THE LEGACY OF THE UNFINISHED CHAMBER
James and Ellen White move from discouragement to purpose.
E. L. H. Chamberlain
H. S. Gurney
On a cold, rain-swept day in the village of Topsham, Maine, a young mother rocks her five-month-old baby to sleep, and frets over the absence of her husband, gone on a six-mile trek through the storm to re-stock their empty pantry. The destitute couple are James and Ellen White, and the date is near the end of the winter of 1848. The discouraged Ellen is soon joined by Mrs. Howland, a kindly soul to whom Ellen is able to pour out her troubles. Soon James arrives home to a cold room and a tearful wife, who pours out her frustrations and deep concerns for getting out and doing the Lord's work among dozens of disheartened Advent believers. Suddenly remembering a letter he collected at the post office, James tears it open, and finds an invitation for them to attend a planned conference of Sabbath-keepers near Middletown, Connecticut, in just a few weeks time. Despite their lack of money, and the problems of traveling with a young child, James and Ellen vow to attend the meeting.
In scene 2, at the home of the Beldens at Rocky Hill, Connecticut, the planned Sabbath conference is getting under way in an "unfinished chamber" within the house. The Whites arrive, and are introduced to the small group of believers gathered there. Soon Joseph Bates and Brother Gurney arrive to join the conference, where the Sabbath doctrine and the "shut door" idea are emerging as topics of interest and lively discussion.
A year later, back in Topsham, Maine, Scene 3 finds Mrs. Howland in lively discussion with a visiting Adventist "sister" who has joined one of the prevalent fanatical movements. The visit comes to an abrupt end with the appearance of Mr. Howland, with the information the James and Ellen White have been invited back to Rocky Hill, where James hopes for an opportunity to begin publishing an Advent magazine for the scattered believers. Since Ellen is pregnant again, and unable to cope with the pressures of travel with the young Henry, the Howlands happily offer to care for him during the Whites' prolonged absence.
Scene 4 reveals Charles Pelton at work in his Middletown printing shop as James White arrives with copy for the first issue of his paper, Present Truth. Pelton is not partial to the Millerite and "shut door" philosophy, but agrees to do the job despite the inability of White to pay for printing of the first two or three issues until funds come in from anticipated subscribers.
Meanwhile, at the Belden home, the Whites have been given living quarters in the same "unfinished chamber" where the first Sabbath conference was held the year before. Here, is the last scene, Ellen White writes a letter to the Howlands, describing her anticipation of good results from the new paper which James is just now bringing home from the printer. Ellen is soon joined by Clarissa Bonfoey, a faithful young lady who lives with the Whites and helps with the housekeeping. As the two women reflect on the recent growth of the Adventist movement, James arrives with the papers. The Belden family join them in the "unfinished chamber" as the little group of believers kneel around the papers spread on the floor, and pray earnestly for the success of this new venture in the Adventist movement.
Following the Disappointment of 1844, the Adventists were soon fractured into isolated groups. Many gave up the Advent hope altogether. In Portland, Maine, Ellen Harmon was given her first vision late in 1844, and this brought encouragement and hope to some of the local Millerites. Through correspondence and word of mouth, Adventists in other places hear about Ellen, and soon she was traveling to various localities where house meetings were conducted. At one such meeting James White met Ellen Harmon, and in 1846 they were married. Shortly afterward they studied and accepted the seventh-day Sabbath, which was being taught by Joseph Bates in Fairhaven, Massachusetts.
The White continued to travel form place to place, meeting with believers, sharing the new found truths. This became more difficult for them after the birth of their first child, Henry, in September, 1847. They also experienced poverty as James was unable to find continuous employment. The Stockbridge Howland family offered them accommodations in their large house at Topsham, Maine, and there the Whites spent the winter of 1847-48.
Then in April 1848 an Adventist in Connecticut, E. L. H. Chamberlain, called a meeting of Sabbath believers at Rocky Hill, near Middletown, Conn. This was the first such conference and was attended by both Joseph Bates and the Whites. Five other "Sabbath Conferences" followed in various localities through New England, during the summer and fall of 1848. These meetings brought intensive study, debate, and finally agreement on a variety of doctrinal topics, thus establishing the theological foundation for what later came to be the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
One topic of increasing disagreement among Adventists was the concept of the "shut door." The early Adventists felt rejected by the world, and in turn rejected those of the "world" as candidates for salvation. They believed that the door of probation was forever shut in 1844, and that the coming of Christ was imminent. However, as the months rolled into years, Adventists began to rethink the "shut door" doctrine, especially when they began to attract converts from "out of the world." This was beginning to happen in 1848, and from that time onward the "shut door" gradually began to open. By the early 1850's it was a completely open door!
Once a doctrinal platform had emerged in 1848, there was a strong desire to communicate the new truths to Advent believers everywhere. Following a vision of Ellen White during the last Sabbath Conference at Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1848, and in spite of lack of means, James White commenced publication of a paper, Present Truth, at Middletown, Connecticut, in the summer of 1849. The paper succeeded in uniting the Sabbath-keeping Adventists, and became the fore-runner of the now-worldwide publishing work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
List of Sources:
Early S.D.A. Periodicals : facsimile reproductions of The Present Truth and The Advent Review. Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1946.
Graybill, Ron. "Heirloom : Leaves from Ellen White's Family Album." Adventist Heritage, Vol.7, no.1, 1982, pp. 6-19.
Robinson, Virgil. James White. Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1976.
Sch7warz, Richard W. Light Bearers to the Remnant. Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1979.
Spalding, Arthur W. Origin and History of Seventh-day Adventists. Vol. 1. Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1961.
White, Arthur L. Ellen G. White : the Early Years, 1827-1862. Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1985.
White, Ellen G. Life Sketches. Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1915.
Joseph Bates An early Adventist pioneer, and one of the first to preach the Sabbath truth. He attended the Rocky Hill conference in 1848 and led out in discussions.
Albert Belden Farmer at Rocky Hill, Connecticut, and an early Sabbath keeper. The first and fourth Sabbath conferences of 1848 were held in an "unfinished chamber" of his home, and in 1849 James and Ellen White lived there when the first numbers of Present Truth were published.
Mrs. Belden Wife of Albert Belden.
John Belden A son of Albert Belden.
Stephen Belden A son of Albert Belden. He later married Ellen White's sister, Sarah Harmon, and was employed at the Review Office in Battle Creek. Their son, Frank Belden, became a well-known Adventist hymn-writer.
Clarissa Bonfoey Born in 1821, Clarissa lived in Middletown, Connecticut, at the time of the first Sabbath conference in 1848. She looked after little Henry White for a time after the conference. Following the death of both her parents in 1849, she became the Whites' housekeeper at Rocky Hill, and later accompanied them to Rochester and Battle Creek.
Mr. & Mrs. Bonfoey Parents of Clarissa. It is not certain whether or not they attended the 1848 conference at Rocky Hill.
E. L. H. Chamberlain An early Advent believer in Middletown, Connecticut, who invited the Whits to attend the first Sabbath conference at Rocky Hill in 1848. He also attended some of the subsequent conferences with the Whites.
H. S. Gurney An associate of Bates at Fairhaven, Massachusetts. With Bates he attended the first Sabbath conference at Rocky Hill in 1848.
George Holt A Millerite minister who early accepted the Sabbath truth and became active in the growth of the Adventist cause. With James White he laboured in a hay-field at Rocky Hill, Connecticut, in 1848, and was later associated with him in publishing The Advent Review.
Mrs. Holt Wife of George Holt.
Stockbridge Howland An engineer, and a faithful Advent believer in Topsham, Maine. The Howlands provided assistance and living quarters to the Whites on various occasions, and cared for their small son, Henry, during extended absences of James and Ellen in the Advent cause. Ellen later referred to their home as "Fort Howland" in recognition of the Howlands' loyalty to the truth amidst much fanaticism in the years of Adventism.
Mrs. Howland Wife of Stockbridge Howland.
Charles Pelton Printer of Middletown, Connecticut, who agreed to print the first three issues of Present Truth even though James White had no money to pay for them in advance.
Ellen White Born in 1827 as Ellen Harmon, she married James White in 1846, and together they traveled and lectured, promoting the Sabbath and other Bible truths. Their first child, Henry, was born in 1847, and their second, James Edson, was born just days after the launching of Present Truth in July 1849.
James White A few years old than Ellen, James was a Millerite elder and diligent Bible student. Not blessed with a strong constitution, he walked with a limp, but allowed nothing to keep him from giving all he had to the Advent cause.
John Wilcox Wilcox is reported to have said that he was "converted right out of the world' at the Rocky Hill Sabbath Conference of April 1848. [J. N. Loughborough, as quoted by C. Mervyn Maxwell in Tell it to the World, p. 153]
Imaginary Character Mrs. Marsh
LEGACY OF THE UNFINISHED CHAMBER
Voice of Ellen White "August 30, 1846, I was united in marriage to Elder James White. Our hearts were united in the great work, and together we traveled and labored for the salvation of souls." [LS 97]
A year later "our eldest son, Henry Nichols White, was born. In October Brother and Sister Howland, of Topsham, kindly offered us a part their dwelling, which we gladly accepted, and commenced housekeeping with borrowed furniture. We were poor, and saw close times. We had resolved not to be dependent, but to support ourselves, and have something with which to help others. My husband worked very hard hauling stone on the railroad, but could not get what was due him for his labor. Brother and Sister Howland freely divided with us whenever they could; but they also were in close circumstances. One day when our provisions were gone, my husband went to his employer to get money or provisions. It was a stormy day." [LS 105]
SCENE 1. Date : winter of 1848. An upstairs room in the Howlands home at Topsham, Maine. Furnishings are simple, and there is an atmosphere of poverty about the room. Ellen White enters the room, holding a baby. She stands rocking it gently.
Ellen: (To herself) Listen to that rain! Poor James, out in this weather! (Continues to rock babe in silence. Soon there is a knock at the door.) Come in! (Mrs. Howland enters.) Hello, Mrs. Howland. I'm just trying to settle Henry for a nap. (She continues to rock baby gently during the conversation.)
Mrs. Howland: Thought I'd come upstairs and see how you were, Ellen. What a miserable cold day it is! I haven't seen so much rain in a long time. (Looks around room.) You should have a fire on your hearth, my dear. It's very chilly in here.
Ellen: James will set a fire as soon as he comes in. He should be home soon. (Looks anxious.)
Mrs. Howland: Yes, I saw him leave the house this morning. Wondered where he was going on a day like this. Not out to cut wood, surely! I'm worried about him being out there, and you here alone with little Henry.
Ellen: (Placing Henry in crib.) No, he didn't go to work in the forest today. (Pause) He went down to Brunswick.
Mrs. Howland: To Brunswick, in this weather? Six miles in the rain!
Ellen: (Sighs, then sits down. Mrs. Howland sits alongside her.) You see, we have no food left – and no money to buy any. But James has money owing to him from his previous employer – remember he worked for a while at Brunswick, hauling stone for the new railroad. If he couldn't get money, he was to ask for some provisions.
Mrs. Howland: Ellen, dear, why didn't you tell us you were out of provisions? We don't have a lot ourselves, but there is nearly always bacon in the cellar, and plenty of potatoes. The thought of James walking to Brunswick and back on a day like this!
Ellen: Thank you, Mrs. Howland, but James and I both feel that we should not be always depending on other people. We have resolved not to get ourselves into debt.
Mrs. Howland: O, Ellen, Stockbridge and I are just glad to help a little when we can! Do you have warm clothes for the baby? Winters here in Topsham can be miserably cold.
Ellen: I think he will be warm enough with the flannel gown I made him a few weeks ago.
Mrs. Howland: Clothing is so expensive! Even the cloth to make up.
Ellen: I know. I paid a quarter for the piece of flannel. It was more than we could afford, but the weather turned cold, and I was afraid our little boy would not have enough to keep warm. So we went without milk for three days, and I saved the milk allowance to buy the flannel. It was a hard choice, but what does a mother do when her little one is half naked? (Ellen wipes away tears.)
Mrs. Howland: I believe I heard the door downstairs. (Gets up.) I'm sure it must be James back. Now you wipe your face, and I'll go take his wet clothes to dry by my fire in the parlor. Ellen, God loves you, and we do too! (Leaves)
(Ellen gets up, dries her tears, wipes her face in front of the mirror, then meets James as he comes in, carrying a sack, and looking weary.)
Ellen: James, I'm so glad you're home.
James: So am I. It's not the best day to be walking the streets, with the rain sweeping in from the sea. But I've got provisions to last us a week I think. Now I must get a fire going in here. (Ellen sits down, and bursts into tears.) Why, what's the matter, Ellen?
Ellen: O, James, has it come to this? Has the Lord left us?
James: (Sits by her.) There there, Ellen, you can't think that. We haven't starved yet. The Lord has always provided at the moment we needed it.
Ellen: I know, but for six months we have been cooped up here, living from hand to mouth, struggling to keep ourselves and little Henry alive and warm, instead of being about the Lord's work. We should be out visiting the Advent bands, sharing our new Sabbath truth, and the visions. Instead, we're imprisoned here, with no prospects of any change in our situation. I feel so discouraged, James.
James: Yes. (Reflects) It has been hard on us both. But then the Lord has given us Henry, Ellen, and you can't attempt much travel with such a young child, can you?
Ellen: The Lord has shown me that we are making our child an excuse for not doing the work He has called us to do. Remember last month when Henry was very sick, and we were afraid we would lose him. He seemed to be at death's door. Then in despair we feel on our knees right there in front of his crib, and we consecrated ourselves to do the Lord's bidding. As soon as we did that, Henry recovered. Remember, James?
James: (Gets up and paces around.) You're right, Ellen. Just not there is much work to be done among believers who are being torn by fanatics. The door of mercy is forever shut on the wicked, but there are many of the Lord's elect who will perish with them unless they are awakened to their condition.
Ellen: There are perhaps fifty Sabbath keepers in all New England, but there are thousands of Advent believers who need to be told about the fourth commandment.
James: I just remembered something. There was a letter at the post office for us. (Goes to find it in his coat.) Here it is. From Brother E. L. Chamberlain. (Tears open letter.)
Ellen: Brother Chamberlain? Is he someone we know?
James: We have never met Brother Chamberlain. But he is an Advent believer in Middletown, Connecticut. (Pause, while he reads silently.)
Ellen: What is he writing about?
James: This is interesting, Ellen. Brother Chamberlain has accepted the Sabbath, and he is calling a conference of all the Connecticut believers for April 20th – that only a few weeks away. He says there are several friends of the Sabbath around Middletown. Brother Bates and Brother Gurney are coming from Fairhaven, and he would like us to come too, if possible.
Ellen: As soon as mid-April?
James: Yes. A Brother and Sister Belden have a farm at Rocky Hill, about eight miles from Middletown. They have offered the use of their commodious house. It has a large "unfinished chamber" which will be used for the meeting.
Ellen: We must plan to go, James. We must.
James: This will cost a good deal of money, Ellen. We need some new clothing before we can travel again (looks at his patched coat), apart form the cost of travel all the way from here to Middletown, and back again.
Ellen: But the Lord is calling us to go, James. He will provide the means necessary. Maybe I can patch your coat once more?
James: I guess you can always put patches on the patches. (Laughs) You are a woman of great faith, Ellen!
Ellen: Perhaps your employer will pay the rest of what he owes you.
James: I must press him. (Sees Henry asleep in crib.) But what about Henry? He is too young to take along. Do you suppose Sister Howland would look after him for two or three weeks?
Ellen: No James, we must pack everything and take Henry with us. I believe this is the Lord calling us to go and do a work for Him, and He may lead us to several places. We may not be back here for quite some time.
James: Take Henry with us? Travel on the train with him so small?
Ellen: We can do it, with God's help.
James: All right, then, we will go to Connecticut, if the Lord provides the means. That is settled. (Pause) My, but this room is cold. I'm going to fetch an armful of wood, and we'll soon have a cosy fire! (He exits.)
Voice of Ellen White: "We decided to go [to Connecticut] if we could obtain means. My husband settled with his employer, and found that there was ten dollars due him. With five of this I purchased articles of clothing that we very much needed, and then patched my husband's overcoat, even piecing the patches, making it difficult to tell the original cloth in the sleeves. We had five dollars left to take us to Dorchester, Massachusetts.
"Our trunk contained nearly everything we possessed on earth; but we enjoyed peace of mind and a clear conscience, and this we prized above earthly comforts.
"In Dorchester we called at the house of Brother Otis Nichols, and as we left, Sister Nichols handed my husband five dollars, which paid our fare to Middletown, Connecticut. We were strangers in Middletown. Of our money there was but fifty cents left. My husband did not dare to use that to hire a carriage, so he threw our trunk upon a high pile of boards in a nearby lumberyard, and we walked on in search of some one of like faith. We soon found Brother Chamberlain, who took us to his home." [LS 107-108]
SCENE 2. The interior of a large unfinished room on the upper floor of Albert Beldens farmhouse at Rocky Hill, Connecticut. Furnishings are meager, comprising chairs and benches, a large trunk, and perhaps a small table with an oil lamp burning on it. The date is April 20, 1848.
As the scene opens, several people enter the room – Mrs. Belden, Mr. and Mrs. Bonfoey, Clarissa Bonfoey, Mr. and Mrs. George Holt, Stephen Belden.
Mrs. Belden: This is our unfinished chamber. Albert hopes to line it some day. We hope it will be large enough for our meetings during these next three days.
Mr. Holt: I'm sure it will be very suitable for our gathering, Sister Belden.
Mrs. Belden: Please find yourself a place to sit. My husband has gone to Middletown with the rig to bring some of the visiting brethren. He should be back very soon. (Visitors sit.)
You will also meet Mr. John Wilcox. He is not an Adventist, but has been a friend to us, and has come to our conference. Oh, here he comes now. (John Wilcox enters with John Belden.)
I think you all know our son, John. But probably you have not met Brother Wilcox.
Mr. Holt: Welcome, Brother Wilcox. (Shakes hands.) My name is George Holt, and this is my wife. (They greet each other.)
John Belden: Father has arrived from Middletown, mother, In fact, here they are now.
(Albert Belden enters, with E. L. H. Chamberlain, James and Ellen White. Ellen is carrying baby Henry.)
Chamberlain: Good afternoon, Sister Belden. I would like you to meet Elder Whit and his wife, Sister Ellen.
Mrs. Belden: Welcome to our home. (To Ellen) You've brought your little one with you too? You must both be very tired after your long journey from Maine.
James White: Well, we were able to rest awhile at Brother Chamberlains. We found our way to his house after we got off the train at Middletown.
Chamberlain: We brought their trunk in the rig with us, Sister Belden. We have put it by the barn door for the time being.
Mrs. Belden: Thank you, Brother Chamberlain. We will bring it into the house later.
Albert Belden: We expected to pick up Brother Bates and Brother Gurney at Middletown, but we couldn't find them.
Mrs. Belden: Perhaps they are coming some other way.
Chamberlain: (Now directs his attention to the others.) Brothers and sisters, I want you to meet Elder James White and his wife, Sister Ellen. And their little son, Henry. They have come all the way from Topsham, Maine, to attend our conference.
Elder and Mrs. White, you are both strangers to these parts, so I will briefly introduce our believers here. You have met Sister Belden and of course her husband, Brother Albert Belden. These are their sons Stephen and John. We are grateful to the Belden family for welcoming us to their farm. This commodious chamber is all that we could wish for our meetings. (Amens)
You must also meet Brother and Sister Holt, of Middletown. Brother Holt was the Millerite pastor for this district. He has lately accepted the Sabbath. Sitting next to him is a friend, Brother John Wilcox I believe? (Wilcox nods.) Then here we have Brother and Sister Bonfoey, with their daughter Clarissa.
Clarissa: (Steps forward.) Hello, may I see your baby? What a dear little fellow. Would you like me to care for him during the meetings? I would love to do that.
Ellen White: Well, thank you, Clarissa. (Clarissa exits with baby.)
Chamberlain: We are hoping that Brother Bates will be joining us too.
Mr. Holt: Brother Bates is the expert on the Sabbath question. He may be able to tell us when the Sabbath begins and ends.
James White: Some of the believers in Maine take the position that the Sabbath commences at sunrise. Others think it extends form midnight to midnight. Or does it begin and end at sunset, as the Jews observed it?
Mr. Bonfoey: Let us not be accused of being Jewish!
(Bates and Gurney enter.)
Albert Belden: Welcome, Brother Bates. And Brother Gurney. (The men get up and shake hands.)
Bates: We are sorry to be late, brethren. We missed Brother Belden's rig, so we had to find our way out here to Rocky Hill. So glad you could come, Brother and Sister White. How is it among the believers in Maine? (All are now seated)
James White: Brother and Sister Howland send their greetings. Unfortunately, we have many fanatics at work in Maine, and they have quite a following.
Chamberlain: (Stands) Brothers and sisters, I believe this is the first time since the Disappointment that we have had believers come together from places as far away as Maine and Massachusetts. (Amens) I decided to call this meeting to give the brethren an opportunity to share the truths of the Word with us – especially the Sabbath truth. I know many of us will have questions for them.
Wilcox: Yes, Why should the fourth commandment be emphasized more than the other nine?
Albert Belden: If the Sabbath is so important, why didn't we hear about it prior to our 1844 experience?
Gurney: Sister White, please tell them about the vision you had concerning the Sabbath.
Ellen White: Yes, Brother Gurney. (Stands) Exactly one year ago, James and I were meeting with some of the believers at Topsham, Maine. During a prayer season together, I was lost to earthly things, and wrapped in a vision of God's glory. I was taken to the temple in Heaven. We entered into the Most Holy Place, beyond the second veil, and there I saw the ark. Jesus showed me the tables of stone on which were written the Ten Commandments. On one table was four, and on the other six. The four on the first table shone brighter than the other six. But the fourth, the Sabbath commandment, shone above them all. (Amens) The holy Sabbath looked glorious – a halo of light was all around it. (Amens. Ellen sits.)
Bates: Brethren, I truly believe that the Lord is using Sister Whit to reveal His truth to us. I have been personally convinced that her visions are of the Lord.
Chamberlain: Sister White, did you see whether the door to the temple was open or shut?
Ellen White: I remember passing through a door as we entered the temple. But the Lord has never shown me anything about the shut door.
James White: (Stands) Our belief in the "shut door" is based on Christs parable of the ten virgins. In the parable, you will remember that the five wise virgins were prepared to meet the bridegroom with oil in their lamps. When the midnight cry went forth, The Bridegroom cometh! they were ready to go in to the marriage feast. And the door was shut. The foolish virgins were not prepared for the event, and when they tried to gain entrance it was too late. (Sits)
Bates: (Stands) And that parable had its fulfilment in the Seventh Month movement of 1844. The people of the world ignored the Midnight Cry and were unprepared for the coming of Christ on October 22. Our Lord did not come, but now we believe that on that day Christ began His solemn ministry in the Most Holy Place, and the door of probation was forever shut. The Spirit of God no longer pleads with sinners. (Sits)
Holt: The truth of the shut door is evident. In nearly four years, no sinners have approached us seeking salvation, no conversions have occurred. Clearly the Spirit of God has withdrawn from the earth, and it remains for us to stir up one another to be patient, and to encourage one another to be faithful. (Amens)
Albert Belden: What happens to a person who was not part of the Millerite movement, but is now convicted of the nearness of the Advent and the true Sabbath? Will he perish with the rest of the wicked?
Bates: It cannot be true reformation brother. Some may appear to be converted, so as to deceive us. But if their hearts could be seen, they would appear as black as ever!
Wilcox: (Stands) God forbid! I am just such a man! I was never part of the Millerite movement, but I believe in my heart that the Lord is coming soon. Do I have no hope? (There is a strained silence as he sits.)
Ellen White: (Stands) I have never been shown that the door of salvation is shut on such persons as Brother Wilcox here. There may be many in the churches who will yet embrace the truth. (Sits)
Wilcox: Praise the Lord! I want to embrace the truth. (Amens)
Chamberlain: (Stands) Brethren, the afternoon is nearly gone. Many of you must be weary after your long journey here. I propose that we adjourn until tomorrow morning, when Brother Bates will lead us in a discussion of the Sabbath truth. (Amens) Brother White will also lead in a discussion of the Third Angels Message of Revelation. (Amens)
Albert Belden: We are expecting several more to join us tomorrow. (Amens. Chamberlain sits.)
Bates: (Stands) Praise the Lord! These are going to be good meetings. Let us sing a hymn together, and have prayer before we disperse. Join me as we sing Im a Pilgrim. [SDAH 444]
(The group sings the hymn. The audience may be cued to join in the hymn.)
James White: (All remaining standing as prayer is offered.) Lord, we rejoice today in the truth of your Word. (Amens) May this series of meetings prepare us for your soon coming. (Amens) Dismiss us now, we pray. Amen. (Amens)
(After the prayer, the group disperses.)
Voice of Ellen White: Shortly after the close of the conference at Rocky Hill, we were invited to attend a general meeting at Volney, New York in August. We had no means with which to travel. My husbands health was poor, but the way opened for him to work in the hayfield, and he decided to accept the work. [LS 109]
As a result of his work in the hayfield, my husband earned forty dollars. With a part of this we purchased some necessary clothing, and had sufficient means left to take us to western New York and return.
My health was poor, and it was impossible for me to travel and have the care of our child. So we left our little Henry, ten months old, at Middletown with Sister Clarissa Bonfoey. It was a severe trial for me to be separated form my child, but we dared not let our affection for him keep us from the path of duty. [LS 110]
Our meeting at Volney was held "in Brother David Arnold's barn. About thirty-five were present. From Volney we went to Port Gibson. The meeting there was held in Brother Edson's barn." [LS 110]
The remaining months of 1848 were taken up with conferences in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maine. Finally, with the approach of winter, we returned to the Howland home at Topsham, Maine.
SCENE 3. Living room in the Howland home, Topsham, Maine. The date is sometime in March of 1849. As the scene opens, Mrs. Marsh is visiting with Mrs. Howland.
Mrs. Marsh: This is the second winter that Elder and Mrs. Whit have spent under your roof, isn't it? Don't they plan to find a place of their own?
Mrs. Howland: Oh, Stockbridge and I are just happy to provide a place for them. We have told them to regard our home as their own whenever they need it. But of course they spend much of their time visiting the various Adventist companies.
Mrs. Marsh: I think it is wrong for them to travel so much when they have a young child to care for. I heard that Sister Ellen left her little boy in the care of a single young lady for several weeks last summer! She ought to have stayed with him, and let her husband do the traveling. Oh, by the way, is it true that Ellen is in the family way again?
Mrs. Howland: Well . . . yes.
Mrs. Marsh: When is the babe due?
Mrs. Howland: I believe Ellen said July.
Mrs. Marsh: Then I am sure they will remain here in Topsham until after the event, won't they?
Mrs. Howland: They probably will. Elder White is being urged to start printing a paper, so writing will occupy a good deal of his time.
Mrs. Marsh: Publishing a paper! There is no purpose in that. The door of mercy is shut tight, so why the effort in starting a paper? To say nothing of the cost!
Mrs. Howland: Well, I'm not sure you are right about the door of mercy being shut tight, Sister Marsh. That would exclude our own children born since October '44, wouldn't it? And we are beginning to see some conversions to the Sabbath truth. Why, Brother Wilcox was converted right out of the world at the Sabbath Conference at Rocky Hill last April.
Mrs. Marsh: Sister, you are in danger of throwing the shut door right out the window! And I don't see what the seventh-day Sabbath has to do with our salvation, or the Advent.
Mrs. Howland: The Sabbath is more important than we realized. This past Sabbath, Ellen had a vision right here in this room. She was shown that the door of the Most Holy Place is now open, so that the light of the ten commandments could shine out.
Mrs. Marsh: What does that mean?
Mrs. Howland: It means that when Jesus shut the door into the Holy Place in October 1844, He opened the door into the Most Holy Place so that the Sabbath commandment could be seen and understood. For Adventists, the Sabbath is now a test of our loyalty to God. It makes the Sabbath very precious to us.