Archive for the ‘Millerites’ Category



August 12, 2007

I don’t know how I missed this, but I did. In 2006 a number of sources–including the National Public Radio, reported, “A construction crew excavating land for a new high rise in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood recently dug-up a well-preserved chunk of the city’s maritime past: A 19th-century whaling ship that archeologists believe was buried and forgotten as landfill after being abandoned by fortune-seeking sailors during the Gold Rush.”

So what does this have to do with Adventist history? Plenty as it turns out. The ship was identified as the barque Candace which once carried Captain Joseph Bates on a voyage from Peru to Boston. Bates did not command the ship on this particular voyage but apparently travelled as a passenger, according to the Adventist News Network report.

Joseph Bates was a founding member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is particularly known for his promotion of the seventh-day Sabbath. During the spring of 1845 he accepted the seventh-day Sabbath after reading a pamphlet by T. M. Preble. Bates became known as the “apostle of the Sabbath” and wrote several booklets on the topic. One of the first, published in 1846, was entitled The Seventh Day Sabbath, a Perpetual Sign.

Bates’ autobiography has the wonderfully unwieldy title: The Autobiography of Elder Joseph Bates; Embracing a Long Life on Shipboard, with Sketches of Voyages on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas; Also Impressment and Service on Board British War Ships, Long Confinement in Dartmoor Prison, Early Experience in Reformatory Movements; Travels in Various Parts of the World; and a Brief Account of the Great Advent Movement of 1840-44; and was first published as a book in 1868. (Its first publication was as a series of fifty-one (yes 51!) articles in the Youth’s Instructor between November 1858 and May 1863.), Later editions carried the more readable title: The Early Life and Later Experience and Labors of Elder Joseph Bates. An online copy of this second (1877) edition edited by James White is available online. In this edition, Bates’ voyage home to Boston is found in chapter 14.His voyage on the Candace take place before his conversion and before his encounter with the teachings of William Miller. A dedicated sailor, Bates records his feelings as the Candace left port:

“None but those who experience these feelings can tell the thrill that fills every soul, from the captain to the cabin-boy, when the order is given to ‘weigh anchor for home.’ New life, with energy and strength, seems to actuate all on board. The hardy sailors clinch their hand-spikes, the windlass begins to roll and bring the watery cable on deck. The gallant ship, seemingly participating with her joyous crew, advances step by step to her anchor, until the officer cries out, ‘Hold! the cable is a-peak!’ The top-sails are now loosed, sheeted home, and hoisted to the mast-head, and the yards are braced to cant the ship’s head out of the harbor. The windlass is now manned again. The ship is soon up with her anchor. A few more turns of the windlass, and the anchor breaks its hold, and the gallant ship is free. The anchor is up and swung to the cat-head, and the ship’s sails fill with the freshening gale. The sailors cry, ‘We are homeward bound.'”

Upon his arrival in Boston, Bates met a daughter whom he had not yet seen: “A little blue-eyed girl of sixteen months, whom I had never seen, was here waiting with her mother to greet me, and welcome me once more to our comfortable and joyous fire-side. As I had been absent from home over two years, I designed to enjoy the society of my family and friends for a little season.”

Godfrey T. Anderson has written a wonderfully interesting article based on Bates’ logbook for his 1827 voyage on the brig Empress (“The Captain Lays down the Law” The New England Quarterly, Vol. 44:2 (1971), 305-309.).

As Anderson points out, the logbook “handwritten by Captain Bates and over a hundred pages in length, gives an insight into the strong feelings on religion which he was experiencing at this precise time. Typical of the comments was his entry of September 28, 1827: (Sunday) ‘I know not what the Lord is preparing me for, or why I have such conflicts in my mind…. But I feel sometimes such a spirit within me for fear I shall be led to commit some dreadful sin for which I know I must suffer.'”


QOD & More EBay “Bargains”

June 5, 2007

Allow me to add my voice to that of Julius Nam on Progressive Adventism regarding the upcoming Questions on Doctrine 50th Anniversary Conference (October 24-27, 2007) at Andrews University. The Conference has a website at with all the details.

In my last post Ebay History #2 I mentioned a few items of interest:

  • Scripture Searcher 1-7 Published by Hastings Horace Lorenzo, (Keyport, New Jersey: E Wolcott, 1870). SOLD for US $77.76
  • Jesus is Coming Again Published in Herald of the Morning, Vol. 11, No 2, August, 1880. (Rochester, NY: Nelson H. Barbour). SOLD for US $305.00 !!!
  • John Couch The Two-Horned Beast (Boston: The Advent Christian Publication Society, Not Dated, c.1870-1874). Sold for US $24.99
  • [J. N. Andrews] The Two Laws (Battle Creek: Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association, Not Dated c.1860). Sold for US $32.55

There are two more items currently for sale from the same dealer who has obviously obtained a group of such items:

  • God’s Memorial by James White (Battle Creek: Seventh Day Adventist Publishing Association, Not dated, circa 1870).
  • Why Evil was Permitted by Henry Smith Warleigh (New York: George Storrs, Circa [1847-1863])

I don’t know who Henry Smith Warleigh was, but George Storrs was a Methodist minister who became a Millerite & is best known for his promotion of the doctrine of Conditional Immortality. You can read some of Storrs’ sermons on the topic here. A brief biography of Storrs can be found here (scroll down the page).


Ebay History #2

May 24, 2007

Currently there are a number of interesting articles related to the early history of Adventism for sale on eBay. Perhaps someone with more money than me will purchase them and donate them to the Center for Adventist Research at Andrews University or the Heritage Room at Loma Linda University. (On second thoughts, donate to the Heritage Room at Loma Linda University, as the Center for Adventist Research still has not responded to my emails concerning the free availability of heritage photos from their collection–see my post here).

Items include:

  • Scripture Searcher 1-7 Published by Hastings Horace Lorenzo, (Keyport, New Jersey: E Wolcott, 1870).
  • Jesus is Coming Again Published in Herald of the Morning, Vol. 11, No 2, August, 1880. (Rochester, NY: Nelson H. Barbour). (Nelson H. Barbour was a Millerite Adventist and predicted Christ’s return in 1873, and when that failed, he revised the prediction for 1874. Soon after that disappointment, Barbour’s group came to believe that Christ had returned in 1874 but invisibly.
  • John Couch The Two-Horned Beast (Boston: The Advent Christian Publication Society, Not Dated, c.1870-1874).
  • [J. N. Andrews] The Two Laws (Battle Creek: Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association, Not Dated c.1860).

The LOC in DC

April 26, 2007

Prior to heading to the ASDAH meetings at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, I spent a week in Washington DC. Apart from visiting Sligo SDA Church and a few museums etc., most of my time was spent doing research in the Library of Congress.

I spent most of my time in the Microform Reading Room examining the the Millerites and Early Adventists Collection of 60 reels put together by UMI some years ago. Unfortunately there appears to be no copy of this work anywhere in Africa. Some weeks ago I enquired with UMI as to the price–thinking that it may be possible for Helderberg College to purchase it. I was informed that the cost for the set was $50,000 USD!!! At that price it would be cheaper for me to fly to Washington DC annually for the next 20 years than to purchase it! Converted to local currency, the cost works out at about R375,000 which is more than the Helderberg College library’s entire annual budget for book, periodical & media purchases. Any rich benefactors out there who would like to make my research a whole lot easier? (I’ll even dedicate my thesis to you–well to you and my wife anyway!)

The collection is wonderfully comprehensive, highlights including most of William Miller’s handwritten correspondence. The most obvious thing I noticed when I started browsing this correspondence was the sheer number of requests to speak Miller was receiving. People sent multiple requests, some attached petitions with many signatures, while others got quite abrupt when an affirmative reply was not received quickly.

I also came across some other works that I had not read before. These included a wonderful 34 page book by the Advent Christian preacher Beulah Mathewson called Woman [sic] From a Biblical Stand-Point or Do the Scriptures forbid the Public Labour of Woman [sic] published in 1873. I hope to find out more about her and her ministry at some stage.

I have previously posted on a recently discovered photo of William Miller, said to have been the only photo of him. However, the frontispiece of Albert C. Johnson’s Advent Christian History (1918) appears to contain a different photo of Miller. My printout from the Microfilm is of such poor quality that its not worth scanning & posting. Perhaps one day I’ll find a nice copy of the book & promise to post a scan when I do.

For anyone interested, there is a number of Advent Christian books, tracts & periodicals dating from 1874 for sale on eBay here. Again I make no claims for the authenticity of the objects nor the reliability of the seller. It would be great if these ended up at the CAR or at Aurora University’s Jenks Memorial Collection–any benefactors out there?

Finally, WordPress–the host of this blog has recently upgraded to allow the posting of Slideshare presentations. Here is one on William Miller I put together for my SDA History class. I’d be interested in your comments.


More Masons

February 6, 2007

Recently Julius Nam at the Progressive Adventism blog discussed the issue of William Miller’s connections with the Freemasons.

Miller is not the only figure in Seventh-day Adventist history to have such connections. One of the better known stories on this topic is that of Ellen White and N. D. Falkhead. It is found in White’s diary entry for December 13, 1892 and also in a letter written December 23, 1892 from Melbourne Australia, to Dr. and Mrs. J. H. Kellogg. In her letter White wrote:

“I have to give some very personal testimonies. During the conference here last December, I had much burden and wrote out many things for individuals, but felt that the time had not come to present the matter to them. For one brother I have had a special burden. He is a keen, apt man, connected with our publishing house. Upon my return to Melbourne this time, one week ago last Tuesday, I read to Brother F[alkhead] that which I had written for him. It affected him deeply. He was glad I did not send it for him to read. “Your reading the reproof yourself,” he said,” “has touched my heart. The Spirit of the Lord has spoken to me through you, and I accept every word you have addressed specially to me; the general matter also is applicable to me; it all means me. That which you have written in regard to my connection with the Free Masons I accept. I belong to five lodges, and besides this I have the entire control of three. I have just taken the highest order in Free Masonry, but I shall sever my connection with them all. I will attend no more of their meetings. It will take me nine months to wind up my business relations with the three under my control.”
Our interview lasted four hours, and it was late at night when he left. He lives in Preston, ten miles from St. Kilda, and being too late for the train from North Fitzroy, he had to walk seven miles to his home. He said he had a good time to think, and he told Elder Daniells he did so much want to meet some of our brethren, that he might tell how free and happy he was after he had made this decision.

She repeated the story in a letter written 3 years later—on May 7, 1895, from Glenorchy, Tasmania to O .A. Olsen; and again in a May 31, 1906 letter to Brother Salisbury & Elder Olsen,  following Falkhead’s cessation of work at the Echo office.

N.D. Falkhead in his Msonic Regalia:

Another encounter with a Freemason apparently occurred in 1893:
Prior to the conference I saw the persons in responsible positions, and labored with one man three hours, reading that which I had held so long. He said, “Sister White, had you sent that to me I would not have received it, but the Lord has moved upon you to move discreetly. For three nights past I dreamed that the Lord had shown my case to Sister White, and she had a message for me.” The man had not a religious experience. He was bound up in Free Masonry. (Letter  39, 1893).

In 1859, the Review and Herald published an article titled, “Is Freemasonry Compatible with present Truth?”:
IF we say aught against masonry they say we are prejudiced, speaking against that of which we can know nothing.  But this is an error.  We have no prejudice in the case.  We only speak of what we do know.  In addition to what has been heretofore published I would offer the following thoughts.
The first quotation may have been published in the Review before.  It is said on funeral occasions, on throwing evergreens into the grave.
“This evergreen is an emblem of our faith in the immortality of the soul.  By this we are reminded of our high and glorious destiny ‘beyond the world of shadows,’ and that there dwells within our tabernacle of clay an imperishable immortal spirit, over which the grave has no dominion and death no power.”  Craftsman, p.208.
The next is more practical, and may possibly account for the slowness of some to obey the truth when convinced.
“All masons shall work honestly on working days, that they may live peaceably on holy days; and the time appointed by the law of the land, OR CONFIRMED BY CUSTOM, shall be observed.” – Craftsman.  Ancient Constitutions, SS5.
Many affirm that masonry is a christian institution, but others confess the absurdity of this.  But all affirm that a belief in the Bible is necessary to being a mason.  Masonry is professedly founded on certain facts in the Old Testament, but that a belief in the New Testament is not necessary is evident from the well known fact that many (or most) of the Jews are masons.  It is the boast of masonry that it is universal, and has members of all nations and religions.  Of course their forms and modes of working must not interfere with the religious views of any.  This is their profession, but it is impossible to carry it out in practice without discarding every form of worship whatever.  The first recognized and most common act of worship is prayer; this is practised in the lodges, and forms of prayer are given in their books of instruction.  Now suppose that Jews and Christians are met together in lodge.  It is opened with prayer.  But Christians can only pray in the name of Christ, while the Jew would be highly offended at a prayer so offered.  How shall these brothers pray together?
It has been answered that it is not necessary that the name of Christ should be mentioned in every prayer: it may be understood.  Very true.  So Paul taught in regard to meats offered to idols.  If nothing is said, ask no questions.  But if it is said, This is offered in sacrifice to idols; then eat not.  So if I kneel with others with the understanding that Christ is recognized as the medium of prayer, I can say, Amen, though the name of Jesus be not mentioned.  But if it be understood that this prayer is offered without reference to Christ, it is anti-christian, for Jesus says, “No man cometh to the Father but by me.”  The boasted universality of masonry makes it necessary to exclude the name of Christ from prayers, otherwise they would be fitted only for a class, and hence be local and not general.  He who joins in a prayer where the name of Christ is intentionally omitted to gratify another who denies Christ, certainly compromises his christianity, and “has denied the faith.”  This should lead every Christian to avoid such a connection.     J. H. W[aggoner]. Review and Herald, September 15, 1859.

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Freemasonry was a common and well-accepted part of American society. As Bullock points out in his book, Revolutionary Brotherhood,
[Masonry] attracted large numbers of Americans eager to associate themselves with these cosmopolitan ideals. Fraternal membership and ideology helped bring high standing to a broad range of Americans, breaking down the artificial boundaries of birth and wealth. To men engaged in learned and artistic occupations, rural men with cosmopolitan aspirations, and even Boston’s women and blacks, Masonry offered participation in both the great classical tradition of civilization and the task of building a new nation. Just as importantly, the fraternity also seemed to provide the leaders for these enterprises. (p138)

At the official establishment of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (1860), Freemasonry was no longer the major movement that it once was—the popular anti-masonic movement that had begun in 1826—had taken its toll and while Freemasonry did not die out, it never recovered either.
It would be interesting to know of any other Adventist/Freemason connections.

Just for interest’s sake, there is a rather odd page titled “The Masonic Connection In the Foundation of the 7th Day Adventist Church” at The fragmented text however makes little sense and contains (so far as I can tell) no actual references to early Adventist Freemasons!


Religion in Ellen G. White’s Portland

December 14, 2006

This post comes about in a rather round-about way. For some weeks I have been an avid reader of the Strange Maps blog. I got to thinking about adventist history & maps, and googled those terms. most of the links were modern–maps of SDA college/university campuses, directions to SDA churches etc. I did however follow a link that led me here. The article is a preview of a historical project–the development and publication of an historical atlas of Maine. The article was first published as: Hatlen, Burton, Joshua M. Smith, Peter Lodge and Michael Hermann. 2002. “A Sampler from the New Historical Atlas of Maine: Religion in Maine.” Maine Policy Review 11(1): 48-57. The article discusses the religious settlement of Maine–and importantly for my purposes–focusses on Portland; with a .pdf of an 1847 map of Portland’s churches. Portland–as all historically literate SDAs will know–was where Ellen G. White spent her childhood and first heard and accepted the Adventist message.

Robert Harmon
Ellen and her fraternal twin sister Elizabeth were born on November 26, 1827 in Gorham, Maine to Robert and Eunice Harmon. They were the youngest of the eight Harmon children.
A few years after the birth of Ellen and Elizabeth, Robert Harmon (left) gave up farming and moved to the city of Portland, about twelve miles east, where he began work as a hat-maker.

While living in Portland, the Harmon family attended the Chestnut Street Methodist Church; and it was there that Ellen and her siblings received their early religious instruction.

In March, 1840, the Harmon family attended a revival at the Casco Street Christian Church in Portland, (below left) and heard William Miller preach on the second coming of Christ.

Casco St Christian Church portland Maine

“In March 1840, William Miller visited Portland, Maine, and gave a course of lectures on the second coming of Christ. These lectures produced a great sensation, and the Christian Church on Casco Street was crowded day and night….In company with my friends, I attended these meetings. Life Sketches, p20.

“At the age of thirteen [in 1842] I heard William Miller deliver his second course of lectures in Portland, Maine. I then felt that I was not holy, not ready to see Jesus. And when the invitation was given for church members and sinners to come forward for prayers, I embraced the first opportunity, for I knew that I must have a great work done for me to fit me for heaven. My soul was thirsting for full and free salvation, but knew not how to obtain it.” Early Writings, p12.

On June 26, 1842, after attending a camp-meeting at Buxton, White was baptised by immersion in Casco Bay, Portland. That same day she was received as a member of the Chestnut Street Methodist Church. She saw her baptism in very emotional terms, reflecting later,
“When I arose out of the water, my strength was nearly gone, for the power of God rested upon me. Such a rich blessing I never experienced before. I felt dead to the world, and that my sins were all washed away.” Spiritual Gifts, 13.

The Harmon family’s Second Advent beliefs soon placed them at odds with the majority of Methodists in their local congregation. Following a visit from the Methodist minister and a church hearing, White recorded that,
“The next Sunday [September 1843], at the commencement of the love feast, the presiding elder read off our names, seven in number, as discontinued from the church. He stated that we were not expelled on account of any wrong or immoral conduct, that we were of unblemished character and enviable reputation; but we had been guilty of walking contrary to the rules of the Methodist church. He also declared that a door was now open, and all who were guilty of a similar breach of the rules would be dealt with in like manner.” Life Sketches, 53

The Harmon’s final expulsion followed a lengthy examination process by four committees that met between February and June 1843, and a “committee of trial” that met on August 14, 1843. Robert Harmon appealed the decision at the September 2, 1843 “Quarterly Meeting Conference for the Portland Station,” but the decision was unanimously upheld.

The article mentioned gives some insight into the religious life of Portland while White was growing up there:

“As our 1847 map shows, Portland, as a center of commerce, early offered a diverse array of religious possibilities. The map shows four “parish” churches, listed on the map as the First, Second, and Third Parish and the High Street meeting houses. These all began as Congregational churches. However, the oldest and most socially prestigious of these churches, the First Parish church, had become effectively Unitarian in 1809, when it called an avowed Unitarian, Ichabod Nichols, to serve as pastor; in 1831 the church renamed itself as Unitarian. The Third Parish meeting house, only two blocks from the First Parish church, apparently developed in some measure as an alternative to the increasing liberalism of the First Parish church. The church met for a time after its founding in 1807, but then suspended operations; only after 1825 did the Third Parish church assume a distinct identity, as a robust Trinitarian alternative to the Unitarian First Parish church.
Both the Baptist and the Methodist churches had established a presence in the city by the 1840s, with two Methodist churches, on Chestnut Street and Pleasant Street respectively, and with two Baptist churches, on Federal Street and Free Street. Also, the Freewill Baptists had come to town, with a church on Casco Street. One of the first Episcopal churches in the state, originally named St. Paul’s, had formed a parish in 1764 and built a church a year later; Irish immigrants established a Catholic parish in 1827 and built a church in 1830; and the only African-American church in the state, the Abyssinian Religious Society, began meeting on Munjoy Hill in 1828. The Universalists, the Society of Friends, the Christians, and the Swedenborgians also had established regular meetings in Portland by 1847. The Portland map suggests a religious geography that is typical of Maine cities: the main line Protestant churches are clustered together on the high ground around the conjunction of Congress and Federal streets, while the Catholic church, the radical Free Will Baptists, the heretical Swendenborgians, and Abyssinian church are on the outskirts, near the waterfront or out toward Munjoy Hill. There are exceptions, however—in particular, the relatively radical Universalists, at this stage of their history very different in their emotional fervor from the more rationalistic Unitarians, found a home near the center of the city.”

For an interesting overview of Portland in White’s time, see: Frederick Hoyt, “Ellen White’s Hometown: Portland, Maine, 1827-1846.” In Gary Land (Ed.) The World of Ellen G. White (Washington, Review and Herald: 1987), 13-31.

Maine Memory Network:

Burton Hatlen, Joshua M. Smith, Peter Lodge and Michael Hermann. A Sampler from the New Historical Atlas of Maine: Religion in Maine:

Loma Linda University Heritage Room :


A Visionary Hymn

December 7, 2006

The November 1850 issue of The Present Truth contains a copy of a four verse hymn titled “The Better Land” on its front page:

We have heard from the bright, the holy land,
We have heard, and our hearts are glad;
For we were a lonely pilgrim band,
And weary, and worn, and sad.
They tell us the pilgrims have a dwelling there–
No longer are homeless ones;
And we know that the goodly land is fair,
Where life’s pure river runs.

They say green fields are waving there,
That never a blight shall know;
And the deserts wild are blooming fair,
And the roses of Sharon grow.
There are lovely birds in the bowers green–
Their songs are blithe and sweet;
Aml their warblings gushing ever new,
The angels’ harpings greet.

We have heard of the palms, the robes, the crowns,
And the silvery band in white;
Of the city fair with pearly gates,
A radient with light,
We have heard of the angels there, and saints,
With their harps of gold, how they sing;
Of the mount, with the fruitful tree life
Of the leaves that healing bring.

The King of that country, he is fair,
He’s the joy and the light of the place!
In, his beauty we shall behold him there,
And bask in his smiling face.
We’ll be there, we’ll be there, in a little while,
We’ll join the pure and blest;
We’ll have the palm, the robe, the crown,
And forever be at rest.

The hymn seems fairly typical of early Adventist hymns, what intrigues me about it is a note on the final page of that issues which reads:

Some may be interested in learning the origin of the Hymn on the first page of this number. In the spring of 1845, the author of the vision, published in this paper, was very sick, nigh unto death. The elders of the church were finally called, and the directions of the apostle [James v, 14,15] were strictly followed. God heard, answered and healed the sick. The Holy Spirit filled the room, and she had a vision of the “city,” “life’s pure river,” “green fields,” “roses of Sharon,” “songs” of “lovely birds,” the “harps,” “palms,” “robes,” “crowns,” the “mount” Zion, the “tree of life,” and the “King of that country” mentioned in the Hymn. A brother took up his pen, and in a very short time composed the hymn from the vision. It has been published in two or three Second advent papers, Smith’s collection of hymns, and finally found its way into the “Advent Harp,” published by J. V. Himes in 1849. Let those who “despise prophesyings,” and reject the fulfillment of God’s word in visions of the “LAST DAYS,” remember when they sing this hymn, that it was composed from a vision.

So far as I’m aware (and happy to be corrected) this is the only early Adventist hymn or song whose inspiration was one of Ellen G. White’s visions. A little research led me to Arthur L. White’s biography of Ellen White which also points out this connection (The Early Years p88-89.); and notes that the hymn’s author was William Hyde.
This edition of the Present Truth also contains an account of a vision by Ellen White. However, contrary to Arthur L. White’s assertation (The Early Years, p89), it is not the vision that Hyde’s hymn is based on. The vision that the hymn was based on was in fact Ellen White’s first vision. The exact date for this vision is unknown, however Ellen White in 1847, placed it sometime in December, 1844. This first vision of Ellen White was published just over a year later by Enoch Jacobs in the Day Star of January 24, 1846. You can read it in Early Writings, p13-20.