Children’s Story – You Can’t Fool God

During the early years of Adventism, there was much confusion of belief, many false ideas, and much fanaticism. Through Satan, many things were taught that were opposite to what Jesus and the Bible teach. God, because He loves us, sent a special messenger to help straighten out these false and fanatical beliefs. Her name was Ellen (Harmon) White.

This story recounts how two fanatical people tried to trick Ellen, to escape hearing God’s messages through her, and to keep others from hearing as well. But while they could have tricked Ellen, they could not trick God.

One day a man, Otis Nichols, from Dorchester, Massachusetts, visited the Harmon home. He asked that Ellen and Sarah, her sister, visit them. They wanted to hear about Ellen’s visions and, if possible, put an end to the fanatical teachings of two men living and preaching in their area.

When Mr. Nichols returned to his home in Dorchester, Ellen and Sarah went with him. Soon after arriving, two men knocked on the door on a business errand. Upon finishing their business, they asked Mr. Nichols if they could stay the night. Mr. Nichols, happy with the request, invited them in, explaining that they would get to meet and visit with the Harmon sisters.

Remarkably, the two men, Mr. Robbins and Mr. Sargent, quickly decided that they had urgent business that would prevent their staying the night. Disappointed, Mr. Nichols said, “Too bad, but you will 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.” The two men said that was fine, and they would spread the word and meet them there.

That evening during family worship, God gave Ellen a vision, in which He told her that on Sabbath, rather than going to Boston as planned, she was to go to Randolph, about ten miles south of Boston.

Mr. Nichols was alarmed and protested, reminding her of all the people already notified and eagerly looking forward to hearing about her visions. Calmly she replied that she would do as God had bidden her and that He would make clear the reasons after their arrival in Randolph.

What Ellen, Sarah and Mr. Nichols did not know, but the Lord knew, was that upon leaving Mr. Nichols’ home, Mr. Robbins and Mr. Sargent, rather than keeping their word to spread the news of Miss Harmon speaking in Boston, had announced that there would be no meeting in Boston but that the meeting would instead be in Randolph.

Sabbath morning, eager men, women and children gathered at a believer’s home for worship. Happy in outwitting the Harmon sisters and Mr. Nichols, Mr. Sargent, who did most of the speaking, was sharing his fanatical views. He also told the people, “You have heard about those visions of Ellen Harmon. Don’t listen to them; they are of the devil.” As he was speaking, there was a knock on the door. Imagine the astonishment and dismay of the speaker and his colleague when in walked Ellen, Sarah and Mr. Nichols! Stopping in the middle of a sentence, Mr. Sargent turned to Mr. Robbins, requesting him to announce the closing hymn and stating that they would meet again after lunch.

Mealtime soon over, the people eagerly gathered again in the meeting room awaiting what would follow. During opening prayer, the Lord gave Ellen another vision. Nothing could have displeased the two fanatical preachers more. They knew that Ellen was against their strange teachings. Something, they thought, must be done to take the attention off Ellen and her vision. Mr. Robbins stood up and, announcing a hymn, began to sing, but few joined him. Mr. Sargent also attempted to distract the people. Picking up a Bible, he began reading in a loud voice. Someone from the audience requested, “Will you please stop singing and reading. We want to hear what Sister Ellen is saying.”

Desperate to distract, they continued shouting and singing until both were hoarse and so shaky that they could scarcely hold their books. During that time, Ellen’s voice “rang out clear and distinct. Every word could be heard.” All could see that she was under God’s control. They noticed her dignified manner. They noticed, to their shock, that she was not breathing, even when she spoke. They recognized that the words she spoke, far from being of the devil, were words full of encouragement, light and truth.

Mr. Thayer, who owned the home where the meeting took place, stood up. He said, “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?”

“I will not!” was the reply.

At that point Ellen was sitting in a chair resting comfortably against the wall. Mr. Thayer, picking up a large family Bible, approached Ellen and placed the Bible on her chest. Immediately she lifted that heavy Bible over her head in one hand and proclaimed, “The inspired testimony from God!”

For an entire hour she held that heavy Bible above her head with one hand and, while speaking, turned the pages with her other hand, pointing at the pages.

Someone exclaimed, “Let’s see if she is pointing at, and quoting the texts correctly!” With eager anticipation someone brought a chair. One at a time different people climbed up on that chair to see, exclaiming in astonishment, “Sister Ellen is turning the pages and pointing her finger at the very texts she is using. Without looking, she is quoting correctly!” As the vision was about to close, nearly four hours later, Ellen began sharing scenes relating to the punishment of the wicked. Mr. Sargent and Mr. Robbins became troubled and silent. The hushed audience waited, hoping and praying. Would they confess? Sadly, they did not. But did they fool God? Not for a moment. God knew all along and in His love and providence brought true light to those who sincerely love Him.

Story adapted from Stories of My Grandmother, by Ella M. Robinson, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Hagerstown, Maryland.