Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2


Chapter 13—Return to Maine

Opposition to our faith increased in Portland. One evening as we were engaged in prayer, the window was broken in just above my head, and the glass came down upon me. I continued praying. One man in his blind rage was cursing and swearing while we continued to to plead with God, that when his indignation should come upon the shelterless head of the poor sinner, we might be hid in the secret of his pavilion. The man's voice hushed, and he was seen hastening from the place. He could not endure the sound of prayer, or the thought of the judgment. 2SG 79.2

About this time Bro. Nichols visited us. One afternoon we had a season of prayer. While bowed before the Lord, two of our most wicked, profane neighbors, entered the door, and broke in upon our worship, saying, “Up! and off your knees! for in fifteen minutes the work-house-cart will be after you.” We did not heed the interruption, but continued in prayer. In a few moments they entered again, repeating nearly the same words. A number of times we were thus broken in upon by these poor, wicked men. 2SG 80.1

The same afternoon an officer was sent to visit us, while some of our neighbors raised their windows to hear the result. Father was away to his work, and mother stepped to the door. He told her that complaints had reached him that we disturbed the peace of the neighborhood by noisy praying, and sometimes praying in the night, and he was requested to attend to the matter. Mother answered that we prayed morning and night, and sometimes at noon, and should continue to do so; that Daniel prayed to his God three times a day, notwithstanding the king's decree. He said that he had no objection to prayer, and if there was more of it in the neighborhood, it would make them better. “But,” said he, “they complain of your praying in the night.” He was told that if any of the family were sick, or were in distress of mind in the night, it was our custom to call upon God for help, and we found relief. He was referred to our near neighbor who used strong drink. His voice was often heard cursing and blaspheming God. Why did not the neighbors send you to him, to still the disturbance he causes in the neighborhood? He serves his master, we serve the Lord our God. His curses and blasphemy seem not to disturb the neighbors while the voice of prayer greatly troubles them. “Well,” said the officer, “what shall I tell them that you will do?” My mother replied, “Serve God, let the consequences be what they may.” The officer left, and we had no further trouble from that quarter. 2SG 80.2

In a few days while our family were quietly engaged at evening prayer, some young men, imitating the example of their parents, commenced making a noise around the house. At length they ran for an officer. He came, and the boys told him to listen. Said he, “Is this what you have called me out for? That family is doing what every family ought to do. They are making no disturbance; and if you call me for this purpose again, I will put you in the lock-up, for disturbing a peaceable family while attending to their religious duties.” After this we were not molested. 2SG 81.1

The neighbors’ fears were often aroused by frequent thunder and lightning that summer. A number had been killed instantly. And if there was an appearance of a thunderstorm, some parents sent their children to our house inviting one of the family to visit them, and stay until the storm was over. The children innocently told the whole story: “for ma says the lightning will not strike a house where the advent people are.” One night there was a fearful storm. The heavens presented a continual sheet of lightning. A few rushed from their beds into the street, calling upon God for mercy, saying, “The judgment day has come.” My brother Robert was then living, and was very happy. He went out of the house and walked to the head of the street, praising the Lord. He said he never prized the hope of the Christian as he did that night, as he saw the terror and insecure position of those who had no hope in Christ. 2SG 81.2

In 1846, on a visit to New Bedford, Mass., I became acquainted with Bro. Joseph Bates. He was keeping the Sabbath, and urged its importance. I did not feel its importance, and thought that Bro. B. erred in dwelling upon the fourth commandment more than the other nine. But the Lord gave me a vision. I was conducted to the second vail. It was lifted, and I beheld the ark, and on it the mercy-seat. Jesus raised the cover of the ark, and I beheld the tables of stone on which the ten commandments were written. I was amazed as I saw the fourth commandment. A halo of glory was all around it; for it was the only one of the ten which points out to man who the living God is, the maker of heaven and earth. 2SG 82.1

August 30th, 1846 I was married to Elder James White. In a few months we attended a conference in Topsham, Me. Bro. J. Bates was present. He did not then fully believe that my visions were of God. It was a meeting of much interest. But I was suddenly taken ill and fainted. The brethren prayed for me, and I was restored to consciousness. The Spirit of God rested upon us in Bro. C.’s humble dwelling, and I was wrapt in a vision of God's glory, and for the first time had a view of other planets. After I came out of vision I related what I had seen. Bro. Bates asked if I had studied astronomy. I told him I had no recollection of ever looking into an astronomy. Said he, “This is of the Lord.” I never saw Bro. Bates so free and happy before. His countenance shone with the light of Heaven, and he exhorted the church with power. 2SG 83.1

On that journey I was shown that I should be much afflicted, and that we should have a trial of our faith on our return to Gorham, where my parents had moved. On our return I was taken very sick, and suffered extremely. My parents, husband and sister, united in prayer for me; but still I suffered on for three weeks. Our neighbors thought I could not live. I often fainted like one dead; but in answer to prayer, revived again. My agony was such that I plead with those around me not to pray for me, for I thought their prayers were protracting my sufferings. Bro. and Sr. Nichols heard of my afflictions, and their son Henry visited us, bringing things for my comfort. My sufferings increased until every breath came with a groan. The neighbors gave me up to die. Many prayers had been offered to God in my behalf, yet it pleased the Lord to try our faith. After others had prayed, Bro. Henry commenced praying, and seemed much burdened, and with the power of God resting upon him, rose from his knees, came across the room, and laid his hands upon my head, saying, “Sister Ellen, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole,” and fell back prostrated by the power of God. I believed that the work was of God, and the pain left me. My heart was filled with gratitude and peace. The language of my heart was, There is no help for us but in God; we cannot be in peace only as we rest in him and wait for his salvation. 2SG 83.2

The next day there was a severe storm, and none of the neighbors came to our house. I was able to be up in the sitting room. And as some saw the windows of my room raised they supposed I was not living. They knew not that the great Physician had graciously entered the dwelling, and had rebuked disease and set me free. The next day we rode thirty-eight miles to Topsham. Inquiries were made of my father, at what time the funeral would be. Father asked, “What funeral?” “Why the funeral of your daughter.” Father replied that she was healed by the prayer of faith, and was on her way to Topsham. 2SG 84.1

Soon we took passage in the steamboat at Portland for Boston. The boat rolled fearfully, and the waves dashed into the cabin windows. The large chandelier fell to the floor with a crash. The table was prepared for breakfast, but the dishes were thrown upon the floor. There was great fear in the ladies’ cabin. Some were confessing their sins, and crying to God for mercy. Some were calling upon the Virgin Mary to keep them. Others were making solemn vows to God that if they reached land they would devote their lives to God. It was a scene of terror and confusion. One lady in the berth above me, as the boat rocked, fell out of her berth to the floor, crying out at the top of her voice. Another turned to me and asked, “Are you not terrified? I suppose it is a fact that we may never reach land.” I told her I had made Christ my refuge, and if my work was done, I might as well lie in the bottom of the ocean as in any other place; but if my work was not done, all the waters of the ocean could not drown me. My trust was in God, that he would bring us safe to land if it was for his glory. 2SG 85.1

At this time I prized the Christian's hope. This scene brought vividly to my mind the day of the Lord's fierce anger, when the storm of his wrath will come upon the poor sinner. Then there will be bitter cries and tears, and confession of sin, and pleading for mercy; but all too late. “Because I have called and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh. 2SG 86.1

Through the mercy of God we were all landed safe. But some of the passengers who manifested so much fear in the storm, made no reference to it, only to make light of their fears. The one who had so solemnly promised that if she was preserved to see land she would be a Christian, as she left the boat mockingly cried out, “Glory to God, I am glad to step on land again.” I asked her to go back a few hours, and remember her vows to God. She turned from me with a sneer. 2SG 86.2

I was forcibly reminded of death-bed repentance. Some who serve themselves and Satan all their life, as sickness subdues them, and a fearful uncertainty is before them, manifest some sorrow for sin, and perhaps say they are willing to die, and their friends make themselves believe they were converted and fitted for heaven. But if they should recover, would they not be as rebellious as ever? I am reminded of Proverbs 1:27, 28. “When your fear cometh as desolation and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you, then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me.” 2SG 86.3

August 26th, 1847, our eldest son, Henry Nichols White, was born. In October Bro. and Sr. Howland kindly offered us a part of their dwelling, which we gladly accepted, and commenced housekeeping with borrowed articles. We were poor and saw close times. My husband worked at handling stone on the Rail-road, which wore the skin on his fingers through, and the blood started in many places. We had resolved not to be dependent, but support ourselves, and have wherewith to help others. But we were not prospered. My husband worked very hard, but could not get what was due him for his labor. Bro. and Sr. H. freely divided with us whenever they could; but they were in close circumstances. They fully believed the first and second messages, and they generously imparted of their substance to forward the work, until they were dependent on their daily labor. 2SG 87.1

My husband changed his labor, and with his axe went into the woods to chop. He worked from early morning till dark, with a continual pain in his side, to earn about fifty cents a day. He was prevented from sleeping nights by severe pain. We endeavored to keep up good courage and trust in the Lord. I did not murmur. In the morning I felt grateful to God that he had preserved me through another night, and at night I was thankful that he had kept me through another day. 2SG 88.1

Our provisions were gone, and husband went to his employer to get money or provisions. It was a stormy day. He walked three miles and back, passed through the village of Brunswick where he had often lectured, with a bag of provisions on his back, tied in different apartments. As he entered the house very weary, my heart sunk within me. My first feelings were that God had forsaken us. I said to my husband, Have we come to this? Has the Lord left us? I could not restrain my tears, and wept aloud for hours, until I fainted. Prayer was offered in my behalf. When I breathed again, I felt the cheering influence of the Spirit of God. I regretted that I had sunk under discouragement. We desire to follow Christ and be like him; but we shun trials and remain at a distance from him. Suffering and trials bring us nigh to Jesus. The furnace consumes the dross and brightens the gold. 2SG 88.2

At this time I was shown that the Lord had been trying us for our good, and to prepare us to labor for others; that he had been stirring up our nest, lest we should settle down in ease; that our work was to labor for souls, and if we had been prospered, home would be so pleasant that we should be unwilling to leave it to travel, that we had been suffering trial to prepare us for still greater conflicts that we should endure in our travels. 2SG 89.1

We soon received letters from brethren in different States, inviting us to come and visit them. We had not means to take us out of the State. Our reply was that the way was not open before us; I thought that it would be impossible for me to travel with my child. 2SG 89.2

We did not wish to be dependent, and were careful to live within our means. We were resolved to suffer rather than get into debt. I allowed myself and child one pint of milk each day. In the morning before my husband went to his work, he left me nine cents to buy milk for three mornings. It was quite a study with me whether to deny myself and child of milk, or get an apron for him. I gave up the milk, and purchased the cloth for an apron to cover the bare arms of my child. 2SG 89.3

But little Henry was soon taken very sick, and grew worse so fast that we were much alarmed. He lay in a stupid state. His breathing was quick and heavy. We gave remedies with no success. We called in one of experience, who said he was a very sick child, and thought his recovery doubtful. We had prayed for him, but there was no change. We had made the child an excuse for not traveling and laboring for the good of others, and we feared the Lord was about to remove him. Once more we went before the Lord, praying that he would have compassion upon us, and if the child was to be taken from us in wrath, because we had not been willing to travel, to spare the life of the child, and we would go forth trusting in him wherever he might send us. 2SG 89.4

Our petitions were fervent and agonizing. By faith we claimed the promises of God. We believed the child would recover. From that hour he began to amend. Light from heaven was breaking through the clouds, and shining upon us again. Hope revived. Our prayers were graciously answered. Sister Frances Howland offered to take care of the child, while we should lie down for an hour's rest. It was daylight when we awoke. The child had slept sweetly through the night, and was fast recovering. 2SG 90.1