Ellen G. White Writings

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The Gathering of Israel, Page 4

Nevertheless, 20th-century British policy in the Middle East owed something to the prophetic interpretation of the Literalists of the 1830s and 1840s.

As one recent writer has put it:

Lord Shaftesbury’s adventure marks the point when events began leading logically toward the [Palestine] Mandate....

Palmerston[’s Middle Eastern policies] mark the beginning of official British intervention on behalf of the “Jewish nation” and of its resettlement in Palestine....

Ashley had not labored in vain.... All these events centering in the Holy Land [including “the visionary prospects aroused by the Evangelical craze for conversion of the Jews and the Jerusalem bishopric”] combined to create almost a proprietary feeling about Palestine. The idea of a British annex there through the medium of a British-sponsored restoration of Israel began to appeal to other minds than Ashley’s. 3Tuchman, op. cit. (1968 ed.), pp. xi, 197, 208.

Chapter 5—Differences Among Adventists

As the developing Millerite movement diverged sharply from the Literalists, there was almost complete agreement among Adventists that the end of this world and the beginning of eternity would come at the Second Advent, with none but the immortal saints surviving in the millennial kingdom. However, a few Millerites saw a difficulty: How could the earth be purified by fire at the Second Advent and yet the bodies of the wicked be raised out of the renewed earth a thousand years later?

By April, 1843, George Storrs (the Millerite most active in teaching conditional immortality) concluded that the destruction at the Second Advent would not be complete. He held that there would be some “left of the nations” in the flesh, in continued probation, as subjects of the millennial kingdom of Christ and the saints, and that the destroying and renovating fires would come at the end of the period. 1George Storrs, Editorial, in Bible Examiner, 5:74, May, 1850; see also ibid., no. 17, Aug. 16, 1844, pp. [1-5].

By October, 1844, wrote L. C. Gunn of Philadelphia, some in one congregation there had adopted a similar view, and Charles Fitch was at the same time (not long before his death) teaching probation for the heathen after the Advent. Others, added Gunn, like himself believed that at or just before the Advent “many of the Jews will be miraculously converted, and hail His appearing with the exclamation, ‘blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.’” All these, he said, “had changed from their former belief, and differed entirely from Mr. Miller, and the great body of advent believers in this country—but agreeing with the Literalists.” 2L. C. Gunn, in Midnight Cry, 7:147, Nov. 7, 1844; on Fitch see also Bible Examiner, no. 17, p. [5], Aug. 16, 1844.

In 1845 Storrs went further. Disillusioned by the Millerite disappointment, he embraced the full Literalist doctrine. “He has finally gone off into Judaism,” complained Enoch Jacobs, editor of The Day Star (Cincinnati). 3The Day-Star, August 11, 1845, 7:3. For Storrs’ statement see Bible Examiner, n.s. no. 1, pp. [1-3], July 16, 1845; he followed this with a series on “Literal Fulfillment of Prophecy” in that and subsequent issues. Thus Storrs was regarded as taking a position outside the ranks of Adventists.

Other Adventists, however, such as E. R. Pinney (1844) and James White (1845) held likewise that the kingdom would not be established on earth until after the millennium, 4James White, in The Review and Herald, October 16, 1855, p. 7. but did not adopt any part of Literalism. Before the disappointment these individual variations, like the differences over innate or conditional immortality, did not cause dissension in the Miller movement.

Chapter 6—Three Post-1844 Divisions

It was a different story, however, after October, 1844. The Adventists who did not fall away from the movement soon split in the search for the cause of their disappointment. Had they been mistaken in their calculation of the 2300 years and in giving the “midnight cry” (“Behold the bridegroom cometh”) of the prophetic parable of the ten virgins? Or in looking for the Second Advent as that fulfillment? Or had they mistaken the nature of the Advent?

During the first few months the feeling was widespread that they were only in a brief “tarrying time” and that Christ would come in a few weeks or months at the most. But by the time the “Jewish year 1844” ran out in the spring of 1845, there were three main groups emerging. None of these three groups embraced the Literalist views (not until 1850 did that become an issue); yet it may be well to pause here to trace these three divisions since they help to explain Mrs. White’s reference to the “scattering time.”

1. The Majority. By the spring of 1845 the majority of the Adventists had abandoned the belief that 1844 had marked any fulfillment of prophecy—either the 2300 days of Daniel or the “midnight cry” of the parable. They concluded that these fulfillments and the three messages of Revelation 14 belonged to the indeterminate future. (Hence they remained open to further timesettings.) This majority

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