Was A Thief
During the winter of 1849-
1850 James and Ellen White held meetings with Adventists in Oswego, New York.
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?
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.
Hiram Patch and his fiancée were uncertain whether to join the big church where this treasurer preached or the little company of Sabbath keepers meeting in a home.
During a meeting of these Sabbath keepers, 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.
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.”
Within two weeks the county treasure 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.
While checking the account books, they found a short 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.
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 snow bank, dig a hole, deposit the sack, and cover it.
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.”
Just then his wife entered the bedroom. “What’s the matter? Why are you so excited?” she asked.
“They think we have their money.”
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 snow bank, and here it is, the missing sack of money, marked ‘$1,000’!”
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 joined with the Sabbathkeeping company.