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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN: Transition From Spring to Autumn, 1844

    I. 1843 and 1844 Phases in Comparison and Contrast


    As noted in the general preview in chapter 2, the Millerite movement comprised two distinct phases, one following immediately upon the other. These were popularly known as the “1843” and the “1844” phases, as the focal point of expectancy was shifted from 1843 over to 1844. The first was a progressive development occupying more than a decade, and extending from the summer of 1831 to the spring of 1844. The second was compressed into a relatively brief space-from August to October, 1844, and was short, intensive, and climactic. The “1843” phase was based upon the “Jewish sacred year 1843”—which was known to extend from the spring of 1843 to the spring of 1844, when reckoned in common, civil, or solar time.PFF4 784.1

    In the 1843 phase, the return of Christ was merely expected to occur sometime within the limits, or before the close, of the Jewish year “1843,” which the Millerite leaders after much study came to believe would end with the sunset of April 18, 1844. But no specific day of expectancy was ever set by the leaders in the 1843 phase. On the contrary, during the 1844 phase there was general expectation that Christ would emerge from the holy of holies, or heaven of heavens, to bless His waiting people on the antitypical Day of Atonement, or tenth day of the seventh month. And they understood October 22 to be its civil equivalent in 1844, the end year of the 2300 years, and therefore designated that specific day as the great day of expectancy.PFF4 784.2


    In the 1843 phase the cleansing of the sanctuary, at the close of the 2300 years, was regarded as involving the destruction of the earth by a flood of fire, just as the antediluvian world was destroyed by a flood of water. And this cleansing of the sanctuary would, they believed, parallel and include the cleansing of the church from all sin and defilement. The emphasis in this earlier phase was thus upon the earth.PFF4 785.1

    But in the 1844 phase a new factor was added, as a result of the intensive study of the Mosaic sanctuary and its service of old, which annual round of ceremonies was seen to be a type of the great antitypical gospel realities, to be accomplished by Christ once for all for man’s salvation. In this yearly service they saw Jesus as our great High Priest ministering for them in the holy of holies, typifying the heaven of heavens, as set forth in the Mosaic sanctuary service of old. And their hope of fruition was fixed upon Christ’s coming out of heaven at the close of His high priestly ministry to bless His waiting people, and to gather His saints—which, they believed, would be His second advent. (Hebrews 9:28.)PFF4 785.2


    Again, in the 1843 phase Miller was the active leader, joined by a succession of able and scholarly ministers of all faiths, who searched meticulously into the historical, calendrical, and astronomical bases of all of Miller’s positions. These scholars brought about a number of important revisions or developments, chiefly on the dating and position of the cross in the seventieth week of the 70 weeks, thus to perfect and establish his platform. And these revisions, published in turn in the Signs of the Times and Midnight Cry, became the accepted and standard positions of the movement as the 1843 phase came to its climax. On the other hand, the initiation and leadership of the “seventh month” phase was at first in other hands than Miller’s, or even of his close associates, though all soon came to support it.PFF4 785.3


    The expiration of the Jewish year “1843” with the sunset of April 18 (1844) was followed by a brief period, from April to July, known as the “tarrying time,” or “slumber time.” This was before the tenth-day-of-the-seventh-month emphasis, or 1844 phase, was brought forward, which began in late July and early August, and reached its climax with October 22 as the focal point. This “slumber time” was at first a period of bewilderment and apathy, but soon gave way to the clear conviction and intensive action of the 1844 phase.PFF4 786.1


    In the 1843 phase Miller started with the rather commonly held A. D. 33 date for the cross at the close of the seventieth week. But his associates, after long and painstaking research, revised this position to an A.D. 31 cross, dated in the “midst” of the seventieth week, based on better evidence and now meeting the specific demands of the prophecy. However, it is to be noted that the joint beginning date of the two periods, the 70 weeks and the 2300 years, was always 457 B.C. The Millerite position on this point never varied throughout the movement, either in the progressive 1843 phase or the 1844 climax. The placement of that beginning point of prophetic time, the seventh year of Artaxerxes, was regarded as fixed and unchanged, and was never seriously challenged by friend or foe during either phase of the movement. (Depicted in Exhibits A, C, and D on page 790.)PFF4 786.2


    As mentioned, in the 1843 phase the eyes of the Millerites were fixed on the earth, which they believed would be cleansed by fire when the Lord should return to cleanse and purify the church. In the 1844 phase their eyes were turned to heaven, from whence they expected their Lord to come at the close of His high priestly ministry on the great antitypical Day of Atonement. Emphasis on the destruction of the earth now gave way to the larger concept. There was no material change in fundamental prophetic exposition and interpretation. The exposition of the grand outline prophecies and their related time prophecies remained the same, with the exception of the revised terminus of the 2300- and coterminal 1335-year periods, now expected to end in the Jewish year 1844, rather than in 1843.PFF4 786.3


    This extension of the terminal date was imperative, because all of 457 B.C. and all of A.D. 1843 would be required to give the 2300 full years specified by the prophecy. (This was called the law of the full years.) But since the 2300 years and their interlocking 70 weeks of years did not jointly begin until the autumn of B.C. 457, they would therefore have to run over, for their close, into the autumn of 1844.PFF4 787.1

    And since Christ, our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7), died on the very day of the month specified for the slaying of the Passover (the fourteenth day of the first Jewish month), and since His resurrection occurred on the specific day of the wave sheaf (the sixteenth day of that same first month), and as Pentecost fell on the precise fiftieth day as specified (“when it was fully come,” Acts 2:1), they therefore reasoned—they believed logically-that Christ our great High Priest would come out of the heavenly holy of holies on the specific “tenth day of the seventh month,” the Day of Atonement, which they calculated would coincide with October 22, 1844.PFF4 787.2


    The dawning of this concept brought heightened expectancy and deepened conviction. Everything was accelerated as the movement intensified its tempo and entered upon its maximum activity in the autumn of 1844. They went “all out” in their attempt to tell all men of their convictions, and to call upon all who would respond to prepare for the anticipated return of their Lord. The transitory things of earth faded into insignificance, and the eternal realities of the world to come took their place. It was a solemn time.PFF4 787.3

    That, in brief, affords a combined review and preview of the chronological developments of the Millerite movement in its onward sweep from a single voice in 1831 to an expanding movement; and from its earlier general phase, with its progressive development and correction of detail, to its great burst of intensity and speed in its specific and climactic close. The 1844 phase simply put the crowning revision on what were considered to be its carefully laid and increasingly well-certified and established foundations. That was the Millerite conception of their movement, the justification of its development, and its carefully attested changes and revisions. It was to them as a light shining more and more unto the perfect day. This can best be grasped by following the developments outlined in Exhibit A, on page 790.PFF4 788.1


    We will next trace these progressive developments in detail which, because of importance, will be given full documentation and illustrated with further exhibits. This will include meeting the leading characters involved in bringing the seventh month phase to pass, together with its distinctive emphasis. To do so, we must go back briefly to Miller and his earlier concepts, which he began to declare to the public before a single associate had yet joined him. This first or “1843” phase is already familiar ground, for Part II has thus far been devoted exclusively to it. But special study must be given to the final “1844” phase.PFF4 788.2

    It should also be added that the “Fall of Babylon,” and the “come out of her, my people” emphasis, are likewise tied inseparably into both the 1843 and the 1844 phases. This special message, or emphasis, was begun in the civil year 1843, but came to its climax in 1844, as an inseparable part of the seventh-month emphasis. The great break from the churches was chiefly in this three-month-long period, from August to October. Then it was that ties were sundered, and a separate and distinct movement developed, apart from the churches, and in contrast with the intra-church emphasis on the second advent which had marked the earlier years. That is the picture in general outline. Now we go back for details.PFF4 788.3

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