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When Miller Discovered all of his 15 Proofs

 According to Miller’s narrative of his early experience during the two years of intensive Bible study (1816 to 1818), he was sure that Christ would come in 1843 because of three proofs: (1) the seven times of Leviticus 26, (2) the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14, and (3) the 1335 days of Daniel 12 (Wm. Miller’s Apology and Defense, 10-11). He doesn’t say when the subsequent arguments or proofs were developed.
Based on his narrative, three periods present themselves as possibilities when Miller discovered the 15 proofs:
                1. 1816 to 1818: The two-year period of intensive Bible study (ibid., 11-12).
                2. 1818 to 1823: The five-year period of continued Bible study, reconsidering what he had found and weighing it against the various objections he could find (ibid., 15).
                3. 1823-1832: The nine-year period of continued Bible study, presenting the nearness of Christ coming to friends and family (ibid., 16).
It is certain that most, if not all, of his arguments were discovered by 1832 when he first published a series of articles in the Vermont Telegraph in 1832 (Rasmussen, 48). He finally went public with his message in 1833, according to his narrative in Apology and Defense (17-19).
I rule out the first period because Miller mentions only three main arguments for Christ’s coming in 1843 (as noted above). After explaining the three arguments, he wrote: “Reckoning all these prophetic periods from the several dates assigned by the best chronologers for the events from which they should evidently be reckoned, they all would terminate together, about A. D. 1843” (ibid., 11; emphasis mine). The “all” indicates he means all three of the main prophetic periods and possibly the "490 years" and "1260 prophetic days" (ibid.). Following this sentence he wrote: “I was thus brought in 1818 at the close of my two years study of the Scriptures, to the solemn conclusion, that in about twenty-five years from that time all the affairs of our present state would be wound up” (ibid., 11-12). Thus, based on his own words, by 1818, only three main proofs or arguments (possibly five) were the basis of his conclusion that Christ was coming in 1843.
On page 10 in Apology and Defense, Miller does refer to “other prophetical periods” after discussing the seven times, 2300 days, and 1335 days. But on page 11 he mentions the “seventy weeks” or “490 years,” and “the 1260 years,” which are the most likely candidates for the “other prophetical periods.” Consequently, Miller mentions no other prophetical periods before 1818, which rules out the first period as the time when the 15 proofs were nailed down.
The most likely period when he finalized on his proofs was from 1818 to 1832, the latter two periods, when he continued to study the Bible. Of significance is a letter to a pastor friend, written in 1831, where Miller mentions several additional arguments, such as the number 666, the two days of Hosea and Luke, and the 391 years (Miller to Truman Hendryx, August 9, 1831). The two days of Hosea and Luke were considered by Miller to be a “pearl of great price, lying deep in the waters of prophecy” (Miller, A Familiar Exposition, 46). If the two days were of such great value to him, one would expect them to be mentioned in the narrative of his early experience. But no such mention occurs in the narrative. Evidently, prior to 1818, he had not yet discovered this “pearl of great price.”
Thus, William Miller did not have all his 15 proofs nailed down by 1818. In fact, he would not present them collectively until January 25, 1843 (idem, Signs of the Times, 147-150). Ellen White’s “perfect chain of truth,” then, placed chronologically before 1818, was certainly not the 15 proofs.
It should be noted that after discussing Millers two years of intensive study during 1816 to 1818, Ellen White mentions the latter two periods of Miller’s Bible study, the five-year period (1818 to 1823) and the nine-year period (1823 to 1832) in The Great Controversy (330, 331). She is simply following Miller’s narrative here. But her discussion of what Miller discovered in the “great lines of prophecy” (ibid., 321) takes place chronologically before the end of the first period, the two years of intensive study (ibid., 320-329).  
Bliss, Sylvester. Memoirs of William Miller, Generally Known as a Lecturer on the Prophecies, and the Second Coming of Christ (Boston: J.V. Himes, 1853). This definitive biography of Miller is based on Wm. Miller’s Apology and Defense.
Miller, William. Miller to Truman Hendryz, August 9, 1831.
____________. A Familiar Exposition of the Twentyfourth Chapter of Matthew and the Fifth and Sixth Chapters of Hosea. (Boston, Joshua V. Himes, 1842).
____________. "Synopsis of Miller’s Views," Signs of the Times, January 25, 1843, 145-150.
____________. Wm. Miller’s Apology and Defense (Boston: Joshua V. Himes, 1845).
Rasmussen, Steen R. Roots of the Prophetic Hermeneutic of William Miller (M.A. Thesis, Andrews University, 1983).
Jud Lake, Th.D., D.Min.