Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4


Visit to Oregon

Sunday, June 10, the day we were to start for Oregon, I was prostrated with heart disease. My friends thought it almost presumption for me to take the steamer, but I thought I should rest if I could get on board the boat. I arranged to do considerable writing during the passage. 4T 286.3

In company with a lady friend and Elder J. N. Loughborough I left San Francisco on the afternoon of the 10th upon the steamer “Oregon.” Captain Conner, who had charge of this splendid steamer, was very attentive to his passengers. As we passed through the Golden Gate into the broad ocean, it was very rough. The wind was against us, and the steamer pitched fearfully, while the ocean was lashed into fury by the wind. I watched the clouded sky, the rushing waves leaping mountain high, and the spray reflecting the colors of the rainbow. The sight was fearfully grand, and I was filled with awe while contemplating the mysteries of the deep. It is terrible in its wrath. There is a fearful beauty in the lifting up of its proud waves with roaring, and then falling back in mournful sobs. I could see the exhibition of God's power in the movements of the restless waters, groaning beneath the action of the merciless winds, which tossed the waves up on high as if in convulsions of agony. 4T 287.1

We were in a beautiful boat, tossed at the mercy of the ever-restless waves; but there was an unseen power holding a steady grasp upon the waters. God alone has power to keep them within their appointed boundaries. He can hold the waters as in the hollow of His hand. The deep will obey the voice of its Creator: “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.” 4T 287.2

What a subject for thought was the broad, grand Pacific Ocean! In appearance it was the very opposite of pacific; it was madness and fury. As we take a surface view of the water, nothing seems so utterly unmanageable, so completely without law or order, as the great deep. But God's law is obeyed by the ocean. He balances the waters and marks their bed. As I looked at the heavens above and the waters beneath, I inquired: “Where am I? Where am I going? Nothing but the boundless waters around me. How many have thus embarked upon the waters and never again seen the green fields or their happy homes! They were dropped into the deep as a grain of sand, and thus ended their lives.” 4T 287.3

As I looked upon the white-capped, roaring billows, I was reminded of that scene in the life of Christ, when the disciples, in obedience to the command of their Master, went in their boats to the farther side of the sea. A terrible tempest broke upon them. Their vessels would not obey their will, and they were driven hither and thither, until they laid down their oars in despair. They expected to perish there; but while the tempest and the billows talked with death, Christ, whom they had left upon the other side, appeared to them, walking calmly upon the boisterous, white-capped waves. They had been bewildered by the uselessness of their efforts and the apparent hopelessness of their case and had given up all for lost. When they saw Jesus before them upon the water, it increased their terror; they interpreted it as a sure precursor of their immediate death. They cried out in great fear. But, instead of His appearance heralding the presence of death, He came as the messenger of life. His voice was heard above the roar of the elements: “It is I; be not afraid.” How quickly the scene now changed from the horror of despair to the joy of faith and hope in the presence of the beloved Master! The disciples felt no more anxiety nor dread of death, for Christ was with them. 4T 288.1

Shall we refuse obedience to the Source of all power, whose law even the sea and the waves obey? Shall I fear to trust myself to the protection of Him who has said that not a sparrow falleth to the ground without the notice of our heavenly Father? 4T 288.2

When nearly all had left for their staterooms, I continued on deck. The captain had provided me a reclining cane chair, and blankets to serve as a protection from the chilly air. I knew that if I went into the cabin I should be sick. Night came on, darkness covered the sea, and the plunging waves were pitching our ship fearfully. This great vessel was as a mere chip upon the merciless waters; but she was guarded and protected on her course by the heavenly angels, commissioned of God to do His bidding. Had it not been for this, we might have been swallowed up in a moment, leaving not a trace of that splendid ship. But that God who feeds the ravens, who numbers the hairs of our heads, will not forget us. 4T 288.3

The captain thought it was too cool for me to remain on deck. I told him that so far as my safety was concerned, I would rather remain there all night than go into my stateroom, where two ladies were seasick, and where I should be deprived of pure air. Said he: “You will not be required to occupy your stateroom. I will see that you have a good place to sleep.” I was assisted by the stewardess into the upper saloon, and a hair mattress was laid upon the floor. Although this was accomplished in the quickest time possible, I had become very sick. I lay down upon my bed, and did not arise from it until the next Thursday morning. During that time I ate only once, a few spoonfuls of beef tea and crackers. 4T 289.1

During that four days’ voyage, one and another would occasionally venture to leave their rooms, pale, feeble, and tottering, and make their way on deck. Wretchedness was written on every countenance. Life itself did not seem desirable. We all longed for the rest we could not find, and to see something that would stand still. Personal importance was not much regarded then. We may here learn a lesson on the littleness of man. 4T 289.2

Our passage continued to be very rough until we passed the bar and entered the Columbia River, which was as smooth as glass. I was assisted to go upon the deck. It was a beautiful morning, and the passengers poured out on deck like a swarm of bees. They were a very sorry-looking company at first; but the invigorating air and the glad sunshine, after the wind and storm, soon awakened cheerfulness and mirth. 4T 289.3

The last night we were on the boat I felt most grateful to my heavenly Father. I there learned a lesson I shall never forget. God had spoken to my heart in the storm and in the waves and in the calm following. And shall we not worship Him? Shall man set up his will against the will of God? Shall we be disobedient to the commands of so mighty a Ruler? Shall we contend with the Most High, who is the source of all power, and from whose heart flows infinite love and blessing to the creatures of His care? 4T 289.4

My visit to Oregon was one of special interest. I here met, after a separation of four years, my dear friends, Brother and Sister Van Horn, whom we claim as our children. Brother Van Horn has not furnished as full and favorable reports of his work as he might justly have done. I was accordingly somewhat surprised, and very much pleased, to find the cause of God in so prosperous a condition in Oregon. Through the untiring efforts of these faithful missionaries, a conference of Seventh-day Adventists has been raised up, also several ministers to labor in that broad field. 4T 290.1

Tuesday evening, June 18, I met a goodly number of the Sabbathkeepers in this state. My heart was softened by the Spirit of God. I gave my testimony for Jesus and expressed my gratitude for the sweet privilege that is ours of trusting in His love and of claiming His power to unite with our efforts to save sinners from perdition. If we would see the work of God prosper we must have Christ dwelling in us; in short, we must work the works of Christ. Wherever we look, the whitening harvest appears; but the laborers are so few. I felt my heart filled with the peace of God and drawn out in love for His dear people with whom I was worshiping for the first time. 4T 290.2

On Sunday, June 23, I spoke in the Methodist church of Salem on the subject of temperance. The attendance was unusually good, and I had freedom in treating this, my favorite subject. I was requested to speak again in the same place on the Sunday following the camp meeting, but was prevented by hoarseness. On the next Tuesday evening, however, I again spoke in this church. Many invitations were tendered me to speak on temperance in various cities and towns of Oregon, but the state of my health forbade my complying with these requests. Constant speaking, and the change of climate, had brought upon me a temporary but severe hoarseness. 4T 290.3

We entered upon the camp meeting with feelings of the deepest interest. The Lord gave me strength and grace as I stood before the people. As I looked upon the intelligent audience, my heart was broken before God. This was the first camp meeting held by our people in the state. I tried to speak, but my utterance was broken because of weeping. I had felt very anxious about my husband on account of his poor health. While speaking, a meeting in the church at Battle Creek came vividly before my mind's eye, my husband being in the midst, with the mellow light of the Lord resting upon and surrounding him. His face bore the marks of health, and he was apparently very happy. 4T 291.1

I tried to present before the people the gratitude we should feel for the tender compassion and great love of God. His goodness and glory impressed my mind in a remarkable manner. I was overwhelmed with a sense of His unparalleled mercies and of the work He was doing, not only in Oregon, and in California and Michigan, where our important institutions are located, but also in foreign countries. I can never represent to others the picture that vividly impressed my mind on that occasion. For a moment the extent of the work came before me, and I lost sight of my surroundings. The occasion and the people I was addressing passed from my mind. The light, the precious light from heaven, was shining in great brilliancy upon those institutions which are engaged in the solemn and elevated work of reflecting the rays of light that heaven has let shine upon them. 4T 291.2

All through this camp meeting the Lord seemed very near me. When it closed, I was exceedingly weary, but free in the Lord. It was a season of profitable labor and strengthened the church to go on in their warfare for the truth. Just before the camp meeting commenced, in the night season, many things were opened to me in vision; but silence was enjoined upon me that I should not mention the matter to anyone at that time. After the meeting closed, I had in the night season another remarkable manifestation of God's power. 4T 291.3

On the Sunday following the camp meeting I spoke in the afternoon in the public square. The love of God was in my heart, and I dwelt upon the simplicity of gospel religion. My own heart was melted and overflowing with the love of Jesus, and I longed to present Him in such a manner that all might be charmed with the loveliness of His character. 4T 292.1

During my stay in Oregon I visited the prison in Salem, in company with Brother and Sister Carter and Sister Jordan. When the time arrived for service, we were conducted to the chapel, which was made cheerful by an abundance of light and pure, fresh air. At a signal from the bell, two men opened the great iron gates, and the prisoners came flocking in. The doors were securely closed behind them, and for the first time in my life I was immured in prison walls. 4T 292.2

I had expected to see a set of repulsive-looking men, but was disappointed; many of them seemed to be intelligent, and some to be men of ability. They were dressed in the coarse but neat prison uniform, their hair smooth, and their boots brushed. As I looked upon the varied physiognomies before me, I thought: “To each of these men have been committed peculiar gifts, or talents, to be used for the glory of God and the benefit of the world; but they have despised these gifts of heaven, abused, and misapplied them.” As I looked upon young men from eighteen to twenty and thirty years of age, I thought of their unhappy mothers and of the grief and remorse which was their bitter portion. Many of these mothers’ hearts had been broken by the ungodly course pursued by their children. But had they done their duty by these children? Had they not indulged them in their own will and way, and neglected to teach them the statutes of God and His claims upon them? 4T 292.3

When all the company were assembled, Brother Carter read a hymn. All had books and joined heartily in singing. One, who was an accomplished musician, played the organ. I then opened the meeting by prayer, and again all joined in singing. I spoke from the words of John: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as he is.” 4T 292.4

I exalted before them the infinite sacrifice made by the Father in giving His beloved Son for fallen men, that they might through obedience be transformed and become the acknowledged sons of God. The church and the world are called upon to behold and admire a love which thus expressed is beyond human comprehension, and which amazed even the angels of heaven. This love is so deep, so broad, and so high that the inspired apostle, failing to find language in which to describe it, calls upon the church and the world to behold it—to make it a theme of contemplation and admiration. 4T 293.1

I presented before my hearers the sin of Adam in the transgression of the Father's express commands. God made man upright, perfectly holy and happy; but he lost the divine favor and destroyed his own happiness by disobedience to the Father's law. The sin of Adam plunged the race in hopeless misery and despair. But God, in His wonderful, pitying love, did not leave men to perish in their hopeless, fallen condition. He gave His well-beloved Son for their salvation. Christ entered the world, His divinity clothed in humanity; He passed over the ground where Adam fell; He bore the test which Adam failed to endure; He overcame every temptation of Satan, and thus redeemed Adam's disgraceful failure and fall. 4T 293.2

I then referred to the long fast of Christ in the wilderness. The sin of the indulgence of appetite, and its power over human nature, can never be fully realized, except as that long fast of Christ when contending single-handed with the prince of the powers of darkness is studied and understood. Man's salvation was at stake. Would Satan or the Redeemer of the world come off conqueror? It is impossible for us to conceive with what intense interest angels of God watched the trial of their loved Commander. 4T 293.3

Jesus was tempted in all points like as we are, that He might know how to succor those who should be tempted. His life is our example. He shows by His willing obedience that man may keep the law of God and that transgression of the law, not obedience to it, brings him into bondage. The Saviour was full of compassion and love; He never spurned the truly penitent, however great their guilt; but He severely denounced hypocrisy of every sort. He is acquainted with the sins of men, He knows all their acts and reads their secret motives; yet He does not turn away from them in their iniquity. He pleads and reasons with the sinner, and in one sense—that of having Himself borne the weakness of humanity—He puts Himself on a level with him. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” 4T 294.1

Man, who has defaced the image of God in his soul by a corrupt life, cannot, by mere human effort, effect a radical change in himself. He must accept the provisions of the gospel; he must be reconciled to God through obedience to His law and faith in Jesus Christ. His life from thenceforth must be governed by a new principle. Through repentance, faith, and good works he may perfect a righteous character, and claim, through the merits of Christ, the privileges of the sons of God. The principles of divine truth, received and cherished in the heart, will carry us to a height of moral excellence that we had not deemed it possible for us to reach. “And it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” 4T 294.2

Here is a work for man to do. He must face the mirror, God's law, discern the defects in his moral character, and put away his sins, washing his robe of character in the blood of the Lamb. Envy, pride, malice, deceit, strife, and crime will be cleansed from the heart that is a recipient of the love of Christ and that cherishes the hope of being made like Him when we shall see Him as He is. The religion of Christ refines and dignifies its possessor, whatever his associations or station in life may be. Men who become enlightened Christians rise above the level of their former character into greater mental and moral strength. Those fallen and degraded by sin and crime may, through the merits of the Saviour, be exalted to a position but little lower than that of the angels. 4T 294.3

But the influence of a gospel hope will not lead the sinner to look upon the salvation of Christ as a matter of free grace, while he continues to live in transgression of the law of God. When the light of truth dawns upon his mind and he fully understands the requirements of God and realizes the extent of his transgressions, he will reform his ways, become loyal to God through the strength obtained from his Saviour, and lead a new and purer life. 4T 295.1

While in Salem I formed the acquaintance of Brother and Sister Donaldson, who desired that their daughter should return to Battle Creek with us and attend the college. Her health was poor, and it was quite a struggle for them to part with her, their only daughter, but the spiritual advantages she would there receive induced them to make the sacrifice. And we are happy to here state that at the recent camp meeting in Battle Creek this dear child was buried with Christ in baptism. Here is another proof of the importance of Seventh-day Adventists’ sending their children to our school, where they can be brought directly under a saving influence. 4T 295.2

Our voyage from Oregon was rough, but I was not so sick as on my former passage. This boat, the “Idaho,” did not pitch, but rolled. We were treated very kindly on the boat. We made many pleasant acquaintances and distributed our publications to different ones, which led to profitable conversation. When we arrived at Oakland we found that the tent was pitched there and that quite a number had embraced the truth under the labors of Brother Healey. We spoke several times under the tent. Sabbath and first day the churches of San Francisco and Oakland met together, and we had interesting and profitable meetings. 4T 295.3

I was very anxious to attend the camp meeting in California, but there were urgent calls for me to attend the Eastern camp meetings. As the condition of things in the East had been presented before me, I knew that I had a testimony to bear especially to our brethren in the New England Conference, and I could not feel at liberty to remain longer in California. 4T 296.1