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The Spirit of Prophecy in the Advent Movement - Contents
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    Counsels Against Building Up Great Centers

    From early times, in the West, the Spirit of prophecy bore messages of warning against the tendency of believers to gather in large numbers in a few centers. Of the Battle Creek headquarters, it was written in 1868: “Families have been coming from all directions to reside there.”—Testimonies for the Church 2:114.SPIAM 101.1

    Instead of congregating together, thus making large centers, the believers were urged to live and work in regions where their light was needed to spread the truth abroad. So came the counsels through the decades. But by 1893, which was marked in our memory by a special message on this topic from the Spirit of prophecy, several thousand believers, counting children, were living at headquarters.SPIAM 101.2

    It was in 1893 that a special message by the Spirit of prophecy came from Australia to our old center. Mrs. White had gone to Australia at the end of 1891. Many may still remember the solemn counsel that came to us at Battle Creek in 1893. I must tell the story as it is stamped on my memory.SPIAM 101.3

    I was secretary of the Mission Board at the time, having been called back from Europe. I sat in the old Tabernacle that Sabbath morning as the message, just in that week by the Australian mail, was read to the great congregation. It was a solemn time to us who listened.SPIAM 101.4

    For years before this time, let me repeat, messages had now and then been borne, urging our people not to congregate in great centers. It was pointed out that instead of gathering together, diffusion should be the plan. The Lord desired the light to be scattered among the people who needed help. But year after year the tendency was for the number of believers to increase at the great center.SPIAM 101.5

    Now came this message from over the sea, declaring in solemn tones that the Lord was in earnest with His people. The message read from the pulpit that Sabbath morning sounded like a message of warning from one of the prophets of old Bible times. It declared that the continual congregating of believers around the institutions at the old headquarters was endangering the institutions. It was made plain that the Lord wanted no more Jerusalems on earth. The principles of His kingdom called for the spreading forth of His representatives in communities where their light was needed. It went on to say that if the unwise gathering of the believers around the old central institutions continued, the Lord would allow the institutions to go down in ruins.SPIAM 101.6

    The message made a solemn impression. Some moved out; but as time passed, yet larger numbers moved in. Some people of the world learned of the message, and openly scoffed at it. Some backslidden Seventh-day Adventists jested about it. One such, I remember, was building a dwelling on the edge of town, using cement blocks. That style of building was rather new in those times, and I recall going across to have a look at the house. The brother laughingly commented upon his plan, saying he was building of cement blocks so that when the place was swept with fire, his house would stand. So as time passed, some scoffed and many forgot.SPIAM 102.1

    Years passed on. I had returned shortly to Europe, and later went on to India. Eight or nine years later I found myself at the old headquarters, held by the call to be again secretary of our Mission Board.SPIAM 102.2

    One morning, having risen early to take a train, I came out from my home to pass our oldest health institution. Looking up, I saw smoke coming from upper windows at the rear. It seemed impossible. But looking again, I saw it was no dream, but all too true. Institutional workers were running about giving first alarms. Hastily I ran back to throw my bag into the yard of my home, and hurried to join the workers and others in the group that helped get the people out of the building. At first infirm patients were helped and carried into an adjoining building, the hospital, across the street; but later, as the flames ate their way through the main building, they leaped the narrow street and lapped up the adjoining hospital annex. So the flaming destruction went on, despite every effort, until the main buildings of our greatest institution were laid in ruins.SPIAM 102.3

    However, not only the lessons of the book of Job and other portions of Scripture, but all human experience as well, show that troubles and calamities come in every good cause in this world of change and trouble. There is no assurance of escape from trial and temporal loss, even though God’s overruling hand may cause all these things to work together for good to those that love Him. No one at headquarters, in that time of trial, seems to have made any connection between the message borne by the Spirit of prophecy years before and the laying in ruins of one of the institutions at the general headquarters.SPIAM 103.1

    Time passed, and about a year later, one evening near the end of 1902, I was sitting in the old Grand Trunk Railway station at Battle Creek, waiting for a train to take me to a seaport to catch a boat for a visit to the West Indies and South America. A man came into the waiting room.SPIAM 103.2

    “Is your name Spicer?” he asked.SPIAM 103.3

    “Yes,” I replied.SPIAM 103.4

    “Well,” he said, “the Review and Herald is going up.”SPIAM 103.5

    “What do you mean?”SPIAM 103.6

    “The Review and Herald printing house is burning,” he answered.SPIAM 103.7

    I hurried out and down the long platform, where I could look across the valley and the river toward our central printing plant. There I saw it. It was indeed going up in flames. Just then I heard the whistle of the oncoming train. It was the last train I could take to catch the boat. There was nothing useful I could do by remaining, so I climbed aboard the eastbound train. From the rear platform as we traveled, I watched for miles the red glow in the sky that told me that nothing could be left of the main building of our great central printing house. I knew it was being laid in ruins. And as I watched, I thought of that solemn message which had come nine years before. The very phrases of it were vivid in my memory.SPIAM 103.8

    I had heard the message read in 1893,—a message declaring that if the gathering of great throngs about the institutions continued, the Lord would allow these institutions to be laid in ruins. I had heard the warning with my own ears. I had heard men scoff about it and make light of it, but I knew that I had witnessed the fulfillment to the very letter. The conviction was strong upon my heart that there was a living God in heaven, able to instruct and guide His people, whether with promises of blessing or with warnings of discipline.SPIAM 103.9

    The story of the blessing which came out of God’s overruling mercies in all these things is a story known to thousands. Out of these experiences came the conviction that the time had come to move the general headquarters from West to East. Many years before, the Spirit of prophecy had urged the removal of main efforts westward, where the infant cause of the advent movement would have a better chance to grow into strength. But it was indicated in that early time by the Spirit of prophecy that later it might be that the general headquarters would move back eastward, nearer to the great populations of the Atlantic side. So now the Lord led us to that removal eastward.SPIAM 104.1

    The hearts of the Seventh-day Adventist people were really wonderfully blessed by the moving of the headquarters. It seemed that the believers at the old headquarters and in the whole country moved onward in their own experience with the transfer. Out of the whole experience came blessing and revival to our people generally, and to the Battle Creek church. The General Conference office and the Review and Herald printing house were transferred eastward to Washington, D.C., the capital of the nation, and a school, Washington Missionary College, and a health institution, Washington Sanitarium, were built up to give at this central point in the East a full representation of the varied character of our work. Large, numbers of believers at the old headquarters found places of service elsewhere, those remaining being blessed in holding forth the light where still our largest church, and one of the most active, bears witness to the truth.SPIAM 104.2

    The disciplinings and chastisements of the Lord’s hand yield also the fruits of righteousness and bring growth and strength. From those times dates really an expansion in every department of our work. Instead of a few publishing centers, many now exist. Instead of two or three strong health centers, the expansion has continued until many such centers are ministering to the sick and teaching the ways of physical and spiritual life.SPIAM 104.3

    No one can look back without seeing that what seemed heavy loss was to be turned into gain to the advent cause. The faith of many was increased in the power of God to deal with His own work on earth. It reminds one of the experience of the ancient Jerusalem center. In the Jewish traditional story is the following account:SPIAM 105.1

    “Two rabbis approaching Jerusalem observed a fox running up on the hill Zion, and Rabbi Joshua wept, but Rabbi Eliezer laughed. ‘Wherefore dost thou laugh?’ said he who wept. ‘Nay, wherefore dost thou weep?’ demanded Eliezer.SPIAM 105.2

    “‘I weep,’ replied Rabbi Joshua, ‘because I see what is written in the Lamentations fulfilled; because of the Mount Zion which is desolate, the foxes walk upon it.’ ‘And therefore,’ said Rabbi Eliezer, ‘do I laugh: for when I see with mine own eyes that God hath fulfilled His threatenings to the very letter, I have hereby a pledge that not one of His promises shall fail, for He is ever more ready to show mercy than judgment.’”SPIAM 105.3

    Even so, out of our experiences of loss in more than one instance and more than one place, the lesson of God’s loving care for His work has been illustrated. It is not that the Lord Himself may directly afflict in case of calamity and trouble. It is His protection that keeps away the destroyer. Once His special protection is withdrawn, the forces of destruction may be allowed to work their will. But however it may be in these things beyond our knowledge, we know that God is able to cause all things to work together for good to those that love Him. And all through the record of progress of the advent movement we see the evidences that a living God has been guiding the movement by His providences and by the gifts set in the church, and leading the marching hosts of believers on toward the kingdom.SPIAM 105.4

    “Then let our songs abound,
    And every tear be dry;
    We’re marching through Immanuel’s land
    To fairer worlds on high.”
    SPIAM 105.5

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