Little Bits of History

Where Is He?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 22, 2013
William Miller

William Miller

October 22, 1844: Jesus Christ does not return to Earth. William Miller was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1782 and had little formal education although he was well-read. His family moved around New England and after marrying, Miller settled in Poultney, Vermont where he held a number of civil offices. He was raised as a Baptist but became a Deist as a young man. After serving in the War of 1812 and wrestling with the meaning of death, he returned to the Baptist church and became a Baptist preacher. He studied the Bible diligently for his own benefit and to gain ammunition for debate with his Deist friends. Miller became convinced the actual date of the Second Coming was to be found in Scripture.

Miller “did the math” and was certain he found the correct date in 1818. His first calculations brought Jesus to Earth in 1843, however he continued his private study. In September 1822 Miller went public with his revelations. In 1832 he sent 16 articles to the Vermont Telegraph, a Baptist paper, for print. By 1840 Miller’s following burst out of Vermont and he became a national figure. He was helped in this by publisher Joshua Vaughn Hines who spread his message via print. Miller did not give an exact date for Christ’s reappearance, stating it would happen between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. On March 22, 1844 the date was moved to April 18. In August, after much recalculation, the date October 22, 1844 was chosen.

Miller’s followers, called Millerites, were deeply saddened on October 23 and many abandoned their beliefs. Some of his followers continued to learn from him and eventually founded the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, based on many of his teachings. Not everyone was sanguine in regards to the failed prophecy. Millerites were taunted, subjected to ridicule and even physically assaulted. One church was burned and a mob armed with clubs and knives attacked a group of Millerites. Another group of believers was tarred and feathered.

The bewildered and disillusioned included even Miller, who died in 1849 while still awaiting his Savior’s return. The responses of the believers were of three varieties. By 1845 religious doctrines began to gel. Joseph Turner led the first sect, holding to the “shut door” theology. If a believer did not accept gospel prior to the Second Coming, the door of opportunity would close and the individual was beyond redemption. Joshua Hines refused to accept the shut door philosophy especially after the no-show in 1844. The third group, led by Hiram Edson, said the date was correct but the event itself was misinterpreted. He preached Jesus’ return happened on this date. It was given that the return was to heaven and not to this mortal realm.

“I was thus brought… to the solemn conclusion, that in about twenty-five years from that time 1818 all the affairs of our present state would be wound up.” – William Miller

“I waited all Tuesday [October 22] and dear Jesus did not come;– I waited all the forenoon of Wednesday, and was well in body as I ever was, but after 12 o’clock I began to feel faint, and before dark I needed someone to help me up to my chamber, as my natural strength was leaving me very fast, and I lay prostrate for 2 days without any pain– sick with disappointment.” – Henry Emmons

“Our fondest hopes and expectations were blasted, and such a spirit of weeping came over us as I never experienced before….We wept, and wept, till the day dawn.” – Hiram Edson

“Some are tauntingly enquiring, ‘Have you not gone up?’ Even little children in the streets are shouting continually to passersby, ‘Have you a ticket to go up?’ The public prints, of the most fashionable and popular kind…are caricaturing in the most shameful manner of the ‘white robes of the saints.'” – William Miller, letter dated November 18, 1844

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The Seventh-Day Adventist Church remains active to this day. They are a Protestant church with services held on Saturday, the original seventh-day in early Judeo-Christian times. They still believe that the second coming (advent) of Jesus Christ will happen soon. The church was formally founded on May 21, 1863 in Battle Creek, Michigan. Today, it spans the globe with over 71,000 congregations and more than 65,000 companies. The more than 17,000,000 members are led by Ted NC Wilson. There are over 17,000 ministers available to lead the flock. There have been two separations or schisms within the Church, the first taking place in 1925 and the second four years later. The Seventh-Day Adventist Church is based on 28 Fundamental Beliefs with 27 of them officially adopted in 1980 and an additional belief added in 2005. This last was added after the new millennium since the previous belief was that Christ would return before that marker.

Also on this day: When the World Was New – In 4004 BC, the world was created – according to the math.
Pretty Boy – In 1934, Charles Floyd was killed.
No, Thanks – In 1964, Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize.

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