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Note: Considerable controversy surrounds Foy’s visions; whether EGW later “borrowed” from them; whether there were two or four visions; when he died; and remarks regarding them by EGW some 67 years later. It is not my intention to stir these matters nor analyze these issues—rather, to merely reproduce what Foy wrote. —KV5R
Source: Advent Source Collection, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Washington D. C., No 2576.
Description: Printed document, Bound in pink heavy paper cover, Spins bound with wide tape.
Handwritten Statements on cover page: Visions of Wm. Foy, Jan. 18 and Feb. 4, 1842, In Boston, Mass. U.S.A.
Stamp of the Advent Source Collection on right hand, top corner of cover.
Portland [Maine], Published by J. and C. H. Pearson, 1845
Entered according to the act of Congress, in the year 1845:
by Wm. E. Foy, in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the state of Maine.
It is often remarked, when a work of this character is before the public, “I am no believer in dreams and visions.” Very well; such are welcome to their own discerning incredulity. The object of publishing these visions is not to benefit such as reject Indiscriminately every thing of this kind; no such expectations are cherished. But an earnest desire to comfort, and encourage the dear saints of God in their weary pilgrimage by a glimpse of the blessedness existing the finally faithful, has prompted us to this step, had no doubt is entertained but that it will prove to them a rich and invigorating repast.
That God does manifest himself in visions to his children, the records of every age do abundantly testify. And on this point the Bible is clear and positive. The Patriarchs and Prophets were shown the great and mighty events that were yet in the distant future, by the agency of visions. But it is often asked, if the method of revealing the events and scenes [Page 4] of futurity did not cease when the dispensation of the spirit demand. In reply we would inquire, if this was the case why then was the ushering in of the gospel are so peculiarly marked by such manifestations? Revert to the scenes of Mount Tabor. The cloud of glory overshadowing the little band there assembled; how bright! how glorious! the appearance of the “man of sorrows” as “his face did shine as the sun” and his raiment become “white as the light”—how majestic! The appearance of Him who was carried to heaven in a fiery chariot, and Him whom God buried, and the voice of Jehovah speaking from the cloud saying, “This is my beloved son” how overpowering! Well might the disciples “fall on their faces, being sore afraid!”
But why dwell upon the solitary case, when the Bible reader has so many before him? Look at the case of a martyr Steven, of a St. Paul, “caught up to the third heavens,” of a John upon the isle of Patmos, and tell me if Jehovah has ceased to reveal himself in visions.
God had in every age thus dealt with the church, especially in seasons of tribulation. This was one way in which the martyrs were sustained in their unparalleled sufferings. It was during their martyrdom that Parpetia and Felicitas saw a ladder studded with swords, daggers and instruments of torture, reaching from earth to heaven at top of which stood Jesus [Page 5] Christ encouraging them.
Nor are we wanting in instances of this kind in our day; Instances too; so clear and striking as to be fully credited by men of the greatest attainments, A well as the deepest piety. The extraordinary vision of Wm. Tenneut, a Presbyterian clergyman in 1806, who, while he was conversing with his brother in Latin, fainted, and apparently died; and was only saved from burial by the importunity of a friend; his own language, “I heard and saw things all unutterable,” is familiar to many.
Upon this subject the bible is explicit; and those who truly have faith in the inspired word are willing to let its testimony have full weight. Upon the day of Pentecost, when the disciples were all filled with the Spirit, and “spake with other tongues,” the multitude being amazed began to inquire, “What meaneth this?” And sons said: “These men are filled with new wine.” But Peter explains the matter saying, “This is that & c.” Now then, according to the prophecy of Joel as explained by St. Peter, the last days were to be peculiarly marked by these manifestations, so much so as to become precursors of the great and notable day of God.
The visions of our brother are certainly very remarkable, and when related by him in outside assemblies, have been blessed by God to [Page 6] the awaking of sinners, reclaiming the backsliders, and the building up of the saints in the most holy faith. There are published as nearly as possible in his own language. There is a most beautiful resemblance in the view here given, with the visions of Ezekiel, Daniel and John. As for instances the description of “the tall and mighty angel,” and the “sea of glass.”
The view of the mighty angel having the trumpet of pure silver, and the announcement of the great and terrible voice, is exceedingly interesting and instructive.
That the despised and humble few who are patiently waiting for appearing of their glorious king, may be refreshed and comforted in this hour of trial while perusing these two visions, is the fervent prayer of the publishers.
In the year 1835, under the preaching of Elder Silas Curtis, I was led to inquire what I should do to be saved.
Christians directed me to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. I then began to pray earnestly to God to pardon my sins; but the more I prayed the more I beheld the sinfulness of my heart; and for many days I feared there was no mercy for me: but was led to see that it would have been justice in God to have cut me off, and sent me where hope an mercy could not have reached me. I then became willing to give up all and in that moment Christ appeared the one altogether lovely, and the chiefest among the ten thousands, and spake the life-giving word to my soul. I then rejoiced in the God of may salvation; while all things around me appeared new, shinning forth with the glory of God. Then could my [Page 8] heart unite in the song of the angels, “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and good will towards men.” I then saw such a fullness in Christ, that I wanted to proclaim it to all the world. O the glory of God that filled my soul! Three months rolled away in which I enjoyed sweet communion with my God. I was then thrown into trial by those who should have been nursing fathers in Israel, and thus remained many days struggling in prayer; but the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation. A father in Israel whom I visited at this time gave me instruction that proved to be a blessing to my soul. I then joined the Sabbath School, and was there instructed for the first time to read the word of God, and soon became able to read my little bible. Immediately the duty of baptism was impressed upon me; and after the three months disobedience, I went before the church and related the dealings of God to my soul, and the day following was led into the liquid stream by Bro. S. Curtis, and was buried with my Savior in baptism. Then did I experience the fulfillment of the promise: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up as on wings of eagles, run and not be weary, walk and not faint,” and while coming out of the water, it appeared to me the opening heavens around me shown; and I cried with a loud voice, saying: “Glory to God, and the [Page 9] Lamb that sitteth upon the throne!”
On the 18th of January 1842, I met with the people of God in Southark St., Boston, where the Christians were engaged in solemn prayer, and my soul was made happy in the love of God. I was immediately seized in the agonies of death, and my breath left me, and it appeared to me that I was a spirit separate from this body. I then beheld one arrayed in white raiment, whose countenance shone beyond the brightness of the stars, and a crown was upon his head which shone above the brightness of the sun.
This shining one took me by my right hand and led me upon the bank of a river; in the midst was a mound of pure water. Upon the bank I beheld a multitude, both great and small; they were the living inhabitants of this earth. Soon all moved towards the west, walking on the water, until we reached the mount. This became the separating line between the righteous and the wicked. The righteous crossed it, passed through three changes; 1st, their bodies were made glorious, 2d, they received pure and shining garments. 3d, bright crowns were given them.
But when the wicked reached the spot where the righteous were changed, they cried for mercy, and sank beneath the mount. The saints then passed on to a boundless plain having the appearance like pure silver. Our guide then spake and said, ‘This is the plain of Paradise.’
This heavenly host was then divided into flocks, some exceeding large in number, others but small. In the middle of each was an angel. These angel’s garments were pure and white, and unto each of them was given a crown shining with great brightness. Their countenances were most lovely to behold; their wings like unto flames of fire, beneath which were the saints, both small and great. He guide then said, “These angels are they that have preached the Gospel on earth.” I then beheld as it were a great gate before me. The gate was so tall the height thereof I was unable to see. Before the gate stood a tall and mighty angel clothed in raiment pure and white; his eyes were like flaming fire, and his he wore a crown upon his head which lighted up this boundless plain. The angle raised his right hand, and laid hold upon the gate and opened it; and as it rolled upon its flittering hinges, he cried with a loud voice to the heavenly host, “Your all welcome!” Then the guardian angels in the midst of the saints struck a song of triumph, and the saints, both great and small sang with loud voices and passed within the gate; and the guardian angels arose upon their glittering wings and vanished from sight. The inside of the gate appeared like glittering diamonds. Beneath our feet was as the appearance of pure glass. I then beheld countless millions of shining ones coming with cards in [Page 11] their hands. Those shining ones become our guides. The cards they bore shown above the brightness of the sun; and they placed them in our hands, but the names of them I could not read. These guides took us by the right hand and led us to a boundless place. Then I lifted mine eyes, and looked above; no clouds or skies appeared, but there countless millions of bright angels, whose wings were like unto pure gold; and they sang with loud voices, while their wings cried “Holy! Holy!” I then beheld an innumerable multitude, arrayed in white raiment, with cards upon their breasts; and unto each was given a crown of brightness. The guide spake, saying, “These are those which have passed through death.”
There was arrayed before me in the spirit so innumerable multitudes which had not passed through death; theirs crowns were like the brightness of the stars; and in their hands they held cards; I then saw an individual which had passed through death. Her brightness was beyond the expression of mortals, and at her right side stood a guardian angel, the angel’s raiment was like pure gold and his wings like flaming fire, and as she passed me, she cried with a lovely voice, “I am going to the gate to meet my friends.” An angel then appeared flying through the midst of this boundless place, and came to the spirit of one of [Page 12] those which had not passed through death, and cried with a loud voice, saying, “This is my mother.” He then became her guide. I then beheld in the midst of this boundless place a high mountain like unto pure silver. It appeared perfectly round, and although I was unable to see through it, yet my vision extended around it. Around this mountain was space in which stood no being. But after this vacant circle stood as it appeared to be, a choir of angels and as far as m sight could extend throughout this boundless place, stood the countless millions of the righteous. And O! the singing no mortal can describe! It appeared to me the angels next to the circle around about the mountain, with loud voices yet more loud repeated it; and thus it echoed and re-echoed until it had been sung by all the saints and then it ceased; and then again the angles sang.
At the right side of the mountain appeared a mighty angel, with raiment like unto burnished gold, his legs were like pillars of flaming fire, his countenance was like the lightning, and his crown gave light to this boundless place, and those that had not passed through death could not look upon his countenance. I then be held upon the side of this mount letters like pure gold, which said, “THE FATHER, AND [Page 13] THE SON.” Directly under these letters stood the mighty angel whose crown lighted up the place, and all the heavenly host worshiped at his feet, round about the mountain. This angel then raised his right hand, which appeared like a flaming sword and all the multitude of those who had not passed through death were caught up to the top of the mountain; and there was a large book opened, and their names came up out of the book in the forms of cards which were stamped upon their foreheads.
We then stood again upon this pure sea of glass before the mountain; and our bodies had become like transparent glass; but the being that was within the mountain I was unable to behold. While I was gazing upon the glories before me, a great voice spake in the mountain, and the place was mighty shaken, and the countless multitude of saints and angels, bowed at the feet of the mighty angel, and worshiped him crying with a loud voice, “Hallelujah!” and then every voice was hushed, and the heavenly host remained bowed before the angel in solemn silence; and naught was heard save the trembling of the place caused by the voice of him who spoke in the mount.
I then beheld this lower world, wrapt as were in rolling mountains of flame, and in this fire I saw a countess multitude crying for mercy. They appeared to be the aged and those [Page 14] who had come to the years of understanding. Their cries came up before the mountain while all the heavenly host were bowed in solemn stillness. The voice from the mountain spake again and all the saints and angels arose, and with loud voices cried, “Amen!”
I then began to converse with my guide and inquired, why there was no mercy for those whom I had seen in distress. He answered, “The gospel has been preached unto them, and the servants have warned them, but they would not believe; and when the great day of God’s wrath comes, there will be no mercy for them.”
I then beheld in the middle of this boundless place a tree, the body of which was like unto transparent glass, and the limbs were like transparent gold, extending all over this boundless place. On every branch of the tree were small angels standing. There was an innumerable multitude of them, and they sung with loud voices, and such singing has not been heard this side of heaven. This tree was also clothed in light proceeding from the mighty angel. Beneath this tree, standing on the sea of glass, were the countless millions of the righteous, arrayed in white raiment with crown on their heads, and cards upon their breasts; and in the multitude I saw some that I knew while they were living upon the earth, and they were all singing with loud voices and lifting their glittering hands plucking fruit [Page 15] from the tree; the fruit appeared like clusters of grapes in pictures of pure gold. With a lovely voice the guide then spoke to me and said, “Those that; eat of the fruit of this tree return to earth no more.” I raised my hand to partake of the heavenly fruit that I might no more return to earth, but alas! I immediately found myself again in this lonely vale of tears.
The duty to declare the things which had been shown me to my follow creatures, and warn them to flee from the wrath to come rested with great weight. upon my mind; but I was disobedient, settling upon this point for am excuse that my guide did not command me to do so; and I thereby brought darkness and death upon my soul. But I could not find peace or comfort. I began to doubt whether indeed my soul had ever been converted, and although I often met with the people of God, I obtained no relief but felt distressed and lonely. I could get no access in prayer. At last in order to escape the cross of going and personally declaring it to the world, I decided to have it printed. Yet in this I could find no relief. Besides, after having an account of it printed, it was a very imperfect sketch; and indeed I was unable to relate it for that purpose. But the Lord in his mercy spared me to behold the evening of the 4th of Febr.1842, when I met with the people of God in May St. A large congregation was gathered together, and [Page 16] Christians were engaged in exhortations and prayer. But I enjoyed none of the sensible presence of God.
In the last part of the evening, the house being much crowded, I gave my seat to a friend who had been standing through the evening. While I was thus standing, I began to reflect upon my disobedience; and while thus engaged suddenly I heard a voice, as it were in the spirit, speaking unto me. I immediately fell to the floor and knew nothing about this body until twelve hours and a half had passed away; as I was afterward informed.
It appeared to me that I was a spirit separate from this body, standing upon the earth alone. No other being appeared to be with me. The earth had the appearance of a place perfectly level. The sun shone forth in its splendor, as it naturally does at noonday. I then behold a cloud gently rising out of the west, which came up and covered the sun so that it was darkness and the whole heavens become like sackcloth; then something beyond the expression of mortal man burst forth from the heavens, from the south even unto the north. It was like a flaming bar of fire; and immediately after, something appeared which it is impossible for me to describe. I then beheld innumerable multitudes coming from the four quarters of the earth and were assembled before this bar, and there stood in solemn silence, while paleness [Page 17] gathered, an all countenances. Immediately they were caught up to this bar, and the bodies of the saints were changed becoming like transparent gold; and they were clothed in light and shining garments and crowns of brightness were placed upon their heads and shining cards upon their breasts; and singing sweetly they passed through the bar of fire. But the wicked were unable to pass. The world beneath appeared to be wrapt in darkness and fire; into this the wicked sunk from my, sight crying for mercy. I beheld mothers with their infants in their arms come to the flaming bar; the bodies of the infants became like transparent gold and on wings of flaming fire they passed the bar, singing with lovely voices, and the unholy mothers crying for mercy would sink below.
I then beheld an innumerable multitude coming from the waters, and am innumerable multitude coming up out of the earth arrayed in white raiment with cards upon their breasts, and singing with loud voices, they passed this bar and received crowns of glory upon their heads.
I then beheld a multitude coming up out of the earth, and some of them whose names were enrolled in the church books on earth, some of whom I had seen communing with the saints of different orders, and some which had professed [Page 18] to be preachers of the gospel. Although they had high profession, yet they were not found worthy, but cried for mercy, and sunk with those who had blasphemed. As we passed the bar, we entered upon a boundless place which was lighted up with great brightness. Near the place through which was lighted up with great brightness. Near the place through which we passed, I beheld a mighty angel clothed in pure white raiment, having a crown of brightness. Near the place through which we passed, I beheld a mighty angel clothed in pure white raiment, having a crown of brightness on his head. He appeared to be gazing through bar, and his eyes like lamps of fire were fixed with steadfastness upon the earth. He stood with his right foot placed before him, as though walking; and his object appeared to be to reach the earth. But three steps remained for him to take. Against his breast; and across his left hand was as it were a trumpet of pure silver; and a great and terrible voice me from the mist of the boundless place, saying, “The sixth angel hath not done sounding.” Behind the angel I behold countless millions of bright chariots; they had the appearance of pure gold and were perfectly square. Each chariot had four wings like flaming fire. And while I was beholding, one of its chariots arose upon its wings of fire and an angel followed after the chariot; and the wings of the chariot, and the wings of the angel cried as with one loud voice saying, “Holy! Holy!” I watched the chariot, listening to the lovely sound of the wings. It passed towards the earth; and there appeared a spirit, [Page 19] arrayed in white raiment as it were, standing upon a mountain, and there was given him a crown of brightness; and he stepped into the chariot with the angel, and in a moment he was in this boundless place. Although he shone with great brightness, yet this individual I knew; it was the one referred to by the witness* who said “I see the chariot coming!” He departed this life in just two weeks after I saw him in vision.
I then saw in midst of the place an innumerable multitude, arrayed in white raiment, standing in a perfect square, having crowns of unfading glory upon their heads. They were of the size of children ten years of age; and they sang a song which the saints and angels could not sing. In the midst of this boundless place, there was a river of pure water, and on either side of the river, countless millions of angels stood with crown of brightness of the river, countless millions of angels stood with crowns of brightness upon their heads; They had in their hands cups like pure gold, and were bowing down and partaking of the water of the river, singing with loud and lovely voices, and worshiping his whose crown gave light to this boundless place.
*Mary Black, the wife of the deceased Eld. George Black ( the individual seen in the vision ) testifies, “These are his dying words, ‘I see the chariots coming to waft my spirit home.’ He then left the world with a shout.”
Then came one unto me clothed in white, whom I call my guide; — led me to a place [Page 20] Like unto a narrow door. The first which beheld was a mighty angel, upon the right hand having a large book open before him. My guide then spoke to me saying, “They that repent of their sins on the earth are blotted out of the book on the left, and recorded on the right.” I then beheld angels ascending and descending too and from the earth; they bore tidings to the recording angels.
My guide now informed me what I must do, saying, “Thy spirit must return to yonder world, and thou must reveal these things which thou hast seen, and also warn thy fellow creatures to flee from the wrath to come.” I then answered his saying, “How can I return to yonder world?” He answered me, “I will go with thee, and support and help thee to declare these things unto the world.” Then, I answered the angel, “I will go.”
I then beheld this lower world. It seemed as though the view which had separated it from the boundless place in which I stood was removed, and they had become as one; and the saints and angels were continually passing from and to the earth. The earth appeared like a calm sea of transparent gold; above no cloud or sky appeared; but the air was perfectly pure and of a silvery brightness. I then heard all the saints and angels in heaven and on the [Page 21] earth singing with loud voices. My guide then spread his wings, and brought my spirit gently to the earth, then soared away; and immediately I found myself in the body.
Not withstanding the command of my guide, and my solemn promise to declare these things to the world, I was at first exceedingly unwilling so to do, and it was three days before I revealed them in a public manner.
The message was so different and the manner in which the command was given so different from any I had ever heard of, and knowing the prejudice among the people against those of my color, it became very crossing.
These questions were continually arising. Why should these things be given to us to bear to the world, and not to the learned, or to one of a different condition from myself? But no peace could I obtain in disobedience. “Woe is me if I declare not these things,” rested heavily upon my soul.
On the 6th of Feb. the pastor of the Broomfield St. Church called me, and requested me to relate my visions in his house of worship. Several members of that church were present, and were anxious for me to comply. I consented; and the appointment was made for the next afternoon. After they had left me I regretted that such step had been taken, and thought had the world been mine it would cheerfully be given to have the appointment recalled.
The morning of the 7th, however, found my mind calm and peaceful; but as the hour for meeting drew nigh, temptations began sorely to afflict me. I feared lest my guide would not be with me, and I should be unable to tell the people the things which had been shown me. A band of brethren sympathizing with me accompanied me to the meeting. Upon entering the house, I found a large congregation assembled, and each individual seemed like a mountain. So much of the fear of man rested upon me that I asked the pastor to open the meeting with prayer, telling him I thought they would be obliged to have a prayer meeting. But while he was addressing the throne of grace, it seemed as though I heard a voice speaking unto me and saying, “I am with thee, and I promised to be with thee.” My heart then began to burn within me; the fear of man suddenly fled, and unspeakable glory filled my soul. I then related with great freedom the things shown me while the congregation sat in a perfect stillness. From this time I traveled three months delivering my message to crowed houses, enjoying continual peace of mind. But after this, I began to fear my family would come to want, and so went to work laboring with my hands, and thus continued for three months. But I could find no rest night or night, until again I consented to [Page 23] my duty. Since then, I have traveled from place to place, and suffered some persecution, but the promise of my guide has never failed. His supporting presence has been with me.
My object in publishing these visions is to comfort the saints. They have been a great consolation to me in seasons of temptation and trial.
Often in the silent hours of the night, I have seemed to hear again the sweet song of the angels; and whenever my heart has felt sad and lonely, the things shown me by the angel have lifted me up above the trying scenes of the earth.
My desire is that the children of God may be blessed in the same manner. I am now waiting for my coming Lord. Although before the Lord was pleased to show me these heavenly things, I was opposed to the doctrine of Jesus’ near approach, I am now looking for that event. I expect soon to see the tall and mighty angel. “Then shall I be satisfied, when I awake in his likeness.”
Ye saints of God, lift up your heads for the glories of an earth made new will soon be yours.
“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.” “But God hath revealed them unto us by his spirit; for the spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”
We, the undersigned, inhabitants of Boston were witnesses of the apparently inanimate condition into which our brother, Wm. Ellis Foy, was, thrown from some unknown cause on the l8th of January 1842, when he laid two hours and a half; and again, February 4th when he laid twelve hours and a half, during which, each time he testified that he experienced extraordinary visions of another world.Charles Tash Francis Sanders Georges Williams John Thomas David Williams Andrew Lewis Edwards Williams George Harris
Dr. Henry Cummings testifies: “I was present with our brother at the time of his visions. I examined him, but could not find any appearance of life, except around the heart.”
Ann Foy, testifies: “The first appearance of life I saw in him was the raising of his right hand. He then arouse upon his knees, and made signs for water which was given him. He dipped his hand into it, and wet his forehead, and his speech immediately came to him. We then wished him to tell us what things he had seen, and he answered, ‘As soon as I receive strength, I will reveal unto you that which the Lord has revealed unto me.’”
Copy of Certificate of Church Membership.
This certified that Bro. Wm. E. Foy is a regular member of the first Freewill Baptist Church in Augusta, in good standing. And as such, we command him to the fellowship of the people of God of every name, wherever he may chance to meet them.
DANIEL PALMER, Church Clerk.