Autobiographical Sketch of Ellen G. White
New Hope Through Careful Study
Our calculation of the prophetic time was so simple and plain that even children could understand it. From the date of the decree of the king of Persia, found in Ezra 7, which was given in 457 before Christ, the 2300 years of Daniel 8:14 were supposed to terminate with 1843. Accordingly we looked to the end of this year for the coming of the Lord. We were sadly disappointed when the year entirely passed away, and the Saviour had not come.
It was not at first perceived that if the decree did not go forth at the beginning of the year 457 B. C., the 2300 years would not be completed at the close of 1843. But it was ascertained that the decree was given near the close of the year 457 B. C., and therefore the prophetic period must reach to the fall of the year 1844. Therefore the vision of time did not tarry, though it had seemed to do so. We learned to rest upon the language of the prophet: "The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." Habakkuk 2:3.
God tested and proved His people by the passing of the time in 1843. The mistake made in reckoning the prophetic periods was not at once discovered, even by learned men who opposed the views of those who were looking for Christ's coming. Scholars declared that Mr. Miller was right in his calculation of the time, though they disputed him in regard to the event that would crown that period. But they, and the waiting people of God, were in a common error on the question of time.
Those who had been disappointed were not long left in darkness; for in searching the prophetic periods with earnest prayer the error was discovered, and the tracing of the prophetic pencil down through the tarrying time. In the joyful expectation of the coming of Christ, the apparent tarrying of the vision had not been taken into account, and was a sad and unlooked-for surprise. Yet this very trial was necessary to develop and strengthen the sincere believers in the truth.
Our hopes now centered on the coming of the Lord in 1844. This was also the time for the message of the second angel, who, flying through the midst of heaven, cried, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city." Revelation 14:8. That message was first proclaimed by the servants of God in the summer of 1844. As a result, many left the fallen churches. In connection with this message the "midnight cry" was given: "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him." [See Matthew 25:1-13.] In every part of the land light was given concerning this message, and the cry aroused thousands. It went from city to city, from village to village, and into the remote country regions. It reached the learned and talented, as well as the obscure and humble.
This was the happiest year of my life. My heart was full of glad expectation; but I felt great pity and anxiety for those who were in discouragement and had no hope in Jesus. We united, as a people, in earnest prayer for a true experience and the unmistakable evidence of our acceptance with God.
A Trial of Faith
We needed great patience, for the scoffers were many. We were frequently greeted by scornful references to our former disappointment. The orthodox churches used every means to prevent the belief in Christ's soon coming from spreading. No liberty was granted in their meetings to those who dared mention a hope of the soon coming of Christ. Professed lovers of Jesus scornfully rejected the tidings that He whom they claimed as their best Friend was soon to visit them. They were excited and angered against those who proclaimed the news of His coming, and who rejoiced that they should speedily behold Him in His glory.
A Period of Preparation
Every moment seemed to me of the utmost importance. I felt that we were doing work for eternity, and that the careless and uninterested were in the greatest peril. My faith was unclouded, and I appropriated to myself the precious promises of Jesus. He had said to His disciples, "Ask, and ye shall receive." I firmly believed that whatever I asked in accordance with the will of God, would certainly be granted to me. I sank in humility at the feet of Jesus, with my heart in harmony with His will.
I often visited families, and engaged in earnest prayer with those who were oppressed by fears and despondency. My faith was so strong that I never doubted for a moment that God would answer my prayers. Without a single exception, the blessing and peace of Jesus rested upon us in answer to our humble petitions, and the hearts of the despairing ones were made joyful by light and hope.
(Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, pp. 49-53)