Reminiscences of Pioneer Days

A personal reflection.

Mrs. A.T. Robinson

When I was eleven years of age, Elder James White and his wife and Elder J. N. Andrews visited our church, at which time practically all the young people In the church were baptized. As a child I had a good Christian ex­perience, but when I reached my teens I became careless, and felt that I wanted to have a " good time " accord­ing to the worldly standard. My con­science troubled me, and while I prayed to the Lord to take the love of the world out of my heart, I still clung to things which I knew were wrong. In due time I married, and our new home was situated on top of a hill, on a road almost impassable in the winter be­cause of the deep snow. My husband's work kept him away at quite a distance all the week. He would come home Friday evening and remain until Sun­day, but the rest of the time I was left alone with my two small children. I reasoned it out that the Lord could not answer my prayer and take the love of the world out of my heart, so He took me out of the world. But I knew that He had not forsaken me.

I was naturally quick tempered, and often became impatient with the chil­dren. Then I would be sorry, and weep over my inability to do better. I often said to myself, " I have been trying to be a Christian for sixteen years, and am worse than when I began. What is the use of trying? I'm going to give up." This was in the year of 1879. Just about that time someone gave me a tract entitled, " How to Be a Christian," which made the way very simple. First, I read, " You must give up all." I knew that I had nothing to give up but my sin and misery. Sec­ond, "You must confess your sins to God, and He will forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness." " I have been confessing my sins all my life," I said. Third, "Then you must believe that He has forgiven and accepted you." This was something I had never done, because I had never felt that He forgave me; so I had lived in the seventh-chapter-of-Romans ex­perience all these years. When I read that I must believe, I concluded that there was hope for me yet. I went at once to my room, and prayed as never before this time in faith. As I arose from my knees, I thanked God that He had forgiven and accepted me, and went about my work praising God and singing hymns of rejoicing, but there was no change in my feeling. When tempted to become impatient with the children, I would lift my heart to God, and He gave me the victory. On the fourth day of this experience I again prayed to the Lord in a special man­ner. I prayed for an hour, and when I arose from prayer I said aloud, " I believe that the Lord forgives and ac­cepts me, even if I never feel that this is true." As soon as I had uttered the words, a flood of light and glory filled my soul.

The Sabbath came and we went to church. This was the first Seventh-day Adventist church in existence, at Washington, N. H. In the social meet­ing that Sabbath I told my experience of the past week, and closed my re­marks by exclaiming, " Praise the Lord! " As the meeting closed and I was passing out of the church, I over­heard two of the older sisters say that I was fanatical. I did not know much about fanaticism, but understood that it was from the devil, and this remark gave me a severe shock. It brought the first cloud between me and my Saviour since I had received the defi­nite assurance in prayer. I concluded that if it were true that this which I had experienced was from the devil, then I would never be able to know the true way.

After retiring that night, I could not sleep for weeping because of my dis­tress. Then a Voice seemed to say to me, " Why don't you get up and pray? " I heeded the suggestion, and taking my Bible I pleaded with the Lord to show me if I had done wrong in uttering words of praise in the meeting. On opening my Bible, the first words I saw were, " Praise ye the Lord," as found in Psalms 148. Then another verse in the twenty-second psalm came to my mind, which reads, " My praise shall be of Thee in the great congregation." These two verses were sufficient to convince me that I had not been mis­taken, and that I should keep right on praising the Lord.

Just at this time I began to feel a great burden for the young people in our church. So I got them all together one evening, and told them just how to become connected with the Lord, and we all sought the Lord together. We did not stop until every one in the com­pany had found the Lord, and knew that he was forgiven and accepted. It was one o'clock in the morning when we separated.

As a result of this meeting, some powerful testimonies were heard in the church the following Sabbath. This caused the older members of the church to become worried, and they re­minded us that Sister White had writ­ten that " fanaticism would return to the East," and they concluded that the demonstration of a new experience by the young people was the beginning of it. So they sent for Elder S. N. Haskell, and when he came, we young people told him all about our experi­ence in seeking the Lord and accepting of forgiveness and righteousness by faith. This was on Friday that we talked to Elder Haskell, and on the next day, Sabbath, he preached a ser­mon on faith. It was a good sermon, although he did not see the full truth of righteousness by faith as he came to see it afterward, and there were many " Amens " from the young people. Before he went away, he talked to us young people again, and one thing he said, which I have never forgotten, was, " I came to set you young people right, and got converted myself! Keep right on in the way you have been led. I would rather see a little wildfire than to see no fire at all." Eider Haskell in later years often referred to the new experience which came to him on that occasion.

Well, the church members did not feel satisfied, so they sent for Elder A. S. Hutchins to come from Vermont. His sermon did not touch faith, but dwelt entirely on works, works. But we young people had tried " works " for so long, and failed, that we did not wish to try that method any more. Then they sent for another minister to come and set us straight, and this time it was my own brother, Elder E. W. Farnsworth. Naturally he lis­tened with special interest to my own experience, and investigated the ex perience which had come to the young people of the church. He did not seem to be able to change our attitude, and was impressed by the genuine mani­festation of the power of God among us. My brother at that time told me that he wished he might have just such an experience as had come to me. He did not, however, enter into the deeper experience of receiving righteousness by faith until some time after 1888.

Next to be sent for was Elder A. O. Burrill, of New York. He sympathized with us, and gave some good sermons on the subject. After this the church members ceased to try to dissuade us from our belief, and we went on un­molested.

I had never been so happy in all my life. No matter what came, the Lord was with me. Some nights I felt that I did not want to go to sleep, for in sleep I was not conscious of my Sav­iour's presence. When I awoke in the morning, the first thought was, " I am still with Thee." Almost every one of the little company who entered into this deeper experience at that time has remained faithful.

My husband entered into the experi­ence with me, and some time later we were called to Westerly, R. I., where we began holding prayer meetings and Bible studies to create an interest in the truth. Soon we were called into conference work, my husband as a minister and I as a Bible worker, and we have been in the work ever since.

As I listen to the message of right­eousness by faith as it is being preached at the present time, the early experiences of my life are vividly brought to mind, and I rejoice that the Lord is again bringing this glorious truth to the forefront. It is this ex­perience of receiving the righteousness of God by faith which will bring the latter rain in all its fullness.

Mrs. A.T. Robinson

Melrose, Mass.

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Mrs. A.T. Robinson

December 1928

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