Life Sketches Manuscript


Chapter 11—Meeting Fanaticism

From Topsham we returned to Portland, and found there quite a number of our faith from the East. Among them were the very fanatics to whom I had borne my testimony at Exeter, declaring that it was not their duty to visit Portland. Some of these persons had laid aside reason and judgment; they trusted every impression of their excitable and over-wrought minds. Their demonstrative exercises, which they claimed were the result of the working of the Spirit of God, were unworthy of their exalted profession. My heart ached for God's people. Must they be deceived and led away by this false enthusiasm? I faithfully pronounced the warnings given me of the Lord; but they seemed to have little effect, except to make these persons of extreme views jealous of me. LSMS 101.1

There were some who professed great humility and advocated creeping on the floor like children, as an evidence of their humility. They claimed that the words of Christ in Matthew 18:1-6 must have a literal fulfillment at this period, when they were looking for their Saviour to return. They would creep around their houses, on the street, over bridges, and in the church itself. LSMS 101.2

I told them plainly that this was not required; that the humility which God looked for in His people was to be shown by a Christ-like life, not by creeping on the floor. All spiritual things are to be treated with sacred dignity. Humility and meekness are in accordance with the life of Christ, but they are to be shown in a dignified way. LSMS 101.3

An old gentleman, who had heard me speak, made a request for an interview with me. During our talk he said, “Miss Harmon, do you advocate the creeping position?” I said, “I do not. I have plainly stated that this action is a dishonor to God. A Christian reveals true humility by showing the gentleness of Christ, by being always ready to help others, by speaking kind words and performing unselfish acts, which elevate and ennoble the most sacred message that has come to our world.” LSMS 102.1

During this interview, a sister whom I loved as a Christian came into the room on her knees. Said the old gentleman in clear, distinct tones, LSMS 102.2

“If man was made to walk erect,
The serpent made to crawl,
Why imitate the odious thing
That introduced the fall?”
LSMS 102.3

The false impressions of these fanatics might have turned me from my duty, had not the Lord previously shown me where to go and what to do. Although so young and inexperienced, I was preserved from falling into the snare of the enemy, through the mercy of God, in giving me special instructions whom to fear and whom to trust. Had it not been for this protection, I now see many times when I might have been led from the path of duty. LSMS 102.4