Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)


Lt 25, 1880

White, James

Campground between Hanford and Lemoore, California

April 23, 1880

Portions of this letter are published in UL 127; 11MR 63-64.

Dear Husband:

Willie, Mary [White], Barbara Stickney and I left Oakland yesterday at four o’clock P.M. for Fresno. We arrived here this morning at four A.M. We feel not so bright this morning. We could not obtain berths on [a] sleeper and had to change cars at two A.M. at Goshen. We had a pile of baggage, bedding, mattresses, satchels filled with books, and baskets of provision. We shall return much lighter loaded. At Goshen we were directed to wrong cars and after getting well loaded were obliged to unload and change to cars on opposite track. We slept some in cars but my hip troubles me so that I cramped and could not sleep much. 3LtMs, Lt 25, 1880, par. 1

We stopped at the ground. Brethren [S. N.] Haskell and [M. C.] Israel met us at the cars and took us to our tents. We had Elder [J. N.] Loughborough’s tent, now the property of [the] General Conference. It was furnished with floor, a strip of carpet, bedstead, stand, rocking chair, wash dish and good little stove. Barbara [Stickney] and I sleep in this tent. There is still another little tent for Will and Mary [White] with [a] bed in it; no wood floor nor stove. Very neat and comfortable. 3LtMs, Lt 25, 1880, par. 2

There are forty tents upon the ground [and] a restaurant which is the best conducted of any I have seen at any of our camp meetings. 3LtMs, Lt 25, 1880, par. 3

We had a very precious season of prayer in our little tent this morning. All our company made up our family praying circle. I felt my soul drawn out in earnest prayer for you and for myself. The dear Saviour seemed very near and very gracious, full of mercy and love. I feel like serving Him with my undivided affection. I must have living faith that works by love and purifies the soul. Never did my soul yearn more earnestly for the Spirit of God than at the present time. We cannot do effectual work without the unction of the Holy One. 3LtMs, Lt 25, 1880, par. 4

Moral darkness, so dense and almost impenetrable, can never be affected with any common effort. The soul of the worker must be imbued with the Spirit of Jesus. Divine power must be combined with human effort, or this terrible paralysis of indifference, this death-like sluggishness, will never be broken from the souls of those in darkness and error. Jesus is our strength. He is our righteousness. We must pray more and exercise faith continually. I feel the necessity of drawing nearer and closer to Jesus. I see I must labor to the point to keep my mind ascending to God continually, if I would maintain the victory over Satan’s temptations. Oh, I have been shown how he exults when we are overcome and the spirit of impatience and fault-finding is indulged. He is in an exultation of triumph, for he knows that this grieves the Spirit of God and separates us from our Strength. 3LtMs, Lt 25, 1880, par. 5

Our words must be faultless, our spirit patient, and kind, forbearing, longsuffering, and we manifesting by our words and actions that we have learned of Jesus and are still learning in the school of Christ. We are both of us in danger as soon as we become self-confident and do not care what impressions we leave upon the minds of others, in our association with them. We should care every moment what impressions we are leaving upon the minds of those we connect with. Oh, I have been shown that you and I should make earnest efforts to be in Christ, and He in us, and then the Christ-side of our characters will appear, and we will direct minds at once to Jesus, not to us human beings alone. 3LtMs, Lt 25, 1880, par. 6

As soon as fear and caution are gone and a spirit of “What do I care?” “Let others be afraid, not I,” then we are as surely separating from God as did Peter and we will be left, as Jesus left him, to feel our own weakness. Whatever we may have once been, whatever we may have once done successfully for Christ, it has given us an experience as Moses had, when taken into close relation to God, seeing and feeling His glory. When he did take glory to himself, God was highly displeased because he had trusted so much to Moses; it made this exception to Moses’ usual patience, more marked and painful. As soon as our connection with Christ is broken, then we are working in self-thinking, in self-planning, for self—Christ is eclipsed by our thoughts centering on our poor selves. For the very reason that God had given Moses so great privileges, his sin was proportionately aggravating. Those who see failures in these whom God has blessed, and to whom He has manifested His great glory, will take license to sin and shelter their defective characters behind such. Sin loses its offensive character; therefore, the defects in a man’s character whom God has honored are far more offensive to God than in those less favored with opportunities and privileges. 3LtMs, Lt 25, 1880, par. 7

Our prayers may be ever so fervent, but afterwards, if we do not watch thereunto, our prayers bring no returns. Jesus coupled watchfulness with prayer. There is not a human heart but that needs watching with diligence. The oversight over self must be close, constant, and persevering. We must watch lest old habits of selfishness and sin shall gain victories, although they may have been overcome a hundred times. We are without excuse for giving place to the Devil in faultfinding, censuring, or in impatience. We need to guard an unruly tongue and sin not with our lips. 3LtMs, Lt 25, 1880, par. 8

Let us make the most diligent efforts to war against thoughts and feelings which are expressed in words. Our souls must be riveted to the Eternal Rock. If the foundation is sure, the winds may blow, the tempest beat, and the structure will stand because [it is] founded on the Rock. But if the Christian character under trial develops unseemly cracks by the daily life being defective, and there is not a steadfastness of purpose, but a continually leaning to self-indulgence, self excuse, it is like a tottering wall bowing over as if ready to fall to ruin. 3LtMs, Lt 25, 1880, par. 9

We are, dear husband, building for eternity. God is rich in strength and power, and we may have His shining countenance beaming upon us and we reflecting the light to others. We may go forward in our own strength and exhibit the cloud and darkness reflected from the Demon of darkness. We have done this whenever we have not watched and guarded the words of our lips and allowed the faultfinding, the jealousies and reproaches to find utterance. Help has been laid upon One who is Mighty. We may avail ourselves of it if we will, and if we will continually war against our sinful natures. This must be done, or we lose the eternal weight of glory. 3LtMs, Lt 25, 1880, par. 10

God will not excuse us in sin, who have had so great light. We have not one atom of righteousness of our own to stand upon. All we have ever done is because Jesus has given us His strength and His power; not because there was any inherent goodness or wisdom or righteousness in us. We are sinful and weak and imperfect and we must feel this strong enough to reach up for a stronger help and holier power than we possess. Jesus’ life is a perfect model. 3LtMs, Lt 25, 1880, par. 11

We must not build upon the sand; if we do, there will be a terrible down-tumbling by and by of our house. Ye are God’s building. Let us show this in a harmonious character, not in a jumble of opposites: excellent one day when all goes smoothly, fluent in prayer, free in discourse; but feelings change, and then clouds and storms. It is a sin—a grievous sin—which God cannot tolerate. The wretched, inward imperfections developed in our character must not exist a moment longer, and we excuse our sins; but we must cleanse the soul temple of miserable self, which is always taking up the room Christ should occupy. 3LtMs, Lt 25, 1880, par. 12

There is a storm coming upon us which will wrench every timber in our house, and if it is not built in Jesus, it will prove rottenness. He that built upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, only is safe. Dear Husband, I did not intend writing this when I began, but I have written thus because I felt impelled to do it, and not because I do not love you. We both want a deep work of grace in the heart. May God help us to build for eternity. Oh! bring the soul, the heart and life under the controlling influence of the Spirit of God, then you will be happy. When self dies, then Jesus will live in our hearts by faith. 3LtMs, Lt 25, 1880, par. 13

Your Ellen.