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Ellen G. White: The Early Years: 1827-1862 (vol. 1)

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    Chapter 4—(1844-1845) Make It Known to Others

    Through the early-winter months of 1844-1845, the Advent believers in Portland, Maine—and, in fact, elsewhere—seldom smiled. On the streets they were taunted and ridiculed by former friends and acquaintances. They often had to meet the assertion “You were a set of fools and fanatics” or “I told you so.” The uniform testimony of those who passed through the experience was that only those who had endured it could realize the depth of disappointment and its reality.1BIO 60.1

    During the last days of October and through November, many of the believers lived in constant expectancy. The Advent papers that survived carried word from the leaders in the movement confirming them in their confidence that prophecy had been fulfilled. Wrote William Miller in a letter dated November 18, 1844:1BIO 60.2

    We have done our work in warning sinners, and in trying to awake a formal church. God in His providence has shut the door; we can only stir one another up to be patient, and be diligent to make our calling and election sure.—Letter published in Advent Herald, December 11, 1844.1BIO 60.3

    They fully believed that probation had closed and Jesus would come at almost any moment. But as the days stretched into weeks and Jesus did not come, their faith began to waver. By December most of the believers in the Portland area had abandoned their confidence in the integrity of the October 22 date (A Word to the Little Flock, 22). Every passing day drove home the conviction that nothing had taken place at that time. James White reported in 1847:1BIO 60.4

    When she [Ellen] received her first vision, December, 1844, she and all the band [the group of Advent believers] in Portland, Maine (where her parents then resided) had given up the midnight cry, and shut door, as being in the past.—Ibid.1BIO 61.1

    In other words, they assumed that the 2300 days had not ended yet. Writing to Joseph Bates on July 13, 1847, Ellen White declared:1BIO 61.2

    At the time I had the vision of the midnight cry [December, 1844], I had given it up in the past and thought it future, as also most of the band had.—Letter 3, 1847.1BIO 61.3

    This experience became quite general, and by April, 1845, the larger part of those who had been in the Advent movement and had not immediately repudiated their experience came to conclude that there had been a mistake in the date and that they must look for the fulfillment of the 2300-day prophecy at some time yet to come.1BIO 61.4

    But that vision given to Ellen Harmon in December in the Haines home presented an entirely different picture. God had led His people. The Midnight Cry—a phrase that, as noted, grew out of the application of the parable of the ten virgins to October 22, 1844—shone as a light upon the pathway of the Advent believers who were making their way to the heavenly Canaan. If they trusted this light and kept their eyes fixed on Jesus they would safely enter into their reward.1BIO 61.5

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