No Time for Logic
James White [1821-1881] was 21 years old in 1842 when he decided to become a Millerite Adventist preacher. It was in January of 1843 that he set out on a four-month preaching itinerary that resulted in the conversion of 1,000 people before he returned home. [Robinson, p. 26] But all was not peaceful on that trip. In at least a few places mobs tried to break up his meetings.
One night while speaking in a school east of Augusta, Maine, a group of angry men milled around outside. The windows of the house had been removed so that those who could not fit inside could still hear. But instead, the air was filled with unearthly yells from the mob outside.
James White pressed through the crowd to the front, called the meeting to order, and then prayed standing - with his eyes open! This was partially because there was not room to kneel, but also so he could watch what was happening around him. As James was praying, a snowball whistled by his head and struck on the ceiling behind him. For his sermon text, he chose to preach from the epistle of Peter about the burning day of God, but because of the shouting mob outside, nobody could hear what he was trying to say. More snowballs were thrown through the open windows. Fortunately, none actually hit him. James tried to raise his voice to be heard over all the noise, but still the people could not hear the proof-texts he was trying to read. Before long, his clothes and Bible were wet from the hundred snow balls that had hit upon the ceiling and splattered down around him.
Finally, James decided that this was no time for logic! He closed his Bible and began to describe the terrors of the day of God, and the awful end of the ungodly. Writing about the incident years later, he recalled, "These opened before me wonderfully [not surprising considering the circumstances!]. Language and power of voice seemed to be given me for the occasion. I was nearly lost to all around me, while the naked glare of the fires of the day of God seemed to light up the field of slaughter of the ungodly men before me. I cried, "Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out . . . Turn to Christ and get ready for his coming, or in a little from this, on rocks and mountains you will call in vain. You scoff now, but you will pray then."" [Life Incidents, pp. 77, 78]
The mob outside quieted a bit. Before the meeting closed, about one hundred who were inside the hall stood to be prayed for. In his account, James White continued, "It was nine in the evening, and I was hoarse and weary. I closed with the benediction, took my chart and Bible, and made my way out through the subdued crowd. Some one [sic] locked arms with me to assist and guard me. His countenance seemed impressively familiar, yet I did not know him. When I had passed the crowd, I missed him, and from that evening, who he was, or how he left me, and where he went, have been mysterious. Was it an angel of God sent to stand by me in the perils of that evening? Who can say it was not?" [ibid., p. 79]