The Sabbath Conferences: Establishing the Pillars of Faith

April 1848 - August 1848

After the disappointment of 1844 little companies of believers throughout New England met together from time to time to study the prophecies and compare views. As news of the visions and the significance of the Sabbath truth, being publicized and promoted by Joseph Bates, became more widely known, the need to draw together accelerated.

In April 1848 Ellen and James White received an invitation to attend a conference of Sabbathkeeping Adventists in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. It was this meeting that Ellen White later referred to as the first conference that was ever held among Seventh-day Adventists.

Soon after this the Whites were invited to attend a conference at Volney, New York, in August 1848. That summer James White earned $40 in the hayfield. He used part of the money for needed clothing for the family and part for travel to western New York State.

On Friday, August 18, about 35 people gathered in the Arnold barn to hear the leading workers, including Joseph Bates, Chamberlain, and James and Ellen White. Hardly two agreed on doctrines. Each was strenuous for his or her views, declaring that they were according to the Bible. These strange differences of opinion rolled a heavy weight upon Ellen. She fainted under the burden and was soon taken into vision. Her accompanying angel presented before her some of the errors of those present, and also the truth in contrast with their errors.

The meeting ended victoriously. Truth gained the victory.

But there was more to it than that. To these people with divergent views-people who had not seen Ellen White before-the Lord gave very convincing evidences beyond the fact that she was shown by the angel the truth in contrast with their errors: Ellen, while in vision, arose to her feet and took the family Bible upon her left arm. While holding it thus, her eyes looking upward and in an opposite direction from the Bible, with her right hand she would turn from text to text, placing her finger on the text, and would repeat the same. In every case she not only repeated the texts to which she pointed, but she did so while her eyes were fastened upward and in an opposite direction from the Bible.

More conferences followed in this year of development, clarifying and binding together the basic doctrines held by Seventh-day Adventists.

The Lord manifested Himself at these conferences in a manner that made it forever clear that what took place was beyond human manipulation: During the whole time of studying the Scriptures, Ellen's mind was locked and she could not comprehend the meaning of the scriptures. On some occations the Spirit of God would come on Ellen, and difficult portions were made clear through God´s appointed way. The brethren knew that when not in vision, Ellen could not understand these matters, and they accepted as light direct from heaven the revelations given.

In the experience of Seventh-day Adventists the visions were not given to take the place of Bible study. They were, however, a definite aid in Bible study, correcting erroneous interpretations and pointing to what was truth.

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