Frederick Wheeler is known as the first Sabbathkeeping Adventist minister. About 1840 he was ordained as a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and became a "circuit rider" preacher near Washington, New Hampshire, living at Hillsboro, New Hampshire. In 1842 he accepted the Millerite preaching of the advent, and became active in preaching the second coming of Christ.
While presiding at a communion service at the Washington, New Hampshire, church early in 1844, he stated that only those who kept all of God's commandments should participate. Rachel Oaks (later Preston) was present. She was a member of the Seventh Day Baptist Church, and was living with her daughter, Delight, who was teaching school there.
After the service, Rachel reminded Wheeler that he was not keeping all of God's commandments. She then introduced him to the seventh-day Sabbath. After this discussion, Wheeler went to his Bible to study the subject, and became convinced of the truth of the Sabbath.
On March 16, 1844, he preached his first sermon on the subject. Several members of the Washington, New Hampshire, congregation also later became Sabbathkeepers, including several Farnsworth families.In 1845 Wheeler was instrumental in establishing Captain Joseph Bates in the Sabbath truth. Bates traveled to Washington after reading material about the Sabbath written by T. M. Preble. Preble had no doubt heard of the Sabbath either through Wheeler or Rachel Oaks. Bates met with Wheeler and Cyrus Farnsworth under the large maple trees in front of the Farnsworth home to study the Sabbath.
Bates went back to his home in Fair Haven, Massachusetts, from this meeting to write his own tract on the Sabbath. The brick Cyrus Farnsworth home still stands on the edge of Millen Pond, near the Washington, New Hampshire, church.Elder Wheeler preached and farmed in the neighborhood of his home until 1851, when he met James White. James White wrote of him: "We have been with him in a number of meetings, and are satisfied that he, with God's blessing, will exert a good influence and accomplish much in bringing out the hidden jewels of the Lord."--Review, November 25, 1851.
In 1857 he moved to New York, and continued his ministry and farming near West Monroe. He was a charter member of the New York Conference, where he served as a minister for several years.In 1861, when James White was strongly advocating organization, Wheeler was present at the meeting. When James called for the congregation to stand in approval of organization, Wheeler remained seated, much to White's concern. He later accepted organization, and was a faithful worker to the end of his days. He wrote, late in life, "The gospel armor I will not put off, the contest I will not yield, until with all the ransomed host I shout the final victory."
He died in 1910 just before his 100th birthday.
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