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tracted my especial attention. I was strongly impressed to call, but had no reason for so doing, as it was but a few miles to the school district, where I should find a hearty welcome. I decided to go past this house, as I did not wish to find myself in the awkward position of calling upon strangers without some good reason. But the impression to call increased, and the excuse to ask for a drink of water occurred to me, and I stepped to the door and called for water. A man in the noon of life waited upon me, then kindly said, "Walk in." I saw that he had been weeping. In one hand he held the Bible. When I had taken the chair he offered me, this sad stranger addressed me in a most mournful manner, as follows: "I am in trouble. "I am in trouble. I am in deep affliction. To-day I have buried my dear son, and I have not the grace of God to sustain me. I am not a Christian, and my burden seems greater than I can bear. Will you please stop all night with me?”
He wept bitterly. Why he should so directly open his afflicted mind to a young stranger, has ever been to me a mystery. I could not refuse his invitation, and concluded to stop for the night. I told him my brief experience, and pointed him to Christ, who says, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." We bowed in prayer, and my new friend seemed relieved. Then we sought rest in sleep. In the morning I assisted him in erecting the family altar, and went on my way. I have neither seen nor heard from him since.
But I had walked only two miles on that delightful spring morning, when all nature, animate and inani
mate, seemed to join my glad heart in the praise of God, before the same impression came upon me, as I was passing a neat log cottage. Something said to me, Go into the house. I stepped to the door, and called for a drink of water. And who should bring it to me but a young lady who had attended my school the past winter. As she recognized me, she exclaimed, "Why, schoolmaster, walk in." This family had just moved from the district, three miles, to a new settlement surrounded by forests. The father was absent. The mother and children greeted me with more than usual cordiality, each calling me, Master. There was the place for my work to commence. I told my errand, and asked the privilege to pray. Oh, yes!" said the already weeping woman. " But let me send out the children and call in my neighbors." Some half-dozen little boys and girls received dispatches from their mother, and cheerfully ran to as many log cottages with the word, "Our schoolmaster is at our house, and wishes to pray, and mother wants you to come as soon as you can. In less than half an hour I had before me a congregation of about twenty-five. In conversing with them, I learned that not one of that company professed Christianity. Lectures on the second advent had been given near them, and a general conviction that the doctrine might be true rested upon the people. And as I related my experience of the few weeks in the past, stating my convictions relative to the soon coming of Christ, all were interested. I then bowed to pray, and was astonished to find that these twenty-five sinners all bowed with me. I could but weep. They all wept with me. And after pointing them to Christ, as best I could with my limited experience and knowledge of the Scriptures, I shook their
hands, said farewell, and joyfully pursued my journey. As I entered the district I had so recently left, all seemed changed, yet no changes worthy of note had taken place but in me. The school-house where I had spent happy hours in teaching willing minds, was closed, and my scholars were pursuing their daily tasks in the field and kitchen. I had left them, a proud, prayerless backslider, but now had come to pray with them. It seemed to me that the Lord could not have selected a duty more humbling to my pride. The district was made up of Universalists, formal professors, respectable sinners, and infidels. My employer, who had also engaged me to teach their school the next winter, was an infidel. I lost no time in making known the object of my visit, and in visiting and praying from house to house. No one opposed me. Some were deeply affected and bowed with me. My infidel friend said to me as I asked permission to pray in his house,
"I am very sorry, Mr. White, to find you in this state of mind. You are a good teacher, and a gentleman. I shall not forbid you.'
This reception was decidedly cold when compared with what I had met from others. This infidel was evidently much disgusted and disappointed, but tried to conceal his feelings out of respect to mine. I tried to pray, and passed to the next house. In a few days my work in this direction was finished for that time, and I returned home with the sweet assurance that I had done my duty. A few weeks afterward, however, I visited the place again. A general reformation was in progress, under the labors of a Christian minister. On Sunday, the meeting was held in a barn. The interest was general, and the congregation large. After the minister closed his remarks, I improved a few moments. I felt
deeply, and my testimony reached the people, especially my scholars and their parents. The following summer, lectures were given in the town-house, and the next winter most of the people of that town embraced religion.
Much of the summer I was unsettled as to duty. I had visited my scholars, and sometimes hoped to be excused from anything further of the kind, and feel free to pursue my studies. But the definite idea of proclaiming the soon coming of Christ, and warning the people to prepare for the day of the Lord, was impressed upon my mind. I did not dare attend school. The Spirit of the Lord had driven me from the school-room once, and in following a sense of duty I had been greatly blessed. How could I resist present convictions, and again try to shut myself away from the Lord, over my books? But how could I renounce all my fondly-cherished hopes of the future? My brother in Ohio said to me by letter: "Come out into the sunny West, James, and I will help you." "Well," said I, "when I become a scholar." How could I give up my school books, and with my small stock of education think of becoming a preacher ?
A school-mate, Elbridge Smith, who had also been a room-mate at St. Albans and at Reedfield, was a special friend of mine. He was a fine young man, of good habits, yet not a Christian. I loved him for what he was, and we mutually in confidence freely stated to each other all our plans, hopes and difficulties. To this young man I first opened my mind freely upon the subject of the second advent, and my convictions of duty to preach the doctrine. He treated the matter with candor, and seemed troubled as he learned from my own lips that I was inclined to believe that Christ would come about the year 1843. He had given the subject
no study, but evidently feared it might be so. plied as follows:
“You know I am not a Christian, and therefore am poorly prepared to give you advice in relation to religious duty. I think of these things more than many suppose, though I publicly take no personal interest in them. I, however, think it well for me, and safe for you, to say at this time, Follow the convictions of your
I highly esteem this friend of my youth for his candor and good counsel. Who could have done better? We have met but a few times since, as I soon left that part of the State to proclaim the coming of the Lord, and he for Bowdoin College. He graduated in two years from that time, studied law, and now Elbridge Smith is a judge somewhere in the West.
The struggle with duty was a severe one. But I finally gave out an appointment, and had some freedom. I soon sent an appointment to speak at the Troy townhouse. The congregation was large. Had rather a lean time, and felt embarrassed. And what seemed to wellnigh finish me, a good, honest, simple-hearted woman came up to me at the close of the meeting and said:
"Elder White, please come to our house and take dinner."
The word Elder cut me to the heart. I was confused and almost paralyzed. I will not attempt to narrate anything further that occurred on that day. The remaining portion of the day has ever seemed like a blank. I can only remember my confusion and anguish of spirit as I heard the unexpected word, Elder. I was unreconciled at the prospect before me, yet dared not refuse what seemed to be duty, and turn to my books. I was urged to speak in the presence of two young preachers,