Ellen G. White in Europe 1885-1887


Sabbathkeeping and the School Authorities

But the question of Sabbath observance was the one she took up on that second Sabbath she spent with the Christiania church. The problem was complicated by the fact that school attendance was required (but not compelled) on Sabbath. Some tried to justify sending their children to school on the basis that Christ said it was lawful to “do good” on the Sabbath day. But such an argument, she pointed out, proved too much, because under that defense even common labor would be acceptable—after all, wasn't a man doing good when he worked to support his family? EGWE 120.7

Instead, she urged that some arrangement be worked out with the school authorities. “If this fails, then their duty is plain, to obey God's requirements at whatever cost.”—Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, 216. She was not unaware that some Adventists in Central Europe had been fined and imprisoned for not sending their children to school on Sabbath. In one place, she revealed, when the authorities came to take the children to school the youngsters took their Bibles with them instead of the textbooks they usually carried, and spent the day studying God's Word. EGWE 121.1

Recounting in her diary that night what she had told the people, she wrote: EGWE 121.2

“There is in the Sabbath of the fourth commandment a test. It is God's test. It is no man-made test. This is to be the separating line to distinguish the loyal and the true,—him that serveth God from him that serveth Him not.... EGWE 121.3

“He has made precious promises to those who keep His Sabbath from polluting it. His infinite wisdom and power and love are engaged in our behalf. The heavenly host are registering our names as among the loyal and the true. It is safe always to be on the Lord's side.”—Manuscript 27, 1885. EGWE 121.4

Mrs. White knew she was speaking very plainly about a very serious problem, and at the close of her sermon, she “invited those to come forward who felt they were sinners, not in harmony with God, and who needed His converting power.” About fifty responded. Mrs. White came down in front of the pulpit and knelt there with the people. She prayed while Elder Matteson interpreted. When opportunity was given for testimonies, “quite a number confessed that they had about given up the truth and separated from God, and now wished to repent and come back with God's people.” Although the leaders attempted to close the meeting, it was impossible. Two and three people were on their feet at a time, waiting to give their testimony. Finally, the meeting drew to an end. It had lasted three hours. But Sister White wrote in her diary: “The work must go deeper yet.”—Ibid. EGWE 121.5