Joseph Bates (Vol. 1, No. 3)

Lest We Forget
Volume 1 – Number 3

Joseph Bates


Seekers of His Glory – Part 2
Mrs. Bates
Sabbath and Temperance
New Testament Sabbath
Story and Timeline of Bates

In This Issue The Pioneer Adventist health reformer Joseph Bates is featured. Captain Bates is also the Pioneer who wrote an early Adventist seventh-day Sabbath tract and preached the Sabbath of the fourth commandment in the 1800’s.

Seekers of His Glory

The Seventh-day Adventist Pioneers – Part 2

In Part 1 (First Quarter 1991) we saw God’s plan to make known His manifold wisdom to principalities and powers in heavenly places by the church (Ephesians 3:9,12). The church that is to fulfill this role is identified in Revelation 10:5-9. This Scripture was fulfilled in the world-wide advent movement as well as the church that came out of that movement in the early 1800’s. Those advent watchers experienced the bitter disappointment when Christ did not return as expected on October 22, 1844. Part 2 continues with another prophecy, this one found in Joel that is repeated in Acts which helps us identify the Pioneers of that remnant church:

Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

Acts 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

William Foy was given two visions which he shared publicly in 1842. He received another vision in 1844 which he did not understand and so did not share it.

Hazen Foss was given visions in 1844 but refused to relate them to others. God then called on a frail, 17 year-old girl, and gave her the privilege of being His messenger to the last church. Her name was Ellen Harmon. She later married James White and became Ellen G. White. With the inspired writings of Ellen G. White, a certainty is given the identification of the Pioneers who searched for the God-given agenda for the remnant church.

Our criteria for recognizing the Pioneers of the remnant church are thus:

  1. They would live in the early 1800s and be involved in the fulfillment of the ‘bitter-sweet’ experience of Revelation 10.
  2. Their message would have the aim to finish the mystery of God in fulfillment of Scripture.
  3. They would be known to and would work in harmony with God’s remnant church messenger, Ellen White, in the rediscovery and belief in the fundamental doctrines embodied in the everlasting gospel of the three angels’ messages that are essential to finish the mystery of God.

Mrs. Bates – A Prudent Wife

As a childhood friend of Joseph Bates in the town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, Prudence Nye very much looked forward to his returning from his trips at sea. One year younger than Joseph, she had lost her father when she was three years of age, and her mother had raised her and her sister, Sylvia. On his return from a sea voyage in January, 1818, Joseph proposed to her. Loving him and having waited for him, she was concerned about family life and what the future would bring. She asked him, “Do you expect to spend all of your life on the sea?” He too had thought about this, and assured her that he would seek some other line of employment when he had made his fortune on the sea and would be able to keep the family from poverty the rest of their lives. But Prudence was true to her name and pursued the conversation further, asking him, “Just how much do you expect to get before you call it a fortune?” He had thought this through also, and answered her, “I would like to have around $10,000.” This satisfied her, and they were married February 15, 1818. Six weeks later, he was back at sea. (He retired from the sea ten years later, having achieved what he had purposed).

Prudy, as her husband and friends called her, was a very patient and faithful wife, and a godly influence on her family. When Joseph left on another voyage in 1824, without his knowledge she placed a pocket New Testament on the top of the novels and romance books he had planned to read. On opening his trunk to find an interesting book, he took up this Testament and found a poem in the opening page which arrested his attention, and his novel and romance reading ceased from that hour. Bible reading and religion then became of special interest to him.

Prudy’s widowed mother lived with Joseph and Prudy for some time, easing the long, lonely periods when Joseph was away at sea. Prudy gave birth to their first child, Anson Augustus, November 15, 1819, who died before he was two years of age. Helen, their second child, was born in 1822, and she was 16 months old before Joseph even saw her. Joseph and Prudy had 3 other children, Eliza, Joseph, and Mary. Their only surviving son, Joseph, became a whaler and was lost at sea at the age of 35. Mary and her son Willie lived with Joseph and Prudy during the last few years of their lives.

Prudence with her husband looked forward to the second coming of Christ in 1844. With the others, they were disappointed. But when Joseph accepted the Sabbath truth in March, 1845, she thought it would be against her Christianity to observe the “Jewish Sabbath.” It was over 5 years before she saw the importance of the Sabbath; but when she became fully convinced in her own mind that it was important for God’s people, she fully accepted it and joined Joseph in the third angel’s message. Some time later she wrote to the Review and Herald:

“I feel an increasing desire to be filled with all the fullness of God…I love the Holy Sabbath better and better, and pray that it may be sanctified to all the dear children who are trying to keep it. I want to be sanctified by obedience to the truth, to be more holy, have a pure heart and clean hands.” (RH Dec. 23, 1851, p. 72; Written Dec. 12, 1851)

After 52 years of marriage on August 27, 1870, two years before her husband’s death, Prudy passed to her rest to await her Lifegiver. FF

Cabin Boy to Advent Crusader by Virgil Robinson, 1960
Outrider of the Apocalypse by Godfrey T. Anderson, 1972
Experience and Labors, Autobiography by Joseph Bates
, edited by James White, 1878

Reflections on the Sabbath and Temperance

Two Foundation Practices Discovered and Shared by Captain Joseph Bates

“The uncompromising advocate for present truth, which feeds and nourishes the little flock in whatever country or place, is the restorer of all things; one man like John the Baptist, cannot discharge this duty to every kindred, nation, tongue and people, and still remain in one place. The truth is what we want.” (Joseph Bates, Preface to Sabbath Booklets.)

This “love of the truth” (2 Thes. 2:10) enabled the Lord to use “the little flock” in assisting Him in the end-time “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21). What needs restoring? The core question of sin concerns the character of God. On earth this issue centers on the image of God in man. This image is the cornerstone of the Genesis 1 and 2 foundations of the human race. That same character, the image of God, in which man was created, needs to be completely restored. Restoration also involves all the other creation realities of God’s original intent for the race.

As with these other creation truths, the Sabbath shines brightly if but briefly in the Genesis account, but is developed at length elsewhere in Scripture. The picture painted is that of the Creator pausing on the seventh day to enjoy His completed creation. He then embodies in that time an unending sign of Who He is and what He had done. In His wisdom He requests the creatures made in His image to take this first fruit of their time, their first full day, and give it back to Him as their acknowledgment of Him. Thus “the Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27).

After sin, He kept the Sabbath as His sign, now not only of His Creatorship, but also of His Redeemership. He both made and saved man. In the time since the close of the sacred canon, the church generally lost this sign. Revelation describes the recovery of this truth in the end time, when the mark of the creature-beast will be arrayed against the seal of the Creator-God, with all the world identified by one sign of worship or the other (Rev. 7:3; 13:16; cf. Rom. 1:25).

Joseph Bates discovered the foundation of the Sabbath rest and expounded it at length, as evidenced by the booklets he wrote (The Seventh Day Sabbath, a Perpetual Sign, 1846 & 1847; A Vindication of the Seventh Day Sabbath and the Commandments of God, 1848). His commitment to sharing this truth was instrumental in assisting the advent remnant to restore this missing pillar to mankind.

Another foundation concept rediscovered by Captain Bates, and built step by step into his personal and business life, was temperance. This truth also finds its first description in the provisions made by the Creator for His new order of beings. The avoidance of health damaging practices, such as the use of “ardent spirits,” and of wine, tobacco, tea, and coffee, which Joseph Bates outlined in his autobiography, was a part of his growing experience. And this is the experience of all who are committed to what God gave mankind in Eden. The simplicity of what was described in Bates’ autobiography shows the uncomplicated way in which health can be understood and realized.

With sin came all the imbalance and inappropriateness of action that comprise intemperance, and that further destroy the image of God in man. These roots of sin God also planned to remove in these last days. “The little flock” gradually rediscovered and adopted the biblical concepts of health. Captain Bates was their health forerunner.

New Testament Seventh Day Sabbath
by Joseph Bates

Second Advent Review, and Sabbath Herald,
Vol. 1, No. 4, January 1851, Paris, ME.

Those who are keeping the seventh day Sabbath, in the third angel’s message, are opposed by a certain class of believers that were recently their teachers and fellow laborers while passing through the first and second angel’s messages, as recorded in Rev. 14: 6-8.

The main points of their objections are these.

  1. That Jesus never taught, neither did he ever enforce the Sabbath. Many say that he “RELAXED” it.
  2. That it was nailed to the cross, and never taught by the apostles: hence, we are not bound to keep it since the crucifixion of Jesus. It was all right, say they, for the Jews, to whom it was given under the Old Testament law; but not for the Gentiles under the New.

We dissent from this, and will now attempt to show,

  1. That Jesus did teach, and keep the seventh day Sabbath.
  2. That it was not nailed to the cross, and that all four of the evangelists speak of it in the same light after, as they did before the crucifixion. That the disciples kept it after their Lord was nailed to the cross, hence it is as binding on the Gentiles, as on the Jews, and never was abolished by being nailed to the cross.

Our opponents say that Jesus never taught us in the New Testament that we should keep the Sabbath. I answer, neither did he ever show us that it ought not to be kept. The seventh day Sabbath is brought to view more than fifty times in the New Testament; seventeen times by Jesus himself, and twelve times, after his crucifixion by his disciples. The Sabbath is taught eleven times also, by and through the commandments, six times certainly after the crucifixion of the Saviour, and thrice in the Revelation: in all nearly seventy. A great portion of these our opponents say there is no Sabbath, yet they call the first day of the week the Sabbath, and profess to rest on that day. See their appointments for preaching on that day in the “Advent Herald,” and the “Advent Harbinger.”

Jesus taught that he was the Lord of the Sabbath. In the Old Testament? No, he taught it in the New. Did he keep it under the gospel, in the New Testament? Yes he did. See John 15:10. “I have kept my Father’s commandments.” Is it possible for a living man to prove that he did in any way relax, or break the fourth commandment of the ten? The Sabbath that he was Lord of? Certainly not. He is no Saviour to those who doubt his plain simple words.

Mark says that “when the Sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue.” John 6:2. See also Luke 4:31, and 16. It was his custom to read and teach on that day. All Christendom, as it were, do the same; but not on the Lord’s Sabbath day. A part of his reply to his disciples respecting his coming and the end of the world was, “Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day.” There was but two points of time for this flight referred to: first, the destruction of Jerusalem, then 39 years in the future, and second, “the great and terrible day of the Lord,” the “time of trouble such as never was.” I ask if THE Sabbath, the one Jesus was the Lord of, was not clearly recognized 39, if not 1820 years beyond his crucifixion. Call it the Jewish Sabbath, or any other name that suits you best; and then prove why they were not to flee on the Sabbath, and then you have not disproved the perpetuity of THE SEVENTH DAY SABBATH, of which Jesus is Lord. It is clear also that this title, given him by his Father, was not nailed to the cross, nor can it be abolished while he has a follower to keep the Sabbath. For “the Sabbath was made for man.”

By showing the commandments of God to be the foundation of all the law, and the prophets, and the keeping of them the road to eternal life, and being highly esteemed in the reign of heaven, [Matt.22: 35-40, Luke 10: 25-28, Matt. 5: 19] he proves, that the Sabbath is perpetual, and was not nailed to the cross; because the whole ten were included in the above teaching. If the reader objects because the Sabbath is not separately quoted by Jesus, then by the same rule he may object to the first, second and tenth commandments; for Jesus has not quoted them, only as in the above, in the New Testament. Who for a moment supposes that we may with impunity, have other gods, or bow down to graven images, or covet our neighbor’s wife, house, or lands, because he did not quote them separately? – No one. If these three commandments are binding here, it is clear that the Sabbath is also binding.

If the Sabbath was to be perpetuated, says one, why did not Jesus teach it clearly and distinctly. He has done it by enforcing all ten of the commandments. It was not necessary for him to re-enact a law that even his enemies were so tenacious in observing. They even threatened him with his life there several times for breaking the Sabbath law, as they said, when all that they could prove against him was that he had allowed some of his disciples to eat some raw wheat to satisfy hunger, and healed three men of their infirmities. He also said, “The Sabbath was made for man.” What sort of men? Paul will answer. “Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also.” Rom.3: 29. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after death the judgment.” The Jews? Yes, the Gentiles also.

It would be strange teaching indeed, for Jesus to say the Sabbath was made for man, and yet men were to live and multiply for more than 1800 years after that law was blotted out. If the Sabbath was made for the Jews only, then as Jesus has said, “for man,” the Sabbath must be perpetuated while the Jews as men exist. There is proof enough that they are not dead yet.

Health Reforming Sea Captain Becomes Sabbath Reforming Adventist

Three hundred years after Columbus gained fame sailing the oceans of the world, another sea captain was born. His name was Joseph Bates. He was destined to give up sailing finding greater riches in spiritual truths and in eternal life in Christ. Joseph was born July 8, 1792, in Rochester, Plymouth County, into a respected family that had lived in Massachusetts for many generations. His father, also named Joseph Bates, wanted his son to be a businessman. Young Joseph wanted to be a sailor. In an effort to dissuade the boy, his father arranged for him to accompany his uncle on a voyage from New Bedford to Boston, a passage known to be stormy and dangerous. Instead of curing Joseph of his love for the sea, the voyage only strengthened it. His parents then conceded defeat and Joseph, age 15, set sail as a cabin boy, on a vessel bound for Europe in June 1807.

Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Joseph, during his 21 years on the high seas, progressively gave up liquor, tobacco, tea and coffee. His clean and temperate life style was in sharp contrast to the kind of life that was common for sailors in the 1800’s. His stand against the dissolute customs of his day, took much courage and showed a strength of character that was preparing him to endure the 1844 disappointment. When Bates had accumulated the agreed fortune, he kept the promise of love made to his bride-to-be (see front page story) and retired from his life as a sea-captain.

Bates became a farmer and a home missionary. He worked the family farm inherited from his parents. He co-founded the “Seaman’s Friend Society”, edited a pamphlet called The Missionary Herald, and was actively involved with temperance reforms and the abolition of slavery. In 1832, Bates and four others, built their church building.

The falling of the stars, November 13, 1833, had a profound effect on Joseph. Later, he heard the advent message and studied William Miller’s lectures on the second coming of Jesus. Bates was impressed with what he read and determined to meet Miller. In Boston, Bates found a preacher named Joshua Himes who knew Miller. Pastor Himes told him about the paper he edited called The Signs of the Times. Bates subscribed to the paper and gave generously to its support. From that time forward, Bates put all he had into the work of spreading the news of the soon return of Jesus.

The first General Conference on the coming of Jesus Christ held in Boston, October 14, 1840, was attended by Bates. Prudence was not sure that the world would end in three years as Joseph believed, but she knew that Joseph was a good man, and would provide for his family. Joseph, now known as “Elder Bates” traveled to neighboring towns and villages, speaking to all who would listen to the “blessed hope,” the news of the soon coming of Jesus Christ. These meetings were held in schoolhouses, and churches, but mostly in farmhouses, with a few families gathered together to hear about the second coming of Jesus in three years.

Bates sold his home, settled his accounts, and joined the army of preachers proclaiming the soon coming of Jesus. But they were disappointed when March 21, 1844, passed and Christ had not come. Soon after this disappointment the arguments for the date of October 22, 1844, were published in the paper, The Midnight Cry, which reported the consensus from the meeting in Exeter, August 12, 1844. Thus began a movement of intense preaching of the second coming between August and October, 1844. This became known as the “midnight cry” or the “seventh month movement.” This movement was attended by the marked movings of the Holy Spirit. All who were involved knew that the Holy Spirit was leading the movement. Ellen Harmon was told that this movement was the bright light that was to lighten the path to the City of God (see box). The “eating the book” of Daniel was sweet to Joseph. The bitterness of the disappointment when the time passed was very hard indeed. Joseph was one of those who did not give up his faith in God. He was strengthened by this bitter test and advanced in the knowledge and love of the truth going from strength to strength. In 1845 Bates first became aware of the 7th-day Sabbath from reading a tract written by T. M. Preble. For 28 years Bates continued to search out and visit Adventists and all who would listen, preaching the 7th-day Sabbath, the sanctuary message, and witnessing to the benefits of living without liquor, tobacco, tea or coffee.

From Life of Bates, an autobiography edited by James White



“They had a bright light set up behind them at the beginning of the path, which an angel told me was the midnight cry.  This light shone all along the path and gave light for their feet so that they might not stumble. If they kept their eyes fixed on Jesus, who was just before them, leading them to the city, they were safe.” Early Writings p. 14


The Seventh Day Sabbath Not Nailed to the Cross

Our opponents say that the Sabbath was nailed to the cross, when Jesus was crucified. They quote Col.2: 14,16, for proof. “Blotting out the hand writing of ordinances, . . . . Nailing it to his cross.” “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath-days.” The version here is incorrect. It should be “Sabbaths.” Days are supplied. See Whiting and Macknight. Verse 17th shows that the new moons, meats, drinks, and sabbaths, as were required to be observed yearly, are shadows. But the weekly Sabbath, that never was given for a feast day as the above were, is not a shadow, neither can it be unless all of God’s commandments are shadows. If they are shadows, then of course they are blotted out, and there can be no sin. “For sin is the transgression of the law.” “Where no law is, there is no transgression.” This settles the question forever. For Col. 2: 16, 17, is the only scripture in the New Testament, that they can find to fix on the time for the abolition of the Sabbath. This fails them, for Paul says that they are shadows.

See original Review and Herald article in Vol. 1, No. 4, January 1851 for continuation (1 page more)

Pioneers Ellen White identified:

William Miller, Josiah Litch, Joshua Himes, Charles Fitch, Joseph Bates:

“The record of the experience through which the people of God passed in the early history of our work must be republished. Many of those who have since come into the truth are ignorant of the way in which the Lord wrought. The experience of William Miller and his associates, of Captain Joseph Bates, and of other pioneers in the advent message, should be kept before our people. 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

“God directed the mind of William Miller to the prophecies and gave him great light upon the book of Revelation.”

Early Writings, p. 231.

“In the year 1840, another remarkable fulfillment of prophecy excited widespread interest. Two years before, Josiah Litch, one of the leading ministers preaching the second advent, published an exposition of Revelation 9, predicting the fall of the Ottoman Empire. According to his calculations, this power was to be overthrown ‘in A.D. 1840, sometime in the month of August;’ and only a few days previous to its accomplishment he wrote: ‘Allowing the first period, 150 years, to have been exactly fulfilled before Deacozes ascended the throne by permission of the Turks, and that the 391 years, fifteen days, commenced at the close of the first period, it will end on the 11th of August, 1840.’” Great Controversy, p. 334.

James White, Stephen Pierce, Hiram Edson

“Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid. My husband, Elder Joseph Bates, Father Pierce [1], Elder {Hiram} Edson, and others who were keen, noble, and true, were among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844, searched for the truth as for hidden treasure. I met with them, and we studied and prayed earnestly. Often we remained together until late at night, and sometimes through the entire night, praying for light and studying the Word.” Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 206.

(“Seekers of His Glory” to be concluded next issue.) RF

[1] “Father Pierce” was Stephen Pierce, who served in ministerial and administrative work in the early days. – Compilers of the Ellen White Estate materials.