Ellen G. White Writings

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The Gathering of Israel, Page 2

whole church,” and which “we have repudiated from the beginning.” 6Advent Herald, n.s. 5:124, 125, May 18, 1850.

We must go back, then, to the beginning of the Miller movement to learn what the incompatible “Adventism” and “Judaism” were.

Chapter 2—Adventists and Adventism

The name “Adventist,” coined by the people nicknamed “Millerites,” was applied by them to their own movement. 1Ibid., p. 124; see Miller’s statement, ibid., 9:130, June 4, 1845 (also reprinted in Seventh-day Adventist Bible Students’ Source Book, 1962 ed., no. 7). See also “Adventist,” Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, pp. 11 It also appears in reference books in the phrase “Adventist bodies” to designate the denominations (including Seventh-day Adventists) derived from the original Adventists, or Millerites. Nowadays we most often use “Adventist” as a short form of “Seventh-day Adventist.” But sometimes we find it, or the phrase “Advent movement,” employed rather loosely to mean a larger, international movement that preceded and included the Miller movement—the “Advent Awakening” that rose in the early nineteenth century (and had its roots even earlier). It comprised many individuals and a few groups in many countries who looked for the Second Advent as near. Because they expected Christ’s coming before the millennium, their doctrine is called “premillennialism.”

Adventism, properly speaking, was the doctrine of the Adventists, that is, the Millerite type of premillennialism. The Adventists were not alone in teaching “the Advent near,” or in setting dates for Biblical time prophecies or even for the Second Advent. There were other premillennialists, especially in Great Britain, who did both. (These were called Literalists, for reasons that will be explained later.)

But the Adventists were distinctive in teaching (1) that the Second Advent—expected at the end of Daniel’s 2300 year-days—would end this present world and usher in the eternal kingdom, (2) that Christ’s coming would destroy all the unsaved and resurrect and transform all the redeemed, consequently ending probation for all mankind and leaving only the immortal saints to live in the kingdom; and (3) that after the millennium (which they regarded as the first thousand years of the eternal state on the new earth), the rest of the dead (that is, all the unsaved) would rise in the second resurrection, then revolt and thereupon receive their final punishment. 2“Declaration of Principles,” The Signs of the Times, June 7, 1843, 5:107, 108; also reprinted in Source Book (1962), no. 1084. See also “Millerite Movement,” Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, pp. 895, 896; and Source Book, no. 7, note.

(The Seventh-day branch of Adventism held the same, except for placing the millennial reign in heaven and timing the renewal of the earth at the end of that period.)

Both kinds of premillennialists (Adventists and Literalists) opposed the then-prevalent postmillennialism, which placed the Second Advent after the millennium. The postmillennialists pictured the millennial kingdom as Christ’s “spiritual,” not literal, reign—through the triumph of the church. They envisioned the conversion of the world in general and the righteous rule of the godly, with man in a still mortal but vastly improved state. They expected the personal return of Christ, if at all, after the thousand years (or perhaps, on the year-day principle, 360,000 years), in the distant future. 3For a Millerite explanation of the difference between the Adventists, the postmillennialists (“millenists”), and the Literalist premillennialists (“millenarians”), see Josiah Litch, “The Rise and Progress of Adventism,” Advent Shield, 1:47, 48, May, 1844 (also in Source Book, no. 1085). Litch speaks of postmillennialism as having “almost universally prevailed ten years ago” (Advent Shield, 1:89); and in 1840 it was still “fully settled in the public mind” (Henry Dana Ward, “History and Doctrine of the Millennium,” p. 59, in Report of the [First] General Conference of Christians Expecting the Advent). In 1841 Alexander Campbell called it “the Protestant theory” in his summary of these three millennial views in his paper, Millennial Harbinger, 5:8, 9, January, 1841 (also in Source Book, no. 1077).

Chapter 3—Judaism

It was this earthly-Utopia doctrine of postmillennialism that the Millerites at first labeled “Judaizing” and “Judaism.” These terms, used in their first Adventist general conference, held at Boston in 1840, were borrowed from two sixteenth-century Protestant creeds. 1Ward, op. cit., pp. 26, 28. For these two creedal statements see, respectively, Philip Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, vol. 3, p. 18, and vol. 1, p. 615, note 1. 14[38] Only later did they apply them to the Literalist premillennialists. Here is the reason that they did so:

The Literalists insisted that the Old Testament Messianic prophecies were to be fulfilled literally and in detail in the millennial kingdom, especially to literal Israel and Judah in the flesh. According to this view the kingdom, though ruled by Christ and the resurrected and immortalized saints, would include mortal Jews in Palestine; its capital would be literal Jerusalem, with a literal temple, to which would come up those “left of the nations,” still in the flesh; and probation and mortality would continue through the millennium. 2See Source Book, nos. 1052, 1073 and note, 1077 (on “Mr. Begg’s theory”).

Nevertheless the Adventists, at the time of their first general conference, in 1840, still regarded these fellow-premillennialists (including such men as Wolff, Irving, and others) as brethren in proclaiming the “advent near.” 3For example, Henry Jones, Letter, in The Signs of the Times, October 15, 1840, 1:109 (also in Source Book, no. 894). For the difference between Wolff and the Adventists, see Advent Herald, n.s. 5:102, April 27, 1850. They recommended the Literalist writings against postmillennialism, even though knowing these mingled certain errors with their central truth of the Second Advent.

Similarly, we today regard the Millerites as our forerunners although they, in correcting some of the Literalist errors, retained others of their own. We also recognize the British and European premillennialists as part of the “great

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