Lessons from Sunday Law Crisis in 1880s

   Lessons from Meeting the Sunday Law Crisis of late 1880's and early 1890's    

                 Selected Messages, Book 3, Chapter 55:     

                                    From the writings of Ellen G. White. Selected Messages, Book 3  pages 380 to 387

 

                                            Introduction written by EGW Estate

    WITH THE FOCUS OF ADVENTISM ON THE RETURN OF CHRIST, THE CLIMACTIC LAST-DAY EVENTS ASSOCIATED WITH HIS SECOND COMING HAVE EVER BEEN A THEME OF MAJOR INTEREST TO SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS. IT COULD NOT BE OTHERWISE, FOR SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISM SPRANG FROM A RELIGIOUS MILIEU, THE MILLERITE MOVEMENT, WHICH STRESSED ESCHATOLOGICAL EVENTS--THE RESURRECTION, THE LAST JUDGMENT, THE PUNISHMENT OF SIN AND SINNERS.  {3SM 380.1}

   THE VISIONS GIVEN TO ELLEN WHITE AT THE OUTSET OF HER MISSION BROUGHT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SEVENTH-DAY SABBATH PROMINENTLY INTO VIEW AS THE TESTING TRUTH, WHICH IN THE LAST DAYS WOULD DIVIDE THE INHABITANTS OF THE EARTH INTO TWO CLASSES--THOSE WHO OBEY GOD AND WILL BE ETERNALLY SAVED AND THOSE WHO REJECT HIS LAW AND WILL BE ETERNALLY LOST. THE ATTITUDE OF THE INDIVIDUAL TOWARD THE SEVENTH-DAY SABBATH WOULD BE THE DETERMINING FACTOR.  {3SM 380.2}

    THE CLOSING EVENTS OF THIS EARTH'S HISTORY HIGHLIGHTED THE LITTLE 219-PAGE GREAT CONTROVERSY PUBLISHED IN 1858, AND WERE THE CRUCIAL, CLIMATIC ISSUE OF THE GREAT CONTROVERSY DEPICTIONS IN THE BOOKS BEARING THAT TITLE ISSUED IN 1884, 1888, AND 1911.  {3SM 380.3}

 THE MAJOR PORTION OF THIS SECTION INCLUDES ESCHATOLOGICAL STATEMENTS WHICH FREQUENTLY PARALLEL THE PRESENTATION GIVEN IN THE GREAT CONTROVERSY, BUT WHICH JUST AS OFTEN PROVIDE NEW DETAILS AND NEW INSIGHTS. THESE MATERIALS HAVE BEEN DIVIDED INTO THREE MAIN AREAS, NAMELY:  {3SM 381.4}

     1. LESSONS FROM MEETING THE SUNDAY LAW CRISIS OF THE LATE 1880'S AND EARLY 1890'S.  {3SM 381.5}

     2. GENERAL COUNSELS APPROPRIATE FOR A PEOPLE APPROACHING THE END.  {3SM 381.6}

     3. INVOLVEMENTS OF "THE LAST GREAT STRUGGLE," WITH THE SABBATH-SUNDAY ISSUE AS THE CRUCIAL FACTOR.  {3SM 382.1}

  THE READER WILL NOTE THAT, WHILE ELLEN WHITE CALLS OUR ATTENTION TO TRYING EXPERIENCES AHEAD, WHICH WILL DOUBTLESS INCLUDE MARTYRDOMS, AND PREDICTS APOSTASIES IN OUR RANKS, SHE ALSO FORECASTS LARGE ACCESSIONS TO THE CHURCH AND GIVES ENCOURAGING ASSURANCE OF HEAVEN'S SUSTAINING GRACE TO GOD'S LOYAL PEOPLE.  --ELLEN WHITE TRUSTEES.  {3SM 382.2}

 

                                 Assurance as the Clouds Darken in 1884

Great things are before us, and we want to call the people from their indifferent to get ready. . . . We are not now to cast away our confidence, but to have firm assurance, firmer than ever before. Hitherto hath the Lord helped us, and He will help us to the end. We will look to the monumental pillars, reminders of what the Lord hath done for us, to comfort and to save us from the hand of the destroyer. . . .  {3SM 383.1}

We can but look onward to new perplexities in the coming conflict, but we may well look on what is past as well as what is to come, and say, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us" (1 Sam. 7:12). "As thy days, so shall thy strength be" (Deut. 33:25). The trial will not exceed the strength which shall be given us to bear it. Then, let us take up our work just where we find it, without one word of repining, imagining nothing can come, but that strength will come proportionate to the trials. . . .  {3SM 383.2}

 

Our present peace must not be disturbed by anticipated trials, for God will never leave nor forsake one soul who trusts in Him. God is better unto us than our fears. . . .  {3SM 383.3}

 

                      Don't Borrow Trouble for a Future Crisis

 -- Many will look away from present duties, present comfort and blessings, and be borrowing trouble in regard to the future crisis. This will be making a time of trouble beforehand, and we will receive no grace for any such anticipated troubles. . . . When the scene of sore conflict comes, we have learned the lesson of holy confidence, of blessed trust, and we place our hands in the hands of Christ, our feet on the Rock of Ages, and we are secure from storm, from tempest. We are to wait on our Lord. Jesus will be an ever-present help in every time of need.-- Letter 11a, 1884.  {3SM 383.4}

 

You inquire in regard to the course which should be pursued to secure the rights of our people to worship according to the dictates of our own conscience. This has been a burden on my soul for some time, whether it would be a denial of our faith, and an evidence that our trust was not fully in God. But I call to mind many things God has shown me in the past in regard to things of a similar character, as the draft [during the American Civil War] and other things. I can speak in the fear of God, it is right we should use every power we can to avert pressure that is being brought to bear upon our people. . . .  {3SM 384.1}

[We are] not to provoke those who have accepted the spurious sabbath, an institution of the Papacy, in the place of God's holy Sabbath. Their not having the Bible arguments in their favor makes them all the more angry and determined to supply the place of arguments that are wanting in the Word of God by the power of their might. The force of persecution follows the steps of the dragon. Therefore great care should be exercised to give no provocation. And again, let us as a people, as far as possible, cleanse the camp of moral defilement and aggravating sins. . . .  {3SM 384.2}

All the policy in the world cannot save us from a terrible sifting, and all the efforts made with high authorities will not lift from us the scourging of God, just because sin is cherished. If as a people we do not keep ourselves in the faith and not only advocate with pen and voice the commandments of God, but keep them every one, not violating a single precept knowingly, then weakness and ruin will come upon us. . . .  {3SM 384.3}

Appeals of No Avail Without Working of the Holy Spirit -- All the struggles to carry our appeals to the highest authorities in our land, however earnest and strong and eloquent may be the pleas in our favor, will not bring about that which we desire, unless the Lord works by His Holy Spirit in the hearts of those who claim to believe the truth. We may struggle as a mighty man in swimming against the current of Niagara, but we shall fail unless the Lord pleads in our behalf. God will be honored among His people. They must be pure, they must be divested of self, steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. . . .  {3SM 385.1}

 

Laws to Exalt the False Sabbath -- We are to be ready and waiting for the orders of God. Nations will be stirred to their very center. Support will be withdrawn from those who proclaim God's only standard of righteousness, the only sure test of character. And all who will not bow to the decree of the national councils, and obey the national laws to exalt the sabbath instituted by the man of sin to the disregard of God's holy day, will feel, not the oppressive power of popery alone, but of the Protestant world, the image of the beast. . . .  {3SM 385.2}

The great issue so near at hand will weed out those whom God has not appointed and He will have a pure, true, sanctified ministry prepared for the latter rain. . . .  {3SM 385.3}

A new life is proceeding from satanic agencies to work with a power we have not hitherto realized. And shall not a new power from above take possession of God's people? -- Letter 55, 1886.  {3SM 385.4}

We must soon wrestle with the powers of the land, and we have every reason to fear that falsehood will gain the mastery. We shall call upon our churches in the name of the Lord to view this struggle in its true light. [SEE TESTIMONIES, VOL. 5, PP. 711-718, "THE IMPENDING CONFLICT" (1889).--COMPILERS.] It is a contest between the Christianity of the Old and New Testaments, and the Christianity of human tradition and corrupt fables.  {3SM 385.5}

This contest is to decide whether the pure gospel shall have the field in our nation, or whether the popery of past ages shall receive the right hand of fellowship from Protestantism, and this power prevail to restrict religious liberty. . . . The message must go broadcast, that those who have been imperceptibly tampering with popery, not knowing what they were doing, may hear. They are fraternizing with popery by compromises and by concessions which surprise the adherents of the papacy. . . .  {3SM 386.1}

 God's Children in Other Churches -- God has children, many of them, in the Protestant churches, and a large number in the Catholic churches, who are more true to obey the light and to do [to] the very best of their knowledge than a large number among Sabbathkeeping Adventists who do not walk in the light. The Lord will have the message of truth proclaimed, that Protestants may be warned and awakened to the true state of things, and consider the worth of the privilege of religious freedom which they have long enjoyed.  {3SM 386.2}

Sunday Amendment in the United States -- This land has been the home of the oppressed, the witness for liberty of conscience, and the great center of scriptural light. God has sent messengers [A. T. JONES AND OTHERS.] who have studied their Bibles to find what is truth, and studied the movements of those who are acting their part in the fulfilling prophecy in bringing about the religious amendment which is making void the law of God and thus giving ascendancy to the man of sin. And shall no voice be raised of direct warning to arouse the churches to their danger?  Shall we let things drift, and let Satan have the victory without a protest? God forbid. . . .  {3SM 386.3}

See page:  A.T. Jones argues before US Congress - Dec. 1888

 

Many Not in Our Ranks to Come to the Front -- There are many souls to come out of the ranks of the world, out of the churches -- even the Catholic Church -- whose zeal will far exceed that of those who have stood in rank and file to proclaim the truth heretofore. For this reason the eleventh hour laborers will receive their penny. These will see the battle coming and will give the trumpet a certain sound. When the crisis is upon us, when the season of calamity shall come, they will come to the front, gird themselves with the whole armor of God, and exalt His law, adhere to the faith of Jesus, and maintain the cause of religious liberty which reformers defended with toil and for which they sacrificed their lives. . . .  {3SM 386.4}

A Spurious Sabbath the Issue -- A spurious sabbath is presented to be legislated into power, compelling the observance of a sabbath which God has not enjoined upon man. The persecutions of Protestants by Romanism, by which the religion of Jesus Christ was almost annihilated, will be more than rivaled, when  Protestantism and popery are combined. . . .  {3SM 387.1}

 Our own land is to become a battlefield on which is to be carried on the struggle for religious liberty -- to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience. Then can we not discern the work of the enemy in keeping men asleep who ought to be awake, whose influence shall not be neutral, but wholly and entirely on the Lord's side? Shall men cry, Peace and safety, now, when sudden destruction is coming upon the world, when God's wrath shall be poured out? -- Manuscript 30, 1889.  {3SM 387.2}

America Can Become the Place of Greatest Peril   --  America, . . . where the greatest light from heaven has been shining upon the people, can become the place of greatest peril and darkness because the people do not continue to practice the truth and walk in the light. . . .  {3SM 387.3}

The more nearly we approach the closing scenes of this earth's history, the more pronounced will be the work of Satan. Every species of deception will take the lead to divert the mind from God through Satan's devices.--Letter 23c, 1894.  {3SM 387.4}

                            Continue to Chapter 56 --

      Return to  Religious Liberty Section  page

 

Related Information

First Sunday Law - proposed by Senator Blair-1888 A.T. Jones  Argues in Senate against Sunday Law-Dec. 13, 1888