Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Lt 13, 1871

White, James

Campground, Skowhegan, Maine

September 2, 1871

Portions of this letter are published in ChL 20; 13MR 32.

My dear Husband:

Our Sabbath meeting has closed. We have had excellent meetings thus far. Mr. Tenny was here and heard me speak this afternoon. He said that he could say, Amen, heartily to every word. He wished to know when I could meet him and Lizzie. She was at Skowhegan. I told him after I had spoken tomorrow afternoon I would meet him at Mary’s. He expected to meet you here. I have labored all I had strength to. This morning we met the Cornville church under the large tent, and I told them what I had been shown in reference to his labors among the churches, that it was not for the good of the churches for Elder Stratton to go over and over the same ground among the churches, but go out with Brother Barns or Goodrich to labor in new places. 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 1

An invitation was given to those who were seeking God to come forward. About fifty answered to the call this forenoon; about that number this afternoon. Gowell presented himself for prayers and confessed his wrong course to his family with considerable feeling, poor man. His wife is present at this meeting. She spoke of her being backslidden from God. 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 2

My dear husband, I have read and reread your long letter, but I think you are not looking in the right direction for freedom. In the vision that was given me in Rochester, in regard to your being raised to health, I saw that God had received the confessions of Brother Andrews and his wife in reference to the past, that God had spoken pardon, and that they should no more afflict their souls in regard to the past and that it should no more afflict your mind. You had been unforgiving and had not manifested the spirit that you wished Christ to manifest to you. I saw that Brother John Andrews had felt deeply in regard to his past errors and had done all that he could do to undo the past. God had accepted these efforts and had given him an experience which was of great value to His people. At a later date, when the matters were opened before me at Adams Center in regard to Battle Creek, I was shown that Brother Andrews was deceived by others, but his motives and feelings were not of the character of those who have been so wrong at Battle Creek. I saw that there was no period of time during your sickness when Brother Andrews did not feel the most earnest desire for you to be raised up and take your position as you had done. He honestly regarded your case as he [had] done. I was shown that others would be held responsible for the course Brother Andrews pursued. 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 3

I saw that your affliction was a great misfortune, and the peculiarities of the case were such that it was impossible but that great perplexity must rest upon minds in reference to your case. 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 4

From what God has shown me from time to time, Brother Andrews was His chosen servant, to do a work others could not do. I have testimonies where the most distinct reference is made to his precious gift. The experience he has obtained has qualified him for the important work for these last days. 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 5

Now my dear husband, in view of the things which I have seen, I am prepared to say [that] I greatly tremble for the direction your mind has taken to go back and call up the past, which God has in a most wonderful vision shown me He had forgiven, and that Brother Andrews grieved the Spirit of God by bringing up these things and rehearsing them when God has shown He had forgiven the past errors and wrongs of Brother and Sister Andrews; and then [He] set His seal to the pardon given by His blessing resting upon them that Christmas night. 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 6

The purpose in your mind I dare not encourage you to carry out. Your imagination is diseased. Satan is taking advantage of it to not only injure and destroy Brother Andrews, but to ruin your own soul. In view of what God has shown me, I cannot go one step with you in this direction. We will step quietly away from the work. But when you desire to publish the failings and errors of the responsible men among Seventh-day Adventists, I am restrained every time I make the attempt. I dare not do it even for your love and confidence. God has shown me you were unforgiving to your brethren and children. Do you guard this point as God would have you? The cause of God is already enough. What do you desire Brother Andrews to do? He has already confessed heartily over and over again his errors until you have entreated him to no more make reference to it. The Lord Himself has spoken that he must not longer let the past affect him, for he made himself weak and lost his faith by dwelling upon the past. He must forget the things which are behind and press forward to those things which are before. 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 7

Would you destroy the confidence of God’s people in Brother Andrews because an idea enters your mind that he may not be right? What can he do to get right, which would fully satisfy? Your confessions will not do it, for this he has done. Why can you not leave this matter where God has left it? You have accused me repeatedly of having more sympathy for Brethren Waggoner and Andrews than for yourself. I know that is not true. But why have you felt this, because when you have called up the dark past and talked of these men which would have an influence to injure the faith of your brethren in them, you were, I fully believed, hedging up their way from doing the work for souls God designs that they should do. Such a work I dare not unite with you in doing until I know that God does not longer use them in His cause and work. “Judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Matthew 7:1. May God help me in this fearful, painfully fearful, time. I am in distress of mind [as to] why God does not reveal Himself to you. I cannot say, but I fear it is because you do not forget the darkness of the past, but gather darkness, unbelief and infidelity by talking over the disagreeable past. Oh, that you would be entreated to forgive and forget. Oh, that you would heed the words of the apostle, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8. 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 8

I verily believe that here is a victory for you to gain. God has spoken to you in visions. He has spoken to you in dreams, but yet you continue to do these very things He has warned you not to do. I cannot believe that you are impelled by the Spirit of God. “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” 1 Chronicles 16:22. 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 9

If you will, with me, covenant to leave the things which are behind and take your hands off of Brother Andrews and Waggoner and leave them with a little spark of courage and of their manhood, I believe you will be free. May God help you, my beloved husband. Do not gather sin to your own soul by destroying the confidence of the people of God in two of His servants who are responsible men and who have experience in this work. James, I dare not read your letter to Brethren Andrews and Littlejohn. I have too much respect for my husband than to do this. I believe that Brethren Andrews and Waggoner have served God as conscientiously in their position, according to their light, as you have in yours, according to your light and privileges. They would help you, either of them, if they could. But it is the greatest wonder to me, considering your feelings to them, that they have not resented your severe reflection upon them and lost their love and interest for you. The confidence they have in the work and that God is leading you has led them to frequently sacrifice their own judgment to yours, which has made them weak men. 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 10

Dear husband, when you weaken the confidence of God’s people in their leaders, you weaken the cause of God. The minds of the people are left in uncertainty. They cannot depend anywhere. I cannot engage in the work in making prominent the weakness and errors of God’s people. I am willing to submit to have you hold me in doubt and uncertainty. This is my cross. In comparison with them, I have suffered nothing. I have borne nothing. But I cannot have you destroy yourself by pursuing a course you would regret all your life. 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 11

I had a testimony for Brethren McPherson and Cramer of Wright in regard to their rejecting the testimony given of Brother Andrews, a servant of God, whom He had tried in the furnace of affliction. I saw that it was the same as if they had rejected Christ. Now, my husband, these things have an influence upon my life. I cannot censure before others these men in their absence. Would you wish them to do this with you? How you can excuse your course of accusing your brethren and making public their errors, I cannot determine. I dare not present them in a light to lessen the confidence of brethren in the fact that God is using them in His work. If these men of experience cannot be depended on, the inquiry is raised, Whom shall we trust? If men like these are untrue and hypocritical, what can we expect of anyone? Doubts and unbelief will enclose about the people of God. God forbid I should be the agent in doing this. Rather let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth than open a field of doubt and distrust to God’s people. Unbelief is the prevailing sin of this age. There is too little confidence in one another. Jealousy is as cruel as the grave; not only does the one suffer who possesses it, but the one who is suspected is frequently, cruelly misjudged. 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 12

What if you have been wronged and misjudged? Is it the Spirit of Christ to retaliate? When He was reviled, He reviled not again. When afflicted and persecuted, He threatened not. But many of your trials come through your imagination. They are real to you, but after all not forced upon you by God. God has shown you a way to have peace. You must be forgiving, pitiful, kind and merciful. This is one of the lessons God designed to teach you in your terrible affliction. This is why despair enclosed you about. You had an experience to obtain. 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 13

You may take a course to humble Brethren Andrews and Waggoner, so that with all their infirmities of body and deprivation and opposition they meet everywhere, they will have no courage, no confidence in anything they may do or say. What will they be worth then? Nothing at all. Just turn the tables and make their case your own, and see how you, who cannot bear the slightest censure, would conduct under similar circumstances. 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 14

Let us step quietly from the work. Cease writing and laboring and then see how we feel. I will be a true and faithful wife to you. But I cannot violate my conscience in pursuing a course which will please you when I have the clearest evidence that God would not be honored. I have nothing but the tenderest feelings of pity and sympathy. 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 15

Sunday afternoon

I have spoken this forenoon with considerable freedom. About three thousand people are on the ground. Brother Littlejohn speaks this afternoon upon the seventh part of time. Mr. Tenny was here yesterday afternoon, this forenoon and this afternoon. After the discourse I go to Mary’s and meet Lizzie and Mr. Tenny. I have had seasons of special interest since I have tried to speak to the people. Sometimes the blessing of God has rested upon me. If you were free I should be happy indeed. I do not cease to pray for you. I have the utmost confidence in your conscientiousness and determination to do the will of God. But we must follow closely the light which God has given. We afflict our souls unnecessarily. May the Lord show us the better way. 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 16

I have a testimony for the people. They receive my testimony gladly. Yesterday I spoke upon the duty of parents to their children. The hearty confessions that followed showed that it was the proper subject. Tomorrow I talk upon the health reform. I wish you were here. But do, I beg of you, cease to afflict your soul over unnecessary things. It does seem to me that you might be a free man if you would. I have heard you say over and over that you would just as leave have a fuss as not. Now this is not a right spirit. It is not the Spirit of Jesus. Just as long as you feel at such a variance from your brethren, and are so ready to complain of them, and appeal to your own sympathies, you will be weak. God cannot come to your help, for you place yourself beyond His hand. Let us look to ourselves, correct our errors and perfect holiness in the fear of God. Leave your brethren with God. God lives. I wish I were with you this moment. I start Tuesday morning. I shall come direct to Battle Creek. We cannot possibly get there before Friday noon, if we do the best we can. You are restless, murmuring and are worrying yourself out of the arms of Christ. Oh, that God would help us to help ourselves. There is a work for us to do for ourselves. God has left this work for us to do. He does not propose to do it for us. Oh, I entreat of you to let everyone alone, but James White. He is all that you can handle at present. You have not wisdom nor judgment to take any other case in your hands. 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 17

Leave the work just where it is and never touch it again until your way is as clear as the sun. But I have seen that yourself was in great danger of losing your reward of all your labor by becoming a rebellious murmurer. Don’t allow this to be a standstill. Don’t turn to tear others to pieces, but wait, hold up all you can but do not weaken the hands of any. 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 18

With much love, I remain, 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 19

Your own affectionate, 2LtMs, Lt 13, 1871, par. 20

Ellen G. White.