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and acts the part of the spendthrift, will not get a thorough education, and will probably make a poor use of what he does obtain.
The following winter, covering a part of 1840 and 1841, I taught a large school, and also gave lessons in penmanship in two districts. And with my winter's earnings in my pocket, I returned home with a firm purpose to pursue my studies.
At the age of fifteen I was baptized, and united with the Christian church. But at the age of twenty I had buried myself in the spirit of study and school teaching, and had lain down the cross. I had never descended to the common sin of profanity, and had not used tobacco, tea and coffee, nor had I ever raised a glass of spirituous liquor to my lips. Yet I loved this world more than I loved Christ and the next, and was worshiping education instead of the God of Heaven. In this state of mind I returned home from my second and last school, when my mother said to me: James, Bro. Oakes, of Boston, has been lecturing at our meeting-house on the second coming of Christ about the year 1843, and many believe the doctrine, and there has followed these lectures a good reformation, in which most of your mates have experienced religion."
I had regarded what was commonly called Millerism as wild fanaticism, and this impression was confirmed by hearing one James Hall, of Maine, speak upon the subject at the house of worship at Palmyra. But now that my mother, in whose judgment and piety I had reason to confide, spoke to me upon the subject in words of earnestness, candor and solemnity, I was shocked and
distressed. In spite of me, conviction would fasten upon my mind that these things might be so. But, then, how could I have it so? I was unprepared, and my plans for this life were made. The conversation continued:
But, mother, this preacher Oakes, of whom you speak, professes to know more than the Lord and his angels, in teaching the time of the second advent. Christ himself has said, 'But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in Heaven; neither the Son, but the Father.' This man Oakes is certainly wise above that which is written."
"As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.' God gave the time to Noah. The Bible says, 'My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.' Gen. vi, 3. Noah had this time given him in which to build the ark and warn the world. And his message, based upon the word of the Lord that a flood of water would destroy man and beast from off the face of the earth at the close of the one hundred and twenty years, condemned the world.
"Jesus also says in this connection, that there shall be signs in the sun, moon, and stars, and adds, 'When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.'
"But Paul has said, 'For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.' 1 Thess. v, 2. This language is very plain, and shows that as the thief in the stillness of night quietly seeks his plunder, without giving notice, so Christ will come when least expected, hence this idea of warning the world of his soon coming is a mistake.” "But, James, of whom is the apostle in this verse
speaking? Not of Christians, but of the ungodly. They will not receive the warning. They will not be looking for Christ. They will be buried up in the spirit of this world. They will be saying, Peace and safety, and they will be suddenly and unexpectedly destroyed. Not so with those who love Jesus and his appearing. They will receive the warning. They will be looking for, waiting for, and loving the appearance of the dear Saviour, and that day will not come upon them as a thief. Notice with care the two classes mentioned in the two following verses. One is the ungodly. The other is the brethren. The day of the Lord will come on one class as a thief; but not so with the other. 'For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief."
My good mother was ready to meet, calmly and pleasantly, all my objections, and I was now disposed to view the subject as worthy of my attention. And when in the house of God I heard my schoolmates speak of the love of Christ, and the glory of his appearing, I was deeply impressed that the hand of God was in the Advent doctrine.
IMPRESSIONS OF DUTY.
As I returned to the Lord, it was with strong convictions that I should renounce my worldly plans and give myself to the work of warning the people to prepare for the day of God. I had loved books generally, but, in my backslidden state, had neither time nor taste for the study of the sacred Scriptures, hence was igno
rant of the prophecies. I had, however, some knowledge of the Bible history of man, and had the idea that the race in six thousand years had depreciated physically, and, consequently, mentally. The subject came before my mind in this form: Man once lived nearly one thousand years. In length of days he has dwindled to seventy. In a few centuries, should time continue, with the same results upon the lifetime of man, the race would cease to exist. I had renounced the doctrine of the conversion of the world, and the temporal millennium, in which the soil and man were to be gradually restored to their Eden state, as taught me by my father. I therefore saw the necessity, in the very nature of things, for some great change, and the second coming of Christ seemed to be the event which would most probably bring about the change in man, and in the earth, to remove the curse and its results, and restore all to its Eden perfection and glory.
My mind turned to the young people of the school I had just left. In that school of fifty scholars, twenty were near my own age, several were older. My school was a happy one. I loved my scholars, and this love was mutual. As we parted, at the close of the last day of school, I said to them, "I am engaged to teach this school next winter, and should I fulfill this engagement, I will not ask one of you to obey my orders better than you have this term." As I found comfort in prayer, I began to pray for my scholars, and would sometimes wake myself in the night praying vocally for them. A strong impression came upon me, as if a voice said, Visit your scholars from house to house and pray with them. I could not conceive of a heavier cross than this. I prayed to be excused, that I might pursue my studies; but no relief came. I prayed for clearer evi
dence, and the same impression seemed to say, Visit your scholars.
In this state of mind I went into my father's field, hoping that I could work off the feelings under which I suffered. But they followed me, and increased. I went to the grove to pray for relief. None came. But the impression, Visit your scholars, was still more distinct. My spirit rose in rebellion against God, and I recklessly said, I will not go. These words were accompanied with a firm stamp of the foot upon the ground, and in five minutes I was at the house, packing my books and clothes for Newport Acadamy. That afternoon I rode to the place with Eld. Bridges, who talked to me all the way upon the subject of preaching, greatly to my discomfort.
The next morning I secured a boarding place, and took my position in several classes in the school, and commenced study with a will to drive off my convictions. But in this I did not succeed. I became distressed and agitated. After spending several hours over my books, I tried to call to mind what I had been studying. This I could not do. My mental confusion was complete. The Spirit of God had followed me into the school-room in mercy, notwithstanding my rebellion, and I could find no rest there. Finaly I resolved that I would do my duty, and immediately took my cap and went directly from the door of that school-room, on foot, to the town of Troy, the place of my last school. I had gone but a few rods on my way, when sweet peace from God flowed into my mind, and Heaven seemed to shine around me. I raised my hands and praised God with the voice of triumph.
With a light heart and cheerful step I walked on till sundown, when I came to a humble cottage which at