Millerism

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The Millerites were the followers of the teachings of William Miller who, in 1833, first shared publicly his belief in the coming Second Advent of Jesus Christ in roughly the year 1843.

Contents

Origins

Miller was a prosperous farmer, a Baptist layman and amateur student of the Bible, living in northern New York, in the region of that state which has come to be known as the Burned-over district. Through years of intensive study of prophetic symbolism of the prophecies of Daniel and using the year-day method of prophetic interpretation, Miller became convinced that Christ's Second Coming was revealed in Bible prophecy. In September 1822, Miller formally stated his conclusions in a twenty-point document, including article 15, “I believe that the second coming of Jesus Christ is near, even at the door, even within twenty-one years,—on or before 1843.”[1] This document however, remained private for many years.

Miller did eventually share his views—first, to a few friends privately, and later to some ministerial acquaintances. Initially he was disappointed at the lack of response from those he spoke to. “To my astonishment, I found very few who listened with any interest. Occasionally, one would see the force of the evidence, but the great majority passed it by as an idle tale.”[2]

Miller states that he began his public lecturing in the town of Dresden, Yates County, New York, on “the first Sabbath in August 1833.”[3] However, as Sylvester Bliss points out, “The printed article from which this is copied was written in 1845. By an examination of his correspondence, it appears that he must have begun to lecture in August 1831. So that this date is a mistake of the printer or an error in Mr. Miller's memory.”[1]

In 1832, Miller submitted a series of sixteen articles to the Vermont Telegraph—a Baptist paper. The first of these was published on May 15, and Miller writes of the public’s response, “I began to be flooded with letters of inquiry respecting my views, and visitors flocked to converse with me on the subject.”[4] In 1834, unable to personally comply with many of the urgent requests for information and the invitations to travel and preach that he received, Miller published a synopsis of his teachings in a “little tract of 64 pages.” These he “...scattered, the most of them gratuitously, sending them in reply to letters of inquiry and to places which I could not visit.”[5]

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