Autobiographical Sketch of Ellen G. White
Leaving the Methodist Church
Sharing the Advent Faith
My father's family still occasionally attended the Methodist church, and also the class meetings held in private houses. One evening my brother Robert and myself went to class meeting. The presiding elder was present. When it came my brother's turn to bear testimony, he spoke with great humility, yet with clearness, of the necessity for a complete fitness to meet our Saviour when He should come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. While my brother was speaking, a heavenly light glowed upon his usually pale countenance. He seemed to be carried in spirit above present surroundings, and spoke as if in the presence of Jesus.
When I was called upon to speak, I arose, free in spirit, with a heart full of love and peace. I told the story of my great suffering under the conviction of sin, how I had at length received the blessing so long sought—an entire conformity to the will of God—and expressed my joy in the tidings of the soon coming of my Redeemer to take His children home.
When I had ceased speaking, the presiding elder asked me if it would not be more pleasant to live a long life of usefulness, doing others good, than to have Jesus come speedily and destroy poor sinners. I replied that I longed for the coming of Jesus. Then sin would have an end, and we would enjoy sanctification forever, with no devil to tempt and lead us astray.
After the meeting closed, I was conscious of being treated with marked coldness by those who had formerly been kind and friendly to me. My brother and I returned home feeling sad that we should be so misunderstood by our brethren, and that the subject of the near coming of Jesus should awaken such bitter opposition in their breasts.
The Blessed Hope
On the way home we talked seriously concerning the evidences of our new faith and hope. "Ellen," said Robert, "are we deceived? Is this hope of Christ's soon appearing upon the earth a heresy, that ministers and professors of religion oppose it so bitterly? They say that Jesus will not come for thousands and thousands of years. If they even approach the truth, then the world cannot come to an end in our day."
I dared not give unbelief a moment's encouragement, but quickly replied: "I have not a doubt but that the doctrine preached by Mr. Miller is the truth. What power attends his words! what conviction is carried home to the sinner's heart!"
We talked the matter over candidly as we walked along, and decided that it was our duty and privilege to look for our Saviour's coming, and that it would be safest to make ready for His appearing, and be prepared to meet Him with joy. If He did come, what would be the prospect of those who were now saying, "My Lord delayeth His coming," and had no desire to see Him? We wondered how ministers dared to quiet the fears of sinners and backsliders by saying, "Peace, peace!" while the message of warning was being given all over the land. The period seemed very solemn to us; we felt that we had no time to lose.
" 'A tree is known by its fruits,' " remarked Robert. "What has this belief done for us? It has convinced us that we were not ready for the coming of the Lord; that we must become pure in heart, or we cannot meet our Saviour in peace. It has aroused us to seek for new strength and grace from God.
"What has it done for you, Ellen? Would you be what you are now if you had never heard the doctrine of Christ's soon coming? What hope has it inspired in your heart; what peace, joy, and love has it given you? And for me it has done everything. I love Jesus, and all Christians. I love the prayer meeting. I find great joy in reading my Bible and in prayer."
We both felt strengthened by this conversation, and resolved that we would not be turned from our honest convictions of truth, and the blessed hope of Christ's soon coming in the clouds of heaven. We were thankful that we could discern the precious light, and rejoice in looking for the coming of the Lord.
Last Testimony in Class Meeting
Not long after this, we again attended the class meeting. We wanted an opportunity to speak of the precious love of God that animated our souls. I particularly wished to tell of the Lord's goodness and mercy to me. So great a change had been wrought in me that it seemed my duty to improve every opportunity of testifying to the love of my Saviour.
When my turn came to speak, I stated the evidences I enjoyed of Jesus' love, and that I looked forward with the glad expectation of meeting my Redeemer soon. The belief that Christ's coming was near had stirred my soul to seek more earnestly for the sanctification of the Spirit of God.
Here the class leader interrupted me, saying, "You received sanctification through Methodism, through Methodism, sister, not through an erroneous theory."
I felt compelled to confess the truth, that it was not through Methodism that my heart had received its new blessing, but by the stirring truths concerning the personal appearing of Jesus. Through them I had found peace, joy, and perfect love. Thus my testimony closed, the last that I was to bear in class with my Methodist brethren.
Robert then spoke in his meek way, yet in so clear and touching a manner that some wept and were much moved; but others coughed dissentingly, and seemed quite uneasy.
After leaving the classroom, we again talked over our faith, and marveled that our Christian brethren and sisters could so ill endure to have a word spoken in reference to our Saviour's coming. We were convinced that we ought no longer to attend the class meeting. The hope of the glorious appearing of Christ filled our souls, and would find expression when we rose to speak. It was evident that we could have no freedom in the class meeting; for our testimony provoked sneers and taunts that reached our ears at the close of the meeting, from brethren and sisters whom we had respected and loved.
(Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, pp. 35-38)