The Signs of the Times


January 20, 1876

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


Thorough Christian experience lies at the foundation of the Christian life. Such experiences can be read from our blessed Bible, from the prophets, the psalms, and from the epistles, and acts of the apostles. These are distinctly marked by sorrow for sin, self-abasement, solemn vows of consecration and obedience followed by the peace of God ruling in the heart which passeth all knowledge. ST January 20, 1876, par. 1

Experiences of this kind were common in the good old days of thorough reformation about the time when Wm. Miller came upon the stage as a lecturer upon the prophecies, giving his reasons for expecting the second coming of Christ “about the year 1843.” Then, and long before that time, the wholesome phrase was current, that this one and that were “struck under conviction.” Mrs. W. Continues her experience: ST January 20, 1876, par. 2

“In March, 1840, Eld. Wm. Miller visited Portland, Me., and gave his first course of lectures on the second coming of Christ. These lectures produced a great sensation, and the Christian church, on Casco street, that Eld. Miller occupied, was crowded day and night. No wild excitement attended these meetings, but a deep solemnity pervaded the minds of those who heard his discourses. Not only was there manifested a great interest in the city, but the country people flocked in day after day, bringing their lunch-baskets, and remaining from morning until the close of the evening meeting. ST January 20, 1876, par. 3

“Eld. Miller dwelt upon the prophecies, reasoning from Bible history, that the end of the world was near. In company with my friends I attended these meetings and listened to the strange doctrines of the preacher. Four years previous to this, on my way to school, I had picked up a scrap of paper containing an account of a man in England, who was preaching that the earth would be consumed in about thirty years from that time. I took this paper home and read it to the family. ST January 20, 1876, par. 4

“In contemplating the event predicted, a great terror seized me; for the time seemed so short for the conversion and salvation of the world. I had been taught that a temporal millennium would take place prior to the coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven. Such a deep impression was made upon my mind by the little paragraph on the waste scrap of paper, that I could scarcely sleep for several nights, and prayed continually to be ready when Jesus came. ST January 20, 1876, par. 5

“But now I was listening to the most solemn and powerful sermons to the effect that Christ was coming in 1843, only a few short years in the future. The preacher traced down the prophecies with a keen exactitude that struck conviction to the hearts of his hearers. He dwelt upon the prophetic periods, and piled up proof to strengthen his position. Then his solemn and powerful appeals and admonitions to those who were unprepared, held the crowds as if spell-bound. ST January 20, 1876, par. 6

“Special meetings were appointed where sinners might have an opportunity to seek their Saviour and prepare for the fearful events soon to take place. Terrible conviction spread through the entire city. Prayer-meetings were established, and there was a general awakening among the various denominations, for they all felt more or less the influence that proceeded from the teaching of the near coming of Christ. ST January 20, 1876, par. 7

“When sinners were invited forward to the anxious seats, hundreds responded to the call, and I, among the rest, pressed through the crowd and took my humble place with the seekers. But there was a hopeless feeling in my heart that I could never become worthy to be called a child of God. A lack of confidence in myself and a conviction that it would be impossible to make any one understand my feelings, prevented me from seeking advice and aid from my Christian friends. Thus I wandered needlessly in darkness and despair, while they, not penetrating my peculiar reserve, were entirely ignorant of my true state. ST January 20, 1876, par. 8

“One evening my brother Robert and myself were returning from a meeting where we had listened to a most impressive discourse on the approaching reign of Christ upon the earth, followed by an earnest and solemn appeal to Christians and sinners, urging them to prepare for the Judgment and the coming of the Lord. My soul had been stirred within me by what I had heard. And so deep was the sense of conviction in my heart, that I feared the Lord would not spare me to reach home. ST January 20, 1876, par. 9

“These words kept ringing in my ears, The great day of the Lord is at hand! Who shall be able to stand when he appeareth! The language of my heart was, ‘Spare me, O Lord, through the night! Take me not away in my sins, pity me, save me!’ For the first time, I tried to explain my feelings to my brother Robert, who was two years older than myself; I told him that I dared not rest nor sleep until I knew that God had pardoned my sins. ST January 20, 1876, par. 10

“My brother made no immediate response, but the cause of his silence was soon apparent to me; he was weeping in sympathy with my distress. This encouraged me to confide in him still more, to tell him that I had coveted death in the days when life seemed so heavy a burden for me to bear; but now the thought that I might die in my present sinful state and be eternally lost, filled me with inexpressible terror. I asked him if he thought God would spare my life through that one night, if I spent it agonizing in prayer to him. He answered, ‘I think he will if you ask him with faith, and I will pray for you and for myself. Ellen, we must never forget the words we have heard this night. ST January 20, 1876, par. 11

“Arriving home. I spent the most of the long hours of darkness in prayer and tears. One special reason that prompted me to conceal my feelings from my friends, was that I very much dreaded a word of discouragement. My hope was so small, and my faith so weak, that I feared if another took a similar view of my condition, it would plunge me into absolute despair. Yet how I longed to have some one tell me what I should do to be saved, what steps to take to meet my Saviour and give myself entirely up to the Lord. I regarded it a great thing to be a Christian, and felt that it required some peculiar effort on my part. ST January 20, 1876, par. 12

“For months my mind remained in this condition. I had usually attended the Methodist meetings with my parents; but since becoming interested in the soon appearing of Christ, I had attended the meetings on Casco street. The following summer my parents went to the Methodist Camp-meeting at Burton, Me., taking me with them. I was fully resolved to seek the Lord in earnest there, and obtain, if possible, the pardon of my sins. There was a great longing in my heart for the Christians hope and the peace that comes of believing. ST January 20, 1876, par. 13

“Some things at this camp-meeting perplexed me exceedingly. I could not understand the exercises of many persons during the conference meetings at the stand and in the tents. They shouted at the top of their voices, clapped their hands, and appeared greatly excited. Quite a number fell, through exhaustion it appeared to me, but those present said they were sanctified to God, and this wonderful manifestation was the power of the Almighty upon them. After lying motionless for a time, these persons would rise and again talk and shout as before. ST January 20, 1876, par. 14

“In some of the tents, meetings were continued through the night, by those who were praying for freedom from sin and the sanctification of the Spirit of God. Quite a number became sick in consequence of the excitement and loss of sleep, and were obliged to leave the ground. These singular manifestations brought no relief to me, but rather increased my discouragement. I despaired of ever becoming a Christian if, in order to obtain the blessing, it was necessary for me to be exercised as these people were. I was terrified by such peculiar demonstrations, and at a loss to understand them.” ST January 20, 1876, par. 15

J. W.