It Happened Here
It was the morning of October 23, 1844, a gray dawn for thousands and ten thousands of the followers of William Miller, who had confidently looked for the Lord to come on the tenth day of the seventh month, October 22. They had closed their earthly businesses; they had sought to set their hearts right with God and with their fellow men; they had taken farewell of earth. This day they had hoped to be in glory.
The twenty-second had dawned a day of hope for a little company in the town of Port Gibson, New York, on the Erie Canal. Hiram Edson (1806-1882), a farmer and lay preacher, was their leader. Although sometimes their meetings had been held in a schoolhouse up the canal, often, as on this day, they congregated at Edson's farmhouse.
Through the bright shining day, until the sun went down, they watched and waited, strengthening one another in hope with a recital of the promises and the prophecies. Then with quaking hearts they watched until midnight. The day was gone, and in apprehension they waited for the dawn. It came with clouds, but not the clouds of glory surrounding the King; they were the old drab wrappings of a desolate earth.
"What can it mean?" They looked into one another's anguished faces. "Is our Savior not coming? Are the prophecies false? Is the Bible untrue? Is there no God?"
Not so, brethren," said Hiram Edson. "Many, many times the Lord has sent us help and light when we needed it. There is a God, and He will hear us."
Most of the friends left with the dawn, and went back to their homes. But Edson and the few remaining went, at his suggestion, out to his barn. Entering the empty granary, they shut the door and knelt to pray. They prayed until comfort came to their hearts, and assurance that in His good time Christ would explain them their disappointment.
One brother remained with Edson to breakfast. After breakfast, Edson said to him, "Let us go out to comfort the brethren with the assurance we have received.
Not wishing, I suppose, to meet any of the neighbors who might taunt them, they started, not by the road, but across the rough ground of a cornfield in which the corn had been cut and stood in shocks. The two men went silently, each engrossed in his thoughts.
As they neared the middle of the field, Edson was stopped. Heaven seemed to open to his view. He later wrote: "I saw distinctly and clearly that instead of our High Priest coming OUT of the Most Holy of the heavenly sanctuary to come to this earth (on October 22)...that He for the first time ENTERED on that day the second room of that sanctuary; and that He had work to perform in the Most Holy before coming to this earth".
Edson's friend had crossed to the other side and stopped by the fence. He looked back and saw Edson with face uplifted, looking and listening. "Brother Edson." he called, "Why are you stopping so long?"
To which Edson replied, "The Lord is answering our morning prayer, giving light with regard to our disappointment."
After this experience, Edson and a friend, Dr. F. B. Hahn, along with O.R. L. Crosier, began in earnest to study out the Scripture proof of Edson's revelation. In a few months they felt they were ready. Edson and Hahn, had published at irregular intervals a little paper in Canandaigua called The Day Dawn, which heralded the coming. Its first issue was reported in the Day-Star, April 15, 1845. Now Edson said, "Let us publish this truth." Crosier, the best author in the group, was commissioned by Edson and Hahn to write the results of their research. Enoch Jacobs, a friendly Adventist editor in Cincinnati, agreed to publish the article in his journal, the Day-Star. The article came out in the Day-Star extra February 7, 1846.
Edson meanwhile had sent copies of his little paper to as many addresses he could gather. One reached Joseph Bates, another James White. After reading Crosier's article, Bates became convinced that the sanctuary to be cleansed is in heaven, and is as real a temple as the New Jerusalem itself. With a desire to spread the new light, he wrote a tract entitled, The Opening Heavens. An ex-sea-captain, he added further evidence from astronomy and from the Bible as well. He then traveled all the way to Port Gibson (probably in the fall of 1846) to compare notes with Edson, Crosier, and Hahn. Before his visit ended, all three had become Sabbath keepers.
In the fall of 1846, James and Ellen White accepted the Sabbath as a result of reading Joseph Bates' most famous tract, The Seventh-day Sabbath, a Perpetual Sign– even before they had received the sanctuary truth. Subsequently, the nucleus of the company that would later be known as Seventh-day Adventists was formed. Adapted from A. W. Spalding, Footprints, pp. 73-82; C. M. Maxwell, Tell it to the World, pp. 40-77; S.D. A. Encyclopedia, pp. 412,413.