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Heavenly Visions

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    “FREDERICK WHEELER

    “Was born March 12, 1811. As a Methodist minister he was convinced of the advent truth by reading William Miller’s works in 1842, and joined in preaching the first message. In March, 1842 he began to keep the true Sabbath, in Washington, New Hampshire.”-The Review and Herald, October 4, 1906.HEVI 104.1

    Someday, when it may be appropriate to add further details of human interest, we should let Elder Wheeler’s account tell how on one occasion, after he had been celebrating the Lord’s supper in a group, Rachel Preston put him into a close place with her questions. And as he told the story to his friends, she did press him to a decision. But before this, he said, the Farnsworth brothers had taken their stand. Evidently Rachel Preston left nothing to go haphazardly in those days. She believed in the Sabbath of the Lord her God. And she surely planted a good seed there on the mountainside in 1844. The vine of truth that sprang from that planting is bringing forth fruit today in far lands and among peoples and tongues unknown to Europeans in 1844.HEVI 104.2

    James White, Mrs. White, J. N. Andrews, and others found it a joy to visit this first group after they themselves had found the Sabbath. After a visit in 1867 James White wrote of the spreading forth of the Sabbath truth from that Washington center: “The truth on this subject reached other points in New Hampshire, and about that time Elder T. M. Preble embraced and began to teach the Sabbath.”HEVI 104.3

    Such a thing as an Adventist group turning to keep the seventh day was sure to be noised abroad in New Hampshire and Vermont and in regions of New England round about. Evidently Elder Preble, rather a prominent Adventist of New Hampshire, must have been drawn to Washington to investigate the subject very soon after the observance began there. J. N. Andrews wrote:HEVI 104.4

    “From this place, several advent ministers received the Sabbath truth during the year 1844. One of these was Elder T. M. Preble, who has the honor of first bringing this great truth before the Adventists through the medium of the press.” -“History of the Sabbath,” 1873, p. 501.HEVI 104.5

    T. M. Preble himself tells when he began this observance, which continued but a few years. In a review of Preble on the law, the editor of the REVIEW, in 1864, quoted from him this statement:HEVI 104.6

    “I have once been an observer of the seventh-day Sabbath! This was from about the middle of the year 1844 to the middle of 1847; when, becoming convinced that I was wrong, I gave it up, and returned to the observance of the ‘first day’ again.”-Review, March 29, 1864.HEVI 104.7

    About the same time Elder J. B. Cook, another talented Adventist, joined in Sabbath observance, and wrote on the subject and preached on it. But to our pioneers of early times these men were counted as having kept the day only in a “halfway manner.” J. N. Andrews wrote of quick results in this agitation of the question:HEVI 104.8

    “Within a few months many persons began to observe the Sabbath as the result of the light thus shed on their pathway.”HEVI 104.9

    Evidently this was the arousement on the Sabbath question, in the summer of 1844, that led the general Adventist organ, “The Midnight Cry,” to say in its issue of September 5, 1844:HEVI 104.10

    “Many persons have their minds deeply exercised respecting a supposed obligation to observe the seventh day.”HEVI 104.11

    J. N. Loughborough long ago told us how the “midnight cry” continued the discussion of the Sabbath, coming to the conclusion that there was no day to be observed as of obligation, but admitting that if a Sabbath day was obligatory, it would have to be acknowledged that the seventh day had the authority of the law of God. So, in the midst of the stirring “midnight cry” period of the summer and autumn of 1844, ending October 22, when they looked for their Saviour to come, the discussion of the Sabbath question held a place in the thoughts of those Adventists.HEVI 104.12

    Washington, New Hampshire, as It Appeared in 1934. In This Village Was Established the First Seventh-day Adventist Church, in 1844.HEVI 104.13

    Naturally, I suppose not much detail concerning this matter found its way into print; but F. W. Bartle, neighbor of Frederick Wheeler in his declining years, reports an interesting conversation with the aged veteran of Sabbath reform as follows:HEVI 105.1

    Elder Wheeler told me that on the first Sabbath he observed he preached a sermon on the subject of the Sabbath. He told me that before the time passed in the fall of 1844, there were from 150 to 200 keeping the Sabbath in Washington (New Hampshire) Hillsdale, Newbury, and some other towns about there.”HEVI 105.2

    Not much of this quick fruitage seems to have mained after the disappointment of October 22, 1844, and especially after men of prominence who had preached the Sabbath (as Preble and Cook) turned from it and opposed it. But the first group whose example had kindled the light, had received the truth from study of the word. It was a living message to their hearts. They held fast to the “commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus,” so far as light had come to them. PICTUREHEVI 105.3

    They held their faith unshaken after the first disappointment of the spring of 1844, and through the second. They had a new light on their path, the light of the Sabbath truth. As a group they held fast, and walked step by step in the way of the advancing light of the gospel message.HEVI 105.4

    Still the old chapel-our first meetinghouse-stands among the trees on the New Hampshire mountainside, about three miles from Washington village. Now and then, when visiting groups come to look at the place from which this movement started on its way in 1844, services are held in it. There is no group of believers living in that vicinity now. Children of our first church, however, have preached the advent message from coast to coast in this country, and in Canada, the West Indies, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and I know not in what other countries. W. A. S. The Review and Herald, November 16, 1939.HEVI 105.5