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Foundations of the Seventh-day Adventist Message and Mission

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    C. The Climax of Millerite Missionary Activity

    1. The “10th day of the seventh month.”

    Not long after the first disappointment, the Millerites found an explanation that helped maintain their faith in the imminent Second Advent through their interpretation of Habakkuk 2:3 which suggested a delay:FSDA 93.1

    “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end” [of the prophetic periods] “it shall speak and not lie; though it tarry,” [beyond their apparent termination] “wait for it; because” [when they are fulfilled] “it will surely come, it will not tarry.” 2Editorial, “Fundamental Principles,” AH, April 24, 1844, p. 92. (Brackets his.) Cf. E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts 1:138, 153; ibid., IV, 1864, pp. 241, 242. A similar rationale was used in 1843 (Editorial, “If the Vision Tarry, Wait for It,” The Signs of the Times, August 9, 1843, p. 180).FSDA 93.2

    When after the disappointment various Millerites renounced their former convictions, the faithful ones interpreted the delay as a means of purifying the Advent believers so that they were “enabled to know who would have loved to have the Lord come.” 3Editorial, “Who Would Love To See the Lord[?]” AH, April 17, 1844, p. 86. They called the period after March 21, 1843 the tarrying time “when the Bridegroom tarries-Matthew 25:5, to which the kingdom of heaven should be likened when ‘that evil servant [there having been an apparent failure in the time] shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming.’” 4Editorial, “Our Position,” p. 93. (Brackets his.) This period was also designated as the “little while” (Hebrews 10:37), the “quickly” (Revelation 11:14), the “waiting time” (Hebrews 2:1, 4), and the “day” (Hebrews 10:25). 5Himes, “The Gilmanton Feast,” AH, July 17, 1844, p. 190.FSDA 93.3

    Immediately following the spring disappointment missionary activity was reduced, but the Midnight Cry and Judgment Hour message continued to be preached but without the emphasis on a definite time period. The missionary thrust was now to induce people to live “in continual readiness and constant expectation of the Lord’s coming.” 6Editorial, “Our Position As To Time ...,” ASR, May 1844, p. 125.FSDA 93.4

    After some months, a time setting expounded by Snow aroused the attention of many Millerites. Already in February 1844, on the basis that the 69th week (Daniel 9:27) terminated in the fall of A.D. 27, he reckoned that the Second Advent would take place in the autumn of 1844. 7See supra, p. 91. Cf. Snow, “Prophetic Chronology,” p. 15. Snow began to propagate his new insights in Jan. 1844 (Letter, Snow to Southard, MC, June 27, 1844, p. 397). In May 1844 Snow calculated the end of the 2300 days in the autumn of 1844 because of his view that the Crucifixion occurred in the middle of the 70th week in the spring of A.D. 31 and the 70th week terminated in the autumn of A.D. 34. 1Snow, “Dear Brethren of the Advent Faith,“ MC, May 2, 1844, p. 353 [335]. Here he determined the year A.D. 31 on the dating of the reign of Tiberius, the ministry of John the Baptist, and Christ’s ministry of 3 1/2 years. Cf. Snow, “Prophetic Chronology,” MC, Sept. 19, 1844, p. 87.FSDA 93.5

    It was in August, 1844, that Snow issued a periodical, the True Midnight Cry, for the specific purpose of proclaiming this message. In his exposition Snow assumed that the commencement of the 2300 days and the 70 weeks had to be dated from the time of “the promulgation and execution” of the decree (Daniel 9:25) in Judea and not from the time that the decree was first issued. 2Snow, TMC, Aug. 22, 1844, p. [2]. For an extensive study on the significance of the decrees of Cyrus, Darius I, and Artaxerxes for “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:25), see Andrews, The Commandment to Restore and to Build Jerusalem, 1865. The time of the execution of the decree he found as follows:FSDA 94.1

    From Ezra 7:8, 9 we learn that Ezra began to go up [to Jerusalem] on the first day of the first month, and arrived at Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, in the 7th year of Artaxerxes, B.C. 457. Having arrived at Jerusalem, he appointed magistrates and judges, and restored the Jewish Commonwealth, under the protection of the king of Persia, as he was fully authorized to do by the decree of Artaxerxes. This necessarily required some little time, and brings us to the point when, the restoring having been effected, the building of the street and wall commenced. The 70 weeks are divided into three parts: 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and 1 week-see Daniel 9:25. The connection shows that the 7 weeks were allotted for the building of the street and wall. They therefore commenced when they began to build, in the autumn of B.C. 457; from that point, 2300 years reach to the autumn of A.D. 1844. 3Snow, TMC, p. [2]. Cf. E. G. White, The Great Controversy, 327, 398, 399. For a recent scholarly study by two SDA which advocated the year 457 B.C. for Ezra’s journey in the 7th regnal year of Artaxerxes, see Siegfried H. Horn and Lynn H. Wood, The Chronology of Ezra 7, 2nd ed., rev., 1970.FSDA 94.2

    Another method of verifying this calculation Snow based on the relation between the date of the Crucifixion and the termination of the 70 weeks. The termination of the 69th week he placed at the time of “the manifestation of the Messiah” when “Jesus began the proclamation of the gospel in Galilee, in the autumn of A.D. 27.” 4Snow, TMC, p. [3]. Snow added that Jesus Himself told the Jewish nation when the period of 69 weeks had terminated by proclaiming, “The time is fulfilled” (Mark 1:14, 15; Matthew 4:12, 17; Acts 10:37). Cf. E. G. White, The Great Controversy, 327 Three and a half years later, in the middle of the 70th week (Daniel 9:27), “Jesus caused the sacrifice and the oblation to cease by offering himself as a Lamb, without spot, to God upon the cross.” 5Snow, TMC, p. [3]. Cf. E. G. White, The Great Controversy, 327, 328. Snow accepted Dr. Hales’ view that the Crucifixion occurred in the spring of A.D. 31 and stated that it was confirmed by the Karaite reckoning. 1Snow, TMC, p. [3]. The covenant of Daniel 9:27 he identified with “the new covenant, i.e. the gospel” while its confirmation signified its establishment “on a firm foundation” during the 70th week, when “the covenant was confirmed half a week by Christ, and the other half by his apostles.” 2Ibid. The termination of the 70th week occurred in the autumn of A.D. 34 when Paul was converted and became the last apostolic witness to confirm the covenant. 3Ibid., p. [4]. Cf. E. G. White, The Great Controversy, 328. From the end of the 70th week he arrived at the autumn of 1844:FSDA 94.3

    As Jesus Christ was crucified in the midst or middle of the week, and the day of the Passover, which was the fourteenth day of the first month, it follows that the week began in the 7th month of A.D. 27, and ended in the 7th month of A.D. 34.... And from the 7th month of A.D. 34, 1810 years extended to the 7th month of A.D. 1844. 4Snow, TMC, p. [4].FSDA 95.1

    Although these calculations indicated the season in which the Second Advent would take place, the exact date was determined by Snow through the topological argument which had been expounded by Miller more than a year before. Miller had shown that the Jewish feasts were types that were to be fulfilled by Christ at both His First and Second Advent. 5See supra, p. 88. According to Snow, the vernal types which had been fulfilled at the First Advent were: (1) The Passover with its antitype in the death of Christ as the Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7); (2) the offering of the first fruits of the harvest on the morning after the Sabbath (Leviticus 23:6, 7, 10, 11) with its antitype in the resurrection of Christ as the first fruits from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20-23); (3) the Feast of Weeks (Leviticus 23:15, 16), seen as the anniversary of the Lord’s descent on Mount Sinai at the giving of the Law, with its antitype in the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. 6Ibid. On the topological significance of the Mosaic institutions, see [Hale], “Seventh Month,” pp. 52, 53, 60-62; Editorial, “Behold! the Bridegroom Cometh!” AH, Oct. 9, 1844, pp. 78, 79. However, the autumnal types which were observed in the seventh month of the Jewish year never had their fulfillment in the antitype. The only explanation for this he found in the assumption that they were to be fulfilled at the Second Advent. It was the type of the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, which led Snow to the calculation of the exact date of Christ’s return, stating that on the Day of Atonement, the 10th day of the seventh month, the high priest went into the most holy place of the tabernacle, presenting the blood of the victim before the mercy seat, after which on the same day he came out and blessed the waiting congregation of Israel. See Leviticus 9:7, 22, 23, 24, and Leviticus 16th chap.; Hebrews 5:1-6, and 9:1-12, 27, 28. Now the important point in this type is the completion of the reconciliation at the coming of the high priest out of the holy place. The high priest was a type of Jesus our High Priest; the most holy place, a type of heaven itself; and the coming out of the high priest a type of the coming of Jesus the second time to bless his waiting people. As this was on the tenth day of the 7th month [Karaite reckoning], so on that day Jesus will certainly come, because not a single point of the law is to fail. All must be fulfilled. 1Snow, TMC, p. [4]. Cf. Hotchkiss, “Prophetic Periods,” pp. 38, 39; Peavey, “The Seventh Month,” MC, Sept. 12, 1844, p. 75; Peavey, “Bridegroom,” p. 103, Storrs, “‘Go Ye Out To Meet Him,’” Bible Examiner, Sept. 24, 1844, p. [1]; Editorial, “Bridegroom,” p. 79; Editorial, “Types,” pp. 116, 117; Miller, “Bro. Miller’s Letter on the Seventh Month,” MC, Oct. 12, 1844, p. 122; Hale, “Whiting,” pp. 82, 83, Editorial, “Address to the Public,“AH, November 13, 1844, pp. 109, 110. The Feast of Tabernacles, which began on the 15th day of the 7th month (Leviticus 23:34, 43), Snow interpreted as “a type of the marriage supper of the Lamb; which will be celebrated in the New Jerusalem, the tabernacle of God which is to be with men” (TMC, p. [4]).FSDA 95.2

    It was a rather general belief that Christ, as the antitypical High Priest, had entered into the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary after His ascension to perform His intercessory work. The Millerites concluded that, after the completion of this ministry, Christ would come out of the most holy place to bless His people, just as, according to their exegesis, the high priest of the earthly sanctuary did after having completed his atoning ministry, on the 10th day of the seventh month. 2See supra, p. 88, n. 60. The idea that Christ would enter the holy place on the antitypical Day of Atonement was dismissed (Hale, “Whiting,” p. 83).FSDA 96.1

    2. The “Tru e Midnight Cry.”

    For months Snow’s calculations aroused but little attention. At the Exeter camp meeting (August 12-17, 1844), however, his exact date for Christ’s return stirred many Millerites with an enormous enthusiasm, bringing their missionary endeavor to a peak. Their response as a whole came quickly to be known as the Seventh Month movement. 3Bliss, “The Seventh Month Movement ...,” ASR, Jan. 1845, p. 267. Although the Millerite leaders recognized some value in Snow’s position, they were skeptical about the renewed emphasis on time and pointed out that “in view of our Savior’s assurance, that we know not ‘the day or the hour,’ or as some read it, no man ‘maketh it known,’ we should hesitate before we should feel authorized to attempt to ‘make known’ the very day.” 4Editorial, “The Exeter Campmeeting,” AH, August 21, 1844, p. 20. On Litch’s scepticism of Snow’s views, see “The Seventh Month,” AH, August 21, 1844, p. 21; “The Deliverance-the Seventh Month,” AH, September 11, 1844, pp. 46, 47. Some weeks before the expected event, however, the leaders joined the Seventh Month movement and allowed Snow’s views to be printed in the major Millerite periodicals and gave their full support. 6Editorial, “The Seventh Month,” Advent Harbinger and Midnight Alarm [Aug.? 1844], pp. 7, 8. Cf. supra, p. 81. After Snow’s influence on the British “Millerites” they also paid attention to the subject of the 10th day of the seventh month.FSDA 96.2

    This enthusiastic revival of missionary enterprise was interpreted as the exact fulfillment of the parable of the ten virgins of Mt. 25 and was identified as the True Midnight Cry. According to Storrs, the previously proclaimed Midnight Cry was “but the alarm. NOW THE REAL ONE IS SOUNDING: and Oh, how solemn the hour.” 1Storrs, “‘Go Ye Out,’” p. [1]. Storrs’ exposition on Mt. 25 was repr. in the major Millerite periodicals. He interpreted the ten virgins of the parable not any more as symbolizing mankind in general as Miller had done, 2See supra, p. 40. but as “the professed believers in the advent in ‘1843.’” 4Storrs, “The Lord’s Chronology,” MC, Oct. 3, 1844, p. 102. After the first disappointment, he felt that the virgins entered the tarrying time because they all slumbered and slept on the subject of the exact time of the Second Advent, but the True Midnight Cry aroused them at midnight so that the believers in the imminent return of Christ began searching their Bibles to verify the validity of the new insight into the exact date of the parousia.FSDA 96.3

    Storrs pointed out that the parable provided the chronology of the tarrying time and the explanation for the True Midnight Cry of the Seventh Month movement. The tarrying time, he argued, would last for half a year,FSDA 97.1

    because, our Lord says “at mid-night,” while the Bridegroom tarried. This vision was for “2300 evening mornings,” or days. An “evening,” or night is half of one of those prophetic days, and is therefore six months. That is the whole length of the tarrying time. The present strong cry of time commenced about the middle of July, and has spread with great rapidity and power, and is attended with a demonstration of the Spirit, such as I never witnessed when the cry was “1843.” It is now literally, “go ye out to meet him.” 5Storrs, “‘Go Ye Out,’” p. [2]. Cf. Editorial, “The Advent Herald,” AH, October 30, 1844, p. 93; J. White, Life, p. 165; E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts 4:248; E. G. White, The Great Controversy, 398, 426-28. According to Bates, Snow gave the True Midnight Cry in the Tabernacle in Boston about July 20, 1844. Then it was presented at a camp meeting in Concord, New Hampshire, about the first of August before it was presented at Exeter (SAWH, p. 30).FSDA 97.2

    Thus, the time element “at midnight” (Mt. 25:6) was interpreted in the context of the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 and the year-day principle. The commencement of the tarrying time he dated in “March or April” 1844 and the termination of the 10th of the seventh month as not “farther off than October 22 or 23: it may be sooner.” 6Storrs, “‘Go Ye Out,’” p. [2]. To clear the uncertainty about the exact dating of the 10th day of the 7th month on the Gregorian calendar, Hale published Oct. 22, 1844 as the Jewish Day of Atonement according to Karaite reckoning (“Seventh Month,” p. 60). Although the editor of the Midnight Cry suggested Oct. 23, 1844 (Editorial, “Jewish Year,” p. 117), the periodical also published articles favoring Oct. 22 for the parousia. There was also the suggestion that the event could take place between Oct. 22 and 24 (Editorial, “Time at Jerusalem,” MC, Oct. 19, 1844, p. 132). In the last issue before the expected event, Oct. 22 was favored (Himes, “Disturbances at the Tabernacle,” MC, Oct. 19, 1844, p. 136). Because of circumstances due to variations of the moon and the ripening of the harvest by which the Karaite year was determined, it could sometimes occur that the Karaite and the Rabbinical year commenced with the same new moon. This resulted in the idea that there was even a possibility that the 7th month could commence with the new moon in Sept. 1844 (Peavey, “Seventh Month,” p. 75). Cf. Editorial, “The Seventh Month,” AH, September 11, 1844, p. 45. Storrs stated that the True Midnight Cry commenced “at midnight” in the middle of the tarrying time in “the latter part of July,” whenFSDA 97.3

    God put this cry into the hearts of some of his servants, and they saw, from the Bible, that God had given the chronology of the tarrying time, and its length. There it is, in the 25th of Mat.-“At midnight there was a cry made, BEHOLD THE BRIDEGROOM COMETH; GO YE OUT TO MEET HIM.” Here we are-the last warning is now sounding!! 1Storrs, “‘Go Ye Out,’” p. [2].FSDA 98.1

    It was the historicization of the parable of Mt. 25 that gave the Millerites the conviction that they fulfilled a vital part in the consummation of the history of salvation. The self-identification of those participating in the Seventh Month movement with the virgins in the parable explains in large measure why the imminence of Christ’s coming did not paralyze their missionary activity. In the parable the sleeping virgins were awakened through the proclamation of the midnight cry regarding the coming of the Bridegroom. To those preaching the True Midnight Cry this indicated that, with their message of the definite time for the coming of the Bridegroom, they had the responsibility of awakening the sleeping virgins. It was especially this self-understanding of being participants in a prophetic movement that transformed their fervent eschatological expectations into a zealous missionary enthusiasm. Thus Storrs could report that this last warning progressed during September 1844 “with the rapidity of lightning.” 2Storrs, “Lord’s Chronology,” p. 102. Regarding its effects on believers he stated:FSDA 98.2

    Where this cry gets hold of the heart, farmers leave their farms, with their crops standing, to go out and sound the alarm-and mechanics their shops. There is a strong crying with tears, and a consecration of all to God, such as I never witnessed. There is a confidence in this truth such as was never felt in the previous cry, in the same degree; and a weeping or melting glory in it that passes all understanding except to those who have felt it. 3Storrs, “‘Go Ye Out,’” p. [2].FSDA 98.3

    During this time even “tobacco and snuff boxes, and pipes” were sacrificed, their use being considered “an idle and sinful habit” that neither benefitted the body nor glorified God. 4Bates, SLG, 1849, p. 67.FSDA 98.4

    It does not seem that they envisaged a world-wide proclamation of the True Midnight Cry (the time being so short), but many did as much as possible to warn others. The main thrust and purpose of this last mission of warning, according to Storrs, was to wake up the sleeping virgins-those who had been believers in the Advent message in 1843. 5Storrs, “‘Go Ye Out,’” p. [1]. In regard to man’s salvation the general feeling among participants in the Seventh Month movement seems to be that those who loved Christ and His appearing would demonstrate the fact by accepting the message of the imminent personal return of Christ and separate themselves from fallen Babylon before the door of probation would close and the destiny of human lives be fixed forever.FSDA 98.5

    3. The second or great disappointment

    Shortly before the expected event nearly all Millerites participated in the proclamation of the True Midnight Cry of the Seventh Month movement, and it was stated that “the time has been almost universally received by all the Adventists.” 1Editorial, “The Meetings at the Tabernacle,” AH, October 16, 1844, p. 88. Miller anticipated that probationary time for mankind would terminate a few days before October 22, stating, “I am strong in my opinion that the next [October 13] will be the last Lord’s day sinners will ever have in probation and within ten or fifteen days from thence, they will see him, whom they have hated and despised.” 2Miller, “Seventh Month,” p. 122. Cf. Bates, SAWH, pp. 40, 41. On the 16th of October, the editors of the Advent Herald expressed the following sentiments:FSDA 99.1

    We feel that we have arrived at a most solemn and momentous crisis; and from the light we have, we are shut up to the conviction that the tenth day of the seventh month must usher in the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. We therefore feel that our work is now finished, and that all we have to do is to go out to meet the Bridegroom, and to trim our lamps accordingly.... Now we feel that our controversies are all over, that the battle has been fought, and our warfare ended. And now we wish to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God that we may be accepted at his coming. 3Editorial, “To Our Readers,” AH, October 16, 1844, p. 88.FSDA 99.2

    When Tuesday, October 22, passed, the Millerites experienced a very great disappointment that could be best described by those who experienced it. Hiram Edson, a Millerite with Methodist background, said:FSDA 99.3

    Our expectations were raised high, and thus we looked for our coming Lord until the clock tolled 12 at midnight. The day had then passed and our disappointment became a certainty. Our fondest hopes and expectations were blasted, and such a spirit of weeping came over us as I never experienced before. It seemed that the loss of all earthly friends could have been no comparison. We wept, and wept, till the day dawn. I mused in my own heart, saying, My advent experience has been the richest and brightest of all my Christian experiences. If this had proved a failure, what was the rest of my Christian experience worth? Has the Bible proved a failure? Is there no God, no heaven, no golden home city, no paradise? Is all this but a cunningly devised fable? Is there no reality to our fondest hope and expectation of these things? And thus we had something to grieve and weep over, if all our fond hopes were lost. 4Edson, MS (Incomplete), Experience in the Advent Movement, n.d., pp. 8, 9. Cf. J. White, Life, pp. 180-82.FSDA 99.4

    Some Millerites renounced their beliefs and either returned to their former churches or rejected the Christian faith altogether. However, many of those who had separated themselves from the churches remained faithful, waiting the return of Christ which could occur any moment. Now most of their attention was directed toward encouraging one another and looking for signs which would indicate the inauguration of the Second Advent.FSDA 100.1

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