Largely, people are drawn into the Seventh-day doctrine through fear, fear of being damned if they refuse. Once in, they try to feel happy, but very few really are. With a large class, the more intelligent ones, there are so many doubts and fears, such a sensible want of something which they do not find, that they are unhappy. Many of their ministers have gone through the same trials that I have, and scores have left them, as I did, while others have fixed it up and remained with them. Elder White himself had doubts. Mrs. White says of him: "He should make it a rule not to talk unbelief or discouragement." "My husband has cherished this darkness so long by living over the unhappy past, that he has but little power to control his mind when dwelling upon these things." Testimonies, Vol. III, pages 96, 97. Mrs. White herself, as we might expect, is troubled with infidelity. She says: "In the night I have awakened my husband, saying, 'I am afraid that I shall become an infidel.'" Testimonies, Vol. I, page 597. Nearly all their prominent ministers had their time of trial, the same as I did, when they ceased preaching and went at other work, as we have seen.
I will quote a few words from letters received: "I have had many blue times in my experience because of these doubts.... Once I decided that I must follow the convictions of my own judgment in these things; but when the time came the pressure was so strong that I tried to convince myself that I was wrong.... The facts are, I am just miserable.... It seems like a terrible thing to take a course that will cause all the cherished friends of this world to look upon you as one fallen from grace; and here I am, bound with these chains." Another writes: "It seems to me that the views held by Seventh-day Adventists are so burdensome that they will crush me. They are a yoke of bondage which I cannot stand up under. Still I do want to be right." Another minister, D.H. Lamson, writes: "How am I straightened, while the fetters are being forged for most unwilling limbs!... What distress we are in as a people! how miserable! and is there no relief?" And still another talented minister, W.C. Gage, writes me: "Our ministers, and people as well, are growing to be a denomination of hypocrites, by a slavish fear of expressing an honest belief.... I am sick and disheartened.... The basis of confidence is gone, and I shall only await the outcome of the matter." Still another, Uriah Smith, writes: "There is a fear, on the part of the powers that be, of free thought and free discussion. So far as this is the case, it is a shame and disgrace to us." And yet these brethren patch up the matter some way, and go right on as though nothing were wrong. I know how to pity them, for I myself have passed through precisely the same experience. And another writes: "I wish I had never heard the Advent doctrine preached. Previous to that, I know that I did enjoy the blessing of God. I was not troubled about doctrine.... I think I then had some influence for good over others, but I fear my change of faith had a bad influence over my children." Strange to say, these are the very men who now denounce me the worst because I had the courage of my convictions, while they haven't.
These are fair samples of how scores among them feel, from men in leading positions, to the humblest in the church. Largely they keep it to themselves, but occasionally it will out. Many of them almost get out, and then fall back, to linger along in bondage all the rest of their lives. "But if these persons are in such bondage, why not break loose, and be free? Who would harm them? Be it remembered that there is a bondage worse than African slavery - the bondage of religious tyranny and superstition. I was held there for years, and know its power.
Milton F. Gowell, Chicago, gives so true a picture of Advent experience, that I quote him in a letter to me. I was often at his father's house, in Portland, Me.; when he was a boy. He says: "My recollections of those days are full of the terrors of law, prophetic charts, Mrs. White's visions, the Sabbath, Sabbath, Sabbath, health reform, bloomer dresses, and a great zeal for being industrious on Sunday, and little or nothing of Christ. All the DOING was indelibly impressed on my mind as a boy, but the BELIEVING on Christ for salvation, and RESTING in his finished work, I have no remembrance of whatever. How many there are that join the Seventh-day Adventists utterly unsaved, knowing nothing of the grace of God, hearing always barely the law. I joined them at the age of fourteen, under conviction, guilty before God, but unsaved, though I was baptized and received into the church as a SABBATH KEEPER. I received no peace, no rest, till I entered into rest by believing about three and a half years ago; saved from the borderland of infidelity." This is just the impression which all the children of that people are receiving - cold legalism. While this young man was finally saved from infidelity, hundreds of them are not, as I well know.
It is nothing new for men to leave a party, good or bad; but so large a number of prominent persons have left the Adventists as to excite surprise. It is clear that there must be something wrong in the system itself. First, according to the best of my judgment, from one-third to one-half of all who begin the observance of the Sabbath, sooner or later abandon it.
At different times large numbers have left them, mostly on account of Mrs. White's visions. We will name a few of the ministers who have departed from them: J.B. Cook and T.M. Preble, the pioneers who started the movement, both renounced it; O.R.L. Crozier, Ann Arbor, Mich., has renounced the Sabbath; Elder B.F. Snook, the leading man in Iowa, is now a Universalist; Elder W.H. Brinkerhoof, of Iowa, has renounced the faith; Elder Moses Hull, the ablest speaker they ever had, is now a Spiritualist, and Elder Shortridge, a minister of much talent, has also gone the same way; Elders Hall and Stephenson, at the time very prominent in the work, went to the Age-to-Come party; C.B. Reynolds, of New York, has become a noted blasphemer; Elder H.C. Blanchard, Avilla, Mo., renounced the doctrine; ditto T.J. Butler, of the same state; Elder L.L. Howard, Maine, H.F. Haynes, New Hampshire, left them; Nathan Fuller, Wellsville, N.Y., became a libertine; M.B. Czechowski went to Europe and died in disgrace; H.F. Case, Elder Cranmer and Philip Strong, all of Michigan, left them.
Elder J.B. Frisbie, their pioneer and most efficient preacher for years in Michigan, finally left them. Dr. Lee, of Minnesota, who inaugurated the work among the Swedes, now opposes them. Elder A.B. Oyen, missionary to Europe, and editor of their Danish paper, has renounced the faith. Living right at the head of the work for many years, he had the best of opportunity to know all about its workings. Elder D.B. Oviatt, for many years president of the Pennsylvania Conference, renounced the faith, and is now a Baptist minister.
So Elder Rosquist and Elder Whitelaw, both of Minnesota, have recently left them and gone to the Baptists. Other ministers of the West have also gone over to the Baptists. C.A. Russell, Otsego, Mich., an excellent man, once preached that doctrine with me, but is now a Methodist. H.E. Carver, H.C. Blanchard, J.W. Cassady, A.C. Long, Jacob Brinkerhoof, J.C. Day, H.W. Ball, Goodenough, Bunch, and others, once members of that church, have written against it. Elder Hiram Edson and Elder S.W. Rhodes, noted pioneers in the work, died confirmed cranks, and a trial to the church. The sad example of their leading ministers who have been guilty of adultery, proves that their church has nothing to boast of over other churches in the purity of its ministers and members.
They have been very unfortunate in their college professors. Professor S.S. Brownsburger, the first Principal of their College at Battle Creek, Mich., which position he occupied for years, and then filled the same position in their college in California, is now wholly disconnected from the work. Elder W.H. Littlejohn, who next stood at the head of the college, was expelled from the church and fell into doubts. Next came Professor A. McLearn as head of the college. He has renounced the faith, and now opposes them strongly. Professor Vesey, a learned teacher in that college, has forsaken the faith. Professor C.C. Ramsy, born in that faith, was professor of mathematics in the Battle Creek college for three years; then filled the same place for three years in their college in California; then was called to take charge of their academy in the East, which he did for three years more. He was editor of their educational journal, prominent in Sabbath School work, and many other ways. He has renounced that faith, but remains an earnest Christian. Others of their teachers of lesser note have also left them. What is the cause of such results? There must be something wrong.
They have been equally unfortunate with their physicians in their sanitarium at Battle Creek. Dr. H.S. Ley, an excellent man, was the first physician-in- chief. He left the institution in a trial, and was out of work for years. Dr. Wm. Russell, a talented doctor, came next. What he there saw of Adventism made him an infidel, and he was dismissed. Next, I believe, came Dr. M.G. Kellogg. The treatment he received drove him into scepticism for years. Then came Dr. Sprague and Dr. Farfield, both of whom renounced the faith, and, I believe, are sceptical now. Mrs. Lamson and Miss Fellows, both matrons of the sanitarium, lost faith in the doctrine. Dr. Smith, brought up in the faith, renounced it. Here again we see that education unfits men for Adventism. I am not acquainted with another church which has lost so large a proportion of its most prominent men. Every year, nearly, so far, more or less have gone away from them, till they have lost more talent than now remains with them.
A strong argument with Adventists is, that most of those who leave them become infidels, as all know. But, after long watching, I became satisfied that it is Adventism which has made them infidels. Look at Romanism. Wherever it has had sway a while, it filled the land with infidels. Go among the Mormons at Salt Lake. Large numbers of their children are becoming infidels. The natural rebound from fanaticism and superstition is into infidelity and scepticism. Right here in Otsego we have several infidels, the grown-up children of Adventists. I know them and meet them all over the country, and their numbers are increasing. I feel sure that the ripe fruit of Adventism in the years to come will be a generation of doubters.
Seventh-day Adventists claim to be raised up of God, to reform the church of to-day. They claim to be purer, more spiritual, and on a higher plane than other Christians. All other churches are Babylon and apostates, while they are the chosen saints. But now, after their church has had only fifty years trial, and hence is still small and young, and so ought to be better than older and larger churches, I can quote confessions from their own writers, proving that they are as wordly, backslidden and corrupt as they make out other churches to be. I will give a few. Elder G.I. Butler, in the Advent Review, May 10, 1887, says: "A terrible stupor like that which enveloped the disciples in the Saviour's agony in the garden, seems to hang over the mass of our people." Mrs. White, in Testimonies, Vol. I, says: "The Spirit of the Lord has been dying away from the church," page 113; "The churches have nearly lost their spirituality and faith," page 119; "I saw the dreadful fact that God's people were conformed to the world with no distinction, except in name," page 133; "Covetousness, selfishness, love of money, and love of the world, are all through the ranks of Sabbath-keepers," page 140; "Vital godliness is lacking," page 153; "There is but little love for one another. A selfish spirit is manifest. Discouragement has come upon the church," page 166; "Spirituality and devotion are rare," page 469. Many of them are not even honest. She says: "As I saw the spirit of defrauding, of over-reaching, of meanness, even among some professed Sabbath-keepers, I cried out in anguish," page 480; "There is but little praying. In fact, prayer is almost obsolete," page 566; "Not one in twenty of those who have a good standing with Seventh-day Adventists, is living out the self-sacrificing principles of the word of God." page 632. Of the Battle Creek church she says: "I can select family after family of children in this house, every one of whom is as corrupt as hell itself." "Right here in this church corruption is teeming on every hand," Vol. II, pages 360, 361; "Sin and vice exist in Sabbath-keeping families," page 391; "We have a dwarfed and defective ministry," Vol. IV, page 441. In Testimony, No. 33, just published, Mrs. White says: "There is a deplorable lack of spirituality among our people.... There has been a spirit of self- sufficiency, and a disposition to strive for position and supremacy. I have seen that self-glorification was becoming common among Seventh-day Adventists," pages 255, 256. Thus as they grow older, the have to confess to all the weaknesses and short- comings which they have so eagerly charged against other churches.
I could quote whole pages of such confessions as these from Mrs. White and their leading men. They are compelled to say it. It is common in their camp- meetings to see half their members forward as backsliders. Their preaching is largely scolding their members for their coldness. In fact, the thing is a practical failure in whatever way you look at it. Are they any better, any more spiritual, than the regular churches which they denounce so? No, as the above shows. After being well acquainted with both, I say confidently that there is as much devotion and spirituality among the Evangelical churches as among Adventists.
If, then, these things in the other churches prove that they are Babylon, they prove the same of the Advent church, too. (See Appendix A)