The Spirit of Prophecy - JOHN ORR CORLISS

The Spirit of Prophecy - JOHN ORR CORLISS

 
IN the days and weeks which succeeded the great disappointment of 1844, much confusion entered the minds of men who had hitherto been positively united in their ambitions and expressed hopes. It was a time when the guidance of God was greatly needed to clarify the situation, and so save honest souls from repudiating their entire experience in the proclamation of the message of the Lord's coming.

Just then a frail girl was called of God to reveal, through visions given her, the future of the work started in the proclamation of the second advent. Surely here was one who could not be charged with artifice or cunning skill, but who must be received as the messenger of God, since words of wise instruction came from her lips from time to time regarding the course to be taken in providing means for the spread of the message to earth's nations.

There were many things regarding the future that could not at first be spoken of, lest the work should seem too great for accomplishment. As late as 1866 no publications had been issued in any but the English language. Indeed, it was not then generally thought necessary to print in any other tongue; for it was supposed that the nations of the world would hear the message through their emigrant friends who received it in America. Indeed, when Elders J. N. Loughborough and D. T. Bourdeau were sent to California in 1868, it was confidently stated that the end was about due, because the farthest limits of territory were then being reached.

But when Elder John Matteson, a native of Scandinavia, received the truth, he was anxious to carry it to his native country. Going to Greenville, Mich., in the spring of 1868, he received encouragement prom Sister White to prepare for this contemplated work. In that same year an extended view of the great work to be accomplished was given Sister White,• and she began to talk much in the hearing of the writer about the " unfolding " message. But how to prepare for it was the question.

It was seen that only through a united people could such a work be carried forward ; for to do what would be necessary, schools must be established to educate messengers for foreign work, printing houses must be erected in various lands, and medical missionary work done. Until that year there had been only desultory ministerial work among the small "companies of Sabbath keepers, which did not give them a united view of the great unfolding plan by which to reach all nations with the truth. Then the significant instruction was given : " The Lord's work is to widen and broaden until it encircles the world."

With this thought in mind, more than six weeks were spent by Brother and Sister White and Elder J. N. Andrews in daily visits to a small grove at the back of the little home farm at Greenville, Mich., whence their earnest voices could be heard pleading with God for his guidance in formulating a plan for, the carrying on of the mighty work he had shown must be accomplished. Sister White maintained that the only way to secure unity of purpose in carrying on the great work, was to convene the people in general gatherings, where all could be taught how to become helpers in the tremendous effort God would place before his people.

After much consultation these ideas prevailed, and in the first week of the following September two or three hundred believers, sheltered under cotton coverings, camped in a grove in Ottawa County, Michigan, and studied the situation confronting this people.

Until then no one seemed to think of making book sales a general occupation. But that matter was introduced at the first camp-meeting, and several hundred dollars' worth of the scanty variety then in stock, were disposed of. The instruction was also given that books and pamphlets shOuld be carried "into thousands of families " then sitting in darkness. It was said that handling the printed pages, and engaging in religious conversation with the people and praying with them, would " educate men and women to do pastoral labor."

It is very doubtful if such work would have been undertaken if the spirit of prophecy had not so earnestly and persistently urged it. But results have shown that it was God's definite counsel to have such a movement inaugurated. It is also now seen that no more important work could have been inaugurated,— a work by which the rank and file of the people can be instrumental in bringing souls to a saving knowledge of the truth.

The Australian work was entered upon in accordance with instruction given through the spirit of prophecy at a General Conference in 1875. At that conference it was pointed out that that distant field should be entered and be made a base for island mission work. In due; time, from the same source came the instruction that an advanced school should be established and maintained in that country, and thus the more deserving ones of that land should have the benefit of an education in an institution of learning operated in harmony with our views. Many bright young men and women have been graduated from that school, and have gone to fill important positions in God's ever-widening harvest field.

Had not schools and publishing houses, yes, and sanitariums as well, been established for the enlightenment of the nations, we are certain that the message which so many of us love could not have been propagated as it has been. But in every crisis demanding direct action, light from heaven has pointed the way, and united the people in securing the necessary equipment. Indeed, no people has ever arisen with a more united purpose to disseminate truth than this people. God has certainly wrought marvelously through human effort, and all because men and women have believed the Scriptures of Truth and the directions given through the spirit of prophecy.

But in looking back over the great work already accomplished, one may well ask, How could it have been done, had there been no direct guiding Power to give a uniting impulse to the people Other men have started out to proclaim the Lord's speedy coming, but because there was no manifestation of the spirit of prophecy among them, divided counsels caused their plans to crumble, until little or no enthusiasm was left. This people would now be but a multitude of factions had it not been that God's chosen instrument of guidance led the way before them.. This means that if this people, now well united, go forward to the successful issue, they must, to the end, hold aloft the banner of triumph which has attended the march from the first.

From the magazine: Adventist Review Anniversary Issues 31(96)-1919
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