The Advent Movement | Survey 19, Part 2

Greetings MOL Family! Thank you for joining us again, as we survey through our historic Advent Movement. Today, we will be continuing to highlight the efforts of Sutherland and Magan, in establishing the Madison School…


–The Work Continues–

Sutherland and Magan already had their place located down on the Saint Joseph’s River. At Berrien Springs, they moved into tents and an old hotel building in town, and began their work. But a reaction set in. There were those who had opposed before. Now, as they woke up and rubbed their eyes and found that the school had moved out, they really began to criticize. So Magan and Sutherland worked under a great pressure of criticism, of opposition, of fault-finding on the part of those who should have supported them.

They were trying many new things. They were making the Bible the basis of education. Teachers and students were uniting in labor. Classical courses were eliminated. Practical education was being given. Workers were being prepared. They were being guided by the Spirit of Prophecy. Sister White herself said the educational reform had begun. It was a glorious time, and yet it was a troublous time.

Keep in mind the years 1901 to 1904. These are the same years we have been trying to get a picture of, the struggle in the denomination over Dr. Kellogg, over pantheism, over The Living Temple, and over what relation the medical missionary work should sustain to the General Conference.

Keep in mind also that Sutherland and these various reformers at Berrien Springs were looked upon as disciples of Kellogg. There were several reasons for that. In a sense they were. They were all in the same boat of reform. Sutherland and Magan had both been close to Dr. Kellogg. They were trying to carry out the educational program, and were looked upon in a critical way. Yet the work they were doing in educational lines was clearly endorsed by the Spirit of Prophecy. God was guiding them step by step.

As we come up to the General Conference of 1903, there were real controversies back and forth. After that General Conference, a report got circulated that Sister White had turned against Brother Magan. Sister White said there was not a word of truth in the report, but reports don’t have to have truth in order to circulate.

Sister Magan had been laboring earnestly and sacrificially to help lay the foundations of the pioneer work at Berrien Springs. She became so sick and downhearted over the criticisms, fault-finding, and the report that Sister White had turned against Brother Magan that she lost her reason. She finally died. I shall read Sister White’s statement, given on the campus at Berrien Springs:

In moving the college from Battle Creek and establishing it at Berrien Springs, Brethren Magan and Sutherland have acted in harmony with the light that God gave…. And God has been with them. He has approved of their efforts. But who has appreciated the work that has been done in this place? Many have taken an attitude of opposition…. Wicked prejudice and false accusations have been met. With some there has been a settled disposition to complain and to find fault with those who have striven with all their might to carry out the Lord’s instruction.


Sister Magan worked with her husband, struggling with him, and praying that he might be sustained. She did not think of herself but of him. And God did sustain them, as they walked in the light. From her small store of money, Sister Magan gave five hundred dollars to erect the Memorial Hall. She strove untiringly to maintain a perfect home government, teaching and educating her children in the fear of God. Twice she had to nurse her husband through an attack of fever.


But it seemed to her as if some of our brethren had not a heart of flesh. After the General Conference in Oakland, a report was circulated that Sister White had turned against Brother Magan. There was not a word of truth in this statement. But his poor wife, who had toiled and sacrificed and prayed with him, was informed that Sister White had taken a stand against her husband. O, why did ever anyone say such a thing? Sister White never turned against Brother Magan or against Brother Sutherland. But Sister Magan was so weighted down with sorrow that she lost her reason.


I ask, Who in the day of judgment will be held responsible for putting out the light of that mind that should be shining today?… She suffered for months, and the husband suffered with her. And now the poor woman is gone, leaving two motherless children. All this, because of the work done by unsanctified tongues.


Her husband has the comfort of the promise, ‘Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.’ – Manuscript 55, 1904

Oh friends, I was so glad to read that. Even though the light of her mind went out before she died, she died in the Lord.

“Sister Magan was a Christian. She was one of Christ’s followers, and He loved her. Her works do follow her…. This work of opposition and dissatisfaction has come from the enemy. It has cost the life of a wife and mother. But it has not taken away her crown of eternal life….

I would say to Brethren Magan and Sutherland, God has looked with pleasure upon you as you have struggled through the difficulties you have had to meet here.” – Ibid

You will be interested to know that the remarks I am reading were made by Sister White just one day after Brother Sutherland had unfortunately gotten up and presented his resignation. With that in mind, I want to read the rest of what she said.

Now the work has reached a point where you can go to labor elsewhere. You have written to me that you had a burden to work in the Southern field. There is plenty of room for you there. … and we are glad that God has opened the way for you to work in that field.


And to the brethren I can say, Brother Sutherland and Magan do not go out from this place as men who have made a failure, but as men who have made a success. They have taught the students from the Bible according to the light given them through the Testimonies.…


They have had a hard battle here, but they have made a success, and as they leave, the Lord will go with them. – Ibid

Then she appeals to that audience that they cease the work of criticizing. She speaks again of Sister Magan.

Sister Magan died as a martyr, right among her own brethren. My brethren, this work of hurting one another does not pay….


If Brethren Sutherland and Magan shall leave Berrien Springs— and believe it is their duty to go—I beg of you, for Christ’s sake not to follow them with criticism and faultfinding. – Ibid

One reason I have read you this statement concerning the unfortunate resignation of Brother Sutherland at that particular moment is that it has been used by some of his critics to oppose him. But the truth is that, while Brother Sutherland made the resignation at an unfortunate time and spirit, the Lord Himself had been arranging for these men to go to the Southern field. God wanted the Southern field worked, and He wanted the type of education that was being done in Berrien Springs to be done in the south. Notice how He is using a most unfortunate situation at the Berrien Springs meeting to bring these men to the place where they feel it is time to break loose and go south.

We are all human, dear friends. I suppose it is true with most of us that if everything is easy, and we have no problems, it is easy to stay right where we are. But they were having so many problems and so much criticism that it was easier to see the providence of God in coming to what they felt would be a more quiet place.

Here you see the prophet of God, while she has clearly shown that it was unfortunate that it was done right at that moment and in that way, she at once steps into the breach and begins to encourage them in their thought of going to the south and there carrying on the type of educational work that they had been doing. This thought of someday coming south had been in their minds long before this meeting. It simply came to a head at that meeting under those circumstances.

“Several times, even before they took up their work at Berrien Springs, Brethren Magan and Sutherland expressed to me their burden for the work in the South. Their hearts are there. Do not blame them for going. Do not put any impediments in their way…. They will take with them from this place many pleasant memories of seasons of peace and joy. There have been times of sorrow, but they do not go because of this. They think that they can better glorify God by going to a more needy field. This is their own choice; I have not persuaded them. They did not know but what Sister White would stand in their way. When they laid the matter before me this morning, I told them that I would not hinder them for one moment.” – Ibid

Here are words spoken right on the grounds the very day the decision was made. She said that if any of the students and workers desired to go with Brother Sutherland and Brother Magan:

Let them go and help them to carry the light to those who have never heard the truth, to a class of people that has been suffering with neglect and poverty. I know that Brother Haskell and Brother Butler will be glad to have the help of Brethren Magan and Sutherland, and will unite with them in the work of God. They will have a hard time of it at the best, but if God is with them, they may know that He will sustain them. – Ibid

Brother Haskell was at that time conducting city evangelistic work in the city of Nashville. Brother Butler was Elder George I. Butler who had many years before been president of the General Conference, and was at this time the president of the Southern Union Conference. So you see, they were coming into the Southern field in an atmosphere of welcome on the part of the leaders here.


–As the Lord Leads–

Now I come to the most interesting part of the story, the location of the place in the south. While encouraging them to come south, Sister White had in her mind an entirely different picture of what they were to do than what they had in their minds. In their minds, they were getting out of an area and an atmosphere of criticism and opposition, and they were going to get out someplace in the hills of Tennessee, or some other southern state – out in the back country – and work for the mountain people, the poor people, and do a simple, humble work, demonstrating what they had been teaching by way of Christian education and helping the needy.

But Sister White, guided by inspiration, had a different idea of what they should do. Her viewpoint was that here were men of experience in educational work in this denomination, and that what God wanted them to do was establish a training school for teachers, where missionary teachers might be prepared to go out and do the type of work that they were thinking of doing personally.

With that difference of viewpoint, they met at Nashville just a few weeks after this council at Berrien Springs. James Edson White, Sister White’s son, had been doing missionary work in the south for several years, particularly for the colored people. He had a boat named “The Morning Star.” On that boat, he went up and down the Mississippi River and the Cumberland River, and other rivers here in the south. He would tie up at different places and call people on board for meetings. His workers would circulate little books that he printed in a printing press right on the boat. Later, he had a printing outfit in the city of Nashville. It was very interesting work; I wish we had time to study that. You can read about it in Spalding’s book Captains of the Host.

At this time, his headquarters was in Nashville. Sister White, visiting her son and his wife, encouraged Sutherland and Magan to come and visit them while they were all there in Nashville. James Edson White was just going up the river on his steamer to locate a place for a school for the training of colored workers. Sutherland and Magan, both weary and worn, thought the trip would do them good; so they went. About 12 miles up the river from Nashville, something went wrong with the machinery of the boat, and they tied up near a place called Edgefield Junction. While the boat was undergoing repairs, one in the group told Sister White about a place just up the river that was for sale. In fact, James Edson White and W.O. Palmer were considering it as a possible location.

Sister White was interested. She went up the bank and looked the place over. The next day, she called Magan and Sutherland to her cabin room in the steamer and said, “Brethren, this is the place the Lord wants you to have for your location.” They said they were not interested in it. It was too big. It was too near Nashville. They didn’t have any money. She didn’t argue with them. Presently, the boat was fixed. They went on up the river to Carthage. She called them into her room on another morning and told them again. Again, they said that they were not interested. A third time she called them in. By this time, the boat was proceeding back to Nashville. Finally, they looked at each other and said, “We have just come out of a situation where people were getting into trouble because they were not accepting the Spirit of Prophecy. If we are so set in our ways and plans that we can’t listen on this subject, won’t we be getting into the same trouble those people we are coming away from got into?” So they thought they should at least go and look at the place.

The land lay in two sections. Some of it lay along the river. It was bottom land; that’s quite good. The house was on higher land, and the land was somewhat eroded. The limestone rock stood out here and there in the fields. The place was not kept up. Sister White had called it a beautiful farm, but to them it was a miserable looking place. As they walked over it and looked at those rocks sticking out, with pigs down in a wallow, they sat down on a pile of rocks and actually wept. Those dear men of experience, men who had borne heavy burdens, said, “What shall we do?”

They finally decided there was nothing for them to do but do what the Spirit of Prophecy said. They looked up the people and made a hundred dollar down payment to get an option. They were to buy the place, including the land, the buildings, the stock, the equipment, and so forth for $12,000–$13,000.

We’ll see you and your invited guest, to conclude with part 3 on the establishment of the Madison School.

-Continue on to the next study-


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* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.

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