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

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    Chapter 7—(1846-1847) Entering Married Life

    Although James White and Ellen Harmon were closely associated in travel and labor through much of 1845, it seems that neither gave thought to marriage. They and their associates were of the strong opinion that Christ's second coming was very close at hand; attention was again focused on the tenth day of the seventh month [October], this time in 1845 instead of 1844. It was the conviction held by most that because of the near Advent it would not be right to marry. Of their situation James White later wrote:1BIO 110.1

    We both viewed the coming of Christ near, even at the doors, and when we first met had no idea of marriage at any future time. But God had a great work for both of us to do, and He saw that we could greatly assist each other in that work. As she should come before the public she needed a lawful protector, and God having chosen her as a channel of light and truth to the people in a special sense, she could be of great help to me.1BIO 110.2

    But it was not until the matter of marriage was taken to the Lord by both, and we obtained an experience that placed the matter beyond the reach of doubt, that we took this important step. Most of our brethren who believed with us that the Second Advent movement was the work of God were opposed to marriage in the sense that as time was very short it was a denial of faith, as such a union contemplated long years of married life.—Life Sketches of James White and Ellen G. White (1880), 126.1BIO 110.3

    Elaborating on this, White explained that Ellen was feeble and it seemed that consumption would take her life. She weighed about eighty pounds. Frequently on the steamboats or on the train she would faint and remain breathless for minutes. He wrote:1BIO 110.4

    It was necessary that she should have one or more attendants. Either her sister Sarah or Sister Foss traveled with her. And as neither her aged father nor feeble brother were suitable persons to travel with one so feeble, and introduce her and her mission to the people, the writer, fully believing that her wonderful experience and work was of God, became satisfied that it was his duty to accompany them.1BIO 111.1

    And as our thus traveling subjected us to the reproaches of the enemies of the Lord and His truth, duty seemed very clear that the one who had so important a message to the world should have a legal protector, and that we should unite our labors.—Ibid., 238.1BIO 111.2

    So although their courtship lacked some of the typical elements, Providence led them on to love and affection and fixed their eyes on marriage. It was now 1846, and the end of August seemed to be an appropriate time to unite their lives. Ellen had great admiration for James, “the best man that ever trod shoe leather” (DF 733c, “Interview with Mrs. E. G. White”). There is a note of excitement in a letter James wrote to Brother Collins while in Falmouth, Massachusetts, on Wednesday, August 26. James was there to conduct a funeral:1BIO 111.3

    I have a chance to get to Fairhaven tonight by sailboat, and shall take the cars tomorrow morning for Boston, and the express train of cars for Portland at four-thirty. Shall be in Portland tomorrow night at six o'clock.... Sister Ellen says that the way is made plain. We are published; we shall be married perhaps Monday.— JW to Brother Collins, August 26, 1846.1BIO 111.4

    He stated that Nichols, who had visited Portland while he, James, was in Massachusetts, was concerned when he first heard of their marriage plans, “but he was now satisfied that God was in it.” James added:1BIO 111.5

    I have visited Holms Hall, Brother Chase, and the sisters.... They have no objections now to our marriage. But it tried them at first.... From what Ellen said in her letter, I judge that she thinks of coming west as soon as we are married.— Ibid. 1BIO 111.6

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