March 2013

J.N. Loughborough on William Ellis Foy

Gifts of the Spirit Connected with the Message

It was not in Sweden alone that the Lord, in connection with the advent movement, spoke to his people through the gifts of his Spirit.  In Scotland, in England, and also in America the Lord has instructed his people by special revelations.

William Foy’s Visions

In the year 1842 there was living in Boston, Mass., a well-educated man by the name of William Foy, who was an eloquent speaker.  He was a Baptist, but was preparing to take holy orders as an Episcopal minister.  The Lord graciously gave him two visions in the year 1842, one on the 18th of January, the other on February 4.  These visions bore clear evidence of being genuine manifestations of the Spirit of God.  He was invited from place to place to speak in the pulpits, not be Episcopalians only, but by the Baptists and other denominations.  When he spoke, he always wore the clergyman’s robe, such as the ministers of that church wear in their services.

Mr. Foy’s visions related to the near advent of Christ, the travels of the people of God to the heavenly city, the new earth, and the glories of the redeemed state.  Having a good command of language, with fine descriptive powers, he created a sensation wherever he went.  By invitation he went from city to city to tell of the wonderful things he had seen; and in order to accommodate the vast crowds who assembled to hear him, large halls were secured, where he related to thousands what had been shown him of the heavenly world, the loveliness of the New Jerusalem, and of the angelic hosts.  When dwelling on the tender, compassionate love of Christ for poor sinners, he exhorted the unconverted to seek God, and scores responded to his entreaties.

Vision of the Three Steps

His work continued until the year 1844, near the close of the twenty-three hundred days.  Then he was favored with another manifestation of the Holy Spirit—a third vision, one which he did not understand.  In this he was shown the pathway of the people of God through to the heavenly city.  He saw a great platform, or step, on which multitudes of people gathered.  Occasionally, one would drop through this platform out of sight, and of such a one it was said to him, “Apostatized.”  Then he saw the people rise to a second step, or platform, and some there also dropped through the platform out of sight.  Finally a third platform appeared, which extended to the gates of the holy city.  A great company gathered with those who had advanced to this platform.  As he expected the Lord Jesus to come in a very short time, he failed to recognize the fact that a third message was to follow the first and second messages of Revelation 14.  Consequently the vision was to him inexplainable, and he ceased public speaking.  After the close of the prophetic period, in the year 1845, he heard another relate the same vision, with the explanation that “the first and second messages had been given, and that a third was to follow.”  Soon after Mr. Foy sickened and died.

With such manifestations of the power of God in connection with the preaching of his coming “at the doors,” and with the rejoicing of thousands who were turning from sin to serve the Lord, and to wait for his coming, the people were doubly assured that this was indeed the Lord’s message to the world.

Source: Loughborough, J.N.  1905.  The Great Second Advent Movement.  Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association (145-147).