As the sanctuary plays so important a part in all of Mrs. White's visions, and in the Seventh-day Adventist faith generally, I will explain it briefly, without special argument.
Moses erected a building called the tabernacle, or sanctuary. It had two rooms. The first was called the Holy Place, the second, the Most Holy Place. In the first was the table of showbread, the candlestick, and the altar of incense; in the second, the ark. The two rooms were separated by "the veil." At the door of the first room was a curtain. Outside, in the court, stood the altar of burnt-offering.
In the court and in the Holy Place the priests ministered daily. No one entered the Most Holy Place except the high priest once a year, on the tenth day of the seventh month, the "day of atonement" (Lev. 23:37). The services of this day were most important of all, and are fully described in Leviticus 16. On this day the high priest went into the Most Holy Place with the blood of a general offering for all the people, and made an atonement for all Israel. By sprinkling blood on and before the mercy seat on the ark, on the altar of incense, and on the altar of burnt-offering, he was said to "cleanse" the sanctuary from all the sins of the people.
All this was figurative and typical - an object lesson pointing to Christ.
Miller's time-setting views that Christ would come in 1844 were based on his calculations regarding the time for the "cleansing of the sanctuary." When the time passed, and Christ did not come, he, with all the leaders of the body of Adventists generally, soon acknowledged that he had been mistaken in the time. But a very few - Elder White, Ellen Harmon (Later Mrs. White), Elder Bates, and a few others - still held that the set day had been right. But they could not explain the failure.
About two years later, in 1846, one O.R.L. Crosier studied out the sanctuary subject very much as it is now held by Seventh-day Adventists. His view was accepted entirely by a few Adventists of that time, and Ellen Harmon (Mrs. White) shortly afterward had a "vision" in which she said the Lord showed her that the Crosier view was correct. She recommended its publication (see "A Word to the Little Flock," pp. 11, 12). The theory was that the earthly sanctuary was a type of one just like it up in heaven, and that this sanctuary in heaven, and that this sanctuary in heaven was the one referred to in Dan. 8:14, upon which was based the 1844 time-setting calculations; that Jesus, as our high priest, was to minister in the first room, or Holy Place, in heaven, from his ascension until Oct. 22, 1844, receiving there the confessed sins of believers, and that on Oct. 22, 1844, he finished his ministry in the Holy Place and went into the Most Holy, and there began the "cleansing of the sanctuary," which they said was also the anti-typical atonement. Notice that in this theory the atonement did not take place until over eighteen hundred years after Jesus died on the cross!
In Crosier's theory it was held that the work in the first apartment of the earthly sanctuary was for "forgiveness of sins" only; hence, when the work in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary closed (Oct. 22, 1844), there ended forgiveness of sins for all the world! Probation for sinners ended there! So, after 1844, Christ's work of atonement in the Most Holy Place was for saints only!
Mr. Crosier states that the object of this article on the sanctuary was to prove that probation ended in 1844, and Mrs. White endorsed it for that reason. See the next chapter.
The Adventists new nothing of this sanctuary theory until about two years after 1844. But when Crosier's theory was adopted, they linked up the "shut door" of the ten virgins parable, which they preached on in 1844, with what they now called the "shutting of the door" of the first room of the heavenly sanctuary when Jesus went into the second apartment.
It was not until 1849, five years after 1844, that they first invented the "open" door theory. See next chapter. But this "open door" was for saints only - the old Advent believers. This was the second step in the shut-door theory.