Washington Church History
Ellen White's 1867 Visit
Letter from Ellen White to son Edson Detailing 1867 Christmas visit.
Testimonies Volume 1 Letter to Edson White 1867.pdf
Testimonies for the Church Volume One : Page 653
I will now resume the sketch of incidents, and perhaps I cannot better give an idea of our labors up to the time of the Vermont meeting than by copying a letter which I wrote to our son at Battle Creek, December 27, 1867:
"My dear son Edson: I am now seated at the desk of Brother D. T. Bourdeau, at West Enosburgh, Vermont. After our meeting closed at Topsham, Maine, I was exceedingly weary. While packing my trunk, I nearly fainted from weariness. The last work I did there was to call Brother A's family together and have a special interview with them. I spoke to this dear family, giving words of exhortation and comfort, also of correction and counsel to one connected with them. All I said was fully received and was followed by confession, weeping, and great relief to Brother and Sister A. This is crossing work for me and wears me much.
"After we were seated in the cars, I lay down and rested about one hour. We had an appointment that evening at West-brook, Maine, to meet the brethren from Portland and vicinity.
We made our home with the kind family of Brother Martin. I was not able to sit up during the afternoon; but, being urged to attend the meeting in the evening, I went to the schoolhouse, feeling that I had not strength to stand and address the people. The house was filled with deeply interested listeners. Brother Andrews opened the meeting, and spoke a short time; your father followed with remarks. I then arose, and had spoken but a few words, when I felt my strength renewed; all my feebleness seemed to leave me, and I spoke about one hour with perfect freedom. I felt inexpressible gratitude for this help from God at the very time when I so much needed it. On Wednesday evening I spoke with freedom nearly two hours upon the health and dress reforms. To have my strength so unexpectedly renewed, when I had felt completely exhausted before these two meetings, has been a source of great encouragement to me.
"We enjoyed our visit with the family of Brother Martin, and hope to see their dear children give their hearts to Christ, and with their parents war the Christian warfare, and wear the crown of immortality when the victory shall be gained.
"Thursday we went into Portland again and took dinner with the family of Brother Gowell. We had a special interview with them, which we hope will result in their good. We feel a deep interest for the wife of Brother Gowell. This mother's heart has been torn by seeing her children in affliction and in death, and laid in the silent grave. It is well with the sleepers. May the mother yet seek all the truth, and lay up a treasure in heaven, that when the Life-giver shall come to bring the captives from the great prison house of death, father mother, and children may meet, and the broken links of the family chain be reunited, no more to be severed.
"Brother Gowell took us to the cars in his carriage. We had just time to get on the train before it started. We rode five hours, and found Brother A. W. Smith at the Manchester depot, waiting to take us to his home in that city. Here we
expected to find rest one night; but, lo quite a number were waiting to receive us. They had come nine miles from Amherst to spend the evening with us. We had a very pleasant interview, profitable, we hope, to all. Retired about ten. Early next morning we left the comfortable, hospitable home of Brother Smith, to pursue our journey to Washington. It was a slow, tedious route. We left the cars at Hillsborough, and found a team waiting to take us twelve miles to Washington. Brother Colby had a sleigh and blankets, and we rode quite comfortably until we were within a few miles of our destination. There was not snow enough to make good sleighing; the wind arose, and during the last two miles blew the falling sleet into our faces and eyes, producing pain and chilling us almost to freezing. We found shelter at last at the good home of Brother C. K. Farnsworth. They did all they could for our comfort, and everything was arranged so that we could rest as much as possible. That was but little, I can assure you.
"Sabbath your father spoke in the forenoon, and after an intermission of about twenty minutes I spoke, bearing a testimony of reproof for several who were using tobacco, also for Brother Ball, who had been strengthening the hands of our enemies by holding the visions up to ridicule, and publishing bitter things against us in the Crisis, of Boston, and in the Hope of Israel, a paper issued in Iowa. The meeting for the evening was appointed at Brother Farnsworth's. The church was present, and your father there requested Brother Ball to state his objections to the visions and give an opportunity to answer them. Thus the evening was spent. Brother Ball manifested much stiffness and opposition; he admitted himself satisfied upon some points, but held his position quite firmly. Brother Andrews and your father talked plainly, explaining matters which he had misunderstood, and condemning his unrighteous course toward the Sabbathkeeping Adventists. We all felt that we had done the best we could that day to
weaken the forces of the enemy. Our meeting held until past ten.
"The next morning we attended meetings again in the meetinghouse. Your father spoke in the morning. But just before he spoke, the enemy made a poor, weak brother feel that he had a most astonishing burden for the church. He walked the slip, talked, and groaned, and cried, and had a terrible something upon him, which nobody seemed to understand. We were trying to bring those who professed the truth to see their state of dreadful darkness and backsliding before God, and to make humble confessions of the same, thus returning unto the Lord with sincere repentance, that He might return unto them, and heal their backslidings. Satan sought to hinder the work by pushing in this poor, distracted soul to disgust those who wished to move understandingly. I arose and bore a plain testimony to this man. He had taken no food for two days, and Satan had deceived him, and pushed him over the mark.
"Then your father preached. We had a few moments' intermission, and then I tried to speak upon the health and dress reforms, and bore a plain testimony to those who had been standing in the way of the young and of unbelievers. God helped me to say plain things to Brother Ball, and to tell him in the name of the Lord what he had been doing. He was considerably affected.
"Again we held an evening meeting at Brother Farnsworth's. The weather was stormy during the meetings, yet Brother Ball did not remain away from one of them. The same subject was resumed, the investigation of the course he had pursued. If ever the Lord helped a man talk, He helped Brother Andrews that night, as he dwelt upon the subject of suffering for Christ's sake. The case of Moses was mentioned, who refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach
of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of reward. He showed that this is one of many instances where the reproach of Christ was esteemed above worldly riches and honor, high-sounding titles, a prospective crown, and the glory of a kingdom. The eye of faith was fixed upon the glorious future, and the recompense of the reward was regarded of such value as to cause the richest things which earth can offer to appear valueless. The children of God endured mockings, scourgings, bonds, and imprisonments; they were stoned, sawn asunder, tempted, wandering about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, afflicted, tormented, and, sustained by hope and faith, they could call these light afflictions; the future, the eternal life, appeared of so great value that they accounted their sufferings small in comparison with the recompense of the reward.
"Brother Andrews related an instance of a faithful Christian about to suffer martyrdom for his faith. A brother Christian had been conversing with him in regard to the power of the Christian hope--if it would be strong enough to sustain him while his flesh should be consuming with fire. He asked this Christian, about to suffer, to give him a signal if the Christian faith and hope were stronger than the raging, consuming fire. He expected his turn to come next, and this would fortify him for the fire. The former promised that the signal should be given. He was brought to the stake amid the taunts and jeers of the idle and curious crowd assembled to witness the burning of this Christian. The fagots were brought and the fire kindled, and the brother Christian fixed his eyes upon the suffering, dying martyr, feeling that much depended upon the signal. The fire burned, and burned. The flesh was blackened; but the signal came not. His eye was not taken for a moment from the painful sight. The arms were already crisped. There was no appearance of life. All thought that the fire had done its work, and that no life remained; when, lo! amid the flames, up went both arms toward heaven. The
brother Christian, whose heart was becoming faint, caught sight of the joyful signal; it sent a thrill through his whole being, and renewed his faith, his hope, his courage. He wept tears of joy.
"As Brother Andrews spoke of the blackened, burned arms raised aloft amid the flames, he, too, wept like a child. Nearly the whole congregation were affected to tears. This meeting closed about ten. There had been quite a breaking away of the clouds of darkness. Brother Hemingway arose and said he had been completely backslidden, using tobacco, opposing the visions, and persecuting his wife for believing them, but said he would do so no more. He asked her forgiveness, and the forgiveness of us all. His wife spoke with feeling. His daughter and several others rose for prayers. He stated that the testimony which Sister White had borne seemed to come direct from the throne, and he would never dare to oppose it again.
"Brother Ball then said that if matters were as we viewed them, his case was very bad. He said he knew he had been backslidden for years and had stood in the way of the young. We thanked God for that admission. We designed to leave early Monday morning, and had an appointment at Braintree, Vermont, to meet about thirty Sabbathkeepers. But it was very cold, rough, blustering weather to ride twenty-five miles after such constant labor, and we finally decided to hold on, and continue the work in Washington until Brother Ball decided either for or against the truth, that the church might be relieved in his case.
"Meeting commenced Monday at 10 a.m. Brethren Rodman and Howard were present. Brother Newell Mead, who was very feeble and nervous, almost exactly like your father in his past sickness, was sent for to attend the meeting. Again the condition of the church was dwelt upon, and the severest censure was passed upon those who had stood in the way of
its prosperity. With the most earnest entreaties we pleaded with them to be converted to God and face rightabout. The Lord aided us in the work; Brother Ball felt, but moved slowly. His wife felt deeply for him. Our morning meeting closed at three or four in the afternoon. All these hours we had been engaged, first one of us, then another, earnestly laboring for the unconverted youth. We appointed another meeting for the evening, to commence at six.
"Just before going into the meeting, I had a revival of some interesting scenes which had passed before me in vision, and I spoke to Brethren Andrews, Rodman, Howard, Mead, and several others who were present. It seemed to me that the angels were making a rift in the cloud and letting in the beams of light from heaven. The subject that was presented so strikingly was the case of Moses. I exclaimed: 'Oh, that I had the skill of an artist, that I might picture the scene of Moses upon the mount!' His strength was firm. 'Unabated,' is the language of the Scripture. His eye was not dimmed through age, yet he was upon that mount to die. The angels buried him, but the Son of God soon came down and raised him from the dead and took him to heaven. But God first gave him a view of the land of promise, with His blessing upon it. It was as it were a second Eden. As a panorama this passed before his vision. He was shown the appearing of Christ at His first advent, His rejection by the Jewish nation, and His death upon the cross. Moses then saw Christ's second advent and the resurrection of the just. I also spoke of the meeting of the two Adams--Adam the first, and Christ the second Adam--when Eden shall bloom on earth again. The particulars of these interesting points I design to write out for Testimony No. 14. The brethren wished me to repeat the same in the evening meeting. "Our meeting through the day had been most solemn. I had such a burden upon me Sunday evening that I wept aloud
for about half an hour. Monday, solemn appeals had been made, and the Lord was sending them home. I went into meeting Tuesday evening a little lighter. I spoke an hour with great freedom upon subjects I had seen in vision, which I have referred to. Our meeting was very free. Brother Howard wept like a child, as did also Brother Rodman. Brother Andrews talked in an earnest, touching manner, and with weeping. Brother Ball arose and said that there seemed to be two spirits about him that evening, one saying to him: Can you doubt that this testimony from Sister White is of heaven? Another spirit would present before his mind the objections he had opened before the enemies of our faith. 'Oh, if I could feel satisfied,' said he, 'in regard to all these objections, if they could be removed, I would feel that I had done Sister White a great injury. I have recently sent a piece to the Hope of Israel . If I had that piece, what would I not give!' He felt deeply, and wept much. The Spirit of the Lord was in the meeting. Angels of God seemed drawing very near, driving back the evil angels. Minister and people wept like children. We felt that we had gained ground, and that the powers of darkness had given back. Our meeting closed well.
"We appointed still another meeting for the next day, commencing at 10 a.m. I spoke upon the humiliation and glorification of Christ. Brother Ball sat near me and wept all the time I was talking. I spoke about an hour, then we commenced our labors for the youth. Parents had come to the meeting bringing their children with them to receive the blessing. Brother Ball arose and made humble confession that he had not lived as he should before his family. He confessed to his children and to his wife that he had been in a backslidden state, and had been no help to them, but rather a hindrance. Tears flowed freely; his strong frame shook, and sobs choked his utterance.
"Brother James Farnsworth had been influenced by Brother Ball, and had not been in full union with the Sabbathkeeping
Adventists. He confessed with tears. Then we pleaded earnestly with the children, until thirteen arose and expressed a desire to be Christians. Brother Ball's children were among the number. One or two had left the meeting, being obliged to return home. One young man, about twenty years old, walked forty miles to see us and hear the truth. He had never professed religion, but took his stand on the Lord's side before he left. This was one of the very best of meetings. At its close, Brother Ball came to your father and confessed with tears that he had wronged him, and entreated his forgiveness. He next came to me and confessed that he had done me a great injury. 'Can you forgive me and pray God to forgive me?' We assured him we would forgive him as freely as we hoped to be forgiven. We parted with all with many tears, feeling the blessing of heaven resting upon us. We had no meeting in the evening.
"Thursday we arose at 4 a.m. It had rained in the night and was still raining, yet we ventured to start to ride to Bellows Falls, a distance of twenty-five miles. The first four miles was exceedingly rough, as we took a private track through the fields to escape steep hills. We rode over stones and plowed ground, nearly throwing us out of the sleigh. About sunrise the storm cleared away, and we had very good sleighing when we reached the public road. The weather was very mild; we never had a more beautiful day to travel. On arriving at Bellows Falls, we found that we were one hour too late for the express train, and one hour too early for the accommodation train. We could not get to St. Albans until nine in the evening. We took seats in a nice car, then took our dinner, and enjoyed our simple fare. We then prepared to sleep if we could.
"While I was sleeping, someone shook my shoulder quite vigorously. I looked up, and saw a pleasantlooking lady bending over me. Said she: 'Don't you know me? I am Sister Chase. The cars are at White River. Stop only a few
moments. I live just by here, and have come down every day this week and been through the cars to meet you.' I then remembered that I took dinner at her house at Newport. She was so glad to see us. Her mother and she keep the Sabbath alone. Her husband is conductor on the cars. She talked fast. Said she prized the Review much, as she had no meeting to attend. She wanted books to distribute to her neighbors, but had to earn all the money herself which she expended for books or for the paper. We had a profitable interview, although short, for the cars started, and we had to separate.
"At St. Albans we found Brethren Gould and A.C. Bourdeau. Brother B. had a convenient covered carriage and two horses, but he drove very slowly, and we did not reach Enosburgh until past one in the morning. We were weary and chilled. We lay down to rest a little after two o'clock and slept until after seven.
"Sabbath morning. There is quite a large gathering here although the roads are bad, neither sleighing nor good wagoning. I have just been in meeting and occupied a little time in conference. Your father speaks this morning, I in the afternoon. May the Lord help us, is our prayer. You see how long a letter I have written you. Read this to those who are interested, especially to father and mother White. You see, Edson, that we have work enough to do. I hope you do not neglect to pray for us. Your father works hard, too hard for his good. He sometimes realizes the special blessing of God, and this renews him and cheers him in the work. We have allowed ourselves no rest since coming East; we have labored with all our strength. May our feeble efforts be blessed to the good of God's dear people.
"Edson, I hope that you will adorn your profession by a well-ordered life and godly conversation. Oh, be earnest! be zealous and persevering in the work. Watch unto prayer. Cultivate humility and meekness. This will meet the approval of God. Hide yourself
in Jesus; let self-love and self-pride be sacrificed, and you, my son, be fitting with a rich Christian experience, to be of use in any position that God may require you to occupy. Seek for thorough heartwork. A surface work will not stand the test of the judgment. Seek for thorough transformation from the world. Let not your hands be stained, your heart spotted, your character sullied, by its corruptions. Keep distinct. God calls: 'Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.' 'Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.'
"The work rests upon us to perfect holiness. When God sees us doing all we can on our part, then He will help us. Angels will aid us, and we shall be strong through Christ strengthening us. Do not neglect secret prayer. Pray for yourself. Grow in grace. Advance. Don't stand still, don't go back. Onward to victory. Courage in the Lord, my dear boy. Battle with the great adversary only a little longer, and then release will come, and the armor will be laid off at the feet of our dear Redeemer. Press through every obstacle. If the future looks somewhat clouded, hope on, believe on. The clouds will disappear, and light again shine. Praise God, my heart says, praise God for what He has done for you, for your father, and for myself. Commence the new year right. Your mother, E.G.W."