Joseph Bates meets Ellen Harmon

1844

Some stalwart souls who later became pillars in the church were initially hesitant about accepting the visions of Ellen Harmon. Outstanding among these was Joseph Bates.

Joseph Bates had been an earnest worker in the Advent awakening of 18401844. A sea-captain-turned-minister, he invested his property and his strength in heralding the soon coming of Christ. As Ellen and her sister were in New Bedford, Massachusetts, they became acquainted with him and his family. He, of course, learned of the visions given to Ellen, and this troubled him. He wrote of his experience two years later:

Although I could see nothing in them that militated against the Word, yet I felt alarmed and tried exceedingly, and for a long time unwilling to believe that it was anything more than what was produced by a protracted debilitated state of her body.

I therefore sought opportunities in the presence of others, when her mind seemed freed from excitement (out of meeting), to question and cross-question her, and her friends which accompanied her, especially her elder sister [Sarah], to get if possible at the truth (3LS, pp. 97, 98).