The Adventist pioneers were first introduced to the Sabbath by Baptists?
A young girl took on the job of school teacher in Hampshire Washington. She attended a church which called itself the "Christian Brethren" and whose members had accepted Miller's message. Their Pastor was a circuit-riding Methodist named Frederick Wheeler.
The mother of the school teacher decided to move to Hampshire to be with her daughter. She was a Seventh Day Baptist! But she attended church with her daughter that Sunday. Pastor Wheeler, preached a sermon in which he upheld the ten commandments.
Mrs. Rachel Oakes, the visitor, nearly stood to her feet then and there. But she controlled herself-- until Pastor Wheeler, on his pastoral rounds, paid her a visit.
Said she to him, "When you were speaking, brother Wheeler, I could scarcely restrain myself. You said that we must observe all of the Ten Commandants, and yet you continually break one of them yourself!"
"Sister Oakes," exclaimed the good man, "what do you mean?"
"I mean that the fourth commandment says, 'The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God,' but you observe the first day. You observe the pope's Sunday instead of the Lord's Sabbath!"
The story does not give us the good pastor's response, but we know that sometime in March of 1844 he made his decision to keep the seventh-day Sabbath. Thus Frederick Wheeler of New Hampshire, became the first Seventh-day Adventist minister in North America. He did not go public at this time but began privately to discuss his convictions with other Advent believers. By August 1844, Thomas M Preble, a Free Will Baptist Pastor became the second Sabbath-keeping Adventist minister in North America.
Meanwhile Rachel Oakes was not silent either. Back at the Farnsworth farmhouse where she and her daughter apparently had rooms, there was much discussion on the matter.
October 1844 came and went, and with it the great disappointment for the Advent believers. The little church in New Hampshire did not lose faith as many other Advent believers did. But now they listened more seriously to Mrs. Oakes and the Sabbath.
One Sunday morning as this Christian Brethren church was in worship, William Farnsworth, the eldest of the Farnsworth sons, stood to his feet and announced that he had made the decision to live by the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Hardly had he sat down than his brother Cyrus stood up and made the same testimony.
Mrs. Oakes was delighted! By the way-- Cyrus married her daughter shortly thereafter.
The larger part of the congregation did not at this time accept the Sabbath-- and the Sabbath keeping Adventists began meeting in the Farnsworth living room. (Years later that church did become SDA)
The Sabbath and the Reformation
The Sabbath goes back way before SDA's accepted it. All the way to creation of course. But it was even recognized by some during the reformation. Karlstadt, chairman of the department of religion at the University of Wittenberg, where Luther taught, said that the obligation to keep the seventh day is not ceremonial but is moral and hence binding. He realized that God had enshrined the Sabbath commandment in the Decalogue deliberately because of its eternal significance. He was uneasy about Sunday "because men have established it," but didn't go further than that.
Luther declared, "If Karlstadt were to go further about the Sabbath, Sunday would have to give way, and the Sabbath, that is Saturday, must be kept holy." But Luther, too, did not move further, but described it as legalism.
There were dedicated Christians in Europe in the 1520's who were becoming disillusioned with the Reformation. If Luther says we must follow the Bible and the Bible only, they asked, why does he not do so himself?
One very prominent group with these sentiments were the Anabaptists. Their biggest issue was over baptism and the Lord's Supper. But some of them adopted the Sabbath and became Sabbatarian Anabaptists.
Two of their leaders, Oswald Glait and Andreas Fischer had studied the Sabbath out carefully and were convinced on the light of the Sabbath. Luther sent theologians to dissuade them, but from their reports we know these men were convinced the 7th day Sabbath was right. To Luther's assertion that the Sabbath was ceremonial they replied that it could not possible be so. The Sabbath was instituted at creation, before there was any need for a ceremonial law. They said the Catholic church changed the day in fulfillment of the prediction in Dan. 7:25. When told that the ten commandments were part of the old covenant, Glait replied, "Either the Sabbath must be kept, or all the other nine commandments must also be rejected. If the Old covenant means the ten commandments then it must mean all ten.
When Casper Schwenckfeld, after discussing the Sabbath issue with Glait and Fischer, said they were taking the Bible too literal, and that the Sabbath was a spiritual resting from sin and legalism, not a day for physical resting, the answer came back, "Schwenckfeld is an extreme mystic in his holy day's theory."
On reading the arguments we see they had most of our SDA reasoning on the Sabbath down pat, (which many now say we get solely from EGW) way back then, even to their description of the "man of sin" the "little horn" and the Sabbath.
What happened to these leaders.
In 1529 Mr. and Mrs. Andreas Fischer were sentenced to death, she by drowning, he by hanging. Mrs. Fischer was drowned, but somehow the rope broke or something and Mr. Fischer managed to escape. But ten years later some soldiers captured him and threw him to his death from a castle wall.
Oswald Glait traveled around central Europe encouraging people to keep the Sabbath and be strong in their Biblical beliefs, but in 1545 he was captured and after several weeks in jail was tied up and thrown into the river and drowned.
Among the first seventh-day Baptists in Britain (about 1620) were Mr. and Mrs. John Traske. Both were sent to prison for having "endeavored to bring back again the Jewish Sabbath, as that which is expressly mentioned in the fourth commandment, and abrogate the Lord's day (Sunday) altogether, as having no foundation in Scripture."
. Mr. Traske was sent to fleet prison and flogged the whole two miles as he was marched to it's site. He, sadly, gave up the Sabbath by the time his three-year sentence ended. His wife, spent some fifteen years in a filthy, flea and rat infested prison, but remained true to the Lord of the Sabbath day.
Many more stories of people persecuted for keeping the Sabbath could be told, some of them extremely grim. Yet, not all were martyred.
In 1628, Theophilus Brabourne of Norfolk wrote an important book on the Sabbath, entitled "A Discourse Upon the Sabbath Day" In 1632 he wrote a further defense against all anti- Sabbatarians. He wrote so extensively about the Sabbath that Bishop Cox designated Brabourne "as the founder in England of the sect known as Sabbatarians."
In 1660 in London alone, there were three Sabbatarian churches: at Mill Yard in East Smithfield, at Bullstake Alley in Whitechapel, and at Bell Lane in Bethnal Green. But persecution increased and life for Sabbatarian as well as other non-mainline Christians became increasingly precarious.
Observance of the seventh day came to America by Stephen Mumford, who emigrated from England and in 1671 and organized the first Seventh Day Baptist Church in America. New Port, Rhode Island. From Rhode Island the Sabbath message spread into New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut in New England, and even toward the west. There were Moravian Sabbath keepers, too in Pennsylvania, in the early 1700's .
The Seventh Day Baptists in America organized themselves into a general conference in 1802 with 1130 members. They held in general the same views as Glait and Fischer,
1) The Sabbath is part of the moral law;
2) It cannot be ceremonial for it was instituted before sin;
3) Christ kept the Sabbath
4) Christ did not change it, neither did His apostles
5) It was changed by the Roman Catholic Church in fulfillment of Daniel seven.
6) We must not tamper with the Sabbath, for to cast away one command is to cast away the whole law
7) Revelation 14:12 clearly teaches that the saints "keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
On November 1, 1843, a day for fasting and prayer was set aside by the Seventh-day Baptists that God would arise and plead for His Holy Sabbath.
It was at that time that Rachel Oaks was thinking of moving to New Hampshire to be with her daughter. She passed on the Sabbath truth to Frederick Wheeler, who passed it on to T.M. Preble, who wrote about it for a Millerite paper, "The Hope of Israel, Feb. 28, 1845. He concluded his article by writing, "Thus we see Daniel 7:25 fulfilled, the little horn changing times and laws with the result that all who keep the first day of the week for the Sabbath are the Pope's Sunday keepers and God's Sabbath breakers!!"
A sea captain, Joseph Bates, read that article by Preble. He then traveled 140 miles to visit with Wheeler to discuss the Sabbath from the Biblical perspective. They stayed up all night studying together. He met with others of the small group of Sabbath keepers. When he returned home, he was convinced!
Joseph Bates published his views on the Sabbath in August 1846, "The Seventh-day Sabbath, A Perpetual Sign." In it he presented te Sabbath basically as the Baptist Sabbatarians had done for three hundred years, as part of the decologue, the continuing standard of Christian discipleship, and a visible witness against the Antichristian power that had thought to change times and laws. (Daniel 7:25) But he went further and tied the Sabbath in with the three angels message in Revelation 14, which called for the worship of the Creator and showed the remnant as those "keeping (all) the commandments of God and the (whole) faith of Jesus.
In the mean time Hiram Edson and some of his fellow Adventists were studying the true significance of the date 1844. Realizing the 2300 day prophecy spoke of the sanctuary, not the earth, being cleansed, they dug deep looking for understanding of the sanctuary. They studied the book of Hebrews and focused on Christ's work in the sanctuary in heaven.
When Bates was visiting Edson in 1846 to talk over their mutual interests and to bring the importance of the Sabbath to his attention, it dawned upon him that the law of God, with the Sabbath in it's heart, was set in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary. Just as in the type it had been placed under the mercy seat of the ark in the Most Holy Place of the earthly.
When Edson saw the clear link between the law, the Sabbath, and the cleansing of the sanctuary, he could not restrain himself from declaring, "That is light and truth! The seventh day is the Sabbath, and I am with you to keep it. Joseph Bates shared his booklet on the Sabbath with James and Ellen White. They went into a thorough study of the matter and in 1846 they began to observe the Bible Sabbath, and to teach and defend it.
And now people say this whole message started with Ellen G. White?
Much of this material was adapted from "Moving Out" by Mervyn Maxwell
And "The Reformation and the Advent Movement" by W.E. Emmerson
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