Every little while, from the days of Christ till now, individuals, and often large sects, have arisen, proclaiming the Second Advent at hand and themselves the God-appointed messengers to warn the world. Right on this point Jesus warned his church: "Take heed that no man deceive you.... The end is not yet." Matt. 24:4-6. Yet right away it was said that Jesus would come before John should die. John 21:23. The Thessalonians had to be corrected by Paul for expecting the Advent immediately at hand. II Thess. 2:1-8.
In the middle of the second century arose the Montanists. The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia says: "Ecstatic visions announcing the approach of the Second Advent of Christ... were set forth as divine revelation." Art. 'Montanism.' Like Seventh-day Adventists, they adopted a severe discipline - condemned the wearing of ornaments, intercourse with the world, etc. They created a great sensation, obtained a numerous following, and flourished for a century or more.
The following is from the "History of the Christian Church," by M. Reuter, D.D., Century 10, Chapter 2, pages 202, 203: "Among the numerous opinions, however, which disgraced the Latin church and produced from time to time such violent agitations, none occasioned such universal panic, nor such dreadful impressions of terror or dismay, as a notion that prevailed during this [tenth] century of the immediate approach of the day of judgment." "Public and private buildings were suffered to decay, and were even pulled down, from an opinion that they were no longer of any use, since the dissolution of all things was at hand."
The Fifth-Monarchy men of England, about 1660, "believed that the time was near at hand when, to the four great monarchies of Daniel's prophetic vision, was to succeed the fifth, which was to break in pieces all others, and to 'stand forever.'" Johnson's Encyclopedia, article Fifth-Monarchy Men. They undertook to set up the kingdom by overturning the English government.
The Irvingites of England "declare the speedy coming of Christ;" have "prophets," "revelations," "tongues," "gifts," etc. They have gathered large congregations and are spreading over the world.
Swedenborg, Ann Lee, Joanna Southcott, Joe Smith, etc., all made the speedy advent of Christ the ground-work of their systems, as is well known. Hence, movements of this kind are nothing new.
Seventh-day Adventism originated in the well-known movement of William Miller, who set the time for the end of the world in 1843-44. They claim now that Mr. Miller's move was right, and in the providence of God. They claim to be simply carrying on the same work which he began. In all their books and sermons they point to 1844 as their origin, and endorse the work of the Millerites in 1843 and 1844. The following from Mrs. White will settle the point: "I have seen that the 1843 chart was directed by the hand of the Lord, and that it should not be altered; that his hand was over and hid a mistake in some of the figures." Early Writings, page 64. God helped them make the mistake! "I saw that God was in the proclamation of the time in 1843." Spiritual Gifts, Vol. I., page 133. So God wanted them to set that time! "I saw that they were correct in their reckoning of the prophetic periods; prophetic time closed in 1844." Page 107. Again: "The Advent movement of 1840-44 was a glorious manifestation of the power of God." Great Controversy, Vol. IV., page 429. Elder White says: "We hold that the great movement upon the Second Advent question, which commenced with the writings and public lectures of William Miller, has been, in its leading features, in fulfillment of prophecy. Consistently with this view, we also hold that in the providence of God, Mr. Miller was raised up to do a specific work." Life of Miller, page 6. So it will be seen that Seventh-day Adventists still believe in and defend the Millerite movements of 1843 and 1844. Indeed, they claim that all other churches who did not accept and endorse Miller's work were rejected of God on this account. Thus Mrs. White: "As the churches refused to receive the first angel's message [Miller's work], they rejected the light from heaven and fell from the favor of God." Early Writings, page 101.
Here, then, we have the origin of Seventh-day Adventism, the fountain from which it flowed. As a stream will be like its fountain, let us examine it. Elder and Mrs. White, Elder Bates, Andrews, Rhodes, Holt, Edson, and all the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church were in the movement of Miller, and helped in setting and preaching the time in 1843, 1844, and carried the Advent work right on afterwards.
The work of Mr. Miller is so well known, that I need but refer to the facts about it. William Miller was born at Pittsfield, Mass., 1782, but he was reared at Low Hampton, N.Y. He was a farmer, with only the poor advantages of a country school. He united with the Baptist church. About 1831 he claimed that he had discovered by the prophecies the exact time, the very year, and, finally, the very day when Christ would appear and the end of the world would come. He succeeded in converting perhaps fifty thousand people to his views. The first date fixed was 1843. It failed. Then he fixed a day in October, 1844, and that failed. Many other times have since been fixed by Mr. Miller's followers, and all have failed. Over fifty years have come and gone, and the end has not come yet.
What was the one great burden of Miller, the one point on which he differed from the Evangelical churches? All these churches believed in the personal Second Advent of Christ just as strongly as Miller did. They loved Jesus and preached the Second Advent, even teaching that it was near at hand. But the Millerites said they knew the TIME when it was to be, and that time was 1843- 4. They staked all upon this. The issue was plain and definite. All who did not endorse their SET TIME were "opposers," "enemies," "in the dark," "evil servants," rejected of God and lost, just because they would not believe in setting a time for the end. Here are Miller's words: "I believe the time can be known by all who desire to understand.... Between March 21, 1840, and March 21, 1844, according to the Jewish mode of computation of time, Christ will come." Life of Miller, page 172. Jesus says: "Ye know not when the time is." Mark 13:33. But the Millerites thought they knew better than Jesus Christ did. So they condemned all who did not agree with them. Here is a mild sample of what they said and the spirit that possessed them: "This is God's truth; it is as true as the Bible." "There is no possibility of a mistake in this time." "Those who reject this light will be lost." "Those who do not accept this argument are backsliders," etc. History of Advent Message, page 596. And this is the spirit that has followed them ever since - a harsh, denunciatory spirit against all who did not agree with their figures, interpretations and theories.
But their set times came and passed without the least regard to their figures and facts, proofs and demonstrations, prayers and predictions. Remorseless old Time, the true tester of every theory, marched right on and demolished them all. This demonstrated the folly and error of the Adventists. Miller's prediction was a wretched abortion. He preached and propagated a falsehood. He preached that the world would end in 1843, and it didn't. He set 1844 for it to come, and it didn't. If ever a religious movement on earth was demonstrated to be a humbug and a failure, it was Millerism. But if Millerism was a failure, then Seventh-day Adventism is also, for that was the fountain from which this has flowed; that was the foundation on which this is built. Deut. 18:22: "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken." This, surely, is a simple and fair test. By this rule the Lord was not in Miller's move.
"But were not the Adventists in 1843-4 very confident that they were right?" Confident is no name for it. They were SURE that they were right, they KNEW they were right, for they proved it all by the Bible, every word of it, positively. The Bible said so; to deny it was to deny the Bible. But it failed all the same. It is just so with Seventh-day Adventists now. They are the most positive people in the world, though they have made scores of terrible blunders.
That no one will know the time of the second advent is as plainly taught as words can teach. Read the following: "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only;" "Watch, therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come;" "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh;" "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." Matt. 24:36,42,44; 25:13. "Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is." Mark 13:33. "It is not for you to know the time or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power." Acts 1:7. Jesus said, "Ye know not when the time is;" Miller said, "We know when the time is." Jesus said, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons;" Miller said, "We know all about them." Jesus said, "No man knows the day;" Miller said, "We know the exact day." Which was right? The disappointments of the Adventists, time and again, during the past fifty years, in setting the date for the end of the world have clearly demonstrated their folly. The whole Advent move was conceived in error, born in a mistake, has grown up in folly, and must die in disgrace. "But were not the Millerites honest?" There is no doubt of it, but that proves nothing as to their correctness.
"By their fruits ye shall know them." Millerism, for about four years, in a few states, created a great excitement. Churches were divided and broken up, pastors left their flocks to "lecture" on "time," while argument and strife were the order of the day. As the time set drew near, in thousands of cases, the Adventists not only left their work and their business, but gave away their property. Crops were left ungathered, goods were distributed freely, so that many who had been well to do were left penniless. After the time had passed, these were destitute and their families suffered. Many had to be arrested and put under guardianship, to protect their families. Then the wildest fanaticism broke out here and there, which brought disgrace upon the very name of religion. Many said the Lord had come, probation was ended, it was sin to work, all property must be held in common, all the churches were apostate, Babylon, etc. Some Adventists had spiritual wives, some went to the Shakers, many went back into the churches, some into despair, and hundreds into doubt and infidelity - just what might have been expected. The glorious doctrine of the Second Advent was covered with shame, Satan rejoiced, while the cause of Christ was greatly injured. For proof of these facts, I refer to the testimony of thousands now living, and to the published works of the Adventists themselves. Thus Elder U. Smith is compelled to say: "The Advent Body were a unit [in 1844] and their testimony shook the world. Suddenly their power was broken, their strength paralyzed. They passed the point of their expectation, and realized not their hope. That a mistake had been made somewhere, none could deny. From that point the history of a majority of that once happy, united people has been marked by discord, division, confusion, speculation, new mistakes, fresh disappointments, disintegration and apostasy." The Sanctuary, pages 13, 14.
Paul said, "God is not the author of confusion." I Cor. 14:33. Then surely he was not the author of Adventism, for the confusion it produced is unparalleled in religious history. Ten souls were ruined by it where one was saved. Immediately after 1844 they split up into numerous parties, each contradicting and condemning all the rest. Instead of renouncing the whole thing, as sane men ought to have done, each one set himself to find some "explanation" of their mistake. Hardly any two agreed, while each one was sure he had the true explanation. Their utter confusion is well illustrated by the following anecdote told by Mr. Miller himself: The first person in his own parish who fully embraced his views was an old woman, an humble Christian. Mr. Miller sent her his papers when he had read them. One week he received sixteen different sheets, all purporting to be Advent publications, but the most of them advocating contradictory sentiments. He sent them to the old woman. Soon she sent for him, and on his arrival began: "Have you read all these papers?" "I have looked them over." "But are they all Advent papers?" "They profess to be." "Well, then," said she, "I am no longer an Adventist. I shall take the old Bible and stick to that." "But," said Mr. Miller, "we have no confidence in one-half there is advocated in these papers." "We?" exclaimed the old lady, "who is WE?" "Why," replied Mr. Miller, "WE are those who do not fellowship these things." "Well, but I want to know who WE is." "Why, all of us who stand on the old ground." "But that ain't telling me who WE is. I want to know who WE is." "Well," said Mr. Miller, in relating the story, "I was confounded, and was unable to give her any information who WE were." History of Second Advent Message, pages 414, 415.
And so it has continued unto this day. What do Adventists believe? Go ask what language was spoken by the people after the Lord confused their tongues at Babel. Adventism is a second Bable[sp]. But Seventh-day Adventists say "We are united; we believe alike." Partly true, but they are only one branch of this Advent Babel. Such a brood of errors and heresies as has resulted from Adventism, cannot be found in the history of the church before. Time- setting, visions, miracles, fanatics, false prophets, sleep of the dead, annihilation of the wicked, non-resurrection of the wicked, future probation, restoration, community of goods, denial of the divinity of Christ, no devil, no baptism, no organization, etc., etc. Gracious! And these are the people sent with a "message" to warn the church! They had better go back and learn and agree on what their "message" is, before they run to deliver it.
The other Adventists have set the time for the end of the world in 1843, 1844, 1847, 1850, 1852, 1854, 1855, 1863, 1866, 1867, 1868, 1877, and so on, till one is sick of counting. Learning nothing from the past, each time they are quite as confident as before.
This fanatical work has brought disgrace upon the doctrine of the Second Advent, so that it is not dwelt upon as much as formerly in other churches. The study of the prophecies has been brought into disrepute by the unwise course of the Adventists. No thoughtful man can fail to see this.
It is the one constant boast of the Seventh-day Adventists that THEY never set time; THEY don't believe in it. But they deceive themselves and deceive others when they say so. Elder White, their leader, engaged in preaching three different set times for the Lord to come, viz., 1843, 1844, 1845. here are his own statements on this: "I found myself happy in the faith that Christ would come about the year 1843." Life Incidents, page 72. Then he tells how he preached it. Of 1844, he says: "I stated my conviction that Christ would come on the tenth day of the seventh Jewish month of that year ." Pages 166, 167. "It is well known that many were expecting the Lord to come at the seventh month, 1845. That Christ would then come we firmly believed. A few days before the time passed, I was at Fairhaven and Dartmouth, Mass., with a message on this point of time." 'A Word to the Little Flock,' by James White, page 22. So their leader was a time-setter. Mrs. White, their prophetess, was in the time-setting of 1843 and 1844. She herself says: "We were firm in the belief that the preaching of definite times was of God." Testimonies, Vol. 1, page 56. Of the first date she says: "With carefulness and trembling we approached the time when our Saviour was expected to appear." Then she tells her disappointment. Testimonies, Vol. 1, page 48. Again: "Our hopes now centered on the coming of the Lord in 1844." Page 53. She was a time- setter. Elders Bates, Andrews, Rhodes, and all the first crop of Seventh-day Adventists were in the time-setting of 1843, 1844. They still endorse Miller's time-setting of 1843 and 1844 as right and approved of God. How much truth, then, is there in their assertions that they have never set time? But they say, "WE did not keep the Seventh-day when WE set time; therefore WE never set time!" That is too thin. The thief says, "I did not wear this coat when I stole the sheep, therefore I never stole him!" They say that they have given the THREE messages. Well, the first message was in 1844 when they set time. Are they the same people, or are they not?
Again they endorse Mr. Miller's work as of God. But Miller is responsible for all the time-setting done by the Adventists since his time, because they are the legitimate outgrowth of his work. He began setting time. He did it the second time. He taught them how to do it. He fathered the idea. He inculcated it in all his followers. They then simply took up and carried on what he had begun. Seventh-day Adventists claim to be the original Adventists, and endorse Miller's work. In doing this they endorse time- setting, and should justly bear all the odium of that fanatical business.
But don't Seventh-day Adventists rise to explain why they were disappointed in 1843, and again in 1844, and for forty years since? O, yes; but we naturally become a little suspicious of the man who is compelled to be constantly explaining his conduct. Straight works needs no explanation. They say the Lord caused them to be disappointed in 1843, on purpose to test their faith, that was all! In 1844 they made just one little mistake, that was all! They then taught that the earth was the sanctuary. Come to find out, the sanctuary us up in heaven, and Jesus did really come, in a certain sense, that very year! So they were right, after all. Don't you see? Clear as day. Now they have the whole matter removed from the troublesome facts of earth, where we can test them, to the beautiful theories of heaven, where no one can go to report on facts which might spoil their theories. Now they can speculate and argue in safety. But sober, thinking men see through all this. It is merely a make-shift to get out of a difficulty.
All the other Adventists long ago renounced the 1843-4 time-setting as an error. Thus: "The majority of Adventists took the position that the TIME was an error of human judgment." History of the Second Advent Message, page 383. Hear Mr. Miller himself: "On the passing of my published time, I frankly acknowledged my disappointment.... We expected the personal coming of Christ at that time; and now to contend that we were not mistaken, is dishonest. We should never be ashamed frankly to confess our errors. I have no confidence in any of the new theories that grew out of that movement, namely, that Christ then came as the Bridegroom, that the door of mercy was closed, that there is no salvation for sinners, that the seventh trumpet sounded, OR THAT IT WAS A FULFILLMENT OF PROPHECY IN ANY SENSE." History of the Advent Message, pages 410, 412.
From this we see: 1. That Miller, the founder and leader of that move, owned that it was an error. 2. He repudiated the idea that it was a fulfillment of prophecy in any sense. 3. He especially points out the Seventh-day Advent position as utterly wrong. He knew all about their arguments of the three messages, the sanctuary, the Sabbath, etc., and yet he not only rejected them, but earnestly warned his people against them, so that very few of the original Adventists ever accepted them. Hear Mrs. White herself on this point: "I saw leading men watching William Miller, fearing lest he should embrace the third angel's message and the commandments of God. As he would lean towards the light from heaven, these men would lay some plan to draw his mind away. I saw a human influence exerted to keep his mind in darkness, and to retain his influence among them. At length WILLIAM MILLER RAISED HIS VOICE AGAINST THE LIGHT FROM HEAVEN." Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, page 167.
Thus the father and founder of Adventism condemned and opposed the position which Seventh-day Adventists took with regard to his own work. He had sense enough to see, and honesty enough to confess, that it was a mistake. But they will not have it so. They know better than he himself. They will have it that it was a wonderful fulfillment of Rev. 14:6,7. Miller denies it. Thus it will be seen that Seventh-day Adventists give an interpretation to Miller's work which he himself condemned. Not a leading man in Miller's work ever embraced the views of the Seventh-day Adventists, but have always opposed them as fanatical and as a side issue. None of the leaders of Seventh-day Adventism, such as White, Andrews, Bates, Rhodes, etc., were ever of any note in Miller's work, though they were all in it; yet afterwards they claimed to be the only ones who had the right view of it. All the rest were "in the dark," "foolish virgins," "apostates," etc. How modest!
A people who have made as many mistakes as Adventists have, ought to be very modest in their claims, and ought to see that they have been led by men and not by the Lord. 1. They set the time for the end of the world in 1843, and failed. 2. They set it again in 1844 and failed. 3. Elder White, the leader of the Seventh-day Adventists, set 1845 for the end, and failed again. 4. They held in 1844 that the earth was the sanctuary, another mistake, as they admit now. 5. They all held for some time after 1844 that probation for sinners was ended - a fearful mistake. See chapter 8 of this book. 6. For ten years Seventh-day Adventists began the Sabbath at 6 P.M., instead of at sunset as now. Thus they broke the Sabbath every week! 7. They kept their children out of school for years, because time was so short they would need no education. Those children now have grand-children! 8. They gave away their goods in 1844, because they would not need them after that! 9. They would not vote, for that was like the fallen churches. Now they vote freely. 10. They held that it was wrong to take a church name, for that was Babylon. Now they have a name. 11. Church organization was wrong, for that was like Babylon. Now they organize. 12. For years they said it was denying their faith to set out trees, for they would never grow to bear fruit. 13. Led by a revelation from Mrs. White, the sisters put on short dress with pants. None of them wear it now. 14. For thirty years they would not take up any collection on the Sabbath. Now they do it every week. 15. For fifty years they have been expecting the end of the world to come inside of five years, and it has not come yet. 16. They said Jesus would come to the earth in 1844. Now they say that was a mistake; he came to judgment in the sanctuary above. Thus: "The Adventists of 1844...thought the bridegroom would come; and THEN HE DID COME - not to this earth, as they incorrectly supposed, but to the MARRIAGE." "They simply mistook the KIND of coming referred to." U. Smith, in Parable of the Ten Virgins, page 13,14. He owns that: 1. They got the time wrong in 1843. 2. The place wrong. 3. The event wrong. Now let him add, 4. The whole thing wrong, and he will be right! 17. Then they said the door was shut, Matt. 25:10; now they say that this was wrong; it is open yet. Thus: "There can be no other place for the shut door but at the autumn of 1844." Elder White, in Present Truth, May 1850. "The door is still open, and other guests may come." U. Smith, in Parable of the Ten Virgins, page 17, February, 1889. These are the people who always KNOW they are just right! 18. They once adopted a rigid vegetarian diet - not meat, no butter, only two meals per day, etc., but it was a failure. It killed many and ruined more, till they had to modify it and live like other people.
These are only samples out of numerous mistakes the Adventists have made; and this they have done with an inspired prophetess right at their head for forty-four years! These simple, undeniable facts alone should be enough to open the eyes of all to see that the Lord has not led them in their work.