Editorial Keynotes

Advent Source Research Project—No. 2

L.E.F. is editor of the Ministry.

A parenthetitcal word as to certain obstacles and opposition—which I am glad to say are now largely past—would appear necessary to any true, full-rounded understanding of progress on the ad­vent source research project. First, there has been a certain amount of early apathy spring­ing from lack of understanding and interest. This was perhaps but natural, with our major denominational emphasis in other lines. Second, and more serious, there has been an actual hostility toward the work on the part of some, strange as it may seem.

One contention has been that the entire book of Daniel was sealed until the time of the end, and that it is, therefore, dangerous, sacri­legious, and subversive to maintain that the book of Daniel was understood in large part in the centuries before the time of the end. Such have forgotten or perhaps were unaware of the explicit statements of Mrs. White that that portion only of the book of Daniel was sealed relating to the last days ("Acts of the Apostles," p. 585, et al). This also involves denying the indisputable evidence of the re­corded, contemporary witness of the centuries, and of Christ's own admonitory injunction, concerning the prophecy of Daniel, "Whoso readeth, let him understand." Matt. 24:15.

Then, there was the assertion by others that this thesis would undermine confidence in the distinctiveness, uniqueness, and sepa­rateness of our message by implying tha1 our prophetic interpretation did not originate with William Miller and the pioneers. Irrespective of the facts, they likewise forgot or were un­aware of Miller's explicit declaration in the Midnight Cry that his prophetic interpreta­tions were not original with himself, but that different men in different parts of the world held essentially the same positions prior to his own, though he reached his own conclusions from direct personal study (May 18, 1843, p. 69). The facts immeasurably strengthen the foundations of our distinctive message by revealing its majestic lineage and relationship to the true church of the past. Thus its match­less place as the restorer and consummator of the interpretative principles to the past is established.           .

And, finally, there were early assertions, by a few, that the proposed research trips to Europe would prove costly, profitless ventures; that the materials sought did not exist, or could not be found; that others had tried and failed, etc. But this, too, has largely passed—principally, of course, because the results have justified the expenditure, both of time and effort, far beyond all early anticipations. So much for this problem aspect.

4. Favoring Providences Attending

Turning now to the more agreeable side of markedly favoring providences, I believe with all my soul that the hour had come for this material to be found, assembled, and given its rightful place in this movement.

First, this was evidenced in the providential timing of both trips to Europe—during lulls between periods of international tension, when research facilities were accessible. In fact, I finished the work of my second trip in London at the British Museum on the day of the Munich crisis: The great libraries then util­ized are now closed. Some have been seriously injured, and other lesser ones, destroyed. Practically all research work has been brought to a standstill.

Second, the providence of God was likewise seen in the way He most wonderfully blessed in providing credentials and recommendations for these European trips, from the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the Union Theological Library, the American Antiquarian Society, the Institute of Inter­national Education, and other organizations, as well as from high officials in our State Department and from one foreign ambassador. These resulted in extraordinary privileges of access to stacks and to experts, liberties in photographing, etc. These providences were so varied and so manifold that I cannot but believe that the signet of divine blessing was placed upon this endeavor.

This quest presents a marvelous tale of recovery and discovery, and of search re­warded in unexpected ways—of American items finally located only in Europe; of Euro­pean items, vainly sought in the great libraries of the Old World, found at last here in America; and of the unexpected finding of priceless items, previously unknown and un­sought, brought spontaneously to light through the search. It has had, at times, all the thrill of adventurous discovery, and at times only hard, grinding toil, disappointment, and seem­ing futility—yet not for long. Piece by piece. it has been brought together, and part joined to part, placed in related order and grouped, until the story of the centuries has been restored and unfolded before us. Some of the specific providences are here related. They are not highly colored, but are sober, dispas­sionate facts.

1. Series of Financial Concessions.—Note first the mere financial aspects of discounts on photostats—a very material factor in a project of this size. At the State Library in Berlin, an extraordinary discount of 20 pecent was given, and 15 percent at the British Museum. At the French National Library those in charge said that they would split the difference and make it 18 percent. At the Congressional Library, 15 per cent was allowed until the present even lower rates were instituted through the Rockefeller Foundation; while at Aurora College [Illinois] a flat rate of fifteen cents a large sheet was made through the kindly offices of the president of the col­lege. The University of Geneva allowed us the advantage of their special arrangement with the League of Nations photostat depart­ment, which does their work virtually at cost. These courtesies have resulted in material savings.

2. Rare-Book Regulations Suspended.—In one of the great universities in continental Europe where I had made previous arrange­ment for access to certain rare-bookroom ma­terials for a period of two weeks prior to the summer closing date, I found upon arrival that the closing date had been advanced a week. The custodian of the rare-bookroom, disturbed over the serious difficulty that this would entail for me, directed me at the close of the first day to select four books that I should like to study after the library closed at six o'clock, and before it opened the next morning at nine. He told me to meet him outside the main entrance of the library, and he let me take to my hotel those books that were not sup­posed to go outside the confines of the rare­ bookroom itself, even into the main library reading room. This extraordinary provision was repeated throughout each of the remain­ing days of my stay. I never ceased to won­der and be grateful for this remarkable cour­tesy, for it enabled me to finish my work within the allotted period.

3. Diplomatic Pass Provided.—In the great national library in Paris, one has to open his brief case for inspection even when passing from one section of the library to another. This consumed much time. Both times I vis­ited this library, I was given a "diplomat's pass" with exemption from examination, to fa­cilitate my work. And on the first occasion, a special room was assigned for work, with an attendant appointed whose sole duty was to secure the books desired. Truly this was extraordinary, and Paris yielded many and valuable items.

4. Misplaced Waldensian Manuscripts Recovered.—The recovery of certain Walden­sian manuscripts at Cambridge University was likewise most impressive. While at the Wal­densian college in northern Italy, I learned that in the days of persecution many of the rare manuscripts had been transported from the valleys to the Cambridge (England) Uni­versity library. In Italy I had secured a list of these volumes, and the individual items in each. By prearrangement with Cambridge, I had been assured access to all the Waldensian manuscripts for checking. But when I arrived there, I was distressed to learn that volumes "A" to "F," inclusive, were noted in the official catalogue as having disappeared long, long ago from the library. Upon my urgent request, special search was made, and at last a set of little books labeled "A" to "F," sup­posedly in antiquated Spanish, was located.

Upon comparing these with the tabular list from the Waldensian Library, the missing vol­umes were identified, as each of the component items tallied with the Italian list. They had been faultily catalogued and isolated from the others, because they were written in the old unfamiliar Romaunt language, antedating the French, Spanish, and Italian. These books of manuscripts, now recovered, contained treas­ured portions of the Scriptures such as the Waldensian missionaries distributed over Europe during the Middle Ages, the papal bulls, Waldensian statements of faith, etc. We were indeed happy to locate these priceless documents bearing upon our quest.

5. Union Theological Seminary Experience.—At the Union Theological Seminary, in New York City, with books catalogued only by author and title, I was confident that there were many valuable treatises to which I had not had access. I had appealed again and again for completion of the topical index upon which they were working, which would segregate and include all expositions on Dan­iel, the Apocalypse, the antichrist, and the millennium, etc. One day I went to the library and asked how they were progressing, and was directed to the cataloguing division. There I was asked to state again just what topics I desired to consult. A strange look came over the librarian's face as I enumerated the four topics. I was told that all four of these collec­tions were in book trucks, in the cataloguing room at the moment, for the first and only time, and were soon to be redistributed back to the shelves, and that I could go through them right there.

The librarian referred to the episode as my "lucky day" but, instead, it was the providence of God. I found about thirty priceless items that day that I had not been able to locate by author or title. When I had finished my search, several days later, the assistant who usually took books that were to be photostated over to the Columbia University library, six blocks distant, was away that afternoon. So the director told me to call a taxicab and take them myself, trusting these rare Reformation-period folio works into my hands.

6. Isaac Wellcome Library Donated.—Then there was the Isaac C. Wellcome library, donated as an outright gift to the General Con­ference. Wellcome was the leading First-day Adventist historian. For two or three years I had tried to locate his descendants, but with­out success, to ascertain if his library had been preserved. At last, in Augusta, Maine, I found a man who knew where his son, Frank 0. Wellcome, lived. Reaching his home about sundown, I explained the nature of my quest. He invited me to dinner and to stay over­night, stating that he had something that he would show me in the morning.

I noticed that he was a bit embarrassed over the fact that his father had been in the ill-fated Millerite movement. So the evening was spent in presenting the significance of the advent movement, and its majestic back­ground. In the morning I was taken up to the attic, where his father's library had been pre­served virtually intact. Invited to select the books that were desired. I extracted from the shelves two or three freight boxes full of Millerite pamphlets and books. Next, I was led to another section of the attic, where a large box the size of a coffin was half filled with old Millerite papers, tracts, handbills, let­ters, charts, etc. Then Mr. Wellcome told me that after our talk the evening before, he had slept but little, thinking about our work, and had decided to make a gift of these Miller­ite source materials to the advent source collec­tion. Truly God wrought in our behalf.

7. Miller Manuscripts Recovered.—The Advent Christian Church (the large non­Sabbatarian Adventist group which emerged following the disappointment) had made no special attempt to recover or to assemble a special advent source collection—though the letters, manuscripts, and other rare documents would naturally remain in the hands of this majority group. Their Aurora College has recently made painstaking search, recovering Miller's correspondence and earliest articles, his early and later statements Of faith, and many of the rare and important letters of the Millerite leaders. These have all been made accessible to us, with photostatic copies permitted at a very nominal rate, and a freight box full of books, some bought and some given to us, has been made available from their publishing house in Boston.

8. Loughborough Manuscript Saved.—In 1918, J. N. Loughborough prepared a sixty­two-page manuscript answering critic objec­tions to his "Rise and Progress" and the "Great Second Advent, Movement," and submitted it to one of our leading publishing houses. But they saw no light in publishing it. It was ac­cordingly given by the author to H. A. Wash­burn. At the time Professor Washburn's per­sonal library was destroyed by fire, only this and a few other items were saved by being in his classroom desk at Pacific Union College. Thus this valuable source document, preserved by Providence, was later contributed to the advent source collection.

9. Seventh Day Baptist Courtesies.—Year the end of a certain week I was search­ing for materials at the Seventh Day Baptist Library in Plainfield, New Jersey. Their library was closed not only on Sabbath, but on Sunday as well, and I was pressed for time. They saw my anxiety, and said, "We can fix that very easily." Taking two keys off his ring, the librarian said, "This one is for the front door to the building, and this is for the library. You come and work on Sunday, and return the keys on Monday." I doubt if we would do as much for a comparative stranger. Yet they did.

10. Hines Chart and Flag Preserved.—J. V. Himes gave to J. H. Kellogg one of Himes' early charts antedating the famous "1843" chart and a piece of the old blue flag bearing the legend, "Thy Kingdom Come," which was flown at the top of the main pole of the famous Millerite big tent (the largest in America at the time). These Doctor Kel­logg gave to Elder A. 0. Tait, who, about six years ago, transferred them, with many other items, to the advent source collection.

Time would fail to tell of how God enabled us to secure the a R. L. Crosier materials, a full file of the Day-Star, the Hiram Edson letter telling of the revelation of the light re­garding the heavenly sanctuary following the disappointment, and hundreds of other items, from the Old World and the New. Truly,

Sabbath School Superintendents: Now all Loma Linda labels turned in by members may be sent directly to your local conference office. Full cash credit will be given your Sabbath School Investment Fund.


Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

L.E.F. is editor of the Ministry.

February 1941

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

The True Prophetic Gift Appears

The Influence of the Spirit of Prophecy From 1844 to 1855.

Teachers Sent of God

Correct Speech and Cultured Conduct

Our Attitude Toward Higher Criticism

A paper presented in Biblical language group, Bible and History Teachers' Convention, Washington, D.C., July-August, 1940.

Importance and Method of Sermon Outlining

Biblical Exposition and Homiletic Helps

Christ's Priestly Ministry Inaugurated

Part II of our series continues.

Current Dangers with Leaders in Israel

A Survey of Mission Problems, Methods, and Relationships

Those Who "Stay and Wait"

A personal testimony.

Suggestions on the Baptismal Service

Efficient Evangelistic Methods and Pastoral Technique.

Free Newspaper Publicity

Using newspapers for free publicity.

The Preacher's Requisites

Newton once said, "The Christian min­istry is the worst of all trades, but the best of all professions."

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - RevivalandReformation 300x250

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - SermonView - WideSkyscraper (160x600)