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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    IV. Augmenting Voice of the “Midnight Cry”

    Next to the Day of Atonement type urged by Snow, the second point of special emphasis which gave force to the seventh-month movement was the “cry at midnight” feature in the parable of the ten virgins. It was a paralleling argument. Those not convinced by the former were usually persuaded by the latter, the one augmenting the other. Observe the setting for this new emphasis.PFF4 816.2


    In the application of the parable to their own day, there were two progressive stages of interpretation during the Millerite movement. Miller’s early application was to the general Advent Awakening of the nineteenth century. The “wise” virgins were the believers; the “foolish,” the unbelievers in the probationary state; their “lamps” were the Bible; the “oil,” faith; the “vessels,” minds that believe; the “Bridegroom,” Christ; the “door shut,” the close of His mediation; the “marriage,” the second advent to gather the elect; and the “midnight cry”—the general Advent Awakening of the nineteenth century in the Old World as well as the New. 17William Miller, Evidence From Scripture (1836), pp. 197, 206, 207; Midnight Cry, Dec. 16, 1842, p. 3.PFF4 816.3

    Litch had likewise held that the era of the Bible, missionary, and tract societies of the early nineteenth century 18Litch, Prophetic Expositions, vol. 1, pp. 165, 166. was this same period of the Awakening. And to this the British advent expositors themselves agreed. 19W. C. Burgess, Parable of the Ten Virgins and the Midnight Cry, p. 9. The leading Millerite journal, the Signs of the Times, similarly declared, “The World has had the Midnight Cry,” citing a list of witnesses in various parts of the world. 20Editorial, “The World Has Had the Midnight Cry,” Signs of the limes, Sept, 20, 1843, p. 36. Miller explicitly told of its scope and spread in his early Lectures:PFF4 817.1

    ” ‘Midnight cry,’ is the watchmen, or some of them, who by the word of God discover the time as revealed, and immediately give the warning voice, ‘Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him.’ This has been fulfilled in a most remarkable manner. One or two on every quarter of the globe have proclaimed the news and agree in the time. Wolf, of Asia; Irwin [Irving] late of England; Mason, of Scotland; Davis, of South Carolina; and quite a number in this region, are, or have been giving the cry.” 21William Miller, Evidence From Scripture, pp. 231, 232.PFF4 817.2


    But now, from the Exeter camp onward, the heralds of the seventh-month message contended that the previous “cry” was only a general, preliminary alarm, and that the “True Midnight Cry” was now sounding in verity. Thus Storrs asserted:PFF4 817.3

    “Alas! we have all been slumbering and sleeping-both the wise and foolish; but so our Savior told us it would be; and ‘thus the Scriptures are fulfilled,’ and it is the last prophecy relating to the events to precede the personal advent of our Lord; now comes the True Midnight Cry. The previous was but the alarm. Now the real one is sounding; and Oh, how solemn the hour. The ‘virgins’ have been asleep or slumbering; yes, all of us. Asleep on the time: that is the point. Some have indeed preached the seventh month, but it was with doubt whether it is this year or some other: and that doubt is now removed from my mind. ‘Behold, the Bridegroom cometh,’ This Year, ‘Go ye out to meet him.” 22George Storrs, “Go Ye Out to Meet Him,” in The Advent Herald, Oct. 9, 1844. p. 73.PFF4 817.4

    Moreover, the expression “midnight” was given definite and literal time significance, and the tarrying time was considered as six months, from the spring disappointment to the autumnal expectation. So Storrs reasoned:PFF4 818.1

    ” ‘How long the vision? Unto 2300 evening-mornings.’ An evening, or ?night,’ then, is half of one of those prophetic days. Here then we have the ‘chronology’ of Jesus Christ. The tarrying time is just half a year. When did we go into this [tarrying] time? Last March or April. Then the latter part of July would bring us to midnight. At that time 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 Matthew. ‘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. O heed it ye virgins. Awake, awake, awake.” 23Ibid., p. 74. (Brackets supplied.)PFF4 818.2


    Thus it was, he declared, that the strong cry began at “midnight” in July, with unprecedented results. He continues:PFF4 818.3

    “How long is the tarrying time? Half a year. How do you know? Because, our Lord says, ‘at midnight,’ while the bridegroom tarried. The 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.’ There is a leaving all, that I never dreamed could be seen. 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 consecrating of all to God, such as I never witnessed.” 24Ibid.PFF4 818.4


    From Exeter onward, Snow, Storrs, and those first championing the tenth day of the seventh-month position were positive in their personal conviction and aggressive in publicly urging the claims of “definite time.” And from August onward the seventh-month movement, or True Midnight Cry as variantly called, gained increasing momentum. Carried initially by the attendants at the Exeter camp, giving the “cry” erelong became the absorbing burden of emphasis by all. But this general support of the October 22 expectation, it should be added, was confined to the few weeks remaining prior to the anticipated day.PFF4 818.5

    During September and October Snow’s True Midnight Cry was printed again and again, both separately and as reprints in practically all Adventist journals. 28 Editorial 25For example: separately, Oct. 4, 1844; in Midnight Cry, Oct. 10, 1844; Advent Herald, Oct. 2, 9, 16, 1844. endorsements gave full support, and Himes canceled his proposed European trip to bring out Extras as fast as the steam presses could turn. 26Advent Herald, Oct. 2, 1844, p. 68. was the ultimate consciousness of actually living within the fateful seventh month, with its attendant experiences, that brought the host of Adventist preachers and their people to final acceptance and intensive support of the October 22 date. 27Ibid., Oct. 30, 1844, p. 93; Midnight cry, Oct 19, 1944, p. 133; Oct. 31, 1844, pp. 140-141. The solemnity produced by this consciousness, during the last ten days preceding the crisis hour, was profound in the sobering and energizing effect. The leading Adventist spokesmen said, “We are now actually living within the fateful seventh month.” 28Midnight Cry, Oct. 19, 1844, p. 93; Midnight Cry 19, 1844, p. 133; Oct. 31, 1844, pp. 140, 141.PFF4 819.1

    While full final endorsement came to be given by the leaders, with confident expectation of their Lord’s return on October 22, Miller was the last to approve, only capitulating on October 6. He still held, however, to “1843,” and even to his old terminal date at the equinox in March. But he made the “tarrying time” of Habakkuk 2:13 and Matthew 25 extend from the equinox to October 22, which he took as the probable day of the advent on the basis of the autumnal types. 29Ibid., Oct. 12, 1844, p. 121. (Miller, it should be stated, stood practically alone in failing to change from “1843” over to “1844,” for the terminal date of the 2300-and 1335-year periods, and in correcting the crucifixion date from A.D. 33 to 31, in the “midst” instead of the end of the seventieth week.) So the most “prominent” leaders were the last to embrace the “time.” But they too capitulated, and the initial opposition and aloofness gave way to ardent participation. 30Bliss, “The Seventh Month Movement, “in Advent Shield January, 1845, p. 270. The threatened break in the Advent Movement ranks was closed again.PFF4 819.2


    Southard, editor of the Midnight Cry, yielding to the force of evidence, wrote on October 3:PFF4 820.1

    “The weight of evidence that the Lord will come on the tenth day of the seventh month is so strong that I heartily yield to its force, and I intend, by the help of the Lord, to act as if there was no possibility of mistake:-to act as if / knew that in less than one month the opening heavens would reveal my Saviour.” 31Midnight Cry, Oct. 3. 1844, p. 100.PFF4 820.2

    Preble, Peavey, Minor, Chamberlain, and others, all expressed acceptance in this issue. The bands of believers were “electrified,” and the “Midnight Cry” went on the “wings of the wind,” as Fitch, Reed, Hotchkiss, and others joined in full support. Thus the editorial in the Advent Herald of October 9 declared:PFF4 820.3

    “The Advent bands have been every where electrified by the proclamation of a definite time-viz. the tenth day of the seventh month of the present Jewish sacred year. This cry has gone on the wings of the wind, and has been with joy received by the great body of those who were looking for the immediate coming of the Lord, and also by most of those who are proclaiming his appearing.” 32Advent Herald, Oct. 9, 1844, p. 77.PFF4 820.4


    Himes, in committing himself, published this explanatory statement regarding the day of expectation:PFF4 820.5

    “If then we have definite time, we can get it only by the typical institutions, which were observed in a specified month, and the day of the year. Of these we can only look to the Autumnal Festivals, in the seventh month of the Jewish year. This [Tishri] is the only month in which we can look for a fulfillment; and as the tenth day of this month is the only day in which the type of the coming of our High Priest can be fulfilled, we are shut up to this faith, and shall, by the grace of God, look for the event, and act accordingly. Our reasons will be given more at length in our next week’s paper, to which we refer our readers.” 33Midnight Cry. Oct. 10, 1844. p. 108.PFF4 820.6

    The last issue of the Cry before the fateful day, makes the bold announcement:PFF4 821.1

    “To THE PUBLIC: Our present position-the expectation that the Second Coming of Christ is to take place on the 10th day of the seventh Jewish month, which coincides nearly with October 22nd.” 34Ibid., Oct. 19, 1844, p. 136. Actually, as they recognized, it began at the previous sunset, on October 21. An investigation of leading newspapers all the way from Maine to Ohio in the West and New Orleans in the South, indicates that practically all stress October 22 as the day of Millerite expectancy—and of disappointment. Only an occasional item referred to “October 22 or 23,” based on the earlier hesitancy or uncertainty of some of the Millerite leaders.PFF4 821.2

    Litch and Miller having accepted the evidence, Hale appeals to Whiting to accept. 35Advent Herald, Oct. 16, 1844, pp. 81, 88, 2nd ed.; Midnight Cry, Oct. 12, 1844, pp. 121, 125. Hundreds of thousands of papers were distributed from offices in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Utica; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati, Ohio, etc. 36Midnight Cry, Oct. 19, 1844, p. 135 of the really phenomenal literature distribution, note the following: “We shall publish by the hundred thousand. Conditions gratis.”(Ed., Advent Herald, Oct. 2, 1844, p. 68.) Printing Bible Examiner and True Midnight Cry “as fast as steam can carry the presses.” (Midnight Cry, Oct. 3, 1844, p. 104.) Four steam presses kept “constantly in motion” printing specials-Bible Examiner (Storrs), True Midnight Cry (Snow), and Coming of Christ, for free distribution (Midnight Cry, Oct. 11, 1844, p. 117, col. 3). “By running the presses day and night we have as yet been unable to supply the calls.” (Advent Herald, Oct. 16, 1844, p. 84.) Fifty thousand extra of Voice of Truth, One. hundred thousand copies of final October 16 Advent Herald. The seventh-month movement was sweeping toward its climax.PFF4 821.3


    No intricate mathematical or astronomical calculation was involved, so the seventh-month position was easily understood by the common people. Nevertheless, an intensive, scholarly study of the astronomical and chronological aspects of the question was a conspicuous characteristic of Millerite leadership and literature. It was apparently because of this that their arguments could not be gainsaid by the opposing scholars of the day.PFF4 821.4

    Definite note was also taken in the Midnight Cry of October 3 of the fact that the rabbinical Jews had already observed September 23 as the Day of Atonement, on the tenth day of the seventh month, 37Midnight Cry, Oct. 3, 1844, p. 101. and that this was doubtless a month too early. In the same journal, on October 11, we read:PFF4 821.5

    “The day [of atonement] is observed by the Jews more than any other in the year, though they observe it one month earlier than the true time, as we think is evident from the fact, that barley is not ripe in Judea on the 16th day of the first month, as they reckon time; but the law of Moses required a sheaf to be waved before the Lord on that day.” 38Ibid., Oct. 11, 1844, p. 118.PFF4 822.1

    The Millerites did not look for the second advent on September 23, the rabbinical date, because for a year and a half they had all been following the Karaite restoration of the Mosaic reckoning for the sacred year-both for determining the limits of the Jewish year 1843 and then for the tenth day of the seventh month in 1844. This reckoning placed the first Jewish month in April, and in consequence the seventh month in October—and therefore not in September. 39Bliss, “The Seventh Month Movement,” Advent Shield, January, 1845, p. 279.PFF4 822.2

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