Ellen G. White Writings

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The Gathering of Israel, Page 7

buy the land of Canaan for the Jews. 7Bible Examiner, 3:58, April, 1848, quoting the Sunday Dispatch. As 1850 approached, the press quoted several prognostications of momentous events—one a 17th-century “prophecy” that there would be mid-19th-century upheavals in the nations, that a “prince from the north” would overrun Europe, and that “a new pastor, the final one” would come and bring peace. 8A supposed prophecy “De Fluctibus Misticae Navis,” found in an Augustinian convent, credited to the Journal of Commerce (New York), June 13, 1849, by D. T. Taylor in Advent Harbinger, n.s. 1:25 [i.e. 52], Aug. 4, 1849. Such newspaper stories were picked up by a few Adventist writers—by some for refutation, by others for exhibit as signs of the times. 9For example, see the items mentioned in notes 38-40.

Individual timesetters looking to 1850 became more numerous than ever. Probably one reason for this, in addition to the world events, was the fact that 1850 was the latest date to which they could stretch the 2300 days by shifting the 70 weeks, without divorcing the latter from the crucifixion date (though when 1850 passed some managed to stretch the 2300 to 1851 anyway). 10Based on ending the 69th of the 70 weeks at the cross, this dating was set forth by numerous writers in Adventist papers, though not adopted by the leaders. See, for example, Thomas Smith, in Advent Herald, n.s. 5: 71, March 30, 1850 (replied to by Himes); S. Bliss, refuting Stephen Reed, ibid., 6:220, Aug. 10, 1850; C. Woodward, in Advent Harbinger, n.s. 3:19, July 5, 1851; see discussions and refutations of these dates in The Review and Herald, December 1850, 1:23; The Review and Herald, March, 1851, pp. 49, 52.

Chapter 9—Seventh-day Adventists and Timesetting

While James and Ellen White were living in Oswego, New York, in 1849-1850, they found themselves contending with two timesetting preachers who printed a paper there, The Watchman, to proclaim the Advent in 1850. 1These were J. C. Bywater and Jonas Wendall; see Spiritual Gifts 2:122; see also mention in Present Truth, 1:61, 64, 78, March, May, 1850. The Seventh-day Adventists were doctrinally immune to any shifting of the 2300 days or 70 weeks, yet they were exposed to all these notions as either set forth or refuted in the other Adventist journals. Although James White kept date-setting out of his own papers (the Present Truth, the Advent Review, and the Review and Herald), two of his brethren went into print on their own: Hiram Edson for 1850 and Joseph Bates for 1851.

Edson’s 1849 booklet predicted with great assurance the close of probation in that year and the Second Advent in 1850; Bates’ 1850 pamphlet set forth no positive prediction, but made the point clearly enough in his conclusion that Christ’s ministry in the Holy of Holies would last seven years (from 1844). 2Hiram Edson, The Time of the End (1849), pp. 15, 13; Joseph Bates, An Explanation of the Typical and Antitypical Sanctuary (1850), pp. 10, 11. Both dated “the fullness of the Gentiles” and the end of “the times of the Gentiles” in 1844, and both saw this as bringing a change to “a remnant” of Israel, 3Here they differed from the prevailing view that the times of the Gentiles extended to the Second Advent. yet neither adopted the Literalist view. Do we see here the influence of Litch’s 1848 work already mentioned?

Although Bates barely referred to “mercy being extended to a remnant of literal Israel,” Edson wrote a whole pamphlet on “the final return of the Jews in 1850.” 4Bates, p. 12; Edson, An Exposition of Scripture Prophecy (privately printed, 1849; 41 pp.); on the times of the Gentiles see pp. 4, 20. He quoted newspaper accounts of the European upheavals, and Noah’s flowery speech. He concluded that 1844 had ended the treading underfoot of the sanctuary, and that 1850 would see 144,000 Jews gathered to Jerusalem and sealed. Since his term “Jews” includes also the ingrafted Gentiles who receive the seal (the Sabbath) his language almost seems to invite the reader to go to “old Jerusalem,” though he does not actually say that. 5Edson, An Exposition, pp. 9-13, 19, 20, 30-32, 41. And he was definitely not a Literalist.

Neither of the private publications seems to have had widespread influence on Seventh-day Adventists, and both men abandoned their atypical views almost before the ink was dry.

In 1850 David Arnold, writing in the Present Truth, likewise quoted the Noah address as evidence that the Jews were no longer trodden down since the end of the times of the Gentiles, in 1844. 6David Arnold, “Daniel’s Visions,” The Present Truth, March, 1850, 1:59-63. Probably James White permitted that article in his columns because it opposed the 1850 date setting, and it did not actually teach Literalism.

These productions show the need for Mrs. White’s 1850 and 1851 messages to guard her brethren against some of the contemporary winds of doctrine.

Chapter 10—Age-To-Come Controversy

Indeed, the winds of doctrine developed hurricane force in 1850 among the Adventists—especially the majority group—over “the age to come.” This was a new name for the old Literalism that the Millerites had denounced as “Judaism.” The result was the emergence of an unorganized but distinct age-to-come party, comprising those who adopted the Literalist view of the millennium. 1For Joseph Marsh’s summary of the age-to-come doctrine, see his The Age to Come (1851), pp. 125-128. (For an opponent’s later summary, including variant views of it, see J. H. Waggoner, “The Age to Come,” The Review and Herald, December 11, 1855, p. 7.) Other Adventists had adopted Literalism before Marsh. Storrs has been mentioned already. Others were J. B. Cook and Henry Grew, both of whom wrote in the Advent Harbinger. O. R. L. Crosier also advocated this view. Several years later a few Seventh-day Adventists, led by J. M. Stephenson and D. P. Hall, defected and formed an “age-to-come” offshoot (see “Messenger Party,” Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia). The leading exponents described it in slightly varying forms, but they all saw it as a period of continuing probation, with mortal Jews in literal Jerusalem. Some adherents of the age-to-come teaching came, eventually, to be organized in denominations bearing the name Church of God: one (observing Sunday) was the Church of God of Abrahamic Faith (Oregon, Ill.), and another group (Sabbatarian)—via two Seventh-day Adventist offshoots—became the Church of God (Denver, Colo.) and other bodies related thereto, including what later became known as the Worldwide Church of God. 2Ibid.; also “Marion Party” in the same volume. For the denominations see also U.S. Bureau of the Census, Religious Bodies, 1936, vol. 2, part 1, pp. 36, 46; Frank S. Mead, Handbook of Denominations (1961), pp. 23, 75; on the Radio Church of God see Herbert W. Armstrong’s autobiographical statements in The Plain Truth, August, 1959, p. 15; December, 1959, p. 7; September, 1960, pp. 16, 17.

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