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    Evangelism in Norwich and Lynn, Massachusetts; Concern for Those Who Unsettle Faith in the Testimonies and Misinterpret the Scriptures

    (Written December 6, 1890 (after the Sabbath), from Lynn, Massachusetts, to “Dear Children, Willie, Edson, and Emma.”)

    I have just come from the hall where the little company assemble to worship on the Sabbath. There were about eighty present. I spoke from John 14:15: “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” I had much freedom in speaking, then we had a social meeting and thirty-eight testimonies were borne. The older members did not take the time, but gave opportunity for those who had more recently come to the faith. I was much pleased to see the readiness to bear testimony and to see and feel the good spirit which prevailed. It was indeed a precious season to all our souls. I was just as sure that the presence of Jesus was with us as if I could see Him in person. The Lord blessed His people. There is a goodly number of intelligent, noble-minded souls who have embraced the truth and are made to feel what it means to deny self and lift the cross and follow Jesus.1888 735.1

    An entire family have embraced the truth—father, mother, and four children. One is married, the other three are not married. This Burnham is a cousin to Edwin Burnham, who was a most talented minister preaching in 1843 and 1844. He is the one who said he felt better after he had given the law a good run. He said the commandments were dead and buried and did not deserve a gravestone. He said it was an old, bloody, thunder-and-lightning law, a curse to man, a curse to all who kept it.1888 735.2

    It is a critical time now with many. There are a number in the valley of decision, right upon the point of taking their stand. One is an overseer in the shoe manufacturing establishment. He has a family. He is a man of ability, but as soon as he takes his position then he can no more keep his place, and his wife is a bitter opposer. O, may the Lord help these poor souls. I think we must pray more for these persons, convinced but who see the cross and dare not lift it, for to do so would take away the support, and they have families. They know the truth and feel deeply, but dare not venture.1888 736.1

    One of the Burnham girls has been a dressmaker, or rather the cutter of dresses, having many women in her establishment for whom she prepared work. She made forty dollars per week, but now she cannot obtain a situation. She would be glad to go to Battle Creek to school, but has not the means. The question may arise, If she has had the chance to earn so much, why is she destitute now? Her father was a wealthy man of business, but lost all his money. He might have taken the bankrupt law, but decided he could not do this, and if he did he would not be an honest man. He gave up everything but his wife. Had a little property in a house. It took part of this to settle the debts, and he stands before God as an honest man, but stripped of everything. He came down from one hundred thousand dollars to nothing.1888 736.2

    The daughter's wages have gone to support the family and to pay the debt on the home. She says if she had means she would go to Battle Creek and learn to be a worker in the cause of God. She is passing through a tremendous struggle, but all the family spoke today, earnest and wholehearted. There are so many influences to draw away from heavenly realities to the earthly that my soul trembles with apprehension for those who see the truth and have not faith that they dare venture to obedience. Oh, that the compassionate Redeemer may be to those dear souls a present help in every time of need and they [may] have grace to sing, “Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee.”1888 736.3

    I never saw Elder Fifield appear as well as now. Certainly he has success in arousing an interest. He feels the burden of souls on this occasion. He reins them up to a decision and then he says, I weep with sorrow of soul as I see the difficulties that obstruct their way. If anyone feels the love of souls and is brought in interested connection with these souls who long to obey and do not have faith to venture, it will cause soul agony.1888 737.1

    My heart is stirred within me. I want to say to the dressmaker who has taken her position, I will help you to go to Battle Creek and learn all you can, and see if some way will not open for her. One is a school teacher. She is not in the best of health and may have to leave her school. Another is an artist and has an excellent situation in the city, and can keep the Sabbath. If I had money, I know what I would do—I would help young men and women of talent to qualify them to become workers in the cause of God. But my hands are bound. I can do nothing, and this grieves me to the heart. This is a hard place for those who want to keep the Sabbath.1888 737.2

    Dr. Neil's brother has taken his position firmly on the Sabbath. He spoke today. A good work has commenced here, and I hope it will be ripened off, and this is the reason I left Norwich, for it was a critical time for the interest here while the sheaves are being gathered.1888 737.3

    Brother Robinson and Farman and Brother Whitters were left at Norwich. They were willing I should come, greatly desired I should be here, and yet felt that it was a pity I could not be at Norwich over another Sabbath. I spoke five times, speaking three evenings and on Sabbath and Sunday. Wednesday night I was to speak. There were not many out. It snowed all forenoon, then at noon it began to rain, and towards night it just poured in torrents, and the walks were icy and very slippery. I had not far to go to get to the meeting, but I had to cross ditches, and the water and slush were over my rubbers, but I meant to be at the meeting. I related some of my earlier experiences in connection with the work and cause of God, and it was thought the meeting did much good.1888 738.1

    Quite a number have embraced the truth in Norwich, who have not been converted. They are self-important, wealthy, and unteachable, especially the A family. Brother A and his son B are in Battle Creek, and I hope that the meetings there will do these men good. As far as belief in the Testimonies is concerned, I do not think they have any faith in them. I hope something will settle these men in this part of the work, for it would be a wonderful blessing to the church.1888 738.2

    We met a very intelligent young man, a son of Father A, who is altogether filled with the idea that no one is quite as smart as himself. He has been studying the messages in Revelation, and he thinks he has discovered wonderful light. But it is [not] that wonderful light which will flash forth all along the pathway till the end of time; [it is a] theory that tears away and takes the vitals out of all the past experience in the messages. To see such a youth, of a babe's experience, turning away the pillars of our faith seems just terrible. Brother Robinson gave him a chance to speak out all he had to say and then give them a chance to think of it and answer the matter. Our brethren will now present our true position without making any particular drive on him.1888 738.3

    He says he wrote to Elder Smith, and Elder Smith said he would answer him, but he has not said a word to him, for the subject was too deep for him. Now if Elder Smith keeps silent he will say he has something he [Smith] cannot answer. He must not keep silent. He must say something. I talked of the experience we had in 1843 and 1844 and, as did John, I declared the things I had seen and heard and my hands had handled of the way of life we know to be truth. Those who had no experience in this are not the ones to be proper judges of it.1888 739.1

    The enemy has made his masterly efforts to unsettle the faith of our own people in the Testimonies, and when these errors come in they claim to prove all the positions by the Bible, but they misinterpret the Scriptures. They make bold assertions, as did Elder Canright, and misapply the prophecies and the Scriptures to prove falsehood. And, after men have done their work in weakening the confidence of our churches in the Testimonies, they have torn away the barrier, that unbelief in the truth shall become widespread, and there is no voice to be lifted up to stay the force of error.1888 739.2

    This is just as Satan designed it should be, and those who have been preparing the way for the people to pay no heed to the warnings and reproofs of the testimonies of the Spirit of God will see that a tide of errors of all kinds will spring into life. They will claim Scripture as their evidence, and deceptions of Satan in every form will prevail.1888 739.3

    I know that Elder Smith and Elder Butler and Morrison and Nicola have been doing a work in their blindness that they will not wish to meet in the judgment.*Within the next three years (1890-1893) all four of these men made confession of their wrong course and accepted the light on Christ's righteousness presented at Minneapolis. See A. V. Olsen, Thirteen Crisis Years, pp. 87-119. I feel thankful to the Lord I have peace with Jesus Christ. I have the power of His Holy Spirit as I speak to the people at Norwich. The prejudice was swept away from many minds, and I know the Lord gave messages for them and the testimony of the Spirit of God cut its way through everything like prejudice and unbelief. But the brother so intent on his new light did not come to hear me but once.1888 740.1

    I slept last night about ten hours; praise the Lord, praise His holy name! I believe He will give me strength and grace. I am making my home with Sister Ellen Warfe, one of the number, a kind family. We have things here convenient and pleasant. I shall go to Danvers Wednesday. I have been so deeply interested in John, chapters 14, 15, 16, and 17, that I am writing on the subject. I have written twelve pages today upon John 14, for fear I should have the force of the subject wear away from my mind. This will come in Life of Christ. I have in all forty pages written.1888 740.2

    I am glad I attended both these meetings in Norwich and in Lynn. My testimony was greatly needed. I do not feel all the time that those who have known me and known the work that the Lord has given me to do, are seeking to counteract my labors in order that men and women who have not the least experience in connection with me or my work should not have faith. I expect they will have prejudice. They will not all believe, but their doubts and unbelief cannot bring guilt upon themselves as can the doubts and unbelief of those who have known my going out and coming in, who have had the evidence of the Holy Spirit testifying to the messages God has given me, to treat them with such comparative indifference because they reprove their course of action and do not agree with their ideas. This looks to me like speaking against and denying the Holy Spirit.1888 740.3

    I have no liberty with such men. They are without excuse. They have seen and been acquainted with men who joined hand to hand in dissimulating, in doubt, and to strengthen unbelief. They have seen just where these men have gone, yet they are traveling in the same path, repeating the same course of action, and the result will be the same.1888 741.1

    I have loved Brother Smith next to my own husband and children, because he has had a part in the work for so many years. I have highly esteemed Elder Butler. But these men have left me alone—these men, to whom the Lord has spoken several times that they should stand united with my husband and myself in closest union till the close of time. They have caused me such sadness and grief of spirit as I cannot describe. I felt my husband's death, oh, how keenly God alone knows, but I have felt the cruel course of these men toward the work of God He has given me to do, more keenly than the death of my husband.1888 741.2

    I have sorrow in my heart continually on their account because they will not, cannot, be saved in their present attitude. They persistently hold to the course of wrong they in their blindness have taken, and until they shall see and confess their errors they stand in no better place before God than other ministers who have resisted the Spirit of God and done despite to the Spirit of grace. I know their position perfectly. It is kept before me in many ways, until the only relief I can get is to keep away from Battle Creek where the influence of these things is prevailing and active. May the Lord help me to move wisely.—Letter 109, 1890.1888 741.3

    Ellen G. White Estate
    Washington, D.C.
    June 5, 1986. Entire Letter.

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