Ellen G. White Writings

<< Back Forward >>

«Back «Prev. Pub. «Article   Article» Next Pub.» Forward»

The Review and Herald

November 25, 1884

Notes of Travel

By Mrs. E. G. White

Portland, Me

We reached Portland about ten o'clock Tuesday evening, September 9. Wednesday we rode twelve miles to Gorham to visit my sister, who has been an invalid six years from acute rheumatism. The suffering one awakened sorrow and called out deep sympathy; but we could do nothing to stay the progress of disease. We could only pray for and with her, and leave her in the hands of a compassionate Redeemer.

While in Portland, in company with Sr. McOmber, I visited localities of special interest in connection with my early life, among them the spot where I met with the accident that has made me a life-long invalid. This misfortune, which for a time seemed so bitter and was so hard to bear, has proved to be a blessing in disguise. The cruel blow which blighted the joys of earth, was the means of turning my eyes to heaven. I might never have known Jesus, had not the sorrow that clouded my early years led me to seek comfort in him.

I have read of a little bird that while his cage is full of light never sings the songs his master would teach him. He will listen, and learn a snatch of this, a trill of that, but never a separate and entire melody. But the master covers his cage, and then, in the dark, he listens to the one song he is to sing. He tries and tries again to sing that song, until it is learned, and he breaks forth in perfect melody; and then the cage is uncovered, and ever after he can sing it in the light. Thus God deals with his creatures. He has a song to teach us, and when we have learned it amid the deep shadows of affliction, we can sing it ever afterward.

I passed the spot where the house once stood where Jesus revealed himself to me in power, and I seemed to see his blessed face beaming upon me in divine love and gentleness. I also visited my early home, and the house where my first vision was given me; but railroad buildings have crowded out many dwellings that used to stand in this locality. In the chamber of the last-mentioned house, I once passed a night of anguish at the thought that I must go out and relate to others the things that God had presented before me. I shrank from this work in timidity and fear; the cross seemed so heavy that it would crush me. How clearly I remembered the experience of forty years ago, when my light went out in darkness because I was unwilling to lift this cross, and refused to be obedient. I shall never forget the agony of my soul when I felt the frown of God upon me. I was urged to attend a meeting in my father's house. The brethren and sisters bore me in the arms of their faith to a pitying Redeemer. I surrendered my will, feeling that I would do anything if the Lord would once more let his light shine upon me. I was delivered from darkness and despair, and restored to the favor of Heaven. I then lifted my cross, and have not since tried to exchange it for a lighter one.

It has been my lot to be chastened by affliction, which has had a softening and subduing influence, removing enmity from my heart, and filling it with sympathy and love. My life of bereavement, pain, and suffering has not been without precious revealings of the presence of my Saviour. My eyes have been attracted to the heavens that shine in beauty above us; I have obtained glimpses of the eternal world and of the exceeding great reward. When all has seemed dark, there has been a rift in the clouds, and sunbeams from the throne have dispersed the gloom. God would not have any of us remain pressed down by dumb sorrow, with sore and breaking hearts. He would have us look up to catch the rainbow of promise, and reflect light to others.

Oh, the blessed Saviour stands by many whose eyes are so blinded by tears that they do not discern him. He longs to clasp our hands firmly, while we cling to him in simple faith, imploring him to guide us. It is our privilege to rejoice in God. If we will let the comfort and peace of Jesus into our lives, we shall be kept close to his great heart of love.

I felt the deepest interest in the meeting in Portland, where my childhood and youth were passed. Some of my old school-mates made themselves known to me on the ground. I also met a number of relatives who were my neighbors forty years ago. It afforded me great pleasure to meet and greet these old friends.

Strict order was observed on the ground. At nine or half past, the bell was rung for retiring, and after that no meeting or loud talking was allowed. At five, at the sound of the bell, the camp was astir, preparing for the morning meeting in the pavilion. I was gratified to see the full attendance at this early hour.

The practice which prevails in camp-meetings held by some denominations, of continuing the meetings to a late hour, some even spending the night in praying and shouting is not conducive to the spiritual advancement of the worshipers. I have been told that in several instances persons have been taken from these meetings so excited that they were considered fit subjects for an insane asylum. This has caused many to decide never to attend a camp-meeting; but on attending those held by our people, they are forced to admit that they can see nothing objectionable in them. They say that the order is fully as good as that observed in houses of worship in the cities.

Body and mind need rest, that the mind may not become unbalanced and excited from being subjected to a constant strain. In our camp-meetings great pains is taken in Bible-readings and sermons to make important points of truth so clear that none need to be in ignorance. And good and regular sleep should be secured, that the mind may be clear, and in the best condition possible to weigh the arguments presented and to decide between truth and error.

Wednesday evening the Lord gave me strength to bear my testimony. What emotions filled my heart as I stood before the people of my native city. It was here that I received my first impressions in regard to the speedy, personal coming of our Lord. Here my father's family, including myself, were excluded from the Methodist church for cherishing this blessed hope. I knew there were none in the congregation who had been active workers in the message of the first and second angels. And yet this city was favored with special light and privileges in the great movement of 1842-4. A large company accepted the faith, and rejoiced in the glad tidings that Jesus was soon coming. Many more would have taken their position with the waiting, watching ones, had not the ministers warned them against attending the Adventist meetings, telling them that it was as great a sin to listen to these doctrines as to attend a theater.

A few paragraphs from a letter written in reference to the revival in Portland under Father Miller's labors will give a good idea of the character of his work. At the time, he was “lecturing to crowded congregations in the Casco-street church on his favorite theme, the end of the world and the literal reign of Christ for one thousand years.” Eld. L. D. Fleming wrote of these meetings:

“Things here are moving powerfully. Last evening about two hundred requested prayers, and the interest seems constantly increasing. The whole city seems agitated. Bro. Miller's lectures have not the least effect to frighten people; they are far from it. The great alarm is among those who do not come near them. Many who stay away and oppose, seem excited, and perhaps alarmed; but those who candidly hear are far from excitement or alarm.

“The interest awakened by his lectures is of the most deliberate and dispassionate kind; though this is the greatest revival I ever saw, yet there is the least passionate excitement about it. It seems to take a deep hold on the main part of the community. What produces the effect is this: Bro. Miller simply takes the sword of the Spirit, unsheathed, and lays its sharp edge on the naked heart, and it cuts; that is all. Before the edge of this mighty weapon, infidelity falls and Universalism withers; false foundations vanish, and Babel's merchants wonder. It seems to me that this must be a little the nearest to apostolic revivals of anything that modern times have witnessed.”

A little later he wrote:

“There has probably never been so much religious interest among the inhabitants of this place, generally, as at present; and Mr. Miller must be regarded, directly, or indirectly, as the instrument, although many, no doubt, will deny it, as some are very unwilling to admit that a good work of God can follow his labors; and yet we have the most indubitable evidence that this is the work of the Lord. It is worthy of note that in the present instance there has been, comparatively, nothing like mechanical effort. There has been nothing like passionate excitement. If there has been excitement, it has been out of doors, among such as did not attend Bro. Miller's lectures.

“At some of our meetings since Bro. Miller left, as many as two hundred and fifty, it has been estimated, have expressed a desire for religion by coming forward for prayers; and probably between one and two hundred have professed conversion at our meetings; and now the fire is being kindled through this whole city and all the adjacent country. A number of rumsellers have turned their shops into meeting-rooms, and these places that were once devoted to intemperance and revelry are now devoted to prayer and praise. Others have abandoned the traffic entirely, and are converted to God. One or two gambling establishments, I am informed, are entirely broken up. Infidels, deists, and Universalists have been converted. Prayer-meetings have been established in every part of the city by the different denominations or by individuals, and at almost every hour. Being down in the business part of our city on the 4th inst., I was conducted into a room over one of the banks, where I found about thirty or forty men, of different denominations, engaged in prayer, with one accord, at about eleven o'clock in the daytime.

“In short, it would be almost impossible to give an adequate idea of the interest now felt in the city. There is nothing like extravagant excitement, but an almost universal solemnity on the minds of all the people. One of the principal booksellers informed me that he had sold more Bibles in one month since Mr. Miller came here than in any four months previous. A member of an orthodox church informed me that if Mr. Miller would now return, he would probably be admitted into any orthodox house of worship, and he expressed a strong desire for his return to our city.”

These statements I know to be true. And as under the first and second angel's messages the truth was proclaimed without excitement or extravagance, so the work goes forward under the message of the third angel. The discourses on the Portland camp-ground were not of an emotional character, but appealed to the intellect; and many listened with deep interest to the evidences of our faith. Some, like the noble Bereans, began to search the Scriptures prayerfully to see if these things are so. Others were unmoved; they were content with their position and doctrines, and did not wish to make any change.

Some passed our tent talking of the meetings. All expressed a favorable opinion, and acknowledged that a great deal of good instruction was given, which, if heeded, would prove a lasting benefit. One inquired, with considerable earnestness, “Well, what do you think of the Sabbath question, and the statement that the first-day Sabbath is a papal institution?” The answer came, “As for the Sabbath, I pay no attention to that. I just let the arguments go into one ear and out of the other. Why, the whole world keeps Sunday.”

Here is a message from God presenting Bible evidence that they are keeping holy a common working day; that they are reverencing an institution of the papacy instead of the one established by Jehovah; and they care not whether it is genuine or spurious as long as the world accepts it. If Jesus were on earth, he could say of them, as he did of the Pharisees of old, “In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Well did the prophet say, “This people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

Said Christ, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Again he said, “I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness.” The light of truth is going forth like a burning lamp, and those who love the light will not walk in darkness. They will study the Scriptures, that they may know of a surety that they are listening to the voice of the true Shepherd, and not that of a stranger.

Those who are engaged in proclaiming the third angel's message are searching the Scriptures upon the same plan that Father Miller adopted. In the little book entitled “Views of the Prophecies and Prophetic Chronology,” Father Miller gives the following simple but intelligent and important rules for Bible study and interpretation:

“1. Every word must have its proper bearing on the subject presented in the Bible; 2. All Scripture is necessary, and may be understood by diligent application and study; 3. Nothing revealed in Scripture can or will be hid from those who ask in faith, not wavering; 4. To understand doctrine, bring all the scriptures together on the subject you wish to know, then let every word have its proper influence; and if you can form your theory without a contradiction, you cannot be in error; 5. Scripture must be its own expositor, since it is a rule of itself. If I depend on a teacher to expound to me, and he should guess at its meaning, or desire to have it so on account of his sectarian creed, or to be thought wise, then his guessing, desire, creed, or wisdom is my rule, and not the Bible.”

The above is a portion of these rules; and in our study of the Bible we shall all do well to heed the principles set forth.

Genuine faith is founded on the Scriptures; but Satan uses so many devices to wrest the Scriptures and bring in error, that great care is needed if one would know what they really do teach. It is one of the great delusions of this time to dwell much upon feeling, and to claim honesty while ignoring the plain utterances of the word of God because that word does not coincide with feeling. Many have no foundation for their faith but emotion. Their religion consists in excitement; when that ceases, their faith is gone. Feeling may be chaff, but the word of God is the wheat. And “what,” says the prophet, “is the chaff to the wheat?”

None will be condemned for not heeding light and knowledge that they never had, and they could not obtain. But many refuse to obey the truth that is presented to them by Christ's ambassadors, because they wish to conform to the world's standard; and the truth that has reached their understanding, the light that has shone in the soul, will condemn them in the Judgment. In these last days we have the accumulated light that has been shining through all the ages, and we shall be held correspondingly responsible. The path of holiness is not on a level with the world; it is a way cast up. If we walk in this way, if we run in the way of the Lord's commandments, we shall find that the “path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”

«Back «Prev. Pub. «Article   Article» Next Pub.» Forward»