Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2


Chapter 3—Feelings of Despair

In 1842 I constantly attended the Second Advent meetings in Portland, and fully believed the Lord was coming. I was hungering and thirsting for holiness of heart; day and night it was my study how to obtain this treasure that all the riches of the world could not purchase. And while bowed before the Lord, praying for this blessing, the duty to pray in a prayer-meeting was presented before me. I had never prayed vocally, and was not humble enough to do this, fearing that if I should attempt to pray, I should become confused and be obliged to stop, or my prayer be very broken. Every time I went before the Lord in secret prayer this unfulfilled duty presented itself, until I ceased to pray, for in this state of mind my prayers seemed like mocking God. I settled down in a melancholy state which increased to deep despair. 2SG 15.1

In this state of mind I remained three weeks, with not one ray of light to pierce the thick clouds of darkness around me. My sufferings were very great. How precious did the hope of the christian look to me then. And how wretched the state of the sinner without God or hope in the world. I remained bowed before the Lord nearly all night, groaning, and all I had any confidence to utter was, “Lord, have mercy.” Such utter hopelessness would seize me that I would fall upon my face with such agony of feelings as cannot be described. Like the poor publican, I dared not so much as lift my eyes toward heaven. I became much reduced in flesh. My friends looked upon me as one sinking in a decline. At length a dream was given me which sunk me still lower in despair, if possible. 2SG 16.1

I dreamed that there was a temple to which many people were flocking, and all who would be saved when time should close must be within that temple. And all who were outside the temple would be lost. As I looked upon the people going to the temple, I saw the multitude laughing at and deriding them, telling them that it was all a deception. They even caught hold of some who were hastening to the temple and tried to hold them. 2SG 16.2

I was afraid of being laughed at and ridiculed, and thought I would wait until the multitude were dispersed, or until I could go in some way that they would not know where I was going. My mind was troubled lest I should be too late, and the multitude was increasing instead of lessening. I hastily left my home and pressed through the crowd. I was in such haste that I did not notice the throng. I feared I was too late. I entered the building, and what a sight met my eyes! The temple was supported by one immense pillar, and to this pillar was a lamb tied, all mangled and bleeding. I thought that we all knew that it was our sins that caused this lamb to be thus torn and bruised. Just before this lamb were seats elevated above the level of the floor, and a company of people were sitting there looking very happy. All who entered the temple must come before the lamb and confess their sins, and then take their place among the happy throng who occupied the elevated seats. Even while in the building a fear came over me and shame to have them all looking upon me. I was slowly making my way around the pillar to face the lamb, when the trumpet sounded, and the building shook, and shouts of triumph went up from the saints in that building. The temple seemed to shine with awful brightness, and then all was dark, terrible dark. Those who had seemed so happy were gone, and I left alone in the place in complete darkness. The horror of my mind could not be described. I awoke, and it was some time before I could convince myself it was not a reality. Surely, thought I, my doom is fixed, I have slighted mercy, and grieved the Spirit of the Lord away, never more to return. 2SG 17.1

In a short time I had another dream. I thought I was sitting in deep despair, with my face covered with my hands, with reflections like these: If Jesus were upon earth, I would go to him, and throw myself at his feet, and tell him all my sufferings. And if he would have mercy upon me, I would love him always—he would not turn me away. Soon the door opened, and a person of beautiful form and countenance entered. He looked upon me with pity. Said he, “Do you wish to see Jesus? He is in the place, and you can see him. Take everything that you possess and follow me.” 2SG 18.1

Gladly did I gather up everything, every treasured trinket, and followed him who had given me the pleasing information. He led me to a steep, and it looked like a frail stairway. As I commenced to ascend the stairs, he gave me a word of caution, to keep my eyes fixed upwards, for if I looked down I should become dizzy and fall. Many seemed to be climbing up this steep stairway, and some fell before reaching the top. I succeeded in climbing to the top. Then my guide bid me lay everything at the door. Cheerfully I laid down all I possessed. He then opened the door and told me to go in. As I entered I saw Jesus, so lovely and beautiful. His countenance expressed benevolence and majesty. I tried to shield myself from his piercing gaze. I thought he knew my heart, and every circumstance of my life. I tried not to look upon his face, but still his eyes were upon me. I could not escape his gaze. He then, with a smile, drew near me, and laid his hand upon my head, saying, “Fear not.” The sound of his sweet voice, caused me to feel a thrill of happiness I never before experienced. I was too full of joy to utter a word. I grew weak, and fell prostrate at his feet. And while lying helpless, scenes of glory and beauty passed before me. I thought I was saved in heaven. At length my strength returned. I arose upon my feet. The loving eyes of Jesus were fixed upon me still, and he smiled upon me. His presence filled me with such holy awe that I could not endure it. My guide opened the door and I passed out. Then all things I had left at the door he handed me again. And he also handed me a green cord, coiled up, and he bid me wear it next my heart, and when I wished to see Jesus, to stretch this cord. I must not let it lie still any length of time; for if I should, it would become knotted and difficult to straighten. I placed the cord near my heart, and joyfully went down the narrow stairway, praising the Lord as I went, and telling all I met where they could find Jesus. I then awoke. 2SG 18.2

This dream gave me a faint hope in my despair. That green cord represented faith. I then opened my mind to my mother. She advised me to go and see Bro. Stockman, who then preached to the Advent people in Portland. I had great confidence in him, for he was a devoted and beloved servant of Christ. His words affected me and led me to hope. I returned home, and again went before the Lord, and promised that I would do and suffer anything if I could have the smiles of Jesus. The same duty was presented. There was to be a prayer-meeting that evening which I attended, and when others knelt to pray, I bowed with them trembling, and after two or three had prayed, I opened my mouth in prayer before I was aware of it. And the promises of God looked to me like so many precious pearls that were to be received only by asking for them. As I prayed the burden and agony of soul that I had so long felt left me, and the blessing of God came upon me like the gentle dew, and I gave glory to God for what I felt. Everything was shut out from me but Jesus and glory, and I knew nothing of what was passing around me. 2SG 20.1

I remained in this state a long time, and when I realized what was around me, everything looked glorious and new, as if smiling and praising God. I was then willing to confess Jesus everywhere, and seemed to be shut in with God. I went to the hall where the Advent people worshiped, and there related what the Lord had done for me, and with tears of gratitude declared the wondrous love of God. Bro. Stockman was present. He had recently seen me in deep despair, and as he now saw my captivity turned, he wept aloud, and rejoiced with me. I also related my experience in the Christian meeting house in Portland. The sacrifice that Christ had made to save me from sin and death, looked very great. I could not dwell upon it without weeping. I could then praise God for my misfortune. I was naturally proud and ambitious, and fear that I never should have given my heart to the Lord if I had not been afflicted. For six months not a cloud of darkness passed over my mind. 2SG 20.2