No. 1-2

A series presented at the 1893 General Conference Session by


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What was the first aim and effect of the gift of prophecy among us? Our enemies have repeatedly testified that but for the visions our denomination would long since have gone to pieces. Elder Joseph Bates gives this testimony to their effect at the time of the great confusion following the disappointment in 1844 (see "Rise and Progress of Seventh-day Adventists," p.128):-

"I thank God for the opportunity I have had with others to witness these things. I can now confidently speak for myself. I believe the work is of God, and is given to comfort and strengthen his `scattered,' `torn,' and `peeled people,' since the closing up of our work . . . in October, 1844. The distracted state of `lo here's!' and `lo there's!' since that time has exceedingly perplexed God's honest, willing people, and made it exceedingly difficult for such as were not able to expound the many conflicting texts that were presented to their view. I confess that I have received light and instruction on many passages that I could not before clearly understand."

In August 1848, a conference of Sabbath keepers was held at Volney, Oswego Co., N. Y. "There were about thirty-five persons present, all that could be collected in that part of the state; but hardly two of these were agreed. Each was strenuous for his own views, declaring that they were according to the Bible. All were anxious to advance their sentiments and to preach them. They were told that Elder White and his wife had not come so great a distance to hear them, but had come to teach them the truth. Mr. Arnold held that the 1000 years of Rev.20, were in the past, and that the one hundred and forty-four thousand mentioned in Revelation were those raised at Christ's resurrection.

"As the emblems of our dying Lord were before this company, and they were about to commemorate his sufferings, Mr. Arnold arose and said he had no faith in what they were about to do, - that the Lord's supper was a continuation of the Passover, to be observed but once a year. These strange differences of opinion rolled a heavy weight upon Mrs. White, especially as Mr. Arnold spoke of the one thousand years as being in the past. She well knew that he was in error, and great grief pressed upon her spirits, for it seemed that God was dishonored. Some feared she was dying; but Elders Bates, White, Chamberlain, Gurney, and Edson prayed for her, and the Lord mercifully heard the prayers of his servants, and she revived. The light of heaven rested upon her, and she was soon lost to earthly things. While in this state she was shown some of the errors of those present, and also truth in contrast with their errors, showing that these discordant views which they claimed were according to the Bible, were only according to their own opinions of the Bible, and that they must yield their errors and unite upon the third angel's message. The meeting ended gloriously; truth gained the victory. Those who held these strange diversities of opinion confessed their errors, and united upon the present truth of the third angel's message, and the Lord greatly blessed them." - "Rise and Progress," pp.137,138.

The writer of the proverbs said, "Where there is no vision the people throw off restraint." Prov.29:18, Revised Version. In harmony with this testimony are the following words from Sister White (see "Gospel Workers," p.84):-

 "I was pointed back, and saw that in every important move, every decision made or point gained by God's people, some have arisen to carry matters to extremes, and to move in an extravagant manner, which has disgusted unbelievers, distressed God's people, and brought the cause of God into disrepute. The people whom God is leading out in these last days will be troubled with just such things. But much evil will be avoided if the ministers of Christ will be of one mind, united in their plans of action, and united in effort. If they will stand together, sustain one another and faithfully reprove and rebuke wrong, they will soon cause it to wither. But Satan has controlled these matters very much. Private members and even preachers have sympathized with disaffected ones who have been reproved for their wrongs, and division of feeling has been the result. The one who has ventured out and discharged his disagreeable duty by faithfully meeting error and wrong, is grieved and wounded that he receives not the fullest sympathy of his preaching brethren. He becomes discouraged in discharging these painful duties, lays down the cross, and withholds the pointed testimony. His soul is shut up in darkness, and the church suffers for the lack of the very testimony which God designed should live among his people. Satan's object is gained when the faithful testimony is suppressed. Those who so readily sympathize with the wrong, consider it a virtue; but they realize not that they are exerting a scattering influence, and that they themselves help to carry out Satan's plans."

 "Angels work harmoniously. Perfect order characterizes all their movements. The more closely we imitate the harmony and order of the angelic host, the more successful will be the efforts of these heavenly agents in our behalf. If we see no necessity for harmonious action, and are disorderly, undisciplined, and disorganized in our course of action, angels, who are thoroughly organized and move in perfect order, cannot work for us successfully. They turn away in grief, for they are not authorized to bless confusion, distraction, and disorganization. All who desire the co-operation of the heavenly messengers, must work in unison with them. Those who have unction from on high, will in all their efforts encourage order, discipline, and union of action, and then the angels of God can co-operate with them. But never, never will these heavenly messengers place their endorsement upon irregularity, disorganization, and disorder. All these evils are the result of Satan's efforts to weaken our forces, to destroy courage, and prevent successful action.

 "Satan well knows that success can only attend order and harmonious action. He well knows that everything connected with heaven is in perfect order, that subjection and thorough discipline mark the movements of the angelic host. It is his studied effort to lead professed Christians just as far from heaven's arrangement as he can; therefore he deceives even the professed people of God, and makes them believe that order and discipline are enemies to spirituality; that the only safety for them is to let each pursue his own course, and to remain especially distinct from bodies of Christians who are united, and are laboring to establish discipline and harmony of action. All the efforts made to establish order are considered dangerous, a restriction of rightful liberty, and hence are feared as popery. These deceived souls consider it a virtue to boast of their freedom to think and act independently. They will not take any man's say-so. They are amenable to no man. I was shown that it is Satan's special work to lead men to feel that it is in God's order for them to strike out for themselves, and choose their own course, independent of their brethren." - Gospel Workers, page 156.

 "The travels of the children of Israel are faithfully described; the deliverance which the Lord wrought for them, their perfect organization and special order, their sin in murmuring against Moses and thus against God, their transgressions, their rebellions, their punishments, their carcasses strewn in the wilderness because of their unwillingness to submit to God's wise arrangements, - this faithful picture is hung up before us as a warning lest we follow their example of disobedience, and fall like them. . . Has God changed from a God of order? No; he is the same in the present dispensation as in the former. Paul says, `God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.' 1Cor.14:33. He is as particular now as then. And he designs that we should learn lessons of order and organization from the perfect order instituted in the days of Moses, for the benefit of the children of Israel." - Gospel Workers, pp.159,160.




 WE can no more disconnect the work of the Spirit of God from the third angel's message than we can have a live body without nerves or muscles, or get life out of a marble statue. God has been speaking to his people from the beginning of this cause, and I praise him that the testimonies still come from him, and come warmer and warmer.

 Some may say, Why haven't you evangelized the world during the forty years you have been at work? Look at your publishing houses and other institutions. Yes; but these were not in existence forty years ago. At that time we did not have one sixty-four page tract. We published one paper, about a quarter as large as the "REVIEW" now is. All of Sister White's Testimonies made less than one hundred pages. A man who gave five dollars to the cause was thought to be giving us quite a lift. But now we have the machinery, and we will see more done in one year now than could be done in twenty years then.

 Notice how it was back in the first angel's message. A letter written by Elder J. V. Himes, and published in the Midnight Cry, of Sept. 12, 1844, makes this statement: "When we commenced the work with Brother Miller in 1840, he had been lecturing nine years. During that time he stood almost alone, but his labors had been almost incessant and effectual in awakening professors of religion to the true hope of God's people, and the necessary preparation for the advent of the Lord, as also the awakening of all classes of the unconverted to a sense of their lost condition and the duty of immediate repentance and conversion to God, as a preparation to meet the Bridegroom in peace at his coming." For nine years, as he said, he stood almost alone, but in 1843-44 there was a wonderful stir made all over the earth. God opens the way very quickly for a great work when things come round in readiness for it. That was the way it was at that time, and it will be so now.

 Your attention was called last Friday to the effect of the work of God in producing unity in the church. Extracts were read showing how the Testimonies produced harmony among the brethren in the early days of the cause. This morning I wish to call attention to some other points. We are told to take the prophets as an example of suffering affliction and of patience. James 5:10. If we know the manner of God's working through the prophets in one age of the world, we know how he will work through them in other ages. 1Cor.10:11, "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."

 We will notice some points about the work of the Spirit of God in connection with these ancient prophets. First notice the case of Balaam, as recorded in Numbers 22:38, "And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo I am come unto thee; have I now any power at all to say anything? the word that God putteth in my mouth that shall I speak." When God took the prophet in his hand he had to do just exactly as God wanted him to do. Connect this with a case in the New Testament: The apostle Paul tells us, in 2Cor.12th chapter, of the visions and revelations which were given to him. He says he did not know whether he was in the body or out of the body. At such times he was entirely lost to all surrounding circumstances; and he tells us that lest he should be exalted above measure, through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to him a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, to buffet him. Sister White has also a thorn in the flesh; she has continually had great difficulty with her heart, yet she will not have the brethren pray that she may be relieved of this trouble, for she said it was to remain by her, and to be manifested whenever she was in danger of becoming exalted.

 Going back to the case of Balaam, we read in Numbers 24, verses 3 to 5, "And he took up this parable and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said; he hath said which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel."

 Balaam, when in vision, had his eyes open. Notice now the case of Daniel (Dan.10:17-19). The prophet said, "For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remaineth no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me. Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, and said, O man, greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me." Daniel had no strength or breath left in him, and he was strengthened by an angel, and he says, "And when he had spoken unto me I was strengthened," indicating that he had superhuman strength.

 I have seen Sister White in vision about fifty times. The first time was about forty years ago, when Brother Oswald Stowell was very sick, and expected to die. It was on the Sabbath, the first Sabbath I ever kept. Brother Stowell wanted his case commended to God, and desired the brethren to pray for him. In answer to their prayers he was healed and went to work again two days later. Brother White, who was present at the time, said to me, "Ellen is in vision." I looked at her and saw her kneeling by the bed and looking up toward heaven, and she soon began to shout praises to God. Brother White said, "There is no breath in her body." Eyes open, no breath, yet her pulse beating naturally, and everything else in a normal condition! Her eyes seemed intently fixed upon something off at a great distance.

 On one occasion Elders White and Andrews, and myself, were awakened at midnight, and called to come and pray for Sister White. She had fainted, and all efforts to revive her were unavailing. We had a season of prayer, and she seemed to revive and was taken off in vision. Some of our opponents say, "Yes, that is always the way, she is always sick and faints away before she has one of her visions." But this is not true. The first one I saw her have was at the close of a meeting, when she was well enough to take a long journey. Her last open vision was in 1884, on the camp ground at Portland, Oregon. She has visions at the present time, but they are not open visions in a public assembly. It is a heavenly place to be in, where there is an open vision, as some of those here who have seen her at such times, can testify.

 The first indication that she is about to be taken off in vision is that she loses all strength, like a person suddenly falling down. This state continues not more than five seconds, when she suddenly rises to her feet. She herself says that the first thing she knows an angel stands by her side and touches her and she receives strength. This is just as it was with Daniel. She has been examined while in vision, by skillful physicians, and we have testimonials from them which declare that the phenomena of her visions are beyond their comprehension. A remarkable evidence of the superhuman strength which Sister White has while in vision was given during her third vision, when she held on her arm a Bible eighteen inches long, eleven inches wide, and four inches thick, and weighing eighteen and a fourth pounds. It was published by Joseph Seale, of Boston, Mass., in 1822. This she held out at arm's length, her eyes meanwhile looking straight up, and her hand turning from text to text for more than half an hour, pointing to the texts with her finger and repeating them. I have conversed with those who examined every text as she pointed to them, and they testify that she repeated every one correctly. This was an indication that the power of God was connected with that work.

 When God has a special work to do he sometimes starts out by bringing to view something of a startling character, to show that it is above human power. So it was with Moses, at the burning bush. The bush seemed to be burning with fire, yet not a twig or a leaf of it was consumed, so that Moses said, "I will now turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." When Moses turned aside God called to him and said, Moses, Moses, put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. This was only the first step, which led on to greater manifestations of God's power, till the terrible exhibition when God thundered his law from Mount Sinai.

 God designed by this exhibition of power to show that the work was altogether superior to that of any human agency. Another effect was to call the attention of the people to them, so that they began to make inquiries around in different places, and desired that Sister White would come and visit them.

 At another time Sister White held this same kind of a Bible open in one hand, above her head, at an angle of forty five degrees, for half an hour, while she turned from text to text, and repeated the words to which she pointed. The spectators stood in chairs to examine the texts as she pointed to them. Some of them tried to hold a Bible in their hands at this angle, and could not do so, but the Bible in her hand seemed to be as firm as if the two had been glued together.

 People who never saw Sister White in vision, say they can explain all about it, that it is only the result of disease, hysterics, etc., but the testimony of skillful physicians who have examined her at such times is altogether different. We are happy to acknowledge the working of God for us in connection with these manifestations.