Person #2 ~Uriah Smith, author of “Synopsis of the Present Truth”

This book was exactly what I was hoping for, and much more. But before beginning to look at the book I feel a need to spend a little time looking at Uriah Smith himself.

Over the years I have met a number of people who look very unfavorably towards Uriah Smith. I don’t want to spend too much time on this, but I do want to share from the Spirit of Prophecy what I hope will be enough information to make it clear that his failures in no way disqualify him as a man abundantly able, as well as blessed of God, to teach and preach the true Seventh-day Adventist message.

There can be no denying that he made some serious mistakes and failures during his life, but I think these next words from the Spirit of Prophecy are appropriate in his case:

 “Does it seem fitting that the mistakes and errors of those who sleep in Jesus, whose names we have reason to believe are written in the Lamb’s book of life, whose life of toil, of suffering and privation, is ended, should be paraded before the world, and that they should be represented as sinners?…God forbid.” (To “Dear Brethren in the Seventh-day Adventist Faith,” June 7, 1894.)  {2 Manuscript Release 7, 8}

 On the page immediately preceding that last statement is this one:

“Monday, Elder Smith came to me and we had an earnest, faithful talk. I could see that he had a very different spirit from that he had months ago. He was not hard and unimpressible; he felt the words I spoke to him, laying before him faithfully the course he had taken and the harm he had done through this position. He said he wanted to come into harmony with the testimonies of the Spirit of God. I had written to him thirteen pages and sent it to him—very plain words. Tuesday he called again to see me and asked if I would meet with a select few, that he had something to say. I told him I would.

“Yesterday, Wednesday, the meeting was held in my room in the office and Elder Smith read the letter I had sent him, read it to them all, and said he accepted it as from God. He went back to the Minneapolis meeting and made a confession of the spirit he had occupied, casting on me very heavy burdens. Brother Rupert confessed also, and we had a very profitable, excellent meeting. Brother Smith has fallen on the Rock and is broken, and the Lord Jesus will now work with him. He took my hand as he left the room and said, “If the Lord will forgive me for the sorrow and burdens I have brought upon you, I tell you this will be the last. I will stay up your hands. The testimonies of God shall hold this place in my experience.” It is seldom that Elder Smith sheds a tear, but he did weep, and his voice was choked with the tears in it. Now you see I have reason to be glad and rejoice and praise the Lord. Professor Bell was present. Elder Smith confessed to him the wrong that he had done him in the school trial in 1882. Oh, how glad I was to see and hear and know that these things that had barred the Spirit of God from coming into our meetings, were removed.”  {2 Manuscript Release 6, 7}

 After all was said and done, I think this next statement, especially considering its date, speaks volumes. (This quote was written in 1902. Uriah Smith died March 6, 1903):

 “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. Those who began the work, who fought bravely when the battle went so hard, must not lose their hold now. They are to be honored by those who entered the work after the hardest privation had been borne.
“I feel very tender toward Elder Smith. My life interest in the publishing work is bound up with his. He came to us as a young man, possessing talents that qualified him to stand in his lot and place as an editor. How I rejoice as I read his articles in the Review—so excellent, so full of spiritual truth. I thank God for them. I feel a strong sympathy for Elder Smith, and I believe that his name should always appear in the Review as the name of the leading editor. Thus God would have it. When, some years ago, his name was placed second, I felt hurt. When it was again placed first, I wept, and said, “Thank God.” May it always be there, as God designs it shall be, while Elder Smith’s right hand can hold a pen. And when the power of his hand fails, let his sons write at his dictation.”  {2 Selected Messages 225}

 We are also told:

 “Elder Smith and Elder Littlejohn can communicate the reasons of our faith in a clear and understanding manner which will interest and instruct minds, and if they have a living connection with Jesus, power will attend their labors. God has entrusted to Brother Smith the treasures of His truth.”  {Sermons and Talks, Volume 1, page 90}

 As I begin looking at this book by Uriah Smith, “Synopsis of the Present Truth,” I want to compare one more Spirit of Prophecy quote with what he says in the very first sentence of his book:

 “The plan that has been adopted, to have Elder Smith hold Biblical institutes in different states, is approved of God.”  {4 Testimonies 407}

 “This book is the outgrowth of a series of lectures given at Biblical Institutes in various parts of the country.”  {Preface, page iii}

 Here is the remainder of that paragraph I just quoted from:

 “A general desire for an opportunity to study the views thus taught, on the part of those not privileged to attend the Institutes, led to the publication of the substance of the lectures, some years since, in book form, under the title of “The Biblical Institute.” The work is now thoroughly revised, much of it is re-written, and many new subjects added, making it what its new name is designed to indicate, a “Synopsis of the Present Truth.”  {Preface, page iii}

 Here is how the dictionary defines synopsis—“A general view or a collection of things or parts so arranged as to exhibit the whole or the principal parts in a general view.” As Uriah Smith says in his preface, that is exactly what the book is.

If the message warning us about the New World Order is truly a part of the Seventh-day Adventist Message we should find it in this book by Uriah Smith.

Before beginning to look at the book I would like to say a few things about it. For me personally, it was a great blessing; to use the words of Ellen White—“so excellent, so full of spiritual truth.” I have spent many hours reading his classic book—“Daniel and The Revelation,” which the Spirit of Prophecy so highly endorses, and have gained much understanding of those two important books of the Bible from it; but I must admit, I always found great portions of it somewhat dry and difficult. But this book, “Synopsis of the Present Truth,” is not at all like that. (Maybe it was just me.) I found it to be full of light and blessing, and for the most part very interesting and easy reading. It is an absolute gold mine of important Bible texts proving the pillars of Seventh-day Adventist beliefs. It also examines many of the Bible texts that are so often used by people to try to disprove our beliefs. Every Seventh-day Adventist, especially those new to the faith, should read this book. I also believe that it would make a tremendous missionary book for those who truly desire to find out whether the beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists are Biblical or not. I have no idea who, if anyone, is still selling it. The copy I have was printed by Leaves-of-Autumn Books in 1987.

The book has 32 chapters, totaling 332 pages. There are chapters on Daniel 2, Daniel 7, Daniel 8, Revelation 14, Revelation 12 and 13, and Matthew 24. There are chapters on the 2300 days and the sanctuary. There are four chapters on the Sabbath and two on the “First-day Sabbath.” There are four chapters dealing with the state of the dead. There are chapters on the seven last plagues, the seven churches, the seven seals, and the seven trumpets; plus much, much more. In all of those 332 pages, that are truly a Synopsis of the Present Truth, I cannot remember reading one single thing telling us, or warning us, about the New World Order.

There are two things that I believe need to be kept in mind in relation to that statement I just made about there not being a single thing in his book warning us about the New World Order. #1—We are told by Divine Inspiration itself, that “God has entrusted to Brother Smith the treasures of His truth.” #2—Uriah Smith was probably one of the greatest historians the church has ever had.