The Ellen G. White Letters and Manuscripts: Volume 1


SMITH, Stephen (1806-1889) and Matilda (1809-1891)

Stephen and Matilda Smith, from New Hampshire, became Sabbathkeepers about 1850. Although he did some lay preaching in the 1850s, Stephen Smith had a troubled relationship with the church and subsequently allied himself to offshoot movements in opposition to Seventh-day Adventism and the visions of Ellen White. Some sources suggest that Matilda Smith, unlike her husband, remained a Seventh-day Adventist until her death. 1EGWLM 890.1

About 1842 Stephen and Matilda Smith joined the Millerite Adventist movement. According to his obituary, Stephen Smith gave himself “to the work of publicly proclaiming the second coming of Christ.” The Smiths subsequently became Sabbathkeepers and remained so the rest of their lives. However, there were other doctrinal issues on which Stephen Smith was at odds with the new movement. These included, at an earlier stage, his belief in some sort of “spiritual” rather than literal Second Coming, his later support for 1854 as the date for the Second Coming, and his rejection of the visions of Ellen White. 1EGWLM 890.2

These consequent tensions with the Sabbatarian Adventist movement led to periodic crises. In 1851 Smith was excluded from fellowship but was readmitted in 1852 after having “fully confessed and renounced” his errors. In 1854 Smith left the movement again but sought readmission in 1857, when in midwinter he “waded twelve miles through the snow on foot to confess his past wrongs.” However, by the following year he was out again “in his rebellion” and remained so until a few years before his death, when, in 1885, he returned to the church with the self-described words “another rebel has surrendered.” 1EGWLM 890.3

There is no record of Stephen Smith's acknowledging the authenticity of Ellen White's visions before 1885. As early as 1851 Ellen White noted at a meeting in Washington, New Hampshire, that “all acknowledged their faith in the visions except Brother Butler and S. Smith.” In 1857 Smith confessed that he had “had particular hatred towards Bro. and Sr. White.” During the mid-1850s Smith was sympathetic to the Messenger Party, and from the 1860s to the Marion Party (later Church of God [Seventh Day]), both of which, although Sabbatarian, were offshoot movements from Seventh-day Adventism and were strongly opposed to the visions. In a dramatic turnaround in 1885, Stephen Smith testified that he had come to the place “where I firmly believe they [the testimonies of Ellen White] are all of God,” acknowledging the truthfulness of a personal testimony he had received 28 years earlier, but which he had chosen not to read until that time, having “locked it up in my trunk.” 1EGWLM 890.4

See: Obituary: “Stephen Smith,” Review, Jan. 28, 1890, p. 63; obituary: “Matilda Smith,” Review, June 2, 1891, p. 351; History of Washington, New Hampshire, pp. 611, 612; E. W. Farnsworth to Ellen G. White, July 15, 1885; “Returning to the Ranks,” Review, Feb. 19, 1857, p. 126; A. S. Hutchings, “Communication From Bro. Hutchins,” Review, Mar. 12, 1857, p. 152; “Bro. Stephen Smith,” Review, Nov. 25, 1852, p. 112; letter from “Bro. J. Stowell,” Review, Apr. 18, 1854, p. 102; 1850 U.S. Federal Census, “Stephen Smith,” New Hampshire, Sullivan County, Lempster, p. 58; Ellen G. White, Lt 8, 1851 (Nov. 12); Ms 2, 1858 (Dec. 27). 1EGWLM 890.5