Larger font
Smaller font
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font

    Chapter 18—The Preacher was a Thief

    During the winter of 1849-1850 James and Ellen White held meetings with Adventists in Oswego, New York.SMG 127.1

    A young man named Hiram Patch and his sweetheart were attending these meetings. They were soon to be married. Both had decided to lay the right foundation for their new home by becoming Christians and joining a church. But which church should they join?SMG 127.2

    While trying to decide, they were persuaded to attend some revival meetings being conducted by the county treasurer in one of the city churches. He seemed to have a great burden for the unconverted, often wringing his hands in distress as he prayed for sinners.SMG 127.3

    Hiram Patch and his fiancée were uncertain whether to join the big church where this treasurer preached or the little company of Sabbathkeepers meeting in a home.SMG 127.4

    During a meeting of these Sabbathkeepers, while Hiram was present, Ellen White was given a vision. Her attention was directed to Hosea 5:7: “They have dealt treacherously against the Lord.” She was told that these words applied to the people who were conducting the revival meetings in the church.SMG 127.5

    After the vision she said to Hiram Patch, “Wait a month, and you will know for yourself the character of these persons.” Hiram replied, “I will wait.”SMG 127.6

    Within two weeks the county treasurer became acutely ill while praying in a meeting. He was taken home and put to bed. The county sheriff and a constable were appointed to take over the affairs of the treasurer’s office during his absence.SMG 128.1

    While checking the account books, they found a shortage of $1,000. They did not want to believe that this man, so earnest in conducting revivals, could be guilty of stealing. He might have paid it out in some business transaction or deposited it in the bank and neglected to make an entry in the books, they reasoned. So they decided to call on him and give him a chance to explain.SMG 128.2

    But they agreed to be cautious; for if he had taken the money, he would surely try to conceal the theft. It was arranged that one man should watch at the back of the house while the other entered at the front. Accordingly, the constable hid himself in a shed near the back door while the sheriff knocked on the front door. Almost immediately the constable saw a woman come out the back door with a sack in her hand. He watched her go quickly to a snowbank, dig a hole, deposit the sack, and cover it.SMG 128.3

    The sheriff chatted a moment with the sick man, then told him of the perplexity at the office, suggesting that probably he could explain the difficulty. The treasurer became excited, raised his hand to heaven, and said, “I call God to witness that I know nothing about the money.”SMG 128.4

    Just then his wife entered the bedroom. “What’s the matter? Why are you so excited?” she asked.SMG 128.5

    “They think we have their money.”SMG 128.6

    The wife also raised her hand and said, “God is my witness that we do not have the money, nor do we know anything about it.” As she finished speaking, the constable entered with the sack of money. Holding it out before them, he said, “Madam, what is this? I saw you rush from the house and deposit this in the snowbank, and here it is, the missing sack of money, marked ‘$1,000’!”SMG 128.7

    It didn’t take long for news like that to get around town, and the revival suddenly collapsed. The prediction made in the vision had come true. Hiram and his fiancée united with the Sabbathkeeping company.SMG 129.1

    That same winter the Whites held meetings also in Camden. Before going there, Ellen was shown the Adventists in that place. Among them she saw a woman who professed to be very holy, but who was a hypocrite, deceiving the church.SMG 129.2

    This woman taught that it was possible for a person to reach a state of perfection that would place him above the law of God. She herself professed to have reached that perfect state.SMG 129.3

    During one of the Camden meetings Mrs. White was again shown this woman and was told that she was a pretender who was not living right. After the vision, my grandmother related what she had seen. With dignity the woman rose and said, “God knows my heart, and if you could see it, you would know that it is pure, and clean.” The meeting closed.SMG 129.4

    Soon afterward the woman became so ill that she thought she was dying. In great agitation she cried, “I must see Sister White; I have a confession to make to her. I told her I was a good woman, that I was pure. It is not so. I am a wicked woman. The man I am living with is not my husband. I left a good husband in England, and one little child, and ran away with this man. We were never married. I have been professing to be a doctor, and have been selling medicine that I swore in court cost me one dollar a bottle, but it cost me only twelve cents a bottle.”SMG 129.5

    No one in the company had known this woman before she joined the believers. No one could have told Mrs. White what kind of person she was. But God knew. Many times He sent warnings of this kind to protect His people from such pretenders and to show how much He hates sin and hypocrisy.SMG 130.1

    But was it only great sins which were rebuked? Does God overlook what we call “little sins”? Would God, the Creator of the universe, notice so small an act as taking a hairnet? Here’s the hairnet story as Grandma White told it:SMG 130.2

    At one time several young ladies connected with the Healdsburg College were living in her family. Some were students, and some were teachers. One day grandma was dressing in her room and missed her hairnet. It was a substantial one, nicely woven, which she wore whenever she went out. She looked around her room, then searched the house, but could not find it.SMG 130.3

    When the family came together, she asked, “Has anyone seen my hairnet? I’m sure it was on my dresser last night. It surely will be found; it could not go away by itself.” There was no response.SMG 130.4

    Soon after this she happened to be passing through one of the girls’ rooms on her way to another room, when she heard a voice say, “Lift the lid of that trunk.” Because it was not her practice to look into other people’s personal possessions, she passed on.SMG 130.5

    Again the voice said, “Lift the lid of that trunk.” The command was so insistent that she stopped and lifted the lid. There in the top compartment lay the missing hairnet.SMG 130.6

    Grandma closed the trunk and made no mention of what she had seen, but once again she asked the girls about the net. She knew now who had taken it, but she wanted to give the offender a chance to confess. No one answered.SMG 130.7

    While sitting before the fireplace a little later, grandma had a very brief vision. There flashed before her eyes the picture of a young girl (we will call her Elsie) holding the net over a kerosene lamp and burning it.SMG 131.1

    Grandma knew now that it was useless for her to wait longer for Elsie to confess; so she called the girl to her and told her about the voice she had heard, and about finding the net in the trunk, and about the brief vision of her burning the net.SMG 131.2

    Elsie sobbed out the whole story. “I don’t know why I took it,” she said. “I don’t know why I didn’t return it when you first asked about it. But after so much was said, I was ashamed to admit that I was the guilty one.”SMG 131.3

    How did Elsie meet this experience? Did she say, “It’s no use for me to try to be a Christian; everyone will call me a thief; nobody will have confidence in me”?SMG 131.4

    No, indeed! She confessed. She accepted God’s promised forgiveness. Her failure had shown her that she could not, of herself, do right. She needed the Saviour’s help. Right there she gave herself fully to Jesus and made Him her constant companion. From that day she lived a sincere Christian life, which brought joy to all who loved her.SMG 131.5

    Larger font
    Smaller font