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    2 A TIME FOR DECISION

    As we went to meeting one Sunday in December, 1843, my sister said to me, “Oh John, aren’t you glad! The millennium is going to begin this year!”MML 6.1

    “What’s the millennium?” I asked her. I had never heard that big word before.MML 6.2

    “Well,” she began, “the world is coming to an end, and Jesus will return. The wicked will be destroyed and the earth will become like it was when God first made it.”MML 6.3

    “How do you know?” I asked.MML 6.4

    “The Bible teaches it,” she replied. “There is a man by the name of Adams coming here this week to preach about it, and we are going to hear him.”MML 6.5

    The news didn’t please me as it did her. Grandfather sent me around the neighborhood to spread the news. Many of the neighbors looked sad, and I felt sad enough, too, for I thought I was unready and would have to burn eternally in hell for my sins.MML 6.6

    After Elder Adams’ lectures, a second series was given by Elder Barry. Victor was then only a small town of 300 inhabitants, but the Methodist Church comfortably seated 1,000. It was not only full every evening, but all standing room was taken. These lectures on the prophecies and signs of the times, mingled with exhortations to seek God, created a profound interest.MML 6.7

    I was able to attend one of Elder Barry’s lectures. It was a beautiful night and fine for sleighing. The meeting was opened by the singing of a peculiar hymn. In a clear and musical voice there came from one corner of the room the words, “Hail you! and where do you come from?” From the opposite corner a melodious response, “I am come from the land of Egypt.” Then the question, “Hail you! and where are you bound for?” followed by the reply, “I am bound for the land of Canaan.” Then a full choir of all parts gave the chorus, -MML 6.8

    “O Canaan, bright Canaan!
    I am bound for the land of Canaan.
    O Canaan, it is my happy home;
    I am bound for the land of Canaan.”
    MML 6.9

    Then in the same manner came questions relative to captain, pilot, cargo, etc. Simple as were these words, the power of God filled the place, and the people were in tears.MML 7.1

    Elder Barry spoke from Revelation 14, “Fear God and give glory to Him for the hour of His judgment is come.” Above and back of the pulpit hung a chart of the imagery of the books of Daniel and Revelation. Oh, what solemn awe seemed to prevail! Although the church was filled to capacity, all listened with breathless attention. At the close of the sermon, scores went forward for prayers. I took my place among the seekers, desirous to be ready to meet the Lord in peace.MML 7.2

    Afterwards, one man said to me, “Well, Johnnie, I’m glad you’ve decided to be a good boy.” I felt disappointed. I longed for someone to help me seek and find the favor of the dreadful, angry God I pictured in my mind, who would be pleased to destroy me. I was not quite twelve years of age.MML 7.3

    As we came out of the church, we were strangely awed by a band of white light about as wide as the moon’s disk stretched across the heavens from southwest to northeast. That wonderful band of light continued all that night and the whole of the next night.MML 7.4

    As a result of the lectures my grandfather and his whole family, with hundreds of others, believed the doctrine. They used to bring home books and papers such as Signs of the Times, and Voice of Truth. I read them eagerly and carried them to the neighbors. A great revival followed the preaching of the Advent doctrine.MML 7.5

    The first time that was set for the Lord to come (in the spring of 1844), I worked all the day the Lord was expected, sawing wood. I frequently looked up to see if the Lord was coming. I was very fearful He would come that day, for I thought I was not ready. Although the day passed and He did not come, I did not lose my desire to be saved.MML 7.6

    In April, 1847, at the age of fifteen, I left my grandparent’s home and went to my native village to live with my oldest brother who was an Adventist. I wanted to learn the trade of carriage-making. Here I soon mixed with wild companions and became very careless about religion. When I stopped to think seriously and wished to be good, I was of the same mind as my brother; but I had no strength to leave my companions and make a start to serve the Lord. During the winter of 1848-49, I attended the school in Victor, living with my widowed mother, paying my school tuition by sweeping the school floor, kindling the morning fires, and ringing the bell.MML 7.7

    Our teacher readily discerned the abilities of his students and did all he could to develop them. He had the more advanced students organize a literary society. The older male members were required to write speeches, commit them to memory, and present them before the assembly. This trained us to appear in public. I can look back and see that the Lord was preparing me to speak on Bible truths.MML 8.1

    When my mother would ask me to go to meeting on Sunday, I would make up some excuse,-my studies needed attention, I must write a composition, or something of the kind. Thus things went until June when I accompanied my Uncle Norton to visit my older brother who had moved to Adam’s Basin. Soon after our arrival we attended an all-day meeting held by P.A. Smith, an earnest Adventist minister. The First-day Adventists taught that the great commotion among the nations of Europe would bring on the Battle of Armageddon, and the Lord would now come very soon. Under this preaching, my convictions of 1843 were again fully aroused. After meeting, as the minister visited with my brother, he began to talk with me, and obtained a promise from me to serve the Lord. I felt relieved that the way was thus opened for me. I wanted to be in earnest about being a Christian, and as there was to be more meetings in two weeks, I desired the privilege of attending them.MML 8.2

    When I looked back to my school, all was dark; I dreaded to think of going back to mix with worldly companions until I had more strength in the truth and evidence of acceptance with the Lord. Then an opportunity came to me to work as a blacksmith apprentice, and learn to iron carriages, intending to enter in business with my brother.MML 8.3

    I returned home and told the teacher and my schoolmates I had hired out to become a blacksmith, but did not tell them the main reason why I wanted to leave. They presented before me all the flattering prospects I had aspired after, but this did not move me. My mind was made up to be at my brother’s in two weeks to attend the next meeting. I turned away from teachers, friends, and even my own mother, deciding that I must give it all up or be lost. I was longing for truth, light, and pardon.MML 8.4

    The truth presented at the meetings shed more light upon the subject of the nearness of the Lord’s coming. I began to study the Bible thoroughly. I carried a small pocket Bible to the blacksmith shop and would read it when the rest of the hands were off at a nearby grocery. Sometimes I would retire to a back coal shed and pray. My mind was impressed to speak in public meeting and tell my desires, to pray and ask the prayers of others,-a cross I struggled under for several days. When I would pray for the evidence of sins forgiven, it would be impressed upon my mind to be baptized. This troubled me, so I told my brother. He said, “If I felt that way, I would be baptized at the first opportunity. Elder Smith is going to be at Clarkson next Sunday, and is going to baptize one on the way, and you can be baptized at the same time.”MML 9.1

    When Elder Smith came and I told him of my feelings he said, “Yes, by all means go forward!” I prayed earnestly to the Lord to be guided aright, and went with trembling to the place of baptism. It was a beautiful summer morning, and when I came out of the water I was as happy as I could be. It seemed that all nature praised the Lord. I was now free and could say, I know that the Lord loves me. We had about ten miles to go from there to the meeting, and we sang and praised the Lord all the way.MML 9.2

    At the time of my baptism among the First-day Adventists in June, 1849, they had no formal organization. They did not keep any record of names. They claimed that on being baptized their names were entered in the “Book of Life” and that was sufficient. If, amid the opposition against the Adventists which raged at that time, one had the courage to publicly accept the faith, they acknowledged them as brethren.MML 9.3

    At the shop where I worked, many customers would come in and talk of everything but religion. Whenever they talked with me, I would try to turn the conversation to religious matters, and to the great subject of the near coming of the Lord. Some would listen and seem deeply affected; others would mock and ridicule, but this only made me the stronger. After my day’s work was done, I would often sit up until midnight with candle and book by my side to study the truth.MML 9.4

    The shop stood close by the Erie Canal, and most of our customers were canal drivers. Instead of learning anything about carriage work, I was set to pulling horse shoes, clinching nails, filing and finishing the hoofs, etc. During all those three months there was not a wheel carriage in the shop. Since I received no carriage work as promised, I broke off my contract, and received for the three month’s work my board and lodging, and a calf-skin leather apron.MML 10.1

    Now penniless, I returned to my mother’s home in my native village. There I soon began to reap the results of my summer’s exposure to the malarial atmosphere on the canal and frog pond. I began chills every alternate day, and soon they came every day, and finally twice a day. After being afflicted this way for two months, I thought my life was doomed.MML 10.2

    When the chills began upon me, I was solemnly impressed that it was my duty to go out and preach to others the precious truths I had learned from the Scriptures, but I tried to throw off this conviction with the thought that a boy not yet seventeen was too young to preach. Then again, I had not a penny of money and my clothing was about ready to discard. When the chill was on, it would be vividly impressed upon me to go out and preach, and my chill would stop. So on the day I had two chills in one day, I said, “Lord, break these chills and fever and I will go out and preach as soon as I can recover enough strength to do so.” The chills ceased that very day.MML 10.3

    After the close of nine weeks of malaria, I was weak physically, but fully determined, as soon as possible, to go out in ministerial work. I hired out to dig a field of potatoes, but had to stop for lack of strength. Then I was given a job of cutting wood. In a few weeks I had saved one dollar above expenses. That would get me where I wanted to go, but what about clothing?MML 10.4

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