Background of the 1844 Movement
|William Sears who converted to Bahai cult
and wrote a book “Thief in the Night”
to confuse Poor Christians.
It all began with a farmer named William Miller. While studying his KJV Bible Miller came to believe that he could calculate the time of Christ’s return based upon Bible prophecy. His calculations led him to believe that Christ would return in 1843. He soon started sharing his discovery with others. After a little encouragement from others, Miller began preaching his theories in the 1830s. In 1840, Ellen Harmon, at the impressionable age of 13, heard his preaching and became a believer in the 1843 return of Christ. She later wrote:
“In company with my friends I attended these meetings and listened to the startling announcement that Christ was coming in 1843, only a few short years in the future. Mr. Miller traced down the prophecies with an exactness that struck conviction to the hearts of his hearers. He dwelt upon the prophetic periods, and brought many proofs to strengthen his position.”1
When Christ failed to return in 1843 many of Miller’s followers departed the movement. Miller and his associates soon discovered a mistake had been made in the reckoning of the date of Christ’s return. After further study, they determined that Christ would return on the Day of Atonement, October 22, 1844.2 They again trumpeted the Second Coming of Christ, and garnered as many as 50,000 followers, many of whom left their churches to join the fledgling movement. When Christ again failed to return there was a bitter disappointment. Over the next several years Miller and most of the believers and principal leaders of the movement admitted they were mistaken and returned to their previous churches.
Millerite leader George Storrs summed it up well when he wrote:
“As the event did not occur, we were mistaken in supposing that we were actuated by the Holy Spirit in making the cry we did in respect to the manner and the time. I repeat it, it was not of God. … Every day confirms me more and more that it is a true word, and the fanaticism that is breaking out almost continually in some form among those who still persist that the entire movement, about the tenth day, was all of God serves to add to my conviction that we were deluded by a mere human influence, which we mistook for the Spirit of God.”3
Some Millerites refused to return to their former churches for various reasons. Some were too ashamed to return. Some still held bitter animosity towards their former churches. And a few were still convinced that God was behind the movement.
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