The Sundown-View

June 1854

There were a few who observed the Sabbath from sundown to sundown (JW to "My Dear Brother," July 2, 1848; see also RH, Feb. 25, 1868), but the majority stood with Bates, as did James and Ellen White. In June 1854 James White requested D. P. Hall in Wisconsin to study the matter and come up with an answer (RH, Dec. 4, 1855).

When this request failed to yield fruit, he asked John Andrews to take his Bible and bring evidence to settle the question. Andrews prepared a paper on the matter. As he passed through Battle Creek with his parents in November on his way to Iowa, he left this in the hands of James White. The reading of this paper became the Sabbath morning Bible study at the conference in Battle Creek. From nine texts in the Old Testament and two from the New, Andrews demonstrated that "even" and "evening" of the Sabbath were identical with sunset (ibid.).

As the paper was read that Sabbath morning, it could be seen that while the 6:00 time advocated by Bates was in principle not incorrectófor it called for beginning the Sabbath in the eveningóin detail there was an error. Now with the position of sunset time so amply supported by Scripture evidence, all the congregations, which included the church's leaders, readily accepted the light and were prepared to shift their practice. All, that is, but twoóJoseph Bates and Ellen White.

Bates's position had been generally accepted and defended. He was the venerable apostle of the Sabbath truth. He was unready to accept what had been presented by the youthful John Andrews, and he would stand in defense of his position. The vision given to Ellen White in 1848, correcting the sunrise time and confirming "evening time," had nothing to say about the 6:00 time being in error.

Ellen White reasoned that the 6:00 time had been a matter of practice for nearly a decade. The Sabbath so kept had been a great blessing to her, and the angel had said nothing about its being in error. Must a change be made now? Thus matters stood through the rest of the Sabbath and through Sunday as the members met in conference, but this was a rather touchy point of division that was bound to widen as time went on. Then the God of heaven stepped in.

Of what took place Ellen White wrote:

November 20, 1855, while in prayer, the Spirit of the Lord came suddenly and powerfully upon me, and I was taken off in vision (1T, p. 113).

Her attention was called to many points, among them the time to commence the Sabbath. She discussed the matter with the angel. This conversation was very enlightening:

I saw that it is even so: "From even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath." Said the angel: "Take the Word of God, read it, understand, and ye cannot err. Read carefully, and ye shall find what even is and when it is."

I asked the angel if the frown of God had been upon His people for commencing the Sabbath as they had. I was directed back to the first rise of the Sabbath, and followed the people of God up to this time, but did not see that the Lord was displeased, or frowned upon them.

I inquired why it had been thus, that at this late day we must change the time of commencing the Sabbath. Said the angel: "Ye shall understand, but not yet, not yet." Said the angel: "If light come, and that light is set aside or rejected, then comes condemnation and the frown of God; but before the light comes, there is no sin, for there is no light for them to reject."

I saw that it was in the minds of some that the Lord had shown that the Sabbath commenced at six o'clock, when I had only seen that it commenced at "even," and it was inferred that even was at six. {WV 73.6}
I saw that the servants of God must draw together, press together (ibid., p. 116).

And they did. The vision set Ellen White and Joseph Bates straight, and they accepted the vision wholeheartedly. The matter of the time to begin the Sabbath was settledósettled on the basis of Bible study, confirmed by vision.

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