Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)


Lt 40a, 1878

White, J. S.

On the Steamer Idaho in passage for San Francisco, California

July 11, 1878

Portions of this letter are published in 5MR 182-183.

Dear Husband:

I wrote you yesterday, but will write you a little every day on this trip, although I am very dizzy and cannot sit up much. I know that you will be interested in my journal, imperfect though it may be. 3LtMs, Lt 40a, 1878, par. 1

I became acquainted with a lady on the boat. She has kept the boarding house for Brother Maxson. She brings us very sad news. While Sister Wood was at the camp-meeting on the fourth of July, her children ate cherries and ice cream and drank ice-cold lemonade, and as the result became sick. The physicians pronounced the dread word diphtheria. One was thought, when she left, to be dying. Poor Sister Wood, what a coming home this will be to her! May the dear Saviour pity them and not leave them comfortless. He does pity them. He will not, He never does, afflict or willingly grieve the children of men. 3LtMs, Lt 40a, 1878, par. 2

This lady stated that while Brother and Sister Nichols were from home, their three children were taken sick and they telegraphed at once for the parents. They returned home to the children without delay, not having food or rest. These children recovered. 3LtMs, Lt 40a, 1878, par. 3

How sure it is that we know not what a day may bring forth. We can but feel that we are poor, dependent creatures, in need of mercy which God alone can bestow, exposed to sorrows which God alone can relieve. How precious to have a Saviour who can speak peace to us when in pain, who can lift up the sorrowing and bowed down. We know by experience that Jesus can be a mighty helper. What if we had to depend upon irreligious friends for comfort and help, how helpless and hopeless we should be! The blessed Bible points us to the star of hope and tells us of a precious Saviour who loves us, whose blood cleanseth us from all sin. We know the way to the living Fountain; let us drink again and again. 3LtMs, Lt 40a, 1878, par. 4

Last night I had quite an experience. The captain told me I should have the porthole open in my berth on lower deck. I heard something I cannot describe. I sprang up and said, “What is that, Edith?” But the words were scarcely spoken when a stream of water rushed into my berth. I called the steward and he set things in order. He took mattress and clothing off and brought new, dry mattress and clothing. He closed the porthole, and thus ended the fresh air I was to have in my stateroom. 3LtMs, Lt 40a, 1878, par. 5

In the afternoon, while seated at the table in the dining saloon, there was a table where the so-called nobility were seated—the wealthy men of Oakland and San Francisco. They partook freely of wine; and as one of these men, about sixty years old, became warmed up with wine, he felt and talked and acted as Belshazzar did under the influence of wine, which beclouded reason and led the monarch to forget God and dishonor Him by using the sacred vessels, praising the gods of silver and gold, and profaning the God of heaven. This man called in a loud, boisterous voice, “Steward, bring me more claret.” It was brought. He held it up so that all at the table could view it. “Here,” said he, “is my Christ, all the Christ I want, gentlemen. This is my Jesus. This is good cheer,” and drained the glass, others following his example. This man was frank enough to express his thoughts and his ideas, which prevail to a far greater degree than many imagine. How many in their heart, if not spoken in words, praise the wine that sparkles in the cup and say in heart, “This is all the Christ I want.” How many were pleased with these words and laughed at them as a bright saying! He was acting in the name of his captain, Satan. He was obeying his dictates. 3LtMs, Lt 40a, 1878, par. 6

I did not know that there was one who would thus degrade his powers and in so bold and public a manner express his infidel sentiments and contempt of the Son of God, the world’s Redeemer. Such an exhibition in so public a manner was an insult to the company present. Some laughed as though this were a pleasant joke, while some looked ashamed and disgusted. There were young men seated at the tables, and if such men as these winebibbers and blasphemers give tone to public opinion and take the lead in the highest circles of society in our cities where money is their god, our land of boasted liberty and advantages will become as Sodom. 3LtMs, Lt 40a, 1878, par. 7

Belshazzar had everything to flatter his pride and indulge his passions. He was a man of power, an absolute monarch, holding at his command the property of lords and nobles. Princes were his servants. His will was law. And what was that will? He was void of self-control, hasty, violent in temper. He was gracious when he chose to be indulgent to those who flattered him and did not oppose his will, yet when they did not happen to suit his will and caprice he was as cruel as the grave. His anger was aroused at the slightest provocation; he could be molded as wax by those who flattered him, and ferocious as a tiger to those who provoked him; self-indulgent, a glutton and drunkard, he was corrupt at heart, swayed by the basest passions. 3LtMs, Lt 40a, 1878, par. 8

This was the man who made that idolatrous feast, while he praised the gods of gold and silver, while there were music and dancing, feasting, sparkling wine, and blasphemy, while the flames of idolatrous sacrifices rose high from lofty towers in insult to the God of heaven. Soon reason was gone, reverence had departed; the false enchantment, the dizzy scene had fascinated and deluded the company of revellers. Nothing was now held sacred. The king took the lead in the riot and blasphemy. The wine-besotted king wished to make some display of his blasphemous presumption. But while he drank wine with his princes in the vessels that had been consecrated to Jehovah, and praised the gods of gold and silver, a hand over against the wall traced his destiny in characters unintelligible to the king. In the mad revelry there was an unseen witness making a history to testify against them to the close of time. 3LtMs, Lt 40a, 1878, par. 9

Although these revellers had forgotten God, God had not forgotten them. As He was a witness in Belshazzar’s palace in the hour of their wildest merriment, so was God a witness upon that boat in midocean in that saloon. That wealthy man was not conscious that the words spoken by him would pass from his lips to the books of final accounts. 3LtMs, Lt 40a, 1878, par. 10

Indulgence in tobacco and in the intoxicating cup prepares the way for every excess of wild license. Man puts in his mouth that which shuts away reason. The only safeguard for youth, as well as for those of mature age, is total abstinence from tobacco and wine. If the restrictions are firm, if they purpose like Daniel that they will not eat of the luxuries or taste of the wines at fashionable resorts, they are then only safe as they make God their strength. 3LtMs, Lt 40a, 1878, par. 11

Belshazzar was pronounced wanting. God weighed his character in the balances of His sanctuary; He weighed his motives, character, life, and soul, and pronounced him wanting; and thus his record will stand when the books of heaven are opened and the eye of the great Judge searches the pages to see whose names are written there. 3LtMs, Lt 40a, 1878, par. 12

God has appointed us our work individually. He has entrusted to us capabilities, talents to be improved to His glory. These accountabilities must be faithfully met. A sense of our obligations to God will raise us above everything that is impure, low, debasing, and selfish. It will make us earnest, strong, cheerful, under all our burdens, discouragements, and difficulties. God wants more men who have a true sense of their accountability to God and their obligation to Him day by day, and who will preserve all their inherited and acquired powers to do good, to bless humanity, and to honor God, their Creator. 3LtMs, Lt 40a, 1878, par. 13

The word comes that there is a school of whales in sight, and I am called to see them. It is quite an interesting spectacle to see these monsters of the deep spouting the water high up from the ocean. This is a little diversity in our monotonous journey. 3LtMs, Lt 40a, 1878, par. 14

I love to watch the waves of the mighty ocean rolling up mountain high. I love to think of One who has power to say, “Here shall thy proud waves be stayed,” “hitherto shalt thou come, but no further.” Job 38:11. 3LtMs, Lt 40a, 1878, par. 15

We have a grand opportunity to study character in the managers of the boat and in the passengers. How easily self comes in for supremacy; how vanity reveals itself; how pride is developed! 3LtMs, Lt 40a, 1878, par. 16