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    Chapter 5—The Captain was Convinced

    “I have been thinking that it’s time we visited our friends at Topsham,” James White said to his young bride one day.SMG 40.1

    Ellen was pleased with the suggestion. Early Friday morning James hitched the horse to the family sleigh, and they drove thirty miles to study the Bible with their friends. On Sabbath they met in the Curtiss home. They were glad to see among their old friends a retired sea captain named Joseph Bates. This man had heard Ellen relate her visions, but he was not certain they were from the Lord. He did not believe in modern visions.SMG 40.2

    Christians in those days heard much about the Mormon “prophet” Joseph Smith, and about Ann Lee, leader of the Shakers, both of whom claimed that God had sent an angel to talk with them. But the visions of these two were very different from visions given God’s prophets in Bible times. Their teachings were contrary to the Word of God.SMG 40.3

    Because of these errors, many people were wary of anyone professing to have visions. They said God might have spoken to Isaiah, Daniel, John, and the other prophets in Bible times, but He did not speak to His people in that way nowadays. Ministers told their congregations that visions from heaven were a thing of the past.SMG 40.4

    But some Bible students believed God was still speaking to His people by visions, just as He had promised to do in the last days. Surely, they thought, while Satan is sending his angels to deceive men, God would be sending messages from heaven to warn and guide His church.SMG 40.5

    During the meeting in the Curtiss home Ellen White was given a vision, and Joseph Bates watched her intently. He was an honest man who wanted to know the truth. A bright smile was on her face as she moved about in the room, seeming to see something in the distance. Then he heard her speaking. But how strange! How wonderful! He could hardly believe his eyes and ears—she was speaking, but not breathing! In soft, musical tones, she was describing what she saw.SMG 41.1

    “I see four moons,” she said. She spoke of seeing several planets, one encircled with beautifully colored belts or rings.SMG 41.2

    Captain Bates suddenly forgot he did not believe in visions.SMG 41.3

    “She’s looking at Jupiter!” he said. As she went on describing what she saw, he said, “That’s Saturn she’s describing!” And later, “Now she’s viewing Uranus!” She had not named any particular planet, but the seaman Joseph Bates had for years studied the heavens and read books about the stars. He knew what she was talking about.SMG 41.4

    After a time she began to describe the “opening heavens,” an entrance into a more glorious region beyond, ablaze with light.SMG 41.5

    Captain Bates sprang to his feet. “How I wish Lord William Rosse were here!”SMG 41.6

    “Who is Lord William Rosse?” James White asked.SMG 41.7

    “He is the great English astronomer,” came the enthusiastic reply. “I wish he could hear that woman talk astronomy, and hear her description of the ‘opening heavens.’ It’s ahead of anything I ever read on the subject.” From that time Joseph Bates never doubted that Mrs. White’s visions were supernatural; and as he compared their teachings with the Bible, he was convinced that the messages she brought were not her own, but the voice of God to His people.SMG 41.8

    At one time before this vision, Captain Bates had tried to discuss astronomy with Ellen but had found her unfamiliar with the subject. He knew she was telling the truth when now she said she had never opened an astronomy book. He also felt impressed that God had given this vision in his presence so that he might never doubt again.SMG 42.1

    In his study of the Scriptures, Captain Bates had learned that Jesus and His disciples did not change the Christian Sabbath from Saturday, the seventh day of the week, to Sunday, the first day, but that the change had been made by church leaders many years after Christ’s ascension. He wrote a pamphlet giving his reasons for believing that all Christians should keep the Sabbath of the commandment, but he had no money to pay for having it published.SMG 42.2

    When he retired from the sea, he sold his ship for $11,000. He was considered a rich man for those days; but now he was poor, for he had spent his entire fortune in spreading the Advent message. However, the printer agreed to print the Sabbath tract and wait for his pay. When the tract was off the press, the bill was paid by a friend who concealed his identity, and Elder Bates had the pamphlet to pass out freely. He handed one copy to James White. (The retired sea captain was often called “Elder Bates” because he spent so much time preaching and giving Bible studies.)SMG 42.3

    James and Ellen read it very carefully. Perhaps Elder Bates was right! They must know exactly what the Bible said, for they certainly wanted to obey God in all things.SMG 42.4

    The pamphlet was printed in such small type that Mrs. White could not read it. It hurt her eyes and made her head ache. James would read a paragraph aloud, and then they would look up the texts; for although the pamphlet was small, it was packed full of Bible verses. Often while studying, James and Ellen would kneel and ask God to send His Holy Spirit, as He had promised, to guide them into the truth.SMG 43.1

    Their study convinced them that Jesus had never said anything about changing the rest day from the seventh to the first day of the week. Neither Jesus nor His disciples ever kept Sunday or taught others to keep it.SMG 43.2

    Again and again they read how God, after creating the world, blessed the seventh day and made it holy and gave it to Adam and Eve and all the people who should live in the world to remind them of His creative power. And they read texts stating that the Sabbath was to be a sign between God and His people forever. When James and Ellen understood how important the Sabbath was, they began observing it at once.SMG 43.3

    The cold winter passed and spring came. Often my grandparents met with their friends at Topsham. Ellen has written about a vision she was given early that spring during a Bible study in the Howland home:SMG 43.4

    “As we prayed, the Holy Spirit fell upon us. We were very happy. Soon I was lost to earthly things, and was wrapped in a vision of God’s glory.” Then, she said, “an angel carried me from this earth to the Holy City. With Jesus I entered the temple in heaven.SMG 43.5

    “I passed into the Most Holy Place. There I saw the golden ark.... Jesus raised the cover of the ark, and I saw the tables of stone on which were written the Ten Commandments. I was surprised to see a soft halo of light encircling the fourth commandment, calling my special attention to it, and making it shine brighter than any of the other nine.”SMG 43.6

    Mrs. White studied carefully to see if the commandment had been changed. Did it say, “Remember the first day of the week to keep it holy”? She was sure that if God had changed the Sabbath He would have changed the writing on the tables of stone in the ark in heaven. But it still read, “The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God,” the same as when God engraved it on tablets of stone for Moses to place inside the sacred ark.SMG 44.1

    James and Ellen and the other Adventist people had not started keeping the Sabbath because Joseph Bates was preaching it, but because they had learned it themselves by carefully studying the Bible. And now God had given this vision to assure them that they understood the Scriptures correctly, and that it was their duty to obey the fourth commandment and to teach others to obey it. Mrs. White wrote out the vision and the angel’s instruction.SMG 44.2

    He told her that God has many children who keep the first day of the week because they believe that Jesus and His disciples changed the Sabbath. In these last days when great troubles are coming upon the earth, the Sabbath truth is being taught more fully. Many sincere Christians are giving up their man-made Sabbath and are beginning to keep God’s holy day.SMG 44.3

    Someday soon this will bring them great persecution and suffering. Sabbathkeepers will be accused of causing the world’s troubles. But Jesus will be with His loyal people; and before the final destruction of the world, He will come and save them.SMG 44.4

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