Archive for September, 2008

Pioneers Acknowledge Gift of Prophecy – 1855

September 8, 2008

Business proceedings of the Conference at Battle Creek, Mich.

BRETHREN assembled in conference at Battle Creek, Nov. 16th, 1855, according to appointment in REVIEW of Oct. 16th. Eld. Joseph Bates was chosen Chairman… In the business transactions of this Conference, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:

… 9. That Joseph Bates, J. H. Waggoner, and M. E. Cornell be appointed to address the saints in behalf of the Conference, on the gifts of the church.

ADDRESS

Of the Conference Assembled at Battle Creek, Mich., Nov. 16th, 1855.

To THE DEAR SAINTS SCATTERED ABROAD, Greeting:—In view of the present low state of the precious cause of our blessed Master, we feel to humble ourselves before God, and confess our unfaithfulness and departure from the way of the Lord, whereby the spirit of holiness has been grieved, our own souls burdened, and an occasion given to the enemy of all righteousness to rejoice over the decline of faith and spiritually amongst the scattered flock.

We fully believe that the great and notable day of the Lord is at hand, and that he is now spreading the light of the last message of mercy, which is designed “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord,” that he may “present to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing—holy and without blemish.” Such we believe the church of God must be, to stand in the great battle, and pass through the time of trouble; and that he may “purify to himself a peculiar people,” he has adopted means ” for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come into the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” These means are declared in his word to be the gifts of the Holy Spirit which he has set in the church.” These are made objects of desire to-the church; for the divine injunction is, to “covet earnestly the best gifts.” We are well aware that all these gifts, together with the tongues of angels, and the laying down of our lives would profit us nothing without charity, or the fervent love of God; but we are at once exhorted to “follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts.

Dear Brethren and Sisters in Christ, while we have professed to stand upon the Word, and walk in ” the whole counsel of God,” we feel to confess that we as a people, have not obeyed the above divine injunction, nor have we appreciated the glorious privilege of claiming the gifts which our blessed Master has vouchsafed to his, people, and we greatly fear that we have grieved the Spirit by neglecting the blessings already conferred upon the church. While all who profess to believe the word of God acknowledge the necessity of faith and of teachers to make known the truth, we find that these are two of a class of gifts all wrought “by the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” Read 1 Cor. xii, 4-11, 28. The faith which we once professed in the promise of God through Christ to forgive our sins and heal our sicknesses, has not of late been exercised as it formerly was; and we have been bearing our own infirmities, instead of bringing them to Him “by whose stripes we are healed,” We think that this calls for humiliation before God, and a turning again to him, who has promised to give rest to the weary and heavy laden.

We have also, in our past experience, been made to rejoice in the goodness of our God who has manifested his care for his people by leading us in his way and correcting our errors through the operations of his Spirit; and the majority of Sabbath-keepers in the Third Angel’s Message, have firmly believed that the Lord was calling his church “out of the wilderness by the means appointed to bring us to the, unity of the faith. We refer to the visions which God has promised to the remnant “in the last days,” We are aware that many will regard it as infatuation to believe in such operations of God’s Spirit in these days; and we may by some be classed with the spiritualists so well known in this age. We have ever considered spiritualism the work of the enemy, and it is generally conceded that Satan is to shew his signs and wonders previous to the second coming of our Lord; yet it is as plainly written that the Lord will pour out his Spirit in the last days; and as we are shielded from a strong delusion by a proper application of the Scriptures concerning the work of these spirits, so we believe that we may receive of the choice blessings of God by acknowledging the force of the promises of his Spirit. Some again seem to suppose that we cannot with certainty distinguish between the operations of the Spirit of God and the works of the enemy; and therefore they reject every thing of this kind for fear of deception: but we consider this an impeachment of the wisdom and mercy of the divine plan. We esteem it equally dangerous to receive en error and to reject the truth.

The question does not so much seem to be whether the gifts are subjects of promise and expectation; but whether we are willing to bear the reproach of the position we have taken. We think the Scriptures are definite on this point; and while we would shrink from needlessly exciting the prejudices of the world against us, we dare not shrink from our duty when plainly made known through the Word. Nor do we, as some contend, exalt these gifts or their manifestations, above the Bible; on the contrary, we test them by the Bible, making it the great rule of judgment in all things; so that whatever is not in accordance with it, in its spirit and its teachings, we. unhesitatingly reject, But as we cannot believe that a fountain sends forth at the same place sweet water and bitter, or that an evil tree brings forth good fruit, so we cannot believe that that is of the enemy which tends to unite the hearts of the saints, to lead to meekness and humility and holy living, and incites to deep heart-searching before God, and a confession of our wrongs. As having such a tendency we recommend to your candid consideration the, contents of the book entitled,” Experience and Views,” believing them to be agreeable to the word of God, and the spirit of the Gospel.

Dear Brethren, while we hold these views as emanating from the divine Mind, we would confess the inconsistency (which we believe has been displeasing to God) of professedly regarding them as messages from God, and really putting them on a level with the inventions of men. We fear that this has resulted from an unwillingness to bear the reproach of Christ, (which is indeed greater riches than the treasures of earth,) and a desire to conciliate the feelings of our opponents; but the Word and our own experience have taught us that God is not honored, nor his cause advanced, by such a course. While we regard them as coming from God, and entirely harmonizing with his written word, we must acknowledge ourselves under obligation to abide by their teachings, and be corrected by their admonitions. To say that they are of God, and yet we will not be tested by them, is to say that God’s will is not a test or rule for Christians, which is inconsistent and absurd.

But if any ask how we regard those who do not acknowledge them as of God, we answer that we are very willing to exercise toward them that spirit of toleration which is taught in the Bible, believing that “to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin;” we are willing to make due allowance for the impressions received in youth, and the prejudices of the age; and even concerning the doctrines of the Word, we are told to receive “him that is weak in the faith, but not to doubtful disputations.” By this we do not consider that the Apostle would lower down the truth, or make the cross of Christ of none effect, but rather have us follow the example of Christ in forbearance, and bearing the burdens of the weak. Rom, xv, 1-5; 1 Cor. ix, 22. 23.

We do not think that God designs to bestow one gift to the exclusion of the others; but while we “covet earnestly the best gifts,” we regard it as the prerogative of our heavenly Master alone to set them in the church, by his Spirit “dividing to every man severally as he will’ —not as we will. But we hope and pray, dearly beloved, that you will strive together with us for holiness of heart, for the unity of the faith and spirit, and the knowledge of the Son of God, that the power of Christ our Lord may rest upon us, that we may stand complete in him, and grow into him in all things; and having then, gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation; he that giveth, let him do it liberally; (margin;) he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation; abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord. Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints: given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you; bless, and curse not. Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and we pray that your whole spirit, and soul and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

In behalf of the Conference.

JOSEPH BATES.
J. H. WAGGONER.
M. E. COKNELL.

Review and Herald, Volume 7, No. 10. December 4, 1855. pages 78-79.
http://www.adventistarchives.org/docs/RH/RH1855-V07-10/index.djvu

Arthur White comments on this November 16 meeting:

“The events and experiences at this conference of November, 1855, may well be considered as marking a turning point in Seventh-day Adventist history. With the church accepting the responsibility for its publishing work, and the Spirit of Prophecy now given its rightful place, added blessing attended the labors of the ministers, the publishing enterprise prospered, and the work moved forward. (1BIO 330.4)”

TIME TO COMMENCE THE SABBATH – James White

September 7, 2008

IT is generally known to most of the readers of the Review that for several years in the early history of Seventh-day Adventists, believers adopted six o’clock P. M. as the time for the Sabbath to commence and close. It is also known that in the autumn of 1855, the Review taught that sunset was the Bible time to commence the Sabbath, and that our people generally changed from six o’clock to sunset. Some of the circumstances connected with this change I wish here to state:

1. The six o’clock time was called in question by a portion of believers as early as 1847, some maintaining that the Sabbath commenced at sun-rise, while others claimed Bible evidence in favor of sunset.

2. Eld. Joseph Bates, who was the first to teach the Sabbath in its importance, and faithfully labor to bring out a people from among the Adventists to observe it, was very decided upon the six o’clock time. His decided stand upon the question, and respect for his years, and his godly life, might have been among the reasons why this point was not sooner investigated as thoroughly as some other points.

3. In the autumn of 1855 Eld. J. N. Andrews called on me at Battle Creek, on his way to Iowa, and set before me the scriptural reasons for commencing the Sabbath at sunset. He had written a clear article upon the subject which he left with me, and which appeared in the Review for Dec. 4, 1855. This article, however, before it appeared in the Review was read at the Conference at Battle Creek about that time, and the subject was discussed resulting in settling the minds of the : brethren on the sunset-time, with the exception of Bro. Bates, and a few others. Since that time there has been general agreement among us upon the subject.

But there are persons who seek to injure us as a people– and this class we hope to help by this article— who “report and publish to the world that Mrs. White did profess to be shown that the time to commence the Sabbath, was six o’clock, and that at a later period she was shown that sunset was the true time. It is also stated that in vision she saw the dial-plate of a clock with one hand pointing to vi, the other to xii, showing that six o’clock was the commencement and close of the Sabbath.

A simple statement of the facts in the case are sufficient to show these reports false. Hence, we give the following statements which we are ready to prove by most competent witnesses.

1. Mrs. W. has in two visions been shown something in regard to the time of the commencement of the Sabbath. The first was as early as 1847, at Topsham, Me. In that vision she was shown that to commence the Sabbath at sunrise was wrong. She then heard an angel repeat these words, “From even unto even shall ye celebrate your Sabbaths.” Bro. Bates was present, and succeeded in satisfying all present that “even” was six o’clock. Mark this: The vision at Topsham did not teach the six o’clock time. It only corrected sunrise time. I never received the idea that the six o’clock time was sustained by the visions, hence the following which I copy from a statement I made in the Review upon this subject, Dec. 4, 1855, as follows:

“We have, never been fully satisfied with the testimony presented in favor of six o’clock, while the various communications received for a few years past advocating both sunrise and sunset time, have been almost destitute of argument, and the spirit of humility and candor. The subject has troubled us, yet we have never found time to thoroughly investigate it.
” In June, 1854 we urged Eld. D. P. Hall to prepare an article on the subject for the Review. When with him in Penn. last winter we repeated the request. When in Maine last summer we stated our feelings on this subject to Bro. Andrews, and have fears of division unless the question could be settled by good testimony. He decided to devote his time to the subject till he ascertained what the Bible taught in regard to it, and his article in this number is the result of his investigation. Some have the impression that six o’clock time has been taught among us by the direct manifestation of the Holy Spirit. This is a mistake, ‘From even unto even’ was the teaching for which six o’clock time has been inferred.”

2. In regard to the clock face, twenty competent witnesses are ready to testify that neither Mrs. W. nor her visions had anything to do with it whatever. When at Rocky Hill, Conn., in 1849, at a meeting on the Sabbath at the house of Bro. Albert Belden, the time to commence the Sabbath was agitated. A brother present in whose spiritual exercises there was great confidence, seemed to be very powerfully exercised, and, amid groans and tears, he called for the chalk, and marked out upon the floor the figure of a clock face, the hands pointing out six o’clock. A general impression prevailed that this was the work of the Spirit of God; but Mrs. W. had nothing to do with it whatever.

3. At the close of the conference at Battle Creek referred to above, the ministers and others, especially interested in the cause had a special season of prayer for the prosperity of the cause, and in that meeting Mrs. W. had a vision, one item of which was that sunset time was correct. This settled the matter with Bro. Bates and others, and general harmony has since prevailed among us upon this point.

But the question naturally arises, If the visions are given to correct the erring, why did she not sooner see the error of the six o’clock time? For one I have ever been thankful that God corrected the error in his own good time, and did not suffer an unhappy division to “exist among us upon the point. But, dear reader, the work of the Lord upon this point is in perfect harmony with his manifestations to us on others, and in harmony with the correct position upon spiritual gifts.

It does not appear to be the desire of the Lord to teach his people by the gifts of the Spirit on the Bible questions until his servants have diligently searched his word. When this was done upon the subject of time to commence the Sabbath, and most were established, and some were in danger of being out of harmony with the body on this subject, then, yes, then, was the very time for God to magnify his goodness in the manifestation of the gift of his Spirit in the accomplishment of its proper work.

The sacred Scriptures are given us as the rule of faith and duty, and we are commanded to search them. If we fail to understand and fully obey the truths in consequence of not searching the Scriptures as we should, or a want of consecration’ and spiritual discernment, and God in mercy in his own time corrects us by some manifestation of the gifts of his Holy Spirit, instead of murmuring that he did not do it before, let us humbly acknowledge his mercy, and praise him for his infinite goodness in condescending to correct us at all.

Let the gifts have their proper place in the church. God has never set them in the very front, and commanded us to look to them to lead us in the path of truth, and the way to Heaven. His word he has magnified. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are man’s lamp to light up his path to the kingdom. Follow that. But if you err from Bible truth, and are in danger of being lost, it may be that God will in the time of his choice correct you, and bring you back to the Bible, and save you. And would it become you in such a case to murmur and say, “Lord, why didst thou not do this before?” Take care! “Be still, and know that I am God.” Our necessity is his opportunity to teach us by the gifts of his Holy Spirit.

JAMES WHITE

The Review and Herald, February 25, 1868, Vol. 31, No. 11, page 168
http://www.adventistarchives.org/docs/RH/RH18680225-V31-11/index.djvu

The Sabbath Debate – Starting/Ending Time

September 7, 2008

Testimonies Volume One

Chap. 16 – Time to Begin the Sabbath

I saw that it is even so: “From even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath.” Said the angel: “Take the word of God, read it, understand, and ye cannot err. Read carefully, and ye shall there find what even is, and when it is. I asked the angel if the frown of God had been upon His people for commencing the Sabbath as they had. I was directed back to the first rise of the Sabbath, and followed the people of God up to this time, but did not see that the Lord was displeased, or frowned upon them. I inquired why it had been thus, that at this late day we must change the time of commencing the Sabbath. Said the angel: “Ye shall understand, but not yet, not yet.” Said the angel: “If light come, and that light is set aside or rejected, then comes condemnation and the frown of God; but before the light comes, there is no sin, for there is no light for them to reject.” I saw that it was in the minds of some that the Lord had shown that the Sabbath commenced at six o’clock, when I had only seen that it commenced at “even,” and it was inferred that even was at six. I saw that the servants of God must draw together, press together. (1T 116.1)

Testimonies Volume One, Appendix

PAGE 116, “TIME TO BEGIN THE SABBATH”

FOR A PERIOD OF ABOUT TEN YEARS SABBATHKEEPING ADVENTISTS OBSERVED THE SABBATH FROM 6 P. M. FRIDAY TO 6 P. M. SATURDAY. ELDER JOSEPH BATES IN HIS FIRST PAMPHLET ON THE PERPETUITY OF THE SABBATH OF THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT, PUBLISHED IN 1846, HAD GIVEN REASONS FOR THE SUPPOSED SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT FOR THE OBSERVANCE OF THE SABBATH IN THIS WAY. HE CITED THE PARABLE OF THE LABORERS IN THE VINEYARD, THE LAST GROUP OF WHICH HAD BEEN CALLED AT “THE ELEVENTH HOUR” OF THE DAY AND HAD WROUGHT BUT ONE HOUR. THE RECKONING WAS MADE WITH THEM “WHEN EVEN WAS COME.” MATTHEW 20:6, 8, 12. COMPARING THIS WITH CHRIST’S QUESTION, “ARE THERE NOT TWELVE HOURS IN THE DAY?” HE ARGUED THAT THE “EVEN” BEGAN WITH THE TWELFTH HOUR, OR SIX O’CLOCK, RECKONING WITH EQUATORIAL TIME OR THE BEGINNING OF THE SACRED YEAR. RESPECT FOR HIS YEARS AND EXPERIENCE AND HIS GODLY LIFE MAY HAVE BEEN THE MAIN REASONS FOR ACCEPTING HIS CONCLUSIONS WITHOUT FURTHER INVESTIGATION. (1T 713.2)

AS TIME PASSED AND THE MESSAGE SPREAD, AN INCREASING NUMBER OF SABBATHKEEPERS QUESTIONED THE PRACTICE AND ADVOCATED THE SUNSET TIME FOR RECKONING THE BEGINNING OF THE SABBATH. A THOROUGH BIBLE INVESTIGATION OF THE QUESTION WAS MADE BY ELDER J. N. ANDREWS, WHO WROTE A PAPER SETTING FORTH THE BIBLICAL REASONS IN FAVOR OF THE SUNSET TIME. THIS PAPER WAS INTRODUCED AND DISCUSSED ON SABBATH, NOVEMBER 17, 1855, AT THE CONFERENCE IN BATTLE CREEK, MICHIGAN, WITH THE RESULT THAT NEARLY, BUT NOT QUITE, ALL PRESENT WERE CONVINCED THAT ELDER ANDREW’S CONCLUSION WAS CORRECT. THE PRESENTATION OF THE SUBJECT TO MRS. WHITE IN THIS VISION, GIVEN TWO DAYS LATER, ANSWERED THE QUESTIONS LINGERING IN SOME MINDS AND EFFECTED UNITY AMONG THE BELIEVERS. COMMENTING ON THIS EXPERIENCE, AS ILLUSTRATING THE OFFICE OF THE VISIONS TO CONFIRM CONCLUSIONS BASED ON BIBLICAL STUDY RATHER THAN TO INTRODUCE NEW TEACHINGS, ELDER JAMES WHITE WROTE LATER: (1T 713.3)

“THE QUESTION NATURALLY ARISES, IF THE VISIONS ARE GIVEN TO CORRECT THE ERRING, WHY DID SHE NOT SOONER SEE THE ERROR OF THE SIX O’CLOCK TIME? I HAVE EVER BEEN THANKFUL THAT GOD CORRECTED THE ERROR IN HIS OWN GOOD TIME, AND DID NOT SUFFER AN UNHAPPY DIVISION TO EXIST AMONG US UPON THIS POINT. BUT, DEAR READER, THE WORK OF THE LORD UPON THIS POINT IS IN PERFECT HARMONY WITH HIS MANIFESTATIONS TO US ON OTHERS, AND IN HARMONY WITH THE CORRECT POSITION UPON SPIRITUAL GIFTS. IT DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE THE DESIRE OF THE LORD TO TEACH HIS PEOPLE BY THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT ON THE BIBLE QUESTIONS UNTIL HIS SERVANTS HAVE DILIGENTLY SEARCHED HIS WORD. WHEN THIS WAS DONE UPON THE SUBJECT OF THE TIME TO COMMENCE THE SABBATH, AND MOST WERE ESTABLISHED, AND SOME WERE IN DANGER OF BEING OUT OF HARMONY WITH THE BODY ON THIS SUBJECT, THEN, YES, THEN, WAS THE VERY TIME FOR GOD TO MAGNIFY HIS GOODNESS IN THE MANIFESTATION OF THE GIFT OF HIS SPIRIT IN THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF ITS PROPER WORK.”

–REVIEW AND HERALD, FEB. 25, 1868. (1T 713.4)