Lewis, Bonnie, et. al. "William Miller." Faithology.com. Faithology, 4 February 2013. Web. 19 June 2013.
Lewis, B., et. al. (2013, Feb 4). William Miller. Faithology.
Lewis, Bonnie, et. al. "William Miller" Faithology, LLC. Last modified February 4, 2013.
Faithology, LLC, 2012. (Accessed Jun 19, 2013).. William Miller.
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- Noah Webster's American Dictionary: http://www.1828-dictionary.com.
- Last Updated: February 4, 2013
- Originally Published: July 16, 2012
William Miller (1782-1849) was a farmer, soldier, and public official who, through careful biblical study, came to believe he discovered the date of the second coming of Jesus . A religious enthusiast with a profound knowledge of the Bible and an engaging style of preaching, Miller planted the seeds that grew into the Adventist , giving rise to the Seventh Day Adventist Church and other churches based on the idea that Jesus Christ's return is imminent.
William Miller was born on February 15, 1782, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Little is known of his childhood. He was the eldest of sixteen children, and little education was available to him. Miller was an avid reader and became as well educated as he could make himself.
During the War of 1812, Miller served as a captain of the 30th Infantry, Vermont Militia. He returned home to life as a farmer and served as a deputy sheriff and justice of the peace. He also came home to the revival that would later brand northern New England as "the burned-over district."
Now past thirty, Miller became concerned about hisand . He turned from Deism to become an avid churchgoer and Bible student. Following a conversion experience, he joined a Calvinistic Baptist church. He came to believe in the Bible as literal truth and biblical prophecy.
His years of Bible study, particularly of Daniel 8:13-14, led him to conclude that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ would occur between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. In 1828, he felt called to preach and announce his realization. Finally in 1831, he preached his first when asked to fill in for an absent pastor. Never ordained, he was licensed to preach after several invitations resulted in popular sermons and lectures on his beliefs.
His early sermons were summarized in a tract in 1833, expanded to Evidence fromand History of the Second Coming of Christ, About the Year 1843 (1838). Touring New England, he met pastor Joshua V. Himes, who became Miller's manager and publicist. Himes created a chart with Miller's calculations for the end of the world purchased a large tent for revival meetings, and edited New York's Midnight Cry and Boston's Signs of the Times.
Himes effectively created the movement known as "Millerism," which grew to somewhere between fifty and one hundred thousand by the 1843 target date. As with other new movements of the day, persecution raged—mobs tried to disrupt meetings, Miller was assaulted with rotting food—but the movement continued to grow. Stories circulated that thousands of supporters gathered on hilltops inrobes in expectation of the promised second coming during the years 1843 and 1844, but there is little historical evidence to justify these claims. When the dates passed, Miller confessed his mistake, and his faithful recalculated, using information in other scriptures. Miller accepted a new date, October 22, 1844.
When the date of October 22, 1844 passed, the movement took a major blow to its membership. The last conference of the Millerites met in Albany, New York, in 1845. The attendees reiterated their belief in the advent, or imminent arrival, of Jesus Christ, but they did not declare another date nor did they organize a formal religious organization.
Miller's health may have been compromised by his heavy lecture schedule. Though past sixty, he delivered over three hundred lectures in the six months before the target year. During 1843, he gave eighty-five lectures in just six weeks. He remained quietly at home through early 1844, somewhat left behind by Joshua V. Himes and other Adventist preachers.
William Miller died on December 20, 1849 in Low Hampton, New York.
Though he never legally chartered a church, Miller left a written library of books, pamphlets, and tracts including a philosophical legacy that formed the intellectual foundation of the Adventist denomination. It has grown and developed throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
One small, New England group of Adventists, led by James and Ellen Gould White, were convinced that Miller's purging was in heaven, not on earth. Christ did not appear to humans because Christians were not observing the true Sabbath, the seventh day. Drawing on Millerite, Baptist, Methodist and other influences, this group grew into today's Seventh-Day Adventist Church, first organized in 1863.
The International Bible Students Association began with Adventist Charles Taze Russell in 1872. From this group, which still exists, grew the Jehovah's Witnesses in the 1930s.
TheChurch and the Life and Advent Union merged into today's Advent Christian Church in 1964. They rejected both the prophetic status of Ellen Gould White and seventh-day .