Ellen G. White Writings

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The Gathering of Israel, Page 5

retained their earlier denial of the Literalists’ “Judaizing,” probationary millennium. 1Stated in the principles adopted in the Albany, N.Y., conference in April, 1845, and reaffirmed in two conferences in 1850. See Advent Herald, n.s. 5:124-125, 141, May 18 and June 1, 1850.

In April, the principal Millerite leaders, including Miller and Himes, held a conference at Albany, New York. There they adopted a statement of principles and formed a loose organization of Adventist congregations from which, later, came two denominations—the Evangelical Adventists (now defunct) and the Advent Christians. There were others who did not approve of the statement of faith adopted by the Albany conference or of the organization, however rudimentary; yet they also formed part of the majority who regarded the 1844 movement as a mistake.

2. The Two Minorities. A smaller number, on the other hand, held that the 1844 movement had indeed marked the fulfillment of prophecy. They regarded the majority group as having denied God’s leading in that movement, and therefore as having departed from the Advent message. They called the majority the “nominal Adventists,” or “professed Adventists.”

This minority, who held to “their past experience” in 1844, said that the 2300 days had ended and that the parable of the Bridegroom had been fulfilled; and therefore that “the door was shut” after the Bridegroom came to the wedding. (The “shut door” thus became more or less equivalent to the belief in the validity of the 1844 movement.)

But this minority comprised two incompatible groups, divided by two mutually exclusive interpretations of the coming of the Bridegroom to the wedding. Christ had obviously not appeared; if, then, His Second Advent had occurred, it was not a visible, personal coming. Or, if the Second Advent must be visible, personal and glorious, then that event had not yet taken place.

Minority group A held that they had been correct in both the time and the event expected. They insisted that the Second Advent was not a literal, personal return, but a spiritual and invisible coming, “in his saints.” Therefore they were dubbed “spiritualizers” or “spiritualists.” 2See Enoch Jacobs, Editorial, The Day-Star, July 29, 1845, 6:48. This “spiritualism” was not “spiritism” (communication with spirits); the Fox sisters did not have their rappings until 1848. These, holding that Christ had indeed come and they were already in the millennial kingdom, went into “no work” or other fanaticisms. Many of them joined the “kingdom” of the Shakers in 1846, while others soon splintered off or returned to the other Adventists. 3See The Day-Star, November, 1845, 8:24; The Day-Star, April 4, 11, 1846, 10:20, 21, 28; Spiritual Gifts 2:58, 63, 68-75. See also “Spiritualism,” Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, pp. 1415, 1416.

Minority group B held that the time had been right, but that their mistake lay in the expected event; that the fulfillment was not the Second Advent at all; and that a personal, visible coming was still to be awaited. But they refused to deny the validity of their October, 1844, movement as the fulfillment of the 2300 days and of the “midnight cry” of the parable. They said that the Bridegroom had indeed come to the wedding and shut the door (hence they were known as “shut-door” people), but, as some explained it, the Second Advent would be the Bridegroom’s return from the wedding. 4For example, Hiram Edson (see note 29); Apollos Hale and Joseph Turner, in the Advent Mirror, 1:[1,3], January, 1845; Ellen G. White, “End of the 2300 Days” (vision of February, 1845), in Early Writings, 55.

This was the middle group of the three, avoiding on the one hand the spiritualizers’ insistence that both the time and the event had been right, and on the other hand the majority’s abandonment of both. 5One contemporary writer (C. B. Hotchkiss, Letter, in The Day-Star, February 28, 1846, 9:63), in summarizing the differences between the three post-1844 divisions of the Adventists on the analogy of the parable of the talents, calls this middle group the two-talent class. He applies the five talents to his own group, the “spiritualizers,” and the one buried talent to the majority—the “multitude” who have “denied that the 10th day movement was the midnight cry, and a fulfilment of prophecy.” As time went on, many of this class joined the majority.

Chapter 7—Seventh-day Adventists in Middle Position

The Seventh-day Adventist founders—a mere handful at first (the Whites, Bates, and others)—came from this middle group. They adopted the new heavenly-sanctuary explanation arrived at by Hiram Edson on the day after the disappointment; 1Hiram Edson, manuscript on his explanation of the disappointment, quoted in F. D. Nichol, The Midnight Cry (1944), pp. 457-458. they proclaimed the Sabbath doctrine as the third of the three angels’ messages, and eventually they formed the Seventh-day Adventist church.

From the first the Seventh-day Adventist founders opposed the spiritualizers and emphasized the future personal coming of Christ. In fact, they found the ranks of ex-spiritualizers a very poor source of converts. Such converts, observed James White, were so filled with notions of their own spiritual superiority that they could not fit in with their brethren; they proved unstable members, likely to fall away again. 2In The Review and Herald, February 17, 1852, 2:96, January 20, 1853, 3:144.

Thus it appears that the early Seventh-day Adventists were drawn mostly from the middle group, since they could not gain a hearing with the majority. The latter confused them with the spiritualizers because both the Seventh-day Adventists and the spiritualizers held to the validity of the 1844 movement. 3See The Present Truth, May, 1850, 1:74, note 3.

It is no wonder, then, that during these

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