I related this vision to the believers in Portland, who had full confidence that it was from God. The Spirit of the Lord attended the testimony, and the solemnity of eternity rested upon us. An unspeakable awe filled me, that I, so young and feeble, should be chosen as the instrument by which God would give light to His people. While under the power of the Lord I was filled with joy, seeming to be surrounded by holy angels in the glorious courts of heaven, where all is peace and gladness, and it was a sad and bitter change to wake up to the realities of mortal life.
In a second vision, which soon followed the first, I was shown the trials through which I must pass, and that it was my duty to go and relate to others what God had revealed to me. It was shown me that my labors would meet with great opposition, and that my heart would be rent with anguish, but that the grace of God would be sufficient to sustain me through all. The teaching of this vision troubled me exceedingly, for it pointed out my duty to go out among the people and present the truth.
My health was so poor that I was in constant bodily suffering, and, to all appearance, had but a short time to live. I was but seventeen years of age, small and frail, unused to society, and naturally so timid and retiring that it was painful for me to meet strangers. I prayed earnestly for several days, and far into the night, that this burden might be removed from me and laid upon someone more capable of bearing it. But the light of duty did not change, and the words of the angel sounded continually in my ears: "Make known to others what I have revealed to you."
I was unreconciled to going out into the world, and dreaded to meet its sneers and opposition. I had little self-confidence. Hitherto when the Spirit of God had urged me to duty, I had risen above myself, forgetting all fear and timidity in the thought of Jesus' love and the wonderful work He had done for me. The constant assurance that I was fulfilling my duty and obeying the will of the Lord gave me a confidence that surprised me. At such times I felt willing to do or suffer anything in order to help others into the light and peace of Jesus.
But it seemed impossible for me to perform this work that was presented before me; to attempt it seemed certain failure. The trials attending it appeared more than I could endure. How could I, a child in years, go forth from place to place, unfolding to the people the holy truths of God? My heart shrank in terror from the thought. My brother Robert, but two years older than myself, could not accompany me, for he was feeble in health and his timidity greater than mine; nothing could have induced him to take such a step. My father had a family to support, and could not leave his business; but he assured me that if God had called me to labor in other places, He would not fail to open the way for me. But these words of encouragement brought little comfort to my desponding heart; the path before me seemed hedged in with difficulties that I was unable to overcome.
I coveted death as a release from the responsibilities that were crowding upon me. At length the sweet peace I had so long enjoyed left me, and despair again pressed upon my soul. My prayers all seemed vain, and my faith was gone. Words of comfort, reproof, or encouragement were alike to me; for it seemed that no one could understand me but God, and He had forsaken me. The company of believers in Portland were ignorant concerning the exercises of my mind that had brought me into this state of despondency; but they knew that for some reason my mind had become depressed, and they felt
that this was sinful on my part, considering the gracious manner in which the Lord had manifested Himself to me.
I feared that God had taken His favor from me forever. As I thought of the light that had formerly blessed my soul, it seemed doubly precious in contrast with the darkness that now enveloped me. Meetings were held at my father's house, but my distress of mind was so great that I did not attend them for some time. My burden grew heavier until the agony of my spirit seemed more than I could bear.
At length I was induced to be present at one of the meetings in my own home. The church made my case a special subject of prayer. Father Pearson, who in my earlier experience had opposed the manifestations of the power of God upon me, now prayed earnestly for me, and counseled me to surrender my will to the will of the Lord. Like a tender father he tried to encourage and comfort me, bidding me believe I was not forsaken by the Friend of sinners.
I felt too weak and despondent to make any special effort for myself, but my heart united with the petitions of my friends. I cared little now for the opposition of the world, and felt willing to make every sacrifice if only the favor of God might be restored to me. While prayer was offered for me, the thick darkness that had encompassed me rolled back, and a sudden light came upon me. My strength was taken away. I seemed to be in the presence of the angels. One of these holy beings again repeated the words: "Make known to others what I have revealed to you."
One great fear that oppressed me was that if I obeyed the call of duty, and went out declaring myself to be one favored of the Most High with visions and revelations for the people, I might yield to sinful exaltation and be lifted above the station that was right for me to occupy, bring upon myself the displeasure of God, and lose my own soul. I had before me several cases such as I have here described, and my heart shrank from the trying ordeal.
I now entreated that if I must go and relate what the Lord had shown me, I should be preserved from undue exaltation. Said the angel: "Your prayers are heard and shall be answered. If this evil that you dread threatens you, the hand of God will be stretched out to save you; by affliction He will draw you to Himself and preserve your humility. Deliver the message faithfully. Endure unto the end, and you shall eat the fruit of the tree of life and drink of the water of life."
After recovering consciousness of earthly things, I committed myself to the Lord, ready to do His bidding whatever that might be. Providentially, the way opened for me to go with my brother-in-law to my sisters in Poland, thirty miles from my home. I there had an opportunity to bear my testimony.
For three months my throat and lungs had been so diseased that I could talk but little, and that in a low and husky tone. On this occasion I stood up in meeting and commenced speaking in a whisper. I continued thus for about five minutes, when the soreness and obstruction left my throat and lungs, my voice became clear and strong, and I spoke with perfect ease and freedom for nearly two hours. When my message was ended, my voice was gone until I again stood before the people, when the same singular restoration was repeated. I felt a constant assurance that I was doing the will of God, and saw marked results attending my efforts.
The way providentially opened for me to go to the eastern part of Maine. Brother William Jordan was going on business to Orrington, accompanied by his sister, and I was urged to go with them. As I had promised the Lord to walk in the path He opened before me, I dared not refuse. At Orrington I met Elder James White. He was acquainted with my friends, and was himself engaged in the work of salvation.
The Spirit of God attended the message I bore; hearts were made glad in the truth, and the desponding ones were
cheered and encouraged to renew their faith. At Garland a large number collected from different quarters to hear my message. But my heart was very heavy; I had just received a letter from my mother begging me to return home, for false reports were circulating concerning me. This was an unexpected blow. My name had always been free from the shadow of reproach, and my reputation was very dear to me. I also felt grieved that my mother should suffer on my account; her heart was bound up in her children, and she was very sensitive in regard to them. If there had been an opportunity, I should have set out for home immediately; but this was impossible.
My sorrow was so great that I felt too depressed to speak that night. My friends urged me to trust in the Lord; and at length the brethren engaged in prayer for me. The blessing of the Lord soon rested upon me, and I bore my testimony that evening with great freedom. There seemed to be an angel standing by my side to strengthen me. Shouts of glory and victory went up from that house, and the presence of Jesus was felt among us.
In my labors I was called to oppose the course of some who by their fanaticism were bringing reproach upon the cause of God. These fanatical ones seemed to think that religion consisted in great excitement and noise. They would talk in a manner that would irritate unbelievers, and cause them to hate them and the doctrines they taught; then they would rejoice that they suffered persecution. Unbelievers could see no consistency in their course. The brethren in some places were prevented from assembling for meetings. The innocent suffered with the guilty. I carried a sad and heavy heart much of the time. It seemed cruel that the cause of Christ should be injured by the course of these injudicious men. They were not only ruining their own souls, but placing upon the cause a stigma not easily removed. And Satan loved to have it so. It suited him well to see the truth
handled by unsanctified men; to have it mixed with error, and then all together trampled in the dust. He looked with triumph upon the confused, scattered state of God's children.
One of these fanatical persons labored with some success to turn my friends and even my relatives against me. Because I had faithfully related that which was shown me respecting his unchristian course, he circulated falsehoods to destroy my influence and to justify himself. My lot seemed hard. Discouragements pressed heavily upon me; and the condition of God's people so filled me with anguish that for two weeks I was prostrated with sickness. My friends thought I could not live; but brethren and sisters who sympathized with me in this affliction met to pray for me. I soon realized that earnest, effectual prayer was offered in my behalf. Prayer prevailed. The power of the strong foe was broken, and I was released, and immediately taken off in vision. In this view I saw that if I felt a human influence affecting my testimony, no matter where I might be, I had only to cry to God, and an angel would be sent to my rescue. I already had one guardian angel attending me continually, but when necessary, the Lord would send another to raise me above the power of every earthly influence.