The Signs of the Times


January 13, 1876

Mrs. Ellen G. White—Her Life, Christian Experience, and Labors


We do not say that there are no sound conversions to God in advanced years; but we do affirm that good Christian character is seldom commenced and matured in old age, and even then is perfected under great difficulties. Both the experiences of the past and the uniform appeals of the sacred writers to the young, to seek the Lord in their youth, give evidence that early life, even in tender years, is most favorable to the formation and growth of true Christian character. ST January 13, 1876, par. 1

Providence, to outward view, was dealing severely with Mrs. W. in her childhood, but now she can look back over thirty years of hardships, toils, and reproaches in the cause of Christ, for his dear name's sake, and kiss the chastening rod that struck down her early hopes for this life, but was sanctified of God to her early consecration and mature growth in grace. Of this we let her speak, as continued from last week: ST January 13, 1876, par. 2

“I gained strength very slowly. As I became able to join in play with my young friends I was forced to learn the bitter lesson that one's personal appearance makes a difference in the treatment they receive from the majority of their companions. At the time of my misfortune, my father was absent in Georgia. When he returned he embraced my brother and sisters and then inquired for me. I, timidly shrinking back, was pointed out by my mother, but my own father did not recognize me. It was hard for him to believe that I was his little Ellen, whom he had left only a few months before a healthy, happy child. This cut my feelings deeply, but I tried to appear cheerful though my heart seemed breaking. ST January 13, 1876, par. 3

“Many times in those childish days, I was made to feel my misfortune keenly. My feelings were unusually sensitive and caused me great unhappiness. Often with a wounded pride, mortified and wretched in spirit, have I sought a lonely place and gloomily contemplated the trials I was daily doomed to bear. ST January 13, 1876, par. 4

“I had not the relief of tears, for I could not weep readily as could my twin sister, so, though my heart was heavy and ached as if it were breaking, I could not shed a tear. I often felt that it would greatly relieve me to weep away my overcharged feelings. Sometimes the kindly sympathy of friends banished my gloom and removed, for a time, the leaden weight that oppressed my heart. How vain and empty seemed the pleasures of earth to me then! How changeable the friendships of my young companions! yet these little schoolmates were not unlike a majority of the great world's people. A pretty face, a handsome dress attracts them, but let misfortune take these away and the fragile friendship grows cold or is broken. But when I turned to my Saviour, he comforted me. I sought the Lord earnestly in my trouble and received consolation, for I believed that Jesus loved even me. ST January 13, 1876, par. 5

“My health seemed to be completely shattered. For two years I could not breathe through my nose, and was able to attend school but little. It seemed impossible for me to study and retain what I learned. The same girl who was the cause of my misfortune, was appointed monitor by our teacher, and it was among her duties to assist me in my writing and other lessons. She always seemed sincerely sorry for the great injury she had done me, although I was careful not to remind her of it. She was tender and patient with me, and seemed sad and thoughtful as she saw me laboring, under serious disadvantages, to get an education. ST January 13, 1876, par. 6

“My nervous system was prostrated, and my hand trembled so that I made but little progress in writing and could get no farther than the simple copies in coarse hand. As I endeavored to bend my mind to my studies, the letters on the page would run together, great drops of perspiration would stand upon my brow, and a faintness and giddiness would seize me. I had a bad cough, and my whole system seemed debilitated: My teachers advised me to leave school and not pursue my studies further till my health would warrant it. It was the hardest struggle of my young life to yield to my feebleness, and decide that I must give up my studies and relinquish the cherished hope of acquiring an education. ST January 13, 1876, par. 7

“My ambition to become a scholar had been very great, and when I pondered over my disappointed hopes, and the thought that I was to be an invalid for life, despair seized me. The future stretched out before me dark and cheerless, without one ray of light. I was unreconciled to my lot, and at times murmured against the providence of God in thus afflicting me. I concealed my troubled feelings from my family and friends, fearing that they could not understand me. This was a mistaken course, had I opened my mind to my mother, she might have instructed, soothed, and encouraged me. ST January 13, 1876, par. 8

“After I had struggled with this unreconciled spirit for days the tempter came under a new guise and increased my distress by condemning me for having allowed such rebellious thoughts to take possession of my mind. My conscience was perplexed, and I knew no way to extricate myself from the labyrinth in which I was wandering. ST January 13, 1876, par. 9

“The happy confidence in the Saviour's love that I had enjoyed during my illness, was gone. I had lost the blessed consciousness that I was a child of God, and felt that the hopes of my heart had deceived me. It was my determination not to again put confidence in my feelings, until I knew for a certainty that the Lord had pardoned my sins. ST January 13, 1876, par. 10

“At times my sense of guilt and responsibility to God lay so heavy upon my soul, that I could not sleep but lay awake for hours, thinking of my lost condition and what was best for me to do. The consequences of my unfortunate accident again assumed gigantic proportions in my mind. I seemed to be cut off from all chance of earthly happiness, and doomed to continual disappointment and mortification. I was even pained by the tender sympathy of my friends, for my pride rebelled against being in a condition to excite their pity. My prospect of worldly enjoyment was blighted, and Heaven seemed closed against me. ST January 13, 1876, par. 11

“I had the highest reverence for Christians and ministers of the gospel, but religion seemed too holy and sacred for me to obtain. A strange inconceivable anguish bore me down until I felt that I could no longer live beneath the burden. I locked my secret agony within my heart, and did not seek the advice of experienced Christians as I should have done. ST January 13, 1876, par. 12

“No one conversed with me on the subject of my soul's salvation, and no one prayed with me. I felt that Christians were so far removed from me, so much nobler and purer than myself, that I dared not approach them on the subject that engrossed my thoughts, for I was ashamed to reveal the lost and wretched condition of my heart.” ST January 13, 1876, par. 13

J. W.