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    Chapter 3—The Joke that Failed

    “Who’s that man in the front room talking with father?” Sarah asked her mother one day as she entered the house.SMG 29.1

    “It’s Otis Nichols, an Adventist from Dorchester, Massachusetts. He wants you and Ellen to spend a few days at their home. Two self-appointed preachers are teaching strange doctrines, which have confused and discouraged some of the believers there. He wants them to hear Ellen relate her visions, and if possible put an end to their fanatical teachings.”SMG 29.2

    When Mr. Nichols returned to his home, Sarah and Ellen went with him. Soon after they arrived, two men, a Mr. Sargent and a Mr. Robbins, called on an errand. When they had finished their business, they said to Mr. Nichols, “We’ll stay overnight if it’s all right with you.”SMG 29.3

    “Yes, indeed,” Mr. Nichols replied; “come right in; the Harmon sisters are here, and you’ll have a chance to get acquainted with them.”SMG 29.4

    Mr. Sargent looked at Mr. Robbins, and Mr. Robbins looked at Mr. Sargent. Suddenly they both decided they must hurry back to Boston.SMG 29.5

    Mr. Nichols was disappointed. “Too bad,” he said, “but you’ll have a chance to meet the sisters in Boston. We’re planning to bring Sister Ellen with us to speak to the company on Sabbath.” When he said Sabbath, he really meant Sunday, for they did not yet understand that Sunday was not the Sabbath.SMG 29.6

    “All right,” the men replied, “we’ll send out word that Miss Harmon is to speak in Boston next Sabbath, and we’ll meet you there.”SMG 30.1

    That evening during family worship Ellen was shown in a quiet vision lasting only a moment that she should not go north to Boston on Sunday, but to Randolph, a town about ten miles south of Boston.SMG 30.2

    When she told Mr. Nichols, he protested, “We can’t go to Randolph. I promised the men we’d meet them in Boston. How can I break my word?”SMG 30.3

    “That will be all right,” said Ellen. “The Lord has shown me that we should go to Randolph. We’ll understand when we get there.”SMG 30.4

    After leaving Mr. Nichols’ home, the two men sent out an announcement that there would be no meeting that week at Boston; all the believers should meet at Randolph. They thought they were playing a clever joke on Ellen Harmon. In Boston she would find an empty house, while all the people she expected to talk to would be at Randolph listening to them preach.SMG 30.5

    According to their announcement, on Sunday morning the two men met the Adventist believers at the Thayer home in Randolph. They were greatly pleased with themselves for having outwitted Brother and Sister Nichols and the Harmon sisters. Mr. Sargent, who did most of the speaking, had been telling people that the time was past when Christians should work.SMG 30.6

    “Brethren,” he said, “we are in the year of Jubilee, when every man should rest.” He had nothing to say about the women who had to cook, clean house, and chop wood while their husbands rested. These men were spreading this fanatical teaching everywhere. Sensible people asked, “How can we live this way? How will we support our families?” The men answered, “Let the rich sell their possessions and give to the poor. Then there will be no necessity for anyone to labor.”SMG 30.7

    On this particular day Mr. Sargent was preaching this strange doctrine. Then he began talking about the visions.SMG 31.1

    “You have heard about those visions of Ellen Harmon’s,” he said. “Don’t listen to them; they are of the devil.” There was a knock at the door. In walked the Nichols family with Sarah and Ellen Harmon. Sargent stopped in the middle of a sentence, too surprised to continue. Abruptly he turned to Mr. Robbins and asked him to announce a closing hymn. “We will come together after lunch,” he said.SMG 31.2

    Lunch was soon over, and the people were back in the room, eager to see what would happen next.SMG 31.3

    During the opening prayer the Spirit of the Lord took Ellen into vision. This displeased Sargent and Robbins. It was the last thing they wanted the people to see, for they knew Ellen was opposed to their strange teaching. All eyes were fixed upon the young woman in vision. Occasionally she spoke words of comfort and hope.SMG 31.4

    Something must be done to take attention from her, Mr. Robbins thought to himself. He stood up and announced a hymn, but scarcely anyone joined the two men in singing. Mr. Sargent picked up his Bible and began reading, shouting in an effort to drown out Ellen’s voice.SMG 31.5

    “Will you please stop singing and reading,” came a request from the audience. “We want to hear what Sister Ellen is saying.”SMG 31.6

    That was just what the two men did not want. They continued shouting and singing until both were hoarse, and their hands shook so much they could hardly hold their books. But Ellen’s voice, as she seemed to be conversing with someone in the vision, rang out clear and distinct. Every word could be heard.SMG 31.7

    Everyone in the room could see that she was under the control of a divine power. They watched her dignified movements and noted that she did not breathe, even while repeating to the listening company sentences that were being spoken to her in the vision. There were whisperings:SMG 32.1

    “Her message can’t be from the devil; it’s so full of cheer and comfort and the love of God.”SMG 32.2

    “Her words are like a voice from heaven.”SMG 32.3

    “Surely these men have been telling us lies.”SMG 32.4

    “This vision reminds us of the visions God gave His prophets in Bible times.”SMG 32.5

    Mr. Thayer stood up. “I have been told that visions which come from Satan can be stopped by laying an open Bible on the person having the vision. Mr. Sargent, will you make this test?”SMG 32.6

    Mr. Sargent refused.SMG 32.7

    At the moment Ellen was resting in a chair in the corner of the room, leaning back against the wall. Mr. Thayer lifted a large family Bible from the table and laid it upon her chest.SMG 32.8

    Immediately she lifted the Bible in one hand. She stepped to the center of the room, raised the Bible high above her head, and exclaimed, “The inspired testimony from God!”SMG 32.9

    For an hour she held that heavy Bible in one hand, above her head, and turned its pages with the other hand. With eyes directed away from the book, she pointed with her finger to the very verses she was repeating.SMG 32.10

    “Let’s see if she is quoting them correctly,” someone suggested. Moving a chair to Ellen’s side, he stepped up on it so that he could look down on the Bible. In surprise he exclaimed, “Sister Ellen is turning the pages and pointing her finger at the very texts she is using. Without looking, she is quoting correctly!” Others climbed onto the chair to see for themselves, and said in astonishment, “This is wonderful! She is not seeing those scriptures with her natural eyes. They are being shown to her in vision.”SMG 32.11

    The words she spoke brought hope to the people. They could see that God was speaking to them through His weak, humble messenger.SMG 34.1

    After a time Ellen turned to scriptures which described the punishment of the wicked at the judgment day. At this Mr. Sargent and Mr. Robbins became troubled and silent. What would they do now? The company waited—hoping, expecting. Would they confess their sin? But they were too proud. At the close of the meeting they left without acknowledging that they were wrong.SMG 34.2

    Mr. Robbins had boasted to Sarah Harmon that he could throw a spell over Ellen and bring her out of vision. But here in the presence of the power of God, he was afraid even to attempt to carry out his threat.SMG 34.3

    About sundown candles were lighted. During the time that Ellen had been in vision she had not breathed, nor had she been conscious of anything in the room. Now she began to breathe and to notice the people around her.SMG 34.4

    This is the longest vision of which there is any record. It lasted nearly four hours.SMG 34.5

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