The above title indicates the theory held and dogmatically taught by all Seventh-day Adventists until the autumn of 1851. In later years they gradually modified it, and finally abandoned it altogether. Today they deny that they ever taught it at all! But we shall see. All of their leaders advocated this unscriptural theory in the clearest possible terms until the time above indicated. Mrs. White had revelation after revelation in her visions during this same period, confirming this theory. Later, they were compelled either to reject her claims to inspiration, or deny that she ever taught such a theory. The issue is plain. Here are the facts:
The Seventh-day Adventist leaders of this early time were all in the great Millerite movement. In 1844 they staked all upon the assertion that the end of the world would come on Oct. 22, 1844. Of course probation would end then. To this time they applied the parable of the ten virgins recorded in Matt. 25:1-13. Just before giving this parable, Jesus had warned his disciples that his second advent would occur suddenly, when least expected. To enforce this teaching, he gave the parable. Ten virgins went out to meet the bridegroom. As he tarried longer than they expected, all fell asleep. When he did come, only five were ready to go with him to the wedding. These entered, and "the door was shut." Later the other five came and knocked, but they were too late to gain admittance. The meaning is easy to understand. When Christ comes, all who are ready will be saved. The rest will be shut out, will be lost, for probation will be ended.
All the early Adventists, with Miller at their head, explained the parable in that way. And they were correct. When their set time passed they were dazed. They still insisted that their message had been right; probation had ended. They still hoped the Lord would come, and expected him any day. They ceased exhorting sinners, ceased praying for them, and said, "The door is shut."
This is the origin of the "shut door" theory. It then had with them no reference to any sanctuary, either on earth or in heaven. Such an application was attempted later. They had no "light" upon the sanctuary question till years after they had been preaching the "shut door." It was not until five years later (1849) that Seventh-day Adventists invented the theory of an "open door" from Rev. 3:7, 8. This new position is stated by Mrs. White herself. She says: "The view of the 'open and shut door,' on pages 34-37, was given in 1849. The application of Rev. 3:7, 8 to the heavenly sanctuary and Christ's ministry was entirely new to me. I have never heard the idea advanced by any one" ("Supplement" to "Experience and Views," p. 2).
So she herself, with all the others, had for five years taught the "shut door" theory without any reference to an "open" door. Now they claim that they have taught both the "shut door" and the "open door" together from the first. Thus Elder Butler, referring to Rev. 3:7, 8, says: "Here was a door opened and a door shut" ("Replies to Canright," p. 100). He asserts that they taught both together from the beginning in 1844. Mrs. White's statement just quoted proves his statement to be false.
Here is a significant fact. After 1844, and on for over seven years, the term "shut door" occurs over and over in all the articles from the pens of all Seventh-day Adventists during that period - articles from Mrs. White, and Elders White, Holt, Arnold, Bates and others. It is the center of their arguments. So prominent was this that they were called "Door Shutters." As such they were denounced by Mr. Miller and the other Adventists. But after the shut-door theory was abandoned, that term gradually disappears, until now for many years past it does not occur in their articles or publications at all. This fact alone proves that they have abandoned their theory of the shut door which they at first held, and which Mrs. White so strongly endorsed.
Seventh-day Adventists at first adopted the sanctuary theory to prove that the door of mercy was shut in 1844, a theory which Mrs. White and all of them held at that time. Here is my proof on this point:
Ann Arbor, Mich., Dec. 1, 1887
"Elder D.M. Canright: I kept the seventh day nearly a year, about 1848. In 1846 I explained the idea of the sanctuary in an article in an extra number of the Day Star, Cincinnati, O. The object of that article was to support the theory that the door of mercy was shut, a theory which I, and nearly all Adventists who had adopted William Miller's views, held from 1844 to 1848. Yes, I know that Ellen G. Harmon - now Mrs. White - held that shut-door theory at that time.
Now listen to Mrs. White:
Topsham, Me., Apr. 21, 1847
". . . The Lord showed me in vision, more than one year ago, that Brother Crosier had the true light on the cleansing of the sanctuary, etc., and that it was his will that Bro. C. should write out the view which he gave us in the Day Star (extra), Feb. 7, 1846. I feel fully authorized by the Lord to recommend that extra to every saint"
("A Word to the Little Flock," pp. 11, 12)
Here you have the origin and object of that sanctuary theory.
All Adventists, including every branch, under the leadership of Miller, for awhile after the day passed in 1844, held that probation for sinners had ended. Miller said: "We have done our work in warning sinners and in trying to awake a formal church. God in his providence has shut the door; we can only stir up one another to be patient" (Advent Herald, Dec. 11, 1844). Then, again, in the Voice of Truth, Feb. 19,1845, he says: "I have not seen a genuine conversion since." Miller gave the keynote with which all agreed. But he, with all leading Adventists, very quickly gave up the theory, and ever after opposed it.
Elder G.I. Butler, in the Review and Herald, March 3, 1885, says: "As the time passed, there was a general feeling among the earnest believers that their work for the world was done. . . There can be no question that for months after the time passed it was the general sentiment that their work of warning the world was over. . . Their burden was gone, and they thought their work was done." Yes, that was just what they did believe, probation was ended! Even Butler is compelled to admit it.
Elder White admits the same thing to be true. He says: "In the absence of light in reference to the shut and open door of the heavenly sanctuary, the reader can hardly see how those who held fast their advent experience as illustrated by the parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-12), could fail to come to the conclusion that probation for sinners had ended" ("Life Sketches," p. 121). But they did not have the "light," either on the sanctuary or the "open door," until years after 1844. This is equivalent to a confession that they believed probation for sinners had ended, and that they believed this for several years.
Mrs. White adds her testimony to the foregoing, as follows: "After the passing of the time of expectation in 1844, Adventists still believed the Saviour's coming to be very near; they held that . . . the work of Christ as man's intercessor before God had ceased" ("Great Controversy," edition 1884, p. 268). It is clear as light, from the admissions to be found in their own writings, that for a time after 1844 Seventh-day Adventists believed probation had ended.
Elder Bates, New Bedford, Mass., was one of the most ardent coworkers with Miller and others in preaching the set time in 1844. He is reported to have spent $15,000 (all his fortune) in that work. He was highly regarded by the Adventists, with whom he had much influence. He was fairly well educated, a man of much force, and of very positive convictions. He met Elder White and his wife in the fall of 1846. He was then fifty-four years of age, in the prime of his life and influence.
Mrs. White was only nineteen, feeble, uneducated, unknown, save to a few, and these of no influence with Adventists. Elder White was only twenty-six, and had only a limited education. The part that he had taken in the 1844 work was so limited that he had little influence with the Adventists. He and his wife were penniless, absolutely poor. She was having "visions," which were generally regarded as the result of her poor health. After a slight acquaintance, Bates endorsed her visions as of God, and threw all of his influence into supporting them. This was a wonderful advantage to Elder White and his wife. It was the turning point in their lives. They, therefore, readily accepted all of Bates' theories - the Sabbath, beginning it at 6 P.M. on Friday, and his argument that the day of atonement would last seven years from 1844, and end in the fall of 1851. With the Whites and others he held strongly that probation for the world ended Oct. 22, 1844.
The pamphlet, "A Word to the Little Flock," was published by Elder White in 1847. That he then believed that probation for sinners ended in 1844 is proved by his words on page 2, where he says: "From the ascension to the shutting of the door, October, 1844, Jesus stood with widespread arms of love and mercy; ready to receive, and plead the cause of every sinner who would come to God by him. On the tenth day of the seventh month, 1844, He passed into the Holy of Holies, where he has since been a merciful 'high priest over the house of God.' . . . I think the following is a prophecy which has been fulfilling since October, 1844: 'And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor' (Isa. 59:14-16)." Notice that after 1844 the sinner was left without an intercessor!
On page 21 of the little work is the following by Elder Bates: "Since the closing up of our work for the world, October, 1844." Their work for the world ended just there because there was no longer an "intercessor."
In the same little work, and between the two quotations already given, is the following from a vision by Mrs. White: "It was just as impossible for them [faithless Advent people] to get on the path again and go to the city, as all the wicked world which God had rejected" (p. 14).
Carefully note how all the foregoing quotations agree: no intercessor for sinners after October, 1844; our work closed up for the world, October, 1844; all the wicked world which God had rejected! All three are so plain that no word of explanation is needed.
In 1850, Bates published a tract on the sanctuary. On page 9, he says: "The twenty-three hundred years are complete, ending in the fall of 1844. . . Here his [Christ's] work ceased ministering and mediating for the whole world forever. . . Here the door is shut."
A study of this tract shows that Bates held that the day of atonement in the sanctuary in heaven began Oct. 22, 1844, and would last seven years, and, of course, end October, 1851. The last six months, the gathering of the saints would occur. He argued all this from the day of atonement as given in Leviticus 16. His argument was mere assumption, lacking proof. But it satisfied him. Elder White and his wife needed so much his influence, and besides, had so much confidence in his knowledge and ability, that they readily accepted his views and wrote in harmony with what he taught.
Here are the words of Elder Bates about that seven years:
"The seven spots of blood on the Golden Altar and before the mercy seat, I fully believe, represent the duration of the judicial proceedings on the living saints in the Most Holy, all of which time they will be in their affliction, even seven years; God by his voice will deliver them, 'for it is the blood that maketh the atonement for the soul' (Lev. 17:11). Then the number seven will finish the day of atonement (not redemption). The last six months of this time, I understand, Jesus will be gathering in the harvest with his sickle, on the white cloud." Again: "This is also where the door is shut - at the end of the twenty-three hundred days. The times of the Gentiles are over. Hos. 5:6, 7: 'They shall go with their flocks and their herds to seek the Lord; but they shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself from them. Now shall a month devour them with their portions.' How evident that this is after the door is shut and Jesus had gone, or withdrawn himself, into the Holiest." Again he says: "As soon as the day of atonement is ended, seven angels come out of the temple with the seven last plagues (vs. 5, 6). This is the duration of the third angel's message in Rev. 14:9-13" ("The Typical and Anti-typical Sanctuary," pp. 10-13, 15, by Joseph Bates, 1850).
Note that the times of the Gentiles were to end at the close of the twenty-three hundred days, in 1844 - their probation ended there! Then the day of atonement would begin, and last seven years. This was to be the duration of the third angel's message - seven years. This was Joseph Bates' theory. Jesus was to begin the atonement in heaven Oct. 22, 1844; it would continue seven years, and of course end in October, 1851. The last six months - May to October - would be the gathering of the saints. It is plain from Mrs. White's writings of that time that she accepted and believed fully in this theory.
Here is a "vision" given September, 1850, about one year before the seven years were to end: "Some are looking too far off for the coming of the Lord. Time has continued a few years longer than they expected, therefore they think it may continue a few years more. . . I saw that the time for Jesus to be in the Most Holy Place was nearly finished, and that time can not last but a little longer" ("Early Writings," p. 58, ed. 1907).
Jesus entered the Most Holy, it was claimed, Oct. 22, 1844. In September, 1850, he had been there six years. She at that time says she "saw" that his time to be there was nearly finished! See how exactly this agrees with the theory of Bates, published in the same year (1850)! These two were working together. Each knew what the other believed. Both wrote alike as to the time Jesus would be in the Most Holy Place. Bates said it would end in seven years - October, 1851, or only one year after he wrote. She said that Christ's time to be in the Most Holy Place was nearly finished when she wrote in 1850. Thus it would have been if the theory Bates advanced had been correct. One can easily see how she was blindly led by Bates. What she saw was not what God revealed to her, but what Bates taught her.
Time has demonstrated that her "visions" was wrong. In 1850, when she wrote it, Jesus had been in the Most Holy Place, according to Advent teaching, only six years; yet she "saw" that his time to be there was nearly finished. But, instead of this being the case, nearly seventy long years have gone by, and, according to Seventh-day Adventist teaching, Jesus is still in the Most Holy Place in the sanctuary in heaven, and the day of probation for sinners has not yet ended! Any candid person will readily admit the error and the utter failure of that "vision."
But here is another "vision" still worse, written June 27, 1850: "My accompanying angel said, 'Time is almost finished. Get ready, get ready, get ready.'" A little further on she says: "Some of us have had time to get the truth, and to advance step by step, and every step we have taken has given us strength to take the next. But now time is almost finished. . . and what we have been years learning, they will have to learn in a few months" ("Early Writings," pp. 64-67).
In September, 1850, she limited the time to "a few months," "time almost finished," etc. Note how evidently she relied upon Bates' seven years. Had he been correct it would have been only a few months longer. It is clear that the deluded woman sincerely believed in Bates' ideas and interpretations or she never would have dared to write so dogmatically in her "vision" messages. The passing of nearly seventy years has proved her "visions" to be, not a message from God, but the hallucinations of an overwrought mind, the result of her nervous condition. No holy angel ever told her what she claims he did; for he would have told her the truth. The study clearly reveals the fact that her "visions" were simply the product of her own mind, reflecting the views of those around her.
Miss Sarah B. Harmon, older sister of Mrs. White, in a letter written from Brookfield, N.Y., to Mrs. P.D. Lawrence, July 29 and 30, 1850, said: "I believe this is the last winter we shall see before Jesus, our great High Priest, comes out. Oh, let us live for God and sacrifice for him faithfully." (1) Here is additional evidence that Seventh-day Adventists had set the time for Christ to come in 1851.
We now submit evidence from another important source of early Advent teaching; namely, Present Truth, published by Elder White in 1849 and 1850. In this publication several leading men gave their views of the "shut door" theory as held by all Seventh-day Adventists at that date. We quote first from Elder George W. Holt (Present Truth, December, 1849, p. 47). He says: "Many will point us to one who is said to be converted, for positive proof that the door is not shut, thus yielding the word of God for the feelings of an individual." Notice his point: If an individual had been really converted since October, 1844, it would have proved that the door was not shut. Hence the shut door meant that there could be no genuine conversions after 1844. This was at the close of 1849, five years after 1844, published and endorsed by Mr. and Mrs. White! How does this agree with the idea that Mrs. White, all through these five years, was laboring for the conversion of sinners, as has been claimed? Why did she not refute Holt by pointing to sinners she had herself converted during this five years? Will Adventists explain?
In the same paper (pp. 41-46, same month, Dec. 16, 1849) is an article covering six pages by Elder David Arnold, entitled "The Shut Door Explained." Surely this should make the matter plain as to what was meant by the "shut door." The burden of his whole argument is that, after 1844, Christ was a mediator for saints only, and that, as the door was then shut, there had not been, nor could there be, a genuine conversion of a sinner since that time. Here are a few lines:
"The professed conversions through the instrumentality of different sects are urged as positive proof that the door is not shut. I can not give up the clear fulfillment of prophecy in our experience, which shows the shut door in the past, for the opinions, fancies and feelings of men, based upon human sympathy and a superstitious reverence for early imbibed views. . . These professed converts will not rise to a better state than the low standard of the fallen sects; therefore, they are converted to the religion of the various sects, but not to God."
Here this writer argues exactly as does Holt, that a genuine conversion would prove the door not shut; but there had been no true conversions since 1844. That is the argument. The professed conversions were all spurious. Again we ask, Why did not Mrs. White point to her converts and refute such an argument? Why not? Because she had none. She had not labored for any. She did not believe it possible to make any. She agreed with Holt and Arnold. Remember, both articles were published in her husband's paper, edited by him.
Now let us hear Elder White upon the same question - the "shut door." In Present Truth, May, 1850, he has an article of eight columns on "The Sanctuary, Twenty-three Hundred Days, and the Shut Door." In an article of such length he should be able to make his position very plain. And, indeed, he does. He uses every argument available to prove that the door of mercy was shut in 1844; and that therefore there was no intercessor and no pardon for sinners after that time. He says:
"I think we shall clearly see that there can be no other place for the shut door but at the autumn of 1844. . . When we came up to that point of time all our sympathy, burden and prayers for sinners ceased; and the unanimous feeling and testimony was that our work for the world was finished forever. . . The reason that the living branches felt that their work was done, was because the twenty-three hundred days were ended, and the time had come for Jesus to shut the door of the Holy and pass into the Most Holy to receive the kingdom and cleanse the sanctuary. . . At this very time when the faithful servant is giving meat to the 'household' [not to the unbelieving world], and is opposed by the evil servant, and when the Advent history marked out by the parable is fulfilled, and the shut door in the past, . . . He is still merciful to his saints and ever will be; and Jesus is still their Advocate and Priest. But the sinner, to whom Jesus had stretched out his arms all the day long, and who had rejected the offer of salvation, was left without an advocate when Jesus passed from the Holy Place and shut the door in 1844. The professed church who rejected the truth was also rejected, smitten with blindness, and now with their flocks and herds they go to seek the Lord, as still an advocate for sinners. But, says the prophet (Hos. 5:6, 7): 'They shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself from them. They have dealt treacherously against the Lord, for they have begotten strange children.'"
Here it is evident that Elder White used the same argument as Holt and Arnold. Jesus is an advocate for saints, but not for sinners. The door is shut against sinners. Notice that he quotes Hos. 5:6, 7, to prove it. While they believed in the shut door, this was a text they all used over and over again. It will soon be seen that Mrs. White uses it in the same way.
Now we come to the teaching of Mrs. White herself in her "visions" and revelations on this same subject. She says that an angel came to her directly from heaven and talked with her, telling her how it all was. She writes out these "visions" for the same paper in which the articles written by Holt, Arnold and her husband all appear. She was associated with them in the same work, talked with them, heard them preach their views, read their articles, etc. When her husband brought home that little paper, Present Truth, they laid each number on the floor between them and prayed over it. In "Testimony for the Church," Vol. I., page 88, Mrs. White says: "About the same time he began to publish a small sheet entitled Present Truth. . . Always before preparing them for the post-office, we spread them before the Lord, and prayed over them."
She herself had articles in many of these little sheets, right along with the others. It is certain that she read each article, and knew, without doubt, what the others wrote and taught. She certainly agreed with these articles or she would not have prayed over them as she says she did. We will quote from only one or two of her articles to show that she taught as they all did - that there was no salvation for sinners after 1844. Opening to No. 3 (August, 1849, pp. 21, 22), we discover that she claims to have been taken up to the Holy City. In relating the "vision" given her there, she says: "There I was shown that the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, relating to the shut door, could not be separated." She "saw" all about how in 1844 Jesus left the Holy Place and entered the Most Holy, etc. Her arguments are the same as those of all the others. She saw that the power manifested by the other churches in revivals was only the power of the devil, not the power of God. Continuing, she says: "I saw that the mysterious signs and wonders and false reformations would increase and spread. The reformations that were shown me were not reformations from error to truth, but from bad to worse; for those who professed a change of heart had only wrapped about them a religious garb, which covered up the iniquity of a wicked heart. Some appeared to have been really converted, so as to deceive God's people; but if their hearts could be seen, they would appear as black as ever. My accompanying angel bade me look for the travail of soul for sinners, as used to be. I looked, but could not see it, for the time for their salvation was past."
It is painful to read the dodging, quibbling and untruthful assertions made by her defenders to evade the plain meaning of this passage. In a few years' time, with its stern facts, compelled Mrs. White and her followers to abandon the "shut door" and "no salvation for sinners" doctrine. Not one of them believes in it now. This is conclusive proof that her revelations were not from God, but were the unreliable products of autosuggestion and an abnormal state of mind. No holy angel ever told her what she reports, for no such being would have told her what was not so and what the passing of time has proven untrue. Her assertion gives the lie to heavenly being. Her professed revelations were simply the product of her own mind reflecting the teaching of those around her.
Here is another of her "visions" along the same line, in the same paper, Present Truth, March, 1850, page 64. She says: "The excitements and false reformations of this day do not move us, for we know that the Master of the house rose up in 1844 and shut the door of the first apartment of the heavenly tabernacle; and now we certainly expect that they will go with their flocks to seek the Lord; but they shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself (within the second veil) from them. The Lord has shown me that the power that is with them is a mere human influence, and not the power of God."
Here she quotes Hos. 5:6, 7, the same text so often used by all the others, to prove that there were no real conversions after 1844. It is idle, therefore, to say that she did not agree with the others, or to deny that she taught the shut door doctrine, the same as they. What reason does she give to explain why there were no real conversions after 1844? Note her words: Because "the Master of the house rose up in 1844 and shut the door."
In a report of labor in the Advent Review, May 15, 1850, Elder White, in noticing the death of a Sister Hastings, says: "She embraced the Sabbath in 1846, and has ever believed that the work of warning the world closed in 1844." This shows that they held to the shut-door idea for years after 1844.
In the Review and Herald, Aug. 19, 1851, Joseph Bates says: "We understand that he [Christ] was a Mediator for all the world, ministering in the Holy Place (Heb. 9:26), in the Tabernacle called the Sanctuary, from the day of Pentecost (A.D. 31) until his appointed time, the end of the twenty-three hundred days, or years - the fall of 1844. At this point of time, then, the door was shut against the Sardis church [the Protestant church] and the wicked world."
But to make still more certain that Mrs. White herself taught this repulsive, unscriptural and fanatical doctrine, we quote further from her; this time from her "vision" at Camden, N.Y., June 29, 1851:
"Then I saw that Jesus prayed for his enemies; but that should not cause us to pray for the wicked world, whom God has rejected. When he prayed for his enemies. There was hope for them, and they could be benefited and saved by his prayers, and also after he was a mediator in the outer apartment for the whole world; but now his spirit and sympathy were withdrawn from the world; and our sympathy must be with Jesus, and must be withdrawn from the ungodly. . . I saw that the wicked could not be benefited by our prayers now."
The genuineness of this vision is acknowledged by Editor Uriah Smith and Elder J.N. Loughborough in their efforts to explain it away.
Mrs. White's defenders try to limit this message to only one person there present. But her language is too plain for such a dodging of the issue.
Hear her once more on this subject. After Jesus left the Holy Place, she says: "I did not see one ray of light pass from Jesus to the careless multitude after he arose, and they were left in perfect darkness. . . Satan appeared to be by the throne trying to carry on the work of God. I saw them look up to the throne and pray, 'Father, give us thy spirit;' then Satan would breathe upon them an unholy influence" ("Early Writings," pp. 55, 56; ed. 1907).
Her teaching here is as clear as day - not one ray of light comes to sinners since 1844, but all are left to the devil! What is the use of Adventists denying that she taught this doctrine? She certainly did teach it.
Now notice how Adventists squarely deny all this. Elder Butler, in "Replies to Canright," page 100, says that neither Mrs. White nor any of them ever taught that there was no salvation for sinners after 1844. Then he adds: "It is a slander to say the contrary. We also declare, with no fear of contradiction, that during this very period, when Elder C. and other opposers of the same ilk taught that she and others believed that there was no salvation for sinners, she and they were laboring for the conversion of sinners."
We here and now flatly deny every word of Elder Butler's statement, and confidently refer all to the quotations already given from Holt, Arnold, Bates, White and Mrs. White herself, in refutation of what he asserts. The statement are plain. The reader can judge for himself who is telling the truth. Moreover, we deny that Mrs. White, or any of their ministers during these years named, ever made the slightest effort to convert even one sinner. To have done so would have contradicted all their arguments. Let them produce one line in evidence of one case where Mrs. White, or any of them, labored to convert a common sinner. No reference to such a case can be found in any of their published works of that date.
On the contrary, the publications of that early time are full of unquestionable evidence that they did not labor to convert any one, for the very reason that they believed it futile.
Elder White, her husband, taught the same things she did at this period in their history. In Present Truth, page 69, dated April, 1850, he said: "Babylon, the nominal church is fallen. God's people have come out of her. She is now the 'synagogue of Satan' (Rev. 3:9). 'The habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird' (Rev. 18:2)."
Yes, after 1844 all the Protestant churches were wholly left of God, turned over to Satan, who answered their prayers! They were all only the abode of devils and corruption! Yet these very churches, since that time, have produced a Spurgeon, a Livingstone, a Bishop Simpson, a Moody, and at least one-third of all the devout members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church itself! A large share of their own members were first converted in the "synagogue of Satan," and Adventists very gladly received them into their church as good Christians! Even the devil seems to be pushing the propaganda of conversion for them, through the churches that are "the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird." How utterly inconsistent is the association of the young missionary students of the Seventh-day Adventist people with the student volunteers of the other Christian bodies, if they believe and remain loyal to the "visions" of Mrs. White and the teachings of her husband and other early Advent leaders. They are still privately calling upon the converts of the "devil-filled" churches to "come out" of them, and publicly professing to show a spirit of fellowship toward these churches, while in reality remaining hostile to them. These earnest Adventist young people are unaware of these early positions of their church, supported by the revelations of the woman whom they are taught to place by the side of the greatest prophets and apostles of past ages. They only need to investigate with open mind, to reject the whole scheme, and come to the simple basis of loyalty to Christ and his apostles, as the real leaders and teachers of the church.
Did Christ and the Holy Spirit lead these founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to lose for years all their burden and sympathy for sinners and cease to pray for them? Was Christ in sympathy with them when they taught that he no longer was a friend of sinners? Was he in sympathy with them when they taught that he was no longer an advocate for them, and that the whole world was rejected of God, left without the Holy Spirit, turned over to Satan, and that all churches save their own were only the synagogue of Satan, forts of the devil, in fact? Did a holy angel tell Mrs. White all that terribly false message? Such a theory seems like blasphemy. If God did not lead them then, has he led them since? Is he leading them now?
In Present Truth for April, 1850, page 72, is an account of an effort to save "the children of the remnant." This was six years after the "door was shut" in 1844. In these six years some of their own children had grown to years of accountability, unsaved. Here was a new experience, an unlooked-for difficulty. How could they get these, their own children, in through that "shut door"? "Necessity is the mother of invention."
Here is the way they fixed it up for their children: "As they [little children] were then  in a state of innocence, they were entitled to a record upon the breastplate of judgment as much as those who had sinned and received pardon; and are, therefore subjects of the present intercession of our great high priest" (Present Truth, p. 45).
This, of course, was pure assumption, without a particle of Scriptural proof; but it "did the business"! The children of "the remnant" - that is, their children - went in to Holy of Holies on the breastplate of Jesus in 1844! They were inside, and, therefore, could repent and be saved later!! This was the first slight modification of the "shut door" doctrine held by the Seventh-day Adventists.
Soon another unexpected event occurred which compelled them to open the door a little wider. In "Replies to Canright," page 102, Elder Butler gives an account of it. In 1850 a Mr. Churchill was accepted as a converted man. Butler says: "His was one of the very first cases of conversion from the world to the present truth, which occurred after 1844. As we have said, their work hitherto had been almost wholly for the 'lost sheep of the house of Israel' - the old Advent believers. . . He [Churchill] had married after this  a daughter of Sister Benson, a '44 Adventist. . . They were quite surprised at first that one who had been an unbeliever should manifest an interest in the Advent doctrine. . . His conversion was noised abroad quite extensively."
Study this carefully. Butler says that their work had been almost wholly for "old Advent believers." It had not been almost, but entirely, for old Adventists. They had not paid the slightest attention to any outside of old believers. Mr. Churchill's conversion "surprised" them, and it was "noised abroad extensively." His was the very first conversion from the world after 1844; that is, six years after. This is a confession that for six years after 1844 they had not converted a single sinner.
Had Mrs. White and all the able ministers been laboring for years for sinners without making a single convert? She claims over and over that the power of the Holy Spirit was upon her all that time. Was this the proof of it?
Again, why were they surprised at this first conversion? Why was it so extensively commented on? The reason is plain. It was unexpected and contrary to their previous views.
Further, did they seek Churchill and labor for him? No! He came seeking admittance without being invited. As he was son-in-law to the church, as in the case of their own children the door was opened a little more, and he was let in! The, again, it was drawing near to the time (1851) when they were compelled to abandon the "shut door" theory. Evidently this Churchill conversion, and the case of their own children growing up, began to open their eyes to the folly of their "shut door" views, and caused them to hasten their modification and finally give them up entirely.
The following extract is taken from the Review and Herald under date of June 11, 1861, and signed by nine of their prominent ministers:
"Our views of the work before us were then mostly vague and indefinite, some still retaining the idea adopted by the body of Advent believers in 1844, with Wm. Miller at their head, that our work for the world was finished, and that the message was confined to those of the original Advent faith. So firmly was this believed that one of our number was nearly refused the message, the individual presenting it having doubts of the possibility of his salvation, because he was not in the '44 move."
Until well along in 1851, their whole effort was in the interest of the old Advent believers only. All of their writings during that period are full of this teaching. In Present Truth, May, 1850, Elder White says: "This work of bringing out the jewels and purifying away error is fast increasing, and is destined to move on with increasing power until the saints are all searched out and receive the seal of the living God."
You see they conceived their work to be that of searching out "the jewels," "the saints," not sinners. Their first publication of 1847 was "To the Little Flock." Then all through everything they published from that time on until well into the year 1851, their articles are addressed to "believers," "the little flock," "the remnant," "the scattered flock," "the torn flock," "to the household of faith," "to scattered jewels," "to the saints," "to the honest in heart," etc.
On page 72 of Present Truth, Mrs. White says: "The swift messengers must speed on their way to search out the scattered flock." Nowhere in all those years do we find one word about going to seek sinners or to labor for them. Hence their surprise when a sinner came to them of his own accord and sought admission. It was a wonder heralded widespread to all the church. The truth is that their early publications contain so much of their "shut door" teaching that is has been difficult to decide what to publish and what to omit. Much has necessarily been omitted to economize space.
Here is one more item of evidence that their work for years after 1844 was confined to seeking out only those who had been in the 1844 movement. It is taken from the Review and Herald, Sept. 7, 1916: "For nearly ten years the work was confined to the gathering in of those who had accepted the first angel's message" (Miller's work). Exactly. Their work in those first years after '44 was not to seek sinners, but old Advent Christians, as this article confesses.
Fanaticism dies hard. After 1851 they began to open that "shut door" so that now all could get in conditionally. They must understand the sanctuary in heaven, the change Jesus made in 1844 from the Holy to the Most Holy, and follow him in there by faith. Praying to him anywhere else was only to be lost! So says Mrs. White in "Early Writings," edition 1907, page 261:
"They have no other knowledge of the move made in heaven, or the way into the Most Holy, and they can not be benefited by the intercession of Jesus there. . . They offer up their useless prayers to the apartment which Jesus has left."
Defending this view, Elder Uriah Smith, in "Objections to the Visions Answered," published in 1868, pages 24-26, says:
" A knowledge of Christ's position and work is necessary to the enjoyment of the benefits of his mediation. . . A general idea of his work was then [previous to 1844] sufficient to enable men to approach unto God by him. . . But when he changed his position [in 1844] to the Most Holy Place. . . that knowledge of his work which had up to that point been sufficient, was no longer sufficient. . . Who can find salvation now? Those who go to the Saviour where he is and view him by faith in the Most Holy Place. . . This is the door now open for salvation. But no man can understand this change without definite knowledge of the subject of the sanctuary and the relation of type and antitype. Now they may seek the Saviour as they have before sought him, with no other idea of his position and ministry than those which they entertained while he was in the first apartment; but will it avail them? They will not find him there. That door is shut."
This theory is about as bad as the original "shut door." To find salvation now a sinner must understand the change Jesus made up in heaven in 1844. But who knows about this? Only Seventh-day Adventists. The whole world and all Christendom are totally ignorant of that change. Therefore, all these were hopelessly lost, for their prayers never reached where Jesus was!!
It is almost beyond human comprehension that sane people would teach such views; but here you have them over their own signatures. In Mrs. White's "Early Writings" they still give out to their people these statements as the inspired word of God!
The author has conversed with individuals who positively affirm that they have heard Mrs. White repeatedly teach this shut door doctrine. There are even some still living who will under oath declare that they have heard her advocate it.
John Megquier, Sago, Me., a man noted for his integrity, writes: "We well know the course of Ellen G. White, the visionist, while in the state of Maine. About the first visions she had were at my house in Poland. She said that God had told her in vision that the door of mercy had closed, and there was no more chance for the world" ("The True Sabbath," by Miles Grant, p. 70).
Mrs. L.S. Burdick, San Francisco, Cal., was well acquainted with Mrs. White. She writes:
"I became acquainted with James White and Ellen Harmon (now Mrs. White) early in 1845. . . Ellen was having what was called visions: said that God had shown her in vision that Jesus Christ arose and on the tenth day of the seventh month, 1844, shut the door of mercy; had left forever the mediatorial throne; the whole world was doomed and lost; and there never could be another sinner saved" ("The True Sabbath," p. 72).
These persons knew the facts, and have put their testimony on record.
It has been made apparent to every unprejudiced reader that both Mrs. White and her husband, James White, clearly taught that the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the world and the "nominal" churches in 1844. All of them were left "without reprovings of conscience." Satan answered their prayers. Their prayers to God were useless. That was over seventy years ago - two generations. Since that date (1844) scores, hundreds, thousands, of the most devoted, consecrated men and women the world had ever known, have grown up, been converted, and devoted their lives and their all to the work of saving souls. Thousands of these have gone into the darkest regions of heathenism and have worn themselves out for Christ and his church. Many of these have been imprisoned, beaten or slain for the sake of Christ and his gospel. They have endured as great sufferings and accomplished as great a work as the apostles themselves did. Besides these who have given all, are thousands who have willingly contributed millions of wealth to help the missionaries forward the work of bringing the heathen from darkness to light.
One case like that of David Livingstone in Africa, or of Charles Spurgeon in England, or of D.L. Moody in America, gives lie to the above teachings of Mrs. White and her colaborers. The work of Adventists themselves in laboring for the salvation of sinners now contradicts her statement that the Spirit of God left the world in 1844. An editorial in their own paper, the Advent Review, Sept. 23, 1915, has this truthful statement: "As never before, perhaps, in the history of the world, did there exist such a spirit of reaching after God." This squarely contradicts Mrs. White's assertion that the Spirit of God was withdrawn from the world in 1844.
In the study of this chapter we see some of the evils that result from fanaticism; how one error paves the way for another; and how loath men are to give up fanatical views.
The error of time-setting in 1844 led to the misapplication of the parable of the ten virgins; the misapplication of the parable led to the theory of the "shut door," or no mercy for sinners after 1844; and this led to a misunderstanding of the sanctuary in heaven, the atonement, and Christ's mediatorial work, and the whole movement led to the unchristianizing of the whole Christian world.
But time has compelled them to change their views, if not their bigotry and exclusiveness. From holding that God no longer had a merciful message of salvation for the world, Adventists have come to believe that they are the only people that have a message for the world today.
From the belief that the door of mercy was closed to the world in 1844, they have passed to the belief that they are the only people who hold the key that will unlock this door.
From holding erroneous views regarding the subject of the sanctuary, many of which with the lapse of time they have been forced to abandon, they have come to hold that they are the only people who understand the sanctuary question.
Because the Protestant churches did not accept the time-setting views of William Miller, Seventh-day Adventists have held and still hold that these churches are the "Babylon" of Rev. 14:8, which is fallen. Believing thus, it has been impossible for them to associate with the members of these churches as fellow Christians.
From first to last their views have led them to shut some door in the face of everybody, even the most earnest Christian workers in the world.
Mrs. White's professed revelations from God place, for them, the stamp of divine approval upon all such attitudes upon their part, and her fanatical theories, all proclaimed as revelations from God, have made the fanaticism of these people most difficult to uproot.
(1) Sarah Harmon was five years older than her sister Ellen (Mrs. White). She married Stephen Belden, the father of F.E. Belden, the musician of Seventh-day Adventists. He has the letter now.
(1) Sarah Harmon was five years older than her sister Ellen (Mrs. White). She married Stephen Belden, the father of F.E. Belden, the musician of Seventh-day Adventists. He has the letter now.