Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3

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Lt 23, 1880

White, James

Oakland, California

April 17, 1880

Portions of this letter are published in 3Bio 137.

Dear Husband:

The sun shines again and it seems more cheerful. Day before yesterday we had a heavy shock of earthquake. Will and Mary ran out of the house. They thought the chimney had fallen, but it was only a heavy shaking of the house. The papers speak as though it was a heavy, near call to Oakland. 3LtMs, Lt 23, 1880, par. 1

Everything in California is more cheerful, and this heavy, continuous later rain all think [has] put the prospect of crops in a most favorable condition. I have heart trouble yet and this makes [a] rush of blood to the head, but I am of good courage—I feel that Jesus is very precious to me. In Him I trust and have peace that passeth knowledge. My whole being is in the cause and work of God. My heart is wholly His. It is my meat and drink to do His will. I am glad you are going to shun trials and perplexities. I know you could not avoid them if you came here. 3LtMs, Lt 23, 1880, par. 2

We are all working to the extent of our powers to do what we can for California. If no help comes from the East, I shall feel duty to remain longer than I thought at first. Many places have not been visited. In Napa I only spoke once on Monday evening. At seven A.M. I leave for Dixon and Vacaville to spend Sabbath and first day. I know not yet as any one can accompany me, but if not, I [will] just go alone, and yet not alone, for the Lord is with me and gives me a clear and pointed testimony to bear. I do not wish to consult my will or my pleasure but what will the Lord have me do. 3LtMs, Lt 23, 1880, par. 3

We must both labor to come closer in all our labors to the bleeding side of Christ. Self must be put out of sight; self must be crucified. The time is short for us to make a success of perfecting Christian character, and I want to make sure work for eternity. 3LtMs, Lt 23, 1880, par. 4

I am not ambitious for honor, for appreciation, nor for ease, but I am deeply anxious for Christ to be in me a wellspring of life. I want to walk not in sparks of my own kindling, but in the clear light of His countenance. I cannot consent to be uncertain in this matter. I must know daily that Jesus is mine, that I am following Him—the Light of life. I am most of the time very happy, very cheerful in God. I miss you at times very much especially when not engaged heart and soul in active labor. Oh, if we can make a success of overcoming and gaining precious and glorious victories daily over self, our ways and our words being the ways and words of Christ, we shall be indeed the salt then that has not lost its savor. Any defect in us will go a long way to encourage others in the same defects. We, of all who believe the truth, must be without fault; our lives blameless. God will not excuse faults in us as in others who have not had so great light. It is self we must master. It is self we must seek to subdue. It is our will and our way we must yield to God’s will and God’s way. This is the victory, even your faith. Let us pray and work and believe; and if we cling to the Mighty One, we will come off more than conquerors through Him that hath loved us. I prize the dear Saviour more and more for He is my Redeemer, my Helper, in whom my soul delights. 3LtMs, Lt 23, 1880, par. 5

The call comes BREAKFAST; then it is the cars for my journey. 3LtMs, Lt 23, 1880, par. 6

God morning—God bless you with the riches of His grace and lift upon you daily the health of His countenance is the most earnest prayer of your wife, 3LtMs, Lt 23, 1880, par. 7

Ellen.

After breakfast I have a few moments more which I will improve. Only two meetings, beside the conference in Oakland has Elder [S. N.] Haskell attended with me—in Woodland and Santa Rosa. He was determined to hold no office here. He pleaded against it with might and main but was elected against his most earnest protest as president—Will, vice-president. This will be much better for Will and be better for California then if young men like Will had the position Brother Haskell wanted—Will president and Israel, vice-president. But I think this is best as it is. 3LtMs, Lt 23, 1880, par. 8

I would not have consented for you to take the responsibility on any account. It is time cares were laid off of your shoulders and you sweetening up, elevating, refining and preparing for the day of God. We must attend to our own souls for if we neglect the work of preparation we may be found without oil for our vessels with our lamps. The grace of God we need every hour. The light shining from the throne of God will shine upon us, lighting and cheering our countenances and we shall be reflecting the image of Jesus. 3LtMs, Lt 23, 1880, par. 9

It is time, I know it is time, for you to lay on others’ shoulders that which you have carried so long. You say, “When another man is raised up to bear these responsibilities, then I will lay them off.” Do you think, my dear husband, that you fill this position any better than some of the brethren you have mentioned would do? Do you think no one could do even as well as you do yourself? If so, you do not understand yourself. Were you sound in nerve, sound and well and evenly balanced in mind, you could do better than any one of these you mentioned. But you know you are not this, and I know you have responsibilities you are not qualified to bear, and any mistakes in this direction will be grave and seriously felt in the cause of God. You cannot trust to your feelings, for these feelings control your judgment and reason, and this is the reason that you should lay off responsibilities. 3LtMs, Lt 23, 1880, par. 10

Had you followed the light God has given you closely, you would now be physically and mentally sound to exert a healthful influence upon the course of God. But you are not thus. It has ever been your idea that your position granted you more than it does; you have had control of other men’s minds and you have exercised a freedom with your pen and with your words in criticizing and exposing the defects of your brethren when your own defects were more serious and far more dangerous to the cause of God than theirs. Here is where you have been deceived. I write it to you kindly and affectionately because you must not mould the cause of God by your mind and judgment. God has never given you this power. He invites you to learn of Him who is meek and lowly of heart, that you may find rest to your soul. He invites you to take His yoke and lift His burdens for they are light. Burdens which we may carry will be exceedingly heavy. 3LtMs, Lt 23, 1880, par. 11

Overcome, I beg of you overcome these suspicions and jealousies of your brethren. It is [not] your place to exalt your brethren and then almost kill them by debasing them; neither is it your duty to lightly esteem any one whom God has called to His work. Lead them to look to Jesus in the place of looking to you. They can know their duty for themselves. God will teach them, and thus give them an experience in His cause, and in the movings of His providence that they need and must have if they ever become efficient workers in the cause of God, and if they [are] ever [to] stand amid the perils of these last days. God forbid you should make a mistake now; it is too late. Let the burden drop, that is hard to carry, and just as long as you cherish the Spirit you will not go as a “second hand,” just as long you will have a spirit that will be troublesome to you. Christ was a servant of all. It is humility of mind you want to cherish and lay off the general, and learn in the school of Christ. Be happy, be happy in God. [Let] your life [be] as a sweet perfume wherever you go. 3LtMs, Lt 23, 1880, par. 12