Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1
Chapter 114—The Case of Hannah More
The next Sabbath we met with the Orleans church, where my husband introduced the case of our much-lamented sister, Hannah More. When Brother Amadon visited us last summer, he stated that Sister More had been at Battle Creek, and not finding employment there, had gone to Leelenaw County to find a home with an old friend who had been a fellow laborer in missionary fields in Central Africa. My husband and myself felt grieved that this dear servant of Christ found it necessary to deprive herself of the society of those of like faith, and we decided to send for her to come and find a home with us. We wrote inviting her to meet us at our appointment at Wright, and come home with us. She did not meet us at Wright. I here give her response to our letter, dated August 29, 1867, which we received at Battle Creek: 1T 666.3
“Brother White: Your kind communication reached me by this week's mail. As the mail comes here only once a week, and is to leave tomorrow, I hasten to reply. We are here in the bush, as it were, and an Indian carries the mail Fridays on foot, and returns Tuesdays. I have consulted Brother Thompson as to the route, and he says my best and surest way will be to take a boat from here and go to Milwaukee, and thence to Grand Haven. 1T 666.4
“As I spent all my money in coming here, and was invited to have a home in Brother Thompson's family, I have been assisting Sister Thompson in her domestic affairs and sewing, at one dollar and fifty cents per week of five days each, as they do not wish me to work for them on Sunday, and I do not work on the Sabbath of the Lord, the only one the Bible recognizes. They are not at all anxious to have me leave them, notwithstanding our difference of belief; and he says I may have a home with them, only I must not make my belief prominent among his people. He has even invited me to fill his appointments when on his preaching tour, and I have done so. Sister Thompson needs a governess for her children, as the influences are so very pernicious outside, and the schools so vicious that she is not willing to send her dear ones among them until they are Christians, as she says. Their eldest son, today sixteen years of age, is a pious and devoted young man. They have partially adopted the health reform, and I think will fully come into it erelong, and like it. He has ordered the Health Reformer. I showed him some copies which I brought. 1T 667.1
“I hope and pray that he may yet embrace the holy Sabbath. Sister Thompson does believe in it already. He is wonderfully set in his own ways, and of course thinks he is right. Could I only get him to read the books I brought, the History of the Sabbath, etc., but he looks at them and calls them infidel, and says they seem to him to carry error in their front, when, if they would only read carefully each sentiment of our tenets, I can but think they would embrace them as Bible truths and see their beauty and consistency. I doubt not but that Sister T. would be glad to immediately become a Seventh-day Adventist were it not that her husband is so bitterly opposed to any such thing. It was impressed upon my mind that I had a work to do here before I came here; but the truth is present in the family, and if I can carry it no farther, it would seem that my work is done, or nearly so. I do not feel like being ashamed of Christ, or His, in this wicked generation, and would much rather cast in my lot with Sabbathkeepers and God's chosen people. 1T 667.2
“I shall need ten dollars at least to get to Greenville. That, with the little I have earned, might be sufficient. But now I will wait for you to write me, and do what you think best about forwarding me the money. In the spring I would have enough to go, myself, and think I should like to do so. May the Lord guide and bless us in our every undertaking, is the ardent desire of my heart. And may I fill that very position my God allots for me in his moral vineyard, performing with alacrity every duty, however onerous it may seem, according to his good pleasure, is my sincere desire and heartfelt prayer. 1T 668.1
On receiving this letter, we decided to send the needed sum to Sister More as soon as we could find time. But before we found the spare moments we decided to go to Maine, to return in a few weeks, when we could send for her before navigation should close. And when we decided to stay and labor in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York, we wrote to a brother in this county to see leading brethren in the vicinity and consult with them concerning sending for Sister More and making her a home until we should return. But the matter was neglected until navigation closed, and we returned and found that no one had taken interest to help Sister More to this vicinity, where she could come to us when we should reach our home. We felt grieved and distressed, and at a meeting at Orleans the second Sabbath after we came home, my husband introduced her case to the brethren. A brief report of what was said and done in relation to Sister More was given by my husband in the Review for February 18, 1868, as follows: 1T 668.2
“At this meeting we introduced the case of Sister Hannah More, now sojourning in northwestern Michigan with friends who do not observe the Bible Sabbath. We stated that this servant of Christ embraced the Sabbath while performing missionary labor in Central Africa. When this was known, her services in that direction were no longer wanted, and she returned to America to seek a home and employment with those of like faith. We judge, from her present location, that in this she has been disappointed. No one in particular may be worthy of blame in her case; but it appears to us that there is either a lack of suitable provisions connected with our system of organization, for the encouragement of such persons and to assist them to a field of useful labor, or that those brethren and sisters who have had the pleasure of seeing Sister More have not done their duty. A unanimous vote was then given to invite her to find a home with the brethren in this vicinity until General Conference, when her case should be presented to our people. Brother Andrews, being present, fully endorsed the action of the brethren.” 1T 669.1
From what we have since learned of the cold, indifferent treatment which Sister More met with at Battle Creek, it is evident that in stating that no one in particular was worthy of censure in her case, my husband took altogether a too charitable view of the matter. When all the facts are known, no Christian could but blame all members of that church who knew her circumstances and did not individually interest themselves in her behalf. It certainly was the duty of the officers to do this and report to the church, if others did not take up the matter before them. But individual members of that or any other church should not feel excused from taking an interest in such persons. After what has been said in the Review of this self-sacrificing servant of Christ, every reader of the Review in Battle Creek, on learning that she had come to the city, would have been excused for giving her a personal call and inquiring into her wants. 1T 669.2
Sister Strong, the wife of Elder P. Strong, Jr., was in Battle Creek at the same time as Sister More. They both reached that city the same day, and left at the same time. Sister Strong, who is by my side, says that Sister More wished her to intercede for her, that she might get employment, so as to remain with Sabbathkeepers. Sister More said she was willing to do anything, but teaching was her choice. She also requested Elder A. S. Hutchins to introduce her case to leading brethren at the Review office and try to get a school for her. This, Brother Hutchins cheerfully did. But no encouragement was given, as there appeared to be no opening. She also stated to Sister Strong that she was destitute of means and must go to Leelenaw County unless she could get employment at Battle Creek. She frequently spoke in words of touching lamentation that she was obliged to leave the brethren. 1T 670.1
Sister More wrote to Mr. Thompson relative to accepting his offer to make it her home with his family, and she wished to wait until she should hear from him. Sister Strong went with her to find a place for her to stay until she should hear from Mr. T. At one place she was told that she could stay from Wednesday until Friday morning, when they were to leave home. This sister made Sister More's case known to her natural sister, living near, who was also a Sabbathkeeper. When she returned she told Sister More that she could stay with her until Friday morning; that her sister said it was not convenient to take her. Sister Strong has since learned that the real excuse was that she was not acquainted with Sister More. She could have taken her, but did not want her. 1T 670.2
Sister More then asked Sister Strong what she should do. Sister Strong was almost a stranger in Battle Creek, but thought she could get her in with the family of a poor brother of her acquaintance who had recently moved from Montcalm County. Here she succeeded. Sister More remained until Tuesday, when she left for Leelenaw County by the way of Chicago. There she borrowed money to complete her journey. Her wants were known to some, at least, in Battle Creek, for as the result of their being made known, she was charged nothing for her brief stay at the Institute. 1T 670.3
Immediately after our return from the East, my husband, learning that nothing had been done, as we had requested, to get Sister More where she could at once come to us on our return, wrote to her to come to us as soon as possible, to which she responded as follows: 1T 671.1
“Leland, Leelenaw County, Michigan,
February 20, 1868.
“My dear Brother White: Yours of February 3 is received. It found me in poor health, not being accustomed to these cold northern winters, with the snow three or four feet deep on a level. Our mails are brought on snowshoes. 1T 671.2
“It does not seem possible for me to get to you till spring opens. The roads are bad enough without snow. They tell me my best way is to wait till navigation opens, then go to Milwaukee, and thence to Grand Haven, to take the railroad to the point nearest your place. I had hoped to get among our dear people last fall, but was not permitted the privilege. 1T 671.3
“The truths which we believe seem more and more important, and our work of making ready a people prepared for the Lord's coming is not to be delayed. We must not only have on the wedding garment ourselves, but be faithful in recommending the preparation to others. I wish I could get to you, but it seems impossible, or at least impracticable, in my delicate state of health to set out alone on such a journey in the depth of winter. When is the General Conference to which you allude? And where? I suppose the Review will eventually inform me. 1T 671.4
“I think my health has suffered from keeping the Sabbath alone in my chamber, in the cold; but I did not think I could keep it where all manner of work and worldly conversation was the order of the day, as with Sundaykeepers. I think it is the most laborious working day with those who keep first day. Indeed, it does not seem to me that the best of Sundaykeepers observe any day as they should. Oh, how I long to be again with Sabbathkeepers! Sister White will want to see me in the reform dress. Will she be so kind as to send me a pattern, and I will pay her when I get there. I suppose I shall need to be fitted out when I get among you. I like it much. Sister Thompson thinks she would like to wear the reform dress. 1T 672.1
“I have had a difficulty in breathing, so that I have not been able to sleep for more than a week, occasioned, I suppose, by the stovepipe's parting and completely filling my room with smoke and gas at bedtime, and my sleeping there without proper ventilation. I did not, at the time, suppose smoke was so unwholesome, nor consider that the impure gas which generated from the wood and coal was mingled with it. I awoke with such a sense of suffocation that I could not breathe lying down, and spent the remainder of the night sitting up. I never before knew the dreadful feeling of stifling sensations. I began to fear I should never sleep again. I therefore resigned myself into the hands of God for life or death, entreating him to spare me if he had any further need of me in his vineyard; otherwise I had no wish to live. I felt entirely reconciled to the hand of God upon me. But I also felt that satanic influences must be resisted. I therefore bade Satan get behind me and away from me, and told the Lord that I would not turn my hand over to choose either life or death, but that I would refer it implicitly to Him who knew me altogether. My future was unknown to myself, therefore said I, Thy will is best. Life is of no account to me, so far as its pleasures are concerned. All its riches, its honors, are nothing compared with usefulness. I do not crave them; they cannot satisfy or fill the aching void which unperformed duty leaves to me. I would not live uselessly, to be a mere blot or blank in life. And though it seems a martyr's death to die thus, I am resigned, if that is God's will. 1T 672.2
“I had said to Sister Thompson the day previous, ‘Were I at Brother White's, I might be prayed for, and healed.’ She inquired if we could send for you and Brother Andrews; but that seemed impracticable, as I could not, in all probability, live till you arrived. I knew that the Lord by His mighty power and with His potent arm could heal me here, were it best. To Him I felt safe in referring it. I knew He could send an angel to resist him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil, and felt sure He would, if best. I knew, also, that He could suggest measures, were they necessary, for my recovery, and I felt sure He would. I soon was better, and able to sleep some. 1T 673.1
“Thus you see I am still a spared monument of God's mercy and faithfulness in afflicting His children. He doth not willingly afflict nor grieve the children of men; but sometimes trials are needed as a discipline, to wean us from earth— And bid us seek substantial bliss
Beyond a fleeting world like this. 1T 673.2
“Now I can say with the poet: Lord, it belongs not to my care,
Whether I die or live.
If life be long, I will be glad
That I may long obey;
If short, yet why should I be sad?
This world must pass away.
Christ leads me through no darker rooms,
Than He went through before.
Whoe'er into His kingdom comes,
Must enter by His door.
Come, Lord, when grace has made me meet
Thy blessed face to see;
For, if Thy work on earth be sweet,
What must Thy glory be?
I'll gladly end my sad complaints,
And weary, sinful days,
To join with the triumphant saints
That sing Jehovah's praise.
My knowledge of that state is small,
My eye of faith is dim;
But ‘tis enough that Christ knows all,
And I shall be with Him. Baxter. 1T 673.3
“I had another wakeful season last night, and feel poorly today. Pray that whatever is God's will may be accomplished in and through me, whether it be by my life or death. 1T 674.1
“Yours in hope of eternal life,
“If you know of any way by which I can reach you sooner, please inform me. 1T 674.2
She being dead yet speaketh. Her letters, which I have given, will be read with deep interest by those who have read her obituary in a recent number of the Review. She might have been a blessing to any Sabbathkeeping family who could appreciate her worth, but she sleeps. Our brethren at Battle Creek and in this vicinity could have made more than a welcome home for Jesus, in the person of this godly woman. But that opportunity is past. It was not convenient. They were not acquainted with her. She was advanced in years and might be a burden. Feelings of this kind barred her from the homes of the professed friends of Jesus, who are looking for His near advent, and drove her away from those she loved, to those who opposed her faith, to northern Michigan, in the cold of winter, to be chilled to death. She died a martyr to the selfishness and covetousness of professed commandment keepers. 1T 674.3
Providence has administered, in this case, a terrible rebuke for the conduct of those who did not take this stranger in. She was not really a stranger. By reputation she was known, and yet she was not taken in. Many will feel sad as they think of Sister More as she stood in Battle Creek, begging a home there with the people of her choice. And as they, in imagination, follow her to Chicago, to borrow money to meet the expenses of the journey to her final resting place,—and when they think of that grave in Leelenaw County, where rests this precious outcast,—God pity those who are guilty in her case. 1T 674.4
Poor Sister More! She sleeps, but we did what we could. When we were at Battle Creek, the last of August, we received the first of the two letters I have given, but we had no money to send her. My husband sent to Wisconsin and Iowa for means, and received seventy dollars to bear our expenses to those western convocations, held last September. We hoped to have means to send to her immediately on our return from the West, to pay her expenses to our new home in Montcalm County. 1T 675.1
The liberal friends West had given us the needed means; but when we decided to accompany Brother Andrews to Maine, the matter was deferred until we should return. We did not expect to be in the East more than four weeks, which would have given ample time to send for Sister More after our return, and to get her to our house before navigation should close. And when we decided to remain in the East several weeks longer than we first designed, we lost no time in addressing several brethren in this vicinity, recommending that they send for Sister More and give her a home till we should return. I say: We did what we could. 1T 675.2
But why should we feel interested in this sister, more than others? What did we want of this worn-out missionary? She could not do our housework, and we had but one child at home for her to teach. And, certainly, much could not be expected of one worn as she was, who had nearly reached three-score years. We had no use for her, in particular, only to bring the blessing of God into our house. There are many reasons why our brethren should have taken greater interest in the case of Sister More than we. We had never seen her, and had no other means of knowing her history, her devotion to the cause of Christ and humanity, than all the readers of the Review. Our brethren at Battle Creek had seen this noble woman, and some of them knew more or less of her wishes and wants. We had no money with which to help her; they had. We were already overburdened with care and needed those persons in our house who possessed the strength and buoyancy of youth. We needed to be helped, instead of helping others. But most of our brethren in Battle Creek are so situated that Sister More would not have been the least care and burden. They have time, strength, and comparative freedom from care. 1T 675.3
Yet no one took the interest in her case that we did. I even spoke to the large congregation before we went East last fall, of their neglect of Sister More. I spoke of the duty of giving honor to whom it is due; it appeared to me that wisdom had so far departed from the prudent that they were not capable of appreciating moral worth. I told that church that there were many among them who could find time to meet, and sing, and play their instruments of music; they could give their money to the artist to multiply their likenesses, or could spend it to attend public amusements; but they had nothing to give to a worn-out missionary who had heartily embraced the present truth and had come to live with those of like precious faith. I advised them to stop and consider what we were doing, and proposed that they shut up their instruments of music for three months and take time to humble themselves before God in self-examination, repentance, and prayer until they learned the claims which the Lord had upon them as His professed children. My soul was stirred with a sense of the wrong that had been done Jesus, in the person of Sister More, and I talked personally with several about it. 1T 676.1
This thing was not done in a corner. And yet, notwithstanding the matter was made public, followed by the great and good work in the church at Battle Creek, no effort was made by that church to redeem the past by bringing Sister More back. And one, a wife of one of our ministers, stated afterward: “I do not see the need of Brother and Sister White's making such a fuss about Sister More. I think they do not understand the case.” True, we did not understand the case. It is much worse than we then supposed. If we had understood it, we would never have left Battle Creek till we had fully set before that church the sin of suffering her to leave them as she did, and measures had been taken to call her back. 1T 677.1
A member of that church in conversation about Sister More's leaving as she did, has since said in substance: “No one feels like taking the responsibility of such cases now. Brother White always took the charge of them.” Yes, he did. He would take them to his own house till every chair and bed was full, then he would go to his brethren and have them take those whom he could not. If they needed means, he would give to them and invite others to follow his example. There must be men in Battle Creek to do as he has done, or the curse of God will follow that church. Not one man only, there are fifty there who can do, more or less, as he has done. 1T 677.2
We are told that we must come back to Battle Creek. This we are not ready to do. Probably this will never be our duty. We stood under heavy burdens there till we could stand no longer. God will have strong men and women there to divide these burdens among them. Those who move to Battle Creek, who accept positions there, who are not ready to put their hands to this kind of work, would a thousand times better be somewhere else. There are those who can see and feel, and gladly do good to Jesus in the person of His saints. Let them have room to work. Let those who cannot do this go where they will not stand in the way of the work of God. 1T 677.3
Especially is this applicable to those who stand at the head of the work. If they go wrong, all is wrong. The greater the responsibility, the greater the ruin in the case of unfaithfulness. If leading brethren do not faithfully perform their duty, those who are led will not do theirs. Those at the head of the work at Battle Creek must be ensamples to the flock everywhere. If they do this, they will have a great reward. If they fail to do this, and yet accept such positions, they will have a fearful account to give. 1T 678.1
We did what we could. If we could have had means at our command last summer and fall, Sister More would now be with us. When we learned our real circumstances, as set forth in Testimony No. 13, we both took the matter joyfully and said we did not want the responsibility of means. This was wrong. God wants that we should have means that we may, as in time past, help where help is needed. Satan wants to tie our hands in this respect and lead others to be careless, unfeeling, and covetous, that such cruel work may go on as in the case of Sister More. 1T 678.2
We see outcasts, widows, orphans, worthy poor, and ministers in want, and many chances to use means to the glory of God, the advancement of His cause, and the relief of suffering saints, and I want means to use for God. The experience of nearly a quarter of a century in extensive traveling, feeling the condition of those who need help, qualifies us to make a judicious use of our Lord's money. I have bought my own stationery, paid my own postage, and spent much of my life writing for the good of others, and all I have received for this work, which has wearied and worn me terribly, would not pay a tithe of my postage. When means has been pressed upon me, I have refused it, or appropriated it to such charitable objects as the Publishing Association. I shall do so no more. I shall do my duty in labor as ever, but my fears of receiving means to use for the Lord are gone. This case of Sister More has fully aroused me to see the work of Satan in depriving us of means. 1T 678.3
Poor Sister More! When we heard that she was dead, my husband felt terrible. We both felt as though a dear mother, for whose society our very hearts yearned, was no more. Some may say, If we had stood in the place of those who knew something of this sister's wishes and wants, we would not have done as they did. I hope you will never have to suffer the stings of conscience which some must feel who were so interested in their own affairs as to be unwilling to bear any responsibility in her case. May God pity those who are so afraid of deception as to neglect a worthy, self-sacrificing servant of Christ. The remark was made as an excuse for this neglect: We have been bitten so many times that we are afraid of strangers. Did our Lord and His disciples instruct us to be very cautious and not entertain strangers, lest we should possibly make some mistake and get bitten by having the trouble of caring for an unworthy person? 1T 679.1
Paul exhorts the Hebrews: “Let brotherly love continue.” Do not flatter yourselves that there is a time when this exhortation will not be needed; when brotherly love may cease. He continues: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Please read Matthew 25:31 and onward. Read it, brethren, the next time you take the Bible at your morning or evening family devotions. The good works performed by those who are to be welcomed to the kingdom were done to Christ in the person of His suffering people. Those who had done these good works did not see that they had done anything for Christ. They had done no more than their duty to suffering humanity. Those on the left hand could not see that they had abused Christ in neglecting the wants of His people. But they had neglected to do for Jesus in the person of His saints, and for this neglect they were to go away into everlasting punishment. And one definite point of their neglect is thus stated: “I was a stranger, and ye took Me not in.” 1T 679.2
These things do not belong alone to Battle Creek. I am grieved at the selfishness among professed Sabbathkeepers everywhere. Christ has gone to prepare eternal mansions for us, and shall we refuse Him a home for only a few days, in the person of His saints who are cast out? He left His home in glory, His majesty and high command, to save lost man. He became poor that we through His poverty might become rich. He submitted to insult, that man might be exalted, and provided a home that would be matchless for loveliness, and enduring as the throne of God. Those who finally overcome and sit down with Christ upon His throne will follow the example of Jesus, and from a willing, happy choice will sacrifice for Him in the person of His saints. Those who cannot do this from choice will go away into everlasting punishment. 1T 680.1