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    APPENDIX D—Do We Discard the Bible by Endorsing the Visions

    Editorial by Uriah Smith

    “The Bible, and the Bible alone,” “The Bible in its purity,” “The Bible a sufficient and only reliable rule of life,” etc., etc., is now the great cry of those who are giving vent to their opposition to the visions, and are working with their might to prejudice others against them. This course reminds us of the low tricks and maneuvers resorted to by political demagogues to gain their nefarious ends. It is similar to the game played by the Democratic Party in the last election, which led to results in many States so disastrous to the Republicans, and to the country. Their cry was, “Our country before party;” and thus under the garb of supreme devotion to the country, to the exclusion of all other considerations, many honest-hearted ones were deceived into cooperation with them, and they were enabled to place in positions of trust and power, men full of depravity and corruption. Such are unworthy weapons in the hands of Christians; yet some, we are sorry to say, who profess that name, do not hesitate to use them.PBORWEW 27.1

    The Protestant principle, of “The Bible and the Bible alone,” is of itself good and true; and we stand upon it as firmly as anyone can; but when reiterated in connection with outspoken denunciations of the visions, it has a specious appearance for evil. So used it contains a covert insinuation, most effectually calculated to warp the judgment of the unguarded, that to believe the visions is to leave the Bible, and to cling to the Bible, is to discard the visions. For the sake of those who may be liable to be misled by such a course, let us give it a moment’s candid examination.PBORWEW 27.2

    1. When we claim to stand on the Bible and the Bible alone, we bind ourselves to receive, unequivocally and fully, all that the Bible teaches. This being a self-evident proposition, we pass on to inquire what the Bible teaches concerning the outpouring of the Spirit, its operations, the gift of prophecy, visions, etc.PBORWEW 27.3

    It is the prerogative of this dispensation over all others, to rejoice in the outpouring of the Spirit. It is called emphatically a dispensation in which we have the “ministration of the Spirit.” The prophecy which gleamed like a star of hope before the ancient prophets, was this: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh.” This prophecy applies to this dispensation, and its fulfillment commenced, but only commenced, on the day of Pentecost. And what follows the outpouring of the Spirit? “Your sons and your daughters shall prophecy.” The very next announcement after the fact that the Spirit was to be given, is that the gift of prophecy will be exercised. Now just so sure as one part of the prophecy is fulfilled, and God grants his Spirit to his people, just so sure the other part will be fulfilled, and prophesying, dreams, and visions, will be manifested in their midst; for they are connected together, one and inseparable.PBORWEW 28.1

    Further, we find Christ giving to his disciples as the best legacy he could leave his church, the promise of the Spirit of Truth, or Comforter, to be with them and lead them into all truth. He gave them this as the promise best calculated to comfort their sorrowful hearts in view of his separation from them. The next most desirable object to his personal presence, would be the presence and operation of his Spirit.PBORWEW 28.2

    Again, we find emblazoned as it were in golden characters on the very face and front of much of the New Testament record, the fact that God has placed, set, and established in his church, the gifts of his spirit. It is declared to be the one Spirit of God, with a diversity of operations. And these results will follow the presence of the Spirit of God, as surely as effect follows cause. As the engine moves on the application of steam, or the water-wheel revolves under the impulse of the waterfall, so the gifts of the church, prominent among which are visions, will inevitably follow the operation of the Spirit of God with power.PBORWEW 28.3

    So that if we believe in the Spirit at all, we must believe in these, the appointed channels through which God has told us that it shall manifest itself.PBORWEW 29.1

    2. What is the object of these gifts? Christ explicitly informs us that they are given to comfort his people, and lead them into truth; and the apostle responds, For the perfecting of the saints, to aid in the work of the ministry, to edify the body of Christ, to bring us into the unity of the faith. Most glorious and desirable objects; and criminally indifferent to his own spiritual interests must that person be, who is not reaching forward to them with all his heart, or who would oppose any of the means by which God would help us to attain them.PBORWEW 29.2

    3. How long were these gifts to continue? (1) The prophet declared that they should be given for the last days; but if they are withdrawn for any time before the very last day, this statement cannot be true; for they must cover all the intervening ground, from the time they are placed in the church till the last day comes—till the close of this dispensation. (2) The necessity which led God to place them in the church at first, is a necessity which has existed all along till the present time, and will exist till the close of the present state of the Church’s pupilage; and no one, we have charity to believe, will be disposed to accuse the divine wisdom of withdrawing the means given to supply a certain necessity, while that necessity exists. We accordingly find Paul declaring explicitly that these things shall continue till the perfect state is come. 1 Corinthians 13.PBORWEW 29.3

    So far then all is established and plain. We have seen that there would be manifestations of the Spirit, including visions, in the church, and that they should continue till the end. But perhaps the objector may make one more stand behind such a position as this: “I admit that there were to be visions among God’s people before the end, but I cannot endorse the ones already manifested.” If the one who thus objects is with us, in all the conclusions we have reached thus far in this article, as he must be if he stands upon his acknowledged position of the Bible and the Bible alone, this point will not detain us long. We need not remind him that in all questions between opinions and institutions, “there is a presumption in favor of the old opinion and established usage; and he who attacks the question, assumes the burden of proof; and unless he can bring proof to the contrary, the old opinion and institution must stand.” Tappan, p. 427. Apply this principle to the question in hand: From the very commencement of the third angel’s message, there have been visions among us. They have been received by the body as genuine manifestations of the Spirit of God. They have comforted the desponding and corrected the erring. They have confirmed the doubting, and strengthened the weak. And the truest friends of the cause have cherished and loved them most. It must be a radical revolution, therefore, that would lead us to abandon these for the uncertainties of the future. But as such manifestations were to be in the church, the whole weight of evidence goes in favor of these, unless it can be shown that they are positively and radically defective. How then shall we satisfy ourselves on this point? The Bible gives us an infallible test for all these things. By “the law and the testimony,” and “by their own fruits,” we are to judge them. Whatever contradicts in no slightest particular the law and the testimony, and, in addition to this tends to elevate, ennoble, and purify, we maybe sure comes from above, and not from beneath. But these manifestations do in the strictest manner accord with the teachings of the word of God, and lead us to study and prize it; while we might safely challenge the world to show a single instance where their influence has tended to depravity and corruption, or where it has not on the other hand tended to lead all who would receive them, to holiness and purity of heart. On the supposition, now, that these are not the work of the Spirit of God, as they must then be the work of the Devil, we inquire, Has the Devil thus fallen in love with truth and righteousness? Has he made a league with the word of God, to sustain and uphold it? Has he so far lost sight of the interests of his own kingdom as to lend his efforts to root out all false doctrines from our belief, and all seeds of unrighteousness from our hearts, that we may have truth without error, and live a life without sin?PBORWEW 30.1

    In view of all these considerations, what shall we conclude? Those who reject these manifestations, do so not only without evidence, but against all evidence. Those who profess to stand on the Bible and the Bible alone, are bound to receive what the Bible tells them will exist, and commends them to respect.PBORWEW 31.1

    One illustration may help to set this matter in a still clearer light. Suppose we are about to start upon a voyage. The owner of the vessel gives us a book of directions, telling us that it contains instructions sufficient for our whole journey, and that if we will heed them, we shall reach in safety our port of destination. Setting sail we open our book to learn its contents. We find that its author lays down general principles to govern us in our voyage, and instructs us as far as practicable, touching the various contingencies that may arise, till the end; but he also tells us that the latter part of our journey will be especially perilous; that the features of the coast are ever changing by reason of quicksand and tempests; “but for this part of the journey,” says he, “I have provided you a pilot, who will meet you, and give you such directions as the surrounding circumstances and dangers may require; and to him you must give heed.” With these directions we reach the perilous time specified, and the pilot, according to promise, appears. But some of the crew, as he offers his services, rise up against him. “We have the original book of directions,” say they, “and that is enough for us. We stand upon that, and that alone; we want nothing of you.” Who now heed that original book of directions? those who reject the pilot, or those who receive him, as that book instructs them? Judge ye.PBORWEW 31.2

    But some, through lack of perception, or lack of principle, or the ebullitions of an unconquerable prejudice, one, or all combined, may meet us at this point like this: “Then you would have us take Sister White as our pilot, would you?” It is to forestall any efforts in this direction, that this sentence is penned. We say no such thing. What we do say is distinctly this; that the gifts of the Spirit are given for our pilot through these perilous times, and wherever and in whomsoever we find genuine manifestations of these, we are bound to respect them, nor can we do otherwise without in so far rejecting the word of God, which directs us to receive them. Who now stand upon the Bible, and the Bible alone?PBORWEW 32.1

    Let no one then be frightened at this false alarm. A moment’s consideration will show who receive the Bible, and who do not. Whoever receives it fully, will receive the pilot according to its directions. We do not, then, discard, but obey, the Bible by endorsing the visions; while we should just so far reject and disobey it, as we should refuse to receive the provisions it has made for our comfort, edification, and perfection.—The Review and Herald, January 13, 1863.PBORWEW 32.2