Ellen G. White Writings

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The Gathering of Israel, Page 3

religious awakening ... foretold in the prophecy of the first angel’s message of Revelation 14,” in that from “the study of the Scriptures” they saw and proclaimed “that the Saviour’s advent was near” (The Great Controversy, 355, 357) and not in the distant postmillennial future. We consider them used of God to awaken multitudes to the central truth of the Second Advent, at the time when the first angel’s message was due, even though they did not have the advancing truths developed by the Millerites and, still further, by the Seventh-day Adventists.

The Millerites emphasized what they held in common with the Literalists—Christ’s personal presence and reign during the millennium—and minimized the latter’s “Literalism” as a curable aberration. 4Ward, op. cit., p. 32.

As Litch later told it:

In 1840, an attempt was made to open an interchange between the Literalists of England and the Adventists in the United States. But it was soon discovered that they had as little fellowship for our Anti-Judaizing notions, as we had for their Judaism; and the interchange was broken off. 5Litch, in Advent Shield, 1:92, May, 1844 (and Source Book, no. 896). For the correspondence, see Source Book, no. 894.

What the Millerites repudiated as “Judaism” had nothing to do with either the religious teachings of the Jews or with the Sabbath. It was one specific doctrine of the millennium, namely, the teaching that the Old Testament prophecies of Israel’s restoration and world leadership were to be fulfilled by a future gathering of literal Jews into Christ’s millennial kingdom—a kingdom on this earth with its capital in literal Jerusalem, to which the nations would come up to a restored temple and its services.

The Millerites, on the contrary, saw in the gathering of Israel the gathering of the immortal saints to meet Christ in the air. All the true children of Abraham by faith—Jew and Gentile—would be caught up at the blast of the trumpet, then would return with Christ to possess the renewed earth. 6William Miller, Views of the Prophecies, pp. 33-34; Resolutions of the 1842 “Boston Second Advent Conference,” The Signs of the Times, June 1, 1842, 3:69; “Declaration of Principles” formulated at the 1843 Boston conference, The Signs of the Times, June 7, 1843, 5:107 (also in Source Book, nos. 1083, 1084).

All attempts to win the Literalists to this view were doomed to failure. There were a few Literalists among the Millerites at first, but by 1842 the most vocal of these pulled out and established their own paper. By that time it had become clear to the Adventists that “Judaism” belonged less to the postmillennialists than to the Literalist premillennialists; that it was indeed basic to their system (as it is today to the modern Literalists, the futurist-dispensationalist premillennialists). 7The American Millenarian, New York. See L. E. Froom, Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4, p. 327 and note. On the dispensationalists, see George E. Ladd, Crucial Questions About the Kingdom of God, pp. 50-52 (and in Source Book, no. 630); also Froom, op. cit., vol. 4, pp. 1220-1227; and Source Book, no. 1073, note.

Chapter 4—Literalist Foreign Policy

The British Literalists—strong among the Anglican Evangelicals and in various Nonconformist churches—were not about to abandon their hopes of converting Jews and sending them to Palestine to meet their Messiah, especially not around 1840, when the current British policy of offering protection to Jews living in Palestine raised great expectations among the premillennialists. Indeed, Literalist influence was unofficially helping to shape that policy. An ardent Literalist, Lord Ashley (later the Earl of Shaftesbury), was stepson-in-law and confidant of Lord Palmerston, the British foreign secretary. Ashley had private hopes of bringing about, through British action, the restoration of Israel to Palestine in preparation for the Second Advent. In 1840 he prodded Palmerston, by adducing political reasons, into seeking international backing for Jewish migration to Palestine, while he confided to his diary his own very different motives, which were distinctly religious:

Dined with Palmerston. After dinner left alone with him. Propounded my scheme, which seemed to strike his fancy .... Palmerston has already been chosen by God to be an instrument of good to His ancient people; to do homage, as it were, to their inheritance, and to recognize their rights without believing their destiny .... I am forced to argue politically, financially, commercially; these considerations strike him home; he weeps not like his Master over Jerusalem, nor prays that now, at last, she may put on her beautiful garments. 1Anthony Ashley, Earl of Shaftesbury, Diary entries, quoted in Edwin Hodder, The Life and Work of the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, vol. 1, pp. 310, 311. Ashley was the one referred to, but not named (in London Times, Aug. 17, 1840, p. 3, col. 5), as the promoter of western-sponsored Jewish migration to Palestine.

Ashley’s influence was likewise behind the establishment of a consulate in Jerusalem in 1838, also the creating of an Anglican bishopric there in 1841 and the appointment to it of a Jewish Christian bishop. On October 16, 1841, he wrote in his diary: “Where would the Sultan’s permission [to build the bishop’s church] have been without Palmerston’s vigour in consequence of my repeated and earnest representations?” 2Hodder, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 377 (cf. pp. 370, 374). See also Harold Temperley, England and the Near East: The Crimea (1936), p. 443, note 275; Barbara W. Tuchman, Bible and Sword (1956, 1968), chap. 10.

But Ashley’s dream of a British-sponsored and treaty-protected Jewish migration to Palestine did not materialize. The four-power treaty of 1840 ignored the matter. Even the Jews themselves showed little interest; more than half a century passed before Zionism arose.

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