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

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    The Profitable Time in Massachusetts

    We have reported Ellen's desperate sickness and healing just before the Whites left for Massachusetts. They were gone for nearly seven weeks. Two days after their return home to Gorham, James wrote of the trip and of his wife's health, she was now pregnant with her first child.1BIO 117.3

    Ellen has enjoyed the best state of health for six weeks past that she has for so long a time for six years. We are both enjoying good health.—JW to S. Howland, March 14, 1847.1BIO 117.4

    Of their united labors on this extended tour, White reported in his letter to Stockbridge Howland:1BIO 117.5

    Since we left Topsham we have had some trying times. We have also had many glorious heavenly refreshing seasons. On the whole it has been one of the best visits we ever had to Massachusetts. Our brethren at [New] Bedford and Fairhaven were mightily strengthened and confirmed in the truth and power of God. Brethren in other places were also much blessed.1BIO 117.6

    This included the Otis Nichols family, with whom James reported they had a “very free time,” finding them “all devoted and strong in the faith as ever” (Ibid.). The picture begins to develop, revealing four strong families with whom they were in close touch and at whose homes they were always welcome, sometimes for extended visits:1BIO 118.1

    The Stockbridge Howland family residing in Topsham, Maine. Howland was a successful civil engineer, but still suffering from being discredited for his Adventist faith and experience.1BIO 118.2

    The Otis Nichols family living in Dorchester, Massachusetts, a suburb south of Boston. Nichols was a lithographer, in the printing and engraving business. He was a successful businessman.1BIO 118.3

    The Joseph Bates family in Fairhaven, across the Acushnet River from New Bedford, the whaling seaport center. A sea captain who had retired with some means, Bates was a strong supporter of the Advent movement. He had chaired one of the large conferences in Boston in 1842. In 1844 he had sold everything to spread the Advent message, and now he was of necessity living frugally.1BIO 118.4

    A fourth group would soon enlarge the circle. The Hastings family resided in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, some sixty miles north and west of Boston. At the point of which we write, the Whites and Hastings had not yet met but were in touch through occasional letters. Hastings was a farmer, engaged in fattening cattle for the market. He was one of the earnest Adventists who left his potatoes in the field unharvested in the autumn of 1844 as a witness to his faith. He had been well rewarded financially, as his potatoes did not rot and brought a good price on the market the next spring. On May 21, James White, addressing Mrs. Hastings, introduced his letter, “All I know of you is from what I have seen in the Day-Dawn from your pen.” He had just received from Fairhaven the copies of the broadside Bates had published for him carrying Ellen White's vision confirming the Sabbath truth. This he put with the 1846 broadside carrying Ellen White's first visions, saying:1BIO 118.5

    When I get anything good I have a desire that all the faithful should share a slice. This is my apology for addressing you at this time and enclosing these two visions to you.—JW to Elvira Hastings, May 21, 1847.1BIO 118.6

    The Harmons, Ellen's parents, with whom they lived in Gorham, had not yet accepted the Sabbath, and did not until a year later, which caused some problems. James mentioned this in his letter to Howland at Topsham:1BIO 119.1

    You have a number to meet with at your place, but here is not one soul that we can meet with or unite in serving the Lord.—JW to S. Howland, March 14, 1847.1BIO 119.2

    We gain a sense of the uncomfortable and unstable situation in which James and Ellen lived and moved as James continued his letter to Howland, recounting circumstances and tactfully throwing out some suggestions and hints:1BIO 119.3

    We have been thinking much of home as well as of you at Topsham and Brunswick for two weeks. I think it will be the Lord's will for us to visit you soon. It seems a long time since we saw you last.1BIO 119.4

    We should be glad to see you and Sister Howland here. Will you come up and see us? If you will we will return with you to Topsham. If you cannot come, send Brother Cobb or some other of the brethren. Let not the want of money prevent you from coming if you feel free to come, for I have $8 and can pay a part, or can and will gladly and freely pay the whole if necessary. I want you to write as soon as you receive this and tell me of your prosperity unless some of you can come and see us immediately.1BIO 119.5

    If you do not conclude to visit us, please inform me by letter as soon as you can so that we may make some other arrangement. We should be very glad to see you here. I think it might prove a blessing to you and the folks here....1BIO 119.6

    It may be a duty to come up to Gorham and cheer us with your words of comfort. How good it would be if Gorham were only about five miles from Topsham so that we could spend our holy Sabbaths together.1BIO 119.7

    Oh, I am sick of our ungodly, hypocritical, dishonest, cheating neighbors. What a wicked world we are living in! I love to think of the kingdom. Take away our hope, and we are perfectly miserable. What a deathly degrading thought, to think of spending a life in this horribly unchristian world and then lay down in the dust. But it won't be so. No! No! No!— Ibid. 1BIO 119.8

    Just what the immediate response was, and whether the Howlands visited Gorham at the time, is not known, but we do know that in April, James and Ellen White were residing in Topsham, staying with the Howlands in their well-constructed home. On Sabbath, April 3, Ellen White was given a significant vision. The following Wednesday, April 7, she wrote of it in a letter to Joseph Bates:1BIO 120.1

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