Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists

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Labors in England

The first two weeks after we landed in Liverpool we spent in visiting among the churches and unorganized companies of Sabbath-keepers in England. At Grimsby we found the mission, or office of the Present Truth, occupying a convenient, well lighted, and pleasantly located building. All the work on the paper, except the press-work, is done in this building, and most of the workers live here. There is also in the house a good-sized room which is used for meetings. We believe that the time will soon come when it will be necessary to secure a larger building, and to purchase a press upon which to print the paper, as well as books and tracts, so that the light may shine forth in more distinct rays to every part of the kingdom. HS 162.1

Friday evening I spoke in Temperance Hall, on the subject of Temperance in the Home. The idea that it is necessary to commence the work of instruction in self-denial and temperance in childhood, seemed new to the people. The most respectful attention was given as I tried to impress upon parents their accountability to God, and the importance of laying the foundation of firm principles in their children, thus building a barrier around them against future temptations. HS 162.2

Sabbath forenoon, when the little company of Sabbath-keepers assembled for worship, the room was full, and some were seated in the hall. I have ever felt great solemnity in addressing large audiences, and have tried to place myself wholly under the guidance of the Saviour. But I felt even more solemn, if possible, in standing before this small company, who, in the face of obstacles, of reproach and losses, had stepped aside from the multitude who were making void the law of God, and had turned their feet into the way of his commandments. In the afternoon a Sabbath-school and social meeting were held. I spoke about thirty minutes in the meeting, and others followed. As I listened to the testimonies borne, I could not but think how similar is the experience of all true followers of Christ. There is but “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” HS 162.3

Sunday forenoon we had another meeting of the brethren and sisters, and in the evening I spoke in the Town Hall. This, the largest audience room in the place, was crowded, and many were obliged to stand. Those who were best acquainted with the hall estimated that there were twelve hundred present. I have seldom seen a more intelligent, noble-looking company. The “Union Temperance Prize Choir” volunteered to come and sing. This choir, which was composed of about fifty voices, did justice to the English love of music by singing seven pieces, three at the opening, two at the close, and two after the benediction. The subject of the evening was the love of God; and as I reflected that not until the last great day would I again meet all there assembled, I tried to present the precious things of God in such a way as to draw their minds from earth to heaven. But I could only warn and entreat, and hold up Jesus as the center of attraction, and a heaven of bliss as the eternal reward of the overcomer. HS 162.4

Monday we visited Ulceby, where a little company of Sabbath-keepers had been raised up through the labors of Bro. A. A. John. These manifested the deepest interest as their attention was called to the importance of searching the Scriptures to ascertain what is truth. The acceptance of truth ever involves a cross, but the only safe course is to follow the light God permits to shine, lest by neglect it shall become darkness. One lady who had been convinced of the truth, but who was still in the valley of decision, there determined to obey all the commandments of God. HS 163.1

Wednesday, accompanied by Bro. S. H. Lane, we went to Risely, a small town about forty miles from London. Here Brn. Lane and Durland had been holding a tent-meeting for four weeks. The tent seated about three hundred, and in the evening it was full, and a large number stood outside. HS 163.2

My heart was especially drawn out for this people, and I would gladly have remained longer with them. Of the audience it could be said, There were honorable women not a few. Several of these had commenced to keep the Sabbath. Many of the men were convinced of the truth; but the question with them was not whether they could keep the Sabbath and have the conveniences and luxuries of life, but whether they could obtain bread, simple bread, for their children. Some conscientious souls have begun to keep the Sabbath. The faith of such will be severely tested. But will not He who careth for the ravens care much more for those who love and fear him? God's eye is upon his conscientious, faithful children in England, and he will make a way for them to keep all his commandments. HS 163.3

Thursday we took the cars for London. Here we had the pleasure of meeting Eld. W. M. Jones, editor and publisher of the Sabbath Memorial, and pastor of an S. D. Baptist church in London, where he has for many years stood in defense of the Bible Sabbath. We appreciated his kindness in accompanying us to the British Museum, and in explaining to us many things of interest. It would have been pleasant and profitable to spend considerable time among these interesting relics; but we were obliged to be content with only a few hours here in order that we might meet appointments at Southampton. HS 163.4

Southampton was one of the earliest Roman settlements. Its history reaches back to the ninth century. At the present time it has, with its suburban villages, a population of over one hundred thousand. Here we saw the old Roman wall and gates with towers above, which were once used as courts of justice. Although built over nine hundred years ago, the wall in many places has not been impaired by age. It was in this place that our mission in England was first established, and here it remained till 1884, when it was removed to Grimsby. HS 163.5

While at Southampton I spoke to the church Friday evening, and twice on the Sabbath. Appointments were out for Sunday evening in a large hall; but Sunday morning found me sick with a severe cold. I could sit up but little. During the day we rode out, and I came near fainting. The brethren saw that it would be impossible for me to speak that night unless the Lord should work in a special manner. I tried to pray over the matter, and decided to do my part. I arose from the bed, rode to the hall, and stood upon my feet, and the Lord gave me strength as he had many times before under similar circumstances. The pain in my head ceased, the soreness in my throat was removed, and I spoke for more than an hour with perfect freedom. The Lord's name shall have all the glory. Monday morning I was able to return with our company to London, where we remained two days before going to Switzerland. HS 163.6

Although England covers a small territory, it has a vast population, and is a large missionary field. Hundreds could find room to work here if they had the missionary spirit. The city of London alone has twice as many people as all the Pacific Coast States and Territories. But where, oh where are the men who have love enough for the truth and precious souls to give themselves with unselfish devotion to the work? Men are wanted who are willing to leave their farms, their business, and their families, if need be, to become missionaries. There have been men, who, stirred by the love of Christ and the love of souls, have left the comforts of home and the society of friends, even that of wife and children, to go into foreign lands, among savages and idolaters, in hope of sowing the seeds of truth. Many have lost their lives in the attempt, but others have been raised up to carry forward the work. Thus the work has progressed step by step, and the seeds of truth sown in sorrow have borne a bountiful harvest. The knowledge of the Bible has been extended, and the gospel banner has been established in heathen lands. HS 164.1

Salvation was brought to us at great self-denial and infinite cost by the Son of God. Some have followed his example, and have not let farms, or pleasant homes, or even loved ones, stand in their way. They have left all for Christ. But I am grieved and astonished that there are so few who have the real missionary spirit at this time. The end so near, the warning of a soon-coming Judgment yet to be given to all nations, tongues, and peoples, yet where are the men who are willing to make any and every sacrifice to get the truth before the world? Some who do go forth as missionaries are so grieved to leave the things they love that they keep in a state of sorrow and depression, and one-half of their usefulness is destroyed. They are not called to go among heathen or savages, to suffer for food or clothing, nor are they deprived of even the conveniences of life; and yet they look upon themselves as martyrs. Such are not bold soldiers of the cross of Christ. They do not give him willing service. HS 164.2

True, there are many difficulties to be met in presenting the truth even in Christian England. One of the greatest of these is the difference in the condition of the three principal classes, and the feeling of caste, which is very strong in this country. In the city the capitalists, the shop-keepers, and the day-laborers, and in the country the landlords, the tenant-farmers, and the farm-laborers, form three general classes, between whom there are wide differences in education, in sentiment, and in circumstances. It is very difficult for one person to labor for all classes at the same time. Wealth means greatness and power; poverty, little less than slavery. This is an order of things that God never designed should exist. Nothing of this kind was seen anciently among his people when he was their acknowledged leader. Valuable lessons might be learned by the rulers of today, if they would study the plan of government given to the children of Israel. HS 164.3

People were subject to misfortune, sickness, and loss of property the same then as now; but so long as they followed the instruction given by God there were no beggars among them, neither any who suffered for food. Their wise Governor, foreseeing that misfortune would befall some, made provision for them. When the people entered Canaan, the land was divided among them according to their numbers, and special laws were enacted to prevent any one person from joining field to field, and claiming as his, all the land that he desired, or had money to purchase. No one was allowed to choose the most fertile parts for himself, and leave the poor and less desirable portions for his brother; for this would cultivate selfishness and a spirit of oppression, and give cause for dissatisfaction, complaint, and dissension. HS 164.4

By the special direction of God, the land was divided by lot. After it had been thus divided, no one was to feel at liberty, either from a love of change or a desire to make money, to trade his estate; neither was he to sell his land unless compelled to do so on account of poverty. And then whenever he or any of his kindred might desire to redeem it, the one who had purchased it must not refuse to sell it. And if the poor man had no one to redeem it for him, and was unable to do so himself, in the year of jubilee it should revert to him, and he should have the privilege of returning to his home and again enjoying it. Thus the poor and unfortunate were ever to have an equal chance with their more fortunate neighbors. HS 165.1

More than this, the Israelites were instructed to sow and reap their fields for six successive years; but every seventh year they were commanded to let the land rest. Whatever grew of itself was to be gathered by the poor; and what they left, the beasts of the field were to eat. This was to impress the people with the fact that it was God's land which they were permitted to possess for a time; that he was the rightful owner, the original proprietor, and that he would have special consideration made for the poor and unfortunate. This provision was made to lessen suffering, to bring some ray of hope, to flash some gleam of sunshine, into the lives of the suffering and distressed. Is any such statute regarded in England? Far from it. The Lord set needy human beings before the beasts; but this order has been reversed there, and, compared with the poor, horses, dogs, and other dumb animals are treated as princes. In some localities the poor are forbidden to step out of the path to pick the wild flowers which grow in abundance in many of the open fields. Anciently a man when hungry was permitted to enter another man's field or vineyard and eat as much as he chose. Even Christ and his disciples plucked and ate of the corn through which they passed. But how changed the order of things now! HS 165.2

If the laws given by God had continued to be carried out, how different would be the present condition of the world, morally, spiritually, and temporally. Selfishness and self-importance would not be manifested as now; but each would cherish a kind regard for the happiness and welfare of others, and such wide-spread destitution and human wretchedness as is now seen in most parts of England and Ireland would not exist. Instead of the poorer classes being kept under the iron heel of oppression by the wealthy, instead of having other men's brains to think and plan for them in temporal as well as in spiritual things, they would have some chance for independence of thought and action. HS 165.3

The sense of being owners of their own homes would inspire them with a strong desire for improvement. They would soon acquire skill in planning and devising for themselves, their children would be educated to habits of industry and economy, and the intellect would be greatly strengthened. They would feel that they are men, not slaves; and would be able to regain to a great degree their lost self-respect and moral independence. It is not impossible that deer might often be replaced by equally beautiful herds of cattle; that landscape gardening and ornamental building behind immense stone walls might be carried on with less contempt for expense; that there would be less money to spare for yachting, and for building dog palaces and hiring men to care for them. Indeed, we might then reasonably look for simplicity of manners to be manifested among the higher classes instead of their present exclusiveness and notions of their own dignity, and for high thinking to take the place of high living. HS 166.1

In a country where so large a part of the people are kept in such a state of servitude to the wealthy, and the higher classes are held in bondage by long-established customs, it is only to be expected that the advancement of unpopular truth will at first be slow. But if the brethren will be patient, and the laborers will be fully awake and thoroughly in earnest to improve every opportunity which presents itself for spreading the light, we are sure that an abundant harvest of souls will yet be reaped from English soil. By tact and perseverance, ample means will be found for reaching the people. HS 166.2

There will no doubt always be difficulty in reaching the higher classes. But the truth will often find its way to the noblemen by first reaching the middle and poorer classes. This was the case in Paul's day. The truth entered Caesar's household through one who was held in bonds, and men and women of high rank became disciples of Christ. Some who are now employed in England as servants and ladies’ maids are quietly working to get the truth before those for whom they labor. Thus through servants or relatives the truth will reach the honest-hearted among the highest as well as the lowest. HS 166.3

Energy and a spirit of self-sacrifice and self-denial are needed in entering the missionary field. I know whereof I speak. Resolute and unyielding men will accomplish much. We have had an experience in the work from its commencement. It began in weakness; but we can testify that wonders can be accomplished by resolute perseverance, patient toil, and firm trust in the Lord God of Israel. There is scarcely a limit to what may be achieved, even in England, if the efforts to advance Bible truth are governed by enlightened judgment, and backed up by earnest exertion. HS 166.4