Early Writings


The Important Sabbath Conferences

In the providence of God the several Sabbathkeeping ministers who led out in teaching these new-found truths in company with a number of their followers, came together in 1848 in five Sabbath conferences. Through periods of fasting and prayer they studied the word of God. Elder Bates, the apostle of the Sabbath truth, took the lead in advocating the binding claims of the Sabbath. Hiram Edson and his associates, who attended some of the conferences, were strong in their presentation of the sanctuary light. James White, a careful student of prophecy, focused his attention on events that must take place before Jesus comes again. At these meetings the leading doctrines held today by Seventh-day Adventists were brought together. EW xxii.2

Looking back to this experience, Ellen White wrote: EW xxii.3

“Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid. My husband, Elder Joseph Bates, Father Pierce, [Older brethren among the pioneers are here thus reminiscently referred to. “Father Pierce” was Stephen Pierce, who served in ministerial and administrative work in the early days.] Elder [Hiram] Edson, and others who were keen, noble, and true, were among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844, searched for the truth as for hidden treasure. I met with them, and we studied and prayed earnestly. Often we remained together until late at night, and sometimes through the entire night, praying for light and studying the Word. Again and again these brethren came together to study the Bible, in order that they might know its meaning, and be prepared to teach it with power. When they came to the point in their study where they said, “we can do nothing more,’ the Spirit of the Lord would come upon me, I would be taken off in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as to how we were to labor and teach effectively. Thus light was given that helped us to understand the scriptures in regard to Christ, His mission, and His priesthood. A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God, was made plain to me, and I gave to others the instruction that the Lord had given me. EW xxii.4

“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 1:206, 207. EW xxiii.1

Thus the doctrinal foundation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church was laid in the faithful study of the Word of God, and when the pioneers could not make headway, Ellen White was given light that helped to explain their difficulty and opened the way for the study to continue. The visions also placed the stamp of God's approval upon correct conclusions. Thus the prophetic gift acted as a corrector of error and a confirmer of truth. (See Gospel Workers, 302.) EW xxiii.2