Saturday, November 13, 2010

Joseph Smith's response to William Miller's "end of the world" prophecy

Excerpts from Rick Gunder's "Mormon Parallels," #136
William Miller, founder of the Adventist movement calculates 1843 as the end of the world.

By at least February 12, 1843, they [followers of Miller] came to Joseph Smith's attention during a visit by several young men from New York.  Joseph "preached them quite a sermon.  Shewed them that the error is in the Bible or translation and that Miller is in want of information." (1842-43 journal)

Joseph Smith believed that Miller's day of advent was set for April 3, 1843.  On the preceding day, therefore, April 2, Joseph recorded his well-known revelation that Christ would not come until December 23, 1890 . . .  [see D&C 130:14-15]

Sure enough, there was no Second Coming the next day, and Joseph observed triumphantly: "Monday, April 3d 1843  Miller's Day of Judgement has arrived, but tis too pleasant for false prophets"

On April 6, Joseph reiterated the "eighty-five years old" prophecy and promised that, "There are those of the rising generation who shall not taste death till Christ comes. . . .  I prophecy in the name of the Lord God, and let it be written, that the Son of Man will not come in the heavens till I am 85 years old, 48 years hence or about 1890."  Joseph then indulged in calculations based on biblical prophecy, referring ambiguously to the beginning of the "hour of his judgement" and figuring that if a day with God is 1,000 years, then an hour with God is "41 years, 8 months . . ."

Finally, after listening to Millerite predictions continue for a year, Joseph declared in a speech at the unfinished Nauvoo temple (March 10, l844):

 . . . I take the responsibility upon myself to prophesy in the name of the Lord, that Christ will not come this year as Miller has prophecyed, for we have seen the bow.  And I also Prophecy in the name of the Lord that Christ will not Come in forty years & if God ever spake by my mouth he will not come in that length of time & Jesus Christ never did reveal to any man the precise time . . . & all that say so are fals teachers.

The following description by Alice Felt Tyler ... conveys general impressions held at the time:
'  . . . Preparations for the end were made by countless hundreds of joyous or desperate souls.  White cloth was purchased and made into ascension robes.  Nearly all secular business was neglected . . .  Voting was light . . .  Tents were put up outside cities . . . and hundreds of people assembled on the night of October 21 [1844] to keep their vigil together.  No provision was made for food . . . the tension was intolerable . . .  There were several suicides, and as the dawn of October 23 served notice that "time continued" regardless of prophecy, some heart-broken Millennialists were led away insane. '


Anthony E. Larson said...

What you failed to add of Joseph's statment is that if one did calculate a date for the Second Coming but there were no signs in the heavens, then one could rest assured that his or her calculations were incorrect. To him, the signs were the primary indicator, not some calculated date. And what did he say were the signs? Well, the answer to that question entails considerable study. I invite you to investigate.

Clair Barrus said...

Thanks for the feedback Anthony. There is the curious statement above "Christ will not come this year as Miller has prophecyed, for we have seen the bow."

I found this reference to a bow in the heavens, but this was before the church was formed.

Sep 22, 1827 Heber C. Kimball is awakened by a neighbor, John P. Greene, to see a manifestation in the sky: "It was one of the most beautiful starlight nights, so clear that we could see to pick up a pin. We looked to the eastern horizon, and beheld a white smoke arise toward the heavens; as it ascended it formed itself into a belt, and made a noise like the sound of a mighty wind, and continued southwest, forming a regular bow dipping in the western horizon. After the bow had formed, it began to widen out and grow clear and transparent, of a bluish cast; it grew wide enough to contain twelve men abreast. In this bow an army moved, commencing from the east and marching to the west; they continued marching until they reached the western horizon. . . .

Clair Barrus said...

... They moved in platoons, and walked so close that the rear ranks trod in the steps of their file leaders, until the whole bow was literally crowded with soldiers. We could distinctly see the muskets, bayonets and knapsacks of the men, who wore caps and feathers like those used by the American soldiers in the last war with Britain; and also saw their officers with their swords and equipage, and the clashing and jingling of their implements of war, and could discover the forms and features of the men. The most profound order existed throughout the entire army; when the foremost man stepped, every man stepped at the same time; I could hear the steps. When the front rank reached the western horizon a battle ensued, as we could distinctly hear the report of arms and the rush. No man could judge of my feelings when I beheld that army of men, as plainly as ever I saw armies of men in the flesh; it seemed as though every hair of my head was alive. This scenery we gazed upon for hours, until it began to disappear."

Chris Almond said...

There are also some interesting parallels between Baha'i Prophecies and Joseph Smith. They are probably just coincidental, but interesting nonetheless,

The founder of the faith, Baha'a'llah claimed to be 'the son of man' or one of the Second coming of Jesus.
joseph smith said the 'one might and strong' would come after his servant "shall fall by the shaft of death". the 'one might and strong' refers to the forerunner to christ, or john the baptist. joseph smith was murdered in 1844, that same year the bab, the forerunner to baha'lluah made his appearance.
ellen white, founder of the seventh day adventists said the second coming would occur in 1844.
an ancient mayan prophecy predicts the second coming of quetzacoatle to happen in 1844.
joseph smith claimed to have recieved a revelation informing him that if he was to live to the age of 85 he would see the face of son of man. the year joseph smith would have been 85 was 1890, the same year the first european met baha'u'llah (who described meeting him like this: "The face of him on whom I gazed I can never forget, though I cannot describe it. Those piercing eyes seemed to read one's very soul; power and authority sat on that ample brow; while the deep lines on the forehead and face implied an age which the jet-black hair and beard flowing down in indistinguishable luxuriance almost to the waist seemed to belie.
No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain!)

joseph smith prophecied there would be bloodshed between the north and the south (civil war)just previous to the coming of the son of man. in 1863 abraham lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation, the same year baha'llah announced his mission to the world.

Clair Barrus said...

Pretty interesting Chris. A lot of parallels. Maybe the 2nd coming did occur in 1844. :-)

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you can place two false prophets side by side, J Smith and W Miller, and folks will denounce one while following the other when they are BOTH FALSE PROPHETS!