Dare to Be a Daniel
Miss Delight Oakes was a schoolteacher in Washington, New Hampshire. Her students thought it delightful to have such a pretty young woman as a teacher. She and her mother, Mrs. Rachel Oakes, were Seventh Day Baptists. As there was no church of their own in Washington, during the few years Delight had been teaching, they attended the Christian church with families of the neighborhood.
"Why do you worship God on Sunday?" Rachel Oakes asked the members of the little white church.
"Because Jesus rose from the tomb on Sunday. He changed the day of worship from Sabbath to Sunday," came the answer.
"Oh, no," Rachel Oakes said; "Jesus Himself said that He did not come to destroy the law of God (Matt. 5:17). He said that as long as there was a heaven and an earth the law of God would never be changed (Matt. 5:18)."
"Then why does everyone keep holy the first day of the week?" the members asked her.
Mrs. Oakes told them that about three hundred years after Jesus had returned to heaven a great ruler, Constantine, made a law in A.D. 321, that "Sunday should be kept as a day of rest in all cities and towns" (Encyclopedia Americana, article "Sabbath"). Sunday was made the day to attend church. More and more people forgot about the fourth commandment. After a few hundred years, almost everyone was keeping Sunday. But the fourth commandment had never been changed by God.
Many of the members of the little white church just laughed about what Mrs. Oakes told them. Others said, "It really doesn't matter, just as long as we keep one day in every seven holy."
But William Farnsworth was not satisfied. Every evening, by the light of a candle, he studied his Bible. He believed, as did the other Adventists, that the second coming of Jesus was soon. He asked himself, "When my Saviour comes in glory, will we be found keeping all the commandments of God?"
William's father, mother, and younger brother, Cyrus, joined Sally and William as they prayed and searched for truth. Together they repeated the fourth commandment, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God."
Back and forth in the New Testament they hunted, trying to find a text that would prove that Jesus or His disciples had kept the first day of the week holy. Instead, they found that Jesus always went to church on Sabbath (Luke 4:16), and years after He had gone to heaven His disciples worshiped and preached, as did Jesus, on the seventh-day Sabbath.
One evening as William and his family were studying, they read Revelation 11:19: "And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament."
"Then that means that the Ten Commandments are in heaven!" exclaimed William. "God's law is in the ark in the most holy place! It has never been changed by God. It is holy to Him; it must be holy to us!
"'Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city' (Rev. 22:14). We dare not break one of His commandments if we are to eat of the tree of life!"
William stood up and started walking around the room as he said, "The Sabbath was changed by man, and ever since then, just because others are doing so, people have kept the first day of the week in place of the seventh day. It is always easier to follow the crowd. If we keep Sunday we are obeying man-not God! What are we going to do about this?"
What would they do? Did they have the courage to be different from everyone else they knew, even different from their dearest Adventist friends?
The next Sunday morning William and his family were sitting in their regular pews in the Christian church. They loved their church. They had helped to build it. They loved all of its members. How strange it would be not to worship with these dear ones every Sunday!
The Spirit of the Lord was whispering to William Farnsworth's heart. He must obey. Quickly he rose to his feet. He told the church members that from now on he was going to worship on the day that God had blessed in the fourth commandment.
There was a stir throughout the church. Cyrus joined his brother, then their parents, Daniel and Patty Farnsworth, stood and said they too must worship on Saturday.
How happy the angels must have been that day as they saw these very first Seventh-day Adventists take their stand for truth! After church was out, and during the week, many of their friends tried to make them change their minds, but they were determined to obey all the commandments.
The next Sabbath morning, instead of going out to the fields to work, William and his family put on their best "Sabbath-go-to-meeting clothes," and went over to Grandpa and Grandma Farnsworth's for church. Cyrus, who was twenty-one years old, lived with his parents in a new brick house they had built beside the lovely Millen Lake. Together the Farnsworth family kept their first Sabbath.
Maybe Rachel Oakes and Delight joined them. Maybe Elder Fredrick Wheeler, who lived in the next town, was with them. We do not know. Elder Wheeler was a Methodist minister, but about this time he began to keep the Sabbath also. Mrs. Oakes had talked to him and had started him thinking.
The next morning was Sunday. It seemed strange for William and Sally to put on their work clothes, but these were pioneer days. There was much work to be done.
"John and I must chop wood in the field near the road," William told Sally. "When it is time for our neighbors to go to church, we will stop until they have passed."
"That is a good idea," answered Sally. "No use in making them angry." So William and his son John went to work out by the roadside chopping logs into firewood. They were so busy working that they forgot to watch the sun.
All of a sudden, around the bend in the road came a wagon full of people going to the little white church.
"Why, Mr. Farnsworth, what are you doing?" called the driver as he stopped his horses.
"I am chopping wood," he called back.
"But don't you know that this is Sunday?"
"Yes, and I know that yesterday was the Sabbath. I kept it, and so I am working today."
"But you can't do that. It is against the law!"
"It isn't against God's law. God says, 'Six days shalt thou labour.'"
"We will have you arrested and in jail before night," called the neighbor, as he started the horses and disappeared down the road in a cloud of dust.
William and John went quietly about their work. No one ever bothered them.
Sally's brother and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Newell Mead, joined the little group of Sabbath-keepers; also some neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Stowell, and their daughter, Cynthia.
* * * * *
In 1844 there were many Adventists. Some were Methodist Adventists, others were Baptist Adventists. There were no Seventh-day Adventists until this little group of pioneers began keeping Sabbath. They were the first Seventh-day Adventists.
Elder Fredrick Wheeler was the first Seventh-day Adventist minister.
You will be delighted to know that in 1847 Cyrus Farnsworth and Delight Oakes were married. They always lived in the large brick house by Millen Lake.