Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 1 (1844 - 1868)


Lt 10, 1863

Cornell, Sister

Topsham, Maine

November 28, 1863

Portions of this letter are published in 5MR 386.

Sister Cornell:

The Sabbath has passed and I will write you a few lines. We received the letters from your husband; none from yourself. It may look hard to you, our speaking to you as plainly as we have, but we feel that there is necessity of plain work. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 1

Battle Creek, Michigan

December 22, 1863

I commenced the above before we were all attacked with severe colds, which proved fatal to Henry. I will now finish what I intended to write. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 2

First I will state that we left Topsham the 16th [15th], complying with the urgent request of the church in this place. We traveled day and night, near one thousand miles; left Topsham Tuesday, arriving at Battle Creek Thursday about four o’clock p.m. We lived on our simple fare of crackers and apples until we sat down at our own table in our own home. I did not feel justified to pay fifty cents apiece for eating at the places of refreshments when we could just as well take our simple fare and lunch it on the road. We tasted nothing warm from the commencement of the journey to the close. I had a constant diarrhea from the commencement of Henry’s severe suffering until the present time. Therefore was quite weak on the journey, but felt better when our journey was ended than before we commenced the journey. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 3

Yesterday we attended the funeral of Henry in this place. All the school was present. Uriah improved. He did well. No one could do better. We laid the remains of our dear son by the side of John Herbert in Oak Hill Cemetery. Our hearts are sad but we are comforted by the Christian’s hope. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 4

I will say, Angeline, we wish you well but have many fears in regard to you, because we do not think you have fears enough for yourself. We do not think you know yourself, and but very little of the power of the grace of God. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 5

I trembled when I wrote the testimony for you and Mary. I thought if there was not a decided change, a thorough work performed for you after reading that solemn, important message, I should become perfectly discouraged in regard to you both. From the interview with you at Newport, I could not perceive the slightest change, which caused my hopes and expectations to die in regard to you. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 6

I have thought matters over much since that time and shall in this letter try to speak to you so plainly that you may fully understand me. I do this from a sense of duty. From the many views which I have had in regard to Brother Cornell and yourself, I have had, I know, correct views of your Christian character and your defects, failings which I do not think you realize. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 7

You were speaking in regard to receiving help to prepare for your last journey—that Sisters Julia and Maria Kellogg excused themselves from assisting you when you thought they could have helped you if they were so disposed. I have had no conversation with Julia or Maria in regard to these things of which I write, but these things have been in my mind since they were spoken of between us. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 8

Angeline, I fail to see where you could have the slightest claims upon anyone in Battle Creek for help. In the first place, you have never been any special benefit to the church in this place. You have not borne burdens here or taken any responsibility upon yourself in the meetings, but have had to be helped in spiritual things instead of helping. Again, the burdens of life have rested upon you very lightly. Your family burdens have been very light compared with those of the church in Battle Creek generally. You have had only yourself and husband to care for, and yet in bearing this light burden you have considered you had all that you could do, and occasionally have had some assistance from others. From what has been shown me from time to time, you do not have that ambition and love for labor which you should have. You are too indolent and choose your own ease rather than to become weary, as all have to who are obliged to labor. You spend too many thoughts upon yourself, dwelling upon your little ailments and infirmities, when considerable more labor and exercise performed by you would have given you less time to dwell upon your infirmities and would have improved your health. When traveling as you have done, not bearing the special burden of the work of God, no special burden of writing upon you, no care of children, I inquire, What can she do with her time? 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 9

It is very wrong for you or any minister’s wife to go from place to place to be waited on, to eat and to drink and sleep, when no special burden of the work rests upon her. While traveling through the summer your labor was very light, and your cares could not be otherwise but light, even if you went much from house to house, yet every hour should count. And if your time had been diligently spent, you need not have been one iota behind in your serving. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 10

It is true it is not as convenient to carry a satchel from house to house with a dress in it to make, or pants to make for your husband, but I believe you seldom make his pants, vests, or coats. Perhaps you make his shirts. I have had to do all these things besides having the burden of labor in meeting, writing for publication, and the care of three children, and I presume I suffered as much pain from day to day as you have, Angeline. Within a few years I have let others do my sewing, for my writing matter was large. I could not do all that which I had before me of writing. Yet there has seldom been time, even of late years, that my every hour has not counted. If I were to visit and must converse, my sewing has generally been ready in the daytime to employ my fingers, and talk. In the evening I have had my knitting, ready to knit. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 11

As you have no one but yourself and husband to do for, all your time cannot be employed. Then you can be useful to others as you travel by at least doing as much work as you make. But as few burdens as you have to bear, I should certainly blush to ask for help from a church so burdened down with care and labor as the church at Battle Creek. What if your dresses and sewing were not all done before your leaving for the East? You would find plenty of time while visiting from place to place, were you economical of your time, to do three times over all you had to do. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 12

The great secret of the matter is, you do not love to have any care in temporal or spiritual matters. You shun burdens and seek for ease while somebody has to bear burdens. And unless you change your course very much, you will not have the reward of well-doing awarded to you. Just as you have denied yourself, and sacrificed for others’ happiness, just so will you receive. Your principle study had been to care for dear self and look out for dear self. Every tree is known by its own fruits, every one will be rewarded as his works shall be. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 13

I do not think you ever had any real sense of what it was to sacrifice for God or His cause. I was told Sister Cornell said in the meeting at Brother Folsome’s that she felt that she was making a great sacrifice in leaving her pleasant home to go from place to place with her husband. The one that told me had taken it for granted that it must be so. I felt disgusted. Said I, Don’t tell me any more like that. If Sister Cornell calls it sacrificing to be welcomed from place to place, fed, and waited on, and she bear so few burdens as she is bearing, may God pity His people and His cause, for they will never prosper with the example of such among them. These, then, are the sentiments of the wives of our missionaries. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 14

If you are ever saved, Angeline, you will be tested and proved as sure as God lives, for you have not yet tasted the cup of self-denial and sacrifice. You are a stranger to that disinterested benevolence manifested by your divine Lord. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 15

In my last testimony you were referred to the Judsons. At times they lived in constant expectation that before another setting sun they might suffer torture and death. [They lived] in face of suffering and persecution and privation, and in constant fear of being deprived of life. Should you leave your pleasant home, then might you talk of sacrifice. As yet you have not tasted it. You are not yet able to drink of the cup and to be baptized with the baptism. You have suffered so little for Christ that you look upon yourself as a martyr when you are constantly privileged above most of God’s children. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 16

For years I have not dared to consult my feelings, wishes, or pleasure. I have made it a point to follow duty, stern duty, wherever it may lead. I am not my own, I am bought with a price. I must have no will, no pleasure, of my own. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 17

The testimony given you reproved you for the course you pursued in New York. You hurt yourself, crippled your husband’s labor, and were a living curse to him all the time you were there. What possessed you to go to New York? Why were you not contented to remain at home? I have no doubt that Satan sent you to New York. You made yourself very unhappy and injured yourself in the estimation of the best of our brethren and sisters there by your complaints and homesick, childish feelings. Far better would it have been for you had you remained at home, and much more highly would you have been esteemed. You made no effort to be happy yourself or make those around you happy. And this was the wife of one of our successful ministers! God save His cause and His people from being discouraged and disheartened by such influences! 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 18

I wish I could tear off the curtain from your past life and acts and present them before you as I have been made to look upon them. I want you to see things as you have never seen them before. I want you to feel as you never have felt before. I want to arouse you. You should pray earnestly to God, Lord, make me to know myself. This lesson you have never yet fully learned—to know yourself. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 19

I think you are capable of doing good, but you prefer ease to mental anxiety and care connected with the work of God. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 20

But enough has been said without my prolonging this letter. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 21

I will further say, all were disappointed in you at Newport and wishes were expressed that you had never come there, for they had thought from what Brother Cornell had told in regard to you, that you were a laborer, a help to the cause of God. They said the young in the faith would have your example constantly to refer to and their labor would be increased very much. Said they, “What shall we say when others inquire in regard to Sister Cornell? They have such an exalted estimate of her Christian experience and influence, from what Brother Cornell has said in her praise, that all will inquire in regard to her. She has been in the faith so long, we thought we could look to her for counsel, and her experience would aid us.” 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 22

I could not justify your course in the least. They thought, as well they might, if ministers took their wives with them it was to labor together as Brother and Sister Hutchins labored. And from what has been shown me, they are right in expecting as much as this. You, Angeline, were you a devoted Christian, could do more than Sister Hutchins, but your will has never been long at a time in subjection to the will of God. Self has had to be consulted instead of the will of God. You are entirely ignorant of what it is to be devoted to the cause of God, considering it your highest pleasure to do good and exert a saving influence upon those around you. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 23

Oh, for your soul’s sake, begin to work earnestly for God! Lose sight of self and your own ease and your own pleasure and now, even now, in this late period of time, redeem the time as much as possible that the angels of God may make a record of duties unselfishly performed. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 24

I think it was all a mistake, your going East. But now you are there, labor, labor with all your might; labor earnestly, untiringly. If you get weary, remember you are not alone. I get weary, expect to get weary. Better to wear out than rust out. You never have hurt yourself with work in temporal or spiritual matters. I would do something or die in the effort. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 25

(Signed) Ellen G. White.

Sister Cornell: I saw many things while at Newport that led me to conclude that you felt no burden of the work of God upon you. If Mary and you had felt any burden, or that you really were on a mission to do good to souls, you would not have manifested the indifference, and I call it contrariness, that you showed out at Brother Wakefield’s. If you have no remembrance of these things, or if you consider them too small to be noticed, I think you should be reminded of them for I think they are things which tell everywhere they are manifested. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 26

After I left the meeting Sunday and came home to write, I found you and Mary had kept no account of the time and, as it was a little late, felt no disposition to attend meeting. You were ready to excuse yourselves so readily and stay at home, notwithstanding the expense you had been to to get to Newport. A young sister came in from the other room. She was pale and sickly looking, and would have enlisted the sympathy of anyone who might see her. Mary and you took not the slightest notice of her. She was there upon the settle when I came in. I knew you had been there two or three days and I did not introduce her. Supposing you had been conversing together, I went into the front room to write. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 27

You both left the room you had been sitting in and followed me, leaving the sister of Brother Wakefield alone. This looked strange to me. I spoke to you in regard to her. You made as an excuse that you did not know her, having had no introduction to her. This did not relieve my mind one particle. I consider it no excuse at all. Had it been a young gentleman instead of a young lady, then you would have had an excuse. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 28

If you went East to labor for the good of souls, if you felt any burden for souls, was it not your duty to become acquainted with that young girl by introducing conversation to her? She felt very lonely and came in to see you to relieve her loneliness. Surely sisters who left their homes to be to the expense of traveling hundreds of miles with their husbands should not be so bashful and reserved as to require an introduction before being able to converse with one of their own sex. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 29

Then again, when Sister Chase wished us all to take dinner at her house, I spoke to your husbands about it and it was decided to comply with her request. I thought that Sister Wakefield ought to be relieved and that it would help the feelings of others and be an encouragement to them to visit them. I remember the short way you spoke of the matter. You did not see how you could go, etc., when I failed to see anything to hinder your going, if you had a disposition to do so. But then Mary and you acted out your own natures so completely. You, neither of you, treated your husbands with respect or seemed to care how disagreeable you made it for them. You acted just as though you wished to make them feel [as] unpleasant and as unhappy as you could about the affair. Old Sister Wakefield said that while you were ironing, Mary and you were sporting over the appeals we had made to you all four in regard to the subject of health. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 30

You did go at last, but what a blessing you must have carried with you! How much good do you suppose such visiting does? You certainly could not have carried the approbation of the Lord with you. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 31

And these were missionary women who had left home to accompany their husbands and labor in connection with them in the work of God. Had you the least ideas of your duty, or what God requires of you, your actions would have had altogether a different tone and influence from what they had at Newport. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 32

Never will I be silent and leave people to think that we think you about right and that we approbate your traveling with your husbands. I am fully settled now in my own mind that the place for you both is at home. I believe that you should remain there for the good of the cause of God and let your husbands go out free, if they can go without you. If not, remain at home with you. The good of the cause, I believe, demands this. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 33

And from many things which have been shown me, if you, Angeline, talk less upon your poor feelings, if you think and talk less upon your aches and pains, and bear burdens in life as others have to, your health will improve. I think, from what I have been shown, you never can have health unless you exercise more and feel that you are of some worth in the world. Bear your own weight. You can liberally support yourself if you once get rid of these feelings that you must nurse your old ailments and complain and worry over every poor feeling. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 34

It is time we understood ourselves and what our duty is before God. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 35

Angeline, Mary and yourself have made child’s work of serving God. It is time now you at least bear your own burdens, if you do not help others to bear their burdens. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 36

My heart aches, for the cause of God is burdened for His poor people. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 37

In love. 1LtMs, Lt 10, 1863, par. 38