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Ellen G. White: The Early Years: 1827-1862 (vol. 1)

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    Appendix C

    Stephen Smith and the Unopened Testimony

    About a year after he was disfellowshiped, Stephen Smith came to see his errors, confessed, and was restored to fellowship in the church (Ibid., November 25, 1852). This continued for a few months, and then he again became involved in erroneous views and was again disfellowshiped. In 1857 He found his way back again, but only for a short time (Ibid., February 19, 1857; Ibid., March 19, 1857).1BIO 490.3

    At some point in the 1850S, after one of his lapses, Ellen White wrote him a testimony in which she depicted what his life would be if he persisted in the course he was following. When he received the letter he feared that it was a testimony of reproof, so he took it home from the post office and tucked it deep in a trunk, still unopened and unread.1BIO 491.1

    For nearly thirty years Stephen Smith was out of the church, opposing his former brethren, mean and cutting in his criticism. Mrs. Smith remained faithful, and the Review and Herald Came weekly to their home. Then one day Smith picked it up and read an article from Ellen White. He continued to read her weekly articles and found they spoke to his heart, and he began to soften.1BIO 491.2

    In 1885 E. W. Farnsworth, son of William Farnsworth, of Washington, New Hampshire, was holding revival meetings in the little Washington Church. Smith had known him as a boy, and he walked twelve miles to attend the sabbath meeting. He heard farnsworth preach on the rise and development of the remnant church. The sermon over, Smith Rose to his feet and asked for the privilege of speaking. The audience, who knew him well, expected a perfect blast of criticism and meanness.1BIO 491.3

    “I don't want you to be afraid of me, brethren,” he said. “I have not come to criticize you. I have quit that kind of business.” Then he reviewed the past, his hatred of church organization, his joining one opposition party after another, which he had seen go down and their sympathizers come to confusion. “Facts,” said he, “are stubborn things, but the facts are that those who have opposed this work have come to naught, while those who have been in sympathy with it have prospered, have grown better, more devoted and godlike. Those who have opposed it have learned only to fight and debate. They have lost all their religion.1BIO 491.4

    “No honest man can help seeing that God is with them and against us. I want to be in fellowship with this people in heart and in the church.” Smith intended to stay over in Washington for the meeting on the next Sabbath, but on Wednesday he thought of the letter from Ellen White in his trunk at home. Feeling he could not wait to read it, he started out early Thursday morning and trudged the twelve miles home and soon had the unopened envelope in his hands. He tore it open and read its contents.1BIO 491.5

    Back again in Washington on Sabbath he heard farnsworth preach on the spirit of prophecy in the remnant church. When the sermon was over he was on his feet again. Here is what he said:1BIO 492.1

    “I received a testimony myself twenty-eight years ago. I took it home and locked it up in my trunk, and I never read it till last Thursday.” He said he did not believe this testimony, although he did not know a word there was in it. He was afraid to read it, fearing it would make him mad. But, said he, “I was mad all the time, nearly.” Finally, he said:1BIO 492.2

    Brethren, every word of the testimony for me is true, and I accept it. And I have come to that place where I finally believe they [the testimonies] all are of God, and if I had heeded the one God sent to me as well as the rest, it would have changed the whole course of my life, and I should have been a very different man.1BIO 492.3

    Any man that is honest must say that they lead a man toward God and the Bible always. If he is honest, he will say that; if he won't say that, he is not honest.1BIO 492.4

    If I had heeded them, they would have saved me a world of trouble. The testimonies said there was to be no more “definite time” preached after the ‘44 movement, but I thought that I knew as much as an old Woman's visions, as I used to term it. May God forgive me! But to my sorrow, I found the visions were right, and the man who thought he knew it all was all wrong, for I preached the time in 1854, and spent all I had when if I had heeded them, I should have saved myself all that and much more. The testimonies are right and I am wrong.1BIO 492.5

    After talking for some time, he concluded, “Brethren, I am too old to undo what I have done. I am too feeble to get out to our large meetings, but I want you to tell our people everywhere that another rebel has surrendered.”—From a letter written by E. W. Farnsworth to EGW, July 15, 1885.1BIO 492.6

    A real change took place in Stephen Smith's life and experience, and he was remembered in his later years as a kind, sweet, wholehearted Seventh-day Adventist.1BIO 492.7

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