Ellen G. White Writings

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The Gathering of Israel, Page 1

The Gathering of Israel

A Historical Study of Early Writings, 74-76

by Julia Neuffer

Former Assistant Book Editor

Review and Herald Publishing Association

Table of Contents

Introduction1
1. Timely Messages1
2. Adventists And Adventism2
3. Judaism2
4. Literalist Foreign Policy3
5. Differences Among Adventists4
6. Three Post-1844 Divisions4
7. Seventh-day Adventists In Middle Position5
8. The Upheavals Of 18486
9. Seventh-day Adventists And Timesetting7
10. Age-To-Come Controversy7
11. The Adventist Reply9
12. Not A Fulfillment Of Prophecy10
13. Meshullam And Old Jerusalem11
14. The Messages Analyzed12

Introduction

“I also saw that Old Jerusalem never would be built up,” wrote Ellen G. White in 1851. What kind of building up did she mean? Was she mistaken?

This sentence appears in Early Writings in a chapter (pp. 74-76) entitled “The Gathering Time,” combined from two visions and some additional lines. (For the text, see pp. 12, 13 below.) One vision, September 23, 1850, dealt with (a) the “gathering time” of “Israel,” (b) the dates on the Millerite 1843 chart, (c) the “daily” and timesetting, and (e) the error of going to Old Jerusalem. Section (d), from the vision of June 21, 1851, deals with the third angel’s message and timesetting. This was inserted when the combination was first published, in Experience and Views (August, 1851). There were added also: (f) a further reference to going to Jerusalem, and (g) the statement about Old Jerusalem not being built up. The whole was reprinted with minor verbal revision in Early Writings (1882).

Why were all these apparently unrelated topics combined?

Chapter 1—Timely Messages

Her closing sentence furnishes a clue:

I also saw ... that Satan was doing his utmost to lead the minds of the children of the Lord into these things now, in the gathering time, to keep them from throwing their whole interest into the present work of the Lord. 1Endnotes Early Writings, 75-76 (italics supplied). For the dates of the two visions, see The Present Truth, November, 1850, 1:86, and Selected Messages 1:188. For the additions see A Sketch of the Christian Experience and Views of Ellen G. White, 48, 62 (generally referred to as Experience and Views)

Her repeated use of the word now indicates that her messages were related to the time in which she wrote. If we examine the record of what was going on in Adventist ranks in 1850 and 1851, and if we look at the historical background of events leading up to that period, we find that all these parts fall into a unified pattern. They deal with various errors centering mainly in a mistaken prophetic interpretation known at that time as the “age-to-come” doctrine.

In August, 1851, about the time when these “gathering time” messages were published together, James White wrote an editorial in the Review and Herald in which he repeated ideas, even phrases, from these visions of September, 1850, and June, 1851. He spoke of the unity before the disappointment and the “distracting views” that sprang up afterward. He urged his brethren now, in the “gathering time,” to avoid errors that might draw interest away from our “present work” and to unite on teaching the essence of the third angel’s message, which “does not hang on time,” but is “stronger than time can be.” 2James White, Editorial, “Our Present Work,” The Review and Herald, August 19, 1851, p. 2.

He also warns against two diversions: “The story of ‘Meshullam’ may please the ear, and the ‘age to come’ occupy and divide the mind.”

Meshullam will be discussed in a later section (page 11). What was the “age to come”? Mrs. White gave one definition, a few months later in a letter, equating it with “looking to old Jerusalem.” 3Ellen G. White, letter 8, 1851, written November 12 to “Brother and Sister Howland.” Referring to some who had been disappointed in expecting the Second Advent in 1851, she mentions having been shown that some “trying to get a substitute after the time passed ... would be looking to Old Jerusalem, or as they called it the age to come.” Joseph Marsh, editor of The Advent Harbinger, equated the age to come with the millennium. 4Joseph Marsh, “The Age to Come,” part 1, Advent Harbinger, n.s. 1:228, Jan. 5, 1851. But Joshua V. Himes, William Miller’s lieutenant and editor of the Advent Herald, called Marsh’s age-to-come doctrine “Judaism,” a defection incompatible with “Adventism.” 5Joshua V. Himes, speaking in a New York conference, Advent Herald n.s. 5:125, May 18, 1850 (see also Isaac C. Wellcome, History of the Second Advent Message, p. 592). That “Judaism” meant the “age-to-come” doctrine is clear from the “address” adopted soon after in a Boston conference, which quotes from Marsh’s series of that title; see the proceedings in Advent Herald, June 1 and 8, 1850.

If we combine these three definitions, we get: “a Judaistic doctrine of the millennium that includes Old Jerusalem.” And that, as self-contradictory as it may sound, is precisely what the age-to-come controversy was about. It raged in the Advent Harbinger and the Advent Herald in 1850 and on, and furnished the background of Mrs. White’s “Gathering Time” messages, as a study of the historical situation will show. This “Judaism,” said Himes, was something on which “we have battled the

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