About this time I was subjected to a severe trial. If the Spirit of God rested upon anyone in meeting, and he glorified God by praising Him, some raised the cry of mesmerism; and if it pleased the Lord to give me a vision in meeting, some would say that it was the effect of excitement and mesmerism. Grieved and desponding, I often went alone to some retired place to pour out my soul before Him who invites the weary and heavy-laden to come and find rest. As my faith claimed the promises, Jesus would seem very near. The sweet light of heaven would shine around me, and I would seem to be encircled by the arms of my Saviour, and would there be taken off in vision. But when I would relate what God had revealed to me alone, where no earthly influence could affect me, I was grieved and astonished to hear some intimate that those who lived nearest to God were most liable to be deceived by Satan.
According to this teaching, our only safety from delusion would be to remain at a distance from God, in a backslidden state. Oh, thought I, has it come to this, that those who honestly go to God alone to plead His promises, and to claim His salvation, are to be charged with being under the foul influence of mesmerism? Do we ask our kind Father in heaven for bread, only to receive a stone or a scorpion? These things wounded my spirit, and wrung my soul with keen anguish, well nigh to despair. Many would have me believe that there was no Holy Spirit, and that all the exercises that holy men
of God experienced were only the effect of mesmerism or the deception of Satan.
Some had taken extreme views of certain texts of scripture, refraining wholly from labor, and rejecting all those who would not receive their ideas on this and other points pertaining to religious duty. God revealed these errors to me in vision, and sent me to instruct His erring children; but many of them wholly rejected the message, and charged me with conforming to the world. On the other hand, the nominal Adventists charged me with fanaticism, and I was falsely represented as the leader of the fanaticism which I was laboring constantly to arrest.
Different times were set for the Lord to come, and were urged upon the brethren. But the Lord showed me that they would pass by, for the time of trouble must take place before the coming of Christ, and that every time that was set, and passed, would weaken the faith of God's people. For this I was charged with being the evil servant that said: "My Lord delayeth His coming."
These statements relative to time setting were printed about thirty years ago, and the books containing them have been circulated everywhere; yet some ministers claiming to be well acquainted with me, state that I have set time after time for the Lord to come, and those times have passed, therefore my visions are false. No doubt these false statements are received by many as truth; but none who are acquainted with me or with my labors can in candor make such report. This is the testimony I have ever borne since the passing of the time in 1844: "Time after time will be set by different ones, and will pass by; and the influence of this time setting will tend to destroy the faith of God's people." If I had in vision seen definite time, and had borne my testimony to it, I could not have written and published, in the face of this testimony, that all times that should be set would pass, for the time of trouble must come before the coming
of Christ. Certainly for the last thirty years, that is, since the publication of this statement, I would not be inclined to set time for Christ to come, and thus place myself under the same condemnation with those whom I was reproving. And I had no vision until 1845, which was after the passing of the time of general expectation in 1844. I was then shown what I have here stated.
And has not this testimony been fulfilled in every particular? The First-day Adventists have set time after time, and notwithstanding the repeated failures, they have gathered courage to set new times. God has not led them in this. Many of them have rejected the true prophetic time, and ignored the fulfillment of prophecy, because the time passed in 1844, and did not bring the expected event. They rejected the truth, and the enemy has had power to bring strong delusions upon them that they should believe a lie. The great test on time was in 1843 and 1844; and all who have set time since then have been deceiving themselves and deceiving others.
Up to the time of my first vision I could not write; my trembling hand was unable to hold my pen steadily. While in vision, I was commanded by an angel to write the vision. I obeyed, and wrote readily. My nerves were strengthened, and my hand became steady.
It was a great cross for me to relate to the erring what had been shown me concerning them. It caused me great distress to see others troubled or grieved. And when obliged to declare the messages, I would often soften them down, and make them appear as favorable for the individual as I could, and then would go by myself and weep in agony of spirit. I looked upon those who had only their own souls to care for, and thought if I were in their condition I would not murmur. It was hard to relate the plain, cutting testimonies given me of God. I anxiously watched the result, and if the persons reproved rose up against the reproof, and afterward opposed
the truth, these queries would arise in my mind: Did I deliver the message just as I should? Could there not have been some way to save them? And then such distress pressed upon my soul that I often felt that death would be a welcome messenger, and the grave a sweet resting place.
I did not realize the danger and sin of such a course, until in vision I was taken into the presence of Jesus. He looked upon me with a frown, and turned His face from me. It is not possible to describe the terror and agony I then felt. I fell upon my face before Him, but had no power to utter a word. Oh, how I longed to be covered and hid from that dreadful frown! Then could I realize, in some degree, what the feelings of the lost will be when they cry: "Mountains and rocks, fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb."
Presently an angel bade me rise, and the sight that met my eyes can hardly be described. Before me was a company whose hair and garments were torn, and whose countenances were the very picture of despair and horror. They came close to me, and rubbed their garments upon mine. As I looked at my garments, I saw that they were stained with blood. Again I fell like one dead at the feet of my accompanying angel. I could not plead one excuse, and longed to be away from that holy place. The angel raised me to my feet, and said: "This is not your case now, but this scene has passed before you to let you know what your situation must be if you neglect to declare to others what the Lord has revealed to you. But if you are faithful to the end, you shall eat of the tree of life, and shall drink of the river of the water of life. You will have to suffer much, but the grace of God is sufficient." I then felt willing to do all that the Lord might require me to do, that I might have His approbation, and not feel His dreadful frown.