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Farmer, preacher, and author. Miller was born at Pittsfield, Massachusetts. His formal schooling consisted of only 18 months, but he became self-taught through his strong habit of reading. He also early began to write, composing poetry and keeping a diary. His reading exposed him to infidel authors who influenced him in the direction of deism. He became a justice of the peace in his late twenties, and fought in the War of 1812. Several experiences during this conflict turned his mind toward a personal God. By 1816 he was converted, and began Bible study in earnest. He wrote, “The Scriptures . . . became my delight, and in Jesus I found a friend.”
By 1818 in his study of the prophecies (Dan. 8:14 and others) he concluded that Jesus would return “about 1843.” In 1831 he began to share his studies in public in small settings, after strong conviction and providential guidance to do so. After meeting J. V. Himes, a prominent editor, in 1839, the way was opened to preach to large groups in major cities. While opposed by many, his preaching, and that of others who caught the Advent message, made a significant impact, with up to 100,000 accepting belief in the soon coming of Christ. Ellen Harmon heard him in Portland, Maine, in March of 1840 when she was 12 years old. She recounted, “Mr. Miller traced down the prophecies with an exactness that struck conviction to the hearts of his hearers. He dwelt upon the prophetic periods, and brought many proofs to strengthen his position. Then his solemn and powerful appeals and admonitions to those who were unprepared, held the crowds as if spellbound” (LS 20.2).
The initial expectation of the Advent believers was disappointed when the spring of 1844 passed without Christ’s return. The seventh-month movement the following summer revived expectation with a focus on October 22 of that year. Miller accepted the validity of that date shortly before it came. But with this “passing of the time” the faith of all was sorely tested. Miller responded, “Although I have been twice disappointed, I am not yet cast down or discouraged. Although surrounded with enemies and scoffers, yet my mind is perfectly calm, and my hope in the coming of Christ is as strong as ever” (Letter, November 10, 1844 [Herald of the Midnight Cry, 107]). He never accepted the sanctuary or Sabbath messages. After losing his sight in 1848, he passed away near the end of 1849, still looking for Christ’s coming. Ellen White wrote of him in 1858 that “angels watch the precious dust of this servant of God, and he will come forth at the sound of the last trump” (Early Writings, page 258).
Brother Miller’s Dream
Dissertations on the True Inheritance of the Saints
Evidences from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ About the Year A. D. 1843, and of His Personal Reign of 1000 Years
The Kingdom of God
A Lecture on the Typical Sabbaths and Great Jubilee
Letter to Joshua V. Himes, on the Cleansing of the Sanctuary
Miller’s Reply to Stuart’s “Hints on the Interpretation of Prophecy”
Miller’s Works. Volume 1. Views of the Prophecies and Prophetic Chronology
Miller’s Works. Volume 2. Evidence from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ about the Year 1843
Miller’s Works. Volume 2. Supplement
Miller’s Works. Volume 3. Exposition of the Twenty-Fourth Of Matthew; The True Inheritance Of The Saints; The Cleansing of the Sanctuary; The Typical Sabbath; and, A Review Of Dimmick.
Remarks on Revelations Thirteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth
Review of a Discourse, Delivered in the North Church, Newburyport, on the Last Evening of the Year 1841, by L. F. Dimmick, Pastor of the Church
William Miller’s Apology and Defence, August 1