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Ellen G. White: The Progressive Years: 1862-1876 (vol. 2)

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    First Tent Meeting in San Francisco

    In June, 1871, with M. E. Cornell to assist (Bourdeau had returned to the East), Loughborough pitched the tent in San Francisco on Market Street, and began evangelistic meetings. Later the meetings were transferred to a hall. More than fifty accepted the message and joined the church. As the meetings proceeded, Cornell, whose wife was still back in the East—grew careless in his conduct, especially in the manner and with whom he was seen. He had enemies in the city, who watched every move. Loughborough could see that it was necessary, as the apostle admonished, to shun every appearance of evil.2BIO 363.1

    When approached on the matter, Cornell took a bold and defiant attitude, declaring that he had a right to do as he pleased. On January 23, Loughborough went back to Sonoma County for a few days to oversee the work, leaving the new church in San Francisco in the care of Cornell. By this time, enemies were beginning to make more of his conduct and his carelessness in the company he kept. He took the position that it was none of their business, and he would show them that “he had a mind of his own, and could walk the streets as he pleased, and with whom he pleased, without being subject to their remarks.”— Ibid., 387.2BIO 363.2

    Returning to San Francisco, Loughborough reported:2BIO 363.3

    I tried, by private labor, to show him that such a course of action would not answer, and that such an independent spirit would end in evil.

    He had his friends, who strongly sympathized with him, some of whom began to take a position which would subject him to still greater censure. A large portion of the church saw the evil of his waywardness, and were ready to second the efforts I was making to save the cause from dishonor.— Ibid. 2BIO 363.4

    The situation worsened rapidly. On Sabbath, January 27, 1872, the church gave some consideration to the matter. They decided that there would have to be an investigation and some decisive action taken to save the reputation of the church. The time was set for the next morning at nine o'clock. Loughborough reports on what took place:2BIO 363.5

    On the morning of the twenty-eighth, as I started for the meeting, I met the fellow-laborer on the sidewalk, near my boarding place, weeping. Said he, “Brother Loughborough, I am not going to the meeting today.”2BIO 364.1

    “Not going to the meeting?” said I; “the meeting relates to your case.”2BIO 364.2

    “I know that,” said he, “but I am all wrong. You are right in the position you have taken in reference to me. Here is a letter of confession I have written to the church; you take it and read it to them. It will be better for you, and better for those who might be inclined to sympathize with me, if I am not there.”2BIO 364.3

    “What has occasioned this great change in you since yesterday?” I inquired.2BIO 364.4

    He replied, “I went to the post office last night, after the Sabbath, and received a letter from Sister White, from Battle Creek, Michigan. It is a testimony she has written out for me.” Handing it to me, he said, “Read that, and you will see how the Lord sees my case.”— Ibid., 387, 388.2BIO 364.5

    Here was Ellen White's message:2BIO 364.6

    Battle Creek, Michigan, December 27, 1871. Dear Brother Cornell, You will see before this reaches you that the Lord has again visited His people by giving me a testimony. In this view I was shown that you were not standing in the clear light and you are in danger of bringing a reproach upon the cause of God by moving as you happen to feel. It is Satan's intent to destroy you....

    I was shown that you now should be very circumspect in your deportment and in your words. You are watched by enemies. You have great weaknesses for a man that is as strong as you are to move the crowd.... If you are not cautious, you will bring a reproach upon the cause of God which could not soon be wiped away.—Letter 23, 1871.2BIO 364.7

    Cornell requested Loughborough to say to the church that he had received a testimony from Sister White, reproving him for his conduct, and that he accepted it, as it was the truth. The church was saved from division. It was clear to all that there was divine timing in this unique experience. Loughborough did some checking, and wrote:2BIO 365.1

    This was part of a view given to Mrs. White at Bordoville, Vermont, December 10, 1871. She began to write the part relating to this brother's case December 27, 1871, but for some reason the completion of the document was delayed until January 18, 1872, at which time it was finished and mailed from Battle Creek. It then required about nine days to get letters overland from Michigan to California....2BIO 365.2

    At the time of the vision there was but a shadow of what was actually developed when the testimony arrived in San Francisco. It will be seen, from a comparison of dates, that the culmination of the case in San Francisco came after the written testimony left the former place. Our brethren in San Francisco saw at once that no person could have written to Battle Creek and communicated the intelligence to Mrs. White in time for her to write this letter, for the state of things did not then exist.—GSAM, pp. 388, 389.2BIO 365.3

    Loughborough declared that he had not written a line to James or Ellen White about Cornell's growing carelessness. He was naturally curious as to the exact timing of the message. This is what his investigation uncovered:2BIO 365.4

    At a very early hour on the morning of January 18, 1872, Mrs. White was awakened with the above testimony vividly impressed upon her mind. The impression was as distinct to her as though audibly spoken, “Write out immediately that testimony for California, and get it into the very next mail; it is needed.” This being repeated the second time, she arose, hastily dressed, and completed the writing.2BIO 365.5

    Just before breakfast she handed it to her son Willie, saying, “Take this letter to the post office, but don't put it into the drop. Hand it to the postmaster, and have him be sure to put it into the mailbag that goes out this morning.”2BIO 365.6

    He afterward said that he thought her instructions a little peculiar, but he asked no questions, and did as he was bidden, and “saw the letter go into the mailbag.”— Ibid., 389.2BIO 366.1

    Had the testimony been sent when she started to write it out in December, 1871, matters in San Francisco were such that it would have had little application. Had it reached the city a day later than it did, the accusations and bitter feelings would have torn the church apart. It reached its destination just at the right time. Wrote Ellen some years after this, possibly having this case particularly in mind:2BIO 366.2

    I have been aroused from my sleep with a vivid sense of subjects previously presented to my mind; and I have written, at midnight, letters that have gone across the continent and, arriving at a crisis, have saved great disaster to the cause of God. This has been my work for many years.—Testimonies for the Church, 5:671.2BIO 366.3

    The experience related above took place in January, 1872. M. E. Cornell, in response to the testimony, took hold of himself and, with J. N. Loughborough, continued in evangelistic ministry through late winter, spring, and summer.2BIO 366.4

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