Prayer And Character

Testimony Delineating Character




     On Nov. 24, 1862, two meetings were held at the same hour in the house of William Wilson, of Greenville, Mich., for the purpose of organizing two churches forthose who had accepted the Sabbath truth in that vicinity. The meeting for the Greenville church was conducted by Elder White and his wife in one room, while Elder Byington and myself had charge of a meeting in another room for the West Plains church. While we were engaged in the preliminary work in one room, we could hear the voice of Mrs. White as she bore her testimony in the other room. We were meeting with some difficulties in our work, when just at the opportune time Mrs. White opened the door, and said, "Brother Loughborough, I see by looking over this company that I have testimonies for some of the persons present. When you are ready, I will come in and speak." That being just the time we needed help, she came in. Aside from Elder Byington and myself, she knew the names of only three persons in the room. The others were strangers, whom she had never seen, only as they had been presented to her in vision. 

Mr. Pratt's Life Described

     As she arose to speak, she said: "You will have to excuse me in relating what I have to say, if I describe your persons, as I do not know your names. As I see your countenances, there comes before me what the Lord has been pleased to show me concerning you. That man in the corner with one eye [some one spoke, saying, "His name is Pratt"] makes high professions, and great pretensions to religion, but he has never yet been converted. Do not take him into the church in his present condition, for he is not a Christian. He spends much of his time idling about the shops and stores, arguing the theory of the truth, while his wife at home has to cut the fire-wood, look after the garden, etc. He makes promises in his bargains that he does not fulfill. His neighbors have no confidence in his profession of religion. It would be better for the cause of religion, for him, in his present condition, to say nothing about it."

Brother Barr Made Glad

     She continued, saying, "This aged brother [as she pointed to him, some one said, "Brother Barr"] was shown me in direct, contrast with the other man. He is very exemplary in his life, careful to keep all his promises, and provides well for his family. He hardly ventures to speak of the truth to his neighbors, for fear he will mar the work and do harm. He does not see how the Lord can be so merciful as to forgive his sins, and thinks himself unfit even to belong to the church." She then said to him, "Brother Barr, the Lord bade me say to you that you have confessed all the sins you knew of, and that he forgave your sins long ago, if you would only believe it." The look of sadness on the brother's countenance quickly fled. He looked up with a smile, and said, in his simplicity, "Has he?" "Yes," responded Mrs. White, "and I was told to say to you, 'Come along, and unite with the church; and as you have opportunity, speak a word in favor of the truth; it will have a good effect, as your neighbors have confidence in you.' " He responded, "I will."   

     Then she said, "If Mr. Pratt could, for a time, take a position similar to that which Brother Barr has been occupying, it would do him good."  

     Thus was one cause of our difficulty in organizing removed. Before her testimony was borne, we could not get Mr. Barr to consent to unite with the church; while on the other hand, we found about every one was opposed to receiving Mr. Pratt; still no one felt free to tell why he opposed.  

A Family Jealousy Healed

     She next addressed a man having a sandy complexion, who sat on one side of the room; and then pointed to a thin-featured woman on the extreme opposite side, addressing them as husband and wife. She delineated some things that transpired in their former lives, before either of them had made any profession of the truth. She said these things had been magnified by Satan before the mind of the woman until she was driven to insanity. "I saw," said Mrs. White, "that this woman had been one year in the insane asylum; but since recovering her reason, she has permitted these same jealous feelings to trouble her mind, greatly to the grief of her husband, who has done everything in his power to show his wife that he was true to her, and that she had no reason to hold him off in the manner she does."  

     In a moment the wife rushed across the room, and on her knees begged her husband to forgive her. The individuals were almost strangers in that part of the country, and their former history was unknown. Those best acquainted with them, however, were aware that an estrangement existed between them, but the cause they knew not.        

Similar to Elisha and Hazael

     After Mrs. White had borne her testimony, the work of organizing the church was soon completed. Mr. Barr came heartily into the organization, while Mr. Pratt was left out. The moment the meeting closed, the latter said, with considerable vehemence, "I tell you what, there is no use trying to go with this people and act the hypocrite; you can't do it."  

     The delineation of character, as in the above instance, forcibly reminds us of a similar case recorded in the days of Elisha the prophet: 2 Benhadad, King of Syria, had sent his servant Hazael to Elisha to inquire whether he should recover of his sickness. Elisha had had a view of Hazael's case, and as the man came before him, and he looked on his countenance, all came vividly to his mind.   

Elder White Stricken with Paralysis

     On Wednesday, August 16, 1865, Elder White, as a result of excessive labor and loss of sleep, had a stroke of paralysis. As health institutions among our people had not yet been established, he was taken to Dansville, N.Y., to a health institution called, "Our Home on the Hillside." His wife and the writer were with him there from September 14 to December 7. As he received but little relief from the treatments given in the institution, we went to the hospitable home of Bradly Lamson, Lake View, Rochester, N.Y., where we remained about three weeks. Here we were glad to meet Elder J. N. Andrews, who had just returned to that city, after having spent several months in Maine.

Prayer for Elder White

     The families of Elder Andrews and Mr. Orton joined with us every afternoon in a praying season with and for Elder White. This continued until December 25. While the outside world was full of gaiety and feasting on that Christmas day, it was observed by the Rochester church as a day of fasting and prayer for Elder White. We had meetings in both the forenoon and afternoon, at the house of Elder Andrews, New Main St., and in the evening those who had been previously praying with Elder White, met with him again at the house of Mr. Lamson. 

The Vision Given Christmas Night

     The meeting that evening was a powerful one. Elder White was greatly blessed, and Mrs. White was given a wonderful vision, in which many things were shown her. Among these were instructions to Elder White how to proceed that he might carry out his faith in God, who had so evidently reached down his hand to work for him that he might regain his health.

Satan's Attack Predicted

     To those who had been praying for Elder White, Mrs. White said: "Satan's purpose was to destroy my husband, and bring him down to the grave. Through these earnest prayers his power has been broken. I have been shown that Satan is angry with this company who have continued for three weeks praying earnestly in behalf of this servant of God, and he is now determined to make a powerful attack upon them. I was told to say to you, 'Live very near to God, that you may be prepared for what may come upon you.' "

J. T. Orton's Premonitions

     On the first day of January, 1866, Elder White and his family started by train for Battle Creek, Mich. I remained in western New York the rest of the winter. From the very evening that the vision was given, Mr. J. T. Orton was impressed that his life was in danger, and yet he knew not from what source. This impression he expressed to several. On Sunday evening, March 4, he returned to Rochester from Parma, where he had been attending a two days' meeting, in company with Mr. E. B. Sanders (now, 1905, residing in San Jose, Cal.), whom he requested to keep on the lightest street as they walked through the city, "for," he said, "I feel all the while as though some one is going to try to kill me." And yet he did not seem to have any idea who it was that wanted to take his life.  

     I returned to Rochester from Parma, March 7, and stopped with Mr. Lamson, son-in-law of Mr. Orton. On the 8th he and Mrs. Orton visited with us, when we made arrangements to go the next morning by train to Lancaster, Erie Co., where I was to perform the marriage ceremony for his only son. The day was spent pleasantly by us, yet it was a solemn day.

Murder of J. T. Orton

     They left Mr. Lamson's at 5 P.M., and at 7:30 P.M. a messenger came, informing us of a brutal attack that had been made on Mr. Orton by some unknown person, in his own barn, while caring for his horses. We hastened to the place, and found that he had been cruelly beaten over the head with an iron-bound cartstake, and was unconscious. He died at 12:35 that night. To this day it is unknown who committed the cruel deed. It certainly was not done for money, as his pocket was untouched, as was also his purse, which contained $45. This was a heavy shock to Mrs. Orton, from the effects of which she never recovered. Her bodily health rapidly failed, and she did not long survive her husband.  

Prediction Made that Christmas Fulfilled

     In a few months from that memorable Christmas evening, six out of the nine who engaged in that three weeks of prayer were in their graves. And thus was another prediction most strikingly fulfilled.

Relief to the Despairing

     In the early morning of Dec. 12, 1866, Elias Stiles, of North Liberty, Ind., came to my home, requesting me to go with him to that place to administer relief, if possible, to James Harvey, who was in despair, and feeling that there was no hope in his case. Knowing that Mrs. White had had a very extensive view in the last vision given, and that many cases were shown to her prophetically, I said to him, "It may be that Sister White has seen something about his case, and if so, and if she will write it out, it will be more forcible than anything I could say to him."  

     We at once called upon her, and without a word being spoken to her of Mr. Harvey's condition, I asked, "Sister White, have you had any light in any of the visions given you concerning the case of Brother James Harvey?" "Yes," said she, "I have, and I have felt for a few days as though I ought to write it out, and send it to him." She then began to tell us what she had seen. I said, "I am going to see him in the morning, and if you will write out what has been shown to you, I will take it to him." With this understanding, we left her, and in the evening we called again. She had completed the writing, and favored us by reading it aloud.

Testimony for James Harvey in Despair

     The testimony stated clearly that Mr. Harvey would be brought into a feeble condition of health, and that Satan would seek to crowd him into despair, and try to make him think there was no mercy for him, and no hope in his case; but she saw he had done all in his power to rectify the mistakes of his past life, and that God had forgiven him; and furthermore, when he should be tempted to destroy himself, she was shown that angels of God were hovering around him and pointing him to hope in God and heaven. There were many like words of comfort and encouragement in the testimony. 

     With this document in my possession, we went the next morning to North Liberty. On the way, Mr. Stiles told me that Mr. Harvey wanted to see me, but he said that I would have no word of hope for him; that, when I should meet him, I would agree with him that his case was hopeless, that he was a lost man; and then, like Eli of old, when he was told that the ark of God was taken, he should fall over backward and die. 

     We arrived at Mr. Harvey's about 3 P.M. When I met him, I said, "Brother Harvey, how are you?" In a most lamentable strain he replied, "Lost! lost!! LOST!!!" "No you are not lost. There is hope in your case!" said I. When he saw that I thus answered him, he said, in a modulated tone, "I have thought for three weeks that there was no hope for me, and that I was lost; and to-day, as I was coming into town from the farm, and passing over the bridge at the mill-pond, something seemed to say to me, 'You are lost! There is no hope for you! Jump into the mill-pond and drown yourself!' I thought to do such a thing would bring reproach on the cause of Christ, and so I was restrained from destroying myself."  Deliverance Came Quickly

     "Well, Brother Harvey, you are not lost!" I said. "I have a testimony here direct from heaven, saying that you are not lost!" He replied, "Then I will hear it." I then read the testimony to him, after first stating that not one word had been placed in my hands. As I completed the reading, his face lighted up with a smile as he said, "Then there is hope in my case. I do believe in the Lord."  

     Following the reading, we had a praying season, from which he arose a changed and happy man. He told us that that writing described the workings of his mind for the last three weeks more accurately than he could possibly have done it. Thus the love of God was shown in lifting this brother, by this means, out of despair.

1905 JNL, GSAM 376-384