Heavenly Visions



By Ernest Lloyd

THE first time I saw J. N. Loughborough he was seated on the platform of the old Tabernacle church in Battle Creek, Michigan, while Sister Ellen G. White was speaking to a large audience. This was during the General Conference of April, 1901. Elder Loughborough was one of several pioneers on the platform that morning, and I observed their keen interest in what Sister White was presenting to the delegates and visitors. He was now in (1901) past seventy and his hair was turning white. He was the smallest man on the platform. HEVI 3.1

Arthur W. Spalding once wrote about Elder Loughborough: He was of a genial and sprightly nature, but most dependable. An agreeable companion, he was also a thorough caretaker and an indefatigable worker. His style of writing was distinctly his own, filled with incident and anecdotal illustrations. Beside the more solid and sometimes ponderous compositions of some of the Adventist writers, his contributions stood out in sunny relief. Yet his offerings were serious and strong. He wrote much in exposition of prophecy, and he became the first historian of our denomination. HEVI 3.2

Like other pioneers, Elder Loughborough lived simply, and was very economical in his personal habits. I once stood behind him in an ordination service for two or three local church officers. As the sun shone through a large window at the rear of the platform, I noticed that the shoulders of his black, well-worn ministerial coat had turned a little green. Such a small matter as that, however, would not disturb his soul at all. He always looked clean and neat even though his clothes sometimes appeared a bit ancient. HEVI 3.3

Elder Loughborough lived close to God, and was sometimes favored with a dream in which God revealed to him His loving care for him. I remember his story of one dream he had that gave him assurance and comfort. It concerned a terrible storm through which his train was going one dark night. The train passed over a bridge, and just as the last car was safely across, the bridge collapsed in the rushing waters. The Elder had dreamed he was on his way to a very important meeting, and was assured that the heavenly Father would see him through to his destination. And so it proved when the event took place shortly after he had the dream. PICTURE-J. N. Loughborough HEVI 3.4

Elder Loughborough met many opponents to our doctrines through his long ministry, and was well prepared to meet them, for he knew the teachings of the Word of God and could easily discern error. About the year 1894 he was helping two young ministers in Nebraska in a tent effort. One morning Elder Loughborough received a letter from Sister White, then in Australia, requesting him to go to Battle Creek, Michigan, as quickly as possible and confer with the Review and Herald brethren concerning a book manuscript they were preparing for publication, but which contained some errors. She believed he had met the same errors in his ministry. Within a few hours the Elder was on an eastbound train, and in due time was in Battle Creek conferring with the brethren regarding the matter. His help saved the institution from embarrassment and possibly something worse. HEVI 3.5

Elder Loughborough spent his last years in California. I remember his cottage home in Mountain View, near the Pacific Press. The old cement hitching post where he tied his horse still stands by the street curb, a little monument to him. The publishing brethren at the Pacific Press greatly appreciated Elder Loughborough’s presence in their midst, for he was always helpful in counsel meetings. A small man physically, he was a giant in matters relating to the things of God and the work committed to His people. HEVI 3.6

Very early in life Elder Loughborough decided to record in a journal his daily activities and items of interest concerning our denominational work and its workers. When he went to the St. Helena Sanitarium to live, about 1916, he had his daily record books on a long, low bench near his table, ready for easy reference. I remember them. It was from these that he gathered many items and suggestions for his books and articles. He was a great Bible student and made many notes. Near the close of his life he stated that he had read the Bible through more than seventy times. Yes, he loved the Word of God and enjoyed preaching from it. HEVI 3.7

Elder Loughborough observed two birthdays, his natural birthday and his “twice-born” day. He was always happy to give his two offerings. I remember hearing him say a few words about this practice one January day at the Sabbath school in the old St. Helena Sanitarium chapel. The brethren had placed an easy chair for him just below the pulpit, where he could hear the speaker and rest comfortably. And whenever he desired to say a few words to the congregation, they were glad to have him do so. His voice carried well for a person of 90 years. For 75 years he was a faithful and true witness for the Adventist faith. Both Sister White and Elder Loughborough began preaching the Advent message at the age of seventeen, she in 1844 and he in 1849. HEVI 3.8

The Petaluma church in California stands as a special monument to Elder Loughborough’s work as a pioneer, for it was here that he and Elder D. T. Bourdeau organized the first Seventh-day Adventist church on the Pacific Coast. From that small beginning in 1868 have come hundreds of churches and schools in the West. HEVI 4.1

Elder Loughborough died in 1924 at the age of 92. He sleeps with his family in the old cemetery in St. Helena, California. Around him are more than a score of our ministers and many faithful church members awaiting the call of the Lifegiver. What a resurrection morning that will be when the faithful will rise at the sounding of Christ’s voice and, “caught up in the air,” will travel through the “open space in Orion,” along the corridor of indescribable light, to the glory land! And through that great open space in Orion will descend the New Jerusalem. (See Early Writings, 41.) What wonders await the remnant! Yes, God’s best things are ahead of us, preserved for the faithful! The Review and Herald, November 8, 1962. HEVI 4.2