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I well remember when Bro. Bates felt deeply impressed with the duty to labor in Vermont, and, being destitute of means, resolved to start on foot from Fairhaven, Mass. A natural sister of Mrs. W. had come from Maine to Fairhaven, to perform the duties of the kitchen for one dollar a week, and in this way raise means to spread the truth. On learning Bro. Bates' intention to perform the long journey on foot, she went to her employer and asked for five dollars, which she obtained and gave to Bro. Bates to help him on his way to Vermont. God greatly blessed the mission, as many witnesses, who still observe the Sabbath, can testify. Let not those brethren and sisters who take but little interest in spreading the truth, blush at this simple narrative. He who notices the sparrows, saw this act of self-sacrifice, and set his seal of approbation. It was written in the books from which all are to be judged according to their deeds. And did not the angels who rejoice much over one repenting sinner, rejoice over this simple means of sending the light of present truth among the Green Mountains of Vermont? That sister will receive her reward. I write not these things to shame the wealthy believer, who is burying himself up in his wealth and his cares, and losing his interest in the cause, and his hold on Heaven; but I design to state facts that you may be led to seek that spirit of sacrifice, which those who were first in this cause evinced, that you may walk in that humble path of obedience in which they walked, and enjoy the blessing of entire consecration, which then rested upon them.
FIRST CONFERENCE OF BELIEVERS.
In the spring of 1848, in company with Bro. Bates, Mrs. W. and self attended a conference of believers, at
Rocky Hill, Conn. This was the first general meeting held by Seventh-day Adventists. In point of numbers and influence, it marked a new era in the cause; and yet we all numbered less than thirty. The brethren were much encouraged, and Bro. Bates began to labor more extensively as the way opened before him.
MRS. WHITE'S EXPERIENCE.
Here I must introduce the part which the Spirit of God has led Mrs. W. to act in connection with this cause. I do this,
1. Because her experience and labors have been closely connected with its rise and progress.
2. Because of the spirit of prejudice and enmity existing against her calling and labors. This is manifested by those who are ignorant of the facts in the case, or if not wholly ignorant, are led by a spirit of frenzied persecution. The bearing which this has upon the cause is a sufficient reason for laying the facts as they are before the public.
3. Because of the importance of her work, in connection with this cause, as will be seen in the following pages.
It was but a few weeks after the passing of the time, in 1844, that she had her first vision. The circumstances of this manifestation are briefly stated by Mrs. W. as follows: "I visited sister H., one of our Advent sisters, whose heart was knit with mine. In the morning we bowed at the family altar. It was not an exciting occasion. There were but five of us present, all females. While praying, the power of God came upon me, as I never had felt it before. I was surrounded with light, and was rising higher and higher from the
earth," &c. (Spir. Gifts, vol. ii, p. 30.) Her condition in vision may be described as follows:
1. She is utterly unconscious of everything transpiring around her, as has been proved by the most rigid tests, but views herself as removed from this world, and in the presence of heavenly beings.
2. She does not breathe. During the entire period of her continuance in vision, which has at different times ranged from fifteen minutes to three hours, there is no breath, as has been repeatedly proved by pressing upon the chest, and by closing the mouth and nostrils.
3. Immediately on entering vision, her muscles become rigid, and joints fixed, so far as any external force can influence them. At the same time her movements and gestures, which are frequent, are free and graceful, and cannot be hindered nor controlled by the strongest person.
4. On coming out of vision, whether in the day-time or a well-lighted room at night, all is total darkness. Her power to distinguish even the most brilliant objects, held within a few inches of the eyes, returns but gradually, sometimes not being fully established for three hours. This has continued for the past twenty years; yet her eyesight is not in the least impaired, few persons having better than she now possesses.
She has probably had, during the past twenty-three years, between one and two hundred visions. These have been given under almost every variety of circumstance, yet maintaining a wonderful similarity; the most apparent change being, that of late years they have grown less frequent, but more comprehensive. She has been taken off in vision most frequently when bowed in prayer. Several times, while earnestly addressing the congregation, unexpectedly to herself and to all around
her, she has been instantly prostrated in vision. This was the case June 12, 1868, in the presence of not less than two hundred Sabbath-keepers, in the house of worship, in Battle Creek, Mich. On receiving baptism at my hands, at an early period of her experience, as I raised her up out of the water, immediately she was in vision. Several times, when prostrated by sickness, she has been relieved in answer to the prayer of faith, and taken off in vision. At such times her restoration to usual health has been wonderful. At another time, when walking with friends, in conversation upon the glories of the kingdom of God, as she was passing through the gate before her father's house, the Spirit of God came upon her, and she was instantly taken off in vision. And what may be important to those who think the visions the result of mesmerism, she has a number of times been taken off in vision, when in prayer alone in the grove or in the closet.
It may be well to speak as to the effect of the visions upon her constitution and strength. When she had her first vision, she was an emaciated invalid, given up by her friends and physicians to die of consumption. She then weighed but eighty pounds. Her nervous condition was such that she could not write, and was dependent on one sitting near her at the table to even pour her drink from the cup to the saucer. And notwithstanding her anxieties and mental agonies, in consequence of her duty to bring her views before the public, her labors in public speaking, and in church. matters generally, her wearisome travels, and home labors and cares, her health and physical and mental strength have improved from the day she had her first vision.
As to the character of the visions, I only wish to state
at present that this may be learned by reading the several volumes of "Spiritual Gifts," for sale at the Review Office. As to their fruits, and the nature of the opposition they have met, I shall speak more fully hereafter.
SECOND GENERAL CONFERENCE.
In the summer of 1848, we received an invitation to hold a Conference with the few friends in Western New York. I was destitute of means, and with feeble health entered the hay-field to earn the sum necessary to bear our expenses to that meeting. I took a large job of mowing, and when fainting beneath the noonday sun, I would bow before God in my swath, call upon him for strength, rise refreshed, and mow on again. In five weeks I earned enough to bear our expenses to the conference. Bro. Bates joined us at this meeting. The notice had been given to all in the Empire State who were in sympathy with our views, and there was a general rally; yet there were not more than forty present.
And what confusion of sentiment among this few! A spirit of discussion and contention for points not important prevailed, so that we who had come so far could hardly have chance to give our message, and the meeting would have proved a failure, and the good brethren would have separated in confusion and trial, had not the Lord worked in a special manner. His Spirit rested upon Mrs. W., and she was taken off in vision. The entire congregation believed that it was the work of God, and were deeply affected. She related what she had seen, which was given to correct some errors among them, and in melting strains exhorted them to leave their errors, and those points on which they had differed, and unite on the important truths of the third