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Foundations of the Seventh-day Adventist Message and Mission - Contents
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    B. The Formation of the Third Angel’s Message

    And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation, and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:9-12.FSDA 135.2

    It was predominantly through the influence of the Seventh Day Baptists that in 1844 the attention of a number of Adventists was directed to the subject of the continued obligation of the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath of the fourth commandment of the Decalogue. After the Disappointment various Adventists began to observe this day as the biblical day for worship. These Adventists, here called Sabbatarian Adventists, gradually developed a biblical rationale for the contemporary emphasis on this day of worship by associating the Sabbath 1All references to the seventh-day Sabbath are indicated by the term “Sabbath.” with the idea of a restoration of all biblical principles before Christ’s return, with the sanctuary theology, and especially with the third angel’s message. In this way the Sabbath doctrine became integrated into the Advent experience. The following discussion will deal with the origin of the revival of the Sabbath during the 1840s, its influence on the Adventists, its incorporation into the Advent experience, and its contribution to the Sabbatarian Adventist theology of mission.FSDA 135.3

    1. The Seventh day Sabbath reform movement

    The Sunday reform revival 2See supra, p. 10. in 1843 created a great concern among the Seventh Day Baptists 3Seventh Day Baptists are Baptists who observe the seventh-day Sabbath, the Saturday, as the biblical day of rest. The Sabbath seems to have been introduced in America by Stephen Mumford, a British Seventh Day Baptist immigrant. The first American Seventh Day Baptist Church was organized at Newport, R.I., in 1671. By 1843 churches had been established in New York State, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Virginia. The reported membership at the 1843 General Conference was 6077 (Seventh Day Baptists, Manual of the Seventh Day Baptists ..., 1858, pp. 39, 51-53). who feared new Sunday law legislation. This concern resulted in resolutions by the 1843 and 1844 General Conferences of Seventh Day Baptists to set apart a day of fasting and prayer on November 1, 1843 and on January 1, 1845 for divine intervention and restoration of the Sabbath. 5See e.g., An Address to the Baptists of the United States, on the Observance of the Sabbath: From the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, 3rd ed., 1843. To arouse the attention of other Christians resolutions were passed to send one address to the Baptists and another to all evangelical denominations in the U.S.A., urging them to investigate the importance of the Sabbath doctrine. The Millerites were also approached but they generally felt that either this doctrine was irrelevant or Jewish.FSDA 136.1

    As early as 1841 one could find a reference to the Sabbath in Millerite literature. This was made by James A. Begg, 7James A. Begg (1800-68) was brought up in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Influenced by the current revival of British millenarianism he became an expositor of prophecy. In 1832 he began observing the Sabbath. He wrote several articles for the ST. a Scottish Sabbatarian millenarian, who wrote that, besides his preoccupation with the Advent movement, he had to “work on the continued obligation of the Seventh Day, as the Christian Sabbath.” 8J. A. Begg, “Letter from Scotland,” The Signs of the Times, April 1, 1841, p. 3. One year later a letter pertaining to the Sabbath question was disposed within an editorial remark that Millerites wished “to have no controversy with the ‘Seventh Day Baptists.’” 9Editorial, “To Correspondents,” The Signs of the Times, April 6, 1842, p. 5. FSDA 136.2

    In 1844 the Seventh Day Baptists were more successful. The Midnight Cry observed that “many persons have their minds deeply exercised respecting a supposed obligation to observe the seventh day.1Editorial, “‘The Lord’s Day,’” MC, Sept. 5, 1844, p. 68. After a lengthy discussion the editor stated thatFSDA 137.1

    we feel borne irresistibly to the conclusion that there is no particular portion of time which Christians are required by law to set apart, as holy time. If the Scriptures, and the considerations presented, do not convince our readers of this, then we think there is another conclusion to which they must come, viz., The particular portion of time which God requires us to observe as holy, is the seventh day of the week, that is, Saturday. 2Editorial, “‘Lord’s Day,’” p. 69.FSDA 137.2

    In the next issue of the Midnight Cry the discussion was concluded with the remark that “we love the seventh-day brethren and sisters, but we think they are trying to mend the old broken Jewish yoke, and put it on their necks, instead of standing fast in the liberty wherewith Christ makes free.” 3Editorial, “The ‘Lord’s Day,’” MC, Sept. 12, 1844, p. 77. The article recommended discontinuing the use of “the word ‘Sabbath’ to the first day of the week. If we an habitually use the only Scriptural name for it,-‘The Lord’s Day,’-the name would awaken the associations which ought to be connected with it, and we see not how any one could devote it to secular pursuits, while the thought, ‘it is the Lord’s day’ was constantly before his mind” (ibid.). For a Seventh Day Baptist response to these articles, see [Utter], “Perpetuity of the Sabbath,” Sabbath Recorder, Sept. 26, 1844, p. 54; T., “The Midnight Cry,” Sabbath Recorder, Oct. 10, 1844, p. 62.FSDA 137.3

    It was through Rachel Oakes, a Seventh Day Baptist, that the Sabbath was introduced to a group of Millerite Adventists in Washington, New Hampshire, in the winter of 1843-44. As a result, Fredrick Wheeler, a Methodist Adventist circuit rider, and various members of this group became the first Sabbatarian Adventists in North America in the spring of 1844. 4It was not until 1850 that these individuals accepted the third angel’s message (Letter, Fredrick Wheeler, RH, Dec. 1850, p. 16; J. White, “A Sketch of the Rise and Progress of the Present Truth,” RH, Dec. 31, 1857, p. 61). Later in that year, the Sabbath was accepted by another clergyman, Thomas M. Preble, a Free-Will Baptist Adventist, who soon began publishing his new convictions. 5Froom, PFF, I, 941-52. Preble accepted the Sabbath in 1844. He was probably the first Adventist in the U.S.A. to advocate the Sabbath in print. His exposition was first published in the HI, Feb. 28, 1845, and re-issued in a special pamphlet. He discontinued Sabbath observance in 1847, later opposing it. Much of his exposition included Seventh Day Baptist arguments for Sabbath observance, such as the continuing validity of the Decalogue for Christians and the Sabbath as an everlasting sign between God and His people. The responsibility of changing the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday was attributed to the Roman Catholic Church. From historical data Preble inferred, “Thus we see Daniel 7:25 fulfilled, the ‘little horn’ changing ‘times and laws.’ therefore, it appears to me that all who keep the first day of the week for ‘the Sabbath,’ are Pope’s Sunday Keepers!! and God’s SABBATH BREAKERS!!!” 1T. M. Preble, A Tract, Showing That the Seventh Day Should Be Observed as the Sabbath ..., 1845, p. 10. Cf. Preble, “The Sabbath,” HI, Feb. 28, 1845 in RH, Aug. 23, 1870, p. 74. This view was a standard historicist interpretation among Seventh Day Baptists; Froom, PFF, IV, 908, 911, 913, 916, 920.FSDA 137.4

    Preble’s plea for Sabbath observance aroused the interest of Bates, Edson, and others. Bates influenced James and Ellen G. White to accept the Sabbath. 2After E. G. White commenced to observe the Sabbath in the autumn of 1846 she received a vision in reference to it (Letter, E. G. White to Loughborough, No. 2, 1874 [A. L. White, Ellen G. White, p. 34]). However, the editor of the Day-Star designated the Sabbath as a type or shadow with no claims on Christians; 3[Jacobs],“The Sabbath,” The Day-Star, Auguest 11 and 18, 1845, pp. 3-7. nevertheless, the periodical published various accounts of Adventists who had begun observing the Sabbath. 5From the Disappointment till 1846 Adventists in different States accepted the Sabbath. As a result of strong opposition and confusion many of those who embraced the Sabbath gave it up ([J. White], “A Brief Sketch of the Past,” RH, May 6, 1852, p. 5). A nucleus of Sabbatarian Adventists was formed who developed a doctrine of the Sabbath which was intimately related to their Advent experience.FSDA 138.1

    2. The Sabbath and the Advent experience

    During the formative years of the Sabbatarian Adventists the Sabbath was integrated into the Advent experience through three closely related themes: (1) The restoration of all biblical principles before the Second Coming; (2) the sanctuary theology; (3) the third angel’s message.FSDA 138.2

    a. The restoration theme.FSDA 138.3

    The first ones to associate the Sabbath with the Advent experience were Preble 6Preble alluded to the general Millerite understanding that the Sabbath was a sign of “the seventh thousand years” which were supposed to have begun after 1843 when the 6000 years of earth’s history seems to have ended. He argued that his practice should agree with his “theory” which implied the observance of “the seventh day” as a “sign” (“The Sabbath,” VT, Aug. 27, 1845, p. 433). Cf. Preble, Sabbath, pp. 5, 6. See Miller, A Lecture on the Typical Sabbaths and Great Jubilee, 1842, pp. 22-27. Cf. [Jacobs], “Sabbath,” p. 3. Preble also said that “if the Sabbath is ‘a sign to the children of Israel for-ever [Exodus 31:17];’ how can the sign cease, till the thing signified by it is realized? And if we are a part of the true Israel, as we claim to be, how could ‘Israel’ before Christ, keep the seventh day, and ‘Israel’ since Christ keep the first day; and yet each be a sign of the same thing?” (“Sabbath,” p. 433). and Bates. In 1846 Bates, in addressing himself to Adventists, pointed to the necessity of the restoration of the Sabbath before the Second Advent. He said: “I understand that the seventh day Sabbath is not the least one, among ALL things that are to be restored before the second advent of Jesus Christ, seeing that the Imperial and Papal power of Rome, since the days of the Apostles have changed the seventh day Sabbath to the first day of the week!” 1Bates, SSP, 1846, p. 2. Cf. Letter, Main to Jacobs, p. 12. For a more extensive treatment of Daniel 7:25, see Bates, SSP, 1846, pp. 41, 42. The introduction of the practice of feetwashing (Jn. 13:1-17) in association with the celebration of the Lord’s supper was seen as another aspect of a restoration of worship. Cf. Pickands to Jacobs, The Day-Star, September 25, 1845, p. 33. During the same year, Cook associated the Sabbath with the idea that “Elijah is to ‘restore all things’ [Mt. 17:11].” 2Letter, Cook to Jacobs, The Day-Star, March 7, 1846, p. 3. Referring to Sunday observance he urged people to “throw off the last rag of ‘the mother of harlots’ [Revelation 17:5]” (Cook, “The Sabbath,” AT, April 1846, p. 12). Some Adventists identified Snow with Elijah in the context of Malachi 4:5 (True Day Star, Dec. 29, 1845). In reacting against those who anticipated the coming of Elijah, Miller said that Malachi 4:5, 6 had been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the antitypical Elijah, at the first Advent (“Elijah the Prophet,” AH, February 5, 1845, p. 201-3). In 1847 Bates developed the restoration theme in the setting of a final conflict:FSDA 138.4

    The keeping of the seventh day Sabbath has been made void by the working of Satan, and is to be restored as one of the all things spoken of by all the holy prophets since the world began, before Jesus can come, is evident. See Acts 3:20, 21. “And they that shall be of THEE shall build the old waste places—thou shalt raise up the foundation of many generations, and thou shalt be called the REPAIRER of the breach, the RESTORER of paths to dwell in.Isaiah 58:12. The two following verses show that keeping or restoring the Sabbath is the special work. Jesus says, “they shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven, that do and teach the commandments.” [Mt. 5:19] That there will yet be a mighty struggle about the restoring and keeping the seventh day Sabbath, that will test every soul that enters the gates of the city, cannot be disputed. It is evident the Devil is making war on all such. See Revelation 12:17. 3Bates, SSP [2nd ed., rev. and enl.], 1847, p. 60. Cf. E. G. White, Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 1915, 96.FSDA 139.1

    Both James and E. G. White endorsed the restoration theme but placed it in the context of a preparatory work to escape God’s final wrath. 4[J. White], “Repairing the Breach in the Law of God,” The Present Truth, September 1849, pp. 25, 28, 29; E. G. White, CEV, pp. 52, 53 (Early Writings, 65). Later the theme was integrated into the third angel’s message through the Elijah motif. 5See infra, pp. 250-53.FSDA 139.2

    b. The Sabbath and the sanctuary theology.FSDA 139.3

    The sanctuary theology of Edson, E. G. White, and Crosier facilitated the acceptance of the Sabbath doctrine and the third angel’s message. A point of contact between the heavenly sanctuary and the Sabbath was seen in Revelation 11:19. Bates commented thatFSDA 139.4

    God in a peculiar manner, to instruct his honest, confiding children, shows them spiritually under the sounding of the seventh Angel, the ark of his testament after the temple of God was opened in heaven 11:19. These are the ten commandments. Here then I understand is where the spirit made an indelible impression to search the scriptures for the TESTIMONY of God. 6Bates, SSP, 1847, p. [iii]. Cf. Hale, Bridegroom, p. 28.FSDA 139.5

    Edson had already discussed the Sabbath with friends before Bates approached on this subject. Alluding to the preparatory function of the sanctuary doctrine Edson stated that from his “understanding of the opening of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven, and the seeing of the ark of his testimony [Revelation 11:19], and the few lines I had seen from the pen of T. M. Preble, I had been looking at the subject of the seventh day-Sabbath.” 1Edson, MS, p. 10. Thus it was felt that Revelation 11:19 was an indication that the heavenly sanctuary, like the earthly sanctuary, contained an ark with the Decalogue in the most holy place. This typology provided an argument for the perpetuity of the Decalogue. The April 3, 1847, heavenly-sanctuary view of E. G. White supported this interpretation. 2Letter, E. G. White to Bates, April 7, 1847 in A Word to the Little Flock, 18, 19 (Early Writings, 32, 33). Cf. [J. White], “The Law of God, or the Ten Commandments,” The Present Truth, July 1849, p. 4; E. G. White, The Spirit of Prophecy 4:273. In 1849 she revealed that through the change in Jesus’ high-priestly ministry the attention of God’s people had been directed to the most holy place, resulting in a deeper understanding of the relevance of the Decalogue. Because of this additional light, she said that they were “being tested on the Sabbath question”; 4Ibid. (Early Writings, 42, 43). Here she said that “the present case on the Sabbath could not come, until the mediation of Jesus in the Holy Place was finished, and he had passed within the second vail; therefore, Christians, who fell asleep before the door was opened to the Most Holy, when the midnight cry was finished, at the seventh month 1844; and [who] had nor kept the true Sabbath, now rest in hope; for they had not the light and the test on the Sabbath, which we now have, since that door was opened.” in fact, it was not until after the Disappointment that the Sabbath became a test for God’s people. Thus the Sabbath doctrine was incorporated into the sanctuary theology and, being a test, it achieved major importance in the emerging theology of mission.FSDA 139.6

    c. The Sabbath and the third angel’s message.FSDA 140.1

    The special message affirming the validity of the Seventh Month movement and proclaiming the restoration of the Sabbath as a test, in the context of the imminent Second Advent and God’s wrath, was the message of the third angel of Revelation 14. Bates was one of the first to associate the Sabbath with Revelation 14:9-11 as the third angel’s message. The fact that some Adventists began to observe the Sabbath he saw as a consequence of the Disappointment and another sign of the times. Adopting a position held by some that the third angel of Revelation 14 had terminated its mission at the Disappointment, 5Cook and Pickands had published the Voice of the Fourth Angel, which stated that the mission of the first three angels of Revelation 14 had been fulfilled. Cf. Editorial, “Voice of the Fourth Angel,” WMC, Dec. 21, 1844, p. 28; Woodcock, “True Millennium,” p. 32; Pickands, “Our Position and Present Duty,” Voice of the Fourth Angel, repr. in VT, Jan. 8, 1845, p. 197; Letter, Turner to Snow, JS, July 10, 1845, p. 137; [Crosier], “Advent This Spring,” p. 7; Bates, SAWH, pp. 20, 23-25, 27. Bates pointed out that Revelation 14:12, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” was the result of the third angel’s message. The difference between Revelation 14:9-11 and Revelation 14:12, he said, was that they represented two successive, not concurrent, phases in the Advent experience: The Disappointment was the end of the proclamation of the third angel and the beginning of the period of Revelation 14:12. 1Bates, SSP, 1846, p. 24. Cf. Letter, Wm. Evans to Snow, JS, May 22, 1845, p. 87. He argued that the angels of Revelation 14:6-11 brought about a company of individuals who observed the Sabbath:FSDA 140.2

    In the 14 ch. Revelation 6-11, he [John] saw three angels following each other in succession: first one preaching the everlasting gospel (second advent doctrine); 2nd, announcing the fall of Babylon; 3rd, calling God’s people out of her by showing the awful destruction that awaited all such as did not obey. He sees the separation and cries out, “Here is the patience of the Saints, here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus....” Now it seems to me that the seventh day Sabbath is more clearly included in these commandments, than thou shalt not steal, nor kill, nor commit adultery, for it is the only one that was written at the creation or in the beginning. 2Bates, SSP, 1846, p. 24. Cf. Litch, “Cleansing of the Sanctuary,” MC, June 22, 1843, p. 127. Regarding Revelation 14:12, see Letter, Cook to Jacobs, The Day-Star, March 7, 1846, p. 3. Bates identified Revelation 14:9-11 with Revelation 18:4 as the third angel’s message (SAWH, pp. 23, 24, 68). Cf. Editorial, “Come Out,” pp. 20, 21; Letter, Hotchkiss to Marsh, VT, Feb. 5, 1845, p. 7. In 1847 Bates indicated that the third angel showed “the curse that befell all such as ‘worship the beast or his image, or receive his mark,’ that is, if they go back again [to Babylon]” (SSP, 1847, p. 58).FSDA 141.1

    In 1847 Bates became even more specific and indicated that the cry of the third angel had produced a number of Adventists “in their patience, (or trying time,) keeping the commandments of God and the faith or testimony of Jesus.” 3Ibid. Cf. Bates, SAWH, pp. 68, 69. The fact, he said, 4Bates, SSP, 1847, pp. 58, 59. “such a people [who keep the Decalogue] can be found on the earth as described in the 12v. [Revelation 14] and have been uniting in companies for the last two years, on the commandments of God and faith or testimony of Jesus, is indisputable and clear. I say here then is demonstrated proof that Babylon has fallen.” The “faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12), he suggested, was synonymous with the “testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 12:17), and identified in the context of Mt. 28:19, 20. It was also substituted for the Mosaic laws after they had been “nailed to the cross.” 6Bates, SSP, 1847, p. 59. Bates was one of the first to equate the observance of Sunday as the Sabbath or holy day with “a mark of the beast” (Revelation 14:9).FSDA 141.2

    J. White, however, disagreed with Bates’ interpretation of the third angel’s message. The mission of the third angel to Adventists, he said, did not end in 1844 but commenced in the “patient waiting time” after the 1844 Disappointment when various Adventists began observing the Sabbath. The view that Revelation 14:9-11 was concurrent with Revelation 14:12 was based on his definition of the third angel’s message:FSDA 141.3

    The third angel’s message was, and still is, a WARNING to the saints to “hold fast,” and not go back, and “receive” the marks which the virgin band got rid of, during the second angel’s cry.FSDA 142.1

    And has not the true message for God’s people, since the 7th month 1844, been just such a warning? It certainly has. I cannot agree with those who make two messages of the cry, “Babylon the great is fallen,” and the voice, “Come out of her my people,” for every sermon that was printed, or preached on this subject, contained them both in one message. The 12th verse [Revelation 14] reads, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God,” etc. Where did you see them, John? Why, “here” during this third angel. As the patient waiting time has been since the 7th month 1844, and as the class that keep the Sabbath, etc. have appeared since that time: it is plain that we live in the time of the third angel’s message. 1J. White, A Word to the Little Flock, 11. Cf. Letter, B. B. Hill to Snow, JS, June 5, 1845, p. 100.FSDA 142.2

    Soon this view was also accepted by Bates. 2Cf. Bates, SAWH, pp. 20, 23-25, 27 with Bates, “Second Advent Way Marks ...,” rev. ed., AdR, Nov. 1850, pp. 66-68.FSDA 142.3

    Thus it seemed that Revelation 14:12 most aptly portrayed the place of Sabbatarian Adventists (“here are they that keep the commandments of God”) in the final period of salvation history (“the patience of the saints” or “the patient waiting time”). 3J. White, A Word to the Little Flock, 11; Bates, SAWH, p. 59. Edson said: “We are now emphatically in the time of ‘the patience of the saints,’ Revelation 14:12. Let us not forget that here in this time of the patience of the saints, ‘are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus,’ Revelation 14:12, ch. 12:17” (Letter, Edson to Crosier, DD, April 2, 1847, p. 8). From 1847 onward the test was gradually incorporated in the mission of the third angel so that it was said that “the third angel proclaiming the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, represents the people who receive this message, and raise the voice of warning.” 4E. G. White, Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 96. Edson remarked that Revelation 14:12 was “a part of the third angel’s message” (Time of the End, p. 20). Cf. [J. White], “Miller’s Dream,” p. 75 (Miller’s Dream, p. 9); [Samuel W. Rhodes], A Pictorial Illustration of the Visions of Daniel & John ..., 1850. Further references will indicate it as the 1850 Chart. The interpretation of Revelation 14:12 was another example of how the Sabbath doctrine was integrated into the Advent experience.FSDA 142.4

    During these formative years the relationship between the sanctuary theology and the third angel’s message could be described as follows: Both had their roots in the Advent movement and affirmed the validity of the Seventh Month movement and the Decalogue. The sanctuary theology, however, drew attention to the significance of the Decalogue in the context of Revelation 11:19, while the third angel’s message pointed to the importance of the commandments of God in the setting of Revelation 14:12. It was especially the preparatory function of the sanctuary theology for the acceptance of the Sabbath that brought about a close association between Christ’s ministry and the third angel’s message. This close relation was acknowledged by Eli Curtis, publisher of the Girdle of Truth, and Advent Review, 5Curtis’ publication also contained the visions of the Midnight Cry and the New Earth (cf. E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts 2:52-55). His remarks and treatment of the visions seem to indicate that he had not fully accepted her views. Cf. Letter, E. G. White to Curtis, p. 12. The break between E. G. White and Curtis came in 1850 (E. G. White, “Eli Curtis,” The Present Truth, May 1850, p. 80). when in 1848 he referred to E. G. White’s April 1847 sanctuary view as a divine revelation of the “the nature of the message, and work, of the Third Angel [Revelation 14:9].” 1[Curtis], Remarks, GT, Extra, Jan. 20, 1848, p. [4]. (Brackets his.)FSDA 142.5

    3. The sealing message

    Differences of interpretation on various aspects relating to the Sabbath and Advent experience led, in 1848, to a series of conferences aimed at achieving more uniformity. 2See Froom, PFF, IV, 1021-27. On the importance of the year 1848, see [J. White], “Miller’s Dream,” p. 75 (Miller’s Dream, p. 9); Edson, “Appeal,” p. 6; Arnold, “Dream of Miller,” p. 12; [J. White], “Sketch of the Past,” p. 5; J. White, “Present Truth,” p. 61. Cf. E. G. White, “They Sleep in Jesus,” RH, April 21, 1868, p. 297. It was pointed out that the believers must “unite upon the third angel’s message,” which they did. 3E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts 2:99, 1860. Regarding these conferences J. White stated: “Here the work of uniting the brethren on the great truths connected with the message of the third angel commenced” (“Sketch of the Past,” p. 5). At the last conference (November 1848) new insights were gained in regard to the sealing of God’s people, 4In 1847 reference to a future sealing was made by J. White (A Word to the Little Flock, 3) and Bates (Bates, Vindication of the Sabbath, cited in SLG, p. 12; J. White, Life, p. 269). It seems that as a result of the Nov. 1848 sealing view of E. G. White (Bates, SLG, pp. 24-26) Bates and J. White began to stress the sealing as a present reality (infra, p. 145) stressing the importance of the Sabbath and the third angel’s message in the Sabbatarian Adventist theology of mission.FSDA 143.1

    In January 1849, E. G. White identified the Sabbath with the “seal of the living God” (Revelation 7:2) 5E. G. White, Manuscript 3, 1849; E. G. White, “To Those Who Are Receiving the Seal of the Living God” (Broadside), Jan. 31, 1849. Cf. Bates, SLG, p. 17. and Bates explained that this interpretation was based on identifying the Sabbath as a sign (Exodus 31:13, 17) with a seal. A sign, he said, “signifies subscribe, represent, notify, mark. This being the significance of a sign, it is the same as seal.” 6Ibid., p. 23. Cf. [J. White], “The Sabbath a Perpetual Weekly Memorial,” The Present Truth, July 1849, pp. 2, 3. To illustrate his point he referred to procedures used in making up a sales contract: First, such a contract had to be written, then signed and sealed, and finally delivered. Reasoning from analogy, Bates said that if God’s law would be observed “then we have the sign of the Sabbath, and [are] ready to be sealed, and then delivered by the voice of God from the time of trouble.” 8Ibid. This view of the sealing process he saw confirmed by Paul’s remark about Abraham, “‘and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had,’ etc., Romans 4:11.” He concluded that “the sign shows that the seal must follow, and as there is no other truth which God has given his servants that is to be a sign between him and them but the keeping [of] his Sabbath, then ‘a seal of the living God’ is the Sabbath.”FSDA 143.2

    The sealing itself Bates described as “to close, settle, confirm, ratify, make sure between two parties forever,” 1Ibid., p. 35. indicating thatFSDA 144.1

    the parties are God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, with 144,000 men and women on the earth, witnessed by all the holy angels in heaven. When the 144,000 on the earth, individually, keep God’s Holy Sabbath according to the commandment, see the example in Luke 23:56, and decalogue, Exodus 20:8-10, then the sign of that Sabbath is manifest, and this sign will be a seal of their righteous act and faith, as circumcision was to faithful Abraham, Romans 4:11, and the act ratified, by their being ‘sealed by the holy spirit of promise unto the day of redemption’ [Ephesians 4:30]. 2Ibid., pp. 35, 36. The 1848 revolutions in Europe were for Bates an indication that both the time of trouble and the sealing time had begun (ibid., pp. 26, 40, 46-49). E. G. White denied that the time of trouble had already started, although she saw that the angels of Revelation 7:1 “had started on their mission to let them [four winds] go,” but intervention by Jesus for the sake of “the remnant that were not all sealed” cancelled their mission (“DBS,” pp. 22, 23 [Early Writings, 36, 38]). However, she affirmed that the sealing time had commenced (ibid., pp. 21, 22 [ED, pp. 42, 43]).FSDA 144.2

    In the context of the sealing angel of Revelation 7:2 Bates further developed J. White’s 1847 reference 3J. White, A Word to the Little Flock, 3. The marking of the doorposts of the houses of the Israelites by blood before the firstborn of the Egyptians were slain (Exodus 12) was interpreted as a type of the apocalyptic sealing of the saints (ibid.). regarding the topological implications of Ezek. 9 for the time just before Christ’s return. Bates related the activities of Ezek. 9:2-4, picturing a man, clothed in linen with a writing case in his hand who was commanded to go through the city of Jerusalem to put a mark upon the foreheads of the righteous, to those of the sealing angel of Revelation 7:2. 4Bates, SLG, pp. 4, 28, 41-45. Cf. [J. White], “Repairing the Breach,” p. 26; E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts 1:197. In another Old Testament reference, “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples” (Isaiah 8:16) he saw a prophecy of the sealing message with implications for the remnant described in Revelation 12:17, who “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” 5Bates, SLG, pp. 54-56.FSDA 144.3

    There was some discussion about Bates’ interpretation of the “four angels standing on the four corners of the earth” (Revelation 7:1) and “the angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God” (Revelation 7:2). He maintained that the four angels, or messengers, symbolized the four world powers, Great Britain, France, Russia, and the U.S.A.; the sealing angel depicted the experience of “the Sabbath keepers ascending with the Sabbath, ‘the seal of the living God.’” 6Ibid., pp. 4, 17, 33-35. Others had also alluded to these four world powers; see Hale, Bridegroom, p. 18; Editorial, “The Watchman’s Warning,” SAH, April 16, 1844, p. 35; Editorial, “The Holy Alliance,” The Day-Star, July 1, 1845, p. 31. Because of strong opposition from fellow believers he interpreted the angels of Revelation 7:1, 2 as literal angels. 7Editorial, “Not So,” RH, Dec. 23, 1851, p. 72. Bates indicated this change in his Synopsis of the Seal, May 1849 (ibid.). By this time (1849) the Sabbath had become solidly entrenched in the apocalyptic-eschatology of the Sabbatarian Adventists by relating it to Daniel 7:25, Revelation 7:2, and Revelation 14:9, 12.FSDA 144.4

    The logical consequence of interpreting the Sabbath as “the seal of the living God” was to call the third angel’s message, with its emphasis on the commandments of God (Revelation 14:12), the sealing message. Although Bates had referred to a relation between Revelation 7:2 and Revelation 14:6-12, it was E. G. White who used the term “present, sealing truth” in the context of an exposition on the third angel’s message. 1E. G. White, “DBS,” p. 21 (Early Writings, 43). Cf. E. G. White, “DBS,” p. 32; J. White, “TAM,” The Present Truth, April 1850, p. 68 (TAM, 1850, p. 11). Here he alluded to the sanctifying influence of the sealing truth. In more explicit terms J. White expressed himself about “the sealing, separating message-the cutting message of the 3rd angel of Revelation 14 chapter. This 3rd angel bears, in its flight, the sealing mark, the Sabbath, to the saints, while it reaps the awful doom of those who receive the opposite mark,-the first day of the week.” 2Letter, J. White to Bowles, Nov. 8, 1849. Cf. Bates, SLG, p. 133. In 1845 the sealing was already considered by some as a present reality (Editorial, “Holy Alliance,” p. 31; Letter, George W. Jones to Jacobs, The Day-Star, August 25, 1845, p. 10; Letter, Cook to Jacobs, The Day-Star, November 22, 1845, p. 31). The sealing message, being equated with “present truth,” was a sign of the times indicating that the believers were living in the “sealing time,” 4Ibid., pp. 21, 22 (EW, p. 44). For the future reality of the sealing, see E. G. White, “DBS,” p. 32. The importance of the sealing was stressed because “those only who have the seal of the living God, will be sheltered from the storm of wrath, that will soon fall on the heads of those who have rejected the truth” (ibid.). Cf. Bates, SLG, p. 69. which was to last until the end of Christ’s sanctuary ministry when God’s Sabbath-observing people would be sealed with the seal of the living God for protection against the “burning wrath of God, in the seven last plagues.” At the completion of the sealing all the sins of the believers were considered to have been blotted out. No one, however, could receive the seal without having an experiential knowledge of self-denial and suffering for Christ. In 1850, therefore, in referring to individuals who had recently accepted the present truth, E. G. White pointed out that they “would have to know what it was to suffer for Christ’s sake. That they would have trials to pass through that would be keen and cutting, in order that they may be purified, and fitted through suffering to receive the seal of the living God.” This indicated that the sealing was not only a present but also an imminent future reality: During the present sealing time the believers were being, or about to be, sealed; while at any time Christ could finish His heavenly ministry, which would indicate the completion of the sealing. It was not until several years later, when the Second Advent had lost some of its urgency, that the sealing process was more carefully analyzed. 1See infra, pp. 211, 212.FSDA 145.1

    4. Summary

    The Seventh-day Sabbath reform movement had called the attention of Adventists to the Sabbath doctrine causing some of them to observe the Sabbath. Initially the theological arguments used in support of Sabbath observance were somewhat similar to those employed by Seventh Day Baptists, emphasizing the validity of all precepts of the Decalogue for Christians, the significance of the Sabbath as a sign between God and His people, and the responsibility of the Roman Catholic Church for changing the day of worship in Christendom. Soon, however, these Sabbatarian Adventists began to associate the Sabbath with their Advent experience. First, the Sabbath was connected with the idea that in the post-1844 period all biblical principles had to be restored among God’s people before the Second Advent could take place. Secondly, the sanctuary theology was considered to facilitate an acceptance of the Sabbath and indicated its special relevance after 1844 by focusing the attention of believers on the central role of the Decalogue in Christ’s high-priestly ministry in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. Thirdly, the third angel’s message, being closely associated with the restoration theme and theology, was responsible for the important position of the Sabbath doctrine. Because this message stressed the vital significance of obedience to God’s commandments in contrast to loyalties to other powers, the phenomenon of Sabbath observance after 1844 came to be an integral part of the Advent experience. As a result of identifying the Sabbath with the seal of the living God-a protection against God’s wrath-the third angel’s message came to be called the sealing message, or present truth. The sealing time was considered to be a present and imminent future reality, and would terminate at the completion of Christ’s sanctuary ministry.FSDA 146.1

    The importance of the third angel’s message was its concise formulation of the emerging theology of mission uniting the two principal elements of the raison d’être of Sabbatarian Adventists: (1) The proclamation of the validity of their past Advent experience as an important phase in salvation history; (2) the proclamation of the restoration of the Sabbath to prepare God’s people for the day of His wrath. It was at this stage of the development of the third angel’s message that E. G. White stated, “We have the truth. We know it.” 2Letter, E. G. White to the Hastingses, No. 18 (Jan. 11), 1850.FSDA 146.2

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