The Sanctuary
And the Great Disappointment
by James S. White
From "Bible Adventism" page 179


Why were those disappointed who looked for the second appearing of Christ in the year 1844? This important question we believe can be answered in the most satisfactory manner. Our disappointment did not arise from mistaking the manner and object of the second advent; for no truth is more distinctly stated in the sacred Scriptures than the personal and visible second appearing of Jesus Christ to raise the righteous dead, change to immortality the living righteous, and to destroy the unbelieving world.

Nor did our disappointment arise from misapplying the prophetic symbols of Daniel and John. A careful review of the subject confirms us that the application of these symbols made by the Adventists of 1840-44 was correct.

Nor did our disappointment arise from a misapplication of the prophetic periods. The year-day theory is well sustained. The argument by which the original date of the seventy weeks of the ninth chapter of Daniel is sustained, is invulnerable. And Adventists correctly held that the seventy weeks were a part of the 2300 days.

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These two points relative to the seventy weeks being correct, we had sufficient reasons for believing that the 2300 days would terminate in the year 1844.

Neither did our disappointment arise from believing that at the end of the 2300 days the work of cleansing the sanctuary would take place. For it is plainly stated, "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." Dan.8:14. But when we said that this earth, or a part of this earth, was the sanctuary, and that Christ must descend from Heaven at the end of the 2300 days, to purify the earth by fire, we looked for that which the Bible did not warrant us to expect. Here is the cause of our disappointment. For we have seen that there is no scriptural authority to support the view that any part of the earth is the sanctuary, or that the burning of the earth, and the melting of the elements, 2 Pet.3, is the cleansing of the sanctuary.

By a multitude of witnesses, we have proved that the tabernacle of God in Heaven is the sanctuary to be cleansed, and that its cleansing is a work performed in that sanctuary, with blood, and not with fire. Our disappointment, then, arose from a misunderstanding of the work to transpire at the end of the days.

William Miller and his associates were correct on three of the four fundamental points of the Advent faith. On one they were mistaken.

From James White's Introduction p.14
1. They were correct as to the premillennial second appearing of Christ....
2. The Adventists were correct in their application of the prophetic symbols of Daniel and John...
3. They were also correct in their application of the prophetic periods. The dates fixed upon have stood the test of the most rigid criticism.
4. But we were mistaken only in the event to occur at the close of the prophetic periods. Hence the disappointment..

Their views were correct relative to the literal and personal second advent, the application of the prophetic symbols, and their exposition of the great periods of Daniel and John. But they did not understand the event to occur at the termination of the 2300 prophetic days.

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And their mistake on this one point does not affect the great Second Advent question, as most men suppose that it does. This one point scripturally corrected, the Second Advent faith stands on as firm a basis, to say the least, as before the disappointment. We therefore see no reason for denouncing that truly great and good man, Wm. Miller, as a false prophet, and the Advent faith as a failure, simply because he was mistaken on one point in four, and when that one mistake was of such a nature as to be scripturally corrected without in the least changing or weakening any other point.

And here we would remark that other great men have made mistakes as well as Wm. Miller. The learned Prof. Bush, in a letter to Wm. Miller, said:–

"Neither is it to be objected, as I conceive, to yourself or your friends, that you have devoted much time and attention to the study of the chronology of prophecy, and have labored much to determine the commencing and closing dates of its great periods. If these periods are actually given by the Holy Ghost in the prophetic books, it was doubtless with the design that they should be studied, and probably, in the end, fully understood; and no man is to be charged with presumptuous folly who reverently makes the attempt to do this. On this point, I have myself no charges to bring against you. Nay, I am even ready to go so far as to say that I do not conceive your errors on the subject of chronology to be at all of a serious nature, or, in fact, to be very wide of the truth. In taking a day as the prophetical term for a year, I believe you are sustained by the soundest exegesis, as well as fortified by the high names of Mede, Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Newton, Kirby, Scott, Keith, and a host of others who have long since come to substantially your conclusions on this head.
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They all agree that the leading periods mentioned by Daniel and John, do actually expire about this age of the world, and it would be a strange logic that would convict you of heresy for holding in effect the same views which stand forth so prominent in the notices of these eminent divines. Your error, as I apprehend lies in another direction than your chronology."

Here Prof. Bush speaks frankly and truthfully, and his words of wisdom sustain the Adventists in the most objectionable feature of their faith. But what was the event for which he looked to mark the termination of the 2300 days?

Let the following extract from the same letter to Wm. Miller answer:-

" While I have no question that well-informed students of prophecy will admit that your calculation of times, with the above exception, is not materially erroneous, they will still, I believe, maintain that you have entirely mistaken the nature of the events which are to occur when those periods have expired.

This is the head and front of your expository offending. You have assumed that the close of the 2300 days of Daniel, for instance, is also the close of the period of human probation - that it is the epoch of the visible and personal second coming of Christ - of the resurrection of the righteous dead - and of the dissolution of the present mundane system. All this I affirm to be gratuitously and groundlessly asserted.
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Admitting, as I readily do, that we have arrived at a momentous era of the world, and that the expiration of these periods is to introduce, by gradual steps, a new order of things, intellectual, political, and moral, I still peremptorily deny that the Scriptures, soundly interpreted, warrant the expectation of any such sudden and miraculous disruption of the existing order of things, as yourself and those usually termed Adventists are in the habit of teaching.

"The great event before the world is not its physical conflagration, but its moral regeneration; and, for one, I am happy to think that by your own limitation, the question is so soon to be put to the test of indisputable fact. The 23d of March - if that is the time - will soon be upon us, and the truth or falsehood of one part, at least, of your scheme will then be decided. But even if years or centuries were yet to intervene, I should still be strong in my grand position, that you had mistaken the nature of the events.

"Although there is doubtless a sense in which Christ may be said to come in connection with the passing away of the fourth empire and of the Ottoman power, and his kingdom to be illustriously established, yet that will be found to be a spiritual coming in the power of his gospel, in the ample outpouring of his Spirit, and the glorious administration of his providence. This is the common and prevailing belief of Christendom, and I have no doubt the true one."

Evidently, Mr. Bush looked for the conversion of the world as the event to mark the termination of the 2300 days. Both Mr. Miller and Mr. Bush were right on the time question, and both were mistaken in the event to occur at the close of the great periods. Mr. Miller held that the world would be regenerated by fire, and Mr. Bush, by the gospel, at the end of the 2300 days.

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Mr. Bush would put Mr. Miller's views to the severe test of a few weeks only, while the conversion-of-the-world theory of Mr. Bush has had the terrible test of the last twenty-six years of apostasy, spiritual darkness and crime. This period has been noted by departures from the faith of the gospel, and apostasies from the Christian religion.

Infidelity in various forms, especially in the name of Spiritualism, has spread over the Christian world with fearful rapidity, while the dark record of crime has been blackening since Prof. Bush addressed his letter to Wm. Miller. If this be the commencement of the temporal millennium, may the Lord save us from the balance. Both these great men mistook the event to terminate the 2300 days. And why should Mr. Miller be condemned for his mistake, and Mr. Bush be excused for his unscriptural conclusion? Both rest in the grave, while we have opportunity to scripturally correct their errors by the light of the heavenly sanctuary. "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."

In the providence of God, in the seventh-month movement of 1844, the attention of the people was turned to the types of the law of Moses. The argument which had been given - that as the vernal types, namely, the passover, the wave sheaf, and the meat-offering, ere fulfilled in their order and time in the crucifixion, the resurrection of Christ, and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of pentecost, so would the autumnal types be fulfilled as to time, in the events connected with the second advent - seemed to be conclusive and satisfactory.

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The position taken was, that as the high priest came out of the typical sanctuary on the tenth day of the seventh month and blessed the people, so Christ, our great High Priest, would, on that day, come out of Heaven to bless his waiting people.

But it should be borne in mind that at that time those types which point to the work in the heavenly sanctuary were not understood. In fact, no one had any definite idea of the tabernacle of God in Heaven. We now see that the two holies of the typical sanctuary, made by the direction of the Lord to Moses, with their two distinct ministrations - the daily and the yearly services - were, in the language of Paul to the Hebrews, "patterns of things in the Heavens, " "figures of the true." Chap.9. He also says of the work of the Jewish priests, in chapter 8, "Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things." His words mean simply this: In Heaven there is a sanctuary where Christ ministers, and that sanctuary has two holies, and two distinct ministrations, as truly as the earthly sanctuary had. If his words do not mean this, they have no meaning at all.

How natural, then, the conclusion, that as the Jewish priests ministered daily in connection with the holy place of the sanctuary, and on the tenth day of the seventh month, at the close of their yearly round of service, the high priest entered the most holy place to make atonement for the cleansing of the sanctuary, so Christ ministered in connection with the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary from the time of his ascension to the ending of the 2300 days of Dan.8, in 1844,
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when, on the tenth day of the seventh month of that year, he entered the most holy place of the heavenly tabernacle to make a special atonement for the blotting out of the sins of his people, or, which is the same thing, for the cleansing of the sanctuary. The typical sanctuary was cleansed from the sins of the people with the offering of blood. The nature of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary may be learned from the type. By virtue of his own blood, Christ entered the most holy to make a special atonement for the cleansing of the heavenly tabernacle.

With this view of the heavenly sanctuary before the reader, he can see the defect in the seventh-month theory. It now appears evident that the conclusion that Christ would come out of heaven on that day is not justified by the premises in the case. But if Christ's ministry in the heavenly sanctuary was to last but one year, on the last day of which he would make an atonement for the cleansing of the heavenly tabernacle, according to the type, then the conclusion that he would on that day come out and bless his waiting people, would be irresistible.

But let it be remembered that "the law having a shadow of good things to come" was "not the very image of the things." In the shadow, the round of service, first in the holy place for the entire year, save one day, and second, in the most holy place on the last day of that year, was repeated each successive year. But not so in the ministry of Christ. He entered the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary at his ascension, once for all. There he ministered till the time for the cleansing of the sanctuary at the close of the 2300 days in the autumn of 1844.

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To accomplish this work, he then entered the most holy place once for all. Christ suffered upon the cross - not often - but once for all. He entered upon his work in the holy place once for all. And he cleanses the heavenly sanctuary from the sins of his people once for all. His ministry in the holy, from his ascension in the spring of A.D. 31 to the autumn of 1844, was eighteen hundred and thirteen years and six months.

The period of his ministry in the most holy can no more be defined before its close, than the time of his ministry in the holy could be defined before it terminated. Therefore, however much the tenth-day atonement for the cleansing of the typical sanctuary proved that our great High Priest would enter the most holy of the heavenly tabernacle on the tenth day of the seventh month, it proved nothing to the point that he would on that day come out of the most holy place.

Could we then have understood the subject of the heavenly sanctuary, our disappointment would have been avoided.

Our evidence did not prove that our High Priest would descend from the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary in flaming fire to burn the earth, at the end of the 2300 days; but, so far from this, it did prove that he must at that time enter within the second vail, to minister for us before the ark of God's testament, and to cleanse the sanctuary. Dan.8:14; Heb.9:23, 24. Such has been the position of our High Priest since the end of the days, and this is the reason that we did not behold our King in 1844.

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He had then ministered in only one of the holy places, and the termination of the 2300 days marked the commencement of his ministration in the other.

When John, who saw the door of the first apartment of the heavenly tabernacle opened, Rev.4:1-5, at the commencement of Christ's ministry, was carried in vision down the stream of time to "the days of the voice of the seventh angel, " he saw the most holy place of God's temple opened. "And the temple of God was opened in Heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament; and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail." Rev.11:19.

Here, by the ark of God's testament, is where our High Priest ministers since the close of the 2300 days. To this open door in the heavenly sanctuary, Rev.3:7, 8; Isa.22:22-25, we invite those to come for pardon and salvation, who have not sinned away the day of grace.

Our High Priest stands by the MERCY-SEAT (which is simply the top of the ark), and here he offers his blood, not merely for the cleansing of the sanctuary, but also for the pardon of iniquity and transgression. But while we call men to this open door, and point them to the blood of Christ, offered for us at the mercy-seat, we would remind them of the LAW OF GOD beneath the mercy-seat, which made the death of God's beloved Son necessary in order that guilty man might be pardoned. The ark contains God's commandments, and he who would receive the blessing of God, at the hand of our High Priest, must keep the commandments contained in the ark before which he ministers.

Table of Contents for James White's "BIBLE ADVENTISM"

James White and the Sanctuary page One
James White and the Sanctuary Ministry and Cleansing

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