George Storrs (Vol. 1, No. 4)

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Lest We Forget
Volume 1 – Number 4

George Storrs

 

Contents:

Seekers of His Glory – Concluded
George Storrs’ Mother
Oneness in Belief and Practice
Is There Imortality in Sin
George Storrs’ Story

 

In This Issue we desire to show the uphill fight truth has against established error. George Storrs did not accept the Sabbath or the sanctuary messages; why then is he featured among the pioneers? The focus of truth is not so much on the man as on the message. The doctrine of the state of the dead and the non-immortality of the soul is a foundational doctrine of the Seventh-day Adventist message and movement. Storrs introduced this Bible truth to the Adventist pioneers.

Seekers of His Glory

Who are the Pioneers? – Part 3

In part 2 we saw that God’s messenger to the Remnant Church identified as Pioneers: William Miller, Josiah Litch, Joshua Himes, Charles Fitch, Joseph Bates, James White, Stephen Pierce, Edward Andrews and Hiram Edson. There were others who were similarly identified as being among the Pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

James L. Prescott, Stephen N. Haskell, John O. Corliss

“I want to say a few words. God has left a few of the old pioneers who know something of the fanaticism which existed in the early days of this message. Here is Brother Prescott; he knows something about it. He is acquainted with phase after phase of the fanaticism which has taken place. Here is Brother Haskell. He knows something about it, and there are various ones of our older brethren who have passed over the ground, and they understand something of what we had to meet and contend with. Then there is Brother Corliss; I speak of him because he knows something about fanaticism, not only in the early days, but in our later experience.” (A Testimony Given to the Ministers at General Conference, April 17, 1901, General Conference Bulletin, 04-23-01).

G. I. Butler

“Let us take hold of the work in the Southern states intelligently. I rejoice that Brother Butler is with us in this work…. God desires the gray-haired Pioneers, the men who acted a part in the work when the first, second and third angels” messages were first given, to stand in their place in His work today.” (The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials p. 1801-2)

In addition to these thirteen individuals named by God’s messenger as being Pioneers of God’s final movement, there were others, whose writings or work was endorsed by God’s messenger. These also are foundational Pioneers.

J. N. Loughborough

Elder Loughborough’s book should receive attention. Our leading men should see what can be done for the circulation of this book.” (Counsels to Writers and Editors p. 145)

Uriah Smith

We can easily count the first burden bearers now alive [1902). Elder [Uriah) Smith was connected with us at the beginning of the publishing work. He labored in connection with my husband. We hope always to see his name in the Review and Herald at the head of the list of editors; for thus it should be.” (Selected Messages Book 2 p.225)

A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner

The Lord has raised up Brother Jones and Brother Waggoner to proclaim a message to the world to prepare a people to stand in the day of God. The world is suffering the need of additional light to come to them upon the Scriptures, additional proclamation of the principles of purity, lowliness, faith and the righteousness of Christ. This is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.” (The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials p.1814.)

Finally there are a large number ofworkers who first worked in various new departments of the work whom God’s messenger called Pioneers: e.g. canvassing, George King; medical, Dr. J.H. Kellogg; educational, P.T. Magan and E. A. Sutherland; Europe, J.N. Andrews; etc. These Pioneers all made invaluable contributions to the gospel work. For the purposes of studying the doctrinal foundations of the Seventh-day Adventist church, all these mentioned above, as a “cloud of witnesses”, are not included in the narrow definition of Pioneers given in Counsels to Writers and Editors p.28: “We are to repeat the words of the pioneers in our work, who knew what it cost to search for the truth as for hidden treasure, and who labored to lay the foundation of our work. They moved forward step by step under the influence of the Spirit of God. One by one these pioneers are passing away. The word given me is, Let that which these men have written in the past be reproduced.”

We have attempted to show from God’s messenger to the Remnant Church: a) who are the pioneers who laid the foundations of our church; and b) the importance of reproducing their writings. – Concluded

RF •

Those who endeavor to obey all the commandments of God will be opposed and derided. They can stand only in God. In order to endure the trial before them, they must understand the will of God as revealed in His word; they can honor Him only as they have a right conception of His character, government, and purposes, and act in accordance with them. None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict. To every soul will come the searching test: Shall I obey God rather than men? The decisive hour is even now at hand. Are our feet planted on the rock of God’s immutable word? Are Finally there are a large number of we prepared to stand firm. in defense of workers who first worked in various new the commandments of God and the faith departments of the work whom God’s of Jesus?” (Great Controversy p.593-4)

George Storrs’ Mother

Col. Constant Storrs, a wheelwright in the American Revolutionary army, married Lucinda Howe shortly after the war ended. After their marriage they moved to New Hampshire–at that time a wilderness–and settled in Lebanon on the Connecticut River. By hard work and economy, Col. Storrs became what in those days was called a wealthy farmer. To them were born seven sons and one daughter. The mother of these children was ever watchful over their religious instruction, gathering her children around her, particularly on their Sabbath, to instruct them on things pertaining to God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. She was not content to leave their religious education to the minister or to any other person less interested in their welfare than she, their mother. The only preaching in Lebanon at that time was Congregational or Calvinistic. George Storr’s mother endeavored to counteract in the minds of her offspring the tendency to fatalism found in the Calvinistic preaching.

Unceasingly, she would impress upon her children that if they would seek the Lord, He would be found of them. Such pious labor was not lost on George. Even as a young child his mind dwelt deeply on spiritual things. Early had his mother taught him to acknowledge God as his Heavenly Father, and pointed him to his Saviour, Jesus Christ. George deeply desired to be a Christian, but he was filled with many doubts and felt his case was more hopeless than boys he knew to be very profane. But for her instruction, George had often thought and felt that he would never have been brought to a saving knowledge of God. The sweet and heavenly strains of prayer, poured forth by his mother, as she sought God’s mercy for her son, made George forget or disregard the false teachings that had caused him such anxiety. Such scenes could not be erased from his heart.

Happy for him he had such a mother.

Joy Radzik •

(excerpted from a biographical sketch in Six Sermons by George Storrs, 1855)

Oneness in Belief and Practice
Christ’s Heart’s Desire

Neither pray I for these [the eleven disciples] alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one. John. 17:20-22

What is the glory of which Christ spoke? How does this glory result in a oneness among us as seen between Christ and the Father?

The Advent believers in the 1840’s partook of this experience. As they gave themselves to study of the Word together, they moved from their earlier positions and came closer together in Bible truth. One of the clearest passages that describes the glory of this unity is Philippians 2. Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Phil. 2:2-5

This agape love that Christ revealed, which described His mind, is vividly outlined in verses 6-8. He “humbled Himself”, from His position as the Son of God, down to the God-forsaken death of the cross. This is His character, His glory. Since He was slain “from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8), this has always been what He is like. John saw the spiritual truth of Christ’s being “a Lamb as it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6) as the core of God’s throne, how He rules His creation.

The character quality of self-sacrificing love is thereby seen to be the undergirding law of the universe. The cross was but a new, unprecedented revelation of what type of love the Creator possesses. And this new manifestation was necessitated by the opposite, the invasion of creation by the law of self-serving love. While God’s character is the basis of oneness and unity, Lucifer’s choice to serve himself brought selfishness, disunity, strife, and variance.

We see this separation in the “war in heaven” (Rev. 12:7) resulting in a multitude of heaven’s inhabitants losing their place there, removed from the fellowship they had known. We see this same disharmony when the parents of our race first hid from God, then turned to blame others for their own choices to sin, and finally lost their place in Eden. The common origin of both experiences was a self-seeking, a turning from God as the heart’s focus.

That is where we are in ourselves concerned only for ourselves, what we want, what we think. Only by the Holy Spirit’s bringing back to us in a growing way the image of God, His selfless love, can we experience that “one accord” Christ prayed for us and Paul yearned for the Philippians to experience.

When the Disciples of Christ saw this spiritual truth through Calvary’s trying experience, they were enabled to grasp what the cross means. Christ was able to open to them “in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). In a few days they turned from their infighting over who was the greatest, to being of one accord. And that condition God could acknowledge by the power of His Spirit at Pentecost. The understanding and experience through which they went parallels that of those who will receive the latter rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

What then can we do to come together in a similar understanding and experience? How can we overcome the ungodly differences between us that disgrace God? A revelation to our self-centered hearts of the cross, of God’s self-sacrificing love, must be allowed to do its work by the Spirit, to the place where like Paul we can confess that the “I” is crucified with Christ, and that the life we live is now His life (Gal. 2:20). God’s Spirit will replace our carnal, Lucifer spirit, as God works to restore His image in us. As Christ said, this will be glorious and will testify to the validity of His mission to earth in revealing His Father. The experience of unity begun by our Adventist pioneers, coming from various backgrounds to join one another on Bible truth, will be carried to its conclusion. That experience may be ours!

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. James 3:13-18.

FB •

Storrs’ Six Sermons:
Is There Immortality in Sin and Suffering?

Sermon VI

I will not contend forever, neither will 1 be always wroth; for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which 1 have made.” Isa.57: 16

We are too apt to take the words of Scripture and apply them to all men indiscriminately, without regarding the character of the person spoken of. In this way we pervert the word of the Most High, and sometimes comfort those whom God has not comforted. I conceive, that has been done with the words of my text. They have been applied to all men; when the context shows, most clearly, they are spoken only of the “contrite ones,” who are “humble and contrite” under the judgments, or chastisements that God had inflicted upon them for their sins: while it is expressly said, in the same connection, there is “no peace to the wicked,” – God’s wrath abideth on them; and abiding on them, they will certainly “fail,” The term “fail,” used in the text, though it has other significations, is, I think, generally used by the prophet Isaiah, to signify “to perish.” He says, Is.21: 16 – “All the glory of Kedar shall fail.” And Is.19: 3 – “The spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof.”

I consider the sense of the text, then, to be this- “With those persons who truly humble themselves, and repent, under my rebukes, I will not continue my displeasure–for if my wrath should remain upon any man he would utterly perish, soul and spirit, as surely as I have made him.” Hence, the doctrine of the text seems to me, to be; 1st. God is the Creator of the souls and spirits of men, and, of course, can DESTROY them. 2nd. If God’s wrath should continue, upon any man, without being withdrawn, it would certainly cause him to “fail” – perish; or cease to exist: he could not continue in being under it. 3rd. But upon those who do repent, that wrath shall not abide.

These remarks have chiefly been made to meet an objection that man is composed of three parts-body, soul and spirit; and that, though his body and soul might perish, his spirit could not. I have used the term soul throughout my discourses in its broadest sense as including the essence of what constitutes a man; and I am satisfied that is the general sense in which the Scriptures use it, though in some texts it is used in a more restricted sense.

It is a matter of indifference how it is applied in my text; for the expressions are such as to include the whole man, and to show that every man on whom the wrath of God abideth will perish utterly perish–body, “soul and spirit.”

I shall now proceed to notice one of the evils of the opposite theory; or the maintaining that such expressions as die-death-destroy-destroyed-destruction burned up-perish, &c., are not to be understood literally, i.e., according to their obvious meaning, when spoken of the final destiny of wicked men.

ONE EVIL OF THE COMMON THEORY OF ENDLESS BEING IN SIN AND SUFFERING, IS:

It sustains the mischievous practice of mystifying, or making the Scriptures to have a secret or hidden meaning, in the plainest texts.

This mischievous practice was brought into the church, almost as soon as the Apostles had left the world. The converts from heathenism seemed intent on uniting heathen philosophy with Christianity. Hence they must find an abundance of mysteries in the Scriptures; and the practice of allegorizing, i.e, making the language to contain something that does not appear in the words, commenced and generally prevailed, before the third century. This was done, doubtless, with a view to lead heathen philosophers to embrace Christianity, as affording them a fruitful field for their researches. But it led the church astray into the wild fields of conjecture; and every lively imagination could find hidden wonders in the Bible; while the plain literal meaning of the text was disregarded. That fatal practice increased from age to age, till the simplicity of the gospel was totally eclipsed, and the obscuration has not wholly disappeared to this day.

This practice has given occasion to honest people, as well as to infidels, to say, “You can make any thing out of the Bible,” or “play any tune upon it.” And this is true, if men are to be allowed to take texts which have a plain, obvious, and literal signification, and call them mystical or figurative, when there is not a clear necessity for doing so. The Scriptures themselves often notify us when the language is to be understood figuratively; and frequently those figures are explained, and the literal interpretation given.

The common method of making the terms life and death mystical, or figurative, i.e. to mean something more, and far different from what appears in the literal and obvious signification of the words, I conceive is unwarranted by the Scriptures, and tends only to throw confusion upon the plainest subjects of the Bible, and also to take away the force and beauty of very many otherwise clear and intelligible portions of God’s word.

Let me now call your attention to texts, the beauty and force of which are greatly weakened and obscured by such a course.

Deut. 30:15, “I have set life and death before you, therefore choose Life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” Again, Ps. 16:11. “Thou wilt show me the path of life; in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forever more.”

Now let us contemplate some portions of the New Testament, in view of the theory I oppose, and the one I advocate, and see on which they have most force and the clearest meaning. Look at the young man who came to our Saviour with an important inquiry, Matt. 19:16 – What does he say? Is it his inquiry, “What shall I do to escape endless misery or suffering?” No; but, “What shall I do that I may have eternal life?” How plain the question, on the theory I advocate, and how appropriate the answer, “If thou wilt enter into life,” &c. Not if thou wilt escape endless life in torments, not, if thou wilt have a “happy eternal life,” but simply, if thou wilt enter into life. What simplicity, beauty, and force! All is natural, and easy to be understood.

Again, John 3:15,16, “That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might riot perish, but have everlasting life.” All here, again, is natural, easy, and forcible, on the theory that the wicked are actually to die or perish if found rejecting Christ, who only has eternal life to give….

[The sermon continues for 20 pages to end with the following paragraphs]

If I mistake not, then, the true state of the case is this. All the offspring of Adam, are destitute of immortality; God has given His Son Jesus Christ to die for us, that we might not perish, except by our own fault. He sets “life and death before men,” and calls upon them to “choose life,” that they “may live;” if they will not come to Christ they perish under an insupportable load of guilt and shame, for having preferred animal pleasures which, when they are the supreme pursuit, are the pleasures of sin to Life Eternal. Shall any of us be guilty of such folly and madness? Come to the LIFE-GIVER, lay hold on ETERNAL LIFE. •

Six Sermons on the Inquiry is there Immortality in Sin and Suffering? also, A Sermon on Christ The Life-Giver: or, The Faith of The Gospel by George Storrs, Editor of Bible Examiner. NEW YORK, 1855.

 

Three Ways to Approach Doctrinal Differences
The Story of George Storrs

Have you heard about Elder? He has left the church! He was arrested and thrown in jail!”

This is not make-believe. This was the experience of George Storrs, the Methodist minister who was arrested during the act of prayer, having invoked a blessing on the slaves in church in New Hampshire. The year was 1855. After several years of study and heart-searching George Storrs left the Methodist church where he had been a minister for 11 years because of the doctrine of the state of the dead. There are three ways to approach doctrinal differences. George Storrs experienced all three in his life. Let us start the story at the beginning.

George Storrs was born in Lebanon, New Hampshire in 1796. His father was an industrious mechanic. George was the youngest of eight children. As a child he was afraid of God and felt alienated from Christianity because of the sermons he heard about the eternal torment of the wicked in hell. At the age of 17 he began deliberately to seek to know the goodness of God. Under the influence of these studies and his mother’s prayers and constant religious instruction he gave his heart to Christ and joined the Congregational church at the age of 19.

As George continued to grow spiritually, conviction deepened that he was called of God to preach. Under the influence of a godly Methodist minister who showed kindness to him during an illness of George’s wife, he joined the Methodist ministry in 1825 and preached under their itinerant ministry until 1856. Slavery was the main burden of Storrs’ preaching. This was not a doctrine approved by the local bishop who did everything in his power to suppress all discussion of the subject. During an antislavery society meeting in 1835 at the Sanbornton Bridge Methodist meetinghouse George prayed for the slaves. During the act of prayer the deputy sheriff arrested Storrs and took him to jail. After the trial he was set free. (Under Pretence of Law, or The Arrest and Trial of Rev. George Storrs,by Mr. Mob, pp. 1-22.)

The natural response of the human heart is to reject the pastor who holds a doctrine that differs from what is currently believed to be truth. This rejection George Storrs experienced. He left the Methodist church in 1840. This is how it happened.

While traveling on a slow train in 1837, Storrs read a small tract written by Deacon Henry Grew of Philadelphia which lead him to study the subject of the state of the dead for himself. After several years of study, conversation and correspondence with some of America’s most eminent ministers, Storrs reached the settled conclusion that man does not possess inherent immortality but receives it only as a gift through Christ, and that God will utterly exterminate the wicked through fire at the second death. Storrs wrote three letters to a prominent Methodist minister who was a personal friend. This minister could not answer Storrs’ arguments and advised him to publish his arguments anonymously. This he did in 1841 under the title An Inquiry; Are the Souls of the Wicked Immortal? In Three Letters.

After leaving the Methodist church he visited Albany N.Y. A small congregation invited him to be their pastor. He accepted this call, taking for his guiding principle: “The Bible as the only creed Christian character the only test.” He did not speak on the state of the dead for some time. In 1842 he felt that he could keep silent on this doctrine no longer. Fear of being misunderstood lead him to write out his sermon and read it. A whole week was spent in intensive preparation for that first sermon on the state of the dead. The next week and for five more weeks he wrote out the sermon and read it to his flock on different aspects of the same doctrine. Several who heard those sermons requested that he publish his six sermons. When published, they became known as Storrs’ six sermons.

A few weeks later Storrs heard the Millerite Message from Calvin French. Storrs was so impressed that he arranged for Charles Fitch to hold a series of tent meetings that thousands attended. After that series, Storrs was convinced of the soon coming of Christ and left Albany that same year, 1842, to preach the Advent message to multiplied thousands. He did not preach any message except the Advent message, but in response to numerous requests, he revised, reprinted and distributed 5,000then another 2,000 copies of his six sermons in New York where he was preaching in 1843 and 1844.

Storrs had experienced separation and even persecution for his faith. However there is yet another way that doctrinal differences are approached. This way is the blessed way of personal Bible study and prayer until agreement is reached in understanding the mind of God on that doctrine. This Storrs also experienced. Fitch wrote to Storrs a letter dated January 25, 1844: “As you have long been fighting the Lord’s battles alone, on the subject of the state of the dead, and of the final doom of the wicked, I write this to say, that I am at last, after much thought and prayer, and a full conviction of duty to God, prepared to take my stand by your side.” This was the first ministerial convert. It was not the last.

In 1843, 10,000 copies of Storrs’ Six Sermons were published in England. This led to a number of prominent Britishers to take their stand for this doctrine including a Congregationalist Archbishop Richard Whately. A total of 200,000 copies of these sermons were reportedly published. Thus truth was proclaimed.

William Miller opposed this doctrine and wrote in the Midnight Cry of May 23,1844: “I disdain any connection, fellowship, or sympathy with Bro. Storrs’ views of the intermediate state, and end of the wicked.”

Storrs published a paper called The Bible Examiner from 1843 until be died in1879. Storrs was disappointed when Jesus did not return October 22, 1844.Storrs did not accept the sanctuary message or the seventh-day Sabbath message but continued to believe the Bible truth about the state of the dead. The idea of the wicked in an eternal burning hell was considered by Storrs as a blot on the character of God. This Bible understanding is a foundational truth for the end time. RF •

From a biographical sketch included in Six Sermons by George Storrs, New York, 1855

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