Early Experiences in the Publishing Work.
IN the printing and publishing work it is essential, not only that we have something of importance to communicate to the people, but that we have also means whereby it can be printed for circulation. The desire to print and the possession of thoughts which ought to be printed, will not alone furnish money for the purchase of paper, and meet the printer’s bills.
Those who first accepted the Sabbath truth under the message of the third angel of Rev. 14: 9-12, were largely those who had invested their all in the proclamation of the first and second messages. So with them the printing of the newly received light was an undertaking of no small magnitude; for they had not the money with which to pay the bills.
Pastor Joseph Bates, of New Bed ford, Massachusetts, was the first among this people to undertake the printing of the Sabbath truth. Before accepting the advent message, he had followed the sea for fifty years, acting first as cabin boy, rising from that position to master and part owner of vessels. When he retired from the sea, he sold his interest in a ship for £2,200. DUring his sea-faring life he had been among icebergs, had experienced about every vicissitude of sailor life, had been impressed as a seaman into British service, and imprisoned for many weeks in Calcutta because he refused to serve under British rule.
His experiences had developed in him stability of character, and a disposition to stand firmly for what he deemed to be right. One circumstance connected with his experience while preaching the first angel’s message in Maryland, will serve to illustrate this characteristic. He and Brother Heman Gurney, a singing evangelist, were holding meetings during the time of the January thaw. The roads were very muddy, caused by rain and melted snows. Great interest was manifested in their meetings; but Satan was enraged, and stirred up the “baser sort” of the town to mob these servants of the Lord.
The leader of the mob sent a messenger to Brother Bates, saying, “If you and Gurney do not leave town within the next twenty-four hours, we will ride you out of town on a rail.” Brother Bates read the message, and said to the man who brought it, “You tell your leader that it is exceedingly bad walking through all this mud. Of course riding would be much better than walking. His proposition is all right, if he will only remember to put a saddle on the rail.” The leader of the mob was compelled to admire the man who would venture such an answer, and he restrained his followers from any molestation of these brethren in their work. Such a courageous man was needed to lead out in the work of establishing Sabbath-keeping companies, and to begin the work of printing the Sabbath truth. He had the courage and faith to venture upon what he saw must be done, fully expecting to see the Lord prosper the same, even though he could not see just how all was to be accomplished.
This pioneer labourer started out to give the message without one printed page of any kind, aside from the Bible, to place in the hands of his hearers. After he had spoken till nine o’clock he was probably occupied for one, two, or three hours in answering questions and objections. No wonder he thought it would be an excellent help if he had some reading matter to hand out to the people to aid them in investigating the truth. Seeing, as he prayed over the matter, the utility of the enterprise, and yet not knowing where the money was to come from to accomplish his purpose, unless the Lord should specially provide, he took his Bible, concordance, pen, and paper, and entered upon his task.
He had been thus occupied not more than an hour when Mrs. Bates came into the room, and said, “Joseph, we have not flour enough to make out the baking.” “Well,” said Brother Bates, “how much do you lack?” She replied, “About four pounds.” “Well,” said her husband, “I will get it for you.” Then she mentioned some other articles which she needed. Brother Bates saw that it was going to take the last money he had, sixpence, to buy what she wanted. After Mrs. Bates retired from the room, he took a six- quart milk pan, and went to the provision store, bought the four pounds of flour and the other articles desired, spending the last of his money. Having set the articles on the table, he went again to his writing.
Soon Mrs. Bates came in, and seeing the articles on the table, she said, “Joseph, where did that flour come from ? ” “Why,” said Brother Bates, “is there not enough to make out your baking? you said you wanted four pounds.” Let it be noted here that Mrs. Bates had no idea that they had come to the end of their money. She persisted in asking, “Where did you get it?” As she afterwards said, she supposed he had been to some of the neighbours, and borrowed the four pounds of flour. He calmly replied, “I bought it.” This aroused her pride, and she said, “You, Captain Rates, who have sailed vessels all over the world, have been out and bought four pounds of floor!” She looked upon it as a very humiliating episode for a great sea captain’s family. Brother Bates of course had now to inform her of the real situation. He calmly said, “Wife, for those articles on the table I have paid out the last money I have on earth.”
Amid her violent sobs and tears, she said, “What are we going to do ?” He stood and said, with all the dignity of a captain commanding his ship, “I am going to write a book on the Sabbath question. I am going to get it printed, and I am going out to give the third angel’s message and the Sabbath truth to the world.” Almost blinded by her tears, Mrs. Bates replied, “Yes! but what are we going to live on?” He then replied, “The Lord will provide for that.” “Yes,” said she, “that is what you always say”; and she retired to her room to weep, while he, a penniless man, seated himself at the desk to resume his writing of the first Sabbath tract ever issued by Seventh-day Adventists.
J. N. LOUGHBOROUGH.