Sabbath, April 14, 2007
1. What were the Sabbath conferences?
Zechariah 8:20, 21 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts: I will go also.
“A series of meetings of ‘friends of the Sabbath’ held in various places in New England and New York, during the formative period when James and Ellen White, Joseph Bates, and others began the work of ‘uniting the brethren on the great truths connected with the message of the third angel.’ (James White, in Review and Herald, 3:5, May 6, 1852).” – S.D.A. Encyclopedia, Com¬mentary Reference Series, vol. 10, p. 1255.
“The ‘conferences’ of those early days were meetings of believers and interested people who came together from various distances for a weekend, sometimes for Friday and Sabbath, often Sabbath and Sunday, sometimes from Thursday to Monday. They were at first arranged by letter, later (from 1849 on) announced through the periodicals.” –S.D.A. Encyclopedia, Com¬mentary Reference Series, vol. 10, p. 1255.
2. How many Sabbath conferences were held in 1848?
Isaiah 34:16 Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.
There were six conferences in 1848.
(1) At Rocky Hill, Connecticut, Thursday, April 20. About fifty were present. Ellen White was shown in a vision some of the errors of those present.
(2) At Volney, New York, Friday, August 18. About thirty-five were present. Ellen White was taken in a vision.
(3) At Port Gibson, New York, at Hiram Edson’s home, August 27, 28. Ellen White had a vision.
(4) Again at Rocky Hill, Connecticut, September 8 and 9.
(5) At Topsham, Maine, October 20-22.
(6) In Dorchester, Massachusetts, November 18. God gave Sister White a vision.
References: (–S.D.A. Encyclopedia, Commentary Reference Series, vol. 10, p. 1255) Arthur Whitefield Spalding, Origin and History of Seventh-day Adven¬tists, vol. 1, pp. 191-195.
3. How many more Sabbath conferences were held in those years?
“In 1849 there were also six conferences, at least three of which the Whites attended: Paris, Maine, September; Oswego and Centerport, New York, November. In 1850 there were ten conferences, eight of which the Whites attended.” –S.D.A. Encyclopedia, Commentary Reference Series, vol. 10, p. 1255.
4. Besides the Sabbath question, what other topics were studied at those meetings?
Isaiah 28:10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
“During some of these conferences, apparently, leading brethren–James White, Joseph Bates, Stephen Pierce, Hiram Edson, and others unnamed–took advantage of their opportunity to study the Bible together to settle questions on various points of doctrine….” –S.D.A. Encyclopedia, Commentary Reference Series, vol. 10, p. 1255.
5. What was Sister White’s state of mind during that whole time?
1 Peter 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
“During this whole time I could not understand the reasoning of the brethren. My mind was locked, as it were, and I could not comprehend the meaning of the scriptures we were studying. This was one of the greatest sorrows of my life. I was in this condition of mind until all the principal points of our faith were made clear to our minds, in harmony with the Word of God. The brethren knew that when not in vision, I could not understand these matters, and they accepted as light direct from heaven the revelations given.” –Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 207.
THE SABBATH OBSERVANCE
6. What was the opinion of those early Seventh-day Adventists about the time of day when Sabbath should begin and when it should end?
Leviticus 23:32 It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.
“Not yet settled was the matter of the time of day when Sabbath observance should begin and when it should end. Joseph Bates, so prominent in advocating Sabbath-keeping, was of the opinion that ‘the Sabbath commences at 6 p.m. on what is called Friday.’ (Joseph Bates, Review and Herald, 1:71, April 21, 1851). Diversity of opinion continued for a number of years. Some favored the beginning as of six o’clock, but James White wrote in 1855:
‘We have never been fully satisfied with the testimony presented in favor of six o’clock…. The subject has troubled us, yet we have never found time to thoroughly investigate it.’ (James White, Review and Herald, 7:78, Dec. 4, 1855).
“Finally, J. N. Andrews was requested to give the matter thorough investigation. His article in which he demonstrated from Old Testament and New Testament texts that ‘even’ meant sunset (Review and Herald, 7: 76-78, Dec. 4, 1855) was read in a ‘general conference’ late in 1855. As a result nearly all accepted his solution to the question. However, Joseph Bates and Mrs. White for a time held to the six o’clock position. At the close of the conference Mrs. White was shown in vision that the Sabbath should begin at sunset and close at sunset. Of this James White wrote in 1868, ‘This settled the matter with Brother Bates and others, and general harmony has since prevailed among us upon this point.’(Review and Herald, 31:168, Feb. 25, 1868).” –S.D.A. Encyclopedia, Commentary Reference Series, vol. 10, p. 1251.