five years
From all the evidence that we have And Barkun attributes Miller's similari­ (1818-1823) of study as he sought to "Go and tell the world of their dan­
Miller appears to have lived by his own ties to others to "independent invention ger." This text was constantly occur­
raise and answer every possible biblical
rules and deep-felt convictions. One rather than diffusion."57 On the other ring to me, "When I say unto the
objection to his theory. 60
contemporary anecdote shedding light hand, nothing essential is lost if Miller's wicked, 0 wicked man, thou shalt
Thus for five years he was able to
on his practice was published by one of nondependence is not as complete as surely die; if thou dost not speak to
shield his sensitive conscience from pain­
Miller's associates in 1843. some would have it. For the Millerites warn the wicked from his way, that
ful thoughts of his responsibility. But by
A minister, the story goes, stopped by it was the biblical faithfulness of his wicked man shall die in his iniquity;
1823, upon satisfying himself on the cor-
34 35
WILLIAM MILLER'S EARLY YEARS
THE MAKING OF A MILLENNIALIST:
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM

me Unfortunately for Miller, he could


but his blood will I require at thy tempo of the pressure on his conscience. 'fo Miller's chagrin, it soon beca
ar- find no relief from his burden to warn the
hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the First, he continued his search to find a known that he was the author of the
He was thereafter, as he put it, world. The urgency of his millennial vi­
wicked of his way to turn from it; if preacher to take his burden. It may have t1. Cles
sion was driving him into mission. "I
he do not turn from his way, he shall been with that hope in mind that he "flooded with letters of inquiry respect-
could not," he penned, "escape the im­
die in his iniquity; but thou hast de­ penned "A Few Evidences of the Time of ·1ng rny views; and visitors flocked to con-
the sub"Ject."69 The pression, 'Go and tell it to the world,
livered thy soul."-Ezek. xxxiii.8, 9. 63 the 2nd Coming of Christ to Elder An­ verse with me on 70
their blood will I require at thy hand.' "
ity
more public­
drus" on February 15, 1831. Undoubt­ rinted page had given him
Even that oft-repeated impression edly, his interviews with Elder Truman than preaching could have.
failed to move Miller to action. Appar­ Hendryx and other ministers in the sum­
ently his fear of rejection by people out­ mer of 1831 had a similar end in view.66
weighed his fear of God. For another Second, being unsuccessful in finding
eight years (1823-1831) the reluctant a substitute, he fell back on the "Moses
prophet continued to resist what he be­ ploy." "I told the Lord," he wrote, "that I
lieved to be the unction of the Holy Spirit, was not used to public speaking, that I
even though he claimed to have had a had not the necessary qualifications to
dream on November 4, 1826, in which gain the attention of an audience, ...that
God had indicated that He would bless they would 'not believe me nor hearken
him if he would be faithful in warning to my voice,' that I was 'slow of speech,
the world.64 and of a slow tongue.'" But he got no re­
On January 14, 1829, however, Miller lief. 67
gave some indication of his future direc­ Third, the fifty-year-old Miller har­
tion, even though he was moving infini­ bored the hope that he could escape the
tesimally slowly when one considers that responsibility for publicly presenting his
he believed Christ would come in a mere beliefs to live audiences if he put them in
fourteen years. On that January date, he print. With that in mind, he prepared a
made his first entry in a small book in series of articles over the signature W. M.
which he noted important remarks on The articles were sent to the Vermont
Sunday sermons. At times he provided Telegraph, a Baptist paper, but the editor
lengthy outlines of those sermons. refused to publish them unless he knew
Whether he realized it or not, he had be­ the author's identity. Miller, supposing
gun a practical course in sermon prepara­ the editor wanted the information for his
tion.65 private use, disclosed his full name. The
In the meantime, Miller took three articles appeared in sixteen numbers of
approaches to avoiding the increasing the paper beginning on May 15, 1832.68
37
36
MILLER'S MISSION TO THE WORLD

to release myself from the covenant I his active life.5


had m ade wi th him; but I could get
no relief. It was impressed upon my A Profile of Miller the Man
conscience, "Will you make a cove­ Miller was not impressive to look at.
Chapter3 nant with God, and break it so soon?" That fact is illustrated by the experience
and the exceeding sinfulness of thus of Timothy Cole, pa stor of the Christian

MILLER'S MISSION TO THE WORLD doing overwhelmed me. I finally sub­ Connexion congregation in Lowell,
mitted, and promised the Lord that if Massachusetts.Having heard (in the late
he would sustain me, I would go, 1830s) of Miller's outstanding success as
trusting in him to give me grace and a revivalist, Cole invited him to hold a
ability to perform all he should re­ series of meetings in his church.
quire of me. 3 Cole went to meet the successful

W
evangelist at the train depot, expecting a
ILLIAM MILLER WAS "TRICKED" INTO PRESENTING his first public sermon The following day Miller preached his ,fashionably dressed gentleman whose
befor e hi s Vermont Telegraph articles had even come off the press. The oc­ first sermon on the Second Advent at demeanor matched his reputation. Cole
casion was a Saturd ay morning in the summer of 1831. He had been hi t Dresden-sixteen miles from his home. watched closely as the passengers de­
with the usual impression to "go and tell it to the world," but this time it came with In spite of initial uneasiness, he noted b arked the train but saw no one who cor­
such force th at he w as compelled to sit down. After telling the Lord that he couldn't that "as soon as I commenced speaking, responded with his expectations. Even­
go, the words "Why not?" came to his m ind. He g ave all his well-worn excuses but all my diffidence and embarrassment tually an unimpressive old man, shaking
was so distressed th at, as he put it, "I entered into a solemn covenant with God, that were gone, and I felt impressed only with with palsy, alighted from the car. To
1
if he would open the w ay, I would go and perform my duty to the world." the greatness of the subject, which, by Cole's dismay, the "old man" turned out
"'Wh at do you mean by opening the way?' " his mind queried. "Why, said I, if I the providence of God, I was enabled to to be Miller. At that point he deeply re­
should h ave an invitation to speak publicly in any place, I will go and tell them what present."4 gretted having invited him to speak at his
I :find in the Bible about the Lord's coming." With that commitment made, Miller's His :first sermon was a resounding church. Someone of Miller's appear ance,
thirteen-year burden was gone a t l ast. After all, he h ad l ittle expectation of being success, so much so that the Dresden he concluded, could not know much
called to preach on the advent, since he h ad never h ad even one invi tation to do so up congregation requested that he rem ain to ab out the Bible.
to th at point.He could relax at l ast, but not for long. 2 lecture the following week. He did so, More than a little embarrassed, Cole
In about a half-hour, he h ad his :first-ever invitation to present his beliefs regard­ with several converts resulting from his led Miller through the b ack door of his
ing the Second Coming."I was," he wrote, expositions. Upon returning home he church and, a fter showing him the pul­
found an invit ation from the Poultney pit, took a se at among the congreg ation.
immedi ately angry with myself for having made the covenant ... ; I rebelled at congregation asking for a similar series of Miller felt a bit ill-used at being left on
once against the Lord, and determined not to go . I left the boy [who h ad come the platform alone but proceeded with
lectures. Those invitations were the be­
with the request] without giving him any answer, and retired in gre at distress to ginning of an unbroken stream of re­ the service.
a grove ne ar by. There I struggled with the Lord for ab out an h our, endeavoring quests that would continue for the rest of But if Cole was unimpressed with
38 39
MILLER'S MISSION TO THE WORLD
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM

. ute· that of the Br. M's lectures." On the other hand,


Miller's appearance, the opposite held favor." Even though "he is not a very well ¢ens1ve and min , .. Fleming reported that Miller preached in
true for Cole's reaction to his preaching. educated man; ... he has read and stud ­ eci es, especi ally, surpnsmgly
roph a manner that placed an "almost univer­
be -
After listening fifteen min utes, he arose ied history and prophecy very closely; has Pfainill' ar.. · · · We have reason to ·
pre.aching or lecturin g sal solemnity on the minds of all the peo-
from his chair among the congregation much common sense, and is evidently lleve that the
has been productive of p1e."10
and went up and sat behind Miller on the sincere in his belief."7 l.VJ.l. , Miller
0f 1u1
ive good. Revivals Such evaluations of Miller's attitudes
platform.Miller lectured daily for a week Miller's utter and transparen t sincerity grea t and extens . . . toward preaching are also evidence
d by
his tram.8
and came back the next month for a sec­ was frequently commented upon,even by have followed m his own remarks. "I have," he observ
ed,
ond series of m eetings. A successful re­ his detractors.For example, the editor of ard
vival followed in which Cole baptized the Lynn Record gives us the following oth n wsp ap ers commented "often obtained more evidence of inw
Ma ny cheek, a d
the piety from a kindling eye, a wet
er e

forty. He eventually had sixty join his report of his visit to a lecture by Miller. ll r's sin ce ity. For exa mp le, �
on Mi fro m all the
r
tha
e
l ished in his home a cho
noi se
(pu b
n
church. Cole himself became a convert to ill
ran ce,
H
ked utte
SandY He rald
istendom." Again, in 1832 when
Miller's views on the nearness of the Sec­ We took a prejudice against this ) d clar ed: "W are n ot prepare d in chr
county w Hampton church was lookin g
e e

on d Adven t.6 good man,when he first came among Y how far th o d m an may be from the Lo
to sa "Some of our
that for a pastor, Miller wrote:
e l

At this juncture we want to look at us,on account of what we supposed a correc t , but on thi ng '
. natl. Com- People want a quick gab. But I [would]1
e we dou bt not
Miller as a man.How did others perceive glaring error in interpreting the . . ,, Ag ain th Cin cm . ."1
ee ] a quick understandmg
, e
[s
e.
er
cer
he is sin
p o ma y ... ath
him, and how did he perceive himself? Scripture prophecies so that the mercial states that "whateve �
r
r
Yet this rather bland- looking farme
r e le

We will discover that Cole's experience world would come to an end in 1843. his b ief, wh ich is p eculiar' �ne
think of to the
a with his colorless style, according
el
was quite typical. We are still inclined to believe this an is co ced d by all, tha t he is
thing eds in
Maine Wesleyan Journal, "succe
n e

Reports concerning Miller are consis­ error or miscalculation . At the same Christ ia at h art .
tion of his auditory for
"9
e
· en a chaining the atten
n
tent in implying that there was nothing time we have overcome our prejudices Mi ll r, s sin c rity mu st hav e be
e
a hal f to two hours."
The
eac�er. an hour and
e
extraordin ary in his physical appearance. against him by atten ding his lectures, major fact or in his suc c ss as a pr
Fountain, a temperance pa-
e

For example, the Maine Wesleyan journal and learning more of the excellent rri all po ts, his pr eachmg editor of The
After all, fro ures
per, attended several of Miller's lect
re r

referred to him as a "plain farmer." Ac­ character of the man,and of the great not any mo re spe ctacula� tha
style was � . Meth-
cording to the New Yor k Herald, Miller good he has done and is doing. Mr. l app ea a c . Th e Cincmnat1 in the New Haven, Connecticut,
his phy sica
·s qm.te an odist Church.While being "utterly disap-
r n e

was "a bout five feet seven inches in Miller is a plain farmer,and pretends not e d t h at "h e 1
" in not witnessing the expected
cial
eech." Again , pointed
Com mer
height,very thick set,[withJ broad shoul­ to nothing except that he made the old-fas hio e ma i his sp
,he noted that Miller was "one
n d n n
ders; lightish brown hair, a little bald, a Scripture prophecies an intense study D. F mi g, of the C asco Street fanaticism
Pastor L.
ing lecturers we have
n
e, of the most interest
le
benevolent counten ance,full of wrinkles, for many years .. . . No one can hear ia Ch urc h of Por tlan d, Ma in
Christ
collection of ever having h�ard."
n
and his head shakes as though he was te of Mi ller : "Th e int erest awakened any re
wro
athless silence . · · reigned
him jive minutes without being con­
slightly afflicted with the palsy." Certainly s is of th mo st d eliberate "Almost bre
vinced of his sincerity, and instructed by his ctu
t the immense throng for two
le re e

there was nothing in Miller's physical ap­ by his reasoning and information.All assi ona t ki d." "Th ere has been throughou
and disp
rs at a time " as Miller pre-
e n
pearance that was outstanding. acknowledge his lectures to be replete g ik pas sion ate exc itement. If or three hou
not hin
sented his messages.12
l e
On the other hand, the Herald points with useful and interesting matter. there has been excitement it has been out et of
What, we must ask, was the secr
out, "his manners are very much in his His knowledge of Scripture is very of doors among such as did not attend
41
40
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM MILLER'S MISSION TO THE WORLD

Miller's appeal, of his preaching power? points. And he proves them, too, to ly. "If I could preach the Coupled with his progressively un­
r11ore serious · .
We have already noted hints of the an­ the satisfaction of every hearer;-that th " he contin ue d to Hendryx, "1t 1s all shakable conviction that God was with
tfll. '
swer in his sincerity of belief and the so­ is, allowing his premises to be cor­ I could ask. Can you tell me how old him was Miller's growing sense of urgency
lemnity that accompanied his judgment­ to warn the world. His burden for those
rect,there is no getting away from his "Noah was when he began to preach? And
hour messages. However, at least two conclusions. 14 Lot,Moses, etc?" Earlier he had written, "sleeping over the volcano of God's
more factors should be added to round ses, that wrath " pushed him to the limit of his en­
1.n the context of his weaknes
out the picture. Miller's evaluations of himself largely durance. In a similar vein, he wrote to
"God ...is able to take worms and thrash
The first is his use of the Bible in a matched those of both his friendly and • "16 Joshua Himes that the souls that he had
mountains.
manner that not only linked prophecy not-so-friendly contemporaries. He been speaking to "are continually before
was The thought that God could use him
and history but also spoke to the felt particularly open in his remarks me, sleeping or waking; I can see them
to Tru­ undergirded the positive side of Miller's
needs of his audience. L. D.Fleming,af­ man Hend , his closest friend perishing by thousands." 18
ryx in the self-perception. "I know my own weak­
ter wondering in print as to the source of 1830s.When the Low Hampton Such thoughts undoubtedly provided
Baptist ness," he wrote to his son, "and I do
Miller's ability to reach especially the Church early in 1833 first Miller with the solemnity that others
talked of giv­ k_now that I have neither power of body
male community with such life-changing ing the fifty-year-old Mille perceived in his preaching. Beyond so­
r a license to or mind to do what the Lord is doing by
force, went on to provide an answer. preach,he wrote to Hend lemnity,Miller's sincerity was informed
ryx for advice on me as an instrument." To Hendryx he
Brother Miller,Fleming penned,"simply whether he should accep by the certainty of his interpretation of
t.After all,Miller wrote in response to his success in the
takes the sword of the spirit, unsheathed mused, he was "too old, the prophecies and the conviction that
too wicked, and midthirties:
and naked, and lays its sharp edge on the too proud " for the hono God was behind his mission to the
r. Two months
naked heart,and it cuts! that is all. Before later he was still filling world.
the Low Hamp­ It astonishes me, and I can only ac­
the edge of this mighty weapon[,] Infi­ ton pulpit. Again he But solemnity was not the only ele-
wrote to Hendryx: count for it by supposing that God is
delity falls, and Universalism withers. "We have no preac ment in Miller's approach to his work.
her as yet-except the supporting the old man, weak,wicked,
False foundations vanish, and Babel's old man with his There are many examples of his good hu­
concordance. And he is imperfect and ignorant as he is, to
merchants wonder." 13 so shunned by his cold, dull & lifeless mor, even in the face of personal criti­
confound the wise and mighty, and
Another aspect of Miller's preaching performance, that cism.Miller told one such example in the
I have strong doubts bring to nought things that are ....
style that had universal power and appeal whether he will form of a dialogue in which he compar�s
attempt again-but hush Infidels, Deists, U niversalists, Sec­
was his logical, rational approach. That not a word of his proclaiming the soon coming of
what I tell you. Send us a tarians: All, all are chained to their
point is highlighted in The Fountain. 'We minister if you
can."15 seats, in perfect silence, for hours, Christ to Noah's warning his neighbors
have," the editors noted, of a flood.The dialogue not only provides
A year later he penned: "You laugh yes days, to hear the Old Stammer­
Bro. Hendryx: to think old Bro. Miller ing Man. ... Oh, my Br., it makes a message on the Second Coming, but it
not the least doubt that he [Miller ] is is preaching. But laugh on, you are not me feel like a worm, a poor feeble answers some of the criticisms leveled at
fully convinced of the truth of the the only one that laughs, and it is all creature. For it is God only that Miller through the use of a Bible parallel.
doctrine he labors so diligently to in­ right, I deserve it." Then Miller goes on could produce such an effect on Miller imagines a conversation between
culcate,and he certainly evinces great to suggest that he was beginning to take such audiences.Yet it gives me con- one of Noah's neighbors and a guest who
candor and fairness in ... proving his his old-age call to the ministry ever had just arrived at his home.
:fidence.17
42 43
MILLER'S MISSION TO THE WoRLD
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM

and they have made more infidels in


Guest. What great building is that no longer ago than yesterday; for the cause it to rain sufficient to destroy
every living thing from the face of the our world than all the heathen my­
in yonder field, on that eminence? old man has been telling some that he
thology in existence. What word in
Host. That is called"Noah's Ark." had prepared rooms for the beasts of earth. I shall have a chance to laugh
revelation has not been turned, twisted,
Guest. But what use is he going to the field, and for the fowls of the air' at the old man four days hence. I told
him to his face that, after his seven racked, wrested, distorted, demol­
put it to? It seems to be built for sail­ and every creeping thing; and yester-
days were ended, he would be ished, and annihilated by these vora­
ing. Surely the old man does not ex­ day they came, two and two of every
cious harp ies in human shape.22
pect to sail on dry land. sort, and entered the ark, apparently ashamed to preach any more, and we
Host. Yes; you are right. The old of their own accord. (Gen. 7:8, 9.) should have some quiet then.19
man says the world is coming to an Miller felt as he got older that his
This, you maybe sure, startled us
end (Gen. 6:13), and he has prepared On another occasion, when Miller temper was becoming shorter. Late in
some; but the banquets and feasts of
he told 1842 he admitted to Himes:"I find that,
an ark to save himself and family; for last night have dissipated the fears of was under criticism for hi s beliefs,
rted that I as I grow old, I grow more peevish, and
all flesh will be destroyed by water, as all, and to-day things are as they his audience: "They have repo
-house cannot bear so much contradiction .
he says. should be. was insane, and had been in a mad
d Therefore I am uncharitable and severe."
Guest. But how does he know this? Guest. It is rather strange; yet it seven years; if they had said a mad worl
d Miller wasn't the only one to note the
Host. He says God told him. cannot be true. God will not destroy for fifty-seven years, I must have plea
Guest. What kind of a man is he? 20 problem. Ten days later an anonymous
the world in the midst of this hilarity guilty to the charge."
He must be a great fanatic, I am and glee, and in the height of all these Of course, Miller, like other human correspondent counseled him that calling
the clergy liars was"not the best way" and
thinking. improvements at the present day. beings, was capable of emotions other
that it turned some people from his
Host. Why, yes; we think he is Much, much of the earth remains yet than humor. From time to time he felt
crazy a little; but you cannot discover to be cultivated and inhabited. Our himself pushed too far or too hard by his teaching.23
Fortunately, the down side of Miller
it in anything else but his building western wilderness is yet to be ex­ critics and would lash out. Thus he could
that great ark, and neglecting his plored and settled. Then the world is refer to th e c1ergy as"dumb dogs, ""rav- was not the most prominent. He had a
farm and other worldly matters. But yet in its infancy-not two thousand ening wo1ves, "'W1se-' heads, " and"wise ' - largely positive message that made a sig­
what he has lost I have gained. years old yet; and you know we have acres" who loved the word"reverend" at­ nificant impact on the Christians of his
Guest. A farmer, say you?-a a tradition that the earth is to wax old tached to their names. God, he held, day.
farmer! Why did not God tell some like a garment. It cannot be true, would ultimately deal with such"priestly
of our "mighty men, which are men what the old man tells you. I will dandies" who had their "consciences A Profile of Miller's Message
of renown"? (Gen. 6:4.) A farmer, cased in corsetts [sic] of steel."21 That message, as we have repeatedly
warrant you the earth will stand many
too! There is no truth in it. But do thousand years yet. Again, Miller in his exasperation once noted above, was that Jesus would return
any believe him? Host. Look! look! there goes the claimed that about the year 1843. Contrary to the ma­
Host. Believe him! No. We have old fool and his family now, I dare say, jority view of his day, Miller preached
other things to attend to, and cannot into the ark. I remember me now' the our learned critics are worse on the that Jesus would come before the begin­
nin g of the millennium. That was
the one
spend time to hear the old farmer. old man told us, four days ago, that, in waters of truth than a school of sharks
But we were all very much startled, seven days (Gen. 7:4-10), God would on the fishing-banks of the north, doctrinal distinctive of his movement.
45
44
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE oF ADVENTISM MILLER'S MISSION TO THE WORLD

He believed that that truth was so impor­ through in his advice to Hendryx. "You w ithhold one moiety [part] of power Litch set forth his and Miller's ap­
tant that his followers should not cloud must," he penned, "preach Bible; you when you make a thrust. Some are in proach to the topic when he wrote: "All
the clarity of their message by emphasiz­ we profess to do is to state certain texts of
must prove all things by Bible; you must the habit of hiding a part of the
ing other doctrinal points. To do so talk Bible; you must exhort Bible; you sword, for fear the enemy will dodge Scripture, 'INFALLIBLE TRUTHS,' and col­
would be to risk creating division in the must pray Bible, and love Bible; and do all the blow; but this will never do. The late with them certain historical facts;
Adventist ranks. Time was too short for in your power to make others love Bible, moment your enemy discovers your and tell the world the impression that
doctrinal divisiveness, for soon Christ too."25 cowardice or fear, they will despise collation makes on our minds." Of course,
would come. That was his message. All On another occasion he wished Hen­ you. They rouse to action with Miller expected people to come to the
other controverted points were sidelines dryx were with him so they could "sit redouble [d] vigor.
27 proper conclusion after viewing the evi­
to that one great truth; after all, doctrinal down and have a good dish of Bible to­ dence. Those who did not would soon
controversy would end with the Second gether." Miller's entire approach to life Beyond constant use of the Bible in face their Master. 30
Advent. It was that one, all-important A third central feature of Miller's
and ministry centered upon the transcen­ preaching, Miller hoped to drive other
truth that must be preached. preaching was the Jesus who was soon to
dent world in which God was truly King. people to a study of the Word. He did not
Miller, of course, had developed an return to gather His people. Jesus was
And it was the Bible that contained the want them to look at him for authority,
extensive scriptural rationale for his belief not only the solution to the world's prob­
transcendent King's revelation to hu­ but to the Word of God. Thus he could
in the soon coming of Jesus. That ratio­ lems but the answer to those of individu­
manity. "If the Bible is not true," Miller write near the end of his career: "I do not
nale was particularly strong in its inter­ als as well. Thus Miller could advise his
queried Hendryx, "then who can tell us ask you to embrace an opinion of mine;
pretation of Bible prophecy. Perhaps the what is truth?"26 readers to "go to Christ .. . ; lay hold on
but I ask you to weigh well the evidence
best record of his argumentation has been the promise of God, trust in his grace,
Miller not only believed the Bible to contained in the Bible." Miller's method
preserved in his Evidence From Scripture 31
be the ultimate authority, but he also was calculated to push people to the Word and he will cleanse you by his blood."
and History ofthe Second Coming of Christ That evangelical teaching, however,
held for its assertive use in preaching. of God. "If this doctrine," he wrote, "does
About the Year 1843. That book is a tran­ was shared by most other Christians of
Rather than relying upon "anxious seats" not make men search the Scriptures .. . , I
script of what had by the early 1840s be­ the day.As a result, Miller's teachings on
or other evangelistic props, Miller uti­ cannot conceive what would." One of the
come his standard nineteen prophetic salvation were not controversial. Thus
lized the "naked word" in spiritual com­ criteria for his own success was that "thou­
lectures. The purpose of this section is these teachings did not receive as much
bat. "Depend, in doing battle for God," sands have been brought to read their Bi­
not to explore those prophetic interpreta­ he counseled Hendryx, bles with more pleasure."28 emphasis in either the Millerite or non-
tions,24 but briefly to look at a few aspects Millerite press as his "peculiar doctrine"
Going hand in hand with Miller's use
of the approach Miller used to get his of the soon return of Christ.
wholly on the power of the Spirit. of the Bible in preaching was his use of
message across. A fourth ever-present characteristic of
Keep your sword the right side up, history. It seemed obvious to Miller,
The most obvious feature of Miller's the edge to the heart, and your arm notes David Dean, that secular history Miller's preaching was his burden for
preaching and writing was its focus on well nerved, bring home the blow would develop according to the Bible souls. The souls of those he had preached
the Bible. From the time of his conver­ with an intent to kill, be not afraid of prophecies and that "exact parallels be­ to, he noted, "are continually before me,
sion until the end of his life, Miller was a hurting your hearers, wind no silk tween prediction and fulfillment would sleeping or waking; I can see them perish­
Bible student. His emphasis comes handkerchiefs around your blade, nor be present."29 ing by thousands." That constant vision
46 47
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM MILLER'S MISSION TO THE WORLD

led him to be fervent in both preaching to one of his letters as he describes the the face of coming judgment.'What care
an d inquiry regarding his message.
and in appealing to people to accept Jesus apocalyptic destruction just preceding Outside of an increasing number of I for what the world calls great or honor­
as their soon-coming Savior.32 Christ's return."At this dread moment' " able[?] Give me Jesus, and a knowledge of
r eaching appointments and people vis­
The poignancy of Miller's burden he penned, "look! look!-Oh! look and his word," and faith, grace, love, and His
itin g and writing to him to find out more
comes through clearly in one of his ser­ see. [W]hat means that ray of light? The righteousness. "Yes, let me have J[esus]
mon appeals as he pictured the Second about his views, the first public recogni­
clouds have burst asunder, the heavens C[hrist], and then vanish all earthly
tion for Miller's work came on Septem­
Coming. "And then, my dear hearer," he appear, the great white throne is in sight. toys." Such comments in a private letter
urged, ber 14, 1833, when he was issued a li­
Amazement fills the universe with awe. indicate that Miller's conversion was no
cen se to preach by his own and a
[h]e comes-[h]e comes [B]ehold, the charade; it had led to complete dedica­
neighboring congregation. Not only,
if you have had your heart broken off Saviour comes. [L]ift up your heads ye tion. He had given his life to God and
read the certificate, had he been "improv­
from sin; if you have by faith been saints, he comes!-he comes!!-he the burden he believed God had laid
in g his gifts ... in expounding the words
united in spirit to the Lamb of God; comes!!!"34 upon him. 37
of Divine Truth ... in public," but his
... then you will live and reign with In spite of Miller's hopes and fears, Miller had decided to devote· his full
work had edified the church.
35

him on the earth.. ..You will rise up his sincerity and his convictions, his time to preaching by the end of 1834.He
"My brethren," he wrote his sister two
in that general assembly, and, clap­ preaching was greeted with widely vary­ could no longer fill the number of calls
days later, "have given me a license-un­
ping your hands with joy, cry, "Holy, ing responses. It is to those responses worthy, and old, and disobedient as I am. that were coming for his services on a
holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, that we now turn. 'Oh to grace how great a debtor."' He part-time basis.
which was, and is, and is now come. ..." seemed to be genuinely awed and hum­ Working full time at his new vocation
But you, 0 impenitent man or A Profile of Miller's Results bled by the recognition.Unlike his early was a genuine sacrifice, since he received
woman! where will you be then? ... A person with a message like that of days when he caricatured the things of no wages for his work. In fact, before
In hell! 0 think! In hell!-a dreadful William Miller had at least two major 1836 he did not even receive any money
God, he now had a reverence for every­
word! Once more think! In hell! lift­ groups to reach-ministers and lay mem­ for traveling expenses.In that year he re­
thing connected to Him.Thus Miller re­
ing up your eyes, being in torment. bers. With both groups he had mixed re­ ceived $1.00 on a trip to Canada. The
fused to use the title of Reverend for
Stop, sinner; think! In hell' where sults, but even the majority of those who next funds he claims to have received
himself, although he used it for others if
shall be weeping, wailing, and gnash­ responded to his preaching positively did came in 1837 to cover stage fare for one
they so desired.He raised the point after
ing of teeth.Stop, sinner, stop; �on­ so for different reasons in the 1830s than Hendryx had addressed his new ministe­ of his many preaching appointments.
sider on your latter end.33 the majority would in the early 1840s. rial colleague as "Rev.William Miller" in Other than for travel from time to time,
As we noted earlier, Miller's public a letter early in 1834."I wish," Miller re­ Miller received no reimbursement. And
But it was victory rather than defeat that
work got off to a rather slow start, with plied to his friend, "you would look into even at that, he penned in 1845, "I have
most often filled Miller's mind as he
his first sermon on the Second Advent your Bible and see if you can find the never received enough to pay my travel­
preached and wrote.We will therefore look
being given in 1831 and his first pub­ word Rev. applied to a sinful mortal as ling expenses." It should also be noted
at victory as a final element that pervaded
lished statement on the topic appearing myself. .. .Let us be determined to live, that he received no profit from the sale of
his message to the world.That vi�torious
in 1832. Both modes of expression and die, on the Bible."36 his books.38
strain is nicely caught in the conclusion
brought immediate attention to Miller The proud "must be brought low" in If that is so, we might ask, how did he
48
49
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM MILLER'S MISSION TO THE WORLD

support himself and his family? Miller could not "avoid the conclusion that the awake! 0 sluggard. ...You must not, Perhaps Miller's first solid ministerial
had two sources of income. The first was coming of Christ will be as soon as convert was Henry Jones, a Congrega­
you cannot, you shall not, be a neuter.
from his farm, which he put into the 1843." Another seventeen, while not Awake! Awake!!43 tionalist Harvard graduate who served as
hands of his sons. That arrangement pro­ convinced regarding Miller's teachings, an agent for several journals related to
vided for the sustenance of his large fam­ could still recommend his ministry to Miller discovered that "ministers gen­ temperance and other reforms. Jones had
ily and provided him with an agreed-upon the churches.41 been stimulated during a conversation on
erally are the hardest to be convinced" of
$100 a year to clothe himself, meet his About that same time Miller claimed the millennium with another minister in
his interpretation of the Second Coming.
incidental expenses, and pay for his travel. in a letter to Hendryx that eight Baptist New York in June 1832. The minister
On the other hand, he noted that "they
Only after his journeys became too long ministers were "now preaching" his had referred Jones to Miller's Vermont
say 'they can bring no argument but what
and numerous for him to cover out of the views, while "many others believe but Telegraph articles that had begun to be
the old man will remove.' "Miller certain­
$1 00 annuity did he permit the churches dare not preach it." He gave the name of published that May. Jones later secured
ly had plenty of exposure to the clergy.
he labored for to share in his travel ex­ each, and concluded that his best friend the first eight articles and wrote to Miller
Early in 1835 he wrote that "I now have
penses.39 "Hendryx belong[s] to this [latter] four or five ministers to hear me in every that he desired to have an interview with
Miller's second source of support camp."42 "44 him, even though "most of our Bible men
place I 1ecture.
came from his modest savings. Those also One of the great frustrations ofMiller's Those ministers who did confront would consider you very visionary or fa­
were relied upon to cover his expenses. life was that his dear friend Hendryx natical" if they knew his views. Jones
Miller found a formidable opponent. For
By early 1843 he claims to have expended could not bring himself to come out in example, D. I. Robinson, pastor of the granted that, for all he knew, Miller
$2,000 of his own money in his mission the open and preach what he claimed to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Methodist might be fanatical and "running wild."
to the world. It should be recognized that believe about the Second Coming. After But he desired an interview anyway. 46
Church, attended a series of Miller's
$2,000 was no small amount in an age wondering out loud in a letter to Hen­ meetings thinking he "could stop his Through continuing correspondence,
when a laboring man might receive fifty dryx as to why ministers and laypeople Jones came largely into line with Miller's
wheels and confound him." But not want­
cents or a dollar for a ten-to-fourteen did not wake up and trim their lamps, views of prophecy and the Second Com­
ing to publicly embarrass Miller, Robin­
hour day. His sacrificial ministry leaves Miller chided his colleague. ing, but he never could accept Miller's
son visited him in his room with a list of
no doubt that he had given up "earthly idea about knowing the approximate date
objections. "To my surprise," Robinson
toys" for his friendship with Jesus.40 Yes, my br[ other,] almost two years of the advent. Jones would eventually
recalled, "scarcely any of them were new
The year 1836 saw a major step for­ since you heard the news, ''Behold the serve as the secretary for the first general
to him, and he could answer them as fast
ward in Miller's ministry with the publi­ bridegroom cometh." And yet you cry, conference ofMillerites in October 1840.
as I could present them. And then he pre­
cation of a greatly enlarged edition of A little more sleep, a little more He also authored several books on proph­
sented objections and questions which
Evidence From Scripture and History ofthe ecy and the Second Coming.47
slumber. [B]lame not your people if confounded me, and the commentaries on
Second Coming of Christ. Then, in June, The first minister to fully acceptMiller's
they go to sleep under your preach­ which I had relied." Robinson returned
thirty-eight ministers, all apparently views, including the 1843 date, was an
ing.You have done the same... .Are home "used up, convicted, humbled, and
Baptists, signed a certificate vouching
you waiting for all the world to wake resolved to examine the question" of the Elder Fuller. Fuller had also been the
that they had heard his lectures. Twenty­
up before you dare get up[?J "Where Second Advent. He eventually became a first minister to invite Miller to lecture in
one of that number claimed that they
has your courage fled[?]" Awake! preacher of the advent near.45 his church. Beyond that, Fuller was the
50
51
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE oF ADVENTISM MILLER'S MISSION TO THE WORLD

only ministerial convert to all of Miller's the sacred writings, or is almost totally Others, dispensing with physical world's problems. Miller reported the
prophetic scheme (including the 1843 ignorant of their true sense."50 threats, merely ridiculed Miller. The meetinghouses crowded to overflowing.
date) before 1838 to remain faithful to Alexander Campbell, the leader of Lowell Courier, for example, published In late 1838 Miller wrote to his son of
his convictions. All the others, notes one of the fastest growing Christian the following statement: a meeting he had held in which there was
Miller, "relapsed and abandoned its ad­ groups in nineteenth-century America, "a great breaking down . .. and much
vocacy." "The current of public opinion," thought that "the year 1843 will pass Mr. Miller has been holding forth weeping."56 Such reactions to his preach­
Litch pointed out in 1844, "was too along with dreams of felicity." But even on his narrow-minded humbug at ing seem to be the rule rather than the
strong for them to stem it successfully."48 though he disagreed with Miller's teach­ Trenton to large audiences. .. .This exception. By the late 1830s, Miller had
Miller's ministerial converts after 1838 ings, Campbell disagreed even more with Miller does not appear to be a knave, become an effective revivalist.
found more permanence in his belief sys­ the way Miller was treated. He suggested but simply a fool, or more properly a Just as important as the fact that Miller
tem. Undoubtedly the increasing crisis that even if Noah, Daniel, or Job had re­ monomaniac. If the Almighty in­ brought revivals to communities was the
rooted in the economic depression that appeared as Miller and preached the tended to give due notice of the fact that the revivals continued after he
began in 1837 provided believers with Word of God, "they would have been de­ world's destruction, He would not do left. Thus it was in Portland, Maine.
external credibility and thus led to stabil­ rided, slandered, misrepresented, and de­ it by sending a fat, illiterate old fellow Sometime after Miller's departure, the
ity. nounced as disturbers of the peace" just to preach bad grammar and worse pastor of the church in which Miller held
Not all ministers reacted favorably to as Miller had been by the "troublers of sense, down in Jersey! 53 services wrote:
Miller and his theories. Some, in fact, modern Israel in her one hundred and
became downright ugly. One such was one factions" of modern orthodoxy. After And what was Miller's response to At some of our meetings since Br.
the Reverend T. F. Norris, who penned all, the immediate return of the Lord, such treatment? "I have heard lions roar, Miller left, as many as 250, it has
in the Olive Branch: 'We hope ministers Campbell held, should be the Christian's and jackasses bray, and I am yet alive."54 been estimated, have expressed a de­
or churches will not encourage such a greatest anticipatory delight.5 1 In spite of opposition, the success of sire for religion, by coming forward
madman or deceiver as Miller is.He is The clergy were not Miller's only de­ William Miller as a preacher was as out­ for prayers; and probably between one
probably mad, and ought to be put under tractors. Many laypeople were also deeply standing as it was surprising to him and and two hundred have professed con­
the care of Dr. Woodward, at the State upset by his work. In 1834, for example, others. From his very first sermon, his version at our meeting; and now the
Lunatic Hospital. If not a lunatic he is a Miller reported that after his first lecture hearers had experienced conversions. Be­ fire is being kindled through this
dangerous man, and his attacks on Chris­ in one town he had received a letter "from yond that, he faced a continuously in­ whole city, and all the adjacent coun­
tianity are of the most insidious charac­ some bullies and black guards, 'that if I creasing stream of speaking opportuni­ try. A number of rum-sellers have
ter."49 did not clear out of the state they would ties in the churches of all the evangelical turned their shops into meeting­
The Boston Universalist's Trumpet put me where the dogs could never find rooms, and those places that were
denominations. By 1835 he could write
was equally harsh with Miller, asserting me.'" The letter had ten signatures af­ that "the Lord opens doors faster than I once devoted to intemperance and
that he "is a weak-minded, vain, and self­ fixed to it. Miller disregarded the warn­ can fill them."55 The tempo would take a revelry, are now devoted to prayer and
confident old man, who has learned some ing and, as he put it, began a work under praise. Others have abandoned the
sharp upturn in 1838 as the Panic of 1837
passages of Scripture by heart; but who in God's Spirit "which gainsayers could not traffic entirely, and are become con­
began to erode the confidence of many
our judgment, either dishonestly perverts resist."52 verted to God. One or two gambling
people in humanistic solutions to the
52 53
MILLER'S MISSION TO THE WORLD
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM

The question naturally arises, What But meanwhile, the 1830s continued some pastors were using him, and he re­
establishments, I am informed, are
er being invited because sented it. "They like to have me preach,"
entirely broken up. Infidels, Deists, were people being converted to? If one to witness Mill he told J. V. Himes in December 1839,
Universalists, and the most aban­ examines the remarks above, it will be be could draw a crowd. Thus the Univer­
which was aggressive to­ "and build up their churches; and there it
donedprofligates, have been converted; discovered that for many it was "to God" salist Trumpet,
evangelicalism and ends, with most of the ministers, as yet."61
some who had not been to the house and to a "desire for religion." It seems rea­ ward both mainline
Meanwhile, Miller, as perhaps the
of worship for years. Prayer-meetings sonable to conclude with most students of ]\,1illerism, was undoubtedly correct when
"certain Societies and most successful revivalist of the last phase
have been established in every part of Millerism that the bulk of Miller's con­ it charged that of the Second Great Awakening, contin­
ent parts of New
the city by the different denomina­ versions before 1840 were to Christianity clergyman [sic] in differ
a tool of ued to hold forth in the small towns and
tions, or by individuals, and at almost rather than to his peculiar doctrine. England have seen fit to make
getting villages of northern New England. That
every hour. Being down in the busi­ Many pastors who invited him to their the old man, for the purpose of
for would radically change with the entrance
ness part of our city, I was conducted churches were undoubtedly more con­ up excitements, and gaining converts
. "60 of Joshua Himes into his life in Decem­
into a room over one of the banks, cerned with his evangelistic appeal and their churches.
where I found about thirty or forty success than they were with his millen­ Miller was well aware of the fact that ber 1839.
men, of different denominations, en­ nialism. They invited him because he was
gaged with one accord in prayer, at effective as a revivalist, could draw a
about eleven o'clock in the daytime! crowd, and added numbers to their
In short, it would be almost impossi­ churches.58
ble to give an adequate idea of the Of course, Miller's millennial empha­
interest now felt in this city. There is sis did have its utility. After all, the
nothing like extravagant excitement, thought that Christ was coming in the
but an almost universal solemnity on near future undoubtedly forced many a
the minds of all the people. One of sinner toward repentance. Then again,
the principal booksellers informed millennialism itself had a drawing power
me that he had sold more Bibles in in that period of American history. It
one month, since Br. Miller came seems that Ruth Doan is correct in sug­
here, than he had in any four months gesting that most Christians in the 1830s
previous. were probably more interested in millen­
nialism itself than with any particular
According to J. V. Himes, similar ac­ form of premillennial or postmillennial
counts to the Portland revival "might be thought.59 That nonchalant attitude to­
given from most of the places where he ward millennialism would change in the
has given a full course of lectures" and early 1840s as the year-of-the-end crisis
where the minister and church were be­ approached and the sides hardened their
hind him.57 positions.
55
54
ENTER JOSHUA V. HIMES: MISSION ORGANIZER

It was the aim of the Connexionists to he remained until 1837.5


avoid human creeds and to get back to While at Boston's First Church,
the Bible. The Bible, they held, was their Himes gained prominence in the Con­
nexionist movement. In 1833 he served
Chapter4 only creed. 'When the Bible speaks, we
respond; when the Bible is silent, we are as secretary at their general conference
silent." (not an organizational level, but the an­
ENTERJOSHUA V. HIMES: The Connexionists, like other restora-
tionist groups, were in earnest in their
nual m�eting of Connexionist leaders). 6
Also developing during Himes' years
desire to get back to the New Testament
MISSION ORGANIZER
at the First Church were his interests in
church. Beyond their emphasis on the social reform. In 1835, for example, he
Bible, the movement emphasized Chris­ initiated the establishment of a manual­
tian freedom by avoiding all churc� orga­ labor training school where boys could

T
nization above the congregationa1 level. receive a book education and learn a trade
HE POLITICIANS OF THIS AGE HAVE spent millions ofsilverandgoldto elevate a In addition; they uplifted Christian char­ at the same time. Meanwhile, their work
man, to the Presidency of these United States! Shall we not pour out our trea­ acter as the only test of fellowship. Their would pay the costs involved. 7
sures, to give the slumbering church and world, the n�ws of the approach and desire was to put the doctrinai controver­ Boston during the 1830s was becom­
reign of our Eternal King?" 1 sies of church history behihd them as ing the reform center for nearly every
Such were the words of the man who would transform Millerism from a one-man they moved toward the ideal of practical radical movement in the United States as
crusade into a major religious movement. His name was Joshua V. Himes, a man Christianity.3 It was among the Con?ex­ men and women strove to end injustice
who, inspired by the urgency of Miller's prophetic message, would develop into one ionists that young Himes claimed he and to bring in the millennium. Himes
of the public-relations geniuses of the first half of the nineteenth century. "found the open Bible and liberty of was progressively drawn into the realm of
thought, and made good use of both."4 the radical reformers in the 1830s. Not
Meet J. V. Himes Himes became a member of New only was he involved in the educational,
Joshua Vaughan Himes2 was born in Wickford, Rhode Island, on May 14, 1805, Bedford's First Christian Church in temperance, women's rights, world
to the family of a prosperous West India merchant. His father's goal for his eldest 1823. He soon felt impressed that it -was peace, and health reform movements, but
child was that he should be educated at Brown University with an aim to entering the his duty to preach the gospel. As a result, he was one of the founders of the New
ministry of the Episcopal Church. Those plans, however, came to an abrupt halt he began holding religious meetings. Re­ England Non-Resistance Society and a
when dishonest associates brought the family business to ruin. vivals followed his labors. Then in 1827 member of its executive committee. 8
As a result, Joshua's formal education ended when he was eight. He was later he gave up his secular calling to enter the But central to Himes' radicalism in
bound as an apprentice to a cabinetmaker, his father having concluded that he would full-time ministry. Between 1827 and the 1830s was his participation in the
have to be a tradesman. Joshua remained in his New �edford, Massachusetts, ap­ 1830 he raised up churches and served as abolitionist movement during the period
prenticeship until age twenty-one. a revivalist in several areas of Massachu­ when abolitionism was feared and de­
During his stay in New Bedford, he began attending the First Christian Church, setts. In 1830 he became the pastor of the spised even in the northern states. For
a church belonging to a restorationist movement known as the Christian Connexion. First Christian Church in Boston, where the radical abolitionists surrounding

56 57
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM ENTERJOSHUA V. HIMES: MISSION ORGANIZER

William Lloyd Garrison,the end of slav­ his colors,never faltering in the dark­ I-limes' participation in the reform tion it as containing incontrovertible
ery was the central element in bringing est hour of its history.He is a remark­ ents had been an important part truth either in its facts or inferences,
010vern

of his education. He had both seen and


about the millennium. "Their logic,"sug­ ably active and zealous man in what­ yet we must say that it shows a depth
gests Lewis Perry,"unfolded categorically: ever he undertakes,doing with all his of research into the prophetic portion
articipated in methods for spreading
to end slavery was to end all coercion; to might whatsoever his hands find to �ow'ledge and promoting action. Be­ of the Scriptures, and a boldness of
end all coercion was to release the mil­ do.21 conception, which we have not met
yond that education, bis �atural �bilities
lennial power of God; to end coercion, with in any other work on the proph­
set him up for a leadership role rn what
again, was to secure peace and order on Himes' heavy involvement in radical he came to view as the ultimate cause. ecies.
earth; to secure peace was, of course, to reform eventually led to reactions among
realize the rnillenniurn."9 the membership of Boston's First Chris­ J-Iimes Meets Miller The editorial went on to give a brief
Not only did Himes participate in the tian Church,with the more conservative The publication of the expanded ver­ synopsis of Miller's views, including the
founding of the Massachusetts Anti­ members desiring his resignation.In the sion of Miller's lectures in 1836 opened conclusion that Christ would come "only
Slavery Society, but he had also figured words of Garrison,"Our friend Himes is what Josiah Litch has referred to as a five yearsfrom the present!" 'We know of
prominently in Garrison's earlier New to leave his people, and go elsewhere, "new era " in the history of the advent nothing at the present time calculated to
England Anti-Slavery Society. Beyond owing to his abolition sentiments." But cause. From that time on, the lectures excite more deep and universal inter­
that,his wife was a member of the Bos­ "he is determined to cling to the truth, could preach their silent message where est."71 The next two weeks saw nine ex­
ton Female Anti-Slavery Society and and to preach it.... He is a lovely man, their author had never been. Before 1838 tracts appearing under the heading
served as one of its directors.10 and has a mind of his own,and a soul to Millerisrn had not attracted much atten­ "END OF THE WORLD!"
A perpetual activist,Himes did not sit feel and act.We shall feel his loss in this tion in Massachusetts. But copies of Within the following year,Miller be­
on the sidelines in the struggles of the Cl" "13 Miller's Evidence From Scripture and His­ gan to receive his first invitations to
ty
day. As one writer put it regarding the But Himes didn't leave Boston. The tory gradually spread abroad, eventually preach in Massachusetts. Between April
opposition to the anti-slavery movement, unrest eventuated in the progres corning to the attention of the editor of 21 and June 10, 1839, he lectured at
sive
Himes "made speeches upon every occa­ members withdrawing to form the Sec­ the Boston Times in early 1838.61 Stoughton, East Randolph, Lowell,
sion, facing mobs, defying them to do ond Christian Church in 1837.They On March 13 an editorial announced Groton, and Lynn.18
re­
their worst and pouring hot shot into quested Himes to be their pastor.14 that the Times intended to reprint ex­ One of the pastors Miller lectured for
their ranks in his peculiar and emphatic The next year,Himes' new congrega­ tended excerpts from Miller's book. The was Timothy Cole, who was so embar­
style of denunciation of the nation's dis­ tion built the Chardon Street Chapel. book,penned the editor, rassed (as we saw in chapter 3) by Miller's
grace and burning sharne."11 Under Himes' leadership, the chapel unimpressive appearance that he at first
Garrison himself remarked of Himes: would become the site of some of the na­ is destined ...to create a tremendous refused to sit on the platform with the
tion's most radical reform conventions. excitement in the Christian world. evangelist.By the end of the ten-day re­
At a very early period, he avowed As Whitney Cross put it, Himes "made Indeed,this excitement is already be­ vival, however, Cole had concluded that
himself an abolitionist,and has been a his congregation the virtual center in ginning to be felt.We have just read "if I have ever seen a man, that I believe
faithful supporter of the anti-slavery New England of every variety of enthusi­ the principal part of the work; and is a true servant of God sent by the Holy
movement, never ashamed to show astic reforrn."51 although we are not prepared to sane- Spirit to proclaim the Gospel of Christ,I
58 59
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM ENTERJOSHUA V. HIMES: MISSION ORGANIZER

consider William Miller the man." 19 tures," Himes noted, "I found myself in a family, society, reputation, all upon Chardon Street Chapel for a second
The Lowell meetings in Cole's church new position." He could no longer preach the altar of God, to help him, to the course of lectures between December 28
were crucial in the history of the advent as he had previously. He then asked extent of my power, to the end. I then and January 5.24
movement for at least two reasons. First, Miller, "'Do you really believe this doc­ inquired of him what parts of the Mid-January 1840 still found Himes
it was there that Miller met Methodist trine?' " country he had visited, and whether in a state of quandary over throwing his
pastor Josiah Litch, who had already ac­ he had visited any of our principal influence fully behind the older man.
cepted his views. (Litch, as we will see in He replied, "Certainly I do, or I cities. On the seventeenth he wrote to Miller:
chapter 5, would become one of the fore­ would not preach it." He informed me of his labors. .. . "I shall speak again soon-but mean to
most Millerite leaders.) Second, and even 'What are you doing to spread or "But why," I said, "have you not know what I say and know whereof I
more important, Cole introduced Miller diffuse it through the world?" been into the large cities?" affirm. I am coming on-and when I
to many of the pastors and churches of "I have done, and am still doing, He replied that his rule was to come-look out-all my soul will be in
the Christian Connexion. 20 all I can." visit those places where invited, and it. "25 And Himes did come on strong
Those introductions brought Miller "Well, the whole thing is kept in a that he had not been invited into any for Miller, even though he apparently
back to Exeter, Massachusetts, in No­ corner yet. There is but little knowl­ of the large cities. never accepted the 1843 time until the
vember 1839 for another series of meet­ edge on the subject, after all you have "Well," said I, "will you go with summer of 1842.26
ings-this time with almost twenty Con­ done. If Christ is to come in a few me where doors are opened?" The main way that Himes began to
nexionist ministers present.One of those years, as you believe, no time should ''Yes, I am ready to go anywhere, "'help' Father Miller" was through pub­
ministers, Joshua V. Himes, would be lost in giving the church and world and labor to the extent of my ability lications. The first of the multitude of
change the nature of Miller's career.21 warning, in thundertones, to arouse to the end." advent publications initiated by Himes
Himes, who had extended an invita­ them to prepare." I then told him he might prepare originated in conversations between
tion to Miller in October, took the op­ "I know it, I know it, Bro. Himes," for the campaign; for doors should be Miller and Himes during Miller's third
portunity at Exeter to renew his offer. As said he; "but what can an old farmer opened in every city in the Union, Boston series, held at the Marlboro
a result, Miller agreed to lecture for the do? I was never used to public speak­ and the warning should go to the Chapel-another center of reform radi­
first time in Boston. That was quite a ing: I stand quite alone; and, though ends of the earth! Here I began to calism-from February 8 to 29, 1840. 27
challenge for the aging revivalist, who I have labored much, and seen many "help" Father Miller.23 For a long time, Miller had desired a
had spent his entire preaching career up converted to God and the truth, yet periodical to set forth his views, since the
to then in the small towns and villages of no one, as yet, seems to enter into the Millerism would never be the same after existing papers had been filled with "abu­
northern New England. Miller com­ object and spirit ofmy mission, so as to that conversation. sive stories" respecting his labors but had
menced his first course of lectures in Bos­ render me much aid. They like to In spite of Himes' affirmation of Miller, refused to publish his defenses. The prob­
ton's Chardon Street Chapel on Decem­ have me preach, and build up their he was still not completely behind him. lem with the idea, noted Miller, was that
ber 8.22 churches; and there it ends, with Part of the problem was that he was "not he had not been able to find a man will­
During the meetings, Himes and most of the ministers, as yet. I have fully satisfied respecting the time" of the ing "to run the risk of his reputation and
Miller had several long conversations. been looking for help,-1 want help." advent, even though he was convinced as the pecuniary expense, in such a publica­
'When Mr. Miller had closed his lec- It was at this time that I laid myself, to its nearness. Miller returned to the tion. "28

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM ENTERJOSHUA V. HIMES: MISSION ORGANIZER

Himes saw the need, responded to it, lesser causes for him. Between 1840 and Miller formed what can best be thought longed illnesses till the end of his life. He
and, in Miller's words, "without a sub­ 1842 the Chardon Street Chapel would of as a symbiotic team, with each com- needed the energy, industry, know-how,
scriber or any promise of assistance" be­ continue to be a leading reform center, Iernenting the other's weaknesses with and endless perseverance of Himes, who
gan to issue the Signs of the Times in and Himes continued to participate in �is own strengths. Miller was a convinc­ was not quite thirty-five when he "began
March 1840. Even though the first issue many reform activities, even though ever ing p reacher but a poor promoter. Himes, to 'help' Father Miller." The helper be­
is dated March 20, internal indicators more of his energies were channeled into on the other hand, was an excellent pro­ came the dominating figure in the day­
suggest that it was being circulated in late promoting his belief in the nearness of rnoter, but, from what we know of him, to-day operations of Millerism in early
February or early in the first week of the Second Advent. He had given up only average in the pulpit. Himes was a 1840.
March. Thus when Miller claims that hope that the reforms would cure all of rnan of action, while Miller was more of With Himes, Millerism no longer pas­
Himes had the first issue out one week society's ills. But the impossibility of full a thinker and theologian. Thus Himes sively waited for doors to open. Rather,
after agreeing to the idea, he is probably victory, Himes held, should not be used generally deferred to Miller in matters Himes aggressively pushed them open
correct. When Himes got behind a proj­ as an excuse for inaction. He was driven relating to the message to be preached, for the sake of the message. Lecture tours
ect, he certainly did put all his soul into on in reform by Christ's words to His and Miller to Himes on evangelistic and were arranged, and avant-garde public­
it.29 followers-"Occupy till I come."31 promotional strategy. relations techniques spread the influence
Himes' biographer notes that his After mid-1842, however, when Himes was just what Miller needed to of Miller far beyond the bounds of even
motto became "what we do must be done Himes had accepted 1843 as the year of organize and promote his ideas. Thus his most optimistic dreams.
quickly." That phrase is found over and the end of the world, his reform activity Himes became the commander of the Miller's work also changed its tone
over in his writings and informed the ac­ dropped off almost to nothing. After all, cause, even to the extent of manipulating under Himes' efforts. David Arthur has
tions of a man quite convinced that the he had only a few short months left to Father Miller from time to time-for the pointed out that "Miller was no longer
end of the world would be upon its un­ spread the message of the coming Christ. "good of the cause," of course. In short, simply a pleasant but moderately effec­
suspecting inhabitants in a few short That cessation of activity on Himes' part Himes provided the necessary organiza­ tive revivalist, saving sinners and building
years. 30 did not mean that he had lost sympathy tion and structure to transform Millerism up churches. He and his movement be­
In Millerism, Himes found the ulti­ with reforms. Even as late as January from a one-man show into a genuine so­ came independent forces" that were pro­
mate cause, the cause that made all other 1844, he still opened his "Miller Taber­ cial movement; he transformed a doctrine gressively more "capable of disrupting
reforms appear insignificant in compari­ nacle" for Garrison's anti-slavery meet­ into a cause. Without Himes, Miller and dividing the churches. With Himes
son. After all, when Christ returned to ings.32 might well have remained simply another leading the way, Millerism became in­
set up His kingdom, all earthly evil would Garrison, meanwhile, became a bit obscure preacher predicting the end of creasingly self-conscious-a major reli­
come to an end. In that sense, Adventism discouraged with his friend's apostasy to the world in the byways of northern New gious movement with which the churches
was the reform of reforms. The second Millerism. "I am sorry that he has be­ England.34 would have to reckon."35
coming of Christ would be the complete come the victim of an absurd theory," Along that line, it should be remem­ By the summer of 1840, Himes' lead­
and final solution to all earthly problems. Garrison penned, "but I still regard him bered that in 1840, when Miller began ership was being felt. He had already
On the other hand, after accepting as a sincere and worthy man."33 preaching in the nation's large cities, he seen to it that Miller had given a lecture
Adventism, Himes did not immediately Himes would certainly prove his wor­ was fifty-eight years old, afflicted by palsy, series in New York City in May. Beyond
give up his activity in what had become thiness in the years to come. He and and would suffer from various and pro- that, Himes' public-relations skills were

62 63
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM ENTERJOSHUA V. HIMES: MISSION ORGANIZER

in the process of highlighting artd sharp­ cylinder press had gone into operation in the Signs of the Times in February and Himes' aggressive subscription policy
ening Miller's millennial concepts in a the United States, and the great New March 1840. For the first two years, the paid off. The list of subscribers grew from
manner that would not only give them York daily newspapers did not arise until Signs was issued twice per month, but in none in March 1840, to eight hundred by
visibility but would also cause their spread the 1830s. As of 1833 the largest news­ .A.p ril 1842 it became a weekly.39 July 15, to one thousand by October 1,
to accelerate with ever-increasing speed paper print run in the country was the During the first year, the Signs pub­ and to fifteen hundred by the end of the
up through the time of the expected end New York Courier and Enquirer's forty­ lished articles both for and against the year. By January 15, 1842, he claimed
of the world. It was the progressive clar­ five hundred. Advances in printing tech­ Millerite position. Thus it provided a sort five thousand subscribers and fifty thou­
ity of that millennial vision that would nology, however, soon made the penny of open forum on the topic. But as time sand readers.42
push the Millerite message to the far cor­ daily a success.37 went on, the paper exhibited less and less The increased publicity was beginning
ners of the republic and around the world. As the 1830s turned into the 1840s, anti-Millerite theology, except to refute it. to create a stir. Thus the Princeton Review
Himes, Miller, and their colleagues were there was a massive increase in the num­ By early 1842 Himes viewed the Signs for January 1841 could report that the
increasingly driven to warn the world as ber of newspapers, the magnitude of their as an instrument for developing Advent­ Second Advent was attracting increasing
their sense of prophetic mission and its circulation, and the size of the reading ist self-consciousness and community. It attention in the American churches, with
urgency became clearer to them. With­ public. The reformers and religious lead­ was his desire to make the "paper a Sec­ "probably ten times as many students of
out that sense of mission and urgency, ers of the day adopted the new technolo­ ond Advent Family Newspaper, that the prophecies concerning this event, as
Millerism would have gradually withered gies for their own purposes. One ecstatic shall not be behind the best religious pe­ there were ten years ago." Meanwhile,
away. clergyman noted in 1839 that "a well riodicals of the day." The sense of com­ the publicity was bringing Miller an in­
conducted religious periodical is like a munity and cooperation he hoped to creasing number of invitations to lecture.
"The Napoleon of the Press" thousand preachers, flying in almost as achieve through the Signs was essential to Miller wrote to Himes in the late sum­
Himes developed into one of the public­ many directions, by means of horses, the success of the Millerite mission.40 mer of 1840, indicating that he had
relations geniuses of the 1840s, earning mailstages, steam boats, rail road cars, Himes was not backward in spreading "more business on hand than two men
from one of his detractors the title "Na­ ships, etc., etc., offering life and salvation the Signs. Following the lead of the re­ like me could perform."43
poleon of the press." Nathan Hatch, a to the sons of men in almost every form associations and other religious It was soon discovered that Miller's
leading historian of American religion, clime."38 groups, he used agents to extend his sub­ message took hold better in rural areas
has described Himes' publishing efforts Himes was well placed to ride the scription list. These agents generally rep­ than it did in the cities. The problem was
as "an unprecedented media blitz" and crest of the publication explosion. He resented several organizations and publi­ not a dearth of interest in the cities but
"an unprecedented communications cru­ had learned the basic techniques of jour­ cations simultaneously. They traveled rather the lack of a network of support
sade."36 na1ism through his work in the great re­ from place to place selling subscriptions. institutions to keep the interest alive after
The young preacher was at the cutting forms of the day and through the use of During its first year, agents handling the the lectures were over. City dwellers
edge of communications technology. the religious press in the Second Great Signs received a commission of from sev­ faced a richness of options and distrac­
Mass publication and distribution of Awakening. enteen to forty cents per subscription. In tions seldom available in rural areas. And
reading material were just coming into Himes' first significant task in estab­ 1841 readers were invited to become since converts to Millerism from 1840
their own in the 1830s and 1840s. It was lishing an Adventist periodical literature, agents, and a 20 percent commission was through 1842 generally remained in their
not until 1822 that the first steam-power as we noted above, was the creation of offered.41 original churches, they often lacked a
64 3-W. M.
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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM ENTER JOSHUA V. HIMES: MISSION ORGANIZER

support group of like-minded Adventists. leased. Part of the publicity campaign rnany of these papers ceased publication from a few pages to over two hundred
As a result, it was hard to keep their was to send copies to every minister in after a short time, some became major each. This series, published by Himes,
advent faith alive. Another problem in the state. 44 voices for Adventism in their regions. covered the full gambit of Millerite
the cities was the issue of publicizing The expenses of this innovative pro­ falling into the latter category were Jo­ teaching on the Second Advent and pro­
the meetings in a decentralized com­ gram were great, but Himes believed the siah Litch's Trumpet ofAlarm in Phila­ phetic interpretation.
munity. sacrifice to be worth the cost. After all, he delphia, Charles Fitch's Second Advent of Another brainchild of the ever-active
To overcome both of those problems, penned in the first issue, Christ in Cleveland, R. Hutchinson's Himes was the Words of Warning series.
Himes initiated the practice of founding Voice of Elijah in Montreal, and George Each of these inexpensive tracts consisted
temporary periodicals in connection with OUR WORK-is one of unutterable Storrs and Enoch Jacobs' Western Mid­ of a single 5 x 8 inch sheet printed on
selected Millerite revivals. Many of these magnitude. It is a mission and an en­ night Cry in Cincinnati. Himes' influence both sides. The series contained thirty-six
papers were published for a few weeks or terprise, unlike, in some respects, and often his money stood behind these titles.
months and then discontinued. Such a anything that has ever awakened the periodicals. Through these and other The aim of the series as a whole was to
program allowed the Adventist periodi­ energies of man....It is an alarm, publications, thousands accepted the expound upon the Adventist understand­
cals to add local color. After ceasing pub­ and a CRY, uttered by those who, Millerite message who never heard a liv­ ing of prophecy and to bring sinners to
lication, efforts were made to merge the from among all Protestant sects, as ing preacher. repentance. Some of the titles with the
temporary subscription list with that of Watchmen standing upon the walls In addition to its standard periodicals latter goal are "How Awful to Meet Our
more permanently established periodi­ of the moral world, believe the in North America, the Millerite move­ Angry God" and "That Day Will Be a
cals, thereby linking the new believers to WORLD'S CRISIS IS COME.45 ment also spawned a paper geared espe­ Day of Separation." These little sheets,
the larger movement. cially for women, The Advent Message to the least-expensive Millerite literature,
The first and most successful of these The success of the Midnight Cry was the Daughters of Zion, and a scholarly were circulated by the hundreds of thou­
"temporary" papers was established in so great that it was decided to extend its quarterly, the Advent Shield. The first was sands.46
New York City to support the effort in life as a weekly after the first volume of edited by Clorinda S. Minor and Emily Of course, the major Millerite publi­
that city and to present the main Miller­ twenty-four issues had been distributed. C. Clemons and the second by Himes, cations were supplemented by indepen­
ite arguments to the public in "a cheap The first five months of publication saw Sylvester Bliss, and Apollos Hale.Great dently published books and tracts. Nor
and popular form." It was called The Mid­ over half a million copies circulated.The Britain also saw its own Midnight Cry was English the only language of con­
night Cry and was edited by Himes, with Cry would come to rank with the Signs as and a journal entitled the Second Advent cern. Some works were translated into
Nathaniel Southard as his associate. The one of the two most important Millerite Harbinger. All in all, the Millerite move­ French and German.47
first issue is dated November 17, 1842. papers. ment spawned over forty periodicals be­ Himes also compiled and published
The original intention was to publish After the success of the New York pa­ fore October 1844. an Adventist songbook in 1842 entitled
only twenty-four issues on a daily basis. per, Himes and his colleagues made it a But periodicals were only a part of the Millennial Harp, or Second Advent Hymns:
Ten thousand copies of each number practice to run a local paper for a few Himes-inspired publication blitz. An­ Designedfar Meetings on the Second Com­
were distributed, most of them gratu­ weeks in selected vantage points where other element in Himes' crusade was the ing of Christ. Now the Millerites had
itously.Thus in a little over four weeks, the paper could extend a revival's benefits Second Advent Library, which eventually their own hymnals from which to sing
some 240,000 copies of the Cry were re- into the surrounding countryside. While included nearly fifty volumes, running such verses as
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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM ENTER}OSHUA V. HIMES: MISSION ORGANIZER

How long, 0 Lord our Savior, matched by his exuberance in the distri­ toWn, A general rush was made to the in all the world for a witness to all na­
Wilt thou remain away? bution of those publications. Beyond the 0 :ffice to obtain the papers. Many tions; and then shall the end come"),
Our hearts are growing weary timeworn circulation methods, he and country people, who were in town, as noted that
Of thy so long delay.48 his colleagues used several others that soon as they learned that papers could
had been developed by the contemporary be had, came and received. I was within the last few years, there has
Wanting to use every possible avenue reform movements. forced to discontinue giving to the been a continuous effort by the be­
of outreach, the Millerites, under Himes' One was the establishment of Second lievers in the speedy coming of the
town's people any more of the papers,
creative guidance, even went so far as to Advent Libraries in every town or village. Lord, to send light on this subject to
having reserved half a dozen copies to
develop seals for fastening letters. The These lending libraries were "free for all send into the country. Some came to the whole world. And so far as the
seals were sold in sheets like stamps and who will take, read, and return the the office and begged for a copy only opportunity has offered, publications
were used to seal letters shut. Each bore a books." Such a library could be set up at a to read, if I would not let them have have been sent to every English and
Scripture passage related to the nearness cost of five or ten dollars for the litera­ it by paying postage. I could not, of American Mission in the world.
of Christ's return. 49 ture. The plan was to make Adventist lit­ course, refuse, and by this means I These publications have gone to the
Beyond their own productions, the erature available so that none "need be in gave out all I had, except a few cop­ various parts of the four quarters of
Adventists used the daily newspapers to darkness on the doctrine" of the soon ies, as before stated. Can you not the earth and various islands of the
present their message through the publi­ coming of Christ. By 1844 these lending send me another such roll of papers? sea.54
cation of announcements, sermons, and libraries dotted the northern states.50 You have no idea of the good which
news items. Some of the newspaper space Another method of distribution was is accomplished by these papers. On another occasion, Litch claimed
was free, but some of it had to be pur­ to bundle up Adventist literature and Many persons that would not receive that "Advent publications have been sent
chased. send it to postmasters all over the coun­ the glad tidings of the near approach by the hundred thousand broadcast all
It should be pointed out that Himes' try. Each bundle contained instructions of our Saviour by other means are over the world." As a result, "the sailors
public-relations tactics did not originate for the postmaster to distribute the liter­ thus put in possession of the facts. 52 who come into port testify that the com­
with him. Rather, they were standard ature to those calling for their mail.51 ing of Christ is a subject of conversation
techniques of the various reform move­ The postmaster from Canton, Ohio, Closely related to sending bundles of all over the world." 55
ments of the day. Himes was a man of his was delighted with this approach. He literature to postmasters in the United As "the Napoleon of the press," Himes
times. The main difference between him wrote to Himes on May 12, 1843, de­ States was the sending of literature on had done all in his power to spread the
and his contemporaries was not in kind scribing the impact the literature made. ships leaving for various world destina­ prophetic message that Christ was soon
but in intensity. What Himes did, he did tions. The ships' officers were requested to come in the clouds of heaven. By No­
with more enthusiasm and perseverance The papers which you forwarded, to drop bundles off at their ports of call. vember 1843 Litch could claim that more
than most. After all, as he saw it, he was viz., "The Midnight Cry" and "The Protestant missionary outposts were es­ than four million pieces of Adventist lit­
rapidly approaching the end of a time Trumpet of Alarm," came to hand pecially targeted.53 erature had been issued. By May 1844
line. The end of the world was coming, last evening. In half an hour from the Josiah Litch, in expounding on the that estimate had jumped to five mil­
and he needed to get the message out. time of their arrival at this office, they implications of Matthew 24:14 ("This lion-nearly one for every four men,
Himes' intensity in publication was were distributed in every part of this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached women, and children in the United
68
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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM ENTER JOSHUA V. HIMES: MISSION ORGANIZER

States. That production did not end with some structure and unity to their essen­ Christians Expecting the Advent of the 1843, 1844, or any other date. In fact,
the October disappointment of 1844. tially congregationalist movement.59 The Lord Jesus Christ" took place in Boston neither Dr. Henry Dana Ward (a promi­
Isaac Wellcome estimates that by 1854 Connexionist general conferences should on October 14 and 15, 1840. The confer­ nent Episcopal clergyman) nor Henry
Himes had been responsible for distrib­ not be confused with a permanent de­ ence organizers went out of their way to Jones (a Congregational pastor)-chair­
uting over ten million pieces of literature nominational structure. Rather, they reassure both participants and onlookers person and secretary, respectively, of the
from the Boston office alone. 56 were periodic meetings of like-minded that they were not attempting to orga­ first general conference-accepted Miller's
Truly Himes had lived up to his Na­ believers and had no denominational au­ nize a new religious body. conclusion on the time of the advent. In
poleonic image. Miller, in evaluating thority outside of passing resolutions for At ten o'clock on the first morning of other words, they did not accept 1843 or
Himes in 1845, claimed that he "has the consideration of the believers. the meeting, Himes read the opening re­ any other date. Like many others, they
been more instrumental in the spread of Thus periodicals and general meetings marks. "The object of the conference," he were drawn to Adventism because of
these views than any other ten men who were the only organizational structure pointed out, their belief in the nearness of Christ's
have embarked in the cause."57 that the Connexionists had to hold them premillennial return.
together. Under Himes' leadership those will not be to form a new organiza­ But while the conference organizers
Organizational Strategist same two elements would form the only tion in the faith of Christ; nor to as­ did not expect unanimity of opinion, they
Beyond publications, a second major structure of Millerite Adventism. Of sail others of our brethren who differ did feel that a large degree of harmony
contribution of Himes to the spread and course, unlike the Christian Connexion, from us in regard to the period and was necessary if anything of value was to
stability of Millerite Adventism was the Millerite believers remained in the de­ manner of the advent; but to discuss be achieved. The organizers, therefore,
holding of regular general conference nomination they belonged to before the whole subject faithfully and fairly, set forth rules for "active" participants.
meetings. On August 15, 1840, he an­ coming to believe in the advent near. in the exercise of that spirit of Christ None could take part in the discussions
nounced in the Signs that several friends That is, they had no intention of forming in which it will be safe immediately "except he confess his faith in the near
had suggested the advisability of holding a new denomination. to meet him at the judgment seat. approach of our Lord in his kingdom."
a general conference of believers in the It is difficult to overestimate the im­ Also, no one could enter the discussion
Second Advent for the edification of the portance of the general conferences to By so doing, he went on, they could ac­ "until he has been introduced to the com­
believers and for the "full and free discus­ the spread of Millerism. The conferences complish much for the rapid "spread of mittee of arrangements and has made
sion" of topics related to the Second Ad­ put leaders in contact with one another, 'the everlasting gospel of the kingdom at known to them the part or point which
vent. The next month a call was issued for provided forums for developing strate­ hand,' that the way of the Lord may be he is prepared to discuss." Long experi­
a general conference to be held in Himes' gies and coordinating the efforts of the speedily prepared, whatever may be the ence with such conferences in other
Chardon Street Chapel in mid-October.58 rapidly growing number of believers and precise period ofhis coming. "60 movements had taught the organizers
The concept of general conferences preachers, and gave opportunity for mu­ It is important to note that the very that social control was a crucial element
was undoubtedly inspired by the growing tual inspiration and encouragement. Be­ wording of the conference's call to order in the success of such meetings. Without
influence of Himes and other Christian tween October 1840 and June 1842 the indicates that the common belief holding that control, enemies of the cause could
Connexionists in the Millerite move­ general conferences stood at the center of the Adventists together at this point in easily usurp the agenda. As Himes put it,
ment. The Connexion had been holding the Adventist work. their development was that the advent 'We do not want a fanatical rabble and
such meetings since 1816 to provide The first "General Conference of was near, rather than any consensus on an ignorant set of persons to take up the
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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE oF AovENTISM ENTER JOSHUA V. HIMES: MISSION ORGANIZER

time of debate ... ; and hence something "Am I never to have my will?" he que­ nine-point program of aggressive evan­
widely circulated to clergymen, theologi­
must be done to prevent it-for all these ried. "No, never, until 1!1-Y will shall har­ gelism as Millerite Adventism moved to­
cal seminaries, prominent laypeople, and
elements will be there."61 monize with thine, 0 Father!" He then
o- missionaries. Three thou-
eve0 foreicrn
ward the year of the end of the world.
Chairman Ward delivered the confer­ went on to count his blessings and affirm
sand copies of the document had been The points included: (1) "personal conse­
ence's first major address. He pointed out his faith. "I have a hope," he declared, cration to God," (2) "personal conversation
ubllshed by November 1, and ten thou-
that their view on "the near coming of "-yes, yes, 'a blessed hope,'-founded with others on religion, and especially on
�and copies of the entire document were
our Lord in his kingdom" was not a new on that Word that never fails. My hope is the near coming of our Lord," (3) "the
distributed "in a short time," besides in­
doctrine. Rather, "sound Christians in in Him who will soon come, and will not formation of Bible classes for the mutual
numerable bits and pieces of the report
every age have cherished it; it was the tarry. I love the thought; it makes my bed study of this great question," (4) the es­
that were printed and circulated sepa-
universal faith of the primitive church; it in sickness; I hope it will in death. I wait 66 tablishment of "social meetings for prayer
ratelY·
is the plain doctrine of the New Testa­ for [H]im." Miller's presentations on the Tue first general conference, while and exhortation" for like-minded believ­
ment." It only seemed new to most peo­ "Chronology of Prophecy" and the "Judg­ ers, (5) "the practice of questioning your
disclaiming any desire to create a separate
ple because of the almost universal falling ment" were read to the conference by ministers on the subject" of the advent,
religious body, was a giant step forward in
away from biblical faith during the great Himes.64 the development of the Adventists into an (6) the circulation of books on the topic,
apostasy. The object of the conference, Besides devotional exercises, lectures, (7) advice to remain with their former
identifiable group on the frontier of
Ward held, in line with the restorationist and discussions, the first general confer­ American religion. That distinct identity congregations whenever possible to do
emphasis of the times, was "to revive and ence sponsored business sessions. Some would become more focused during the so, (8) advice to be patient in the face of
restore this ancient faith, to renew the of the most important actions were the next four years. scorn and opposition, and (9) "the estab­
ancient landmarks."62 endorsement of the Signs ofthe Times, the The second general conference would lishment of Second Advent Libraries" in
Other major speakers at the first gen­ recommending of the paper to all believ­ take the Millerite Adventists another as many communities as possible.68
eral conference were Henry Jones and ers, the appointment of a committee of step toward separate identity. Held in As we read these nine points, three ideas
Josiah Litch. Miller had been scheduled correspondence charged with corre­ Lowell, Massachusetts, from June 15 regarding Millerism begin to form. First,
to speak but was prevented from gratify­ sponding with believers both in North through 17, 1841, it had an explicitly that the Millerites were self-consciously
ing that desire by a "severe attack of ty­ America and abroad, and the designation missiological thrust. "The same untiring becoming more aggressive in both their
phoid fever." His absence was a disap­ of a committee to oversee the move­ love" that activated Christ's earthly min­ communities and their congregations.
pointment to the nearly two hundred ment's publications. Himes, of course, istry, the conference circular read, "will Second, that such activity was meeting
conferees and to Miller himself. For the was selected as chair of the latter com­ fire our bosoms, and prompt us to put resistance to the point where many were
first time in nearly a decade of preaching, mittee.65 forth all our energies to snatch perishing tempted to withdraw from their denom­
he would have had an opportunity to Of special importance was an action men as brands out of the burning." After inational fellowship. Third, that the
meet with the leaders of his growing to call "another General Conference, as conference was even encouraging some
all, "what truth [is] more powerful to
movement.63 soon, and at such place" as deemed expe­ awaken the slumbering, dying sinner, separatism by its call for social meetings
Miller dictated a few lines to the at­ dient. It was also voted to have Himes than that we must all soon stand before of advent believers "for prayer and ex­
tendees on October 15 in which he at publish the nearly two-hundred-page re­ the judgment seat of Christ?"67 hortation." In spite of itself, Millerite
one point questioned God's providence. port of the conference, which was later The second conference established a Adventism was slowly but progressively
72 73
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM ENTERJOSHUA V. HIMES: MISSION ORGANIZER

taking on the shape of a distinct religious ence leaders believed it was imperative to "usually rested with Himes and the Signs those who saw no light in Miller's inter­
movement. take a strong stand on the date "because of the Times, and it is not entirely face­ pretation of the Bible prophecies would
The chairperson of the second general of the stupidity of the Church on the tio us to suggest that he often judged this not be able to credit his foremost publi­
conference was D. I. Robinson. One of subject and the shortness of the time we designation by his own presence or lack cist with either much common sense or
0 f 1.
his assistants was an ex-sea captain by have to work." "tl"72 integrity. Thus the Methodist Olive
the name of Joseph Bates.69 Once again Second, the conference decided to That last remark points to the sugges- Branch could claim that "Elder Himes is
Miller was too ill to attend. He would, to hold camp meetings in various localities, tion that Himes tended to see himself as a man with a mind in a nut shell, ex­
his dismay, be confined to his home all since other religious groups had used being at the center of the Millerite uni­ tremely weak in every point of light. ...
summer. them successfully. The delegates believed verse. While that disease is well-nigh To a sane man he must be an object of
Soon after the second conference, Jo­ they would be "criminally negligent" not u niversal among human beings, in people pity. He is fat as an Alderman and lives
75
siah Litch was hired as a full-time gen­ to utilize camp meetings for spreading of great talent, such as Himes, it is often like a Prince."
eral agent to sponsor the circulation of the midnight cry that the bridegroom magnified. Because of his choleric per­ That last sentence brings us to the
Millerite literature and to lecture on the was coming in 1843. The third major sonality, Himes found it all too easy to most frequent of the allegations made
topic. That was another step in giving event of the May 1842 meeting was the try to control everything around him­ against Himes and his colleagues in lead­
substance and stability to the move­ presentation by Charles Fitch and Apol­ including Miller. Beyond that, he could ership-that of milking their Millerite
ment.70 los Hale of an 1843 prophetic chart, be severe to his opponents, and, as his followers financially. Or, as the Olive
The third general conference was held which graphically portrayed the prophe­ biographer points out, he enjoyed both Branch put it, of playing the role of
in October 1841 in Portland, Maine. cies of Daniel and Revelation and pro­ his extensive power and influence and "vampyres" in sucking the "life-blood"
From that time forward, the conferences vided several ways of calculating the year desired to have neither diminished. Even out of "those whom they dupe."76
were held with greater frequency. Miller of the end as 1843. (A copy of the chart though the unsavory parts of his charac­ Himes' leadership in the Millerite
was not able to attend until the fifth gen­ can be found in the photograph section ter seem to be greatly outweighed by the publishing empire left him especially vul­
eral conference. In order to ensure his at­ of this book.) All three of the major deci­ good, Himes still came in for his share of nerable to the charge of enriching him­
tendance, the leaders held the fifth con­ sions taken at the May 1842 conference criticism-much of it unjust. 73 self at the expense of the people. That
ference in his home community of Low will be more fully treated in chapters 5 point is nicely illustrated by a broadside
Hampton in November 1841. and 6. 71 Himes Under Criticism (or poster) of about two by three feet en­
All told, more than a dozen general In addition to the general conferences, Some of the criticism surrounding titled "GRAND AscENSION OF THE
conferences were held. Of special import the Millerite Adventists sponsored some Himes centered on his having made "a MILLER TABERNACLE" (see the photo­
was the one convened in Boston in May 120 local conferences. The local confer­ tool of the old man" for his own good. graph section).
1842. That conference, under the chair­ ences appear to have been less business "Joshua," accused the Universalist's Trum­ The upper half of the cartoon pictures
manship of Joseph Bates, took three ad­ oriented and more evangelistic than the pet, "is very much in need of converts; and Himes' Boston Tabernacle ascending to
vance steps that would change the very general conferences, but most students of he is in hopes to get a good batch out of heaven. Miller is shown on the roof,
nature of Millerite Adventism. The first the topic sense a blurring between the Miller's oven. We are afraid some of them seated on a prophetic chart. Numerous
was to come out solidly for 1843 as the two. Himes' biographer concluded that will not be more than half baked."74 Millerites are hanging on, while others
year of the end of the world. The confer- "the final designation" between the two Of course, it is to be expected that are falling off.

74 75
ENTER}OSHUA V. HIMES: MISSION ORGANIZER
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RisE OF AovENTISM

into a national, and even inter­ Himes, of course, did not work alone.
The bottom half pictures the Boston opponents who have no arguments to operation We now turn to some of his associates.
ous movement.
masses looking upward in amazement urge against the truth but lying and national, religi
and anger. Meanwhile, Himes is left be­ scoffing. We shall publish their shame
hind, standing on the foundation of the in their own words, in general, with­
tabernacle, on which are inscribed the out note or comment. 79
names of the leading Millerite papers.
He is surrounded by moneybags, and his There were occasions, of course, when
coat tail is being pulled by a fork-tailed Himes did mount a defense against un­
devil who is saying, ''Joshua V. you must just accusations. Prior to the inaugura­
stay with me."77 tion of the Liar's Department, the Signs
Himes, as might be expected, received sometimes had a section titled "Refuge of
his share of death threats. One in 1842 Scoffers." Such scoffers were seen as a
read: "Mr. Himes, your life may be taken sign of the last days. 80
away in a sudden and unexpected man­ There appears to be no evidence that
ner, I would advise you therefore, if you Himes profited financially from his pub­
value your own interests, and those of lication or leadership ventures. The most
your family[,] to immediately leave this serious valid charge against him before
' "78
Clty• 1845 is that he tended to be overbearing
How, we might ask, did Himes re­ at times.
spond to these charges? Generally he kept That overbearingness, however, was
about his work and did not waste too probably an essential ingredient in his
much energy defending himself. At other successful promotion of Millerite Ad­
times he published the accusations against ventism. It took a forceful personality to
himself, Miller, or other Adventists. push an unpopular doctrine into the
Thus in September 1842 he initiated the consciousness of a world that didn't
"Liar's Department" in the Signs. In in­ want it.
troducing the new department, he wrote But Himes was the man for the task.
that He had caught a vision of the end of the
world, he had a firm conviction of his
the spirit of lying is so prevalent, es­ place in prophetic history, and that un­
pecially among many of the conduc­ derstanding energized him to put his
tors of the public press, that we shall considerable talents behind Miller and his
hereafter devote a portion of our cause. Under Himes' leadership, Miller­
sheet to chronicle the deeds of our ism was transformed from a one-man
77
76
MORE MILLENNIAL MISSIONARIES

years.'"If this doctrine is true,"' his con­ his own views rather than summarizing
science queried, "'ought you not, as a Miller's.June saw the publication of The
o f
rninister of the gospel, to . . . proclaim Probability ofthe Second Coming Christ

Chapter 5
. ,,,,
1t. About A.D. 1843, a book of 204 pages.
"If it is true that the Lord is coming so Thus when Miller and Litch first met at
soon," Litch concluded, "the world Timothy Cole's Lowell church in 1839,
MORE MILLENNIAL MISSIONARIES should know it....It is my duty to make Litch had already been more public in his
it known to the extent of my power." He views than any other of Miller's converts
3
then resolved that no matter what the up to that point.
cost to his reputation, he would present Unlike many of Miller's early con­
the truth on the Second Coming. verts, Litch agreed with Miller on the
As soon as Litch had committed him­ 1843 date from the beginning. Thus he

T
self to Millerism, he began to act on his could write in early 1838 that "although
HE PRINTED WORD HAS A LIFE of its own. So it was after the 1836 edition of decision through preaching and writing. the views of Mr. M. may not be correct
Miller's lectures. Not on�y did a co�y fall into the hands of the editor of the His :first published contribution was a on every point, yet, so far as his calcula­
_
Boston Times (as noted m the previous chapter) in early 1838, but one was forty-eight-page synopsis of Miller's tion of time is concerned, the writer can
passed on to a twenty-eight-year-old Methodist minister about the same time. The views entitled The MIDNIGHT CRY, or a Re­ but consider his plan irrefutable."4
book's owner requested that the minister,Josiah Litch, both read the book and pro­ view ofMr. Miller's Lectures on the Second Even before reading Miller's book for
vide the lender with an evaluation of its merits. Coming of Christ, about A.D. 1843. The the first time, Litch had had an interest
pamphlet received wide circulation and in the time prophecies of Daniel and
Josiah Litch Joins the Adventist Mission "awakened a permanent interest in many John. In fact, it was on the basis of an­
Litch greeted the request with a large measure of skepticism.After all,the idea of minds." At that time (early 1838), Litch other interpretation of the 1260-year/day
attempting to pinpoint the time of Christ's second coming "was to him so strange, claims, "there was not another minister prophecy that he believed he could prove
that he could scarcely make up his mind to give the book a perusal." He had no doubt known in New England, who had advo­ Miller wrong.5
that "he could entirely overthrow the whole system in five minutes."1 cated the views, except BROTHER That interest in the time prophecies is
Thus, to gratify a friend and to satisfy his curiosity as to what arguments could CHARLES FITCH." It should be noted evident throughout Litch's Probability of
2

possibly be used to support such a novel doctrine, Litch read the book. But, to his that Litch's conversion to Millerism the Second Coming of Christ. In that early
surprise, prejudice began to melt away as he read. "The great argument against the probably took place before the publica­ volume Litch first set forth his interpre­
coming of the Lord,which had appeared so strong and invulnerable, soon vanished." tion of Miller's Evidence From Scripture tation of Revelation's sixth trumpet as
Before concluding the volume, Litch penned,"I became fully satisfied that the argu­ and History in the Boston Times and be­ being the collapse of Ottoman supremacy
ments were so clear, so simple, and withal so scriptural, that it was impossible to fore the conversion of Cole and Himes. in August 1840, a date that was later re­
disprove the position which Mr. Miller had endeavored to establish." In April 1838, Litch began writing a fined to August 11.What Litch and other
At that point,Litch confronted the same crisis that Miller had in the face of what book on Millerism. Unlike his earlier leading Millerites interpreted as early
he considered to be incontrovertible evidence that Christ would come in a few short pamphlet, however, this book presented as February 1841 as an exact fulfillment

78 79
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM MORE MILLENNIAL MISSIONARIES

of prophecy on August 11, 1840, greatly tant personality, following only Miller throw himself upon the providence of believed nothing contrary to Methodism,
encouraged them in their preaching of and Himes.8 Go d, and go forth." although he went "in some points beyond
the advent near.6 In May 1840 Litch penned "An Ad­ One major problem, however, was it." At that juncture Litch requested to be
In spite of Litch's precise prediction dress to the Clergy," in which he ap­ that no Millerite ministers made their released from his responsibilities so that
of the fulfillment of the August 11 time pealed to his fellow ministers to examine living from preaching the advent near. he could devote his "whole time to the
prophecy, he presented a soft edge to his the evidence for the premillennial com­ As Litch put it, "It was an unbeaten dissemination of this important sub­
interpretations in case they were not ful­ ing of Christ between "the fall of the Ot­ way;-not one minister of the gospel was ject."11
filled just as he and others expected. In toman empire, which will probably take then devoted exclusively to the cause, ex­ Less than a week after giving up his
replying to a query as to whether his faith place this year, and the termination of cepting Mr. Miller." And Miller, as we Methodist ministry�n June 15 throµgh
in the Bible would be destroyed "if the 1843."9 saw earlier, was not dependent upon his 17-Litch attended the second general con­
event does not come out as you believe," His aggressive preaching and writing preaching to earn a Fvelihood.10 ference of those expecting the advent. That
he replied that enough of the prophetic were bound eventually to bring him into The issue came to a head on June 9, meeting, we noted in chapter 4, adopted a
framework of Scripture had already been conflict with the Methodist hierarchy, 1841, at the meeting of the Providence, nine-point strategy to spread the advent
fulfilled that he could not "doubt that the The crisis point came in the spring and Rhode Island, Conference of the Meth­ message. A large part of that strategy had
prophecies have a meaning, and that they summer of 1841. During the spring Litch odist Episcopal Church, the regional to do with the distribution of literature.12
were written by the unerring Spirit of the began to question whether he could hold conference that employed Litch. Having Then, on July 15, the newly appointed
Holy One, and will, in due time, be ful­ on to his belief in the Second Advent and made his decision to preach his beliefs, Committee on Publication formally ap­
filled."7 That tentativeness and modesty still retain his ecclesiastical relation to the Litch took the offensive during the meet­ pointed Litch as "general agent" of the
in claims related to the exact fulfillment Methodist Church. On the side of con­ ings by giving several sermons on the ad­ movement. In an attempt to reassure Litch
of dates was shared by many of the early tinuing his Methodist ministry were the vent in the nearby Christian Connexion in his concerns for the welfare of his fam­
Millerite leaders up through the summer welfare of his "beloved family" and the chapel. Several of the ministers from the ily, the announcement of his appoint­
of 1844, and it helped cushion them from strong collegial ties he had with the Meth­ conference were present at each lecture, ment noted that "the Committee will
disillusionment between March 1843 odist ministry. These "were presented to and Litch discerned an increasing inter­ depend µpon the friends of the cause to
and April 1844. his mind, as an insuperable barrier in est among them. supply the wants of their Agent, wher­
Litch not only had a deep burden for the way of being exclusively devoted to His aggressive action led to his being ever he may work. 'The laborer is worthy
the salvation of souls as the end of the the work of proclaiming the Lord's publicly examined for thirty-five to forty of hi� hire.'" Thus Litch became the first
commg. "
.
world approached, but he also continued minutes by his bishop concerning his full-time paid Millerite minister. His job
to write, providing "one of the most ac­ On the other hand were his "firm preaching of Miller's doctrine. The bishop would be to lecture and improve the cir­
tive pens of the movement." He did much persuasion that the doctrine was true, frankly asked Litch if he felt his beliefs culation of Adventist literature.13
to define and extend Miller's interpretive and a conviction that it was high time were "Methodism." "I do," replied Litch. The week after the second Millerite
framework. One student has called Litch the church and the world were aroused "At least it is not contrary to the articles general conference, Litch was on the
the "leading theologian" of the Millerite to their µanger." These considerations, of religion of the Methodist Episcopal road in his new function. The week of
movement. Litch should certainly be Litch claimed, "pressed upon him until Church." June 23 found him laboring for the min­
viewed as Millerism's third most impor- they overcame, and he concluded to The conference concluded that Litch isters of the New Hampshire Conference

80 81
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AnvENTISM MORE MILLENNIAL MISSIONARIES

of the Methodist Church at their yearly dissension "probably excited more inter­ circulation of Millerite literature, and a and plain.An awful trembling must
meeting at Dover. Through "the kindness est than could have been raised by a half srnall paper-the Philadelphia Alarm­ yet seize upon sinners in Zion.A crisis
of ... friends,"Litch secured the use of dozen lectures."The petition was finally was begun with Litch as editor. He re­ must come, before the door of mercy is
the Dover Freewill Baptist meetinghouse voted down in a vote of thirty-one to rnained in Philadelphia as the regional everlastingly shut against them.They
thirty. 17 must be made to feel that it is now or
for three evenings and that of the Calvin­ leader of the movement in that area.
ist Baptists for two others.He was able to At that point the local Baptist minis­ never. 19
lure quite a few of the Methodists from ter readily granted Litch the use of his 1he Millerite Camp Meetings
their meetings to his. Shortly afterward pulpit.In the meantime, the heated dis­ One Millerite institution in which Litch Such a sense of crisis and responsibil­
he extended his ministry to the Method­ cussion "had awakened an interest in the played a major role was the camp meet­ ity was resting heavily upon the Miller­
ist clergy by holding meetings in Worces­ preachers to hear for themselves on the ing. Such meetings had been used by the ites by mid-1842. The day after Collins
ter, Massachusetts, during the yearly great question." Litch estimated that Methodists and other groups during the penned his letter, the momentous Boston
meetings of Methodism's New England two-thirds of the conference preachers previous four decades with outstanding general conference opened, with Joseph
Conference. Litch distributed literature attended his lectures and that many were 18 Bates at the helm. That conference not
success. The initiatives for the first Mil­
to the clergy and created a fair interest in swayed toward his doctrine. In fact, he lerite camp meetings took place at the only voted to hold camp meetings, it also
the Second Advent at both the New believed that there was more interest Boston general conference in May 1842. appointed a committee to superintend
Hampshire and the New England meet­ among the Maine Methodist clergy than By that date the year 1843 was look­ them. The "principal object"of the meet­
ings.14 in any other portion of the New England ing perilously close, with most of the ings was "to awake sinners and purify
It was at the Maine Conference in states.15 In that estimation he was cor­ world yet to be warned.L. C.Collins ex­ Christians by giving the Midnight Cry,
July, however, that Litch made the larg­ rect. In future chapters we will again run pressed the faith of many when he wrote: viz. to hold up the immediate coming of
est impact upon and created the greatest across the problems that attraction to Christ."20
agitation among the Methodist clergy. In Millerism brought upon the Maine My faith is strong in the coming of Some Millerites felt that the very at­
Maine his friends were audacious enough Methodist Conference. Christ in '43.I make no calculations tempt to hold such meetings was a bit
to apply to the conference's appointment In the light of Litch's aggressive work for any thing beyond, but glory.... presumptive.After all, a camp meeting is
committee to get Litch time in the offi­ for the Methodist clergy, Himes' previ­ But with so short a time to awake the a great undertaking. 'What," suggested
cial pulpit for the yearly meeting. The ous judgment that he was "a strong man slumbering virgins, and save souls, some, "a little handful of Adventists hold
committee declined the request, but that in Israel" seems to be justified. Litch we must work; work night and day. a camp-meeting! Why, they are hardly
did not stop the attempt to get the Miller­ would continue to carry a special burden God has thrust us out in haste, to able to hold a house meeting, much less a
ite an officially approved hearing. Litch's for Methodist members and clergy.16 give the last invitation, and we must camp-meeting! However," Litch notes,
friends took their request to the floor of By late 1842 and early 1843, Litch labor in earnest, and compel them to "there was sufficient faith and zeal in the
the session, where a lengthy and warm had centered his work in Philadelphia in come in, that his house may be filled. [Boston] meeting, to say 'TRY.' "21
discussion ensued. "The effect," penned "the first effort to introduce the message .. .Strong men in Israel are rallying The first camp meeting planned by the
Litch, "was like a firebrand in a magazine south of New York."Under his leader­ to our help. The midnight cry must official committee was to be held in East
of powder." Both friends and foes of his ship, a company of believers was raised yet be made to ring, and ring through Kingston, New Hampshire, from June 28
cause came publicly to the fore, and the up, a book depository was opened for the every valley and over every hill-top to July 5.22Meanwhile, Litch had begun a

82 83
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM MoRE MILLENNIAL MISSIONARIES

series of meetings in Stanstead in eastern July 3. "During that month's labor," he crusades rather than debating societies.
27 spread Millerism in Great Britain, was
Canada in early June. That revival series recalled, "as near as could be estimated' 'Ih.e Signs version of the East Kings­ converted at the East Kingston meet­
caught on in unexpected ways and led in five or six hundred souls were converted t on meetings was essentially the same as ing.29
unanticipated directions. to God.''25 The Canadian camp meetings that of the Post) except that the Signs es­ A second important result was the
Litch reported that "the country, for had been a success. tilllated attendance at from ten to fifteen proposal for the construction of the "big
thirty or forty miles around, was awake to In the meantime, the East Kingston tent" and the successful fund raising to
thousand. In addition, it pointed out that
the subject of the Lord's coming," and pay for it. With a seating capacity of four
camp meeting had begun on June 29. The the attendees represented nearly all sects
"immense concourses assembled." As a Boston Post reported that from seven to thousand, it was reportedly the largest
and creeds and that they came from all
result, he determined then and there to ten thousand people attended and that tent in America up to that time. Origi­
the New England states as well as Cana­
hold a camp meeting in Canada that the meetings were orderly. There were nally, its center pole stood at fifty-five
da and "Old England."
would build upon his meetings and those twelve to fifteen preachers presenting 'Ih.e Signs also reported several resolu- feet, and it had a diameter of 120 feet. A
being held across the border in Ver­ lectures, with Miller giving a regular tions passed at the camp meeting. They streamer bearing the words "Thy King­
mont. 23 course of lectures. Some of the people, centered on the nearness of the end and dom Come" flew from its masthead. It
Thus, from June 21 through June 28, the Post suggested, attended out of curi­ the responsibility of the believers to warn took a full-time tent company of four
the first advent camp meeting was held, osity, but the major portion of them, as the world with all possible haste. One men to move, set up, and care for the big
not in East Kingston as planned, but in evidenced by "their solemn looks and resolution called for more camp meet­ tent.30
Canada. Litch's excitement shines close attention to the subject, were evi­ ings, since the East Kingston experience The tent had several values. First, it
through in his description of the meet­ dently actuated by higher and more im­ had convinced them that such convoca­ provided a ready-made auditorium in lo­
ings. 'Waves on waves of people have portant motives.''26 tions were "a most efficient means for calities where suitable meeting places
fl.owed in upon us, day after day, until our The one criticism of the meetings leveled spreading the truth on this subject and were not available or where the Millerites
arena within the circle of the tents has by the Post was that some were discour­ for preparing those who embrace it for were shut out of existing buildings due to
been almost crowded with a living mass aged that no time was given for opponents the coming of the Lord.''28 increasing tension as the year of the end
of beings, eagerly enquiring, 'Watchman, of Millerism to present their views. That Two other results of the East Kings­ approached. Second, the tent extended
what of the night?' To which we say, 'the restriction, however, had been a founda­ ton camp meeting should be noted. First, the season for mass meetings, since it
morning cometh and also the night.' " tional element in planning the event. The at least two of its converts to Millerism could be pitched in weather that prohib­
The closing three hours were spent in a camp meeting committee, in announcing would play central roles in subsequent ited outdoor meetings. Third, it was an
testimony meeting. The final act in the the convocation, plainly stated that con­ developments in the movement. S. S. attention getter; many people who at­
meeting was the singing of ''When thou troversy was not their purpose. Thus they Snow, who would later spearhead the ac­ tended meetings merely to see the tent
my righteous Judge shall come.''24 forewarned that "none will take part in ceptance of the October 22, 1844, date stayed to hear the preaching of the
Hearing of the success of the camp public speaking except those who are be­ for the second coming of Christ, conse­ message. Himes, who directed con­
meeting, the people of Bolton (also in lievers in the second coming of Christ, crated himself to the full-time occupa­ struction of the tent, did not miss its
Canada) requested one. Thus, in the near, even at the door.'' The Millerites tion of spreading the Millerite message at public-relations value. Because massive
week following his first endeavor, Litch had no doubt of the purpose of their that camp meeting. In addition, Robert crowds were drawn to the big tent, it was
held a second camp meeting. It ended on camp meetings. They were evangelistic Winter, who would later do much to soon enlarged to seat approximately six
84 85
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RisE OF AovENTISM MoRE MILLENNIAL MISSIONARIES

thousand people. 31 parative order and decorum in Millerite on the camp-meeting circuit for his own worked at a second Adventist meeting.
The growing urgency of spreading the meetings is hinted at in the Herald's re­ de nomination when Himes offered him At this meeting, he penned,
Millerite message as the year of the end mark that the Millerite meetings were $25 to allow his equipment and services
approached is evidenced by the speed characterized by "argument." As noted to be used for a Millerite meeting. Hav­ I had more time ... to examine their
with which the big tent was moved from earlier, Miller's approach to religion was ing not previously been impressed when doctrine, and I was astonished, when
place to place. In spite of poor transpor­ one aimed at the intellect rather than at he heard Miller, Munger "felt crusty and I read the Bible for myself without a
tation facilities, it was transported eight the emotions. Coming out of a Deist objected" to Himes' offer. But he eventu­ Papal comment upon it. I was con­
times between July 27 and November 3, background, Miller placed rationalism at all y decided to accept, since he could act vinced that they had got the truth on
1842. the center of his personal approach to re­ the part of "'the dog in the manger' and the nature of the events, saying noth­
Though the early Millerite camp ligion, and it was similarly important for keep off the Millerites."35 ing of the time, and many things I
meetings had their "groans," shouts of those who were convinced by his biblical He later regretted offering even mini­ learned that I never knew were in the
"glory," and other spiritual exercises, they reasoning. mal cooperation. But when the big tent Bible before. It was a new book in-
were quite well ordered by the standards That rationalism was Miller's pre­ arrived, he was so astonished by its size deed, and had some promises that I
of the day. In fact, the relatively good or­ ferred style does not mean that overemo­ that his reluctance disappeared for a never had thought belonged to us. 37
der was one of the most noted aspects of tionalism and fanaticism never found a while.
the East Kingston meeting. Of course, it place in Millerite camp meetings. The "The meeting," he penned, "was so After his conversion to Millerism,
is not surprising that the Signs claimed case ofJohn Starkweather and the ascen­ different from the other that I took but Munger regularly worked on the move-
that "for good order this meeting stands dance of others on the emotional end of little interest in it-excepting for the ment's camp-meeting circuit. Many were
without a parallel." It is more significant, the spectrum certainly affected Millerite $25, and I hoped that they would not his experiences as head security guard.
however, that the Boston Post could de­ camp meetings in 1843 and the summer make out much." When Himes made an When, for example, two "Cainites" (as he
clare that "the meeting was conducted of 1844. That topic will be treated more altar call, Munger thought he would have called the rowdies) tried to disrupt a
with great regularity and good order from fully in chapter 9. few results, since the Methodists had just meeting, Munger informed them, play­
beginning to end." Similar sentiments Meanwhile, the Millerite Adventists completed a very successful meeting on ing on a Millerite emphasis, that "this
were expressed by the Daily Mail and the took strenuous steps toward keeping the same campground. But, to Munger's was a 'time meeting,' and it was time for
Christian Herald. 32 their camps orderly. One of those steps shock, "there was such a rush to the altar them to be going, and I would give them
In a similar vein, the New York Her­ was the publication of a list of regulations for prayers as I had never seen. This gave one minute to start."
ald could say of the Newark, NewJersey, stipulating the daily routine for both the me the 'lockjaw' for a while, for I was so On another occasion, three rowdies
meetings in November 1842 that "those camp and individuals. 34 astonished to see those [go] forward who showed up at camp meeting "on purpose
who think that one of these Millerite Another means of maintaining order had stood through our meeting, that I to fight with me." Munger challenged
meetings resembles a Methodist camp in the camps was the hiring of security did not speak for some time. Truly, I one of them to a wrestling match. Going
meeting are greatly mistaken; there is guards. The most interesting of those thought, God was in the place and I into the woods, he recalled, "I made up
much more order, decorum, and argu­ guards was Hiram Munger, a powerful knew it not."36 my mind to use him rather hard." After
ment in these Miller meetings."33 man who stood at six feet six inches. Though Munger did not convert at he cried "'fairly done,' a number of
The key to understanding the com- Munger, a Methodist, had been working the Chickopee camp meeting, he soon times," Munger continued, "I kept him

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE QF AovENTISM MORE MILLENNIAL MISSIONARIES

moving until he was satisfied he was The combination of rational (rather that his "mind was greatly ove1whelmed saw it, "the fear of man brought me into
much better off than he would have been than emotional) preaching, stringent with the subject." Impelled by Miller's a snare."44
to have fought, as he first proposed." rules, and 1'dedicated toughs" like Munger rnessage, the new convert to the cause On the other hand, the experience
Pitying the man, Munger took him to his helped the Millerites maintain order in ,u:runediately "wrote and preached to the and his later change of heart must have
tent for a night of rest. The next morning their camp meetings. All in all, the Ad­ people of Boston" concerning his new­ taught him a lesson in standing firm for
the man told him "that he had not a well ventists held at least 125 camp meetings found faith. 42 his convictions. For the rest of his life, as
bone in him."38 between June 1842 and October 1844, Preaching his first two sermons on we will see, Fitch would sponsor unpop­
On a third occasion, some seventeen with an estimated combined attendance Miller's views on March 4, he exuber­ ular causes without backing down in the
Cainites arrived and commenced tearing of µo fewer than half a million people.40 antly wrote to Miller the next day, not­ face of opposition from those he respect­
down tents and singing obscene songs. Thus as Millerism moved toward ing that he desired to be "a watchman ed.
Munger had arranged for an ambush. 1843, it had discovered the camp meet­ on the walls," and wanted "to 'give the It was Josiah Litch who would lead
After their wagon was stopped in an ing to be one of its most powerful engines trumpet a certain sound."' As a major step Fitch back to Millerism. Fitch, sensing
abortive getaway, Munger climbed into it for evangelism as time itself brought ever­ in faithfully acting the part of the watch­ something lacking in his spiritual experi-
and "commenced pitching them out over increasing pressure to warn the world. man, Fitch announced to Miller that ence, had "f:asted," "prayed, " "groaned,"
the sides on the ground" while the other there was to be a meeting of his ministe­ and "wept before the Lord." While he
Adventist guards secured them with The Zealous Charles Fitch rial associates the next day (March 6), was in that condition, Litch (a stranger
rope. One of the rowdies pulled a knife Charles Fitch was the fourth most in­ "and, as I am appointed to read an essay, to him) visited him in mid-1841 and
on Munger, who, upon being warned, fl.ueµtial and well known Millerite I design to bring up this whole subject urged him to restudy the Bible on the
took "him by the collar and the seat of preacher. In 1838, about the same time for discussion, and trust that I may topic of the Second Advent. Fitch later
the pants" and sent him "overboard so that Litch and the Boston Post first ob­ thereby do something to spread the wrote to Litch that he could not feel
quick that he only had time to say 'O tained copies of Miller's published lec­ truth."43 "anything like cordiality in seeing you,"
dear,' before he, dirk and all, after an tures, a copy fell into Fitch's hands. That bold step proved to be premature but upon reading the literature Litch left
aerial journey of some twenty feet, landed "I have studied it," he penned to Miller for the impetuous young minister. After with him, Fitch's second-advent beliefs
on the ground." on Ma�ch 5, "with an overwhelming in­ all, he had hardly had time to examine revived.45
After keeping his prisoners hound for terest, such as I never felt in any other the doctrine himself. He was both The Signs of December 15, 1841, re­
some hours, Munger told µiem he would book except the Bible. I have compared it shocked and intimidated by the response ported that Fitch had "come into the full
let them go if they would give their names with scripture and history, and I find he received. To his ministerial colleagues faith of the Second Advent."46 The zeal­
and confess their folly. Unbinding them, he nothing on which to rest a single doubt it was "moonshine." "There was much ous Fitch would preach his new faith un­
then led them in a season of prayer. Most respecting the correctness of your laughter over the subject," Fitch recalled, til the end of his life in October 1844. In
confessed, and the man who drew the knife views."41 "and I could not help feeling that I was fact, his faithfulness in spreading that ad­
"begged us not to prosecute him." After Fitch, true to his zealous and sincere regarded as a simpleton." He left the vent message brought about his death
further discussion, Munger reports, they cqaracter, wasn't satisfied with merely meeting "much pained, and . . . not a lit­ (see chapter 11).
"left us docile as lambs. . . . We had no one reading. He was so carried away that tle mortified." After that, he gave up In the meantime, Fitch's Adventist
more disturbance :&om that source."39 he read Miller's book six times, noting preaching the advent near. As he later ministry was fruitful from the very start.

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Even his letter to Litch announcing his one of the two principal authors of an Toe cleavage between Fitch and Gar­ and Charles Finney.55
conversion wrought Millerite fruit. For "Appeal of Clerical Abolitionists on Anti­ rison remained until January 1840. On All four men published books on the
example, a druggist from western New Slavery Measures."50 January 9, however, Fitch wrote to Garri­ topic of perfection. Fitch's Views ofSanc­
Yark, after being led to Millerism Fitch was not so much out of harmony son, expressing regret that he had partici­ tification came out in 1839, the same year
through Fitch's published letter, ordered with Garrison's anti-slavery principles as pated in the "Appeal" and had condemned as Mahan's Scripture Doctrine ofChristian
160 copies for distribution. "Scarcely a he was with Garrison's teachings against Garrison. Fitch had been led to his apol­ Peifection and a year before the publica­
day passes," he wrote, "but some [of the the clergy and his downplaying of the ogy by thoughts of "JEsus CHRIST in the tion of Finney's Views of Sanctification.
pamphlets] are issuing from the Drug Sunday-Sabbath as a holy day (Garrison clouds of heaven, coming to judge the The strong advocacy by these four Cal­
Store of which I am proprietor, medicine taught all days were holy), the visible world, and to establish His reign of holi­ vinist ministers of what had traditionally
and truth going out together."47 church, and the Christian ordinances. ness and righteousness and blessedness been a Methodist doctrine raised a furor
Prior to 1838 and his first contact Fitch and his colleagues had decided to over the pure of heart."53 in the Calvinist community. Leonard
with Millerism, Fitch had been a broad­ split off from the Garrisonians and create Fitch's confession gives the impres­ Woods, professor of theology at Andover
based reformer and a prominent aboli­ a society of "Evangelical Abolitionists." sion that even at that early date he was Seminary and a leading defender of or­
tionist. His 1837 publication of Slave­ Henry Stanton and others believed most concerned with the advent near, a posi­ thodox Calvinism throughout the first
holding Weighed in the Balance of Truth clerical abolitionists had sided with Fitch, tion he would not fully accept for another half of the century, published a book cri­
provided a forceful attack on the issue. while Fitch claimed a majority of nine­ eighteen months.But the confession also tiquing Mahan's and Fitch's works. Be­
"Up, my friends," Fitch urged in the tenths. Garrison, for his part, saw Fitch expresses a new doctrine that Fitch had yond that, Fitch's neighboring pastor in
pamphlet's conclusion, "and do your as a "deserter" and a traitor.51 espoused after his rejection of Millerism Newark, New Jersey, published a booklet
duty, to deliver the spoiled out of the Garrison went out of his way to attack in 1838. His emphasis on wanting to be challenging his view of full sanctifica­
hand of the oppressor, lest the fire of Fitch on the occasion of the dedication of "pure of heart" to meet his Lord reflects tion.56
God's fury kindle ere long upon you."48 Fitch's Marlboro Chapel. "The flaming his new belief in Christian perfection or The greatest challenge to Fitch, how­
William Lloyd Garrison, the great abolitionist," asserted Garrison, ". .. cares "full sanctification." It is also an emphasis ever, came from his employing organiza­
anti-slavery agitator, considered Fitch to as little for the cause he once so furiously that helps us see into the personality of tion. The Newark Presbytery of the Pres­
be a "brave and eloquent" speaker and ac­ espoused, as he is ignorant of true righ­ this utterly sincere minister.54 byterian Church accused him of heresy
tivist for the abolitionist movement. teousness." Instead of speaking on the By 1839 Fitch had become a convert and put him on trial. Fitch, in replying to
Fitch had not only been eloquent, but he great cause for which the chapel was to "Oberlin perfection," a view that "holi­ the presbytery's charges, wrote:
was also noted for his forthright "hard" founded, "he gave a hum-drum discourse ness consists primarily of the perfection
language in attacking slavery. Some felt about the Sabbath, infant sprinkling, and of the will and is available to every Chris­ With my name you must do what
he was "out-Garrisoning Garrison" in the sacrament!" Garrison's evaluation hit tian after conversion." Although not of­ you think right before God, and in
the vigor of his rhetoric.49 directly on the fault line that separated ficially connected with Oberlin College view of an approaching judgment. I
Unfortunately for Garrison, in August him from Fitch. Though Fitch was a (in Ohio), Fitch linked up with their the­ have no further defence to make
1837 Fitch would become a formidable zealous abolitionist, he was even more ology and thus became a colleague in the [than his letter of explanation to
opponent of Garrison's anti-slavery orga­ resolutely an orthodox Christian as he cause with such Oberlin theological pro­ them]. If you cannot own me as one
nization. In that month Fitch became then defined the term.52 fessors as Asa Mahan, Henry Cowles, of your number while I tell the church

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovE MORE MILLENNIAL MISSIONARIES

of Christ ... that He was manifested vaded the campus of Oberlin College for ified the problem as Miller's "doctrine Fitch refused to "contend" any longer.
to take away their sins, and that they the only prolonged dialogue between a that the world is never to be converted to After that, his sermons and the Oberlin
may and ought so to abide in Him Millerite and a major theological faculty. God." The Evangelist deplored the fact replies occupied alternate evenings. 63
that they sin not . .. , then just blot Fitch, of course, was no stranger to that many of the "best ministers" were At the conclusion of Fitch's second
me out of your book, and let the Finney and his Oberlin colleagues. Not "renouncing the doctrine of the temporal Oberlin series, the Evangelist once again
transaction be recorded, as it will be, only had he been their theological ally l\1illenium [sic]." The February 16, 1842, stated that his presentations had "not re­
in the book of God, to be reviewed and a frequently featured writer in their issue noted "with grief " that their beloved sulted . . . in any change in the public
before the universe in the final day. 57 periodical, but he had also been the dedi­ Fitch had accepted Miller's theory. 61 mind" in favor of his beliefs. But there
catory speaker for Finney's new Broad­ Fitch's conversion to the advent near are indications in the Oberlin records
From thenceforth, Fitch considered way Tabernacle congregation in New brought him into dialogue with the that Fitch's presentations at Oberlin and
himself to be "an ecclesiastical outcast." York City in 1835. 59 Oberlin theologians, first through a se­ in the Evangelist were more disruptive
In 1842, while seeking to convince his The Oberlin community had been ries of letters published in the Evangelist than the Oberlinites wanted to admit.
good friend Phoebe Palmer (the leader of mightily stirred by the message of Wil­ and then through public presentations at One preacher influenced by Fitch's inter­
the revival of the teaching of perfection liam Miller. That stirring, however, had Oberlin. His first public meetings at action with the Oberlin community was
among the Methodists in the late 1830s been one of reaction rather than of agree­ Oberlin took place in September 1842. John Starkweather-a man we shall hear
and early 1840s) of the nearness of the ment. After all, Oberlin-being the first The Evangelist noted that while its edi­ more about in chapter 9.64
advent, he noted that in accepting his collegiate institution in the United States tors had "great respect for Bro. Fitch, we By and large, however, Oberlin con­
view of complete sanctification he had to allow blacks and females into its aca­ cannot but say we think he is mistaken tinued in its previously accepted postmil­
"sacrificed all my friends on earth for the demic program on a par with white on this subject." Fitch, for his part, was lennial path in spite of Millerism in gen­
truth's sake." After resigning from the males-considered itself to be the van­ "utterly astonished" that such men as eral and Fitch in particular. An early
Presbyterian ministry because of his new guard of the movement for setting up Cowles and Mahan "could make such a Oberlin graduate summed up the posi­
belief, he became a full-time evangelist God's millennial kingdom on earth use of the Bible" in rejecting the advent tion nicely when he penned:
"for the promotion of holiness" in April through reform.60 near. But not everyone in the Oberlin
1841.58 Oberlin's consternation with Miller's community responded negatively. Even Millerites, when they knew how ea­
Since his abortive experience with doctrine is indicated by the fact that be­ one of the professors converted to Fitch's ger we were to renovate the world,
Millerism in 1838, Fitch had become a tween February 17, 1841, and December perspective. 62 thought we would readily unite with
staunch defender of what he believed in 22, 1841, the Oberlin Evangelist pub­ Fitch returned to Oberlin for a second them in burning it up by 1843. But
spite of the position of those opposing lished a series of twenty-three articles on series in September 1843. This time, Henry Cowles-blessed his memory
him. The development of that trait had "The Millenium [sic]." That series was however, the Oberlin theologians forced and blessed be his commentaries!­
prepared him well for the battles he succeeded by a second one of seventeen him into a public debate on the topic, went into such a thorough study of
would have to fight as a leading Millerite. articles entitled "No Millenium [sic]" that even though "Mr. Fitch would rather prophesy [sic] as to detect the shallow
One of those battles would be with his extended from January 19 through Au­ have gone on and preached merely-giv­ imposture, and such an exposition of
old colleagues in perfection (Mahan, gust 31, 1842. Both series were aimed at ing his own views without any discus­ prophesy [sic] as to confound, not
Cowles, and Finney) as Fitch twice in- Miller, but the second more openly spec- sion." But partway through the debate, Millerism only, but all other Judaistic

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE R1sE OF AovE

interpretations of the old prophets and Hale's chart "had fulfilled a prophecy his concentrativeness on the subject of dred in January 1842, while the Christian
68
that look to a literal rather than a given by Hab. 2[,] 468 years before, 't he Second Advent near' " would end. Herald six months later suggested at least
spiritual kingdom of God.65 where it says, 'And the Lord answered From a more positive point of view, itseven hundred. At the height of the
me and said, write the vision and make it can be claimed that Fitch was as sincere movement in the spring of 1844, the
By 1843 Fitch had located in Cleve­ plain upon tables, that he may run that as he was zealous and impulsive. He was Midnight Cry reported that "something
land, Ohio. From there he not only readeth it."' It was therefore "voted to a rnan who had come to the place where like fifteen hundred or TWO THOUSAND
made forays into neighboring Oberlin, have three hundred of these charts litho­ he would do whatever he believed God lecturers are in the :field proclaiming '1he
but he also issued a paper entitled the graphed .. . that those who felt the mes­ willed for him, no matter what the con­ Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.'" At any
Second Advent of Christ. Fitch became sage may read and run with it." Millerite sequences. As a result, after his conver­ rate, the evidence is clear that a large
the foremost Adventist leader in the preachers now had an important addition sion on the advent near, Fitch put his number of clergy and dedicated laypeople
trans-Appalachian region. to their standard equipment-the latest whole soul into the Millerite millennial took up the message of the advent near.
An important contribution of Fitch to development in visual technology.66 rnission. Some of them preached it full time, while
the Millerite movement was the "1843 Another important contribution of From another perspective, given others sounded the warning part time in
Chart." In May 1842, Fitch and Apollos Fitch to the Millerite movement was his Fitch's impulsiveness and sensitivity, he connection with earning a livelihood.69
Hale presented their chart to the general call in July 1843 for the advent believers should be seen as a bridge between the The lecturers came from all denomi­
conference session meeting in Boston. to "come out of Babylon." (That contri­ more stable and rationalistic Millerite nations. Everett Dick has made the only
The chart graphically portrayed the major bution will be more fully explained in study of the denominational affiliations
leaders (such as Miller, Himes, and Litch)
prophetic symbols of Daniel and Revela­ chapter 7.) In 1844 Fitch also accepted and those of a more charismatic bent of Millerite lecturers. Of the 174 whom
tion and indicated several ways that the such biblical teachings as baptism by im­ (such as S. S. Snow and George Storrs), he was able to identify denominationally,
prophetic numbers added up to the year mersion and death as a sleep until the who came to dominate the movement in 44 percent were Methodist, 27 percent
1843 as the time of the Second Advent resurrection. the late summer and early fall of 1844. Baptist, 9 percent Congregational, 8 per­
(see a reproduction of the "1843 Chart" Evaluations of Fitch were mixed. The Fitch exhibited a delicate balance be­ cent Christian Connexion, and 7 percent
in the photograph section). Christian Reflector noted that he had a tween rationalism and an impulsive Presbyterian. Several other denomina­
The chart, as it was later replicated, "sensitive heart" and "a mind very much tions were represented by one or two lec­
openness to innovative ideas. As a result,
measured roughly three by five feet and undisciplined." As a result, "he was easily he played a unique role in the Millerite turers each. According to Litch, the lec­
could be hung up as a visual aid for led astray by the wild, the powerful influ­ drama. In Fitch we glimpse a foreshad­ turers held certain commonalities,
preaching in a lecture hall or any other ences which .. . operated upon it."67 owing of the tension that would split including zeal for God and the salvation
place an audience could be gathered. In Garrison claimed in early 1843 that Millerism asunder after the disappoint­ of humanity.Beyond that, they were Bi­
fact, the hanging of an "1843 Chart" on "no one who knows him [Fitch] can ment of October 22, 1844. ble students who sought to make the Bi­
the deck of a canal boat or in some other doubt his honesty or ability; but his mind ble a self-interpreting book. 70
public place was often a means used to appears to be impulsive." Garrison went Additional Millerite Leaders Aside from the soon coming of Christ,
draw a curious crowd for a preaching ser­ on to note that it perhaps was fortunate No one knows the number of minis­ there was no doctrinal uniformity among
vice. for Fitch that "with the expiration of the ters preaching the Millerite message, but the lecturers.Millerism was essentially a
The conference believed that Fitch present year," all necessity for him "to tax Himes estimated it at three to four hun- one-doctrine movement. Miller, Himes,

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AnvENTISM MORE MILLENNIAL MISSIONARIES

and others believed that to broaden their Other leaders of special note in the had become one of the most powerful Two commonalities should be noted
doctrinal platform would necessitate 1842-through-early-1844 phase of Mil­ New York Baptists of his day. Beyond about the Millerite leaders who came
much discussion and thus use up precious lerism were Joseph Marsh, Elon Galu­ that, he was a foremost agitator in New into the movement as the year of the end
time.After Christ came again in the near sha, and Nathaniel Southard.Marsh ac­ York for the ending of slavery,fully be­ approached.First,these,as well as those
future,they could work out their doctri­ cepted Millerism in 1842. For twelve lieving that slavery "must cease before of lesser status, tended to lose their de­
nal differences. Meanwhile, the world years prior to that time,he had been edi­ the millennium can come." In 1840 he nominational positions because of Mil­
needed to be warned of impending doom. tor of 'Ihe Christian Palladium (an organ went as a delegate to the world anti­ lerism. That was unlike the general expe­
Like the Methodist circuit riders, of the Christian Connexion) in upstate slaver y convention in Scotland. Having rience of the earliest leaders, but it did
Millerite lecturers often risked their lives New York. In April 1842 he began to call ser ved in a number of influential pastor­ indicate that the split taking place be­
and existed in discomfott to get their for "a candid and careful investigation" of ates, Galusha, according to Whitney tween the Millerites and the churches
message out. Along that line, the report the Adventist doctrine in the Palladium. Cross, was "one of the most influential was accelerating in 1843 and 1844.
of Joel Spaulding is of interest. "I have Beyond that,he printed things in favor of individuals ever to join the Adventist Second,like the earlier Millerite lead­
traveled in forty days," he penned, the doctrine.That course of action "raised movemeht." 74 ers, the latter ones tended to be heavily
much opposition." By November 23 he Galusha began to convert to Miller­ involved in the reform movements of the
two hundred and sevei:ity-fi.ve miles, was able to write: "I am fully convinced as ism ih 1843. By early 1844 he had ten­ day, especially the freeing of the slaves.
had my beast fall twice, while on to the time,and mean to proclaim it fear­ dered his resignation to his church so Garrison was frustrated beyond measure
horseback,in sloughs; and once in the lessly from the pulpit and the press. My that he might be wholly free to preach his when talented leaders converted to Mil­
midst of Kinnebec river [sic] while course is fixed-let the consequences fol­ convictidhs. Miller wrote of him: "Bro. lerism. "Multitudes," he penned, "who
fording, where the current was con­ low. I fear not the result. God will defend Galusha came out in full in the faith of were formerly engaged in the various
siderably rapid .... As I was cast into his cause." 72 '43.He is a happy man,and a strong man moral enterprises of the age,have lost all
the river, the horse fell on me; but I Marsh's faith did not save his job. in the faith. ... With him I am well interest in works of practical righteous­
escaped unhurt,with the exception of During late 1842 and early 1843, he pleased." And pleased he had a right to ness, and thirik and talk of nothing else
a lame ankle,on which I was unable to found himself under increasing opposi­ be. Galusha reportedly brought eight but the burning up of the world." Again,
bear my weight for some days. But tion.By November 1,1843,he had been hundred souls to Christ in one session in he penned, "a considerable number of
none of these things moved me. I completely forced out of his editorial March 1844. He became the foremost worthy abolitionists have been carried
could hobble with the assistance of a position with the Palladium. 73 He was leader of Millerism in western New York away by it [Millerism],and,for the time
staff into the desk, happy in having then free to put his full strength into state. 75 being,are rendered completely useless to
the privilege still of arousing a slum­ Millerism. As a result, on January 1, Southard was another who brought our cause.But the delusion has not long
bering church to a sense of the imme­ 1844, he began publication of the Voice editorial skills into iv1illerism. An active to run,and let us rejoice." 77
diate "appearing of the great God,and of Truth. anti-slavery man, Southard at one time On one point,Garrison's critique is in
our Savior,Jesus Christ["]; of warning Another leader of Millerism in western had been acting editor of the Emancipa­ error.Millerites had not lost "all interest
the sinner of the impending storm New York was Elon Galusha.The son of tor. In late 1842 he would take over the in works of practical righteousness."
which awaits him; and in showing the Vermont governor who had signed editorship of the Millerite Midnight Rather, they had lost faith in human
them the hiding place from the same.71 Miller's military commission, Galusha Cry.76 ability to achieve a sufficient solution.
4----W.M
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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RisE OF AovE MORE MILLENNIAL MISSIONARIES

Whereas Garrison taught that the best more radical agencies and a more exten­ incensed when the "'Cainites' tore down the black population (a situation that is
way to prepare for the millennium was to sive solution than other reformers. The the tent of the colored people." Sojourner equally mystifying for white Millerism),
work for it in the present, and whereas Second Coming would be the reform of Truth, a black woman who became a for­ we do have record of at least two85 blacks
Oberlin's Henry Cowles believed that it all reforms. It was the ultimate cause. On rnidable orator in the struggle against lecturing on the advent near. The first
was a "dreadful mistake" to think that that basis Millerism had a magnetic slavery, attended one of Miller's lectures was Lewis.
"God will bring in the Millenium [sic] by drawing power for those reformers who and at least two Adventist camp meet­ A second black lecturer who preached
a sort of miracle . . . without human were struggling with the failure of hu­ ings but concluded that they were "labor­ the Millerite message was William E.
man action. 82
agency," the Millerites held the Second ing under a delusion." Foy, who claimed to have had several vi­
Coming to be an immediate solution to By mid-1843 the need to work ag­ sions beginning on January 18, 1842.
7
slavery and all other problems. 8 Black and Female Lecturers gressively among the black population Those visions led him to a belief in the
Thus by 1843 Millerism was at logger­ There are traces of Millerite work was becoming more obvious to the Mil­ soon coming of Jesus, even though, as he
heads with the reform movements, as among the black population, 81 but it is not lerite leaders. As a result, Fitch made a put it, "I was opposed to the doctrine of
well as with the churches, in terms of highlighted in Adventist publications. successful motion at a major meeting in Jesus' near approach" until he received
strategy for bringing in the kingdom. It That situation resulted partly from the fact May "to take up a collection for a laborer the visions.86
had not always been so. In 1840 Garrison's that it was a white, male-dominated to go among our colored brethren." Beyond a belief in the soon coming of
Liberator had even advertised Miller's lec­ movement (as were nearly all causes of The next day a collection of more than Christ, Foy wrote that "the duty to de­
tures, suggesting that since Miller was "a the day) and partly from the fact that twenty dollars was received to enable clare the things which had thus been
thorough abolitionist, non-resistant, Millerism was largely a northern move­ John W. Lewis, "a highly esteemed col­ shown me, to my fellow creatures, and
temperance man, and etc," his lectures ment at a time when the great bulk of the ored preacher," to work full time "among warn them to flee from the wrath to
would "be of a salutary character-aside black population still lived in the South. that much neglected class of our breth­ come, rested with great weight upon my
from his computation of the end of the Yet there are consistent evidences that ren, with whom he is most closely con­ mind." Despite his convictions, Foy re­
world."79 blacks attended Millerite meetings and nected."83 sisted them for some time, partly, he
The fact that Miller's sentiments re­ that the Adventist leaders had a burden By February 1844, Himes was able to noted, because their message was "so dif­
garding the evils of slavery did not change to give them the warning message. At report that "many of the colored people ferent" from what people expected and
across time is evident from the fact that first the contact between the largely white have received the doctrine" in Philadel­ partly because of "the prejudice among
two weeks after the October 1844 disap­ advent movement and the black minority phia. "One of their most efficient minis­ the people against thos [sic] of my color."
pointment, he was earmarked as a trusted was probably informal in the sense that ters has embraced the doctrine in full, That last statement suggests that Foy
participant on the "underground rail­ blacks just began attending Millerite and will devote himself wholly to the (and probably other black lecturers)
road" that unlawfully moved slaves from meetings in the usual manner of the proclamation of it. The people of color, preached to audiences composed of both
the American South to Canada, where times by sitting in the back rows or bal­ therefore, will have a congregation where blacks and whites. Such a situation is not
they would be beyond the legal reach of conies of churches or standing around the advent doctrine will be fully pro­ out of harmony with what we know of
their masters. so the edges. In a similar manner, they at­ claimed."84 black preaching in the first half of the
Miller and his followers were not tended camp meetings but had their own While it is impossible to determine nineteenth century.
against reform. Rather, they believed in tents. Thus in 1842 Hiram Munger became the extent of Millerism's spread among In the midst of a prayer of deep distress,

98 99
AovENTISM
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RrsE OF MORE MILLENNIAL MI
SSIONARIES

Foy received a definite impression th�t people were "so opposed to female speak­ had recently had "to take another dose of ing and by the prophecy of Joel
2 and
God would be with him if he shared his ing' that the host thought it best if the Millerism . . . [,] and that too from a Acts 2: "'On my servants and on
my
message. As a result, he began preaching father made the presentation. But he woman who to all appearance would bet­ handmaidens I will pour out in tho
. 1 1· . 87 se
his new faith in various oca 1t1es. found himself speechless. As a result, af­ ter be discharging her duty and more be­ days of my spirit; and they shall prophecy
Female lecturers appear to have had a ter a long silence, the host remarked: coming the dignity of her sex in the pri­ [sic]."' "This," he penned, "kept me from
more prominent role than blacks in Mil­ "Bro. Hersey has a daughter here who vate walks of life in the domesticated ever hindering, or placing the least thing
lerism. Not only was the women's-rights talks some in conference meetings when circle. in the way of her duty, fearing I might
movement getting a major boost from at home in N.E., and if there is no objec­ "Some," he continued, "said the woman grieve the Holy Spirit, by which she was
female participation in abolitionism, but tion raised by any one present, we would was an angel[;] others said if she once divinely aided in reaching the hearts of
restorationism and the Second Great like to hear from her." was an angel she had fallen from her first her hearers with the words of life as they
Awakening were also giving them new Since no objections were made, she estate." He went on to note that there fell from her devoted lips. I soon felt I
opportunities. The Christian Connexion, presented her message with forceful ef­ were "a goodmany [sic] 'fellers' after her" had an 'help-meet' indeed." Subsequently
in particular, had a strong tradition of fect. The meetings were soon shifted to and claimed that two of them had "flipped the Fassetts preached the advent message
women preachers. And during the 1830s the courthouse, where she spoke to a full a cent to see which should go home with as a team. 93
female participation in public religion re­ audience. That was the beginning of a her the last night."91 Other women preaching the advent
ceived encouragement from the revival­ fruitful ministry that included the con­ Rice recognized the opposition to her near were Sarah}. Paine, EmilyC. Clem­
ism ofCharles Finney, while the ministry version of several men who took up the preaching but declared that she "dare not ons, and Clorinda S. Minor. The latter
of Phoebe Palmer was renewing the ac­ preaching of the advent message.89 stop for the only reason that I am a sis- two also edited a periodical aimed espe­
ceptability of women leading out in pub­ Olive Maria Rice appears to have met ter." "Though men may censure and con- cially at women. The first issue of The Ad­
lic worship in the Methodist tradition.88 with both more opposition and more demn, I feel justified before God, and vent Message to the Daughters of Zion
The new beginnings for women in success than Hersey. Converted to Mil­ expect with joy to render my account for came off the press in May 1844.
ministry, however, did not always mean lerism in 1842, Rice had wanted to be a thus warning my fellow beings."92 The conviction that impelled the host
that female Millerite lecturers had an missionary from her childhood. After be­ Elvira Fassett was another who had to of advent preachers-black and white,
easy time of it. Take the case of Lucy coming "convinced that the Lord had break through both her own and her hus­ female and male-was nicely stated by
Maria Hersey, for example. Converted in something more for me to do than to as­ band's prejudices against women preach­ Olive Maria Rice. After her conversion,
her youth, at eighteen she felt the Lord sist in prayer meetings," she entered a ers. "She," like most women of her day, she wrote,
had called her to publicly proclaim the public evangelistic ministry that had led "had been taught to believe it immodest
gospel. to the conversion of hundreds by March and unbecoming a woman to speak in I could not conscientiously return to
In 1842 she accepted Miller's doc- 1843. She wrote to Himes that "there are public; and considered it forbidden by my studies in North Wilbraham,
trine. Soon after, she accompanied her constantly four or five places calling for Paul." But, being pressed upon by others, Ms., to prepare for future usefulness,
father on a trip to Schenectady, New my labors at the same time."90 she finally gave in, only to find that the when aJew months at the longest must
York, where a believer asked her noncler­ Rice's ministry, of course, regularly Lord blessed her labors.
close not only my labors in this world,
gyman father to address a non-Adventist faced male prejudice. One young New Her husband's prejudice was eventu­ but those of all mankind. I was com­
ally overcome by the fruits of her preac
group on the evidence for his faith. The Yorker complained to his brother that he h- pelled by a solemn sense of duty, by the
100
101
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM

influences efthe Spirit, and the power ef phetic urgency and destiny that drove the
truth, to go and warn myfellow men, to Millerite messengers day and night to
the extent ef my ability, to preparefor preach their message wherever they could
Christ's second coming, and the solemn get a hearing. That urgency increased as
scenes ifjudgment. 94 they approached the year of the end of
the world.
Part II
It was that deep-seated sense of pro-

THEYEAROF
THEEND
Chapter6
ENTERING THE YEAR OF THE END

T
HIS YEAR .. . IS the last year that satan [sic] will reign in our earth. Jesus Christ
will come.... The kingdoms of the earth will be dashed to pieces... . The
shout of victory will be heard in heaven.. .. Time shall be no more." Thus
wrote William Miller in his "New Year's Address to Second Advent Believers" on
January 1, 1843. At long last the year of the end of the world had arrived.
Despite his hope in the promise of the "glorious year," Miller was his level-headed,
rational self. He recognized that Satan would still be alive and well during the year of
the end of the world.Miller also realized that scoffers would continue to scoff and
liars to lie regarding the Adventist message and its messengers. But believers must
not let that hinder them from putting forth their "best energies in this cause."
Beyond that, the world would be watching for the "halting and falling away of
many" if Adventist hopes were not fulfilled according to their own specifications.
Miller spoke with more prophetic accuracy than he realized when he wrote: "This
year will try our faith, we must be tried, purified and made white, and if there should
be any among us, which do not in heart believe, they will go out from us."
Miller feared one other element as time ticked toward its final hour-fanaticism.
"I beseech you my dear brethren," he penned in his New Year's address, "be careful
that Satan get no advantage over you, by scattering coals of wild fire among you; for
ifhe cannot drive you into unbelief and doubt, he will then try his wild fire of fanati­
cism, and speculation, to get us off from the word of God. Be watchful and sober, and
hope to the end." 1

105
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AnvENTISM ENTERING THE YEAR OF THE END

Miller's insightful address indicates year of the end, they had ''fixed NO TIME in since he "thought our faith would be the central leaders early in the movement
. "5
that he was as perceptive in his study of the year for the event." Neither Miller nor wed. flatly rejected the time element. Thus
human nature as he was in his examina­ his established leaders ever set an exact Not only did Miller become more Henry Dana Ward and Henry Jones
tion of Scripture. The year 1843 would day for the Second Coming. That devel­ open on the time element as the year of (chairman and secretary of the first gen-
indeed be one of mixed blessings and re­ opment, as we shall see in chapter 10, the end approached, but the entire move­ eral conference) both rejected the 1843
actions. awaited the rise of a new group of leaders rnent progressively shifted its emphasis. (or any other) time. To Jones, who had
in the late summer of 1844.3 In essence, the time element of the Ad­ first written to Miller in 1833 and had
Progressively Focusing on the Time Miller had not even wanted to set a ventist movement was not central in 1840 begun preaching the advent near in 1834,
January 1, 1843, also witnessed Miller year for the return of Christ. He was or 1841. The focal point of agreement was the 1843 date was "founded on human
define, for the first time, the year of the quite happy with the phrase "about the the fact of the approaching premillennial presumption, and profane history." To
end. Urged by his followers to be more year 1843." As he put it, "the day and second coming of Christ, not the date of him, the "prophetic times and seasons
specific, he wrote: "I believe the time can hour is not revealed, but the times are." that event. Thus the circular announcing were indefinitelyfaretold. " 8
be known by all who desire to understand Even regarding the year, Miller tended the proceedings of the first Adventist Ward, Jones, and certain others never
and to be ready for his coming. And I am to qualify his interpretation by adding " if general conference in October 1840 did accept the 1843 date. Other individ­
fully convinced that some time between there were no mistake in my calculation." could state: uals, such as Himes, failed to accept the
March 21st, 1843, and March 21st, 1844, And in 1845 he wrote, "Some of my date at first but changed later. Himes
according to the Jewish mode of compu­ brethren preached with great positive­ Though in some of the less important freely admitted in 1840 that "IT IS possible
tation of time, Christ will come." He ness the exact year, and censured me for views of this momentous subject we THAT WE MAY BE MISTAKEN IN THE

then provided fifteen proofs from pro­ putting in an IF." Beyond that, the public are not ourselves agreed, particularly CHRONOLOGY. It may vary a few years,
phetic chronology for his conclusion re­ press had been stating that he had set an in regard to fixing the year of Christ's but we are persuaded that the end cannot
garding his dates. 2 exact day. In response to these pressures, second advent, yet we are unani­ be far distant." 9
It should be noted that Miller set no and because he could see no error in his mously agreed and established in this But the time element progressively
specific date. He only indicated that calculations, in December 1842 Miller all-absorbing point, that the coming came into more prominence as the 1840s
Christ would come between March 21, decided to put forth his March 21 of the Lord to judge the world is now advanced.That was partly because those
1843, and March 21, 1844. That holds through March 21 span of time for the specially "nigh at hand."6 who had accepted the 1843 date had
true for other main Millerite leaders as Second Coming.4 more zeal. Thus in June 1841 Himes
well. When George Storrs was falsely re­ That dating scheme, however, was ap­ Again, the second general conference could write Miller that those who had ac­
ported as having set the exact day as April parently not new to Miller. As early as resolved to solicit the cooperation of all cepted the 1843 date were "more con-
3, 1843, the Signs noted that such breth­ 1831 he had firmed up the 1843 date. who accepted the advent near, "whatever firmed as the time draws near." 10
ren as Miller, Himes, Litch, Hale, and And Josiah Litch claimed that Miller had may be their views of prophetic numbers The turning point on the time issue
Fitch had "most decidedly" protested personally told him in 1839 that Christ on which some of us found our argument took place at the Boston general confer­
"against . .. fixing the day or hour of the would come between the spring of 1843 that the advent will take place about the ence in May 1842. That conference,
event." Thus, claimed the Signs, even and March 21, 1844. Miller, they noted, year A.D. 1843."7 wrote Joseph Bates and J. V. Himes
though they had pinpointed 1843 as the held for a late-in-the-year fulfillment, It is of interest to note that many of (chairman and secretary, respectively),

106 107
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AnvENTISM ENTERING THE YEAR OF THE END

took "higher ground on the subject of the always held to the nearness of the advent, belief, the conference's "Declaration of doctrine, by multiplying the wrinkles
time of Christ's coming than ever before had begun to feel distinctly uncomfort­ principles " held, was the fulfillment of upon the horns of a five-year-old ram by
...because of the stupidity of the Church able with the time issue as early as the prophecy and the soon return of the Sav­ the twelve signs of the zodiac, and that
on the subject and the shortness of the third general conference in October ior. That soft edge on the time issue product by the number of seeds in a win­
time we have to work." 11 1841. But after the "set time . . . was would serve as a buffer to disappointment ter squash."18
Part of that "higher ground " was a made a standard of union," he later as the Millerites approached and finally Back in November 1842, the editors
16
coming out for "not only the manner,but penned, "I was seemingly no longer one passed March 21,1844. of the Signs had sought to protect their
also the time of Christ's Second Advent." of the union."13 M eanwhile, the less stable elements followers from such abuse by disclaiming
The conference's most lengthy resolution Other Millerite leaders came out among the Millerites began to set spe­ any specific day within the year of the
strongly favored the 1843 date. The offi­ firmly for 1843 after the May 1842 con­ cific dates in 1843. Some were apparently end."The editors of this paper," we read,
cial resolution argued that "no other ter­ ference. One of those was Himes, who looking toward April 3 on the basis that
mination can be found for them [the for the first time openly declared his ad­ Christ was crucified on that day. Others ... solemnly PROTEST against the set­
prophecies of Daniel] than 1843 " and vocacy of the date on July 25,1842.Prob­ set their hope on February 10,the forty­ ting [of ] the hour, day, or month, of
that the opponents of that date "do not ably as a result of questions regarding his fifth anniversary of the French victory the end of the world.There are vari­
pretend to give any other solution to loyalty to the movement, he penned, "I over Rome in 1798.Still others hoped for ous events,the anniversaries of which,
these portions of prophecy." It was will here say once for all, that I am con­ February 15 (the anniversary of the abo­ within the year,may be the end of all
"therefore resolved, that in the opinion of firmed in the doctrine of Christ's personal lition of the papal government),April 14 things, but we have never fixed on
this Conference, there are most serious and descent to this earth, to destroy the wicked, (the Passover), the Day of Pentecost in any particular day.... Neither does
important reasons far believing that God and glorify the righteous, some time in the May, the autumnal equinox in Septem­ [sic] Mr. Miller or the principal lec­
has revealed the time ofthe end ofthe world year 1843. " 14 ber,and so on.17 turers look to any particular time in
and that that time is 1843." Then, given That declaration, however, did not Litch tells us that as each date ap­ 1843.That,we are willing to leave in
the shortness of the remaining period be­ mean that Himes had thrown all caution proached, the "expectation with many the hands of God,and will endeavor
fore the advent,the conference called for to the wind. Like Miller, he always al­ was on tip-toe." But, he noted, "those to be ready whenever he may come.19
massive literature distribution and the lowed for the possibility of human error, periods came and passed with no unusual
holding of camp meetings.As David Ar­ as in this statement: "If we are mistaken occurrence. As soon as they had gone by, It is unfortunate that such counsel went
thur put it, "The time for discussion had in the time, and the world still goes on a flood of scoffing,reviling and persecu­ unheeded by so many within the move­
ended, the time for unquestioning prop­ after 1843,we shall have the satisfaction tion burst forth, not from the infidel ment.
agation had begun."12 of having done our duty."15 world,so much,but from the professed
From the May 1842 conference That soft edge on time tended to be friends of the Savior." That scoffing will A Year of Expectancy and
through April 1844 (and again in the au­ held by the central leaders on the 1843 be covered in our next chapter. One il­ Evangelism
tumn of 1844), the time element was at date. As a result,the Boston general con­ lustration will be enough at this point. The year of 1843 opened with an air of
the focal point of Millerite concern. ference of May 1843 could declare that "a The New York Sunday Mercury, the expectancy among the Millerites. The
Some,such as Ward and Jones,gradually mere point of time ... is not an essential Signs reported,"proves the truth of Par­ Midnight Cry adopted a three-month
slipped out of the movement.Jones,who part of our belief." The essence of their son Miller's End-of-the-world-in-1843- subscription policy, and appointments

108 109
NTISM
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVE ENTERING THE YEAR OF THE END

were often qualified with such phrases as Miller noted that they "should see his On March 27, 1843, Miller became to 1843 fell into obscurity as Millerism
"if time should last." face no more in this life, but that in a few ill, remaining so for the next crucial five moved into high gear.
The building excitement increased in months he expected to see all the chil­ rnonths, often approaching the point of Up through late 1842, Millerism was
February, when a comet appeared at the dren of God in the everlasting kingdom death. "My health," he penned on May 3, largely a northeastern phenomenon. Thus
proper psychological moment. The fact of the Saviour."21 in September 1842 the editors of the
that the February comet had special bril­ By early 1843 the very name of Miller is on the gain, as my folks would say. Oberlin Evangelist felt obliged to apolo­
liance and was totally unexpected by as­ could draw a crowd. In late January hand­ I have now only twenty-two biles gize to their western readers for their ex­
tronomers led many to view it as a super­ bills were put up all over Washington, [ carbuncle boils], from the bigness of tensive treatment of millennialism. They
natural sign of the Lord's appearing. D.C., stating that he would speak from a grape to a walnut, on my shoulder, went on to point out that the many arti­
Himes penned, "I could not but think of the steps of the patent office the follow­ side, back and arms, I am truly af­ cles had been included for their readers in
'the Sign ofthe Son ofMan in heaven."'20 ing Sunday. Over five thousand people flicted like Job. And [I have] about as the East, "where the subject is undergo­
While such "signs" must have been "of all sexes, ages, and colors" amassed many comforters-only they do not ing a discussion."26
impressive to many both within and for the presentation, with a special sec­ come to see me as did Job's, and their The neglect of the West would change
without the Millerite ranks, it is impor­ tion being roped off for congressmen, arguments are not near so rational. radically in 1843. In May of that year, it
tant to note that the movement's leader­ their wives, and other dignitaries. Unfor­ was decided to push the work in both the
ship never emphasized the comet nor any tunately, Miller was not in town. When Two weeks later Miller was again feeble. West and the South.27 In the next few
of the other astronomical signs of the era. that fact was discovered, there was a great He would not be preaching again until months, such cities as Rochester, New
They were much more comfortable with cry of "hoax" followed by some disorder. the fall.24 York, and Cincinnati, Ohio, would be­
the great panoramic prophecies of Daniel The event was probably engineered by On the other hand, early 1843 found come centers for the spread of the mes­
and Revelation and the correlation of some "printers' devils" who had produced Miller with many things to rejoice in. sage, and Cleveland would be strength­
those prophecies with history. Their ra­ the handbills and distributed them.22 One was that his wife and eight children ened as a center.
tionalism continued to guide the move­ Unfortunately for Miller, during were "all the children of God, and believ­ Beyond new areas, new workers would
ment. much of 1843, illness prevented him ers in the same doctrine with myself." come into prominence to help share the
Meanwhile, the intensity continued to from capitalizing on the peak of his pop­ That was a far cry from 1838, when he increasing burden of the work. Nathaniel
build as more and more people gave ear ularity. He was sixty-one years of age, prayed for his children and the people of Whiting, J. B. Cook, F. G. Brown,
to Miller's message. In February, Miller tremulous with palsy, and given to seri­ Low Hampton who "are sleeping over George Storrs, Joseph Marsh, and Elon
preached a series that put Adventism on ous and prolonged illnesses. His health the volcano of God's wrath." "Do my fa­ Galusha joined the ranks of influential
solid footing in Philadelphia. According had no doubt been jeopardized by the ther," he had prayed in a letter to his son, Millerite leaders. Some of these, along
to Litch, "The city was convulsed years he had preached to the limit of his "convert my children!"25 with others, would do much to push the
throughout with the influence of the lec­ endurance to get out the warning of com­ In spite of Miller's personal inability Adventist work forward from central
tures. Saints rejoiced, the wicked trem­ ing judgment. In late July 1842 he wrote to preach, 1843 was a banner year in the New York to Iowa and Wisconsin. Cin­
bled, backsliders quaked, and the word of to Himes of his endless toil, noting that spread of the message. Those Adventists cinnati's Western Midnight Cry (under
the Lord ran and was glorified." In his he had not "enjoyed one day's repose holding to the 1843 date pushed ahead Storrs) and Rochester's Voice of Truth
farewell to the Philadelphia believers, since the first of March."23 with great vigor, while those not holding (under Marsh) soon joined Cleveland's

110 111
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM ENTERING THE YEAR OF THE END

Second Advent of Christ (under Fitch) as quo. Such an attitude provided a soil rel­ Past experience seemed to bear out bottom of the Chesapeake Bay as
regional Millerite periodicals in the atively unreceptive to the seeds of radical that statement. After all, George Storrs anywhere else until the Lord comes.
West. millennialism. (an ardent abolitionist) had been mobbed But if he has any more work for us to
Not only were new leaders sent to the But to say that Millerism had a diffi­ that very month in Norfolk. The experi­ do, you can't touch us!"35
West and new periodicals started there, cult time in the South is not to say that it ence of Joseph Bates also illustrates the
but there were also plans to blanket the made no impact at all. As early as 1841, s of preaching in even the border On another occasion on that same
problem
area with Second Advent Libraries so J. M. Thomas, a southern minister, was states, where the hold of slavery was Maryland tour, Bates was accosted by a
that "they shall be left without excuse." preaching the "midnight cry" successfully weakest. Bates had been warned of Storrs' southern judge who said that he under­
"We hope and expect," penned the edi­ in South Carolina. Thomas appealed for experience and was told, he writes, "that ifl stood that Bates was an abolitionist who
tors of the Signs, "to see one mighty the help of northern ministers to come to went South the slave-holders would kill me had come "to get away our slaves." Bates
gatheri[n]g in the west."28 From the sum­ his aid. However, Thomas seems to have for being an abolitionist." He saw the dan­ replied:
mer of 1843 on, we also find Miller and been a voice crying in the dark, and there ger but was convicted of his responsibility
Himes putting more of their personal were apparently no lasting results from to give the warning anyway. Yes, Judge, I am an abolitionist, and
34

time into the West as the urgency of the his work.31 After experiencing some modest suc­ have come to get your slaves, and you
burden of their message pressed them on The turning point in Millerite atten­ cess in Maryland, he was challenged and too! As to getting your slaves from
with ever greater force. tion to the South came in 1843. In Feb­ denounced by a Methodist lay leader. you, we have no such intention; for if
By December 1843 the message had ruary of that year, two advent preachers Toe man began "to talk," noted Bates, you should give us all you have (and I
been carried to St. Louis. From there the began a "southern tour" but made it only was informed he owned quite a num­
Adventist preachers reached out to the as far as Richmond, Virginia, before de­ about riding us [H. S. Gurney was ber), we should not know what to do
frontier.29 ciding to return home. After a second with Bates] on a rail. I said, 'We are with them. We teach that Christ is
The year of the end also saw attempts unsuccessful foray into Virginia, Litch all ready for that, sir. If you will put a coming, and we want you all saved.36
to plant the message more firmly in the concluded that "it seemed as though saddle on it, we would rather ride
American South. But whereas, as Litch some fatal spell had fastened on the than walk." This caused such a sensa­ Bates' experiences not only illustrate
put it, "the whole West seemed ripe and south, that it could not be approached." tion in the meeting that the man some of the problems northern Millerites
ready for harvest," the South was a much Early 1843, however, did see some suc­ seemed to be at a loss to know which faced in even the border states, but they
more difficult field of Millerite labor.30 cess in the Washi�gton, D.C., area.32 way to look for his friends. also demonstrate the faith and courage
Perhaps the major reason that Miller­ It was reported to the New York gen­ I then said to him, ''You must not that drove them forward as the "end of
ism won few adherents in the South was eral conference in May 1843 that there think that we have come six hundred time" approached.
its largely abolitionist leadership. Not had been "urgent and repeated" requests miles through the ice and snow, at The rest of 1843 saw several additional
only was the region pro-slavery, but the from the South for lecturers to be sent, our own expense, to give you the attempts at evangelizing the South, but,
other major reforms of the day had not but, reported the Signs, "the existing prej­ Midnight Cry, without first sitting with the exception of Maryland and
made the same impact in the Soutµ as in udices and jealousies of the South on the down and counting the cost. And Kentucky, the Millerites had little suc­
the rest of the nation. By and large, subject of slavery, renders it difficult and now, if the Lord has no more for us cess. By the end of the year, however, a
southerners sought to preserve the status next to impossible" to fill those requests.33 to do, we had as lief [gladly] lie at the few Millerite preachers were seeing some

112 113
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM ENTERING THE YEAR OF THE END

results in Virginia and the two Carolinas. As a result, Millerism and traditional r eport that he had printed fifteen thou­ all denominations are now giving the
By early 1844, Miller, Himes, and Litch British premillennialism failed to find sand copies of selected Millerite books. midnight cry." In some parts of the coun­
were receiving calls to work in such cities enough common ground to enable them "l\1any preachers," he penned, "have re­ try, "nearly whole villages have turned to
as Charleston, South Carolina; Savan­ to work together. The same can be said ceived the truth by reading these works." the Lord."45 While it is impossible accu­
nah, Georgia; and Mobile, Alabama.37 for the largely Presbyterian, Congrega­ 'lhose preachers also were beginning to rately to evaluate the impact of Millerism
The message had reached the Deep tional, and Episcopalian "literalistic" sound the message. Winter himself in Great Britain, there is no doubting the
South not so much by the living preacher premillennialists in the United States. preached in the streets with his "chart fact that it had become a significant
as by the printed word, but reach it it did. The British and American "literalists" hoisted up on a pole." The British believ­ movement in that nation.
Robert W. Olson, the only scholar to ex­ would later develop into the dispensa­ ers planned to hold a camp meeting that The years prior to 1843 had seen a
tensively study Millerism in the South, tional premillennialism that became summer, "if time continues; but if the great deal of Millerite activity, but the
claims that the Millerite message was popular among fundamentalists and Lord comes, we will hold it in the new year of the end of the world saw that ac­
"very well known" in the region and that Pentecostals in the twentieth century.40 earth." Winter invited help from America. tivity multiplied as a sense of urgency and
southern religious papers periodically Because of the incompatibilities with If they could send preachers, he assured responsibility gripped the believers as
printed articles on the topic.38 premillennial literalism, Millerism had to the editors of the Midnight Cry, they never before. By November, Litch was
While Millerite literature by mid- cut its own path in Great Britain. That would find the English people more re­ able to write that Millerite publications
1843 had made converts in such faraway task, however, did not take long to get sponsive than the Americans.43 had gone "to the various parts of the four
places as the Sandwich Islands and Nor­ underway, since Millerite literature soon That May the general conference quarters of the earth and various islands
way, it was in Great Britain that Miller­ found its way across the Atlantic. In fact, held in Boston responded to Winter's of the sea."46
ism made its largest overseas impact. The writes Louis Billington, "there is some call by proposing to send a missionary to
premillennial Second Coming had been evidence that William Miller's exegesis England. Litch volunteered for the as­ Non-Millerite Responses to the
preached there for decades by such men was being studied in Great Britain before signment, and a committee was formed Arrival of the Year
as Edward Irving, Henry Drummond, he had achieved more than a local repu­ to raise money for the project.44 In spite By late 1842 and early 1843 it was be­
and John Nelson Darby. As a result, a tation in the United States."41 of the best intentions, however, no lead­ coming difficult, if not impossible, for
strong body of premillennialists had de­ Millerite preachers began to appear in ing Millerites were scheduled for the non-Millerites to ignore the advent phe­
veloped.39 Britain as early as 1841, but the event that British mission until the late summer of nomenon. As a result, press coverage of
In 1840 the Millerites in America had gave the most impetus to British Miller­ 1844. On the other hand, there is evi­ the movement radically increased as the
attempted to link up with the "literalis­ ism was the conversion of Robert Winter dence that substantial funds were sent crisis neared. That was particularly true as
tic" Adventists in Britain, but hopeful at Millerism's first "official" camp meeting from the United States to aid the work the very month of the predicted end ar­
expectations were snagged on irreconcil­ in June 1842. After his conversion, Win­ in England. rived. Thus the March 1843 issue of
able theological differences centering on ter returned to England, where he headed By late 1843, Winter could write that Graham's Magazine sported a lead article
the return of the Jews to Palestine and up a publishing work that not only re­ "the Advent doctrine is chiefly the talk in entitled "The End of the World." It is also
whether nonbelievers would be kept alive printed much of the American literature this country. . . . Thousands are now of significance that this lengthy article
during the millennium and could be con­ but also generated its own periodicals.42 looking for the coming of the Lord, and ended as the author hears little boys in the
verted after the second coming of Christ. By the spring of 1843, Winter could believe it is at the door-and preachers of street "crying out 'April fool! April fool!' "47
114 115
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE R1sE OF AovENTISM ENTERING THE yEAR OF THE END
The month also saw Horace Greeley's space of time in enlisting such a multi­ Boston. Afterward, Finney invited Miller a scroll featuring the motto "THE TIME
New York Tribune devote an entire issue tude of converts." To Garrison the Mil­ to his room "and tried to convince him HAS COME." Below the picture were
to reporting Millerism on March 2, 1843, lerite movement was "an event scarcely that he was in error." Finney finally con­ the words: 'When consumption may be
only nineteen days before the beginning paralleled in the history of popular ex­ cluded that it "was vain to reason with him classed with the curable diseases. Wis­
of the year of the end. Most of the front citements." On March 1 he penned, "The and his followers at that time." Miller, in tar's Balsam of Wild Cherry." Another
page was given over to the reproduction delusion has not long to run, . . . let us turn, sent Finney an autographed copy of advertisement, headed "the second ad­
of a Millerite chart. The balance of the rejoice."50 Miller's Works. But Miller apparently had vent," advertised cigars, which the read­
edition consisted of a "clear and complete The approaching year of the end also no more success with the great evangelist ers were recommended to purchase in
refutation of Mr. Miller's interpretation created a great stir among the foremost than Finney had had with him.52 order to enjoy "the tip end of felicity"
of the Prophecies" penned by the "Rev. religious leaders of the day, especially Those more to the sectarian edge of while the world lasted.55
Mr. Dowling," a Baptist clergyman. The those who (like Miller) had recently American religion than Finney also had While many of the comments on Mil­
public press was equally hostile in Boston founded new movements. Thus Alexan­ to reckon with Miller as the year of the lerism were humorous and some even
and many other cities.48 der Campbell, a friend of Himes and the end passed. Joseph Smith, prophet of the friendly, others came packed with a con­
Even such American literati as Edgar leader of the Disciples of Christ ("the rising premillennial Mormons, expressed scious barb. One such was written by
Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and fastest growing religious movement in surprise when some of his followers were Moses Stuart, one of America's foremost
John Greenleaf Whittier made contem­ nineteenth-century America"), could drawn to Miller's views. That dynamic biblical scholars of the 1840s. When the
porary references to Millerism. Miller's claim that while the second advent of may have been the reason that among the New Yark Herald erroneously announced
apocalyptic themes also informed several Christ should be "hailed with . . . over­ last of Smith's published revelations was that Miller had set April 3, 1843, as the
of their literary productions.49 whelming joy," Millerism was built upon God's assurance to him that "the Lord day of the advent, Stuart wrote:
In February 1843 Garrison's Liberator biblical "ignorance" and was not based will not come to reign over the righteous
'
began a series on Millerism in Garrison's upon the " sure word of prophecy., ,, in this world in 1843."53 I would respectfully suggest, that in
usual biting style. According to him, the "Methinks," wrote Campbell in July In a similar manner, the erratic com­ some way or other they [Miller and
best argument in favor of Millerism was 1843, ". . . the year 1843 will pass along munitarian perfectionist John Humphrey his followers] have in all probability
that it had been "assailed by a benighted with dreams of felicity and sweet ante­ Noyes noted that the wind of Millerism made a small mistake as to the exact
and corrupt priesthood" and its "rabble" fol­ pasts of blessedness whose remembrance was sweeping over the country and "has day of the month when the grand ca­
lowing. Even though the crusty abolitionist will in years to come be as the delightful found some weathercocks among our tastrophe takes place, the FIRST of
believed that "the odium" heaped upon the oasis in a parched desert."51 nominal brethren." Some had converted April being evidently much more ap­
Adventists was unjustified, he could still re­ Even the great evangelist Charles to Millerism, while others, who were propriate to their arrangements than
joice that "the theory of Mr. Miller is soon Finney had personally reached out to "honest, but weak-minded," had also any other day of the year.56
to be ignominiously exploded." Garrison Miller in an attempt to correct his "er­ been "shaken by the popular tempest."54
was quite astonished that "one illiterate, rors." In 1842 Finney, who had already Millerism, as might be expected, In tenor, that remark did not stand
though strong-minded man, like Mr. dealt extensively with Millerism through showed up in the advertising copy of the alone. The sharpness of rhetoric on both
Miller, should, in this enlightened age his friend Fitch's work at Oberlin Col­ day. One advertisement pictured an an­ sides of the line separating Millerism
and country have succeeded in so short a lege, attended some of Miller's lectures in gel flying in the clouds of heaven holding from the rest of Christianity increased as

116 117
RISE oF AovENTISM
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE

- planned Millerite separatism.


the year of the end of the world pro
gressed. One result would be an un-

Chapter7
COMING OUT OF BABYLON

T
HE YEAR 1843 BECAME A CRISIS year for Millerism in more ways than one. Not
only did the Adventists believe that Christ would come that year, but as they
became more fixed on the date and as the time came closer, they redoubled
their missionary assertiveness. That assertion in the face of entrenched ideologies and
established churches would bring increasing rejection and Millerite separationism as
1843 progressed.
Those results had not been expected by Miller. At first, in his sincere but naive
enthusiasm, he believed that both clergy and church members would gladly accept his
findings once they saw the Bible evidence. That initial enthusiasm, although damp­
ened considerably by his early contact with ministers, seemed to some extent to find
validity throughout the 1830s as increasing numbers of churches from most Protes­
tant denominations opened their doors to his preaching. Little did Miller realize,
however, that the great majority of them were not so much interested in his "peculiar"
teaching on the Second Coming as they were in his ability to bring in converts to fill
their churches. Only gradually did it dawn on Miller that he was being used. The very
n ature of his message, however, made that realization inevitable. 1
It was one thing to preach Miller's 1843 message when it was some years off. It
was quite another thing when the time was near at hand. A message that seemed
harmless enough in the late 1830s threatened to disrupt both churches and society by
1843. By the arrival of the year of the end, the success ofMillerism had created what
Ruth Alden Doan has called a "boundary crisis."2

118 119
oF AovENTISM CoMING OuT OF BABYLON
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE

lennium. Nor did it help matters when a dictions. Criticisms along this lin� in­ Then, of course, there were jokes and
"Boundary Crisis"
significant number in a congregation be­ cluded such items as the fact that Miller cartoons to add richness to the "high hu­
Because of their total rejection of
gan· to see their pastor as the perpetrator had built a "STONE WALL" on his mor" sutrounding Millerism. One wit
American progress and avenues of hope
of such "deception." The more certain the farm. Then again, said others, Miller has Miller so busy preaching judgment to
outside the radical superpaturalism of the
1\/J:illerites became of their interpretation could not be sincere, since he refused to come that he had forgotten to prepare
second advent of Christ, Millerites grad­
of the Bible, the more aggressive they be­ sell his farm. To Litch, that was the himself. "Bless my soul," Miller said in
ually but progressively found themselves
came with others.4 rnost "wonderful" of all the accusations. surprise, "I had no idea it would be so
in opposition to both the churches and
The opposition to the Millerites was ''How, O! how CAN Christ come," he pir­ hot." Another cartoon shows Miller as­
society. Therefore, as rhe predicted time
came close, neutrality became impossi­ neither genteel nor insignificant. From odied, "when Mr. Miller will not sell his cending to heaven with his followers
ble: one either had to accept Millerism or every side the Adventists faced caricature fiarm PPP
... "7 hanging onto him. One ascension car­
and abuse. In a six-month period, for ex­ Other caricatures of Millerism cen­ toon has the saints arising to meet their
�eject it. It was not date setting that
ample, the Hartford-based Universalist tered on the rumor that Miller was dead' Lord in various postures. The "fat ones"
caused the showdown crisis. After all,
referred to the Millerites as "simple," that the Millerites were preparing long, are being drawn up with hooks by angels.
John Wesley had once set a date for the
"de1uded," ""ignorant," "n· d"1cu1ous," "· no- flowing ascension robes in which to meet To the Millerites, such graphics were
end in 1836. And several Baptists had set
torious," "illiterate," "excited," "coarse," the Lord, and that the leaders had care­ sacrilegious and "the dirty work of the
dates between 1830 and 1847. Rather, it
"ill-bred," "blind," "fanatical," "evil," fully checked their figures and discovered devil." Their response was to publish such
was the assertiveness, popular success,
and closeness of the time, as preached by "weak-minded," "imposters," and "hum­ they were off by one thousand years items in their "scoffers'" column as one
bugs."5 (some versions of this story give ohe hun­ more sign of the last days.10
the Millerites, that made it difficult for
. The Millerite leaders especially came dred years).8 Thus the journal of Com­ With the approach of the year of the
many people to ignore Millerism, espe­
under fire. Much of the criticism against merce reported in January 1843: end, accusations of Millerite-induced in­
cially in light of the increasing burden of
the Adventists to warn the world. Miller­ them clustered around two points. First, sanity increased. According to the Ameri­
ism and its culture were on a collision they were accused of stirring up religious It is understood that Miller and his can Journal ofInsanity, many had become
excitement to line their own pockets and associates have recently carefully re­ deranged because of Millerism, and
course that could only intensify with
"gorging and fattening on what they ex­ viewed their calculations upon which "thousands who have not yet become de­
time.3
As the predicted end approached, tort from the fears, or pious contribu­ they found the prophecy of the near ranged, have had their health impaired to
each side became increasingly severe with tions, of those whom they dupe." Again, approach of the end of the world such a degree as to unfit them for the du­
the other. For example, the Signs editors charged the Olive Branch, "The amount when an error was discovered in the ties of life forever; and especially is this the
saw it to be their duty "to expose thefab­ of poverty and misery produced by such footing of the column of a thousand case with females." The technical name for
ulous and soul-destroying doctrine of fellows as Himes, apq his tools, can only years. This is a very important discov­ the Millerite disease was ''epidemic or con­
be known in the last great day."6 ery just now. The "ascension robes" tagious monomania. " According to this
what is termed the temporal millenium
[sic]. .. . We brand this doctrine as a fa­ A second line of criticism aimed at the with which many of the Millerites on professional journal, "the prevalence of the
ble-a deception." Such hard words did Millerite leaders accused them of hyp oc- Long Island have provided them­ yellow fever or of the cholera has never
not exactly endear the Millerites to those risy because their lifestyles, according to selves, are not likely to be wanted.9 proved so great a calamity to this country"
who taught alternative views of the mil- some onlookers, did not reflect their pre- as Miller's doctrine.11

120 121
NTISM
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AnvE COMING OuT OF BABYLON

Of course, the way some Adventist from top to bottom, looking for the Sav­ inely crazy. But, on the other hand, the representation. Thus the Oberlin Evange­
believers acted, or were reported to have iour to come in the pouring clouds to re­ opp onents of revivals had been charging list could decry the "absurd stories . . .
acted, certainly helped supply material ceive them and set the world on fire." for decades that the emotional excite­ kept in circulation" "by a large portion
for the gristmills of the budding "science" Again, local tradition in Macedon, New rnent and pressures of the camp meeting of the religious press....Bros. Miller
of psychiatry.It was common, for exam­ York, recalls one Millerite who "dressed had driven people to distraction. Along and Fitch may be wrong, but they are
ple, to view people as being abnormal if himself in white, and spent the whole th at line, Alexis de Tocqueville, in his not knaves, nor dunces. They may err,
they gave away their earthly possessions day, either on the wood pile, or on the rour of the United States in the early but they have a right not to be misrep­
as a sign of their belief that Christ was top of the hog-pen" waiting for his 1800s, reported that heightened religious resented. " 16
coming and that they would have no Lord. 13 enthusiasm was responsible for "religious Again, the editor of the Gazette and
more need of them. Likewise, people ap­ While the accusations regarding as­ rnadness." Similar accusations of religion Advertiser set out to personally investi­
peared demented to nonbelievers when cension robes and Millerite-induced in­ causing insanity would later be leveled by gate Miller, "who has probably been an
they spent their life's savings in the rush sanity were denied by the Millerites at psychiatrists at the work of Dwight L. object of more abuse, ridicule and black­
to publicize the doctrine of the soon­ the time (and were later proved to be Moody in the 1870s. According to some, guardism, than any other man now liv­
coming advent. without significant factual basis by such his "emphasis on 'conviction of sin' and 'a ing.'' To his surprise, the editor found the
On another level, those already on the researchers as Francis D. Nichol and sense of divine wrath' seemed to be up­ Adventist leader conversing on religious
margin of emotional stability could be Ronald and Janet Numbers), the accusa­ setting 'the mental equilibrium of many a subjects "with a coolness and soundness
pushed over the edge by intensive preach­ tions did much to color contemporary at­ youth, at least temporarily.' " 15 of judgment which made us whisper to
ing of soon-coming judgment. Falling titudes toward advent believers among Beyond verbal abuse and name call­ ourselves, 'If this be madness, then there
into this category is the man in New York certain sectors of the population. Of ing, the Adventists also experienced such is method in 't.' " 17
who attempted to commit suicide by course, as will be pointed out in chapter 9 harassment as vandalism, intimidation, Millerite preachers, of course, often
swallowing molten lead. Another, a tailor and as the Numbers' research indicates, and attempts to break up their meetings. made their own successful responses to
from Cleveland, was found three miles Millerism did attract its share of those af­ Similar tactics have been used against the criticisms leveled at them. When the
out of town sitting on a log, Bible in flicted by mental instability. But such ac­ unpopular movements down through Rev. William Brownlee went to Newark
hand, awaiting the Second Coming. 12 quisitions have been the bane of intense history-especially when such move­ to preach against Miller during an Ad­
Then there were the purported stories religious revivals down through history. ments threatened the status quo. Such ventist camp meeting, Himes recognized
of Millerites involved in erratic activities In fact, those in previous eras who lived persecution, however, has generally func­ the positive value in the publicity this en­
while clothed in their so-called ascension what the larger society considered to be tioned in the eyes of participants as a emy of the cause had stirred up. In retro­
robes. Thus the Niles National Register aberrant lives because of either total ded­ validation of their heaven-directed mis­ spect, Himes penned: "Brother Brown­
could report that April 23, 1843, found ication to God or emotional imbalance sion. After all, did not the apostles and lee's coming over here has done us so
the Millerites of Providence, Rhode Is­ have often been labeled as saints on one prophets of old suffer under similar treat­ much good, that I'd cheerfully pay all his
land, facing flood rather than fire. "On end of the spectrum and witches on the ment? expenses if he'd come again. We want
that day several Millerites in that city other end. But for Millerites the label Though Miller and his colleagues met the people aroused.''18
walked the streets and fields all day ar­ was insanity. 14 a great deal of abuse in the public press, On another occasion Himes received
rayed in their ascension robes, dripping Some Millerites may have been genu- they also had their defenders against mis- what he believed to be a bogus invitation

122 123
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE R1sE
OF AovENTISM CoMING OuT OF BABYLON

to speak at Princeton College. Deciding pit of anger and revenge from time to radic at first. Miller reports that the first error. Some even saw their denomina­
to take advantage of the hoax, he made time but that he did it so infrequently. time he was shut out by a congregation tions as apostate, especially in the face of
was in December 1839. But by the late their refusal to accept the Millerite teach­
the trip, spending the day conversing
Growing Resistance to Millerism summer of 1842, the problem was be­ ings on the advent and the millennium.
with the college's officers and students.
Himes considered the trip to be quite The "boundary crisis" between Miller­ coming a common occurrence. As Himes The denominations could hardly be ex­
worthwhile, since "the subject has not ism and the larger Christian culture not put it in August 1842, ''We are exceed­ pected to accept such pronouncements
been agitated here as yet." Beyond his only existed in the world in general; it ingly blamed, censured, judged and con­ with joy.
own agitating on the topic, he left behind also took place on a daily basis in local demned, shut out of most pulpits." The results were predictable. Many
a Second Advent Library and a prophetic congregations as Millerites and non­ Again, we read in March 1844: "The advent believers were not permitted to
chart for each of the Princeton libraries.
19 Millerites came face to face with dispa­ doors of most of the ch[u]rches in our speak of their beliefs in their own church­
A young Adventist preacher by the rate views of reality. land have been closed against this doc­ es. That meant that they were either
name of James White also demonstrated The "boundary crisis" was heightened trine. Pastors have boasted that their forced to go against the ruling-a move
that he could take advantage of hostility. by the firm Millerite belief that God's churches were free from it."22 that often led to their excommunica­
Upon returning to a town where he had demands took precedence over the de­ In addition, the article goes on, "sar­ tion-or to stop attending their home
previously held meetings, White was met mands of the church community. Thus casm and ridicule have been the argu­ churches because of the pressure. Both
by a critical Congregational preacher. the Adventists believed themselves to be ments used to disprove it. Members of alternatives left them without a church
"'Why, Mr. White,"' said he, '"are you duty bound to sound their warning "mid­ churches, in good and regular standing, home. Not all Millerites faced such harsh
yet in the land of the living?' 'No, sir,' was night cry" even in churches that did not have been denied the privilege of exhort­ alternatives, of course, but tens of thou­
the reply, 'I am in the land of the dying, want to hear it. If the Adventists would ing their fellow servants to prepare for sands did.
but at the soon coming of the Lord I ex­ have remained silent, things might have the coming judgment. And they have The third form of resistance to Miller­
pect to go to the land of the living.' "20 been all right. But such a silence went been excommunicated without a cause."23 ism in the denominations was the expul­
Even though Miller and his fellow be­ against their deepest conviction of the That last point brings us to the second sion of preachers who had accepted the
lievers were often able to come back with need to warn their neighbors about soon­ form of resistance to Millerism as the advent doctrine. Representative of that
similar retorts, the constant accusations coming judgment. Their ongoing and time of the end approached-revoking dynamic was the resolution adopted by
did take their toll. In February 1843 unrelenting agitation could lead to only the church membership of Adventists the Congregational ministers of Ver­
Miller wrote to his son, expressing his one possible result: growing resistance to because they would not be quiet about mont in 1843 to prohibit all teaching of
sensitivity to "the thousand and one Millerism in both congregations and de­ their beliefs. Such a move is certainly un­ Christ's immediate coming and the ac­
falsehoods, which a proud & haughty nominations. derstandable from the perspective of the tion of the New York Presbytery to reject
Priesthood have invented, and an hire­ That resistance took at least three various denominations; after all, they al­ an "'entirely satisfactory'" candidate for
ling press has circulated." A few months forms. The first was that an increasingly ready had a doctrinal agenda. In addi­ ordination on the sole basis that he be­
before, Miller had noted that he needed larger number of congregations forbade tion, the Millerites not only preached lieved in the soon coming of Christ.24
to drive "anger, malice and revenge" from the Millerites to hold services in their their peculiar doctrine, but in the preach­ In a similar manner, 1843 witnessed
his mind.21 Perhaps the surprising thing buildings as the time of the end ap­ ing of it they often taught, or at least in­ Joseph Marsh lose his editorial post
about the man is not that he fell into the proached. That problem had been spo- ferred, that the denominations were in among the Connexionists for his advocacy

124 125
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM CoMING OuT oF BABYLON
of Millerism. Likewise, in early 1844, and drive away." The third resolution But Methodism was not finished with were restored to the confidence of
Elon Galusha, due to increasing pres­ claimed that the preaching of Millerisrn Stockman yet.Even though he was dying their brethren, and most of them ren­
sure, "tendered his resignation ... , and is was "irreconcilably inconsistent" with the of tuberculosis, after the close of the trial, dered valuable service to the church'
now free to preach the whole truth, with­ duties of the Methodist ministry and he was entreated to confess and recant, in their subsequent life. The few re-
out being desired to conform his preach­ had, ultimately, a "disastrous tendency." but he refused. Stockman was then ap­ calcitrant offenders withdrew from
ing to the taste of a Laodicean Church." The final resolution ordered those preach­ proached by his superior, indicating that the church, went on from bad to
Such experiences were the lot of many ing Millerite doctrines "to refrain entirely if h e did not recant, he would be turned worse, till, like wandering stars, they
ministers as they struggled with their from disseminating them in the future."27 out of the church, and his widowed wife disappeared in darkness.31
dual responsibilities of faithfulness both The Bath resolutions encouraged and three orphaned children would not
to their denominations and to their Ad­ many, but not all, of the pastors to mend receive the benefits reserved for such cases Toward Millerite Separatism
ventist beliefs.25 their ways. A case in point is that of Levi after his death. "This dastardly impious Like Martin Luther, John Wesley,
The experience of the Maine Confer­ Stockman, who continued to preach his threat," reports one of his fellow Maine and many other church founders, Wil­
ence of the Methodist Episcopal Church advent beliefs "as a matter of duty to God Methodist ministers who had also ac­ liam Miller and his early followers did
illustrates the crisis nicely from both the and the world." As a result, he was cepted Millerism, "did not turn him; but not set out to form a new church-some
perspective of individual preachers and a brought to trial by a council of preachers it gave him the opportunity to give the sort of Adventist denomination. To the
highly organized denomination. By the in Portland, Maine. Stockman was ministers present a Scriptural lesson on contrary, it was their desire to warn the
summer of 1843, as the History ofMeth­ charged and convicted of heresy on the Christian charity, which he improved."29 world of Christ's coming from within the
odism in Maine puts it, "the second ad­ basis of the Bath resolutions, in spite of Stockman was expelled and died a few framework of the existing churches.32
vent excitement had become quite exten­ the fact that those resolutions had no le­ months later on June 25, 1844, at the age The first Millerite general conference
sive [in the state] ... ; lecturers had gal standing in Methodist ecclesiastical of thirty-two. One of his Methodist as­ in October 1840 had made that position
traveled over the country, with charts and law and were contrary to the theology of sociates wrote Stockman's obituary, "giv­ explicit. "We are not," reads the confer­
hideous diagrams."26 John Fletcher (one of Methodism's for­ ing him a noble Christian and ministerial ence report, "of those who sow discord
The success of the lecturers had mative theologians). career, 'with the exception of this one among brethren, who withdraw from the
brought Maine Methodism to the point Stockman left no doubt that the entire dark blot upon his character,' referring to fellowship of the churches." Again, "we
of crisis, since about thirty of its ministers proceeding made the Maine Methodist his faith in Christ's immediate coming."30 have no purpose to distract the churches
were either interested in Millerism or Conference look "enough like the old The object lesson had its desired ef­ with any new inventions, or to get our­
preaching it. As a result, in July the 'MOTHER OF HARLOTS' to be one fect. The History of Methodism in Maine selves a name by starting another sect
Maine Conference, meeting at Bath, of her DAUGHTERS." Accordingly, he reports that among the followers of the Lamb." Rather,
passed a series of resolutions against Mil­ wrote in early 1844, "we are very near a they merely desired to "revive and restore
lerism. The second resolution claimed crisis-an awful crisis-between our­ the brethren who had been led astray . . . the ancient landmarks" within their
that the Millerite beliefs were contrary to selves and the churches on this question; by this delusion [Millerism], with a churches.33
Methodism and must be regarded "as it is not a difference of opinion merely, few exceptions, saw their error, and, But in the very action of organizing
among the erroneous and strange doc­ but a difference of action and spirit... . like honest men, meekly submitted to a conference and starting a paper, the
trines which we are pledged to banish The line of division is fast being drawn."28 the censure of the conference. They advent believers had already begun an

126 127
ArivENTISM
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF COMING OuT OF BABYLON
independent existence, even though they truths, and in every practical way to dis­ were built in great haste as the year of the son they had established separate meet­
remained in their churches. The second seminate knowledge in the subject, and
end of the world approached its crisis ings at all, Litch claimed, was that they
session of the general conference, with its to strive by all means, to promote the
point. In Toronto, for example, the rap­ were forced to the hard choice between
aggressive recommendations that believ­ glory of God."35
idly growing band of believers decided to separation or not having meetings at all.
ers should agitate the question of the ad­ While not a church, the Association did
put up their own building, since "every That thought brings us to the active call
vent in the churches, pressure their min­ collect funds and elect officers. They also
hall in the city, and every church was to separate from the churches sounded by
isters on the topic, and form special Bible rented a hall for their Sunday-afternoon
against us." Within two hours of setting some Millerite leaders beginning in July
classes for the study of the advent, was a meetings and formed a Bible class for the 1843.40
forth the idea, the "whole amount" for
giant step forward in the crisis that would study of the advent truth. The Associa­
the house of worship had been sub­
lead to Adventist separation from the ex­ tion was not seen as a replacement for
scribed. They expected to have it com­ "Babylon Has Falien"
isting denominations. The very agitation church attendance, but as a suppiement,
pleted in six to eight days. "Our house," Miller had never encouraged his fol­
of the issues in the face of a rapidly ap­ thus the Sunday-afternoon meeting. Be­ penned one of their leaders, "will be a lowers to leave their churches. In No­
proaching fulfillment of a time prophecy lievers could attend both their regular temporary affair, expecting soon, as we vember 1842 he wrote, "I have advised all
all but guaranteed separation for many church and the Association's meeting.36
do, to exchange it for that which has men of every sect not to separate from
Millerites.34 Soon after the formation of the New
foundations, whose builder is God."38 their churches." Significantly, however,
If the advent believers would have re- York Association, similar groups were Between the summer of 1842 and that that sentence goes on to specify "if they
mained quiet inside their denominations, established in Philadelphia and other of 1844, the advent believers had slowly could live among them and enjoy chris­
they could have stayed in them, but such places. While not perceived as churches, positioned themselves to have all the at­ tian [sic] privileges."41 By the summer of
silence was diametrically opposed to the many iocal associations would evolve into tributes of a denomination, including the 1843, as we have seen, that peaceful co­
very essence of the Millerite sense of re­ churches after Christ did not come in ordaining of ministers.39 But even then existence was becoming impossible for
sponsibility. They perceived their primary October 1844. they had no desire to form a new reli­ many.
task to be the sounding of the midnight Another move in the direction of Ad­ gious body. Why should they? Jesus On July 26, 1843, Charles Fitch
cry that the hour of God's judgment was ventist separatism was the building of would be coming shortly. After that preached what became one of the most
close at hand. Millerite tabernacles. The first and most event there would be no need for denom­ famous Millerite sermons. Based on
The next significant step in Millerite significant of those tabernacles was com­ inations. Revelation 18:1-5 and 14:8, it was titled
separatism came in May 1842. That pleted in Boston in May 1843. Built be­ Thus in _May 1844, Litch could write: '"Come Out of Her, My People."' In es­
month saw the organization of the Sec­ cause of overcrowding in the Chardon "So far as there is anything which may be sence, those apocalyptic passages deal
ond Advent Association of New York Street Chapel, it seated over three thou­ called an organization, [it] is of the most with the fall of Babylon and the conse­
and vicinity by Henry Jones and others. sand people and was frugally yet substan­ simple, voluntary and primitive form.... quent need of God's people to flee from
The Association's charter read: "The un­ tially built. 37 We neither expect nor desire any other the corrupt system it represented.
dersigned, believers in Christ's second The Boston Tabernacle became the organization, until we reach the New Je­ Up through the summer of 1843, the
personal coming at hand, are hereby as­ forerunner of many such church build­ rusalem, and organize under the King of Millerites had generally identified Baby­
sociated for the purpose of strengthening ings where Adventist congregations kings. Here, we are pilgrims and strang­ lon as the Roman Catholic Church. Fitch
and comforting each other with these could meet. Many of those buildings ers, with no abiding place." The only rea- would change that perspective. After
128 5-WM. 129
RISE OF AovENTISM CoMING OuT OF BABYLON
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE

of Babylon or perish. . ..Not one that is Miller suggesting, given the corruption A couple of months later, Miller ex­
identifying Babylon with the antichrist,
ever saved can remain in Babylon."
44
of the Protestant churches, that Babylon pressed his fear "that the enemy has a
Fitch went on to suggest that "whoever is
Fitch's sermon made a major impact and the call to come out might mean "our hand" in the call to come out "to divert
opposed to the PERSONAL REIGN of
upon Millerism. It was first published in churches." Joseph Marsh had also antici­ our attention from the true issue [of] the
Jesus Christ over this world on David's
July in his own Second Advent of Christ.
46
throne, is ANTICHRIST." That, he pated the call out of Babylon in 1839. midnight cry, 'Behold the Bridegroom co­
Then in September it was reprinted in Beyond the biblical foundation, meth."' He also had his doubts as to
held, included both Roman Catholics
the Midnight Cry, even though the edi­ "'Come-Outerism,' " in the words of whether Babylon included the Protestant
and those Protestants who rejected the
tors felt the need to preface its publica­ Doan, "formed part of the social and cul­ churches. In 1845 Miller would look
teaching of the premillennial soon com­
tion with a note stating that they would tural context in which Millerism flour­ back at the call to come out of Babylon as
ing of Christ. The Protestant churches
"make a different application of the ished." "Come-Outerism" had formed "a perversion of Scripture" that harmed
had fallen in the sense that they, like their
Catholic forerunner, had become op­ Scriptures relating to the fall of Babylon." the initial stage in the establishment of a the Adventist work by deflecting good­
It was also published by Himes as a pam­ large number of religious and secular will. Again in 1846 he bemoaned the
pressive and had succumbed to the temp­
phlet, in spite of the fact that Himes was groups of the age as they quested for trouble brought about by the "unholy
tations of self-aggrandizement and the
not in agreement with some of the ser­ greater purity and more room for con­ crusade" against the Protestant churches.
lust for power.42
mon's ideas.45 science. The Revelator's words, "Come That crusade had "brought in men of
Fitch then went on to proclaim that
In essence, Fitch had provided his fel­ out of her, my people," generally in­ blood instead of men of peace." In retro­
"to come out of Babylon is to be converted
low advent believers with a theological formed the rhetoric of such groups. spect, he held that Adventism's troubles
to the true scriptural doctrine of the per­
rationale for separating from the churches. Compromise with error was unaccept­ had begun with the call to come out of
sonal coming and kingdom of Christ."
In one sense, that rationale was a re­ able.47 Babylon.49
At that point Fitch was coming peril­
sponse to the times. After all, large num­ Thus Fitch's sermon not only hit at Miller had forgotten that the cry had
ously close to suggesting that to be a
bers of Millerites were being thrown out the right time, but it was also packaged in come about, to a great extent, because of
Christian, one must be an Adventist, a
of their churches, while others were be­ a meaningful terminology. As a result, the persecution of Adventists by the
point he soon made explicit. He saw no
ing shut out from giving the message that the people responded, especially in up­ Protestant sects. From time to time '
way one could avoid the advent truth and
was at the center of their being and state New York and the Midwest. however, the situation had looked differ-
be a Christian. Thus, he appealed, "if you
are a Christian, come out ofBabylon! If you Christian experience. It was only natural The more conservative leadership in ent to him when he was pressed in the
for them to conclude that those who op­ the East, however, balked at Fitch's in­ heat of battle. For example, while under
intend to be found a Christian when
Christ appears, come out of Babylon, and posed them also opposed Christ. The flammatory sermon. Miller, in particular, the pressures of early 1844, he noted "that
hostile action of the churches merely never really accepted the message to if the Roman church was the mother of
come out Now! . . . Dare to believe the
confirmed the Adventists' interpretation come out. In January 1844 he reiterated harlots, then her daughters must be har­
Bible."43
of them as anti-Christian. his basic position that he had not "ad­ lots: and therefore that portion of the
Moving toward his conclusion, Fitch
On the other hand, the separation ra­ vised any one to separate from the Protestant churches that imitate and par­
noted that the book of Revelation taught
tionale was built into the very fabric of churches to which they may have be­ take of the spirit of the old mother must
that those who remained in Babylon
Scripture itself. Nine years before Fitch's longed, unless their brethren cast them be the daughters referred to." He went
must be destroyed.Thus in his final ap­
sermon, Henry Jones had written to out, or deny them religious privileges."48 on to teeter on the brink of uttering the
peal, he cried for his hearers to "come out
131
130
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM
COMING OuT OF BABYLON

message to come out at that time and on challenged Miller's position when he told It would be difficult to overestimate more than one Millerite disappointment
people not to stay in their churches until .
one other occasion in early 1844. On the the im pact of Fitch's call to leave Baby­ Meanwhile, it is important to recog­
second occasion, he penned that "it they were "turned out." To. the contrary, lon on the Adventist movement. By late nize that a not-so-subtle power shift had
would be wicked" to fellowship with "'Come out of her my people,'" Storrs 1843 and early 1844, it had become one taken place in Millerism in late 1843.
those "who have no faith in Christ's per- claimed, is a divine command from God of Millerism's central features. By Octo­ Whether they knew it or not, the leader­
·
sona1 commg. "50 to His people. ber 1844 it has been estimated that over ship had begun to shift from Miller,
Yet such statements were not typical After they left their churches, Storrs fifty thousand had left their churches.54 Himes, and Litch to a newer and more
of Miller. With but few exceptions, he continued, the Adventists should not That coming out, however, merely radical group that contained such men as
stood against both the message to volun­ form a new one, since "no church can be stamped Millerites as sectarians in the Storrs, Marsh, and others yet to rise to
tarily leave the churches and the designa­ organized by man's invention but what it eyes of many, thus destroying even more prominence. Charles Fitch was the mid­
tion of the Protestant churches as Baby­ becomes Babylon the moment it is orga­ sympathy for them. That lessening sym­ dleman in that shift. In some ways he
lon. Miller's position was shared by most nized." Fitch wrote to the Midnight Cry a pathy, of course, had the effect of speed­ possessed the characteristics of both
other established leaders of the move­ few days later, endorsing Storrs' position ing up the exodus from the churches. camps, even though he tended toward
ment. Himes, for example, did not pub­ and announcing to the world that he had Thus the Millerites and the larger Chris­ the impetuous and experimental end of
licly accept the message to come out until given up all ecclesiastical connections. tian culture were caught in a vortex as the leadership spectrum rather than the
September 1844. By that time he had re­ From now on he would be "a member of they proceeded through the year of the conservative. Millerism would never be
luctantly concluded that "it is death to no sect, and a subscriber to no creed."52 end of the world. That "year," as we will the same after July 1843.
remain connected with those bodies that Joseph Marsh was another of the new see in the next chapter, was fraught with
speak lightly of, or oppose, the coming of breed of Millerite leaders. In December
the Lord." Litch had also held back from 1843 he wrote that
advocating the message to come out. It is
quite significant that the first history of it is evidently as much our duty now
Millerism, published by Litch in May to come out of Babylon, as it was for
1844, contains no mention of Fitch's call Lot to flee from Sodom, on the
to leave the churches. 51 morning before its overthrow. I am
But while the old-line Millerite lead­ aware that by some this will be called
ership largely rejected the cry to come ultraism, come-outism, or some other
out, a new group of leaders welcomed it ism; but what of that? [W]e should
with open arms. Among the new leaders not seek to please men, but God. If
was George Storrs. In February 1844 he has told us to come out of Baby­
Storrs managed to condemn all Chris­ lon, I do not know how we can be
tendom except Adventists when he in­ saved from the doom that awaits her,
cluded "the old mother and all her chil­ unless we obey his imperative com­
dren" m Babylon. Storrs directly mand.53

133
THE SPRING DISAPPOINTMENT

vigor.While others were spre ading the 'bri ef authority,' were to last forever." "I
work in the West,the South,and in New will show th em," penned Miller, "that an
England, Hime s, Miller, and Lit c h important revolution will tak e place be­
decided to concentrate their energies in fore long,which will supersede the ne­
Chapters the metropolitan areas of Boston, New cessity of choosing a President by ballot;
York, P hiladelphia, and Washington, for the King of Kings will soon be inau­
gurated into the Chair of State."6
THE SPRING DISAPPOINTMENT D.C.
On January 28, Miller began his sev­ Speaking to large crowds, including "a
enth series of lectures in Boston. The goodly number of persons belonging to
crowds,sensing the magnitude of the is­ both houses of Congress," Miller noted
sue,were larger than he had ever before that "this place is being shaken." During
faced in that city. Not only were the seats the Washington m eetings, a terrible di­

T
filled,but many stood for hours to hear saster aided the Millerite cause. As
HE VlRGINS ARE TRULY WAKING UP, in every part of the country. The saints are the message."Had the Tabernacle been Himes saw it,"God was pleased...to
'lifting up their heads, and looking up.' The scoffers are raging and 'foaming twice its size," we read in the Midnight speak ...in awful judgment." On Febru­
out their own shame.' But the Lord is at the door. 'Come LordJesus, come quickly. " Cry, "it would probably have been densely ary 28 a large gun exploded on a naval
Such were the enthusiastic words of Joshua Himes in November 1843. The closing filled, as multitudes were obliged to go ship named 7he Princeton during govern­
date of the year of the end of the world was only four months off,and the Millerites away,unable to obtain admittance."4 mental festivities.The United States sec­
were bursting with anticipation.They had time,as they saw it,for one last surge of Miller began his meetings in New retary of state was killed in the disaster,
evangelism as they soug ht to warn their doomed world of coming judgment.
1 York on February 6 and in Philadelphia and several congressmen were injured.
on February 11. Both series of meetings "The dreadful catastrophe," claimed
were heavily attended,with the crowd in Himes,"called all to a most serious con­
A "Final" Evangelistic Thrust
ad deliv- Philadelphia being estimated at between sideration of preparation to meet God.
In January 1844,Miller estimated that in the previous twelve years he h
ered some 4,500 lectures to at least five hundred thousand different people
.In the four and five thousand.5 The event has had a great influence upon
t he "might
process,he noted,he had broken his constitution and lost his health tha The climax of the tour began on Feb­ the public mind,and has aided us essen­
be the means of saving some." He looked forward with his "whole heart and
soul " to ruary 20 in Washington,D.C.Although tially in our work."7
the capital had been entered by Miller­ The Washington meetings closed on
the arrival of Christ in the clou ds of heaven.
2

would
But the work of Miller and his followers was not over yet. The year 1844 ism a year earlier,the movement had not March 3, with Miller having preached
to pub­
witness their greatest effort thus far.December 1843 found Himes planning made the desired impression. It was the nineteen times and Litch and Himes a
ulated in
lish one million little tracts in the fe w short months left.Those would be circ hope of Miller and his colleagues to bring combined total of fifteen. In addition,
appealed
addition to the thousands of publications coming off the press weekly.He the message to " C[a] esar 's household," Himes had inaugurated a temporary pa­
to the believers to support the p ublishing work in
a hearty way,since "the advent of even though the dignitaries were even per entitled the Southern Midnight Cry.
th e Lord is right upon us." "Indifference now," Him
es wrote,"is sin."
3
then "engaged in their political squabbles Ten thousand copies of the first issue
inished
Beyond publications, the spoken word would continue to go forth with undim for the next Presidency,as if their little alone were circulated in Washington,

134 135
THE SPRING DISAPPOINTMENT
NTISM
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE R1sE OF AovE

out March 21 with a great deal more se­ hour for Christ to come." He looked for­ stant expectation, and readiness to meet
Baltimore,and the neighboring towns.8
riousness than the Miller of the Weaver ward to being "like him, whom twenty­ our Judge. With such views, we can
After preaching at several other loca­
lett,er. But the last day of the year of the eight years ago I loved....I thought be­ make no certain arrangements for the
tions, by March 14 Miller was at his
end of the world passed by without Christ fore this time I should be with him,yet I future; except in conformity with the
home in Low Hampton to wait for his
coming.Four days later the still-expectant am here a pilgrim and a stranger,waiting views ofthe shortness and uncertainty of
Lord, whom he expected to return by
Miller wrote to Himes: for a change from mortal to immortal." time.
March 21.
Miller went on to note that the scoff­
I am now seated at my old desk in my ers must scoff, but, he affirrp.ed, God Himes went on to call for "continued ef­
But Christ Did Not Come
would take care of him. "Why then," he fort " to spread the message "while proba­
There were mixed reactions as March east room. Having obtained help of
queried, "should I complain if God tion shall last." 13
21, 1844, approached. While thousands God until the present time,I am still
looking far the Dear Savior. . . . The should give a few days or even months Reactions to the nonappearance of
of Millerites waited in hope and antici­
more as probation time,for some to find Christ on March 21, 1844, were many.
pation, other thousands awaited the day time, as I have calculated it, is nowfilled
salvation, and others to fill up the mea-, While the leadership and most members
in fearful agony lest Miller be right. up; and I expect every moment to see the
sure of their cup, before they drink the continued to wait in expectation,Miller
Large numbers undoubtedly just ignored Savior descendfrom heaven. I have now
dregs, and wring them out in bitter an­ pointed out that many of those who had
both the day and the warnings.But there nothing to lookfar but this glorious hope.
. . . I hope I have cleansed my gar­ guish.It is my Savior[']s will and I rejoice looked forward to the advent "walked no
were also those who took the occasion to
that he will do things right."12 more with us." Yet others,in their relief,
be one of mirth as they prodded and ments from the blood of souls. I feel
On April 10 and 11, Himes issued a made the disappointment an occasion of
teased their Millerite neighbors. that, as far as it was in my power, I
public statement in the Advent Herald merriment. Millerites walking abroad
Falling into that latter category was a have freed myself from all guilt in
(the new name for the Signs ofthe Times) heard such comments as 'What!-not
person who signed his name as William their condemnation....
and the Midnight Cry. "Jt has been our gone up yet?-We thought you'd gone
Miller. In an apocryphal letter dated ... If God has any thihg more for
sincere and solemn conviction, for three up! ... Wife didn't go up and leave you
March 17, 1844, the so-called Miller me to do in his vineyard, he will give
years past," he penned, behind to burn,did she?" 14
wrote to A.P.Weaver,the only Advent­ me strength, open the door, and en­
Many felt the Millerite movement
ist in Sackets Harbor, New York. The able me to do whatever may be his
that the second glorious and blessed would collapse if Christ failed to come on
letter announced that "the 'World' has will,for his glory and the best good of
Advent of the Savior of the world' March 21. But it went on.That continu­
commenced burning in Main [sic] in the man.10
would have taken place before the ity,in a large part,resulted from the fact
North East corner. It does not burn verry
present time. I still look far this event that the Millerite leaders had been "soft"
[sic] fast,so I had time to write you a few Himes answered a few days later,not­
as being nigh; and cannot avoid the en­ on the time.That is,they allowed for the
lines before I got ready." The writer then ing that Miller's friends had a deep inter­
tire conviction . . . that it is the next possibility of small errors in their calcula­
requested that Weaver "spread the news est in him and that Himes and his col­
great event, and must transpire within tions and even in some of their historic
as fast as possible....We shall soon meet leagues were planning future work, "if
a very short time. It is not safe,there­ dates.Thus L.B.Coles could look at the
in another world I hope where parting time continues. " 11
fore, for us to defer in our minds the problem of March 21 as "an incidental,"
shall be no more."9 On April 5 Miller wrote to Elon Ga­
event for an hour, but to live in con- rather than a "fundamental ... error."15
The "real " Mr.'Miller waited through- lusha that he was "looking every day and
137
136
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM THE SPRING DISAPPOINTMENT

Miller's "soft" approach to the exact revealed; and we would not disguise the reporter from the Boston Post noted that words, they were still mission driven in
time is evident in a letter he wrote on fact at all, that we were mistaken in the even though disappointed, Miller had the face of their belief in their place in
February 28, three weeks before the ter­ precise time of the termination of the not lost faith or courage. "I never heard prophetic history.
mination of his predicted end of the prophetic periods." But even though him," wrote the reporter, "when he was Thus as of the beginning of June 1844,
world. "If Christ comes, as we expect," he Christ had not come during their pre­ more eloquent or animated, or more the Millerites remained firm in their con­
penned, "we will sing the song of victory dicted year of the end of the world, both happy in communicating his feelings victions, even though they appear to have
soon; if not, we will watch, and pray, and Himes and Litch held, no one had been and sentiments to others." The audience, been somewhat disillusioned and disori­
preach until he comes, for soon our time, able to show where their calculations apparently including a large number of ented. However, back in the last week in
and all prophetic days, will have been were incorrect. Litch surmised that they non-Adventists, was generally satisfied April, they had found the biblical key
filled." Again, another Millerite wrote in were probably "only in error relative to by his remarks on "the 'conclusion of the that was even then helping them make
February that "IF we are mistaken in the the event which marked its close." 18 whole matter."'20 sense out of their experience. An April
time, we feel the fullest confidence that A week after Himes' admission that Miller, the Advent Herald reported, 24 Advent Herald editorial provided the
the event we have anticipated is the next all the dates were past, Miller wrote to claimed that, because of his error, he was explanation when it tied the fact that all
great event in the World's History." 16 his fellow believers. On May 2 he noted glad that his followers had not trusted in the virgins in the parable of the midnight
That tentativeness on the exact time, that if he were to live his life over again, him. "'Father Miller,"' Miller said of cry of Matthew 25 tarried, slumbered,
as we noted above, saved the Millerite with the same evidence he had had, he himself, "'has proved himself to you all to and slept (verse 5) to Habakkuk 2:2, 3,
movement from disintegration in March would take the same course of action. Af­ be only a poor fallible creature, and if you which says: "Write the vision, and make
1844. In fact, as early as June 21, 1843, it ter all, his opposers had "produced no had trusted in him you would have given it plain upon tables, that he may run that
had been suggested that their calcula­ weighty arguments." up your faith, and I don't know what readeth it. For the vision is yet for an ap­
tions for the spring date should have been Still, the bewildered Miller continued, would have become of you; but now you pointed time, but at the end it shall speak,
based on the reckoning of the Karaite "l confess my error, and acknowledge my stand on the word of God, and that can­ and not lie: though it tarry, waitfor it; be­
Jews rather than on that of the Rabbini­ disappointment; yet I still believe that the not fail you.' "21 True to his initial counsel, cause it will surely come."23
cal Jews. As a result, the Signs had sug­ day of the Lord is near, even at the door." Miller ever pointed people to the Bible rather Two years earlier the Millerites had
gested that April 18/19, 1844, really rep­ He especially warned his friends and fel­ than to any human authority. applied the Habakkuk passage to their
resented the end of the Jewish year 1844. low believers not to draw away from the The annual Boston conference, in its movement when they linked the pro­
Himes had adopted that explanation by Bible and its teachings on "the manner official report, reaffirmed belief in ''the phetic chart of Fitch and Hale to Habak­
early April 1844. 17 and object of Christ's coming; for the time" of the Second Advent as indicated kuk 2:2, where it refers to making a mes­
But the April date also came and next attack of the adversary will be to in­ in prophetic history. And even though sage plain on tables so that ''he may run
went. In the very next issue of the Advent duce unbelief respecting these." 19 the leaders recognized that calls for their that readeth it. " 24 Now as they looked at
Herald, Himes "frankly'' admitted "that During the last week in May, Miller services might be fewer than before verse 3, they again saw their movement,
all our expected and published time, has once again publicly confessed his error March and April 1844, they still pledged this time in relation to the great eschato­
passed: the Jewish year, civil and ecclesi­ in regard to the definite time, this time themselves "to labor as we may have op­ logical parable of the midnight cry-a
astical, in which we expected the Lord, at the major annual conference of the portunity, to arouse our fellow men to parable that stood at the very heart of the
has expired, and the Savior has not been Adventists in the Boston Tabernacle. A the work of preparation."22 In other biblical symbolism they used to describe

138 139
WILLIAM M1LLER AND THE R1sE OF AovENTISM

their movement. One essential connec­ back, my soul shall have no pleasure
tion was that both Matthew's parable in him. But we are not of them who
and Habakkuk spoke of a tarrying time draw back unto perdition; but of them
before the end of the vision. that believe to the saving of the soul.25
The Millerites found confirmation for Chapter9
this interpretation in Hebrews 10:36-39: With that biblical justification in place,

For we have need of patience, that,


the Millerites entered into the next phase
of their history, the tarrying time. All the
THE TARRYING TIME
after ye have done the will of God, ye prophecies had been fulfilled. Christ
might receive the promise. For yet a would soon come at the completion of the
little while, and he that shall come will tarrying time. Meanwhile, it was their job
come, and will not tarry. Now the just to continue to sound the midnight cry of

T
shall live by faith: but if any man draw the soon-coming bridegroom.
HE SPRING DISAPPOINTMENT AT THE NONAPPEARANCE of Christ drove the
Millerites back to their Bibles to find an explanation for their predicament.
They not only discovered the "tarrying time" of Habakkuk, Matthew, and He­
brews, but they also found illustrations of the experience. One such was the case of
Sodom, where the fire tarried before the final conflagration. As the Western Midnight
Cry put it, "the threatened destruction did not fall upon the city as soon as some of
them expected, or his [Lot's] wife would not have looked back." Thus we begin to find
the idea expounded that the delay was a time for the testing of the believers and a
period of faith building in anticipation of the eschaton. 1
Another illustration along that line of thought was Noah. Look how Noah and his
family must have felt, admonished certain Millerite leaders. After all, they were shut
up in the ark for seven days of good weather. Meanwhile, "the vision tarried, and the
wicked had their fill of laughter and their height of triumph, while the faith of the
man of God, and those around him, was put to the severest test." While Noah and
his fellow believers had seen signs at the end of the seven days, another forty days
passed "before Noah was out of the reach of the taunts of the ungodly . . . and [their]
cries of 'your time has gone by.' " Then, to cinch the argument, some quoted Luke
17:30: "'Even thus shall it be in the day when the son of man is revealed.' "2
Those biblical illustrations seemed to capture not only a bit of hope for the disap­
pointed Millerites, but they also captured the tone of their evangelistic experience.
They had, as we noted earlier, pledged themselves to keep preaching their message of
140 141
NTISM THE TARRYING TIME
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE oF AovE

Early July found most of the established with a conviction that he must go, and Himes hoped to "send the glad tidings
warning to the world, but the results were
leadership strengthening the believers in two times he had made arrangements to out in a number of different languages"
different after March and April 1844.
the East. Late July, however, saw a major do so. But both times his friends had besides English, "if time be continued a
Himes reported hearty responses on the
part of believers but went on to report shift in focus toward the West. convinced him that his talents could not few months." The mission would include
On July 21, Miller, Himes, and Miller's be spared in the United States. He would both Protestant and Catholic nations.
that "there was but little impression made
son George began an extended preaching not be dissuaded this third time, even And he certainly did not intend to forget
upon the wicked. The word took hold of
them, but seemed not to melt or break tour of the West. They found receptive though the pressure from his colleagues "Babylon, in Italy. " 9
the heart, as in former times."
3 audiences wherever they went. The ter­ was stronger than ever.7 The plans to go to England, however,
Thus the period between June and minus of their expedition was Cincinnati, Himes, in speaking of his overseas would once again be disrupted, this
August reflected a "flatness" in Millerite where Miller preached to "4,000 people, plans in the Herald of September 25, time by Himes' acceptance of the Octo­
evangelism. The people heard but with who listened to him with almost breath­ 1844, recognized that he could not ex­ ber 22 date for the end of the world. His
reserved conviction. One can surmise less attention." They worked there for pect the sympathy or support of those who English plans would not see fulfillment
that the Millerite preachers were also about a week and hoped to go farther expected Christ to come in October-a until 1846.10
suffering from diminished certainty. west, but rainstorms prevented them. In position he had not as yet accepted. But, Meanwhile, during the summer of
Such nagging doubt was bound to show the meantime, they had met with the he added, he had to do his duty as he per­ 1844, tensions continued to increase
through in their preaching. Millerite leadership from Michigan, sonally saw it to the "Great Judge who between the Millerites and the churches.
Wisconsin, and other points west. The now 'standeth at the door."' Himes Paralleling that tension was the accel­
Persevering in "the Work" calls for laborers were many.6 claimed that even if Christ came while he erated expulsion of Millerites from the
The work of preaching went on be­ Upon returning from their western was in "mid-ocean," he still had to go. "I denominations. Many of the Adventist
cause Jesus had commanded His disciples tour, Miller and Himes found that their have," he penned, "done my duty, thus lecturers, however, opposed the creat­
to "occupy till I come" (Luke 19:13). As movement had taken a new turn in the far, to this country. I have cleaned the ing of a new religious body in the short
a result, claimed Himes, "we must there­ East, a turn that would largely take the skirts of my garments from the blood of time remaining. Some of them even
fore continue our efforts in lecturing, initiative out of their hands. They re­ all. I feel that I owe a duty to the old complained about the use of the name
Conferences, Tent, and Camp-Meetings, turned to find a growing belief through­ world, and if there is time to do it, Provi­ Adventist to identify themselves. But the
and the distribution of publications. We out Adventist ranks that Jesus would dence permitting, I hope to have grace to stand for separation itself became well­
must work with more zeal, decision, and come in October. We will return to the discharge it."8 nigh universal among Millerites when
perseverance, than ever, until the 'Noble­ October movement and the new shape of In his work of bringing "before the Himes capitulated on separationism in
man shall return' and receive the faithful Millerism in our next chapter. groaning population of Europe . . . a hope August 1844. He noted that "it is death
to the everlasting kingdom."4 Meanwhile, early August witnessed of deliverance," Himes desired to establish to remain connected with those bodies
The renewed preaching mission of the Himes and Litch planning to go on a a printing press in London. From that that speak lightly of, or oppose the com­
Millerites appears to have gotten off to a mission to England in October, "if time center he aimed to send out literature and ing of the Lord." Sylvester Bliss had said
rather halting start in June 1844, picked be prolonged." This was not the first time lecturers in every direction. Thus, in es­ it nicely a few months before, when he
up speed in July, and by August was ag­ that Himes had planned personally to go to sence, his European mission would be a wrote that to remain in the churches,
gressively moving into new territory.5 England. For three years he had wrestled recapitulation of his work in America. supposing that some good can be done,

142 143
WILLIA\\1 MILLER AND THE RisE OF AovENTISM THE TARRYING TIME

"is very much like an attempt to warm an Miller himself seemed somewhat con­ religion, the excitement of the year of the perfectionists (an aberrant group itself)
ice-house with a lamp-w�ich thing fused on the date issue during the sum­ end of the world pushed them toward fa­ recognized that truth when they claimed
cannot be done.Besides, it would chill mer.A reporter for the Christian Watch­ natical attitudes and actions that have that those who had been "wildest in their
"11
your 01·1, an,.l4 put out your 1·1ght. man presented a firsthand account of tended to be present in various time-of­ speculations" regarding another religious
The tarrying time saw the publishing Miller on the time issue in the late spring the-end movements from biblical times fad a few years earlier had, by late 1842,
work carried on in a healthy manner, even of 1844."He tried," reported the Watch­ to the present.Millerism was no excep­ become "flaming Millerites."15
though some papers, including Fitch's man, "to define his present position, but tion. By the tarrying time in the summer William Miller and hi� leading associ­
Second Advent of Christ, went out of print. appeared not himself to know what it of 1844, such elements in the Millerite ates were aware of their movement's fa­
On the other hand, at least two new pa­ was. One minute he would confess that camp had become problematic. natical potential. That awareness led
pers found their beginning in the summer he was mistaken, and the next say that he Miller in his 1843 New Year's address to
of 1844. One was the scholarly Advent could discover no possible mistake, and Fanaticism in the Ranks warn his followers that Satan would seek
Shield and the other the Advent Message to go over his old calculations." Miller even­ Perhaps a most surprising fact about to get advantage over them by "scattering
the Daughters of Zion. The first was re­ tually confessed "that Christ did not Millerism is not that it housed some be­ coals of wild fire among you; for if he
markable because it was the only scholarly come in 1843-but I can't see where I'm lievers belonging to the fanatical edge or cannot drive you into unbelief and doubt,
Millerite journal, the second because it wrong." By July 31, 1844, Miller had fi­ even the lunatic fringe, but that it had so he will then try his wild fire of fanati­
was both aimed at and edited by women. nally come to a resolution. "Time," he few of them.But have them it did. From cism." A few months later, one of the
From a historian's perspective, one of penned, "has shown my error, as to the one point of view, William Lloyd Garri­ main points of warning in the dedication
the substantial contributions of the tarry­ exact time of the event," but not its near­ son was right on target when he noted of Himes' Boston Tabernacle was to
ing time was Litch's publication of the ness.13 that "it would be strange indeed, if, "avoid all extravagant notions, and every­
first history ofMillerite Adventism in the Subsequently, Miller never had much among their extended ranks, some can­ thing which may tend to fanaticism."16
May 1844 Advent Shield. The early tarry­ interest in providing any dates for the ad­ not be found who behave most inconsis­ May 1843 also saw the important an­
ing time was one of reflection as the Mil­ vent. The same, as we shall see in our next tently with their profession." In a similar nual Boston conference declare: 'We
lerites contemplated the significance of chapter, was not true of some of his fol­ manner, the editors of the Signs pointed have no confidence whatever in any vi­
their experience prior to regrouping for lowers. Only in early October 1844 out that "a hot-bed that will not produce sions, dreams, or private revelations.
renewed action in the autumn. would Miller again develop any interest some weeds will not produce any good What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the
The tarrying time also witnessed Miller in the date of the Second Coming, and fruit." Religion, the editors noted, is ever Lord.' We repudiate all fanaticism, and
and many of his colleagues vacillating he would come to that October decision a "hot-bed in which ... fanaticism ger­ everything which may tend to extrava­
over the significance of their preaching with a great deal of reluctance. minates."14 gance, excess, and immorality, that shall
the "time" message. L.B. Coles had con­ While Miller and his top associates Ronald and Janet Numbers indicate cause our good to be evil spoken of."17
cluded that "a certain limited year, should managed to maintain their equilibrium that due to its very nature, Millerism "at­ A similar warning was issued at the
never have been set." Furthermore, Coles during the disorienting spring and sum­ tracted some marginally and poorly func­ 1844 annual Boston conference, but this
wrote, "to continue to fix the time upon mer months of 1844, the same canqot be tioning persons to its fringes, Americans time it went on to add that those at the
any definite point in [the] future, is the said for aµ the advent believers. For those who might have gravitated toward any fanatical edge, who thought they were
consummation of folly."12 with a less rational orientation toward religious fad." The leaders of the Oneida being guided by the Holy Spirit, often

144 145
NTISM
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovE THE TARRYING TIME

believed that they possessed "the gift of feet" people it was a spiritual experience. graduate of Andover Theological Semi­ had become so disruptive by April 1843
intuitive discernment of spirits, the power The Millerite response was to warn the nary. Converted to Millerism in the early that Himes had to face the problem pub­
to work miracles, and to believe in the pos­ believers that French was "a very unsuit­ autumn of 1842, he became Himes' as­ licly.His challenge brought a great out­
sibility of obtaining what they call resur­ able person to lecture on the Second Ad­ sociate pastor at the Chardon Street cry from Starkweather and his followers.
rection bodies here in this mortal state." vent .. . or on any other Scriptural doc­ Chapel in October. Prior to that time, he "'You will drive out the Holy Ghost!'
Again, in January 1844 Miller flatly stated trine."20 had been pastor at Boston's Marlboro cried one. 'You are throwing on cold wa­
that he had not "countenanced fanati­ Then there was Michael Barton, who Chapel and several other places. Himes' ter!' said another.'Throwing on cold wa­
cism in any form." Nor had he used wrote Miller in late April 1844 to con­ object in hiring Starkweather was to be ter!' said Mr. Himes, 'I would throw on
"dreams or visions except those in the firm the Adventist leader's interpreta­ free to travel more in behalf of the Ad­ the Atlantic ocean [sic], before I would
word of God."18 tions. The staid Miller must have read ventist cause. But Himes' generally good be identified with such abominations as
The many remonstrances of the lead­ Barton's letter in despair as he realized judgment misfired regarding Stark­ these, or suffer them in this place unre­
ing Millerites were not made in a vacu­ that such people had attached themselves weather, as time would shortly demon­ buked.' " Needless to say, Starkweather
um. The reality of the problem was to the movement. "I left my body," wrote strate.22 no longer worked as Himes' associate
pointed out in the Christian Reflector of Barton, "and found myself flying thru the Although Miller and Himes had a pastor, but he did manage to take a por­
May 1844 by L.B. Coles, who wrote that air. At length I found myself in heaven, long-established policy of not emphasiz­ tion of the membership out of Chardon
some Millerites had "imbibed very erro­ and heard a voice saying 'I am Christ.' ing doctrinal distinctives other than the Street Chapel with him.24
neous, soul-destroying notions on sancti­ But the Being who said I am Christ left premillennial advent, Starkweather soon Starkweather's dismissal was not the
fication, and the influences of the Spirit. heaven with us and drawed me after him began preaching his "peculiar view�" re­ end of the matter. He was a man of great
In some instances, no excesses have been to the earth, as a nickel would be drawn specting personal sanctification and even personal appeal, and his teaching that the
too extravagant to be attributed to the by a powerful load stone." Subsequently making them a test of fellowship. "He " ( g1'fits' were to be restored to the church"
Holy Ghost."19 in the vision, Barton witnessed God taught that conversion, however full and impressed many.Before long, his follow­
A case in point was Calvin French, a blessing the Millerites. That, according thorough, did not fit one for God's favor ers were seeking to walk on water and
Millerite lecturer who "embraced some to Barton, was proof that God was pre­ without a second work [of the Holy Spirit]; hold back locomotives through the power
of the abominable and licentious doc­ paring the world for the advent. With and that this second work was usually in­ of their wills. Starkweather himself
trines of the Cochran school," which such believers about, it is little wonder dicated by some bodily sensation." Thus a claimed that those with the gift of the
taught "spiritual wifery." French had ap­ that the May 1844 Boston annual con­ loss of strength or certain other bodily Spirit could invariably tell who were and
parently come to believe in a deceptive ference once again warned against fanati­ manifestations were viewed as the great were not Christians, and that such people
view of Christian perfection that held cism, "impressions," and "private revela­ power of God in sanctification, or the (including himself) "'had no need that
that since perfect people were free from tions.''21 "'sea1·mg power.'"23
other Christians should tell them what is,
sin, anything they did reflected the The most troublesome and persistent While some of Himes' members and what is not their duty.' "25
promptings of God's Spirit and was source of Millerite charismatic fanati­ looked upon such exhibitions with awe, Even though Himes, Miller, and oth­
therefore right to do. Thus it was not cism before 1845 is found in John Stark­ others were suspicious but feared to chal­ ers recognized the seriousness of Stark­
wrong to have sexual relations with per­ weather. One of the better-educated lenge Starkweather lest they "'offend weather's problem, without church orga­
sons other than one's spouse. For "per- Millerite lecturers, Starkweather was a against the Holy Ghost.' " The problem nization it was impossible to disfellowship
146 147
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RisE OF AovENTISM THE TARRYING TIME

him. Beyond that, he was popular with a that the individuals thus exercised are The counsel of the established leader­ arising after the failure of Christ to ap­
significant segment of the believers. Thus entirely under the influence of the ship in the face of fanaticism was to rec­ pear on October 22, 1844.33
even to speak out against Starkweather Spirit of God, are his children, and ornrnend a rational reliance upon the Bi­ Though fanaticism in pre-October
by name was inadvisable, especially after that he will not deceive them and ble. "Cling, cling to the word of God," 1844 Adventism was present, it did not
he pictured himself to his followers as a lead them astray; hence every impulse admonished the editors of the Signs. "Lay involve a major part of the movement.
"holy'' but "abused man." The leadership which comes upon them is yielded to first hold of its promises, and walk in ac­ Nor were any of the established teachers
decided that his followers would have to as coming from God, and following cordance with its sacred teachings, and involved. Miller, Himes, and Litch in
find out for themselves the fruit of Stark­ it there is no length of fanaticism to all will be well."
31
particular had always sought to inculcate
weather's work, even though the process which they will not go.... Starkweather's last major attempt to a rational, cool-headed religion that was
would be costly and painful. As a result, . . . If Second Advent meetings gain control of a significant portion of more cognitive than emotional. The dis­
the summer of 1843 found Starkweather's must be the scenes of such disgraceful Adventism took place soon after the cordant elements were nearer the edges
influence to be a major factor in at least proceedings as I there witnessed, I spring disappointment of 1844. In April of Adventism than the center. But, as
three Connecticut camp meetings. 26 protest against more being held. It he attempted to unite Adventism's vari­ should be expected, they were always
The Philadelphia Public Ledger reported would be better for the cause never to ous disaffected elements. Himes' friends there. During the tarrying time, the fa­
that while Starkweather preached at the have another at such a price.28 wrote that "such a medley of discordant natical elements smoldered, but, unfor­
Bridgeport meeting, a man passed elements has not been often assembled. tunately, they would achieve greater
through the audience waving a green leaf Unfortunately, the fanatical elements No two were of one mind," and "each prominence in late 1844 and in 1845.
over his head crying "Hallelujah" and prominent at the Bridgeport meeting were wished to lead off in his own direction." Before moving away from the tarrying
"Glory" as loud as he could. At times he also evident that summer in two other Starkweather soon lost control of the time, it is important to examine one more
pointed to various individuals, making a Connecticut camp meetings before Stark­ meeting, and the various factions accused case of fanaticism. That case took place at
muttering sound that his fellows inter­ weather's influence began to wither.29 the others (including Starkweather) of the Exeter, New Hampshire, camp meet­
preted to mean that such individuals were In November, Miller made a public having the devil and of going off into ing in August 1844. The trouble began in
eternally damned. This discerning-of­ protest on the front page of the Signs various "mesmeric ecstacies [sic]." Some the Watertown, Massachusetts, tent,
spirits exercise was accompanied by other against the fanaticism that had distracted participants concluded "that instead of where meetings continued "nearly all
acts of public fanaticism, all of which so many. In his own travels that summer, escaping from Babylon, they had landed night, and [were] attended with great ex­
were reported in the public press. 27 he wrote, he had witnessed the same in the wilderness."32 citement, and noise of shouting and clap­
Litch, who witnessed the event, re­ spirit at work. "My heart," he penned, After the April meeting, Starkweather ping of hands, and singular gestures and
ported that the papers had not exagger­ "was deeply pained during my tour east, had little following among the Millerites. exercises." Some shouted so loud and
ated. "A more disgraceful scene, under to see in some few of my former friends, He eventually deserted his family and long that they were reduced to whisper­
garb of piety," he penned, "I have rarely a proneness to the wild and foolish ex­ followed Calvin French's path in letting ing. Others had "literally blistered their
witnessed." Such a spirit tremes of some vain delusions, such as his perfectionism lead him into "spiritual hands" through much clapping.34
working miracles, discerning of spirits, wifery." The residue of Starkweather's in­ Unfortunately for its inmates, the be­
is evil, and only evil, and that continu­ vague and loose views on sanctification, fluence, however, did not die. It would lievers from Portland, Maine, had pitched
ally. . .. The origin of it, is, the idea &c."30 find new life in the fanatical movements their tent quite near the Watertown

148 149
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM

tent before they realized the problem. hundred and ninety-nine times, with no
James White, a young Millerite preacher evidence of one victory gained, and had
from the Portland tent, claims they had blistered their hands in striking them to­
to move their abode to the other end of gether with violence, he thought it was
the grounds to obtain peace. But the time for them to stop." If they did not
move, he noted, merely created sympathy stop, however, he suggested that the rest
for "the fanatics," who cried "persecution, of the camp should withdraw sympathy
and shouted glory to God over it, as if a from them. 35
new and brilliant victory had been That speech helped the tone of the .�
. d"
game. camp in general, even if it failed to reach z
The problem began to spread in the "those who were wild with fanaticism." It e8
0
>-,
camp, and the preachers were in a state of would take a more electrifying utterance
gloom. Finally one pastor publicly faced than that to reach their gospel-hardened
the issue. He claimed that "he had no ob­ minds. Such an utterance was soon forth­
jections to shouts of praise to God, over coming at Exeter, and when it did come, William Miller Lucy Miller
victories won in his name. But when per­ it would prove to be a major turning
sons had shouted 'Glory to God' nine point in the history of Adventism.

150 The Miller home about 1853.


Joshua V. Himes, public-relations Charles Fitch, zealous advocate ofthe In 1848 Miller donated land for an Adventist chapel to be built near his farmhouse.
genius and Miller's chieflieutenant. movement for Millerite separatism.

Josiah Litch, a former Millerite Elon Galusha, Millerite leader in


leader with a scholarly bent. western New York. The interior ofMiller's chapel. The text from Daniel 8:19 was one ofMiller's favorites.
677 7 .... , •J

l
�··
r
..
_ _.

Hiram Munger, camp-meeting_ super­ Joshua V. Himes in his later years.


intendent who struck terror mto
hearts of "Cainites."

1335, :( ,

. ..
--· , i-

fO:ll.1,/\,-..TlNG KING[)OM
('
184::3. ·.,.
r.. •.,•••.rJ

The 1843 Chart developed by Charles Fitch and Apollos Hale.


GRAND ASCENSION OF THE MILLER TABERNACLE!
!lliller in his Glory, Saints and Sinnen la one peat CONGLOIIUJRATION !

Sylvester Bliss, Millerite editor, Albany Miles Grant, aggressive Advent Chris­
Anti-Millerite broadside depicting ascension of Boston leader, and Miller's biographer. tian editor opposed to J. V. Himes.
Tabernacle. Miller is shown seated on the prophetic chart,
and Himes is standing below, surrounded by bags of
money and being held by a devil.

Isaac C. Wellcome, Advent Christian


preacher and author of the first sub­
S. S. Snow, the stimulus behind the George Storrs, a powerful preacher who stantial history of Adventism in 1874.
seventh-month movement. did much to push the seventh-month
,.,,,..,-·
C 1 ti l.JAJV fl r Go
II

Chapter 10
THE "TRUE MIDNIGHT CRY"

Y
ou ARE GOING TO HAVE NEW light here! something that will give new impetus
to the work." Such was the repeated premonition ofJoseph Bates as he traveled
James White, one of the founders of Sabbatarian Adventism. by train to the Exeter, New Hampshire, camp meeting in August 1844. 1 And
the Adventists did receive new light at Exeter, a message that proved to be one of the
most significant turning points in Millerite history.

A New Message
The Exeter meetings, as we noted in chapter 9, were not an unmixed blessing.
Fanaticism had caused confusion among the already somewhat demoralized believ­
ers. The definite time of expectation had passed, the tarrying time was dragging, and
neither people nor preachers had any assurance of where they were in prophetic his­
tory. The preaching may have been good, but it "failed to move the people." An un­
healthy listlessness had settled over the believers, in spite of the enthusiastic efforts of
the leaders to buoy them up. 2
Under those circumstances, Bates was doing his best in the pulpit as he preached
the well-worn advent message to the people. Suddenly he was interrupted in midser­
mon by Mrs. John Couch, who stood to her feet and addressed both preacher and
audience. '"It is too late, Bro. [Bates],"' she called out. "'It is too late to spend our
time upon these truths, with which we are familiar, and which have been blessed to us
in the past, and have served their purpose and their time.'" She went on to note that a
Ellen G. White, prophetic voice among Joseph Bates, Millerite activist and early
the Sabbatarian Adventists. Sabbatarian tract writer. speaker among them had a new message for this time. 3 That speaker was Samuel

159
ADVENTISM THE "TRUE MIDNIGHT CRY"
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF

S. Snow, heretofore a minor player in the the holy place. The high priest was a alarm. NOW THE REAL ONE IS different States, cities and villages of
Millerite movement. type of Jesus our High Priest; the SOUNDING." He indicated that ac­ New England, the cry was still re­
At Exeter, Snow presented a message most holy place a type of heaven it­ cording to the parable, "all" the virgins sounding, "Behold the bridegroom
that would thrust him into the center of self; and the coming out of the high slumbered and slept during the tarrying cometh!" Christ, our blessed Lord, is
Millerism. His contribution was a new priest a type of the coming of Jesus time. He then pointed out that the tarry­ coming on the tenth day of the sev­
interpretation of Daniel 8:14 on the the second time to bless his waiting ing time could not be more than six enth month! Get ready! get ready!!6
cleansing of the sanctuary. That interpre­ people. As this was on the tenth day months, since the night of tarrying repre­
tation, in turn, led to a new understand­ of the 7th month, so on that day Jesus sented one half of a prophetic day. Thus From Exeter the new message soon
ing of the bridegroom parable of Mat­ will certainly come, because not a the tarrying time would end in the au­ permeated Adventism, providing be­
thew 25. Both of those passages had single point of the law is to fail. All tumn. But, according to the parable, the lievers with a renewed "burden of the
stood as foundation pillars of the advent must befulfilled. cry of the coming bridegroom is to go work" of spreading the message and a
message. forth at midnight, or about halfway solemnity that put much of the earlier
Snow argued on the basis of scriptural Combining. that finding with his conclu­ through the tarrying time. And thus it fanaticism to rest. According to James
typology that the Millerites had been in sion that the 2300-day prophecy of Dan­ was, claimed Storrs, that "the present White, a "power almost irresistible" at­
error in looking for Christ to come in the iel 8:14 ended in 1844 (rather than 1843), strong cry of time commenced about the tended the preaching that Christ would
spring of 1844. Viewing the Old Testa­ Snow proclaimed that Christ would middle of July, and has spread with great come in October.7
ment ceremonial sabbaths as types ahd come oµ "the tenth day of the seventh rapidity and power, and is attended with Interestingly, the Exeter camp meet­
the ministry of Christ as antitype, Snow month" of"the present year, 1844."4 a demonstration of the Spirit, such as I ing was not Millerism's first exposure to
demonstrated from the New Testament It was determined that the tenth day never witnessed when the cry was '1843.' Snow's seventh-month theory. Around
that the feasts of Passover, First Fruits, of the seventh month in 1844, according It is now literally, 'go ye out to meet him.' " January 1844, Snow recalled in June of
and Pentecost had been fulfilled by to the reckoning of the Karaite Jews, The time had come for"the TRUE Mid­ that year, "I felt it my imperative duty to
Christ at the exact time in the year as in would fall on October 22, 1844. That date night Cry."5 impart to the world, and especially to the
the annual celebration. That was so be­ soon became the focal point of Millerite Snow's seventh-month message took Advent band, the light which my heav­
cause"God is an exact time keeper." Snow interest. the .Exeter camp by storm. As Bates put enly Father had given me, concerning the
then pointed out that"those types which The new date set the stage for a new it, the seventh-month message termination of the prophetic periods. "8
were to be observed in the 7th month, interpretation of the parable of the bride­ The Midnight Cry first published
have never yet had their fulfillment." groom in Matthew 25. The new interpre­ worked like leaven throughout the Snow's exposition of the seventh-month
He then connected the annual day of tation found expression in the very title whole camp. And when that meeting argument on February 22, 1844, several
atonement with the second coming of Je­ Snow chose for the periodical he estab­ closed, the granite hills of New weeks before the end of Miller's predicted
sus. "The important point in this type," lished to spread his seventh-month mes­ Hampshire were ringing with the terminal point for the year of the end.
Snow penned, sage-The True Midnight Cry. mighty cry, "Behold the bridegroom The editors, however, added a cautionary
That new interpretation found full ex­ cometh; go ye out to meet him." As note to Snow's article, indicating that
is the completion of the reconciliation position in George Storrs. According to the loaded wagons, stages, and rail­ while it was "possible" that he might be
at the coming of the high priest out of Storrs, the earlier message was "but the road cars, rolled away through the correct, they did not see it that way. They
6-W.M.
160 161
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE R1sE OF ADVENTISM THE "TRUE MIDNIGHT CRY"

continued to hold to the spring date. rect. Miller's letter, however, seems to all their hearts for Jesus to come. That same issue, the Evangelist, after asserting
Snow's article was subsequently pub­ have been largely forgotten until Sep­ longing was inextricably connected with that the second Adventists were "utterly
lished in the Advent Herald with similar tember 1844. As we shall see, Snow's the deeply felt need to warn their neigh­ mistaken," pointed out that "when the
. reasoning found little acceptance among bors of soon-coming judgment. The up­ lapse of time shall show them that all
caut10nary remarks.9
In actuality it was not Snow who the Millerite leadership until early Octo­ shot of these and other factors was that their calculations are wrong, they will not
first indicated that Christ might come ber.10 the seventh-month message spread with be tempted to reject divine revelation,
in the autumn rather than the spring, In spite of the cold shoulder he re­ a rapidity unparalleled in the Millerite nor be discouraged from patiently labor­
but Miller himself. On May 3, 1843, ceived, Snow, who considered himself experience. ing for Christ, and for the salvation of
Miller argued in a letter to Himes that "the least of all the saints," felt it to be his Beyond Snow, who scattered his mes­ souls."14
"the ceremonies of the typical law that "indispensible [sic] duty" to proclaim the sage in the True Midnight Cry "by the The seventh-month message had cat­
were observed in the first month, or ver­ seventh-month message. During the tens and hundreds of thousands," one of apulted the Millerites both into revived
nal equinox, had their fulfillment in spring and summer of 1844, Snow the most exuberant and forceful of the meaning and into a collision course with
Christ's first advent and sufferings; but preached his message in New York, Phil­ Millerite preachers to accept Snow's ar­ an exact date that would put to the test
all the feasts and ceremonies in the sev­ adelphia, and other places. But, reported gument was the irrepressible George their interpretation of Daniel 8:14 and
enth month or autumnal equinox, can the Advent Herald in late October, "while Storrs. "I take up my pen," wrote Storrs other passages. Meanwhile, the rise of
only have their fulfillment at his second many embraced his views, yet, no partic­ in the Bible Examiner of September 24, the seventh-month movement had
advent." ular manifestation of its effects was seen, brought with it a major shift in Adventist
He then went on to point out that in until about July."11 with feelings such as I never before leadership from Miller, Himes, Litch,
the Jewish calendar, atonement was made Snow's message began to catch hold experienced. Beyond a doubt, in my and their colleagues to such new leaders
on the tenth day of the seventh month on July 21, when he preached it in the mind, the tenth day of the seventh as Snow and Storrs.
and that that atonement "is certainly typ­ Boston Tabernacle.12 But after the Exeter month, will witness the revelation of
ical of the atonement Christ is now mak­ meeting in August, the seventh-month our Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds of New Leaders
ing for us." He then noted that the high movement became a virtual whirlwind. heaven. We are then within a few Because Snow and Storrs made a large
priest blessed the people after he came The rapid spread of the new message can days efthat event. Awful moment to impact on both pre- and post-October
out of the holy of holies. "So will our be attributed to several causes. Not the those who are unprepared-but glo­ 22, 1844, Adventism, we should become
great High Priest. . . . This was on the least of those causes was the convincing rious to those who are ready. I feel acquainted with them at this point.
seventh month tenth day." "If this should logic of Snow's reasoning and the fact that I am making the last appeal that Snow, although raised as a member of
be true," he concluded, "we shall not see that it was based on several supporting I shall ever make through the press. the Congregational Church, had become
his glorious appearing until after the au­ lines of evidence. My heart is full.13 a "hardened Infidel" in early adulthood.
tumnal equinox." Coupled with the forcefulness of the As a militant unbeliever, he became an
Publishing Miller's letter in the Signs cognitive element in Snow's presentation The Oberlin Evangelist, in response to agent of, and an author for, the Boston
of May 17, 1843, the editors commented was the fact that the psychological time the Bible Examiner, noted that "time will Investigator, an infidel paper.15
that they had seen the forcefulness of his was right. The disappointed Adventists ... soon show whether the writer or Mr. To Snow, the Bible was filled with
argument and that he just might be cor- were tired of "tarrying" and longed with Storrs is correct." In another article in the "nothing but gross absurdities." To please

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM THE "TRUE MIDNIGHT CRY"

his friends, he had read several books de­ nificant as those of Snow. Storrs not According to William Lloyd Garri­ he wrote that "no church can be orga­
fending Christianity, but none affected only became a foremost publicist of the son, Storrs was a "powerful" speaker. Eli­ nized by man's invention but what it be­
his thinking. Then in 1839 Snow's brother seventh-month movement, but he be­ zur Wright wrote to Theodore Dwight comes Babylon the moment it is orga­
bought a copy of Miller's book from a came the major instigator of the view Weld in April 1836 that "Storrs-a host nized." The legacy of Storrs on church
peddler. "I had often heard of Mr. Miller that human beings did not have innate himself-is gone to Cincinnati to thun­ organization would live on to frustrate
and his views," reported Snow, "and sup­ immortality-a doctrine that eventually der in the M[ ethodist] E[piscopal] the several Adventist bodies for decades
posed them to be all moonshine." But he became central to several Adventist Gen[eral] Con[ference]."20 in the post-1844 period.22
decided to read Miller's work anyway. groups in the 1840s and 1850s. Beyond Storrs, along with Orange Scott and Storrs was converted to Millerism un­
After reading it through several times, that, in the period surrounding October LeRoy Sunderland, led the battle to cap­ der the ministry of Charles Fitch in 1842.
Snow commenced, "at the same time, to 1844, Storrs joined Snow in pushing ture Methodism for the anti-slavery cause. Before long he became an itinerant Ad­
search the scriptures diligently, to learn if some advent believers toward extreme To further that cause, he and Sunderland ventist preacher. In that role he evolved
these things were so." After three months' conclusions and practices. founded Zion's Watchman in 1836. That into one of the outstanding spokespersons
study, he became not only a professing Storrs, who was raised as a Congrega­ year also saw Storrs resign from the trav­ for Adventism. ln the autumn of 1843, for
Christian, but a believer "'looking for tionalist, joined the Methodist Church eling ministry of the Methodist Church, example, he teamed up with Himes in
that blessed hope' " of the soon-coming in his late twenties and became a minister largely over the problem of slavery. A Cincinnati to hold one of the most suc­
Savior.16 of that denomination in 1825. In the man of great individualism and strong cessful meetings ever conducted by the
At the East Kingston camp meeting mid-1830s, however, he got crosswise convictions, in 1840 he withdrew alto­ Millerites. More than five hundred were
in June 1842, Snow consecrated his life with the Methodist leadership because of gether from the Methodist Church. By won to the second-advent faith. Storrs re­
to preaching the Millerite message. He his growing advocacy of the abolitionist that time he was quite convinced that "he mained in Cincinnati to lead out in the
was ordained to the gospel ministry at an cause.18 could not submit to leave his responsibil­ work in that region and to edit the Western
Adventist meeting in December 1843. In While Storrs' activism may not have ity [for his actions and beliefs] in the Midnight Cry, a periodical established to
the meantime, he had "come out" from been favored by the Methodist bishops, hands of Bishops, nor any body of men, aid the Cincinnati meetings. 23
his church because he was "virtually pro­ he was viewed as a champion by the anti­ however good they might be."21 In the meantime, Storrs had begun to
hibited from speaking amidst his breth­ slavery forces. He achieved a minor sort Storrs' struggle with Methodism's pioneer another doctrine among the Mil­
ren in the church, concerning the glori­ of fame in 1835, when he was arrested hierarchy over slavery and other issues lerites that would be as unpopular with
ous theme which was dear to him." It was and dragged from his knees in a church convinced him once and for all that the Adventist leadership as it had earlier
soon after his ordination that Snow was in Northfield, New Hampshire, while in church organization was an unnecessary been with the Methodists. Back in 1837,
impressed with his duty to impart his the midst of prayer. The action was taken evil. In his opinion the bonds of love Storrs had come across a book by Henry
seventh-month message to the world. to prevent him from preaching a sermon were all that was needed to hold believers Grew that dealt with the final destiny of
That message, as we noted above, changed against slavery to a congregation whose together. Thus Storrs, after accepting the wicked. Grew argued for the "entire
the very nature of Adventism. We will members had invited him to address Millerism, found Fitch's call to come out extinction of being and not endless pres­
return to Snow's story in chapter 12.17 them on that topic. In the name of the of Babylon to be quite to his liking. Storrs ervation in sin and suffering."24
In many ways George Storrs' contri­ law, he was accused of being '"an idler, a opposed church organization and doctri­ Up to that time, Storrs had never
butions to Adventism were just as sig- vagrant, a brawler.' "19 nal creeds to the end of his life. In 1844 doubted that people were born with

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF THE "TRUE MIDNIGHT CRY"

immortal souls. But Crew's work drove him to become a Millerite preacher in It should be pointed out that one other Not wanting to hide his ''light under a
him to a thorough study of the Bible on 1842. 26 prominent Adventist leader published on bushel," Fitch preached two sermons on
the topic. As a result, Storrs "became set­ At first Storrs did not present his the subjects of annihilationism and con­ the topic to his congregation in late Janu­
tled that man has no immortality by his views on immortality in his public Mil­ ditionalism about the same time as Storrs. ary. "They have produced a great uproar,"
creation, or birth; and that 'all the wicked lerite ministry. But he was stimulated to Henry Jones broached the topics in he penned to Storrs. "Many thought I
will God destroy'-utterly exterminate." act by an article in the Sign s that "came out 1843.30 But Jones did not prove to be had a devil before, but now they feel sure of
He had come to believe in what theolo­ strong" against a minister who believed it much of a threat to the Millerite leaders it. But I have no more right my Brother, to
gians refer to as conditionalism (i.e., peo­ his duty to preach both the Second Advent because his voice was progressively side­ be ashamed of God's truth on this subject
ple receive immortality only through the and the nonimmortality of the wicked. Af­ lined in the movement as it drifted to­ than on any other."32
condition of faith in Christ) and annihi­ ter the censure was repeated several times, ward the year of the end of the world. Despite his sincerity, Fitch could not
lationism (the :final or eternal destruction Storrs came to the conviction that "he was Jones, it will be recalled, never accepted carry his congregation on the topic. On
of the wicked rather than their preserva­ bound not to keep silence and let him suffer the dating scheme of 1843 or any other February 13 the Cleveland Herald re­
tion alive in the fires of hell throughout alone."27 year. Storrs, of course, did accept the ported that his members had "Resolved:
the ceaseless ages of eternity). The teach­ As a result, in January 1843 Storrs is­ dates, and his charismatic personality in­ That in the opinion of this church, the
ing of those doctrines brought Storrs into sued the first number of the Bible Exam­ creasingly pushed him toward the very views expressed by our pastor, Rev. Mr.
conflict with the Methodist establish­ iner. In that paper Storrs taught both the center of Millerism as the autumn of Fitch . .. respecting the final destruction
ment and contributed to his eventual de­ Second Advent and his views on immor­ 1844 approached. of the wicked, are unscriptural, and con­
parture from the denomination in 1840. 25 tality. Like so many other Millerites, Charles Fitch was Storrs' first minis­ sequently erroneous."33
To set forth his views on immortality Storrs was a tireless publicist. The first terial convert in the Adventist ranks on The reaction against the new teaching
and the fate of the wicked, Storrs pub­ number of the Examiner published Storrs' the topic of conditionalism. On January in Cleveland was mirrored by the Mil­
lished An Enquiry: Are the Souls of the Six Sermons. Within a few weeks he had 25, 1844, Fitch wrote to Storrs, notifying lerites. Fitch was the only top leader in
Wickedimmortal? In 1hreeLettersin 1841. sent out some :fifteen thousand copies him of his convictions. the 1843 movement to accept condition­
The next year saw the publication of an and, as he put it, "the seed was sown, and alism and annihilationism in the 1840s.
expanded version of his argument as An it sprung up in all directions." By 1880 at As you have long been :fighting the Miller, Himes, and Litch found the topic
Enquiry: Are the Souls of the Wicked Im­ least 200,000 copies of his Six Sermons Lords [sic] battles alone, on the sub­ both distasteful and erroneous.
mortal? In Six Sermons. had been circulated.28 ject of the state of the dead, and of Miller had expressed his feelings
A few weeks after the publication of Storrs' advocacy of conditionalism the final doom of the wicked, I write against annihilationism in 1814 at the
his Six Sermons, Storrs came across his eventually brought him into conflict with this to say that I am at last[,] after death of an army friend. That experi­
first Millerite lecturer.Allowing the lec­ the Millerite leadership. But preach it he much thought and prayer, and a full ence was one of several that had pointed
turer to preach in his nondenominational must, since, as he saw it, the theory of conviction of duty to God, prepared him back to Christianity, with its hope
church, Storrs was partially convinced on consciousness in death was a papal cor­ to take my stand by your side. of "a never-ending existence." Again, he
the truthfulness of the premillennial Sec­ ruption, and the New Testament posi­ I am thoroughly converted to the penned, "I began to suspect [in the 1810s]
ond Advent. That led Storrs to invite tion needed to be restored to its rightful Bible truth, that "the dead know not that Deism tended to a belief of annihila­
Fitch to present the series that :finally led place in Christian belief.29 anything."31 tion, which was always very abhorrent to

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF THE "TRUE MIDNIGHT
CRY"

my feelings." Miller may never have been not changed his opinion on that topic in did not involve points"essential to salva­ the "only" doctrinal focal point in the
able to disentangle his early identification the 1840s. He was dead set against Storrs' tion." As a result, they were issues of mi­ movement.
of annihilationism with infidelity and no position, even though he and his fellow nor importance, and all such theoretical As a result, we find that by the time
life after death. As a result, it is probable editors gave Storrs room in the Millerite issues would soon be settled with the re­ Storrs accept�d Snow's seventh-month
that he was not able to read Storrs in a journals to set forth his views. turn of th� Lord. Before that time, the teachings in the late summer of 1844
• • '
dispassionate or pos1t1ve manner.34 The most active of the Millerite lead­ pronouncement reads, "we have no ex­ there was already a great deal of tension
Miller's attitude toward the teaching ers against Storrs was Litch. In April pectation that God's people will all see between the established Millerite leaders
was undoubtedly not helped by the wide 1844 he began publishing a thirty-two­ alike."40 and those relative newcomers who were
influence Storrs' preaching and writing page periodical on the topic entitled 1he Such official pronouncements, how­ increasing in influence. That tension
on the topic were having in the move­ Anti Annihilationist, since the mainline ever, did not mean much to those who would not diminish in the early weeks of
ment in early 1844. I. E. Jones had writ­ Millerite papers were seeking to stay clear were convicted otherwise. They would the "true midnight cry."
ten to Miller in April that "something of the controversy.38 continue to agitate. Thus Fitch could
ought to be done to separate our influ­ But by May public silence was proving write to Storrs in May 1844: Older Leaders Join the Seventh­
ence from Bro. Storrs' view of the end of to be impossible. In that month an article Month Movement
the wicked; for, as it now is, he virtually in the non-Adventist Christian Reflector I have received a long letter from Bro. The seventh-month movement caught
wields from our silence, the whole, or al­ indicated that "the doctrine of annihila­ Litch touching the state of the dead, the established Millerite leaders by sur­
most the whole Advent influence."35 tion has too extensively obtained [in Mil­ the end of the wicked, &c,. It would prise. At the time it began, Himes and
That letter helped spur Miller into a lerism] to pass unnoticed. It is a fearful be exceeding pleasant to me, to be Miller were working in the West, and
public statement on annihilationism a detraction from the motives which the able to please him, and the dear they did not find out about it until it was
month later. On May 7 he wrote a letter gospel urges upon an ungodly world."39 brethren who agree with him, for I well underway. There is no evidence that
for publication in which he disclaimed At the annual Boston general confer­ love them all, and could rejoice to any of the foremost Millerite preachers
"any connection, fellowship, or sympathy ence in May, the leading Millerites fi­ concede anytping but truth, to be accepted this grass-roots development
with Br. Storrs' views of the intermediate nally made an official pronouncement on able to harmonise [sic] with them in until late September. Most did not ac­
state, and end of the wicked."36 the topic. Surprisingly, they came down my views. But there is a friend who cept it until October.
Himes was likewise against the doc­ with a relatively soft public hand that has bought me with His blood, and I While part of the difficulty may have
trines of"soul sleeping" and the"destruc­ seemingly belied their private convic­ take more pleasure in pleasing Him, been tied to personalities and leadership
tion of the wicked." In 1834 he had had tions. They apparently did not want to than in pleasing all the world be­ prerogatives, there were also definite
to meet those issues head on in his Bos­ create any further schism on the topic as sides.41 theological reasons for hesitancy. Miller,
ton church. To Himes, those teachings they finished their work of warning the for example, had never recommended
"had been the canker-worms that had world of soon-coming judgment. Thus, whether Millerism's foremost any specific date for the Second Coming,
gnawed the spirit, life, zeal and good The official pronouncement merely leadership liked it or not, the battle had since he believed that no one could know
works out of not only the Boston '.Chris­ stated that the intermediate state of the been joined. Storrs and his men would the day or hour of that event. Likewise,
tian Church,' but every other where it dead and the final condition of the wicked push ahead in spite of Miller's dictum the editors of the Signs had always pro­
had been made prominent."37 Himes had were "no part of the Advent faith" and that the premillennial advent should be tested when individual Adventists had

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM THE "TRUE MIDNIGHT CRY"

set exact dates in 1843. And now, in the will be injured by their confidence in the As of September 20, Himes and Litch to Miller that indicates a major shift tak­
face of that established viewpoint, the Lord's coming only at that time."43 were still planning to go on the mission ing place in his own thinking. Himes, the
new theory put forth the very day for the By mid-September, Apollos Hale, to Great Britain. Himes wrote that he perpetual pragmatist, had been impressed
advent. one of the editors of the Herald, was "dare not" alter his plans, even though he with the results of the seventh-month
The first public recognition of the much more conciliatory than Litch. By could not "reasonably expect assistance movement. "This thing," he wrote on
seventh-month movement in a major that time he was willing to suggest that from the dear brethren who have strong September 30, "has gone over the coun­
Millerite periodical is found in the Ad­ the evidence was "highly worthy of con­ faith in the seventh month." And on Sep­ try like lightning. Nearly every lecturer
vent Herald of August 21. The editors re­ sideration." He went on to note that tember 30, Miller still saw the task ahead has come into it, and are preaching it
ported that "Brother Snow remarked "from a fair consideration of all the facts as he always had, even though he wrote with zeal, and great success." Beyond
with great energy on the time, and dis­ in the case, we must say, that if we should that his western campaign in August had that, and certainly important in the eyes
played much research" in presenting his look to any one day, in preference to oth­ so exhausted his worn-out body that he of Himes and Miller, it had
views. Granting that his conclusions were ers, as the time for the Advent, we should thought he would "never be able again to
a possibility, the Herald cautioned that be disposed to look to" the tenth day of labor in the vineyard as heretofore." He done away [with] all Fanaticism, and
"we should hesitate before we should feel the seventh month-or October 22. He also ominously reported that he and his brought those who were given to ex­
authorized to attempt to 'make known' then provides a lengthy two-part critical followers had lost control of his church in travagance into a sober discreet state
the very day." It went on to suggest that analysis of the evidence that raises some Low Hampton. Miller seemed to be sur­ of mind. 43 never made so great, and
all should examine the evidence. 42 On the issues that "do not appear to have been rounded by difficulties on every side as good an impression as this has done
other hand, the Herald did not print his properly considered" by the seventh­ September 1844 melded into October. upon all that have come under its in­
argument at that time. That job would be month advocates.44 But he would soon be viewing his diffi­ fluence. The worldly minded have
left to Snow's True Midnight Cry on Au­ It seems clear that the Millerite lead­ culties as the darkness before dawn.45 been quickened and made alive-and
gust 22, which would be scattered by the ership did not quite know what to do In the last week of September, view­ all classes have been blessed beyond
thousands in a short time. with the seventh-month movement. On points began to change rapidly among anything we have seen in time past.
The August 21 Advent Herald also saw the one hand, they recognized its influ­ the Millerite leadership as one by one With this view of the matter, I dare
the first public statement by Litch on the ence in the Adventist community and the they accepted the seventh-month date. not oppose it, although I do not yet
seventh-month excitement. Admitting impossibility of ignoring it. On the other September 25 saw Joseph Marsh's Voice get the light as to the month & day.
that the movement was picking up speed, hand, they did not feel comfortable in of Truth come out in favor of the seventh
he wrote: "I cannot see, for the life of me, endorsing it. month, even though less than two months On the other hand, Himes was quite
how our dear brethren make it out so In the meantime, as the "true mid­ before, the same magazine rejoiced that willing to admit that Christ might come
much to their own satisfaction, that the night cry" was spreading throughout the Millerite time setting appeared to be on the tenth day of the seventh month.47
2300 days end in that month." He went ranks, the established leadership seemed over. Nathaniel Southard, editor of the With those convictions in his heart,
on to provide nine arguments against intent on going about business as usual in Midnight Cry, capitulated on September Himes wrote that he had decided to give
Snow's conclusions. In September, Litch the hope, one supposes, that Christ 26 and committed his paper to the Octo­ up his mission to England, which only
flatly denied any validity to the seventh­ would hurry up and come and rescue ber date. 46 ten days before he "dare not" surrender.
month movement and feared "that many them from their compounding dilemma. Four days later Himes penned a letter Now it was his "hope to go to the New

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM THE "TRUE MIDNIGHT CRY"

world, instead of the Old." He concluded pressed his belief that the Lord would reexamine his May 17, 1843, treatment the 6th is just rec[eive]d," wrote Bliss on
his letter by asking Miller a series of come on the tenth of the seventh of the seventh month, had had its desired October 9. "Praise God[,] praise God.
questions on his own article on the sev­ month. A great sensation was pro­ effect. Miller had come to realize that May we all be ready to meet in the skies."
enth month that had been published in duced. Many who had been hoping Snow's seventh-month argument was re­ That same evening Himes read Miller's
May 1843. The questions seem to be en­ that he would not embrace the trying ally an extension of his own position. letter to the crowded Boston Taberna­
gineered to push the ailing Miller toward truth & that they in consequence "Thank the Lord, 0 my soul," Miller cle.53
an acceptance of the October date. After would have an excuse to shelter them continued in his October 6 letter. Within a short time after Miller and
all, Miller was still, in Himes' mind, the in the day of the Lord. These souls Himes accepted the October 22 date, the
leader of the advent movement.His sup­ Brother Himes very emphatically Let Brother Snow, Brother Storrs rest of the established Millerite leaders
48
port was important. shook off from his skirts. He then and others, be blessed for their in­ came over to that view. Litch may have
What was implicit in Himes' Septem­ gave a summary of the work of arous­ strumentality in opening my eyes. I been the last to accept the new date, but
ber 30 letter to Miller becomes more ex­ ing the world to judgment.... am almost home. Glory! Glory!! Glory!!! as of October 12, he could rejoice that his
plicit in Sylvester Bliss' letter of October 3. Glory be to God! dear brother we I see that the time is correct.... High Priest would be coming out of the
Bliss wrote to Miller that he had accepted shall soon meet in the kingdom-Till . .. My soul is so full I cannot Holy of Holies of the heavenly sanctuary
the seventh month and was "under the then a short farewell! 50 write. I call on you, and all who love to take His people home. I now, he
most solemn impressions that the Lord will his apearing [sic], to thank him for penned, "lift up my head in joyful expecta­
be here in a few days....The Lord our God That same day, unbeknown to Himes, this glorious truth. My doubts, and tion of seeing the King of kings within ten
must be in this matter." Miller also accepted the October 22 date. fears, and darkness, are all gone.I see days. " 54
"We want," Bliss appealed to the ag­ "Dear Brother Himes, " he penned, that we are yet right. God's word is The excitement was contagious. On
ing leader, "you to look this question over true; and my soul is full of joy; my October 11, Miller wrote that he had
... & give all the light possible.... Give I see a glory in the seventh month heart is full of gratitude to God. Oh, "never seen among our brethren such
us your prayers that we may be guided which I never saw before. Although how I wish I could shout. But I shall faith as is manifested in the seventh
aright in this important crisis." Thus by the Lord had shown me the typical shout when the "King of kings month. 'He will come,' is the common
early October the pressure was increasing bearing of the seventh month, one comes. " expression. 'He will not tarry the second
on Miller to make a decision regarding year and a half ago, yet I did not real­ Methinks I hear you say, "Bro. time,' is their general reply. There is a
the October date. His chief lieutenants ize the force of the types. Now, Miller is now a fanatic." Very well, call forsaking of the world, an unconcern for
were moving toward acceptance, and blessed be the name of the Lord, I see me what you please; I care not; Christ the wants of life, a general searching of
49
they wanted their leader with them. a beauty, a harmony, and an agree­ will come in the seventh month, and heart, confession of sin, and a deep feel­
October 6 was a high day for the pro­ ment in the Scriptures, for which I will bless us all. Oh! glorious hope. ing in prayer for Christ to come." Miller
ponents of the October 22 date. On that have long prayed, but did not see un­ Then I shall see him, and be like him, appreciated the quiet calmness as the be­
52
day, wrote a participant in the service at til to-day.51 and be with him forever. lievers prepared to meet their God.55
the Boston Tabernacle, The next day he wrote to Himes that
Apparently Himes' letter of Septem­ Himes and Bliss both responded joy- "the seventh month begins tomorrow." "I
Brother Himes came out . . . & ex- ber 30, which had encouraged Miller to fully to Miller's commitment. "Yours of do not expect to see you again in this life,

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM THE "TRUE MIDNIGHT CRY"

but I do hope to see you soon crowned in could distribute it. All this was made what they preached. But, from another ers were counseled to neglect "none of
glory, and robed in the spotless garment possible by those who freely gave of their perspective, if they ceased doing business the duties of this life." Miller never did
ofch. • hteousness."56
nst,s ng earthly goods, since they would have no as usual, they would be labeled fanatics. depart from that advice.60
The Millerite leadership had been more need of them.59 In such a circumstance, it was impossible But Miller was not the entire move­
brought over to the seventh-month posi­ Beyond the printed page, October for them to win in the eyes of those who ment. The counsel of some of the newer
tion because of what they saw as the "ir­ 1844 saw major efforts to reach a world leaned toward criticism. leaders would be quite different from that
resistable [sic] power attending its procla­ ripe for judgment through private con­ Unfortunately, millennial movements of the movement's founder. In late July
mation, which prostrated all before it" versation and public meetings.Never had by their very nature tend to attract fanat­ 1844, for example, Joseph Marsh, while
and "swept over the land with the veloc­ the interest in Millerism been higher. ical and extremist types who become car­ telling his readers that they did not need
ity of a tornado." Its wholesome effect on ried away by the general excitement and to give away "all" their property, coun­
Christian lives, they concluded, could "be "Real" and "Perceived" Fanaticism sensationalism that accompany them. seled them to "dispose of all you have
accounted for only on the supposition in the Seventh Month Millerism was no exception to that rule, which you do not actually need for the
that God was [in] it."57 In spite of disclaimers by Miller, but the cool rationalism of Miller, Himes, present wants of yourself and family" and
A continuation of that power was def­ Himes, and others, as the seventh-month Litch, and the majority of the advent business.Believers should sacrifice to aid
initely witnessed in the final weeks of movement entered the final weeks, there leaders appears to have kept the extreme the cause of spreading the message.After
spreading the message. Mrs. E. C. Clem­ was an increase of both actual extremism elements down to a minimum.That was all, "covetousness is idolatry, and no idol­
ons reported from Boston that the taber­ on the part of some Millerites and per­ especially so up through early 1842. The ator shall inherit the kingdom of God."
nacle was crowded every night and two ceived extremism in the minds of many Millerite message was more apt to affect Those practicing "covetousness . . . will
power presses were running constantly in the onlooking populace. Himes and the head than the emotions. doubtless be found wanting in the day of
day and night to produce the last issue of Miller were undoubtedly correct in a But Miller and his colleagues recog­ the Lord." In this way, Marsh, in all sin­
the Advent Herald before it ceased publi­ comparative sense, since there had been a nized the potential for imbalance to dis­ cerity, turned up the pressure on the be­
cation in anticipation of the second com­ sharp decrease in fanatical activity from tort their movement. As a result, they lievers.61
ing.58 what had been experienced in the Stark­ periodically warned against extremist ac­ That pressure did not decrease as the
The editors of the Midnight Cry, weather excitement and during the tarry­ tions in the face of the imminent return exact day of the advent approached.The
meanwhile, reported that they had four ing time earlier in the year. But sharp of their Lord. Thus as they neared the enthusiastic Storrs, in an article pub­
presses constantly in motion as they made decrease does not imply total absence of beginning of the year of the end of the lished repeatedly in the Millerite papers,
one last effort to spread their message borderline activity. world, the Signs editors cautioned their took Marsh's counsel a giant step for­
through the free distribution of hundreds On the other hand, in light of their readers to follow the counsel of Jesus, ward. While Marsh had counseled be­
of thousands of the final issues of their faith and in the eyes of the watching who had said to His followers, "Occupy lievers to dispose of their surplus, Storrs
papers.The same can be said for most of world, the advent believers did face a till I come." It is necessary, penned the advised them to "venture all" rather than
the other Adventist editors as they moved genuine dilemma as October 22 ap­ editors, "that all should act conscien­ bring upon themselves "'swift destruc­
into what they believed would be the last proached. From one perspective, if they tiously, and pursue their business just as tion.'" When the true midnight cry gets
few days of earth's history. Supplies of continued daily business as usual, they they would wish to be found employed hold of people, "there is a leaving all. ...
literature were made available to all who would be accused of not really believing whenever the Lord may appear." Believ- When this cry gets hold of the heart,

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM THE "TRUE MIDNIGHT CRY"

farmers leave their farms, with their crops some interpreted to be extremism cen­ up all. "Many," reported the Midnight posed of his goods in the same way.69
standing, to go out and sound the tered on the cessation of business activi­ Cry of October 3, "are leaving all, to go Henry Bear also became generous
alarm- and mechanics their shops."62 ties as the time of the end neared. Some out and warn the brethren and the world." with his goods as a result of his belief in
That type of pressure was well-nigh believers in New Hampshire, for exam­ After one preaching session by Storrs, the end of the world. Visiting those in­
impossible to resist for those who were ple, had been so impressed in the spring thirteen volunteered "to go out and sound debted to him, he presented their ac­
certain that the end of all things was a of 1844 that Jesus would come before an­ the alarm." In both Philadelphia and counts. He took the money if they had it
few days off. By mid-October, even the other winter that they did not even plant Norfolk, Virginia, the report continued, but forgave it if they didn't, since he "be­
more staid editor of the Midnight Cry crops. Others, having planted crops, "stores are being closed, and they [the lieved the Lord would come by such a
suggested that the command to "occupy chose not to harvest them in the fall in closed storesJ preach in tones the world time which would settle up all accounts
till I come" was being used by many as a order "to show their faith by their works, understands, though they may not heed between creditor and debtor." Bear also
justification for being "wholly absorbed and thus to condemn the world."64 it." The children of faithful Millerites, as reported that he had some things for sale
in the affairs of the world." "Break loose Yet other Millerites closed their busi­ might be expected, were pulled out of but chose to give them away to those who
from the world as much as possible," he nesses or otherwise suspended their com­ school. After all, schooling implied a fu­ wanted them. 'When they wanted to pay
suggested. But "if indispensable duty mercial activity as the end approached. ture.67 for them," he recounted, "I would not re­
calls you into the world for a moment, go For most of them, such cessation took Even more radical than those who ceive it, telling them that the world was
as a man would run to do a piece of work place only in the last few days. Thus the closed their shops or refused to plant and coming to an end by such a time, and I
in the rain. Run and hasten through it, Cleveland Herqld reported on October harvest were those who, taking Storrs at needed no money as it would do me no
and let it be known that you leave it with 19 that "many have suspended their usual his word, ventured their "all" by giving good. Of course they sometimes stared at
alacrity for something better. Let your avocations, and now devote their whole away their property. The New York Evan­ me, astonished." The money he did col­
actions preach in the clearest tones: 'The time and substance to the work of proselyt­ gelist noted that in Philadelphia, where lect from his debts he used to pay for the
Lord is coming'-'The time is short'­ ing. . . . Meetings are held day and Storrs was preaching, some believers distribution of advent publications and
'This world passeth away'-'Prepare to night."65 "disposed of their furniture, some of for assisting "the poor in the advent faith,
meet thy God.' "63 About that same time, the Philadel­ them of their houses, and others of their as they had by this time quit work." By
With the multitude of pressures upon phia Ledger reported the following word­ investments in corporate institutions, the middle of September 1844, Bear had
them, many advent believers followed ing affixed to the front of a store owned and brought the money and laid it, as disposed of all his money but eighty dol­
the advice of Storrs and others as the ex­ by a Millerite. "'This shop is closed in they said, upon the altar."68 lars and had given away the key to his
citement, conviction, and anticipation of honor of the King of kings, who will ap­ That mentality was fairly widespread as house.70
the Second Coming built up through pear about the 20th of Oct. Get ready, the day approached. Jane Marsh Parker, Bear truly believed that Christ was
1844 to its climax in October. Some of friends, to crown him Lord of all."' An­ daughter of Joseph Marsh, recalled that coming. Onlookers, of course, thought
their excitement was quite reasonable, other Millerite advertised in a similar the chief hatter of Rochester, New York, that he and others like him were crazy.
given the circumstances, but some was fashion, noting that "'the Bridegroom is threw open the doors of his shop on Oc­ As is so often the case with intense reli­
just plain fanatical. coming.' "66 tober 21 and invited the crowd to "help gious zeal, what appears to be faith to in­
One of the more reasonable or even Yet another report indicates that peo­ themselves to hats, umbrellas, etc., which siders looks like insanity to outsiders.
quite understandable expressions of what ple were responding to Storrs' caJi to give they naturally did." A nearby baker dis- Many, of course, would soon regret

176 177
NTISM
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVE THE "TRUE MIDNIGHT CRY"

their rash course of action.On October dens! FORSAKE YOUR SHOPS, immediate end of the world, it brought The most serious case of fanaticism
29 ' after Christ hadn't come, Storrs con- AND FARMS, AND ALL SECU­ the Millerites into a position of combat among the Millerites took place in Phila­
fessed that he had been "led into error, LAR PURSUITS, and give every with the rest of their world-both reli­ delphia. There an otherwise unknown
and thereby ... led others astray, in ad­ moment to preparation for this great gious and secular. Millerite by the name of Dr.C. R.Gor­
vising advent believers to leave business event! for in three short years this One result of that confrontation was gas claimed to have had a vision that
entirely and attend meetings only." He earth shall be burned up, and Christ the frequent jibes that the Millerites had Christ would come at three o'clock in the
counseled all to return to their employ­ shall come in the clouds, awake the to put up with in their everyday life. As morning of October 22 at the ninth hour
ment so that they could care for their sleeping dead, and call all the living we noted in earlier chapters, many were of the Jewish day."I was," penned Gor­
families.71 before his dread tribunal.73 the public accusations of insanity and fa­ gas, "led to the Cross on the Clock strik­
Others later turned irrevocably against naticism.While the majority of those ac­ ing 3, after which I was prostrated to the
Millerism as a destructive belief. One The editors of the Advent Herald com­ cusations had no basis in fact, some were floor by the Holy Spirit, when the above
such case was the "mad disciple" in Ver­ plained that many condemned the Mil­ quite true.As in the previous stages of was represented to me." After six days of
mont who had left his crops to rot in the lerites for doing what the condemners Millerism, the final stage of pre-October guidance by the ''Holy Ghost," Gorgas
ground because "'the end of all things themselves would have done had their 22 Millerism did push some of the more claimed that the truth of the vision had
was at hand."'72 But it needs to be re­ convictions lain along different lines.Af­ excitable believers over the edge of pro­ become clear to him. He then (about Oc­
membered that at the time, such a course ter all, even secularists spent thousands priety.A case in point is a Mrs. Baker of tober 16) prepared a broadside featuring
of action seemed quite rational to believ­ for summer vacations of pleasure, and Oswego, New York, who had given up a graphic chart of his predictions and set
ers.In fact, in the eyes of those tending many were the stirring appeals to drop eating because the time was so short.As about to win converts.78
toward extremism, it seemed to be de­ one's business and religion for the call of of October 10, she had gone twenty-nine Fortunately for Gorgas, but unfortu­
manded by their faith. politics. Yet "when a man makes a sacri­ days without eating anything. Yet she nately for the reputation of Philadelphia
Even the scholarly John Dowling, one fice for his faith, the world ... regards claimed good health, while her "neigh­ Adventism, he managed to convert the
of Miller's most assertive clerical oppo­ him as crazy."74 bors say that her strength has lately been excessive George Storrs to his prophetic
nents, could see the logic in the extremist Perhaps it is worth noting at this junc­ increased."76 Presumably both Mrs.Baker scheme.On October 18, Storrs managed
line of reasoning.Back in 1840, Dowling ture that the calm and rational William and her neighbors interpreted the whole to get the broadside featuring Gorgas'
had written, Miller never did sell his farm. That, how­ affair as a spiritual blessing. prophecy published in a Midnight Cry
ever, was not seen as sanity or religious Other pockets of Adventism also ex­ Extra so that it could be distributed
Were this doctrine of Mr.Miller es­ wholesomeness in him, but as hypocrisy .75 perienced charismatic excess in October throughout the ranks of Adventism.
tablished upon evidence satisfactory It seems that it was difficult, if not im­ 1844. Nathaniel Whiting wrote to Miller Since Storrs by then was a leading spokes­
to my own mind, I would not rest till possible, for the Millerites to please their on October 24 that his Adventist com­ man for the October 22 date, editor
I had published it in the streets, and contemporaries.Their real sin appears to munity had experienced "a tempest of Southard merely assumed that the docu­
proclaimed in the ears of my fellow have been the holding of a world view real fanaticism. Our poor brothers were ment was orthodox. As a result, he did
townsmen, ..."THE DAY OF THE that radically differed from that of the deluded into a belief of 'signs & lying not read it until it had been printed and
LORD 1s AT HAND!" Build no more larger culture. That was bad enough, but wonders'-[theJ gift of tongues & mod­ several hundred copies sent out.79
houses! plant no more fields and gar- when that world view predicated the ern prophecies."77 By the next morning, however, the

178 179
NTISM
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovE THE "TRUE MIDNIGHT CRY"

Cry editors had discovered their mistake, the believers awaited the Lord in tents.82 these also felt free to vent their true feel­ Miller, who is known for his conserva­
stopped the presses, and burned those ings. As a result, anti-Millerite mob ac­ tism in such estimates, put the figure at
copies that had been produced. But it Moving Toward October 22 tion did not cease with the believers' Oc­ 200 ministers plus 500 public lecturers.
was too late. Some of the copies sent out As the designated day approached, re­ tober disappointment. Everett Dick suggests that a contempo­
had fallen into the hands of newspaper actions varied. The non-Adventist press, As might be expected, the advent be­ rary estimate by Millerite Lorenzo D.
editors. As a result, Philadelphia Ad­ of course, kept up its generally unfavor­ lievers looked toward October 22 with Fleming of 1,500 to 2,000 lecturers "is
ventism, and, by extension, Adventism as able treatment. But beyond that, anti­ unbridled joy. And why shouldn't they? more realistic."86
a whole, was developing a further reputa­ Millerite violence reached an all-time That was the day their Lord would come. Whatever their number, the believers
tion for fanaticism. This time, however, high in many places. Mobs forced the Their trials and frustrations would be awaited October 22 as the climax of
unlike so many other occasions, the closure of Millerite meetings in such over; even death and pain would meet world history. In the records left by par­
charges were based on fact. 80 places as New York City (where the their final defeat. ticipants, there is widespread agreement
The broadside would have been bad mayor volunteered to take a strong hand The number awaiting that victory is that "the time immediately preceding the
enough, but Gorgas managed to extend against the rowdies if the Adventists de­ impossible to calculate with any sense of 22d of October was one of great calmness
the public folly. With the aid of George sired him to do so), Boston (where the accuracy. 1he Proceedings of the American of mind" on the part of most of the Ad­
Grigg and Clorinda S. Minor (a promi­ police force had to come into action), Antiquarian Society put the figure at ventists. The same impression is gained
nent Millerite writer and lecturer), he Philadelphia (where the sheriff ordered 150,000 to 200,000, but Miller estimated from a perusal of the Millerite periodicals
managed to convince about 150 of the all further Millerite meetings to be can­ only 50,000 situated in "nearly a thou­ in October. "During the last ten days,"
Philadelphia believers to flee the city as celed because of mob action on October sand . . . Advent congregations." Of Bliss recalled, "secular business was, for
Lot fled Sodom and to dwell in tents to 14), and many other places. The editors course, while it is well-nigh impossible to the most part, suspended; and those who
await Christ's arrival at three o'clock in of the Advent Herald "could only liken estimate those separated from their looked for the Advent gave themselves to
the morning on October 22. Litch tried the conduct of the [Boston] mob to that churches into advent congregations, it is the work of preparation for that event, as
to halt the fiasco, but to no avail.81 which surrounded the door of Lot, on totally impossible to estimate the number they would for death, were they on a bed
While the actual fanaticism involved the evening pending the destruction of who had remained in their churches or of sickness, expecting soon to close their
only a few of the several thousand Phila­ Sodom." It appears that extremist actions who had no formal church connections at eyes on earthly scenes forever." 87
delphia Millerites, it made good newspa­ were not limited to the advent believers all. Whitney Cross has estimated that "With joy," Boutelle reminisced, "all
per copy. As a result, reports of the Gor­ as the climactic day approached.83 besides regular believers, there may have the ready ones anticipated the day." Con­
gas episode-with a great deal of literary Another non-Adventist response to been "a million or more of their fellows fessions were made, wrongs righted, and
license regarding the extent and shape of the Millerite prediction was a haunting [who] were skeptically expectant." Suf­ many sinners inquired what they should
the fanaticism-spread across the nation. fear that the Adventists just might be fice it to say, there were considerable do to be saved. However, he points out,
The Philadelphia fanaticism became the correct in their interpretation. As Luther numbers anticipating the great day.85 the last family gatherings were solemn
source of many of the developing legends Boutelle put it, "some were exceedingly The same statistical problems frustrat­ for the believers as they said their good­
of Millerite fanaticism that extended all frightened with awful forebodings."84 ing any exact knowledge of the size of the byes to loved ones whom they did not
the way from the usual ascension robes to Thus uncounted numbers tensely faced movement also block our way to ascer­ expect to meet again.88
babies frozen by the October weather as October 22. With its passing, many of taining the number of advent preachers. The Millerite leaders, with the exception

180 181
NTISM
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE oF AnvE THE "TRUE MIDNIGHT CR
Y"
of Nathaniel Whiting, had all accepted I t is an interesting footnote to Ad­ early September 1844. Litch, rising from lievers with a lengthy two-part
ventist history that it was Fitch's convert article.95
the October 22 date. But one of the fore­ the water with praises to God, "walked to These struggles at doctrinal formu
Storrs who led him into the doctrine of lations
most leaders was now missing. The exu­ the shore and took his wife by the hand among the advent believers had
begun to
berant and impulsive Charles Fitch had both conditional immortality and bap­ and baptized her."94 set the stage for events in the month
tism by immersion. Fitch accepted both s and
died in Buffalo, New York, on October It should be pointed out that both Litch years after October 1844.
14 at the age of thirty-nine. Fitch, travel­ views in early 1844. He was himself bap­ (a Methodist) and Fitch (a Presbyterian/ But before we get to that part of the
ing home to Cleveland from Rochester, tized on a cold winter day. That March Congregationalist) came from traditions story, we have to rejoin the Millerites on
had stopped in Buffalo for an appoint­ found the intrepid Fitch baptizing twelve that had stood for infant baptism by the eve of October 22 as they wait for
ment in the final days of September. believers in the Ohio Canal in a driving methods other than immersion. While Christ to exit the Most Holy Place of the
While there, according to his daughter, snowstorm. 92 Thus the later September Baptists like Miller already held to im­ heavenly sanctuary to come and rescue
he baptized a group of believers by im­ baptisms in the frigid Erie that led to his mersion, the practice was a major shift them from their world of darkness. Mos
t
mersion in Lake Erie on a cold, windy death were not an exception to his usual for these other leaders. Apparently under Millerites spent the day with fellow be­
day. After starting for his lodging in wet practice. Fitch comes across as one of the the restorationist impulse of the times, lievers in their churches or in private
clothes, he was twice turned back to bap­ most faithful of men. After his initial they desired to bypass the religious his­ homes. The Boston Post gives a brief
tize more candidates. The extended ex­ waffling on Millerism in 1838, he seems tory of their traditions and adopt what glimpse of the believers in that city. "The
posure led to a fever that resulted in his to have stood solidly for his beliefs, once they believed to be New Testament Tabernacle," the report reads, "is crowded
death. 89 h e was convinced of their biblical valid- teachings. night and day with Millerites, who ex­
It was while on his bed of serious sick- ity. Thus by the autumn of 1844, several press a perfect confidence that the judg­
ness that one of the believers read Storrs' At this point it is also of interest to of the leading Adventist preachers were ment day will be here by the 22d inst.­
September 24 article on the seventh­ note that Fitch's Cleveland congregation in the process of merging several new Hundreds from the neighboring towns
month movement to Fitch. On hearing it that had rejected his views on annihila­ doctrines into their premillennial belief sleep in the Tabernacle every night. The
read, "he shouted glory several times; said tionism had accepted his position on system. Baptism by immersion and the excitement is very great."
it was true, and [that] he should be raised baptism by immersion. The Cleveland nonimmortality of the soul were two of But the tabernacle's pastor was not
to proclaim it."90 Herald reports that the local Adventists, those new doctrines. In their restora­ with his people on that momentous day.
But such was not to be. The following following their late pastor's example, had tionism, some of the believers were also Himes had traveled to Low Hampton to
week a visitor found Fitch "just alive. His baptized several converts by immersion arguing for a return to the seventh-day be with his revered Miller when Christ
soul, however, was full of hope and glory. in mid-October. 93 Sabbath. By September, that agitation descended with His myriads of angels.
He said that it was indelibly written on Josiah Litch, who had brought Fitch had become strong enough for the Mid­ Unfortunately for both of them and
his soul, that the Lord would come on into Millerism, had a similar reaction to night Cry to reply to the seventh-day be- their followers, Christ did not come.
the tenth day of the seventh month, and his new teachings as did the Cleveland
if h e went to the grave, he would only congregation. While strongly reacting
have to take a short sleep, before he against Fitch's view of immortality, Litch
should be waked in the resurrection let Fitch convince him on baptism by im­
morn." He passed away a few days later.91 mersion. He was baptized by Fitch in

182
183
THE OCTOBER DISAPPOINTMENT

leaving me very fast, and I lay pros­ For young James White, the thought
trate for 2 days without any pain­ of turning "again to the cares, perplexi­
sick with disappoi�tment. 3 ties, and dangers of life, in full view of the
j eers and revilings of unbelievers who
Chapter11 On October 24, Litch penned a letter
toMiller that opened with the words, "It
now scoffed as never before , was a terri­
ble trial of faith and patience." He re­

THE OCTOBER DISAPPOINTMENT is a cloudy and dark day here-the sheep


are scattered-and the Lord has not
called that when Himes visited Portland'
.
Maine, soon after October 22, "and stated
come yet."4 that th e br ethre n should pr epare for
Hiram Edson wrote: ano ther cold winter, my feelings wer e
almost uncontrollable . I left the place of
Our fondest hopes and expectations meeting and wept lik e a child. "6
were blasted, and such a spirit of It was bad enough that the believers

T
noted the Baltimore Sun, weeping came over us as I never ex­ had been disappointed, but the added
HE M1 LLERITES ... KEPT it up all night before last," 1 perienced before. It seemed that the burden of facing a j eering world compli­
s are sil�nt as the !rave."
"and yesterday they went to bed-their public haunt loss of all earthly friends could have cated the lives of believers in late Octo­
Plain Dealer. The old
"The world still hangs fire," reported the Cleveland
s to 'stop 'er.' The 'believers' in been no comparison. We wept, and ber. AsMiller put it, "it seemed as though
planet is still on the track, notwithstanding the effort wept, till the day dawn. all the demons from the bottomless pit
making noises like serenading tom
this city, after being up a few nights watching and I mused in my own heart, saying, were let loose upon us. The same ones and
a snooze . We hope they will wake
cats, have now gone to bed and concluded to take My advent experience has been the many more who were crying for mercy
2
up rational beings!" richest and brightest of all my chris­ two days before, were now mixed with
h ad not come. The b eliev ers
The ultimate crisis ofMillerism had taken place. Jesus tian [sic] experience. If this had the rable [sic] and mocking, scoffing, and
much more devastating to the
were still on earth. The October disappointment was proved a failure, what was the rest of threatening in a most blasphemous man­
e it was the second one, but also
movement than that of the spring, not only becaus my christian [sic] experience worth? ner."7
an exact date. In October there
because the Adventists had pinned all their hopes on Has the Bible proved a failure? Is there After a few days, some of the advent
the spring. As a result, there was
was not the softness in dating that there had been in no God-no heaven-no golden home preachers began to move about and meet
no cushion in the letdown. city-no paradise? Is all this but a with hushed groups of believers. One
cunningly devised fable? Is there no such was Luther Boutelle, who, after com­
Immediate Reactions reality to our fondest hopes and ex­ forting several companies of Adventists,
e anyth ing but cheerful.
As might be expected, reactions among the believers wer pectation of these things? And thus finally came across one "that had come
ons,
"I waited all Tuesday [October 22]," penned Henry Emm we had something to grieve and weep together to stay until the Lord came." H e

over, if all our fond hopes were lost. found about seventy believers in a large
and dear Jesus did not come;-1 waited all the forenoon of W ednesday, and was
And as I said, we wept till the day house, all living together and having daily
well in body as I ever was, but after 12 o'clock I began to feel faint, and before
dawn.5 meetings. They had pooled their money
dark I needed some one to help me up to my chamber, as my natural streng th was
185
184
ADVENTISM
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF THE OCTOBER DISAPPOINTMENT

Advent Herald and Midnight Cry were his ample round for ages yet to come; Himes was fed up. On November 1
in a milk pan and cared for their needs
back in production, even though the re­ when the prophets and prophecies of the he made a statement to the public that he
from that common fund.
'We held a meeting with them," maining months of the year would see present day shall have been forgotten." had been grossly and unfairly assailed by
Boutelle recalled, "and advised them as decreasing finances with which to print. Of course, the misnamed Olive Branch the press. "I have been represented," he
best we could to keep the faith and sepa­ In early 1845 the Midnight Cry was re­ had its bit to offer as it called down penned,
rate, and see to their individual interests, named the Morning Watch, symbolizing "thunderbolts red with uncommon
and those of their families, which advice the new focus of the advent movement. wrath" upon Himes and his "fellow au­ as dishonest, speculating out of the
they kindly took, and very soon separated, July 1845 would see the Watch absorbed thors of the Miller mania."10 fears of the community, a disturber of
going each to his and her calling."8 into the Advent Herald. The "wicked" Mr. Himes was the tar­ the peace, as duping the unsuspect­
In many ways Himes was at his best as One significant difference in the Mil­ get of much of the public abuse. Himes ing, and obtaining money under false
an organizer in the post-disappointment lerite work after October 22 from before had long been accused of duping well­ pretenses,-soliciting it for public
period. He not only resumed his publish­ that date is the shift in emphasis from meaning people out of their money for purposes, and appropriating it to pri­
ing endeavors but also traveled to various evangelism toward simply holding the his personal gain. The learned John vate uses.I have been reported as hav­
groups to strengthen the believers.In ad­ movement together. Millerite activity Dowling had written of the Adventist ing absconded, not only to England,
dition, on October 26 he set forth the now focused on inreach as the disorient­ leadership that he could "conceive of no but also to both Canada and Texas;
idea of forming Adventist committees ed believers sought to make sense out of conduct more dishonorable and mean and also as being liable to arrest un­
"in every city and town" to aid the desti­ their experience and to create wholeness than that of prevailing upon weak-minded der warrants already issued, as having
tute among their numbers. and continuity in their ranks. and ignorant, but in many instances well­ been arrested and confined in Lever­
After all, many had been quite "sin­ The reaction of believers to the Octo­ disposed and pious persons, to part with ett [S]treet jail, and as having com­
cere" in the desire to "glorify God" when ber disappointment was one thing; the their little savings, their worldly all," mitted suicide; and it has also been
they gave away their possessions or chose reaction of the non-Adventist world under "false pretence" by the Millerite said that I have accumulated great
not to harvest theu · crops. "And now," quite another. Those reactions were both "pretenders." Dowling spoke of the "vast wealth, have sold vast quantities of
claimed Himes, "they must not suffer." verbal and physical. sums" placed in the hands of "these jewelry, and possess farms and hold
His aim was to get the Adventists to pull On the verbal level, Garrison's Libera­ men" by "multitudes of simple-hearted money at interest.
together in the face of both their internal tor noted on November 8, 1844, that people." 11
difficulties and external critics. 'We must Miller and his followers had been led "by The issue came to a head when the To those charges Himes replied, "I
not permit" the destitute believers "to be a deplorable fantasy of the brain." The Boston Post published an article soon af­ would say, that if I have wronged or de­
dependent upon the world, or that por­ New York Evangelist had pointed out a ter the October disappointment, accus­ frauded any man, I will restore him four­
tion of the professed church, who scoff at day before that "the last day of this world ing Himes and his colleagues of being fold." He then requested any who had
our hope. .. . Some among us still have has not yet come, notwithstanding the "'unprincipled men; perfectly conscious been defrauded "to make their case
this world's goods, and can render pres­ confident predictions of Miller . . . and of the absurdity of the opinions they in­ known to the public." He also told his
ent aid to the destitute. I doubt not all his deluded followers... . The wheels of culcate, and entirely reckless of the injury readers that if he had anything "not con­
will do their duty."9 nature roll on unchecked. . . .The sun has they inflict, if they can only turn the evil secrated to the advent cause, the public
Within a week after October 22, the not forgotten to rise." The sun "will run to their pecuniary benefit.'" shall be welcome to it." He went on to

186 187
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM THE OCTOBER DISAPPOINTMENT

present a lengthy public defense of spe­ fashionable and popular kind, in the down of their temporary tabernacle in reported from other parts of North
cific accusations.12 great Sodoms of our country, are car­ Dansville, and the removal and burning America in late 1844 and early 1845. 19
While that defense had been written icaturing in the most shameful man­ of the benches in the Scottsville meeting­ Even though most believed the Mil­
for the Advent Herald, Himes was quite ner the "white robes of the saints," house after the worshipers had been driven lerites to be mistaken, not everyone re­
pleased when the Post editors agreed to Rev. 6:11, the "going up," and the out. In Troy "the wicked ... paraded the acted to them with violence. Some sought
publish it on their front page. Himes' great day of"burning." Even the pul­ streets, clad in white-blew a trumpet, to calmly reason with their Adventist ac­
piece in the Post did much to quiet the pits are desecrated by the repetition and cried, 'Come, Lord Jesus, come quaintances. For example, on October
unjust criticism, not only in Boston but of scandalous and false reports con­ quickly!!' "17 24, Phoebe Palmer, the leading woman
also in other places where it had received cerning the "ascension robes," and Even after the Adventists moved their in Methodism's holiness movement,
notice. Several papers referred to his Post priests are using their powers and meetings to private houses, sometimes wrote to Miller that even though he had
article, and some, including the Libera­ pens to fill the catalogue of scoffing the services were still broken up by mobs. been sincere, he had been mistaken, and
tor, republished it in full.13 in the most scandalous periodicals of In early 1845 one lecturer in Canada re­ his trumpet had "not given a certain
The verbal abuse of the Millerites the day. ported that after being driven out of pub­ sound." It was therefore his "duty to
found expression on the personal level as lic meetinghouses by an armed force, his sound a retreat." She went on to compare
well as on the printed page. Thus Bates Miller went on to note that even London group met in a private house, only to Miller's sincerity with that of Paul in his
related to J. 0. Corliss that on October and Paris, Europe's "sinks of pollution, have "thirty heavy guns ... fired close at persecution of the early Christians. "You
23, the neighborhood boys followed him . . . cannot, will not, and dare not, com­ the window." On another occasion a mob say you were sincere, but Paul, when he
as he went to buy groceries, yelling out: pete with our Boston, New York, or rushed "into" a house in which the Mil­ sincerely thought he was doing God's
"'I thought you were going up yester­ Philadelphia, in scoffing." 15 lerites were meeting. While some :flaunted service, found he had been deceived, and
day."' Bates went on to tell of the almost Some Millerites, of course, still had "deadly weapons: others threw stones do you think he would have been forgiven
unbearable stress he experienced in his their wits about them. One such, upon and clubs through the windows. Most of if he had not made acknowledgement of
community. "If the earth could have being queried as to why he didn't go up, the windows in the principal rooms were his error? I rest this matter with you."
opened and swallowed me up, it would responded,"And if I had gone up, where entirely smashed in. Some of the breth­ Palmer had been personally affected by
have been sweetness compared to the would you have gone?" 16 ren were wounded in the head, and some Millerism through the loss of such close
distress I felt."14 Beyond verbal abuse, the physical vio­ received blows." The astounded lecturer friends as Charles Fitch to the move­
In a similar vein, on November 18, lence that had begun prior to October 22 went on to indicate that the head of the ment.20
Miller wrote to Himes of the problem. continued with even more vigor and de­ mob was a church member. 18 On November 13, 1844, the Advent
"S ome,"he penned, structiveness after the passing of the Henry Bear returned to his home to Herald acknowledged that a fair portion
time. Pent-up fears and anxieties in many find that it had been pelted with eggs and of the public press had begun to treat the
are tauntingly inquiring, "Have you places found release in mob action. stones at the urging of some of his rela­ Adventists civilly, especially since the
not gone up?" Even little children in Illustrative of the problems faced by tives. His wife never washed the eggs off publication of Himes' defense in the
the streets are shouting continually to the Millerites in New York State during as long as they lived there, but left them Boston Post early in the month. Along
passersby, "Have you a ticket to go this period were the burning of the Miller­ as silent witnesses of the Bears' persecu­ that line, the Liberator thought it was
up?" The public prints, of the most ite place of worship in Ithaca, the tearing tion. Similar stories of oppression were unfortunate "that the Millerites have

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM THE OCTOBER DISAPPOINTMENT

attracted the attention of a portion of seventh-month movement for the benefit time their lamps would burn. .. . A In mid-November the two foremost
our population, who delight to molest of both the watching public and the dis­ little delay is therefore no cause for Millerite papers finally had to admit that
them." The position of the Liberator was appointed believers. discouragement, but shows how ex­ all the seventh-month time was really
that "all sincere convictions should be But from the very date itself, the lead­ act God is in the fulfillment of [H]is past and that "we now find ourselves oc­
treated respectfully."
21 ership differed among themselves as to word.24 cupying a time, beyond which we can ex­
In a similar vein, the Oberlin Evange­what had gone wrong and what should tend none of the prophetic periods, ac­
list, after deploring the Millerite error be said and done. Thus on October 24, But as more than "a few days" passed, cording to our chronology and date of
and hoping the believers had learned Nathaniel Whiting advised Miller of the the situation became more serious. Even commencement." Unlike their October
their lesson not "to pry into those secret"duty" of "all who participated" in the the two foremost promoters of the Octo­ 30 pronouncement, the editors could
things which belong to God alone," "af­ October movement to make "a public ac­ ber 22 date split over the issue. By No­ no longer plead a bit more tarrying
fectionately and fraternally" invited the knowledgement of their error. . . . Any vember 7, Storrs had concluded that he time while they waited for the lamps of
Adventists "back to reengage in the work shuffling on this point will authorize the had been wrong in preaching the seventh­ the foolish to go out. They frankly ad­
of converting the world to Jesus Christ" community to say that we are not merely month message with such positiveness. mitted that they had been "twice disap­
and thus help bring in the temporal mil­ . .. credulous but absolutely dishonest."23 Time itself had proved the error. If that pointed."27
lennium.22 At the other extreme, Himes and the was so, he was forced to ask, what had But the editors of the Advent Herald
other editors of the Advent Herald pub­ inspired him to preach the date with such and the Midnight Cry still held that God
A Leadership in Turmoil lished a piece on October 30 that upheld forcefulness and certainty? The answer, had been in the movement. They now
Bewilderment and disorientation char­ October 22 as a fulfillment of prophecy. Storrs suggested, was that he had been saw Jonah as a type of their experience.
acterized both Millerite leaders and fol­ "In view of all the circumstances attend­ under the hypnotic influence of "Mesmer­ God had commanded Jonah to preach a
lowers between October 22, 1844, and ing this movement," they wrote, ism. "While sorry for preaching the exact definite time for the destruction of
the end of the year. For a time many con­ time, Storrs assured his readers that he Nineveh, but factors unbeknown to Jo­
tinued to look daily for the immediate the blessed effect it has produced on was "looking daily for the coming of our nah influenced the outcome. 'We thus
fulfillment of the 2300-day prophecy and the minds of God's children, and the Lord, and striving by grace, to be always have an instance on record where God
the coming of Christ.Some set the com­ hatred and malice His enemies have ready for it."25 has justified the preaching of time, al­
ing for October 23, while others hoped displayed, we must still regard it as the By early 1845, Storrs had come to the though the event did not occur as pre­
for subsequent dates-but all predictions true midnight cry. And if we have a conclusion that the Bible did not teach dicted." Thus the editors concluded that
ended in frustration. One can suppose few days in which to try our faith, it is definite time at all and that the seventh­ "we should as much have sinned against
that the Millerite leaders could have still in accordance with the parable of month movement was a "delusion" based God, had we refrained from giving that
wished for the problems associated with the ten virgins; for when they had all on the "monstrous perversion" of certain message, as Jonah did when he" fled from
their unfulfilled predictions concerning arisen and trimmed their lamps, there texts of Scripture. For those insights, God by heading for T arshish.28
October 22 to disappear, but such was was still to be a time when the lamps S. S. Snow, the originator of the October While the editorial leaders of the
not to be the case. As the days moved on, of the foolish virgins would be going movement, consigned Storrs to perdition movement wrestled through their prob­
they realized that they would have to out. This could not be without a pass­ as one of the three unfaithful shepherds lem, so did the individuals within the
make public statements regarding the ing by of the 10th day; for till that of Zechariah 11:8 whom God cut off.26 long-established leadership. Not the least

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AnvENTISM THE OCTOBER DISAPPOINTMENT

to struggle in the waning days of 1844 fixing the year. And," he added, "I believe before we can honestly confess we are Babylon was "a wresting of the Scrip­
was William Miller. Immediately after as firmly, that this Jewish year will not wrong in time."33 tures" and "a perversion of the word of
October 22, Miller supposed that "a few terminate before this wicked and cor­ That December 28 address evidences a God" that had prejudiced many against
weeks only might elapse between that rupted earth's history will be all told." definite erosion of Miller's conviction the movement. 37
time and the appearing of Christ." On The event could not be far off. That No­ concerning the accuracy of the seventh­ Miller must have been suffering from
November 10 he penned a letter to vember 18 letter also claimed that the month movement. By the late summer of a great deal of internal tension and per­
Himes, explaining his feelings. "Al­ door of human probation had been shut 1845, Miller was still holding to the few­ sonal confusion over the Babylon issue.
though," he wrote, and that the Adventists' work in warning years-of-possible-error theory and was After all, not only had many Millerites
the sinful world was complete. Their only quite satisfied that his teachings had not been expelled from their churches while
I have been twice disappointed, I am evangelistic function was to work for the been materially a�ected by the disap­ others were refused the right to speak
not yet cast down or discouraged. confused Adventists in their ranks.31 pointment, since the exact time had not their beliefs in church, but on January 29,
God has been with me in Spirit, and On December 3, a little more than a been based on biblical data but upon hu­ 1845, Miller himself and his fellow ad-
has comforted me. I have now much month after the historic disappointment, man chronology.34 vent believers in Low Hampton were
more evidence that I do believe in Miller was so certain of the nearness of Slowly but surely, however, the force disfellowshiped from their Baptist
God's word; and although surround­ the time that he suggested that the letter of time was eroding his belief that any­ church.38
ed with enemies and scoffers, yet my he was writing might not have time to thing had happened on October 22, Charges by the church were first laid
mind is perfectly calm, and my hope reach its destination before the end. He 1844. By mid-September 1845, he had against Miller and the advent believers in
in the coming of Christ is as strong as noted that the position they had taken on concluded that "the seventh month Low Hampton on November 10, 1844.
ever. I have done only what after prophecy and chronology was still the movement was not a fulfillment of proph­ It is probably no coincidence that on that
years of sober consideration I felt to best, but if the problem was in the his­ ecy in any sense."35 very day, Miller penned a letter to Himes
be my solemn duty to do. If I have torical data, the knowledge of the age Another issue that troubled Miller's in which he complained that the name
erred, it has been on the side of char­ was insufficient to correct it. Thus they mind in the months after October 1844 Babylon had been applied to all the
ity, the love of my fellow man, and had no grounds for further date setting.32 was the call made by Fitch, Storrs, Marsh, churches. However, he significantly added
my conviction of duty to God.29 His letters for the next month contin­ and others to separate from the churches. that "in too many instances it was not un­
ued more or less along the same track. On December 3 he complained that "we justly applied."39
Far from giving up hope, Miller But by the end of December, he was will­ have ... cried Babylon! Babylon!! Baby­ Even though Miller was loathe to ad­
penned, "I have fixed my mind upon an­ ing to grant a possible error of four or five lon!!! against all but Adventists. ... May mit it, the Millerites had few choices re­
other time, and here I mean to stand un­ years in their calculations due to disputes God forgive us!" He also bemoaned the garding separation. After all, returning to
til God gives me more light.-And that among the best chronologists of the day. fact that the Adventists had been "guilty their own churches was not only humili­
is To-day, To-DAY, and To-DAY, until he Thus the date for the conclusion of the of raising up a sect" of their own. 36 ating, it would solve nothing, since they
comes, and I see HIM for whom my soul 2300 days could not be settled beyond a The next summer he wrote that he more than ever derided the Adventists'
yearns."30 doubt. "Therefore," he claimed in a con­ had never intended to form a sect but had cherished belief in the Second Coming.
Eight days later, Miller wrote that he ference address to the advent leaders, "we hoped to benefit all the denominations. The earlier reasoning of Litch still held.
felt confident "that God will justify us in must patiently wait the time in dispute, He still believed the call to come out of When asked why they did not give up

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM THE OCTOBER DISAPPOINTMENT

and return to the churches, he had re­ the task of thinking things through. Like movement's "supernaturalism," Himes full force of the truth, that the kingdom
plied: "The plain answer is, because we it or not,he was the leader of the discour­ had believed, was attested to by the fact of God is nigh at hand. ... Our position
never can, and the Lord helping us, we aged Adventists. After October 22, the that "it was entirely unanticipated by as to labor is, fully to occupy until the
never will, sit down under the lullaby aging Miller considered his "own work as ourselves, and equally uncontrolled."44 Lord shall come."45
song of this world's conversion, and the completed," even if time continued. But the pragmatic attestation provid­ The trajectory of Litch regarding the
return of the Jews to Palestine. They are, What "was to be done ...,must be done ed by the movement's fruits had reversed validity of the seventh-month movement
both of them,in our estimation,snares of by younger brethren."42 itself after the October 22 disillusion­ followed roughly the same course as
the devil."40 One of Himes' first tasks was to ex­ ment. As a result, Himes' thinking fol­ Miller's.On October 27 he expressed full
Whether he liked it or not, Miller's plain what he believed happened on Oc­ lowed suit. After all, his conviction had faith in the movement. But by May 1845,
doctrine of the premillennial Second tober 22. Up through the end of October not rested upon Scripture, but on the he had rejected the seventh-month effort
Coming,which he saw as nonsectarian in he seems to have held that the seventh­ practical aspects of the movement. and suggested that "we erred, and ran off
the sense that he believed it belonged to month movement was "the true midnight Having lost his own conviction in the our track about one year ago."46
all denominations,had,in reality,pushed cry," and thus a fulfillment of prophecy. fulfillment of prophecy on October 22, It is of interest to note that the major
his movement down the track to the for­ On October 30 he wrote to Joseph Bates Himes set about leading Miller and the old-line leaders in Millerism all eventu­
mation of its own sect,with the advent as that the movement had been a great rest of the movement in the same direc­ ally focused on a probable error in time in
the central doctrine. But Miller never blessing.But, by November 5, Himes,in tion.Thus,in the erosion of Miller's own the interpretation of the October 22
wanted to come to that conclusion.Time agreement with Storrs,seems to have be­ views on the seventh-month movement, event. But Joseph Marsh, editor of the
was short, he held in late 1844, and he gun to shift his position on the veracity of he had not only to contend with his in­ Voice of Truth, began to think in another
believed the sectarian decision could be the October date."We are now satisfied," ternal tensions, but also with pressures direction. "We cheerfully admit," he
avoided if they just calmly waited until he penned,"that the authorities on which from the vigorous Himes. penned in early November 1844, "that
the Second Advent. Thus, he suggested, we based our calculations cannot be de­ Himes' major task in early 1845 would we have been mistaken in the nature of
let us "enter into our chambers, and hide pended upon for definite time." The only be to hold the remaining parts of Ad­ the event we expected would occur on
ourselves for a little while until the dan­ thing he could say with certainty was that ventism together. That was no small un­ the tenth of the seventh month; but we
ger is over."41 That solution, of course, the advent was near and that they must dertaking, since the movement was liter­ cannot yet admit that our great High
was at best temporary,but neither Miller wait and watch.43 ally disintegrating. Beyond that task, Priest did not on that very day, accom­
nor his associates could have known that Himes' radical shift from acceptance Himes was anxious to get Adventists plish all that the type would justify us to
at the time. to rejection of the October date seems to working again and to avoid all specula­ expect."47
Himes' counsel to the believers, as ex­ have been based on the fact that his belief tion and date setting. "We have counted Thus Marsh shifted the ground from
pected, was much more down to earth in the date had not been founded so the cost," he penned on January 10,1845, time to the nature of what took place on
and realistic in late 1844 and early 1845 much on the facts of chronology as it was "and shall to the extent of the means October 22. While not being explicit as
than Miller's. After calling for the orga­ upon the seventh-month movement's which God has, or may give us, agitate, to what might have taken place on that
nization of relief committees for the des­ practical success as it rushed in power AGITATE, AGITATE,until the slumber­ day, he did put confidence in the fulfill­
titute believers and getting the presses throughout the Adventist ranks in Sep­ ing watchmen with their churches shall ment of prophecy on October 22 and
back in operation,Himes was faced with tember and early October. The October see the falsity of their position,or feel the hinted that high priestly typology might
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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM THE OCTOBER DISAPPOINTMENT

hold the answer to the dilemma of the trine had held the movement together, participants would have denied involve­ core of those who had heeded the call to
nature of the event. The ideas in Marsh's aided by a mutually agreed upon forbear­ ment in that type of activity. But the em­ "come out of Babylon" who probably
short editorial would be taken up and ance on those points of doctrine that had phasizing and hardening of doctrinal made up the 54,000 Adventists of all va­
:fleshed out by two of the three divisions split the denominations into contending lines could have no other outcome. As a rieties that Daniel Taylor enumerated in
of Adventism in the next couple of years. parties.49 After all, Christ would soon re­ result, J. P. Cowles could write in 1855: 1860 in the first Adventist census.52
We will return to their lines of interpre­ turn and put all doctrinal bickering to "Now there exists some twenty-five divi­ While some drifted out of Millerism,
tation in chapters 12 and 14. rest. The important thing was to get the sions of what was once the ONE Advent other participants rejected it vigorously.
The problem of what, if anything, had message of the rapidly approaching ad­ body, and all this arises from withdraw­ One such, signing himself as "A Conva­
happened on October 22, 1844, became vent out. That task kept the Millerites ing fellowship from those who differ lescent," shared his experience in the non­
increasingly problematic for the Millerites pulling together. The focus on the time from us in opinion."50 Adventist Christian Reflector. "Thank God
as post-disappointment time extended element especially functioned to keep the Of course, a large number of Miller­ for permitting his sun of reason to shine
into early 1845. Different Adventist par­ movement goal oriented and unified. But ites simply disappeared from the move­ again upon my darkened mind," he
ties began to take shape over the issue after October 22, the time element itself ment in late 1844 and early 1845. As penned. "Let those who would attempt
early in that year. Adventism had entered became divisive, and the long-submerged James White put it, "there seemed to be a to unravel the secret of their end, which
into what some of the participants would differences began to rise to the surface as strong inclination with many to draw he has so wisely kept to himself, take
refer to as the scattering time. various individual Millerites searched for back, which ripened in them into a gen­ warning, lest they are smitten, as I have
identity and meaning. eral stampede in the direction of Egypt." been, with the worst of all madness­
The Scattering Time Thus by 1845, that which had held In November 1844, Miller's son George THE MADNESS OF THE souL!" 53
David Arthur notes that in early 1845, Adventism together was no longer as feared that "there will be but a remnant Among those who maintained a faith
"the cause of Adventism was :flying off in strong as those beliefs that separated its of those who have professed to be look­ in Adventism, 1845 witnessed a prolifer­
several directions."48 It should be recalled constituent parts. Fragmentation was the ing for Christ, [whoJ will endure until ating array of doctrinal interests. Some,
that pre-1845 Millerism was not a de­ result. That splintering effect was intensi­ the end."51 in the established tradition of Millerism,
nomination. Rather, it was an ecumeni­ fied by the heavy impact that both resto­ Arthur suggests that it was easiest for kept setting dates, even though Miller
cal movement composed of ministers and rationism and the Jacksonian aura of the those Millerites who had remained in himself avoided all new time setting and
laypeople from all the evangelical de­ common man had on Millerism. As a their denominational churches to fade discouraged his followers from such ac­
nominations. Thus, under the surface of result, everybody, even laypeople in the out of Adventism. It was those individu­ tivity. But the habit was deeply ingrained,
Millerism, there existed a large number tradition of Miller himself, could do the­ als, he surmises, who had formed sepa­ and the sense of certainty it engendered
of divergent religious traditions. ology. The resulting doctrinal war was rate advent congregations who were more must have encouraged many in setting
Even though Storrs and others had rich, diverse, and divisive. While some of likely to stick with their Millerite beliefs. further dates, even though each failure
agitated for what Miller and others be­ it was healthy and biblical, much of it was After all, for this group it would be dis­ proved to be more discouraging to those
lieved to be disruptive doctrines in 1843 erratic. couraging and humiliating to return to believers than the earlier ones had been.
and 1844, on the whole the movement By mid-1845 the various factions their churches. Beyond that, they had al­ But hope in the midst of seeming hope­
focused on a single doctrine-the among the Adventists were in the midst ready established fellowship with like­ lessness pushed them on in their search
premillennial Second Advent. That doc- of sect building, even though many of the minded believers. Thus it was the hard for certitude.
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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RisE OF AovENTISM THE OCTOBER DISAPPOINTMENT

Others turned to new emphases that overruled-some that it was the anti­ Babylon!! Babylon!!! against all but Ad­ ence in early 1845. In short, Himes
stressed such teachings as foot washing, type of the trumpet of the tenth of ventists. We have proclaimed and dis­ needed behind him the authority of the
charismatic gifts, holy kissing, the seventh­ the 7th month in the 49th year, & cussed, 'pro et con,' many sectarian dogmas, man who had lent his name to the move­
day Sabbath, soul sleep, the millennium that Christ will come next spring­ which have nothing to do with our mes­ ment.
as a past event, and a fair number of other some that the Saviour then came out sage. May God forgive us."55 Miller, meanwhile, continued to pro­
topics. To say the least, Adventism was of the Holie [sic] of Holies, & has Miller would have preferred to retire vide Himes with independent but saga­
becoming a doctrinal jungle by the sum­ since been upon a white cloud-oth­ from all the Adventist controversies cious counsel from time to time. By early
mer of 1845. ers, that he never entered the Holie along with the other problems and chal­ 1845, Miller was becoming quite dis­
However, the most inflammatory di­ [sic] of Holies till then-some, that lenges faced by Adventism after the Oc­ tressed. "I must confess," he wrote, "I am
visions in Adventism in 1845 centered on the Saviour came then or rather went tober disappointment, but such could not pained at heart to see the battle we are
the significance of October 22 as a fulfill­ before the Ancient of Days to receive be. His name and influence were still now in. . . . After having silenced our
ment of the seventh-month typology. On the New Jerusalem, & that he came crucial if Himes was to hold the move­ common enemy, ... that we should now
February 15, I. E. Jones wrote to Miller only as Bridegroom & not as his sec­ ment together. Thus Himes wrote to turn our weapons against each other! Ev­
that, amidst all the confusion, he was ond coming as King of glory,-& Miller in a sympathetic but firm tone in ery [Adventist] paper which has come
striving to keep his "head cool" and his that the door of mercy was then for­ November 1844. "I do not wonder," he into my hands recently is full of fight,
"heart warm." But such an accomplish­ ever closed. . . . Some believe all of penned, "at your despairing state of mind and that, too, against our friends."
ment was difficult to achieve in that these!!! And every one of these opin­ about further labor. You have done your He went on to urge the Adventist ed­
"stormy latitude of time." "I do not won­ ions has been broached by most of duty to the church and the world. And itors to realize that "an interchange of
der," Jones continued, "that the Saviour their abettors as a test by which the now you have put the armour of[f] in the thought and opinion" was necessary, but
closed all his discourses on the end of wise & foolish virgins were to be hope of a discharge, it is very hard to that editors should think twice before
time with the injunction to especially made apparent!! We have therefore think of putting it on again. Yet we must putting anything bordering on faultfind­
watch and pray. He foresaw that the cir­ damned & been damed [sic] several do it. God requires it-the world requires ing with other Adventists in their papers.
cumstances of this time would abundantly times apiece. it."56 "Unless we are harmless and wise, there
demand it." Thus through the urging of Himes, are breakers ahead which will be to much
Jones went on to point out that In short, Jones concluded, we are in a Miller had been forced into a recognition damage and loss."
"supremely ridiculous, painful, & dan­ of some responsibility. Yet his role in Miller further noted that "it would be
our brethren this way are catching at gerous . . . state of things among our­ 1845 seems to have been that of senior remarkable if there were no discordant
every conceivable hypothesis to rec­ selves."54 advisor to Himes as the younger man views among us." On the other hand, lest
oncile the movement of the Tenth­ It is little wonder that Miller sug­ sought to guide the advent ship through the advent believers themselves were go­
some believing it to have been a trick gested that "in too many instances," Ad­ stormy seas. Himes, of course, couldn't ing to act like bishops and popes, they
of the "old advent-hater";-others ventism had taken on the attributes of use just any counsel in those troublesome would have to let their brethren have
that it was a part of the midnight Babylon. A few weeks later he cried out times. We will therefore find him further freedom of thought, opinion, and speech.
cry, the tenth being an error which in his frustration that "we have, like pressuring Miller to line up with the He saw no other alternatives. "Have we
God only permitted but graciously them [the churches] cried Babylon! "proper understanding" of their experi- not blamed the sects and churches for
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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM THE OCTOBER DISAPPOINTMENT

shutting their eyes, ears, doors, pulpits the close of human probation. In other is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that specified by Malachi iii. 18, also Dan­
and presses against this [advent] light? words, after the door was shut, there is righteous, let him be righteous still.") iel xii.10, Rev. xxii.10-12.In this pas­
And shall we become as one of them? would be no additional salvation. The to the coming of the bridegroom and the sage we can not help but see, that a
No. God forbid.... We had better suffer wise virgins (true believers) would be in shutting of the door. 60 little while before Christ should
the abuse of liberty, than to strengthen the kingdom, while. the foolish virgins Following Miller's lead, the 1842 come, there would be a separation
the bands of tyranny. "57 and all others would be on the outside. Boston general conference resolved "that between the just and the unjust, the
That line of thought not only came That point becaine a controversial is­ the notion of a probation after Christ's righteous and the wicked, between
forth from Miller but was deep in the sue in Millerite Adventism in January coming, is a lure to destruction, eritirely those who love his appearing, and
Baptist and restorationist traditions from 1845, when Apollos Hale and Joseph contradictory to the word of God, which those who hate it. And never since
which so many of the Adventists had Turner tied the shut-door concept to the positively teaches that when Christ the days of the apostles, has there
come.As a result, early 1845 saw a rather fulfillment of prophecy on October 22, comes the door is shut, and such as are been such a division line drawn, as
open discussion in the press on many of 1844. Thus they taught that the work of not ready can never enter in."61 was drawn about the 10th or 23d day
the issues that divided the advent believ­ general salvation was over as of that date. Since the Millerite leaders had been of the 7th Jewish month.62
ers. Not the least of the divisive issues On October 22, Christ had come spiritu­ expecting Christ to return at the end of
was that of the "shut door." ally as the Bridegroom, the wise virgins the 2300 days mentioned in Daniel 8:14, Certainly the nasty and even violent
had gone in to the marriage with Him, they had, in effect, been teaching the reactions of unbelievers and ex-Millerites
The Shut Door and the Forming of and the door was shut on all others. 58 close of prob;;ition at the end of that pe­ seemed to provide demonstrable proof to
the Battle Line As a result of Hale and Turner's arti­ riod. As a result, for a short period ?-fter the believers that the door of probation
Adventism's shut-door belief was cle, a whole school of Adventist histori­ the October 1844 disappointment, Miller had been shut. Most Millerites accepted
rooted in one of the key Bible passages ography grew up as early as 1851 around and many others thought that their work the shut door immediately after October
that they saw as identifying their move­ the idea that those two leaders had origi­ for the world was finished, that there was 22 because the interpretation was built
ment-the bridegroom parable of Mat­ nated the shut-door doctrine. But that only a little additional tarrying time left into their belief system.
thew 25. After the tarrying time (v. 5) interpretation will not stand in the light until Christ would appear. But that acceptance would soon
and the midnight cry (v. 6), we read in of the historical data. 59 Thus it is not surprising to find Miller change, since the shut door was tied to
verse 10 that while the foolish virgins It was actually Miller who fathered the (who at that time still believed that the fulfillment of prophecy in October.
were out trying to buy more oil, "the shut-door teaching among Adventists. In prophecy had been fulfilled on October The logic was clear. If there was no ful­
bridegroom came; and they that were his Evidence From Scripture and History of 22) writing on November 18, 1844, that fillment of prophecy, there could be no
ready went in with him to the marriage: the Second Coming of Christ, he had writ­ shut door-and vice versa.
and the door was shut." But "afterward ten that the phrase "'the door was shut,' we have done [finished] our work in With that fact in view, it is of crucial
came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, implies the closing up of the mediatorial warning sinners, and in trying to importance to remember that as early as
Lord, open to us. But he answered and kingdom, and finishing the gospel period." awake a formal church. God, in his November 5, 1844, Himes, the most
said, Verily I say unto you, I know you He also directly tied the preadvent pas­ providence has shut the door; we can powerful spokesman for postdisappoint­
not " (w. 11, 12).In the 1840s many Ad­ sage of Revelation 22:11 ("He that is un­ only stir one another up to be patient. m�nt Adventism, had already come to the
ventists interpreted the shut door to be just, let him be unjust still: and he which . . . We are now living in the time conclusion that nothing had happened
200
201
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM THE OCTOBER DISAPPOINTMENT

on October 22. From that point on, an increasing fanatical excitement, uti­ month" and were "loathed " and "ab­ While noting that it was a close point
Himes began to lead the Adventist ma­ lized the shut door and its related pro­ horred " by God. 66 and he would rather keep his opinions on
jority (including Miller) away from the phetic implications to justify their fanati­ It is little wonder that we find I.E. the topic to himself, he went on basically
October date and the shut-door belief. 63 cism.We will return to the disruption Jones writing in February 1845 that to endorse both the shut-door and the
It is in that context that Hale and caused by the fanatical element in chap­ "Brother Turner's views ... have done seventh-month movement.68
Turner's January 1845 article on the ter 12. more to distract us than all the rest to­ The editors took the unprecedented
bridegroom and the shut door became By early February, Turner had gether."67 step of adding a four column rebuttal to
explosive early in the year. They argued preached his shut-door and bridegroom Miller, of course, was seen as a cen­ Miller's article, frankly stating that they
that prophecy had indeed been fulfilled theories in S. S. Snow's New York tral player in the power struggle between were "unable to see the correctness of the
on October 22. But, they went on, the church. Snow and many of his followers the open-door and the shut-door Advent­ application of some of the above texts,
coming of the bridegroom had not been "drank down the truth, as the thirsty ists; between those who had rejected the i.e., how they prove the door of mercy
properly understood. Even though Christ traveller in the sultry desert would drink seventh-month movement as a fulfillment will be closed before the end." A few days
had not come in the clouds of heaven as water from the cooling fountain." Soon, of prophecy and those who accepted it; after the article was published, Himes
expected, He had come spiritually as the Snow was preaching that Himes and between those who believed they still penned Miller a forceful letter in which
bridegroom to the marriage.Tying that others who were "clamoring for an open had a missionary work for the world and he told him that the shut-door teaching
concept to the coming of the Son of Man door" were the foolish virgins. Worse, those who believed probation to be was "producing the most disastrous effects,
of Daniel 7 to the Ancient of Days, "they are fallen, apostate 'Adventists' " in closed and gospel work completed. Two both to believers, and to the movement."
Turner and Hale argued that "the judg­ their "knocking and crying out against separate strands of Adventism had de­ Things were so serious along that line,
ment is here" and that Christ would not that closed door." "God has rejected veloped, and there was no middle ground Himes informed Miller, that he was on
come in the clouds of heaven until the them."65 between them. Under such circumstances, the verge of having to close down his
judgment was complete-until He re­ Snow, identifying himself as Elijah given the power of his name in the move­ publishing work because of the inroads of
turned from the wedding. Meanwhile, the prophet, who was to prepare the way ment, the position of Miller on the shut the problem and the accusations being
the door of human probation had been of the Lord, began publishing the jubilee door was of crucial importance to both made against the Herald. 69
shut. 64 Standard in early 1845 to set forth his sides. Himes went on to inform Miller that
That interpretation, of course, flew di­ shut-door views. Beyond that, in the While Miller had been quite con­ Bliss had written a letter to Miller, apol­
rectly in the face of everything Himes be­ minds of Snow and like-minded individ­ vinced in late 1844 that the door had ogizing for the note that had been at­
lieved.After all, he was trying to get the uals, Adventists not accepting the shut been shut and that prophecy had been tached to his last article. By way of justi­
Adventists back to their work of warning door had, in effect, become Babylon.The fulfilled on October 22, both those posi­ fication for that breach of protocol,
the world of the nearness of the coming. call was now to separate from the open­ tions began to shift in the first few months however, Himes pointed out that "there
Turner's interpretation was bad enough door Adventists. Meanwhile, Snow had of 1845.In early February, Miller noted never was so dangerous, and critical a time
in itself, as far as Himes and his col­ discovered that Himes, Litch, and Storrs in a published letter in the Advent Herald with us as now. " There was, he noted, a
leagues in belief were concerned.But to (who had all rejected his seventh-month that he had received many letters from all growing disposition to crush him, but he
make matters worse, the radical wing of message) were the three shepherds of over the country, asking his opinion on would not "lay down and die."70
Adventism, which was already deep into Zechariah 11:8, who were "cut off in one the shut door and the close of probation. If Himes was distressed over the
202 203
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM THE OCTOBER DISAPPOINTMENT

shut-door crisis on February 13, he must and how his extremist following was also that [seventh-month] movement, up with that statement. The statement
have been near collapse when the Febru­ relying on Miller's advocacy of the shut­ viz., that Christ then came as the itself is either a reflection of Miller's
ary 19 issue of the Voice of Truth arrived door position. At that point, Himes Bridegroom, that the door of mercy naivete in his weakened condition, an
at his door. That issue contained a letter made his crucial pitch for Miller's sup­ was closed, ... or that it was a ful­ indication of Himes' ability to manipu­
from Miller, claiming that he believed port."I think," he wrote, "it is time that fillment of prophecy in any sense. late, or, as is most likely the case, both.78
that Hale and Turner's January Advent you gave a letter, or word in some way The spirit of fanaticism which has In summary, by late March 1845, the
Mirror article on the bridegroom and that will enable us to exculpate you, from resulted from it, in some places, battle line had been drawn between the
shut door was right "in the main."71 any sympathy with them in their wild leading to extravagance and excess, Adventists. That line formed along the
Himes' response to the intensified cri­ movements." In order to leave nothing to I regard as of the same nature as shut-door doctrine, with its related ac­
sis was a massive, frontal assault on the chance, Himes also visited with Miller those which retarded the reforma­ ceptance or rejection of the validity of the
shut-door and the bridegroom questions on the topic in Low Hampton for two tion in Germany.76 seventh-month movement. April and
in the Advent Herald issues of February days.In addition to his other arguments, May 1845 would see the open-door Ad­
26 and March 5. Nearly the whole of Himes demonstrated to Miller's satisfac­ Thus by late March, Himes could ventists organize at the Albany confer­
both numbers treated the topics, as tion that probation could not be over be­ breathe a sigh of relief. The titular head ence. But things were not as clear for the
Himes and his colleagues threw down cause souls were being converted.74 of the movement was in his camp, and shut-door Adventists. They themselves
the gauntlet. The time for play was over. Himes' various lines of attack finally Himes could now prepare for the Albany would split into two major divisions, each
The Morning Watch was also brought into brought Miller over to his side. The conference, in which he hoped to con­ one following a lead put forth by Hale
action on the topic.72 March 26 Advent Herald sported a front­ solidate his gains and keep Adventism and Turner in their January 1845 Advent
Beyond the frontal attack on the shut page, three column letter from Miller both as sane and as unified as possible. Mirror article. One branch would em­
door in his publications, Himes also written the day after Himes' visit. In this But for Miller there was a cost.Many of phasize the spiritual-coming-of-Christ
worked intensely on Miller behind the letter, Miller definitely came out against the Millerites who had seen him as an aspect of that article, while the other,
scenes through a series of rapid-fire let­ the shut-door position. Himes' efforts "Angel" now saw him as a 'Jal/en man! "77 building upon a variation of Hale and
ters. On March 12 he related the fanati­ had brought him around at last. Mean­ Two years later, the charge surfaced Turner's bridegroom argument, would
cism connected to the shut-door move­ while, Himes, ever the politician, was that Himes had unduly controlled Miller's focus on their pre-advent-judgment sug­
ment in Portland, Maine. "They will lay lining up a major advent conference to opinions. Miller replied in a published gestion. Part 3 will examine these and
all in ruins, "he penned, "if they have time meet in April. He was determined to letter. "I would say to all, that I have never subsequent divisions in Adventism as the
enough to do it." Himes turned up the gain control of the splintering advent been dictated to by Bro. Himes; nor has Millerites moved away from the year of
pressure on his mentor when he wrote: movement.75 he, to my knowledge, ever tried to direct the end of the world.
"They are using your irifluence [in sup­ By that time Miller was finished with me." The facts, of course, do not match
porting the shut-door theory] . . . your the shut-door theory. He never wavered
name and letters to sustain themselves in again. In the summer of 1845, he penned,
their new and visionary movements."73
Three days later, Himes penned a I have no confidence in any of the
similar letter in reporting Snow's work new theories that have grown out of

204 205
Part III

MOVINGAWAYFROM
THEYEAR OF
THEEND
Chapter12
ADVENTISM'S RADICAL FRINGE

isorientation AND disarray ARE TWO WORDS that help us capture the mood
']) and structure of Millerite Adventism after October 22, 1844. Whereas
once the movement knew exactly where it was going and had fair ideas of
how to reach its goals, after the passing of the date, the Adventists had neither of
those comforting convictions of certainty. The months and years after October 1844
catapulted the Adventists into a search for identity, a task they had never thought
they would have to undertake, and one for which, in many ways, they were ill­
equipped.
This chapter and the next two trace the development of the various strands of Ad­
ventism in the postdisappointment period. The first branch we will look at has often
been called the "Spiritualizers," since they found their genesis in a spiritualization of
the Millerite hope in the coming of Christ. The early vigor and success of this Mil­
lerite branch eventually forced the other strands ofMillerism to define themselves by
contrasting themselves with the Spiritualizers. That makes them an especially impor­
tant element to understand in Adventist history.

The Rise of the Spiritualizers


As we noted in chapter 11, the central theological insight undergirding the Spiri­
tualizers' theology was the "deliteralization" of the second coming of Christ. In an
attempt to hold on to October 22 as a fulfillment of prophecy, Apollos Hale and Jo­
seph Turner had concluded that the seventh-month movement had indeed been a

209
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM ADVENTISM's RADICAL FRINGE

fulfillment of prophecy. They held that their theology and their daily lives. threat facing them in early 1845. Aberrant Adventism
both the date and the event had been ful­ Turner's theories spread rapidly Turner's conversion of S. S. Snow to The welter of new interpretations led
filled. Thus Christ had come on October 22, through the disoriented Adven tism of his position accelerated the spread of his to some strange conclusions in both the­
1844. But He had not come in the clouds early 1845. Of course, he was no slouch spiritualized view of the advent. After the ory and practice that made pre-October
of heaven. Rather, He had come as the as an evangelist. January and February October disappointment, Snow conclud­ 1844 Adventist fanaticism seem mild by
bridegroom to the Ancient of Days in found an aggressive Turner preachin g his ed that "the message he had borne from comparison. We noted above that at least
heaven to receive the kingdom. 1 message throughout New England, New God to the people, related only to time: part of the new thought in the Spiritual­
The bridegroom's coming, in the York, and elsewhere. the manner of the great events of the day izer camp arose when certain advocates
thought of Hale and Turner, would pre­ That preaching was not without suc­ of God, he did not comprehend." He had moved away from Miller's predominantly
cede the coming in power and glory to cess. On January 23, 1845, he wrote preached as he had in October because literal principles of interpretation. The
earth. There would be an interval be­ from Maine of his tour: "In every place I "he had been, erroneously, taught by spiritualized meaning of the Second Ad­
tween the two comings. That fine dis­ visited," he penned, "I found a goodly men, that the coming of the Bridegroom vent stemmed from that process.
tinction, unfortunately, was lost to many number, I think quite a majority, who to the marriage was the descent of the On other occasions, Miller's own prin­
of those who followed their lead. For were and are now believin g that our Lord from heaven."4 ciples were put to strange uses to arrive at
many, the fact that Christ had "come" work is all done for this world, and that The month after accepting Tur ner's novel conclusions. One illustration of that
was sufficient. Others specified that He the atonement was completed on spiritual interpretatio n, S now began to phenomenon is that of Orlando Squires.
the
had come into human hearts. tenth day of the seventh month. Nearly all circulate that vision of the "good news" Squires took Miller's advice to compare
The important point to understand at who heard me gladly received the through the jubilee Standard. The Stan­ scripture with scripture to arrive at biblical
mes­
this juncture is not the various possibili­ sage." Turner, of course, was preachi dard thus joined Turner's Advent Mir­ truth to bizarre extremes. Thus we read:
ng to
ties of nonliteral in terpretations of the other Adventists. After all, holding
the ror, Hale's Hope ofIsrael, Enoch Jacobs'
coming of Christ but the fact that a ma­ shut-door theory, he believed that Day-Star, Orlando Squires' Voice of the One truth is clearly proved to my
trying
jor shift had taken place in the thinking to awaken non-Adventists would be
like Shepherd, Joseph Marsh's Voice of Truth, mind by a comparison of Scripture
of some Adventists on how they should "preachin g in the tombs," sin ce
proba­ and other Adven tist periodicals in with Scripture, viz. that chariots, horses,
read and interpret Scripture. tion had closed. The effect of Tur ner's spreading aspects of the new interpreta­ clouds, heavens, flames offire, wings of
Whereas Miller had held to the lit­ preaching was that the "wise virgins
" tio n and servin g as a forum for n ew the wind, wheels, fowls of heaven,
eral interpretation of the Bible except in separated themselves from the
other ideas in the struggle for an swers to the feathered fowls, mansions, inheritance,
cases where it was obviously symbolic,2 Adventists and began to hold
separate 1844 disappoin tment. Everybody dwelling-place, sheep, flock, spiritual
the Spiritualizers looked for spiritual meetings. 3 sought a voice for his or her opinion, house, house of God, city of God, habita­
mean ings everywhere. Thus they had The magnitude of Turner's success is and, in terms of numbers, Himes' "offi­ tion of God, temple of God, people of
stepped off the platform of Miller's not only attested to by Turner
himself but cial" Adventist periodicals were defi­ God, holy people, Israel, Jacob, Judah,
principles of interpretation . Having be­ also by the panic he called
forth from nitely in the minority. Unfortunately, in David, saints, angels, and many other
gun to read nonliteral interpretations Joshua Himes, Sylvester Bliss, names, are used as sy nonymous
and others. the hands of many advocates of the new
into the Bible, they soon arrived at some They saw Turner's spirit terms, denoting the same thing, viz.
ual in terpreta­ ideas ' Adventism lost its traditional ra-
fan ciful explanations that in formed both tion of the Second
Advent as the major tionality. the true body ofChrist-the Church. 5
210 211
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM ADVENTisM's RADICAL FRINGE

Having built an interpretive base, of future glory." She went on to note that in the Millerite movement and that the 'dogs' that are without the city," he wrote
Squires went on with the use of his method Christ would make Himself manifest in world was now ready for the cry of the to Enoch Jacobs. "We are within, and
to reach some rarified conclusions. One them as they were progressively "fash­ fourth angel of verses 14 tol6.9 have a right to the tree of life, of which if
was that Christ had "' entered into the holi­ ioned like unto Christ's most glorious In essence, Pickands and Cook taught we eat we shall live for ever!" 11
est ofall, even into HEAVEN ITSELF,'" body."7 that Christ was sitting on a white cloud The doctrine of present immortality
which we are assured over and over, is It is but a short step from the views waiting for the harvest of the earth, hav­ and incorruptibility was a fairly wide­
"IN US." "Glory to God!" Squires exult­ propounded by Squires and his followers ing on His head a golden crown and in spread belief among those who held that
ed, we finally know where heaven is. It is to the aberrant perfectionism espoused His hand a sharp sickle. The end would Christ had come spiritually on October
"IN US. 'Christ IN you the hope of glo­ by a significant portion of the Adventists not come until the fourth angel, in the 22, 1844. Thus Joseph Turner had also
ry.' 'Jesus Christ IS COME IN THE during early 1845. Like Calvin French person of the believers, prayed in earnest become immortal in early 1845. "God is
FLESH.' 'Every SPIRIT that confesseth andJohn Starkweather in the earlier Mil­ to Him "that sitteth on the cloud, 'thrust with us," he wrote to Snow on June 24.
not' this most precious truth, 'is not of lerite movement and like countless en­ in thy sickle and reap.'" The harvest "He hears our cries, our sick are healed by
God.' " Like so many other Millerites, thusiasts down through church history, would take place when such prayer be­ the power of faith, and no Israelite has
Squires founded a periodical-the Voice some of the Adventists in 1845 and 1846 came "general, earnest, agonizing, [and] died among us since the seventh month,
of the Shepherd-to sound his version of had come to the place where they be­ importunate." Naturally Pickands and and we believe they may be preserved
the Adventist gospel.6 lieved that they lived above sin. As one Cook established a periodical to spread whole and blameless unto the coming of
"The views presented in this sheet are participant put it, "they declared that the Lord Jesus. Such things will be
their bit of truth. Thus the going forth of
light, and not darkness," proclaimed Ol­ they were perfected, that body, soul, and the Voice of the Fourth Angel. Like the scoffed at by those who are fallen, but
ive Patten in an article seconding that of spirit were holy.. ..They declared that as they are, nevertheless true." 12
other new doctrines of this period, the
Squires. "The Spirit constantly witnesses their flesh was purified, they were ready Another line of extremism among the
truth of the fourth angel became a "test,"
to the truth. The inward voice cries, for translation.''8 Thus their every action Spiritualizers was those aspects of behav­
and those who rejected it were assigned
Light, Light; and the Scriptures open to was prompted by the Holy Spirit. Such a ior directly affected by their belief that
to perdition.10
me like a stream of light, and fire too." viewpoint fit nicely into the scheme set Christ had already come. On one level, a
Eventually Pickands led his followers
For Patten the time message was but the forth by Squires, Patten, and their fellow significant number held that it was wrong
into more extreme views. Having rejected
preparation for the present work, "the believers with their aberrant views of the to work, since they were now in the sev­
"the absurd and unscriptural theory of
spiritual part.. . . The test [for God's peo­ incarnation. enth millennium and God's eternal Sab­
Father Miller" that Christ would come
ple] has come, at last" in the form of The Spiritualizers put forth numerous bath had begun. To work would "result
personally and visibly in a single event,
Squires' message. beliefs during Adventism's crisis period, in their final destruction." Boston had its
Pickands concluded that the Second
"Earnest and sincere as I have been beginning in early 1845. One was the teachers of the it-is-a-sin-to-labor doc­
Coming was a series of events. The stage
about a personal appearing of Christ," thesis set forth by J. D. Pickands andJ. had already been reached where the saints trine. "Their principal message was, 'Sell
penned Patten, "I have now become per­ B. Cook of Cleveland, Ohio.Basing their that ye have, and give alms.' They said
were immortal, incorruptible, and would
fectly satisfied that there is no such thing as argument on Revelation 14, Pickands and not die. Pickands realized that his new they were in the jubilee, the land should
a literal body ofJesus, in the universe ofGod. Cook held that the three angels had light would be ridiculed by many, but so rest, and the poor must be supported
... Christ in us [is] our life now, and hope already progressively sounded their voices what? "Never mind the barking of the without labor."13
212
213
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM
ADVENTisM's RADICAL FRINGE
On March 12, 1845, Himes wrote of garding holy kissing and spiritual wifery. dren should do, & saluted one another Christ had come and they were immor­
a similar situation in which the shut­ Mixed in with those two public offenses with the holy kiss."17 tal, they were already in their spiritual
door/bridegroom movement had led was foot washing between the sexes. The fringe Adventists also got their state. Then again, didn't Christ say that if
many farmers to neglect planting, while We should not be surprised to find teaching of holy kissing from Scripture, people really loved Him, they would for­
others were "selling off their cattle & c­ that some Adventists, with their restora­ but many were the accusations that this sake their families?
say[ing] they only want enough to last till tionist desire to get back to the teachings religious exercise, like "promiscuous" Following that line of thought, Pickands
the 23d of April. The door is shut, and of the New Testament, initiated foot­ foot washing, frequently took on less defended a man and a woman who had
the bridegroom has come[,] the marriage washing services. George Peavey of New than holy aspects. In that vein, Mansfield deserted their spouses and families and
has taken place and now they say His York was one of the most enthusiastic claimed that Peavey approached a woman had lived together for several months as
cloud must come. "14 promoters of this widespread teaching. who had rebuffed his efforts to wash her a "spiritual pair" as they traveled from
The shut-door extremists were also As justification for the practice, Peavey feet and, "without giving her any declara­ place to place. Pickands said that such
active on the humility front. In order to and others cited Christ: "If I then, your conduct "was consistent with their doc­
tion of his intentions, actually gave her a
demonstrate that they were spiritually in Lord and Master, have washed your feet; trine, which would permit a 'spiritual
(holy! ah! what mockery!) kiss!" Accord­
heaven, they sought to follow Christ's in­ ye also ought to wash one another's feet" matrimony without sexual connexion.' "
ing to Joseph Turner, "Bro. Peavey con­
junction to humble themselves and be­ (John 13:14). The judge, having less exalted views of
tended for promiscuous feet-washing, and
come as little children. Thus, recalled Although many Adventists could see the case, ordered the couple to post bail
kissing on the principle that we are 'all
Sylvester Bliss, some sat on the floor as the logic behind foot washing, mainline at "'$200 each, on the charge of adul-
one,' and that 'in Christ there is neither
an act of humility, while others shaved believers (along with some in the fringe '"20
male nor female.' "18 tery.
their heads or acted like children in un­ groups) took strong exception to men Another fringe Adventist lecturer,
Spiritual wifery, as might be expected,
derstanding. Even more impressive (or and women washing one another's feet. Israel Dammon (also involved, among
raised the ire of both the non-Adventist
humbling) must have been those who Thus L. Delos Mansfield condemned other activities, in multiple and repeated
community and mainline Adventism to
crawled around their houses on all fours. Peavey for supposedly having "selected as "holy kissing" of other men's wives), had
new heights. The Advent Herald not only
Not only was such humility practiced at his victim a YOUNG GIRL!" for this "ridicu­ obtained a spiritual wife by early Febru­
protested "against all such abomina­
home and in church, but some found it lous, revolting and indecent" ceremony. ary 1845 and "was glad of it." In Dam­
tions," but it publicly disowned the par­
necessary to witness to the world around 'Why," queried Mansfield, "if his heart is mon's case the evidence seems to be
ticipants and claimed that it was "gratify­
them by crawling through the busy streets pure, and his desires holy, did he not quite clear that the union was less than
ing that they were not left to run into
of town. 15 cho[o]se a male, or a matron in the pres­ these excesses until they had renounced spiritual. 21
While the non-Adventist community ence of her husband?"16 'Millerism.' "19 Enoch Jacobs was another leader in­
might smile at the sight of their neigh­ On another occasion, a correspondent On the other hand, the practitioners volved in the marriage and family pecu­
bors crawling to the local store, they did of the Day-Star favorably reported that of spiritual wifery claimed they were liarities of the fringe Adventists. Jacobs
not :find some of the actual and supposed "the Lord was with us and we had a good building their belief on scriptural argued that Christ had commanded peo­
sexual aberrations of the Spiritualizers love-feast. The brethren and sisters all grounds. After all, in the kingdom of ple to forsake all for His sake. As a result,
nearly so humorous. Topping the list of got very happy and went to washing one heaven, there would be no marrying or Jacobs left his wife and five children and
complaints in this area were beliefs re- another's feet, just as Jesus said his chil- giving in marriage. Beyond that, since chose a life of celibacy. In parting, he and
214
215
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM ADVENTISM's RADICAL FRINGE

his wife wept and washed each other's Since Curtis lacked "scripture testi­ name of Ellen Harmon.23 is moving forward with its wheels of
feet as they became "submissive [toJ the mony'' on that suggestion, Jacobs did his Visionary manifestations was another burning fire . .. utterly consuming every
will of God." Thus Jacobs passed the test best to disclaim sympathy for her view. predominant characteristic of the shut­ vestige of our old nature."
of faith and obedience as he gave his But still her idea "was enough to set in door groups. One such group espousing The prophet condemned Miller for
family over to God. motion every thing in the shape of chaff, prophecy was headquartered in Spring­ his disbelief. After noting that God
Jacobs, of course, had to pay the social indeed a perfect tempest was created in a water Valley, New York. An unmarried would come in a few days and that He
price for his decision. But then, his type short time. . . . This circumstance was man by the name of Houston had taken was even then perfecting the 144,000 in
expected to be persecuted for righteous­ wrought up into capital enough to feast over a family dwelling with "his Miss" "the perfection of beauty," Houston pro­
ness sake. "Almost every one," Jacobs the children of the devil for some time." and several other people living together claimed that it was up to God to "make
penned in his paper (the Day-Star), Yet in the mind of Jacobs, "it was a cir­ out of wedlock. The family remained in his word a .fire and William Miller wood,
"concluded that I was either crazy, mad' cumstance, absolutely necessary, their home, but Houston had taken that the fire may consume the wood and
for
or possessed with a devil-not excepting without it, how could 'all manner of evil' charge. He not only ordered fine furni­ stubble, and theSon of God in thee alone
my own brethren.Though called a Spiri­ be spoken falsely?" ture smashed up for firewood and had be saved in the day of Glory."25
tualizer, I know I was doing no more Jacobs went on to expound upon this the carpet pulled up in at least one room, S.S.Snow also joined the ranks of the
than what Christ commanded, and that I whole sequence of events as the most but he also made "the most licentious prophets in 1845. In that year he came to
was doing it for His sake alone." precious of his "whole life," since it had proffers to the woman of the house, as see himself as Elijah the prophet, who
In spite of Jacobs' evident sincerity, taught him to no longer "'desp the last test of her consecration to God!" would appear just before the advent of the
ise the
his "faithfulness" got him into a "heated chastening of the Lord, nor faint Having convinced the family that he was Savior. His followers began publishing
when
...furnace ... seven times hotter than it rebuked of him."' This step in filled with the Holy Ghost, they were 7he True Day Star to set forth his claims.
Jacobs' ex­
was wont to be heated." In addition, his perience soon proved to be one afraid to put him out, since "he would In the first issue, fifty of the believers af­
of many
comforters were no more helpful than esoteric developments in a take the Holy Ghost with him, and the fixed their names to a statement certifying
circuitous
Job's as they made "'railing accusations "' spiritual journey that would family must consequently go to hell!"24 that 'Jesus is King, and Elijah, his messenger,
land him in
against him.The lesson from all this, said several strange places. We will By early 1846 the Springwater com­ is here," in the person of Snow. 'With all
return to
Jacobs, is that literal obedience accom­ Jacobs later.22 mune had taken on the names of House­ our souls," the attestation read,
plishes the same today as it did in gospel The fringe Adventists also supported hold of Faith and Household of Judg­
times. other new doctrines. Cook, for example, ment. In May they sent a communication we believe that our brother has been
Jacobs' furnace got "seven degrees" accepted the seventh-day Sabba to William Miller, telling him what God, raised up and consecrated by the
th early
hotter when a Sister Curtis showed up in 1845, while Turner pointe "who sits here upon his throne," had re­ Holy Ghost, as the minister of the
d to a pre­
from Oberlin and "advanced the idea' advent judgment, and Jacob vealed to Houston. "Many times every law and the prophets: that the blessed
s was quite
that in the glorified state ... the children friendly to new light on day for months past,'' went the epistle, Spirit of God, guides him in the high
Christ's ministry
of God, though no longer 'male and fe­ in the Most Holy Place "have we had communications from God and special work which is committed
of the heavenly
male,' would be united in pairs, and that sanctuary beginning by those whom he takes away in the vi­ to him, of expounding the sacred
on October 22,
God had shown her that" he "was to be 1844. Jacobs also publish sions of the spirit among us." In their Scriptures, for the infallible guidance
ed one of the
her companion in the eternal world." early visions of a young woman by the household, the letter noted, "God's Car of the household of faith.26
216 217
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM AovENTisM's RADICAL FRINGE

One of Snow's followers noted that If the nations failed to obey, Snow "things in Maine, are bad-very bad!" find in the larger world. As Henry Bear
we must be careful how we relate to claimed, his proclamation would be en­ Turner's "new fangled theology, if it may saw it, that acceptance appealed to some
God's messenger. "Ifwe reject him, we re- forced by 'WAR, FAMINE, PESTI­ be called theology," had done its damage of his fellow advent believers."Come and
ject him [Christ} that sent him." Interest- LENCE, and DESTRUCTION." He in Maine and other places. But Himes be gathered.. . . I know there can be no
ingly enough, Snow tells us that by 1848, signed the document "SAMUEL SHEF­ looked forward to the Albany conference happiness in being thus scattered." In the
twenty of the fifty who had certified his FIELD SNOW, Premier of KING JE­ to help stabilize the advent cause. 31 Shaker villages, they found both accep­
calling three years before had rejected SUS."28 We will return to the Albany confer­ tance and stability in a context that took
"the truth, and are now its enemies."27 David Arthur claims that Snow ended ence in chapter 13, but before doing that, their second-advent concerns seriously.33
They were undoubtedly assigned in his his life in insanity, while Clyde E. Hewitt we need to examine one more shut-door Other aspects of Shakerism that ap­
Book of Judgment Delivered to Israel by (both Advent Christian scholars) asserts aberrancy-the Shaker temptation. pealed to shut-door Adventists were the
Elijah the Messenger of the Everlasting that "Bishop" Snow served as pastor Shakers' restorationist impulse to get
Covenant to someplace besides heaven, among his followers in the "Church of back to the New Testament and their ac­
The Shaker Temptation
along with Miller, Himes, Litch, Storrs, Mount Zion" in New York City until his At first glance it seems strange that ceptance of charismatic gifts in the mod­
and all others who rejected the October death in 1889. Neither writer gives a Millerite Adventists, with their literal in­ ern church. The first of those elements
22 date. source for his information, but a student terpretation of the Bible and the Second was illustrated by the Shakers' practice of
By 1848 Snow had also glorified his of Snow's life might conclude that those holding property in common as in the
Corning, could be attracted to Shaker­
role somewhat. In that year he issued "A two endings may have been equivalent.29 book of Acts, while the second was
isrn. After all, the Shakers believed that
Proclamation to All People, Nations, Visions were also prevalent among strongly in evidence in the charismatic
the second coming of Christ's spirit had
Tongues, and Kings." In part the procla- other groups of shut-door Adventists in revival taking place in Shaker communi­
taken place in their prophetess Ann Lee
rnation read: early 1845. One of the more prominent ties in the 1840s.
in 1770. But it was that very interpreta­
centers was Maine, which had had at tion that appealed to some in the Spiritu­ Timing was also conducive to Miller­
By the special favor of God, through least five visionaries by that time-four alizer wing of Adventisrn after the Octo­ ite conversions to Shakerism. Beginning
Jesus Christ my Father, I have been of them women. 30 ber disappointment. It was not too long a in 1837, the Shakers "experienced a con­
called and commissioned to go before Joshua V. Himes was especially con­ step for these disoriented Adventists to vulsive religious revival" that lasted for
the face of the Lord, in the spirit and cerned with aberrant Adventisrn in Port­ conclude that perhaps the Shakers had more than a decade. Thus the 1844 dis­
power of Elijah, to prepare the way land, Maine, in the group associated with had the truth all along-Christ had come appointment hit at the high point of
for his descent from heaven. And as Israel Darnrnon. Himes put it straight to in spirit.32 Shaker revivalism, and the Millerites
his Prime Minister, I demand of all Miller on March 27, 1845: "Things are in Beyond that, the doctrinally agree­ probably provided the cornmunalists
Kings, Presidents, Magistrates, and a Bad way at Portland." He then went on able Shakers opened their arms to Ad­ with their largest influx since their early
Rulers, civil or ecclesiastical, a full to discuss Darnrnon and his "spiritual ventists who felt the need to escape from days in the late 1700s. Michael Barkun
surrender of all power and authority, wife" and her visions. A few days before the sneers of a hostile world. The self­ notes that "the Shakers did not have to
into my hands, on behalf of King Je­ the all-important Albany convention of contained communal Shaker societies labor in order to convince Millerites that
sus the Corning One. the moderate Adventists, Himes again provided the discouraged Adventists they had unmet spiritual needs; they had
went out of his way to notify Miller that with an acceptance they could no longer merely to open themselves to the yearnings
218
219
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM ADVENTISM's RADICAL FRINGE

of people suddenly deprived of their sense tion, some believers were startled by 1846 and 1847.By that time the Spiritu­ the world, as though he had been laid
of meaning."34 White and Harmon's announcement to alizer Adventists had about exhausted in his coffin-buried under ground,
Perhaps the greatest test of Shakerism marry in the late summer of 1846, fear­ themselves in their perpetual excitement and waiting for a resurrection. This
was its doctrine of celibacy. According to ing that it represented a breach of faith.36 and new theories, and Shakerism looked was the feeling of thousands, it was
Ann Lee, lustful sexual intercourse was On the other hand, by that time, other like it could be the answer to the desper­ mine. Earthly ties were as completely
the original sin in Eden. Just as sin cor­ Adventist believers had concluded, in the ate believers. sundered, for the time being, as
related with sexual intercourse, so there light of Paul's counsel to the Corinthians The most important Millerite leader though they had never been known.
was a correlation between righteousness and in the face of the shortness of time, to convert to Shakerism was Enoch Ja­ Thus we waited, but Salvation did not
and celibacy.35 That teaching, of course, that even married couples should practice cobs (earlier discussed in terms of celi­ come: We thought the fault was all
was the great test of Shakerism; it sepa­ celibacy until the crisis was over. Such bacy), who had headed up the Adventist without:-Sad mistake!! It was all
rated the true believers from the insin­ found the Shaker doctrine to be anything work in the "far west" from Cincinnati within. 40
cere-those who were willing to give up but new and surprising.37 and had edited the Western Midnight Cry
all for Christ from those who were not. There had been some contact between (later renamed the Day-Star). In early Jacobs had completely spiritualized his
Rigorous tests, however, appealed to Millerites and Shakers before October January 1846, he had gone to Cleveland eschatology.
many shut-door Adventists, who had fo­ 1844. One Millerite preacher had lec­ to convince J. D. Pickands that he was But Jacobs didn't stay with the Shak­
cused on innumerable tests that suppos­ tured to the New Lebanon Shaker com­ wrong in his views that Christ had come ers. For him they were a way station on
edly distinguished Matthew's "wise vir­ munity in 1842, telling them that spiritually and that the saints were al­ his spiritual journey. After about a year,
gins" from the "foolish" ones. "Christ would make his second Appear­ ready immortal. But Jacobs failed. He he left them, even though he still seemed
The ideal of celibacy was not unknown ance" in 1843, "and this world would be returned home a Pickands convert. By to be in harmony with their theology.
among those waiting for the Lord to re­ consumed by fire." The Shaker record of February, as we saw above, he had also Isaac Wellcome tells us Jacobs' problem
turn, even though that ideal was not gen­ the meeting notes that they would be become a celibate.39 was that "he violated their rules and was
erally built upon the same theological happy "to have the world burned up" be­ From those positions it was but a cut off" by the Shakers. Jacobs himself
foundation as it was in Shakerism. Ellen cause they believed the world represented short step to Shakerism. In June 1846 we put it much more picturesquely, stating
Harmon and James White, for example, "the lust of the flesh." Another pre­ find Jacobs making the essence of his he would "rather go to hell with Electra
"had no idea of marriage at any future disappointment contact between the conversion to Shakerism explicit. "Have his wife than to live among the Shakers
time" because they believed in "the com­ two religious groups was the charismatic you found salvation?" he queried. without her."41
ing of Christ near, even at the doors. . .. Shaker/Millerite who wrote to Miller After leaving the Shaker village in
Most of our brethren," penned White, that he had left his body and found him­ It was that for which we all looked in Whitewater, Ohio, Jacobs became a spir­
"who believed with us that the second self flying through the air until he arrived 1843, and in the autumn of 1844. On itualist. That is not particularly strange,
advent movement was the work of God, in heaven to meet Christ.38 the 10th day of the 7th month, of the given the drift of his religious evolution
were opposed to marriage because they But despite occasional contact be­ last named year, we were all placed in and the fact that throughout the 1840s
believed that time was very short" and tween the movements prior to October a situation to receive it, if it had come Shakerism was undergoing a spiritualis­
that marriage was a denial of the advent 1844, the most extensive and significant in our way. George Storrs told me tic revival.42
faith. Because of that widespread convic- interaction between them took place in that he felt just as completely dead to We run across Enoch Jacobs again in

220 221
AovENTISM's RADICAL FRINGE
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM

1891. By that time he had concluded that tides appealing to Adventists to leave Bear claims that God providentially set gins ... and entered in, while other fool­
no organized religious system "exists on Babylon and to accept the truth.45 his "faith-quieted tooth" to aching as a ish virgins went to buy more oil."
earth . . . to meet the demands of the Among other Adventist converts to sign that he should not go on a certain But still they might have some pride.
Universe." But he went on to suggest that Shakerism were G. W.Peavey and Henry trip. That led Bear to attend a meeting On the evening they joined the Shaker
he was then, in essence, a Buddhist and a B. Bear. Bear is of special interest be­ where Adventists were encouraged to commune, Jacobs claimed in a meeting
pantheist. He offered his prayers to the cause he published his memoirs of his '"go on."' That impressed Bear, since so that if "he had the least spark of pride in
"God within" him, and his"spirit friends," advent experience while at Whitewater. many were saying, "'Come back [to the him, he would get right down on the
who came to him "in answer to prayer; Bear had moved to Union County, Indi­ old Adventist ways and beliefs], you are floor and roll over." That remark stimu­
sometimes in materialized bodies."43 ana, in June 1845 and soon came under going astray, you are going crazy, etc. ' lated the ever-sensitive Bear to self­
Although Jacobs left the Shakers in the influence of Jacobs, who "seemed at The words ' go on,'" he penned, "'im- examination. "My feelings," he wrote,
1847, while with them he must have been this time to take the lead in bringing for­ pressed me with this idea: Here is a per­
one of their most successful evangelists. ward the most advanced ideas of the ad­ son that speaks as though he compre­ soon convinced me of pride within,
He initially converted thirty or forty of vent movement" through the Day-Star. hends our whereabouts, and understands and I received convictions that I
his Cincinnati flock to Shakerism, and Bear 's move to Shakerism was a step­ our path ahead." ought to get down on the floor and
twenty-four had moved to the Whitewa­ by-step process. First, he became con­ After that experience, Bear joined roll: I took resolution and did so.The
ter commune by March 27, 1846. More vinced, for at least the second time, to sell those "Adventists that .. . were going up Shakers present followed suit imme­
would follow. Jacobs himself moved everything he had and give to the poor, to the Shakers to take possession of the diately, and then many of the adven­
there for his own safety, since many in including such seeming necessities as kingdom." He then had peace and could tists. Consequently it began to work
Cincinnati were upset over the families beds, cookstoves, dishes, and house.That comprehend his spiritual journey."It was on Enoch Jacobs, and he got down at
that had been destroyed by his new teach­ conviction, he mused, "seemed a very all beautiful and harmonious," he wrote. last, but his awkward, still unnatural
ing. By August 1846, 80 of the 144 tight place to be in." After five or six days movements, convinced me that he
Whitewater residents were former Mil­ of agonizing, he followed his convictions. I could literally see the circuitous had some pride left, if they did not
lerites. Altogether, he helped attract Relieved from anxiety and realizing that road; I came along the winding convince himself.
some 200 disaffected Adventists to Shak­ he would be in the kingdom, Bear expe­ mountain, ascending from the plain
erism in the West and Midwest.44 rienced "laughing a week." It was the below up to the top of the mountain, Thus Bear, writing in retrospect twenty­
Beyond interpersonal public evange­ "happiest week" in his life, even though and entering in at the arched gate seven years later, could account for Ja­
lism, Jacobs also took the Day-Star to some people thought him crazy, as they into the everlasting plain above-the cobs' apostasy from Shakerism in 1847.
Whitewater with him. From there he previously had in 1844. kingdom of God. I now felt that the As for Bear, he had found the security he
publicized Shakerism among Adventists Bear's second step toward the Shakers most dangerous part of my journey needed. Living in a commune of like­
across the nation. The pages of the Day­ was attending a meeting in Whitewater, was over. minded believers, he no longer had to
Star in 1846 and 1847 mentioned several but he went away quite suspicious, since suffer persecution for his faith. "Here no
As
meetings of Shakers and Adventists in they communally held houses and His wife readily responded to the sac­ evil spirits can come ... to deceive.''
various places in the northern states.Be­ lands-things he had been convicted rifices of Shakerism. To her, "'this is too for Adventism, Bear claims that he often
I
yond that, its pages are full of Shaker ar- should be disposed of. In the third step, good news.'" Thus they became "wise vir- remarked:"'Not for all the world would
222 223
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM ADVENTisM's RADICAL FRINGE

have missed going through my advent God is coming irito the world and the Unfortunately for Miller, time contin­ soon as possible. On his arrival, she be­
experience; nor for all the world would I day of judgment is at hand; but to them ued to last, and they witnessed something gan to question him:
want to go through it again. [']"46 the voice is not clear enough to save them less than the hoped-for "best." Eighteen
Though Shakerism was the most pop­ from the delusions of their own imagina­ months later, an ailing Miller penned: "Have you read all these papers?"
ular communal experience embraced by tion." To be more specific, "Miller's fatu­ 'Why, I have looked them over."
security-seeking Adventists, it was not ous [stupidj doctrine of the speedy com­ I have not done with pain. I have "But are they all Advent papers?"
the only one. Barkun has discovered at ing of Christ 'in the clouds of heaven,' is been troubled with headache, teeth­ "They pro1ess
.c so to be."
least three Adventist communes that be­ based on that old desperate delusion of ache, bones-ache, and heart-ache, "Well, then," [said she], "I am no
gan in the 1850s and 1860s. One of them Christendom,-the denial that he has al­ since you left; but much more of the longer an Adventist; I shall take the
kept the seventh day and practiced vege­ ready come" back in the time of the early last ache, when I think of so many of old Bible, and stick to that."
tarianism; another "sought to establish a church. By the late 1840s, former Mil­ my once dearly beloved brethren, "But,'' said he, "we have no confi­
mountain retreat where the 144,000 lerites were beginning to join the Oneida who have since our disappointment, dence in one half there is advocated
saints of the Book of Revelation would community.49 gone into fanaticism of every kind, in those papers."
gather at the Judgment." Such experi­ and left the :first principles of the glo­ "But,'' said the old lady, "who is
mentation was not unique in Christian "Who Is We?" rious appearing of the great God and we.'>"
history, as the drive for monasteries in Miller, to say the least, was beside our Saviour, Jesus Christ.51 "Why,'' [replied Miller,] "we are
the Medieval church demonstrates. Be­ himself with the fanaticism that began to those who do not fellowship those
yond that, Americans of all social strata develop in 1845. In April he wrote to Miller wasn't the only one confused things."
in the first half of the nineteenth century Himes that and perturbed by the welter of shut-door 'Well, but I want to know who we
did a great deal of experimenting with . "
Adventists in early 1845. Himes hoted in is.
communal utopias.47 this is a peculiar time. The greatest May that "the seventh month movement 'Why, all of us who stand on the
In addition to independent communes variety of fanciful interpretations of [had] produced mesmerism seven feet old ground."
and Shakerism, ex-Millerites were at­ Scripture are now being presented by deep."52 "But that an't telling who we is. I
tracted to one other communal society. new luminaries, reflecting their rays Then there was the "old woman" who want to know who we is."
At the opposite end of the sexual spec­ of light and heat in every direction. was ohe of Miller's first converts. Miller "Well,'' said [Miller, in relating
trum from Shakerism among nineteenth­ Some of these are wandering stars, weekly passed on his Adventist papers to the story], "I was confounded, and
century communes was John Humphrey artd some emit only twilight. I am her after he had read them. One week af­ was unable to give her any informa­
Noyes' Oneida community, with its prac­ sick of this everlasting changing; but, ter having glanced through sixteen peri­ tion who we are."53
tice of plural marriage. In essence, at my dear brother, we must learn to odicals all purporting to be Adventist
Oneida, sexual relations could be shared have patience. If Christ comes this publications, but most of them setting It was the dilemma of identity that
by all adults with the opposite sex under spring, we shall not rteed it long; and forth contradictory positions, he passed forced Himes, Miller, and their col­
the planning ofNoyes.48 if he comes not, we shall need much them on to his neighbor lady. leagues to issue a call for a conference to
In 1846Noyes noted that the Adventists more. I am prepared for the worst, Before long, he received an urgent define their position and to ascertain who
"hear the same voice we have heard, that and hope for the best.so message from her, requesting a visit as sympathized with their views and who
224 8-WM. 225
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE R1sE OF ADVENTISM ADVENTISM's RADICAL FRINGE

did not. That conference became another grew directly out of the radical move­ the radical wing. The task was not only two basic modes of distancing and defin­
turning point in Adventist history. It be­ ments of 1845 and 1846. one of defining but also one of distancing ing between late 1844 and 1850. One
gan at Albany, New York, on April 29, If that is so, some readers may be ask­ themselves from the "fanatics." would be the course of the Albany Ad­
1845, and turned out to be one of the ing, why did we spend so much time ex­ The radicals had set the agenda. The ventists; the other would be that of the
most significant Adventist meetings in amining Adventism's radical wing? Is it ne xt step in the development of Advent­ Sabbatarian Adventists. It is to the Al­
the history of post-October 1844 Ad­ just a matter of historical curiosity? Defi­ ism would be up to the less radical ele­ bany group that we now turn.
ventism. The Albany conference will be nitely not! Though historical curiosity is a ments in the movement. There would be
the subject of our next chapter. justification in itself, we have at least two
Meanwhile, we need to take a parting additional reasons for understanding the
glance at Adventism's radical fringe. The radical aspect of Adventism's history.
various movements growing out of the The first is that the spirit of the radicals
radical Adventism of post-1844 came to lives on among some of the more stable
nothing by the end of the nineteenth descendants of Millerism. As a result,
century. Most of them had probably dis­ various forms of present-day Adventism
appeared by the late 1860s. Given the not only house those who tend toward
radical fringe's propensity to grasp at ev­ the cool, biblical rationalism of Miller,
ery new and strange doctrine, its various but they also contain elements exempli­
strands tended toward making their "pe­ fying the characteristics of the radical
culiar" beliefs into tests that shut out all fringe. One of the lessons of church his­
Adventists who didn't accept that per­ tory is that millennial movements tend to
spective. All other views became Baby­ pick up their share of those on the radical
lons that needed to be escaped from. That edge who get carried away by the excite­
schismatic tendency eventually played it­ ment and are quick to identify esoteric
self into oblivion as the various periodi­ "new truth" and to pronounce those who
cals holding the splinter movements to­ do not agree with them as both apostate
gether lost their support. The majority of and Babylon. Thus an understanding of
both leaders and followers of the various Adventism's past can help people better
fringe groups eventually joined other grasp the significance of tensions and
"isms" of the day that sported exciting movements in the present.
new doctrines. Thus they drifted out of A second reason, and one of even
Adventism or found themselves aligning greater importance for understanding
with more stable Adventist bodies. As a Adventism's radical fringe of the late
result, in the twenty-first century, no sur­ 1840s, is that all other Adventists were
viving fringe Adventist sects remain that forced to define themselves in terms of

226 227
THE ALBANY REACTION

March 20. It prominently listed Miller as at Albany the week prior to the confer­
one of those issuing the invitation. Sig­ ence. Miller was assured that he would
nificantly, that invitation was not to all have a "crowded house" and "do much
Adventists, but only to those "who still good." For his part, Himes promised to
Chapter13 adhere to the original Advent faith." In "keep the 'Herald' and 'Watch' going till
other words, the shut-door Adventists the Albany meeting." Then he ominously
THE ALBANY REACTION and those who had developed new doc­
trines were not invited.
suggested that if something significant
did not take place at Albany, he would
The stated purpose of the meeting was have to stop publication. 2
not to debate controversial doctrines or It is impossible to know whether the
"questions of doubtful disputation" but suggestion of the possibility of ceasing
(1) "to strengthen one another in the publication was based on financial reality

T
faith of the Advent at the door," (2) "to or whether it was a technique to put all
HE SPRING OF 1845 SAW THE advent movement growing more divided with consult on the best mode of unitedly car­ possible pressure on Miller to attend.
each passing week. Differing opinions over the seventh-month movement, the rying forth our work, in comforting, and Given the chaos in Advent.ism at the
shut door, and the ever-proliferating number of doctrines arising out of the preparing the Advent congregations time and what we know of Himes' per­
shut-door segment of Adventism were creating havoc in the movement. Coupled with among us for the speedy coming of the sonal traits, both factors probably entered
the doctrinal crisis was the behavioral crisis, which, in many cases, led to fanaticism. Lord," and (3) "to unite our efforts, for into his plea to Miller. We do know that
By March 1845 the initiative was definitely in the hands of the fringe groups. the conversion and salvation of sinners." even with the success of the Albany con­
Moderate Advent.ism, under the leadership of Himes, was fighting desperately to The plea was for unity of action. Each ference, Himes' two journals were com­
hold the movement together, but the struggle seemed to be one that the moderates Adventist congregation was invited to bined into one shortly after the meetings.
were losing. The forum for the contest was the large number of Adventist periodicals, send one or two representatives. We also know that Miller attended.
with Himes' Advent Herald and Morning Watch on one side, and the growing number The Albany announcement's closing The timing of the conference, it should
of shut-door journals on the other. Joseph Marsh's Voice of Truth seemed to be hold­ sentence is significant. It noted that be noted, was not accidental. It was sig­
ing a middle ground, open to the shut-door teaching but speaking out regularly Miller would be making presentations at nificant for two reasons. First, the begin­
against the extremes of many of the fringe journals. Albany. To Himes it was absolutely es­ ning date of April 29 was beyond the
By March the battle had been joined, and the positions were rapidly hardening. It sential to the success of the meetings for March 23 and April 23, 1845, dates on
was at that crucial juncture that Himes moved beyond strategies related to periodicals Miller to be there and for him to give the which many were still pinning their
to the second piece of ordinance in the Millerite/restorationist arsenal-the conven­ advent trumpet a certain and unmistak­ hopes for the Lord's return. Second,
tion or conference. In March, Himes issued a public call for a conference to convene able sound. 1 Himes did not call the conference until
at Albany, New York, on April 29, 1845. On March 27, Himes wrote to Miller after he had won Miller over to coming
that "all depends upon your being there out in public against the shut door and re­
Up to Albany [at Albany]." In order to get Miller there lated doctrines. But by April, Himes could
The call for the Albany conference was first published in the Morning Watch of on time, Himes requested that he lecture wait no more. If the advent movement

228 229
NTISM THE ALBANY REACTION
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVE

were to be saved at all, something would nization was to lose control of the so weak and silly, that they bring a stigma have been thereby caused by some pro­
have to be done soon. movement to the radical fringe groups on the blessed Book, confuse the mind of fessing to be Adventists," the conference
While the conference invitation was with their fanaticism. The still-aggressive the inquirer after truth, and divide the set forth a ten-point doctrinal platform
set forth in a manner that definitely ex­ Himes was a long way from that solu­ children of God." that emphasized items related to the ad­
cluded those who held to the shut door tion. Still in his fortieth year, he had an­ After identifying the issues in a gen­ vent and salvation. That statement of be­
and related doctrines, Himes and the or­ other fifty yet ahead of him in which to eral way, Miller went on to give some lief was not unlike its predecessors prior
ganizers hoped to pull Marsh and his fight the Lord's battles. specific advice to the believers. Among to October 1844, with the exception that
Rochester-based Voice of Truth into their those counsels were admonitions to avoid the Albany statement had no provisions
sphere of influence. Marsh and several Albany "any man whose object is to obtain fol­ regarding the time element. As to be ex­
other western leaders had been invited, The important Albany conference lowers"; to stay by the lamp of God's pected, it contained none of the contro­
but Marsh had some definite reservations opened on April 29 with singing and a Word, since some of the brothers were versial doctrines then dividing Advent­
about the Albany conference. For one prayer by Miller. In attendance were such walking "by sparks of their own kin­ ism. Nor did it include an affirmation of
thing, he still believed that the Lord would prominent Adventist leaders as William dling"; to receive no evidence but the the seventh-month movement.
return before April 23. For another, given Miller, J. V. Himes, Elon Galusha, Jo­ Bible as the ground of faith; and to avoid The second major accomplishment of
the excitable state of Adventism, he siah Litch, and Sylvester Bliss. But those those who murmured against the pio­ the Albany conference was to set forth a
doubted the wisdom of bringing a large not there were conspicuous by their ab­ neers of the message. Miller brought his plan of action for preaching the message
group of Adventists together. But, most sence. Into that latter group were such presentation to a climax with two sug­ to the world as Adventism continued to
significantly, Marsh foresaw that "a for­ leaders as George Storrs, Joseph Bates, gestions: that love for the brethren was seek converts to its beliefs. To achieve
midable division will unavoidably be the Joseph Turner, S. S. Snow, and Joseph the true "test" of one's love to Christ and that purpose, the conference recom­
result" of the Albany meetings. Marsh. Marsh's absence would prove to that many of the brethren would do well mended preaching services, literature
Behind those words seems to be the be especially problematic for the Albany if they spent less time writing and more distribution, Sunday schools, and Bible
apprehension that Albany was a step, Adventists. His was an influential voice time studying the Bible. Along that line, classes. The provision of further evange­
however small, toward the creation of a that had the potential to pull many mar­ it would be best if one's theories were lism was a definite rejection of the shut
denomination. Marsh feared any author­ ginal types into the Albany sphere. submitted for scrutiny "by some judi­ door.
ity outside the Word of God. 3 Miller's "Address to the Brethren cious friend" before they were set before The third accomplishment of the Al­
That apprehension seems to have been Scattered Abroad" set the tone for the the public. "We have arrived," he pointed bany meetings took the form of a series
founded upon genuine insight into Albany meetings. After calling for pa­ out, "at a period of deep interest and of resolutions. One rejected the "anti­
Himes' mentality. After all, hadn't peri­ tience, love, and forbearance in light of peril."4 Scriptural" postmillennial doctrine that
odicals and conference meetings formed the "present state of our faith and hope," The Albany conference picked up on the world would be converted to Christ.
the organizational structure of the Chris­ he went on to suggest that "among the Miller's keynote address. The delegates A second resolution denied the restora­
tian Connexion, in which Himes and thousand and one expositions of Scrip­ accomplished three main tasks. First, "in tion of the natural Jews as a nation, "ei­
Marsh had pastored? Himes was operat­ ture, which are every day being palmed view of the many conflicting opinions, ther before or after the second advent of
ing in the way he knew best to bring or­ upon us, some of them, at least, must be unscriptural views leading to unseemly Christ."
der out of chaos. The alternative to orga- wrong." Beyond that, "many of them are practices, and the sad divisions which The next resolution was aimed directly

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE R1sE OF AovENTISM THE ALBANY REACTION

at those "Adventists .. .with which we of God, and the due observance of F. G. Brown. Third, it led to the develop­ should be noted. First, the New York
can have no sympathy or fellowship" be­ the gospel ordinances, as a church of ment of an elitist leadership core that City conference went on record as being
cause of their "unseemly practites." It Christ. As such, it is an independent tended to include the best-educated Ad­ against charismatic gifts. Thus it was
was resolved that they have no fellowship body, account:J.ble only to the great ventist ministers. Fourth, it made the di­ "Resolved, That we have no confidence in
with any who created new tests as condi­ Head of the Church. To all such we vision among the Aqventists more per­ any new messages, visions, dreams,
tions of salvation beyond the acceptance recommend a careful examination of manent. From this time forward, an tongues, miracles, extraordinary gifts,
of Christ and "a looking for and loving the Scriptures, and the adoption of Adventist belonged either to the Albany revelations, impressions, discerning of
his appearing." The resolution included a such principles of association and or­ factii:m or to the opposition.6 spirits, or teachings, &c.&c., not in ac­
breaking off of fellowship with those in­ der, as are in accordance therewith, Miller returned from Albany glad to cordance with the unadulterated word of
volved in "promiscuous feet-washing," the that they may enjoy the advantages of be able to tell the "old woman" who had God." In light of the fanaticism then tak­
salutation kiss as a ''religious" ceremony, that church relation which Christ has wondered "who we is" who they were. ing place among the shut-door Adventists,
"sitting on the floor as an act of voluntary instituted.5 After reading the conference reports, she it is not difficult to see what prompted
humility, shaving the head to humble one's informed him: "I have found out who we that resolution. A similar one had been
self, and acting like children in understand­ The effect of that statement was to au­ is; and I shall still be an Adventist, and approved in the midst of the Starkweather
ing." Such teachings were declared to be thorize a congregational form of church stand by the old ship."7 crisis in May 1843 . 10
not only unscriptural but also subversive of government much like that of the Bap­ Miller, in narrating that story at Bos­ The second important clarification of
purity and morality if persevered in. tists and the Connexionists, to which ton tn May, thanked the leadership of the Albany principles was set forth in the
The last resolution suggested that se­ Miller and Himes respectively belonged. moderate Adventism for telling the world last of the ratifying conferences at Boston
lected believers be encouraged toward Thus Albany represents the formation, or "who you are." He pledged his support to in late May. By that time, Marsh and
the gospel ministry. While that sugges­ at least authorization for the formation, those who approved of "the doings of others had come out firmly against the
tion seems innocuous enough by itself, of the first "Adventist" church. What that Conference."8 church-building implications of Albany.
when it is combined with two other ele­ Miller had sought to avoid was now tak­ As a result, the brethren at Boston
ments in the Albany report, it can be seen ing place with his apparent blessing. The Immediately After Albany deemed it necessary to downplay that as­
that Albany was, in effect, the staging self-preservation of moderate Adventism In order to hold on to and extend the pect of the Albany meetings. It was
ground for the formation of a church or­ had forced the issue. momentum initiated at Albany, Himes therefore
ganization. The first of those elements According to David Arthur, the Al­ and his colleagues held conferences in
was the examination and ordination of bany conference had four major results. New Yark City, Philadelphia, Boston, Resolved, That we do not regard
five ministers at the conference. The sec­ First, it identified, unified, and strength­
9
and Baltimore in May. Each confere�ce the expression of sentiment, or prin­
ond was a statement on church order ened the moderate Adventists in their aimed at strengthening the hands of ciples of Associated Action, adopted
along "New Testament" lines. "We re­ defense of the original advent faith. Sec­ those who preached the "original advent by the Albany Conference, as insti­
gard," reads the report, ond, it led several preachers to reject the faith" as defined at Albany. tuting a test of Christian character, or
new views and return to the leadership of Each conference also ratified the posi­ as having anything to do with church
any congregation of believers who the Albany group. Among the "converts" tions taken at Albany. There were, how­ organization, but merely as a dis­
habitually assemble for the worship were Apollos Hale, W.S. Campbell, and ever, two points of clarification that claiming of erroneous sentiments and

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM THE ALBANY REACTION

practices which are ascribed to us, for an "extended sojourn" in this world.12 invention but what it becomes Babylon tian history. That point hit at the heart of
and a declaration of the views which It was those very insights that Marsh the moment it is organized." 14 the concerns of the large number of anti­
we entertain in relation to the cause had intuited. As a result, he reacted to While the Albany Adventists expected creedal believers. Third, Marsh declared
for the promotion of which we co­ the Albany conference with vigor.Marsh, to face the "harlot daughter" argument it was wrong for a religious body to vote
operate.11 as we noted above, at first felt that the from S. S. Snow, Enoch Jacobs, Joseph certain things as being true or false. True
Lord would come before the conference Turner, Emily Clemons, and the like, faith, not resolutions, was the answer to
That denial of Albany having "any­ and thus make it a nonevent. But when they did not expect it from Marsh, who fanaticism and heresy.
thing to do with church organization," the Lord did not return in April, Marsh had by May backed away from some of Lastly, Marsh objected "to the doings
however, did not change the fact that the still made no plans to attend the Albany his earlier attractions to the new doc­ of the Albany conference because the
delegates at Albany had opted for a con­ meetings.To the contrary, in the May 7 trines related to the shut door. As a re­ proceedings as a whole, look like forming
gregational church structure, had exam­ Voice of Truth, he suggested that he had sult, some of the Albany leaders were a new sect, under a sectarian name, in­
ined and ordained men for the ministry, been too busy to attend, thus providing undoubtedly stunned when they read stead of coming to the order of the New
and had excluded those from their fel­ us with some insight as to his priorities. Marsh's critique in the May 21 issue of Testament under the name there given to
lowship who did not agree with them on Even more insightful is an editorial the Voice of Truth. the true church." Beyond that, Albany
the open door and related doctrinal is­ blurb on the same page entitled "Give Us Marsh began his critique of the Albany appeared to have laid plans for the future,
sues. a King." In that short piece, Marsh set report in a rather affirming manner. He "when we profess to be looking for his
The Boston resolution had no inten­ forth not only the apostasy of ancient Is­ praised the conference for uplifting "a coming every hour."15
tion of softening the hard line against the rael but also suggested that seceding certain degree" of order in "the house­ Himes was furious when he discov­
fringe Adventists, but it did hope to quiet Christians who had formed sects in the hold of faith" and suggested that both the ered the direction Marsh was taking.
the fears of Marsh and others like him past had come from "the 'mother of har­ conference and its report had the poten­ "Marsh ... did not stay at home for noth­
whom the moderate Albany Adventists lots' " and had become like their mother. tial for much good. ing," the Albany organizer snorted in a
hoped to bring into their camp in the He praised the Adventists for having After those affirming remarks, Marsh letter to Miller in early May. "He is de­
power struggle of late spring 1845. heeded the call "'COME OUT OF turned to his "fears." In short, he found termined to have things go at loose
It seems that David Rowe is correct HER.' " Then he admonished them not many things at Albany out of harmony ends-or go to support him, and not the
when he states that "the Albany Confer­ to "go back to her polluted temples, nor with the Bible. His extensive objections mutual, or general cause." Marsh's war on
ence did not so much create an Adventist [to] build one of our own after any of her were four in number. First, he objected creeds, Himes suggested, "was designed
sect as give shape and direction to a body patterns." 13 to the fact that they had taken the name to strike against what he thought we
that already existed." Beyond that, Rowe Thus even before Marsh had received "Adventist" to identify themselves. All should do at Albany.. .. He has had a
asserts, Albany "assured that Second Ad­ reports from Albany, he was showing his names other than "CHURCH OF good harvest [of subscribers] out of the
ventism would survive." Thus Albany hand. It had been no accident that he had GOD" were "unscriptural, and antichris­ Herald & Watch [sic], and now he seeks
gave evidence by its move toward organi­ chosen not to attend. It had been a con­ tian, and should be rejected by every child another, by raising the 'cry' of creeds,
zation that Adventism had capitulated scious choice built upon the logic of of God." Second, Marsh saw Albany's bondage[,] etc."16
on its teaching of the immediacy of the George Storrs, who had preached that declaration of beliefs to be the forming of Marsh's critique on Albany in the
Second Advent and was settling down "no church can be organized by man's a creed-one of the roots of evil in Chris- May 21 issue of Voice of Truth elicited a

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM THE ALBANY REACTION

wave of defenses, but the most extended that unless we come out of the BABY­ saw as the Babylon of the ordered and Albany-related congregations he had vis­
and significant answer to Marsh came LON into which we have been thrust, oppressive sect. 18 ited. The leaven of Albany was doing its
from William Miller.On May 27, Miller God will not bless us. The question work.19
replied to Marsh point by point. Miller then comes home to each one of our From Albany to Miller's Death But while Albany had brought about a
had no problem with the name Adventist hearts, Shall we continue in the an­ The years after Albany were not easy progressive degree of separation between
as long as it referred to a group of believ­ archy in which we have been, or shall ones as the moderate Adventists groped the more radical Adventists and the Al­
ers in the advent, but he had no desire to we take gospel measures to restore along, struggling with the problem of bany moderates, it had not created nearly
attach that name or any other to a church. gospel order, that at the Master's what it meant to continue to exist as Ad­ so large a cleavage between those moder­
Regarding Marsh's accusation about the coming we may be approved of him? ventists in a world that stubbornly re­ ates and Marsh and certain other propo­
forming of a creed, Miller replied that a It must be evident to all, that with­ fused to come to an end. nents of antiorganization. One result of
creed is merely what a person believes.As out union we can do nothing; and if The Albany conference had settled at Marsh's ongoing influence would be the
such, there was nothing improper with there are no "important truths" in least one issue in the Adventist commu­ inability of the Albany Adventists to or­
writing it down. which we are united, all can see that nity.It had separated the shut-door and ganize in any effective way in the late
On Marsh's charge that Albany had there can be no union among us:­ fanatical Adventists from the moderate 1840s.
recommended organization, Miller noted "how can two walk together except Albany Adventists in a permanent way. Another factor that needs to be taken
that they had simply recommended that they be agreed?" .. .All union con­ That does not mean that the shut-door into account between 1845 and late 1849
the subject be studied from the Bible.On sists in a sacrifice of individual pre­ Adventists disappeared from association is the presence of Miller. Even though
that point, it seems that Miller had still possessions for the common good. with the moderates overnight. Rather, it Miller himself continued to stand against
not recognized the full implications of Those who love the peace of Zion implies a gradual separation over the next moves that looked like too much organi­
what had transpired at Albany. more than they do their private few years. But by late 1846, much of the zation, he was for good order in the work
By the time Miller got to Marsh's ac­ opinions, will be prompt thus to fanatical element had burned itself out, of God. One reason Miller looked
cusation that they had passed "resolutions" unite.Those who love self more than while other practitioners of extremes askance at too much organization is that
at Albany, he was clearly impatient. "This they do the general good, will con­ were opting for the Shakers and other he continued until his death to believe in
is a great sin, truly," he quipped. On tend for their own selfish ends.. .. "isms." The separation seems to have the immediate coming of Christ. He
Marsh's final point-Albany looked like The union that prevailed at the Al­ been well underway by November 1846. never quite got away from the idea that
"doing something for the future"-Miller bany Conference was what should Miller wrote in that month of a seven­ the dating scheme, being founded on hu­
refused to comment. ever characterize the children of week tour of Vermont and Canada. "Fa­ man data, could have been off more than
In conclusion, Miller claimed he was God.17 naticism," he reported, "such as discern­ a few years.
delighted that so many believers had ing of spirits, private revelations, But as time continued in the late
found the Albany decisions to provide There was no doubt about it. Miller denouncing of others, &c. &c., is nearly 1840s, the younger leaders of Albany
an anchor for their faith. The advent be­ believed Albany to be a good thing. In extinct among the Advent congregations Adventism were more or less forced to
lievers had been mixed up and needed his desire to escape the Babylon of confu­ I have visited." Note that he did not sug­ deal with the reality of certain pressing
direction. "It must be evident," he sion and disorder, he had gradually gest that fanaticism was altogether dead, issues. Two of the most important
penned, backed into what Marsh and his friends but that it was visibly lessening in the challenges facing them were mission

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AnvENTISM THE ALBANY REACTION

outreach and the need for some sort of sionaries to other countries. One of those faced again in England. He attended ond Advent both at home and abroad
organizational structure to facilitate that nations was Great Britain. We earlier both the World's Temperance Conven­ soon forced the Albany leaders toward
outreach. noted that Himes and Litch had wanted tion and the Evangelical Alliance, which further steps in organization. After all, if
One thing emphasized by the Albany to visit the British Millerites in 1844, but hoped to build union between the Prot­ mission was to be successful, there must
Adventists between 1845 and 1847 was that mission had been canceled when estant bodies. It was at the Alliance be some way to give it direction, gather
the fact that they were gaining converts they accepted the seventh-month mes­ meeting that Himes especially made his funds, and send workers.27
who had not heard the second-advent sage. That deferred dream became a real­ mark as an aggressive reformer. He took That felt need led to a proposal in
message prior to October 1844. They saw ity in the summer of 1846. the initiative in arguing for the exclusion 1847 to form an "Advent Home Mis­
those conversions as empirical confirma­ On June 1, Himes set sail for Britain of slaveholders from membership on the sion." That mild proposition, as might be
tion that the shut-door/close-of-probation with F. G. Brown and Robert Hutchin­ basis that their membership would cor­ expected, aroused opposition because it
teaching was not valid. Thus an emphasis son. It was Himes' intention to hold con­ rupt the Alliance, since nothing could necessitated organization. The Advent
of the moderates was the necessity "to ferences, "scatter publications," and es­ touch slavery "without being corrupted." Herald defended the proposal, since the
continue in obedience to the great com­ tablish a publishing headquarters and a Himes' advocacy of anti-slavery proved alternative was to "consent to live in an­
mission to preach the gospel." Some soon periodical. The Americans preached in to be unpopular in a meeting called for archy." Accordingly, "as churches of the
tied that imperative to Revelation 10, various parts of England, Scotland, and unity. Following Himes' speech, the Lord Jesus Christ, it is our duty to 'set
which they saw as portraying the experi­ Ireland. Himes also initiated the Euro­ chairman suggested that they ought to things in order,' to appoint the Scriptural
ence of the advent people. They had "eaten" pean Advent Herald. While the Ameri­ "acknowledge the goodness of God, in officers, to attend to the ordinances and
the little book of Daniel and found it cans met with a fair degree of success, granting His grace" in helping the dele­ discipline of God's house, and support a
"sweet" in the mouth as they looked for­ "this special mission was closed up in gates remain silent in the face of the on­ pure and faithful ministry among us."
ward to the advent, but "bitter" in their 1847, as there were not then men and slaught.24 The editorial went on to speak despair­
belly when Christ failed to return. But, means to effect an organization to con­ On the other hand, the report of the ingly of those who "would rather see us
noted Luther Boutelle, according to Rev­ tinue the work in an efficient manner." meeting made William Lloyd Garrison living in confusion and strife, till we are
elation 10, these people of the sweet/bit­ The Adventist work in Britain continued, rejoice that at least "one voice from across 'consumed one of another."' A few
ter experience were to "'prophesy again but once again under local leadership.22 the water was heard" on the issue.25 Of months later the Herald reported that the
before many peoples, and nations, and The Albany Adventists would not course, Himes' reputation as a Millerite home and foreign missions connected to
tongues, and kings.' "20 send another missionary to the "old certainly didn't help his acceptance with it could "only be sustained . . . by . . .
In response to their convictions, the world" until 1865, when they sponsored the Alliance delegates. united effort."28
Albany ministers not only continued M. B. Czechowski to the continent. But The British mission was not the only By the force of events, the Albany
their publishing ventures, but they also his mission proved to be a major disap­ one by the Albany Adventists in 1846. Adventists had begun to function like a
put the "big tent" back into action as their pointment to them when they discovered L. D. Mansfield and his wife were sent to denomination, even though many
lecturers resumed the evangelistic trail.21 he had become a Sabbatarian Adventist the West Indies late in the year. But by would continue to deny that reality. But
Not only did they set to work in the and thereby "cut off his usefulness" as far 1849, Mansfield was back in the United not all denied it. In 1849, Litch, in a
United States, but they also, for the first as they were concerned.23 States due to a lack of financial backing.26 general reference work on American re­
time, actually began to send foreign mis- Himes' earlier reform interests sur- The sense of a need to preach the Sec- ligion, presented the Albany Adventists
238
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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM THE ALBANY REACTION

as a religious body of between fifteen In his own way, he was seeking to fix the he were young enough to "shake the pointed the end shall be."
thousand and twenty thousand members blame for the Adventist crisis on some­ world tremendously." But one of his Miller's life had been more fruitful
in the United States, Canada, England, thing. As he saw it, those who spent so sons added that "the shaking is going on than most people's. Not only had he
Scotland, and the West Indies. In addi­ much time in criticizing others were "like pretty well, without the aid of the old made an impact on the world during his
tion to those numbers, Litch noted, there the obscene fowls of the air who live only gentleman."33 life, but he had also left a legacy of believ­
were also many sympathetic to Albany on carcasses and putrid flesh." Miller ab­ The year 1848 found Miller largely ers behind in his death.
who had remained in their own churches. horred sectarianism and considered him­ blind. That was discouraging to him, but Those believers closest to him at the
On the other hand, he refused to include self to be a Baptist to the day of his not devastating. "It would, indeed, be a time of his death were the still largely un­
those "fanatics and impostors" who had death.31 sad and melancholy time with me," he organized Albany Adventists. Up to the
led off "disciples after them" to their "fa­ Miller also continued to dislike doc­ wrote to Himes, "were it not for the end, his influence had been greater than
natical doctrines and practices."29 trinal strife. His faith had always been 'blessed hope' of soon seeing Jesus.. . . many realized in both holding the move­
Unbeknown to Litch at the time, Al­ simple. His theology focused on two es­ And although my natural vision is dark, ment together and in keeping it from
bany Adventism would soon experience sential elements: salvation in Christ and yet my mind's vision is lit up with a bright forming its own denomination. "His
additional radical changes after the death the Second Advent. On September 15, and glorious prospect of the future."34 death," however, as Advent Christian
of Miller. In the next decade, the moder­ 1847, he wrote to Himes, complaining of Miller's health failed rapidly after historian Clyde Hewitt points out, re­
ate Adventists would war with each other those Adventists who gravely discussed April 1848. His end came in December moved "a genuine barrier to fractional­
and finally splinter into several denomi­ nonessentials as though "life and death of the following year.Himes spent the ism, strife, and the advocacy of new doc­
nations. depended on them." He was upset with last few days with his beloved mentor. trines an.cl structured organizations." The
Miller passed his last years faithfully those who argued whether we will have Miller was feeble but happy at the next two decades would witness unfortu­
but feebly. Between 1846 and 1849, he two wings, four, six, or more in the resur­ younger man's presence. "Elder Himes nate infighting and schism in the ranks of
went through increasingly rapid physical rected life. Into that same category Miller has come," he whispered. "I love Elder the Albany believers.36
decline. But his mind was still alert. He put debates over the annihilation of the Himes."
continued to preach when well enough, wicked. "I do not wonder that the world The morning of December 20, 1849, The Albany Denominations
even though he realized that his body calls us insane; for I must confess it looks was his last. Witnesses report that in his By the time of Miller's death, the line
would soon be "under the cold clods of like insanity to me, to see religious, can­ weakened condition, he made no conver­ of battle for the Albany Adventists was
the valley."30 did men, spend their time and talents on sation. But from time to time he would no longer the shut door and whether
Up to his death, Miller rued the day questions of so little consequence to us break forth in expressions like "'Mighty prophecy had been fulfilled on October
when the call to come out of Babylon had here or hereafter."32 to save!' 'O, I long to be there!' 'Victory! 22, 1844. Albany and the intervening
been issued. That had not only begun an As Miller moved toward the end of Victory!' 'Shouting in death!' &c." He years had progressively segregated the
"unholy crusade," but it had also "brought his life, he had no regrets about his ad­ passed away a little after three o'clock in shut-door Adventists. Between the Al­
. .. men of blood instead of men of peace" vent doctrine. "If I have any regret," he the afternoon.35 bany convention and Miller's death, the
into the Adventist midst. Miller never penned in May 1847, "it is because I have He was buried in the Low Hampton major in-group struggle had been over
did see that the course of events had had done so little, and because I have been so cemetery. The top of his tombstone has a organization. That struggle would con­
a great deal to do with that development. inefficient." A year later he was wishing quotation from Daniel: "At the time ap- tinue into the 1850s, but it would be

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF ADVENTISM THE ALBANY REACTION

overshadowed by one even more divi­ That order of priorities continued to schism in the Albany ranks in the late tionalism. When Christ did not come in
sive-the immortality question.37 be that of Himes and the Advent Herald 1840s and early 1850s. Insensitivity was 1854, the Crisis became the major organ
That issue, we noted in chapter 10, throughout the late 1840s and the 1850s. bad enough, but the Herald leadership of communication for the conditional­
had been raised by Storrs in 1843 and Editorial policy was to not make the is­ added insult to injury, claims David ists. That development was particularly
had become problematic in 1844. In that sue a bone of contention. Thus it was vir­ Dean, by taking on superior and patron­ important, since by that time, Joseph
year Miller and Himes had spoken out tually ignored as being unimportant. The izing airs toward the conditionalists. Turner's Second Advent Watchman had
against conditionalism and annihilation­ Herald chose to emphasize the advent in Worse yet for the unity of Albany Ad­ moved toward strange new ideas. 43
ism. In addition, Litch had begun pub­ support of publicizing "the original ad­ ventism, the generally gentlemanly edi­ The developing impasse between the
lishing The Anti Annihilationist to combat ventist faith" as defined at Albany. 39 As a tors of the Herald became vindictive and two Albany parties came to a head in
the doctrine, since the mainline Millerite result, the Herald encouraged individuals sarcastic toward the conditionalists. 41 May 1858, when the Herald Adventists
journals did not want to muddy the wa­ to go elsewhere to publish on the topic of Being shut out of the Advent Herald, formed the American Evangelical Ad­
ters by dealing with what they deemed to human nature in death. the conditionalists (or "life and death" ventist Conference to disseminate "origi­
be a minor issue. The problem with that policy was that Adventists) found outlets for their posi­ nal" Adventism as defined in 1845 at Al­
Himes probably expressed the senti­ a growing number of Albany Adventists tion in the Bible Advocate and the Second bany. November 1858 found the
ments of most of the mainline Millerite denied that merely preaching the coming Advent Watchman. Thus the growing Evangelical Adventists approving a con­
leadership when he wrote: of the Lord was the sum total of Adventist number of conditionalist believers began stitution and electing a slate of officers.
doctrine. "The Advent doctrine," they held, to look to those journals for guidance and Thus they had formed a denomination. 44
Occupied as I was with the imminence "embraces all the items of [doc]trine that direction. The conditionalist periodicals That move horrified many of the Crisis
of the Second Advent, these other are to be realized in connection with were soon supplemented by annual camp Adventists. In the line of Storrs and
views seemed to me to be a side issue [the] second advent of the Son of man." meetings at Wilbraham, Massachusetts. Marsh, many of them were dead set
and of no special importance. Jesus The rise of modern spiritualism with the Thus the Albany Adventists in the early against any form of organization above
was at hand, and it was in my estima­ Fox sisters in upstate New York in the 1850s were being split into two parties the local level, while others were willing
tion of more importance to prepare a late 1840s aided the conditionalist cause over the state-of-the-dead issue, with to accept minimal organization but were
people for his coming, than to en­ in that it enabled many people to better Himes, Litch, and the Herald in one party opposed to the choosing or "making" of a
lighten them on these other questions. 42 name for a church. Still others were not
see the significance of the issue. In addi­ and the conditionalists in the other.
Whether men slept or were conscious tion, Storrs' Six Sermons was being circu­ Things became more complicated overly concerned with the evils of either
in death, and were destroyed or suf­ lated by the tens of thousands. That vol­ when another party arose among the Al­ organization or choosing a name. 45
fered eternally for sin, were questions ume was not only affecting ex-Millerite bany Adventists in the early 1850s, pro­ The organization of the Evangelical
of minor importance to me. God Adventists in large numbers, but it would claiming that Christ would return in Adventists, however, forced the Crisis
would do right; and we should soon eventually convert the founder of the Je­ 1854. These "timeists," under the leader­ Adventists to reexamine the organiza­
know all about it. My business was to hovah's Witnesses on the topic. 40 ship of Miles Grant, soon established tional issue. Between June 2 and Sep­
proclaim the glorious coming and Insensitivity on the part of the Advent their own periodical, the World's Crisis, to tember 8, the World's Crisis ran an eight­
kingdom of Christ and prepare myself Herald editors to growing conditionalist set forth their views. The Crisis not only part series entitled "Are We a People?" as
and others to meet the Judge. 38 sentiment progressively set the stage for trumpeted the 1854 date, but also condi- it grappled with the pros and cons of the

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WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RisE OF AovENTISM THE ALBANY REACTION

topic. Then on October 6, 1858, the Cri­ Gradually, the Crisis Adventists drifted the election of a slate of officers and the ners have "life only in Christ." Storrs also
sis published the statement issued by toward formalizing church organization. formation of The Christian Association. got behind that position, even though he
Storrs' New York congregation as a A few weeks after the founding of the The Association's purpose was to en­ had earlier opposed it. Then on August
model. To say the least, that model was Evangelical Adventists, W. S. Campbell hance the promulgation of Bible truth 30, 1863, the believers in this view estab­
nondenominational. It was hardly con­ (a pro-organization man) told the readers and vital piety through (1) the formation lished their own "quasi-denomination,"
gregational, since its climactic emphasis of the Crisis that of a "Christian Publication Society," (2) the Life and Advent Union, with George
was that "every man has an inalienable "the organization of churches," and (3) Storrs as president. Before long, they had
right to private judgment in matters of it is almost madness-if we expect "the recognition and support of an effi­ their own paper, the Herald ofLife and of
religion." Such a provision left no room the continuance of our existence-to cient gospel ministry."51 the Coming Kingdom, under the editor­
for either doctrinal platforms or church leave it all for the Lord to do. To raise The Association's first annual meeting ship of Storrs, to spread their views. The
discipline, except in cases of obvious vio­ and discipline churches, send them was held on October 16 of that same Life and Advent Union's separate exis­
lation of the law of God and the rights of ministers, and his people have no re­ year. That meeting led to establishment tence was made permanent by an action
fellow humans.46 sponsibility upon them! He has of the Christian Publication Society and of the Advent Christians in 1864, stating
In the meantime, the two Albany par­ enough to do without that! More changing the name of the parent associa­ that Union members were not eligible for
ties continued to drift farther apart. properly, he has set us at work, in his tion to the Advent Christian Associa­ membership in the Advent Christian As­
Abrasive leaders such as Miles Grant did vineyard; this seems to be appropriate tion. Thus was born the Advent Chris­ sociation. 53
much to widen the gap. His antagonism to us.49 tian denomination, although the strong A fourth sect related to Albany Ad­
toward the Evangelical Adventists was antidenominational feelings among ventism was the Age to Come Adventists.
highlighted in a four-day debate between Then in July 1860, the leading minis­ many led it to be called an association This group, under the early leadership of
him and Josiah Litch in November 1858 ters of the Crisis Adventists issued a call rather than a church. Needless to say, Joseph Marsh and his Advent Harbinger
on the question "Do the Scriptures teach for a conference at Providence, Rhode even though the Advent Christians were and Bible Advocate (successor to the Voice
the doctrine of the eternal conscious suf­ Island, to discuss "a more efficient sys­ now organized, the administrative struc­ of Truth), taught that the Jews would re­
fering of the wicked?" Litch, of course, tem of action, whereby the cause of ture was extremely weak. The most recent turn to Israel and that individuals would
had done his share to antagonize the con­ truth may be advanced, and especially historian of the Advent Christians claims have a second chance to be saved during
ditionalists. Over the years he had initiated those great principles with which we as that that weakness never was overcome the millennium, or the "Age to Come."
two periodicals ( 'Ihe Anti Annihilationist a people are more particularly identi­ and that it was a contributing factor to Such positions were closer to those of the
and 'Ihe Pneumatologist) to uplift the doc­ fied." "While there has been no unanim­ the denomination's lack of growth.52 British premillennial literalists than they
trine of the conscious state of the dead.47 ity as to a plan of operations," read the Unfortunately, the Advent Christians were to Millerism. In fact, they had been
The debate was soon published in call, "we have been perfectly unanimous did not experience peace in their camp explicitly rejected at the first Millerite
pamphlet form, while charges and coun­ in having none." Part of the problem for too long. In 1861 the editor of the general conference in 1840 and repeat­
tercharges flowed back and forth between they were facing was keeping ministers World's Crisis began to advocate the doc­ edly thereafter.54
the Herald and the Crisis. All hope of in the field and supporting them in their trine that the wicked dead would not be Storrs, Henry Grew, J. B. Cook,
union between the two groups was extin­ work.50 resurrected. That view was an extension 0. R. L. Crosier, and others joined Marsh
guished.48 The July 25 Providence meeting led to of the conditionalist teaching that sin- in these beliefs, even though Storrs found
244 245
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE oF AovENTISM THE ALBANY REACTION

died in Providence, Rhode Island, in


it impossible to work with Marsh. Dur­ tion of the Albany denominations in the his previous understanding regarding the
1886.60
ing the 1850s there was a great deal of last chapter. But first we need to examine Jews. He had come to believe that a rem­
Himes outlasted all of the foremost
interaction between the Age to Come the closing of the careers of Himes and nant of the Jews would return to Palestine.
leaders of the early 1840s. After
believers and those evolving into the Ad­ Litch and the rise of the Sabbatarian Ad­ Those changes put Litch in harmony with Millerite
tour of the British Isles in 1846, he
vent Christians. But after the organiza­ ventists. the dispensationalist movement that de­ his
to edit the Advent Herald. In
tion of the Advent Christians, the two Josiah Litch, perhaps Millerism's veloped between the Civil War and the continued
1850s, however, he got into a
groups drifted apart, though both held to greatest prophetic expositor, joined the end of the century. The dispensationalists the early
le with two Adventist lead­
conditionalism and annihilationism. Evangelical Adventists at the time of were not only futuristic in prophetic power strugg
sought to discredit him. The case
Under the influence of such men as their organization in 1858. Over the interpretation, but they also made the ers who
to the Supreme Court of
Marsh, the Age to Come Adventists years he never lost his interest in proph­ return of the Jews to Palestine a major finally went
d in 1852 before his accusers
found it next to impossible to organize. ecy, even though he totally reversed him- plank in their entire scheme of end­ Rhode Islan
their charges. Ready for a
There were, however, several abortive at­ self on prophetic interpretation. time events. Thus it is not surprising to dropped
in 1855 Himes set out for Cali­
tempts at organization in the 1850s. One In 1873, Litch published A Complete find Litch in attendance at one of the change,
rest, preach the message, and
leader toward organization concluded Harmony ofDaniel and the Apocalypse. In most important conferences in the gen­ fornia to 61
eationally) for a little gold.
that "you might as well talk of organiza­ that work he rejected one of the founda­ esis of the American dispensationalist pan (recr
tion with a herd of bisons or the union of tion stones of Miller's interpretive sys­ movement. Litch, however, was not The year 1858 witnessed Himes sid­
the Evangelical Adventists and
a rope of sand." Extreme individualism tem: the principle that in prophecy, a day the only one of the old advent leaders ing with
rican Millennial Association.
was at the center of this group. They did equals one year. Litch also came to take a present. Henry Dana Ward, chairman their Ame
the Advent Herald to that
not even want organization at the con­ strong stand for a futurist interpretation of the first Millerite general confer- He soon sold
gregational level. Every person was to be of prophecy in place of Millerism' s his­ ence, also attended.58 group. Then in 1860 several major changes
his or her supreme authority.55 his theology. For one
toricist position. Historicism views apoc­ Litch also surfaces periodically as an transpired in
took a renewed interest in the
While the Age to Come Adventists alyp tic prophecy as unfolding continu­ opposer to some of the newer doctrines thing, he
tion as it related to the Second
experimented with several short-lived ously from the time of the prophet down of the various Adventist branches. Not time ques
concluding that Christ would
but weak organizational schemes in the to the Second Coming, while futurism only did he square off with the condi­ Advent,
een 1866 and 1868. For three
1850s, they had no national organization sees most apocalyptic prophecy being tionalists, but in 1880 he debated D. T. return betw
ished the Voice ofthe Prophets
until 1888, when the Church of God in fulfilled immediately before the Second Bourdeau, a Sabbatarian Adventist, over years he publ
that view, which he held until
Christ Jesus was organized in Philadelphia. Advent. As a result, Wellcome warned the proper day of worship. From the re­ to set forth
passed. After that failure, he
That organization, however, ceased to his readers in 1874 that his one-time col­ cord it appears that he apparently saw it the time
forever the idea that the date
function the next year. Significant organi­ league had come to the place where he as a part of his mission to oppose the gave up
zation did not take place until 1921, when interpreted "nearly all of Revelation, after Sabbatarians from time to time.
59 could be known.62
the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith the fifth chapter," as being of "future ful­ Litch made Philadelphia his home More important than Himes' new view
g was his gradual transition in
was organized, with headquarters in Or­ fillment."57 base for most of his career. The year 1884 on datin
egon, Illinois.56 from consciousness in death
Litch's prophetic revisionism had be­ found him as conference president of about 1860
al.ism and annihilationism, a
We will briefly return to an examina- gun as early as 1848, when he reversed Messiah's Church of Pennsylvania. He to condition
246 247
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM THE ALBANY REACTION

position he had fought against all his life. struggle also led him to resign a year true and faithful to the cause. In all of Christ], if present plans are carried
That, of course, led him to move from the later. 65 the burdens and reproaches connect­ out." He repeatedly pointed to what he
Evangelical Adventists to a closer rela­ J. V. Himes, in an effort to defend ed with the advocacy of the Advent believed to be duplicity in a people who
tionship with the Advent Christians.63 himself, began to publish the Himesjour­ cause from the beginning, I have claimed they were expecting the advent
That switch eventuated in Himes be­ nal in 1874. That defense prompted stood in the thickest of the fight, and but were "heaping up riches."69
ginning what proved to be a second ca­ Grant to secure the publication of A still stand true and faithful. And I can
reer in Adventism in 1863. In that year Statement ofFacts Relating to ElderJoshua say that I Ellen White, a Seventh-day Adventist
the Advent Christians formally asked V. Himes in January 1875. Grant's brutal leader who had met Himes at the Battle
him to move west to publish a paper and a�d vulgar attack not only did much to 'Wish Mount Zion well, Creek Sanitarium in the 1870s and with
encourage development of the work in destroy Himes' remaining influence in Whatever becomes of me." whom he had developed a correspondence
that area. February 1864 saw the first is­ the Advent Christian movement, but it in the 1890s, thanked him for his interest
sue of 1he Voice of the West and Second also led to the disciplining of Grant, who He went on to note that he had no wish and generosity toward the Sabbatarian
Advent Pioneer flow from Himes' press in 1876 was removed from the editorship "to divide, or to embarrass the cause."67 cause. "The spirited participation evi­
in Buchanan, Michigan. In 1870 the of the World's Crisis after twenty years of Three years later Himes returned to denced by your donation for this field
Voice became the Advent Christian service.66 the church of his childhood, being or­ [Australia]," she penned in early 1895,
Times. 64 By 1876 the seventy-year-old Himes dained in the Episcopal Church in 1879
But once again Himes was plagued by was about ready to call it quits with for­ at the age of seventy-four. For the next has rejoiced my heart; for it testifies
the personal animosities of some of his mill Adventism. "I have made my defence sixteen years, he served as the rector of that you have not lost the missionary
colleagues, this time in the person of the [sic]," he penned in a public statement, St. Andrews Church in Elk Point, South spirit which prompted you first to
assertive and aggressive Miles Grant, Dakota. 68 give yourself to the work and then to
who had sided with Himes' opponents in and my accusers have not corrected But he was not quite finished with give your means to the Lord to pro­
the Rhode Island trial of 1852. Between their untruthful statements, nor done Adventism. The :fiftieth anniversary of claim the first and second angels'
1869 and 1872, Grant obtained letters me justice. And so I leave them in the the October 1844 disappointment found messages in their time and order to
from three women who charged Himes hands of God, before whose throne I Himes under the care of Dr. J. H. Kel­ the world. This is a great gratification
with immorality. While the aged leader will soon meet them, where justice logg in the Seventh-day Adventists' Bat­ for me; for it bears honorable testi­
eventually admitted to certain impropri­ will be done. tle Creek Sanitarium. He was suffering mony that your heart is still in the
eties, the more serious charges appear to If it be God's will that I should from cancer on the left side of his face. work; I see the proof of your love to
be false. But Grant, through sustained continue to suffer wrong, that my He appreciated the work of the seventh­ the Lord Jesus Christ in your freewill
effort, was able to force Himes out of his .
a: . fior th'1s "reg10n
name should be cast out as evil, that day people and contributed liberally to 011enng beyond."70
Buchanan publishing work and get him my influence should be curtailed in their expanding mission effort. But he
suspended from the ministry. At that any degree, then it is my will also. It was deeply concerned with their interest The old man had spirit, but Kellogg
point, Himes' son, William Lloyd Gar­ shall work for good, God will be glo­ in building up institutions. "The way you had pronounced his cancer incurable. "If
rison Himes, moved the paper to Chicago, rified, and I trust I shall be saved. 'build and plant,'" he penned, "looks like so," opined Himes, "I must yield, after all
where he served as editor until the power I am an Adventist. I have ever been [you expect] a long delay [in the coming my efforts for help, to the inevitable!-!
248 249
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE R1sE OF AovENTISM

may live a year or more, but it will be ninety-first year. He is buried in Mount
great suffering. And so, my last years will Pleasant Cemetery in Sioux Falls, South
be very bad-but the morning will soon Dakota. That cemetery was chosen be­
break and sickness, disease and death will cause it has a hill, and Himes had told his
pass awayfarever. "71 bishop that "'he wanted to be on top of a Chapter 14
Himes died on July 27, 1895, in his hill when Gabriel blows his trumpet.' "72
THE SABBATARIAN
DISENTANGLEMENT

M
ODERN SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS PREFER TO IGNORE it, but their move­
ment began in the midst of a segment of Adventism up to its armpits in
fanaticism by early 1845.

Born in Confusion
Unfortunately, the early leaders of what was to become Sabbatarian Adventism
had little choice about the quality of their companions, because, as we noted above,
post-October 1844 Millerism had split over the shut-door issue. In early 1845 there
were only two basic types of Adventists: the shut-door Adventists and the open-door
Adventists. The first accepted October 22 as a fulfillment of prophecy; the second
rejected that position and eventually came to see the seventh-month movement as a
mistake.
Those Adventists who later became the originators of Sabbatarian Adventism held
that they could hardly accept fellowship with the open-door/Albany Adventists since,
in their rejection of the seventh-month movement, they had denied the very princi­
ples that had undergirded Miller's interpretation of prophecy. To take the open-door
position was to say, in effect, that the 1844 experience was error or delusion. That
conclusion was totally unacceptable to the Sabbatarian originators. Thus they were
left in the company of the Spiritualizers and their fanatical outgrowths.
As a result, we find Ellen Harmon's first writings being published in the Day-Star
at the very time that Jacobs was using the journal to steer many Adventists toward
250
251
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM THE SABBATARIAN DISENTANGLEMENT

Shakerism. James White was utilizing some sort of order into their sector of rational and literal interpretation of the publicize its message, and a system of pe­
the pages of the Day-Star for his letters Adventism. Given J. N. Andrews' back­ Bible. But that minority group, because riodic conferences to give shape and di­
at the same time. Meanwhile, Joseph ground, it is little wonder that he would of its shut-door views, was rejected by the rection to its movement. The future Sab­
Bates was corresponding through the later declare, "I would exchange a thou­ Albany Adventists. At the same time, it batarians had none of those advantages.
pages ofS.S.Snow'sjubilee Standard and sand errors for one truth." He had seen was essentially out of harmony with the Outside of rather nebulous views that
Joseph Marsh's Voice of Truth. Beyond plenty of fanatical error at close range. 2 Spiritualizers. But it took time to discover something had happened on October 22,
that, even a casual reading of Ellen (Har­ Although the individuals who would that disharmony in the disorientation of 1844, and that Christ's coming would be
mon) White's earliest writings repeatedly later become leaders among Sabbatarian late 1844 and early 1845. literal and visible, they had no doctrinal
indicates that both her and her husband's Adventism (i.e., Joseph Bates and James The future Sabbatarians faced a differ­ platform. Nor did they have any leaders,
work took place in the midst of fanatical and Ellen White) found themselves in ent situation than the Albany Adventists conference system, or periodicals. The
elements as they struggled to bring some the midst of the Spiritualizers with their in seeking to define themselves in rela­ only thing that can be said is that there
rational order out of the chaotic situation fanatical excesses, they were almost as tion to the Spiritualizers. The Albany were some like-minded believers who were
of shut-door Adventism between 1845 much out of harmony with some of their group had merely to react against those independently groping for direction in
through 1849. Thus it should not come basic beliefs as they were with the ideas Adventists with whom it was in basic the semidarkness of post-disappointment
as a total shock to find the public press of the Albany Adventists. For example, theological disharmony. By way of con­ Adventism.
noting that one of her early visions took Bates claimed that the Spiritualizers' in­ trast, the future Sabbatarians were in ba­ Three things would have to take place
place in the midst of the Israel Dammon terpretation of Scripture was as deceptive sic harmony with the Spiritualizers on before the Sabbatarians would even have
fanaticism. 1 as sailing into Boston Harbor at night the seventh-month movement and the discrete visibility: (1) the rise of leaders,
Nor were the Whites and Bates the during a severe storm that could put both shut door. (2) the evolution of doctrines that ex­
only future Sabbatarians closely related ship and passengers on the rocks without Thus the Sabbatarians and the open­ plained the Millerite experience and clar­
to shut-door fanaticism. But whereas warning. "Good God!" he exclaimed, door Adventists had quite different tasks of ified wrong notions, and (3) the develop­
they were combating it, other futureSab­ "help us to steer clear of these spiritual self-definition. The open-door Adventists ment of periodicals and organizational
batarians were actually a part of that fa­ interpretations of Thy word, where it is had merely to define themselves over against strategies that could spread those clari­
naticism. For example, both UriahSmith made so clear that the second coming the Spiritualizers, while the future Sabba­ fied doctrines. It is to those topics that
and J. N. Andrews married into a Paris, and kingdom of Christ will be as literal tarians had to extract themselves from the we now turn.
Maine, family deeply involved in erratic and real, as the events that transpired at midst of the fanatical element. The open­
behavior. Nor was Andrews' paternal the first Advent, now recorded in history." door Adventists, in essence, accom­ New Personalities
family exempt from the problem. Ron What was probably his first book, The plished their separation task at Albany, The only one of the founders of Sab­
Graybill put it succinctly when he noted Opening Heavens, was published against but the Sabbatarians would struggle at batarian Adventism who had had any
that Andrews' "father was a no-work fa­ the Spiritualizers' use of Scripture, the self-definition for the rest of the decade. prominence in the Millerite movement
natic" and "his future father-in-law . . . a very use ofScripture that had set them up Their task was not nearly so simple. was Joseph Bates. Bates, the senior mem­
crawler!" James and Ellen White had to for their wild ideas. 3 The task of the Albany group was also ber of the founders, had been born in
confront the fanaticism in those families Thus there was an element among the simplified by the fact that it had well­ 1792. Going to sea at an early age, he
more than once in their struggle to bring shut-door Adventists that argued for a defined leaders, established periodicals to spent the years of the War of 1812 as a

252 253
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AnvENTISM THE SABBATARIAN DISENTANGLEMENT

British prisoner of war. The 1820s found that conference to hold camp meetings at a camp meeting m eastern Maine, winter of 1842/1843, he reports that
him as master of his own sailing ship. and to adopt the influential 1843 pro­ where he heard the preaching of Miller, more than one thousand people were
During that decade, he became interested phetic chart. Bates, as noted earlier, was Himes, and T. M. Preble. At the conclu­ converted through his ministry. That
in the many personal and social reforms also one of those who attempted to sion of the meetings, writes White, "I April he was ordained into the ministry
of the day and joined the Christian Con­ preach the message in the American found myself happy in the faith that of the Christian Connexion.12
nexion. Retiring with a comfortable South.7 Christ would come about the year 1843."9 Young White was dedicated, quick
purse in the late 1820s, he devoted the Isaac Wellcome, his onetime col­ White's convictions, however, brought witted, a preacher of conviction, and an
next decade to working in various reform league, notes that Bates was "an able tension into his life. Up to the time of his evangelist of boundless energy. While
movements.4 speaker and writer, who was very useful conversion to Millerism, he reports, he those talents were evident in the exciting
Bates accepted Miller's teachings in in the work of Christ until he became a had "worshipped" education. But now he months of 1843 and 1844, other gifts
1839. That new interest subsequently Seventh Day Sabbath advocate." 8 Those was under strong conviction that he would come to the surface between Oc­
swallowed up his energies, even though talents, however, were not lost in the should renounce his worldly plans and tober 1844 and 1850. Foremost among
he remained a reformer at heart. Like Sabbatarian movement. Through a give himself "to the work of warning the those gifts were ones related to writing,
other Adventists, he saw the Second Ad­ stream of pamphlets beginning in 1846, people to prepare for the day of God." editing, and the ability to formulate a
vent as the ultimate reform that would Bates became the Sabbatarian's first pub­ He prayed for release but could not find connected line of thought to explain his
solve all the world's ills. Having known licist and theologian. He was also instru­ it. As a result, he begrudgingly surren­ advent experience. Thus White would
Himes from his youth, Bates had worked mental in bringing the other two Sabba­ dered to what he believed to be God's build up, extend, and clarify the theolog­
with Himes in the various reforms. Now tarian founders into an understanding of will.10 ical system that Bates had set forth. But
they teamed up as Adventists.5 the central doctrines that were basic to White's theological education took beyond those talents were White's abili­
Bates was one of sixteen persons who the formulation of Sabbatarian Advent­ place through a study of Fitch's 1843 ties to organize and publish. By the end of
issued the call for the first Millerite gen­ ism. In fact, it was Bates who united the Chart, the Bible, and a few second-advent the decade, he had succeeded Bates as the
eral conference, and he served with various doctrines of the new movement books. He studied diligently for a few publisher for the Sabbatarian Adventists.
Himes, Litch, and two others on the with each other and with Miller's pro­ weeks, gaining a "clearer view of the sub­ The 1850s would see him lead out in their
conference's "committee of arrange­ phetic scheme. Beyond that, he extended ject." After using his previous summer's organizational development.
ments." He also served as one of the as­ that prophetic scheme as he integrated earnings to purchase clothes, the chart, The third member of the trio who de­
sistant chairs of the second general con­ the new doctrines into it. and the books noted above, he borrowed veloped and organized the Sabbatarian
ference.6 A young Millerite preacher by the a horse from his father and was given "a Adventist movement was Ellen G. Har­
Perhaps his most important "official" name of James White would eventually saddle with both pads torn off, and sev­ mon (White after August 30, 1846).
function in the Millerite movement was join Bates in organizing the Sabbatarian eral pieces of an old bridle." Thus he was Born in 1827, she was too young to do
the chairmanship of the pivotal May believers. Born in 1821, White became a ready to hit the evangelistic trail.11 much in the 1844 movement, except tes­
1842 general conference in Boston. That member of the Christian Connexion at White's meetings were a success from tify to her friends and fellow church
conference was the first that came out age fifteen. Up until 1842 he regarded the beginning, as people gave their lives members.13
solidly for 1843 as the year of the end of Millerism to be "wild fanaticism" and to God and came under the conviction She and her family were converted to
the world. In addition, it was decided at wanted no part of it. But that all changed that Christ was coming soon. During the Millerism in early 1840, when they heard

254 255
WILLIAM MILLER AND THE RISE OF AovENTISM THE SABiiATARIAN DISENTANGLEMENT

Miller preach in Portland, Maine. Two Harmon family members were busy tes­ through." In Ellen's report of the vision, she see herself as having tlie prophetic
years later she was accepted into the tifying about their belief to their local she noted that she had the sensation of gift after that experience, but it also di­
Methodist Episcopal Church through church. Their minister visited them in "rising higher and higher, far above the rected het back to the seventh-month
baptism by immersion, even though the hope of convincing them either to dark world." She soon saw the advent movement as a fulfillment of prophecy.
many of her Methodist friends had tried put their ideas aside or to quietly with­ people on a From that point to her death in 1915, she
to convince her that sprinkling was Bible draw from the church and thus avoid a saw the seventh-month movement of
baptism. But she foilowed her convic­ public trial. But Ellen's father answered strait and narrow path, cast high up October 1844 as a "bright light" to guide
tions. Thus from an early age, Ellen Har­ that they preferred such a trial so that the above the world. On this path the God's end-time people.Far from being