Nathaniel Faulkhead’s Early Conversion

As Nathaniel Faulkhead made his way down the narrow hallway his mind recalled a dream he had had the previous night in which he had seen Ellen White presenting him with a special testimony. At present, he was on his way to meet her having been informed by her son Willie White that she had requested to see him.

The Faulkheads had chosen to become Seventh-Day Adventists around 1886 or 1887 and Nathaniel Faulkhead was appointed as treasurer of the Echo Publishing House shortly thereafter. He was an amiable man with a generous heart and sharp business acumen. At first, he served in his role wholeheartedly but gradually another aspect of his life began to overshadow his spiritual interests.

At the time he became a Seventh-Day Adventist Faulkhead was the member of several secret societies. By his own admission, he was a high ranking member of the Freemasons, The Knights Templar and several other secret societies. He continued to serve these societies in these roles even after his baptism and soon they began to soak up a considerable amount of his time and attention.

When Ellen White arrived in Australia in 1891 she was given visions regarding the general condition of the publishing house and its workers. She was also given specific testimonies directed at certain individuals and one of these was Nathaniel Faulkhead. The testimony she received with regards to Faulkhead dealt with his involvement with Secret Societies and the detrimental effect this was having on his spiritual life. She wrote out the entire testimony which ended up filling fifty pages of written manuscript and prepared to mail it. However, something held her back and she had a distinct impression that it was not yet the right time to send it because the Faulkheads would not receive her testimony then.

Bundling together the thick sheaf of papers Ellen White slid them into a drawer and left them there for about a year. Neither did she mention anything regarding the testimony to anyone. The only tell-tale sign that she had received the vision was the deep interest she took in the spiritual wellbeing of Nathaniel Faulkhead and his wife thereafter. However, it wasn’t just Ellen White who was concerned about him. His colleagues at work had noticed his steady spiritual decline and the decided uptick in his absorption with the Secret Societies. They pleaded with him to disengage himself from all involvement with these organisations but he refused, later stating “my heart was full of those things, in fact, I thought more of them than I did of anything else”  

He met the appeals of his brethren with the defiant and bold statement that he would not give up any of his connections with the Freemasons regardless of what G.B. Starr or W.C. White or anyone else might have to say about the matter. This was a distressing development and it soon became apparent to the leaders in charge of the work that unless there was a decided change in his course of action and his attitude he would have to find employment elsewhere.

Writing about the incident Ellen White remarked “none could reach him in regard to Freemasonry. He was fastening himself more and more firmly in the meshes of the enemy and the only thing we could see to be done was to leave him to himself.” In a vision, she was shown that his spiritual condition was similar to that of a man, precariously perched on the edge of a precipice and in danger of losing his balance and falling off the edge.

A Mighty Strong Testimony

Then in December of 1892 J.H. Stockton asked Faulkhead what he would do if Ellen White had a testimony for him. “It would have to be mighty strong” Faulkhead shot back smoothly completely unaware that about a year before Ellen White had been shown his case in its entirety.

Shortly after this conversation on the 10th of December 1892, Faulkhead had a dream in which he saw that the Lord had revealed his case to Ellen White and that she would present it to him. He was sobered as he considered this along with his response to Stockton a few days prior to that. Then on the 13th of December Willie White approached Faulkhead to let him know that Ellen White had asked to see him, stating that she had a message for him.

When he entered the room, Ellen White, travel weary but in good spirits, greeted him kindly and told him that she had a message to share with him from the Lord. She mentioned that it would be good for his wife to be present when she shared the testimony and asked if she could arrange for a meeting in the near future to which the most likely overwrought Faulkhead replied “why not share it with me now”

Ellen White paused and then moving to a nightstand picked up a hefty looking sheaf of papers. She told Faulkhead how she had been meaning to share the testimony with him several times over the past year but had been forbidden by the Spirit of the Lord to do so because he was not fully ready to hear it. She then unfolded the papers and began to read and talk through their contents.

The testimony dealt with a variety of issues but some of the notable things mentioned there were Faulkheads infatuation with Freemasonry and the deep ties that almost inextricably linked him to the organisation. She mentioned how she had been shown him dropping small coins into the offering plate at church while he reserved the larger notes for the offering plate at the lodge. She mentioned to him how he took great pleasure in being addressed as Worshipful Master and also how she had been shown the scenes of drinking and revelling that took place in lodge meetings.

She earnestly pleaded with him to sever his ties with these societies stating that if he did not he would lose his soul. Then she made a gesture with her hand which had been made by her attending angel and simultaneously told Faulkhead that she could not relate everything that was given to her. At this point, all the blood drained from Faulkhead’s face and he asked her if she knew what she had just done. She looked up at him in surprise, saying that she hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary. Tremblingly he told her that she had just given him the sign of the Knights Templar.

She didn’t have the faintest idea what he was talking about and continued speaking telling him that it was impossible for a man to be both a Freemason and a wholehearted Christian. Again at this juncture, she made a sign that her angel had made to her and again Faulkhead was startled. The sign she had made was only known to the highest order of the Masons and it was a sign that no woman could know because it was guarded with the strictest secrecy.

“This convinced me” he later wrote “that her testimony was from God. I can assure you” he continued “ this caused me to feel very queer. But as Sister White said, the Spirit of the Lord had come upon me and taken hold of me.”

When Ellen White finished reading the testimony there were tears creeping around the corners of Nathaniel Faulkhead’s eyes. “I accept every word,” he said quietly “All of it belongs to me…I accept the light the Lord has sent me through you. I will act upon it.” Before leaving he added “I am so glad you didn’t send me that testimony for then it would not have helped me. You reading the reproof yourself had touched my heart. The Spirit of the Lord has spoken to me through you”

Shortly after Nathaniel Faulkhead resigned from every Secret Society he was part of. In the days following Ellen White’s testimony Faulkhead repeated the story to his co-workers and church leaders again and again. The incident served to strengthen the faith of the members of the Adventist Church in Australia.

The most striking thing about Faulkhead’s testimony is its deeply personal nature. God knew that Nathaniel Faulkhead was struggling, He knew that nothing anyone else was saying to him was making any kind of impression, He knew that Faulkhead was in danger of losing his salvation. In the light of all this God, who is so rich in mercy and love sent Nathaniel Faulkhead the right testimony at the right time and He saved him. Faulkhed’s story is a testament to God’s deep and abiding love for each one of us, His longing to save us from the ruin of sin and His faithfulness in reaching us in just the right ways at just the right time.

Further Reading

  • White, A.L. (1983) – Ellen White: The Australian Years

Recommended Listening

  • The Pathways of The Pioneers (1998) – Volume 20 Episode 1 – Meeting The Devil, Secret Societies, Prejudice Again