Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Ms 57, 1886

In Norway and Sweden

Christiania, Norway

July 8, 1886

Portions of this manuscript are published in 3Bio 347-349; EGWE 203.

I had written you quite a lengthy letter, but W. C. White says I must not send it now, for there are ideas he wishes to retain to make an article. So twice you have lost a letter you otherwise would have had. Well, I will write out some things more. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 1

We left Orebro June thirty and had a great time getting on the cars. We made close calculations, which is not always safe to do. Sarah and I went on our way all safe and arrived ten minutes before the time, but W. C. White was coming on with a lot of baggage in a small handcart. The last bell was ringing and no Willie. Sarah started up the street to find him when he came running with great speed. He purchased the tickets and afterward our baggage came just in time. The handcart wheel had come off, and he had to hold up one side of the cart while another was drawing it; but when Sarah found them she grasped what baggage she could. Two women came running with loads of baggage, and we were rushed into a compartment with three gentlemen. And what a sight was W. C. White, with perspiration running down his face, every nerve strained, his pulse going on the gallop! I was so anxious and troubled that I could not get calmed down for some time. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 2

Our principal business that afternoon was to change cars. Our accommodations were not very excellent, but hard and trying; but the last part was better, much better. We met Oyen and Cecelia Dahl at the second change of cars. They had come from Stockholm and were traveling on the same train, but not in the same car. Sister Matteson and Brother Olsen’s son, Oyen and Sister Dahl, went in third class; we in second. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 3

We went as far as the cars went that night, and at half-past nine o’clock we were making our way, by the still shining sun, to a hotel. We found good accommodations for our party, but I was too weary and sick to sleep much. Fire had been set to some brush, which filled our room with smoke, which was anything but pleasant. This place was Charlottenberg, a small place pleasantly located. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 4

In early morning we were again on the cars. Had a compartment all to ourselves, and there was some sleeping done by us all, I assure you. It was a rare thing for me to sleep as I did that forenoon. We reached Christiania at 11 o’clock. We had some very nice scenery of beautiful lakes and islands, places of resort; and as we approached Christiania, there were mountains and hills which made it much pleasanter than the flat lowlands of Sweden. But there is abundance of rocks, rocks, rocks, as if sown there, as if some vast mountain of rocks had tumbled to pieces. How the people can live in these countries is a mystery to me. I do not wonder that so many emigrate to America. There was nothing of special interest on this journey. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 5

We took a hack from Christiania and came to the rooms which were prepared for us—two rooms. The first was for W. C. White, with single bed, sofa, and chairs like the sofa, upholstered. Then we entered our room through W. C. White’s. Here was a single bed and a bed lounge for Sarah, washstand, pitcher, and towels, etc., etc. There was a hall and then a kitchen, and a woman to cook for us and do our work. So you see we were provided for. Miss Casperson, who accompanied Brother Oyen from American here, does our work. The new paint has affected my eyes and my throat so that I am afflicted, but otherwise I am gaining somewhat. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 6

I spoke Sabbath to our people in the new meetinghouse. I spoke with great plainness and did not cut the corners of the truth to please anyone. I have been writing pointed testimonies for this church that are in a demoralized condition through several reasons—a neglect to keep the Sabbath properly and a tolerating of meddlers. There are talkers here whose tongues are set on fire of hell. What shall be done to cure these talkers is the difficult problem to solve. After the discourse there were many good testimonies borne, interpreted to me by Brother Clausen. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 7

At half-past ten p.m. we rode in hack to the steamer and rode that night about one hundred and ten miles to a place where Brother Edwin Olsen had been laboring. Thirty had embraced the truth, some excellent people. The name of the place is Laurvig. This has been and still is cursed with fanatics. The holiest class that claims the name. One claims to be God, another Christ, and every species of error exists here; yet the standard of truth has been planted in this place, and it may bring out numbers still to the truth. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 8

There are many acres of beech forest which is the only beech grove in Norway. There is an ordinance that no beer or strong drink shall be sold on these grounds. This is a wonderful thing in Europe, for every available spot near a house which could have the slightest attractions is converted into a beer garden. This is so in Sweden, in Switzerland, and in Germany and Denmark. But here the beautiful beech forest, with its noble, majestic trees, is not disgraced with the drunken brawls of the inebriate. Here are many attractions for pleasure seekers as well as for invalids. Mineral springs have great repute here as a curative of many ills. We climbed a rocky ascent and could view the surrounding country to a great extent and look upon the waters of a lake which makes the scene one of beauty. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 9

At four o’clock we went to a hall and had a good audience. I designed to speak to the hearers words that would not in any way offend them, but the Lord gave me a message to the people in regard to the false theory of sanctification, and I brought the law to bear as close upon them as they ever heard it. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 10

I did not know what would be the result, for it was not in the style of Norway, but in true American style. It almost frightened Brother Edwin Olsen, for he said they had never had such talk as that before; but I had to give them the message the Lord gave me for them, and I could not get away from the subject to any other. I presented before them the true Bible sanctification in contrast with the false, and the Lord gave me much freedom in doing this. Brother Edwin Olsen came to the hotel and stated that the believers were very much pleased and benefited, and that it was just what they needed. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 11

Monday morning at 9 o’clock we stepped on board the steamer to return to Christiania. The scenery was beautiful, as we did not go out of sight of land, and the waters were smooth; but I was sick—not seasick, but in a high fever. Was unable to sit up and took no dinner. We arrived at Christiania about four o’clock. We visited the bathhouse and took thorough bath, but the distance was too great; in returning I was very weak and could scarcely walk to our rooms. I continued very much indisposed. Next night took a bath at home, which seemed to break the fever. It is the paint, I am sure, for all three of us are affected more or less. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 12

July in Norway seems like October in America. I wear all the clothing I have worn in winter in Switzerland and have them provide an extra ulster much of the time to keep me comfortable; so as yet we have not seen or felt any warm weather. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 13

Tuesday Brethren Olsen and Matteson came from Denmark. They report an excellent meeting there, that the work is further advanced than in Sweden, for they have had more labor. I was glad to hear this report. I conversed with them Wednesday quite freely in regard to the condition of the church—the elements in it which have degraded the church by much talking. One told Matteson that he lied, right in meeting, and accused another of being a thief—and all this in meeting. Her tongue seems set on fire of hell, and yet they are so blind that some voted for this woman to be on the board, and she is on the board. I talked decidedly in regard to this matter and showed them the way they had neglected to do their duty. They wanted me to bear my testimony. I told them it would do no good. My testimony was not received by those who wanted to do as they pleased, and they must do this work themselves, for God would say to them as to Joshua, “Neither will I be with you any more except ye destroy the accursed from among you.” Joshua 7:12. This work has been neglected and the reputation of the truth greatly demerited by the very ones who claim to believe it. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 14

This morning, July 11, I meet with the committee and bring before them another matter. Within the enclosed yard, within a few feet of the office and meetinghouse and directly beneath us in the basement of the building composing the old office, are premises rented out to a blacksmith; and while services are being held, there is the ringing of the hammer, the pounding, and all the noise which can be made in a blacksmith’s shop. So the prayers and preaching and exhortations on the Sabbath are mingled with the sound of the hammer and the anvil, while in the next apartment is a marble shop where tombstones and monuments are manufactured, and there is the sound of the chisel and the hammer upon the granite and marble. This has been going on for six years, and how God can look with any favor upon a people claiming to believe the truth and yet so blinded to the fitness of things seems incomprehensible to me. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 15

I present this before the people this morning, for I would not leave this place until I do this and free my soul from this burden. I marvel not that the church are not in a higher state of spirituality. I wonder that they are in as good a condition as they are; and if God will help me, I will set this matter before them in its aggravated character as God sees it. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 16

I spoke yesterday upon the solemn scenes of the judgment, and we had a very solemn meeting. Matteson spoke and confessed somewhat his neglect of dealing faithfully in the church. Olsen made some excellent remarks which Oyen interpreted to a number of us who could not understand the language. Many testimonies were borne, but the work has not touched the bottom yet. It is surface work. I told our brethren plainly I would not get under the church here as I did in the fall when I labored for them without sparing myself. It was months before I recovered from the effects of this labor. But it has made a change here for the better at great cost to health and strength when, if the workers had kept up to standard, bringing up the people, all this extra wearing, tearing labor would not have [had] to be done. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 17

I am feeling the labor I put forth in Sweden. It was needed there, and much labor is needed here. But how hard it is to take up dropped stitches, how hard to put a new mold upon a people, when they have been permitted to go on year after year in a demoralized condition! Sometimes it seems that my sense of these things will kill me, while those who have received this mold seem as unconcerned as if they were perfect before God. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 18

I tell you it is impossible for our brethren to come to Europe and rush from place to place and rush out of Europe and do any great amount of good. They need to stay long enough to get hold of the inward working of things and then begin to reconstruct, to remodel. Had we come here and remained only about three months, that which we might have attempted to do would not be one-quarter done and would have slid back again. It must be work, hard work, constant work, effort made upon effort, by pen, by voice, by influence, line upon line, precept upon precept, until the leaven of reform leavens the lump. I tell you that it is much harder than to take the work from the commencement, because those who have become established in a wrong course think the Lord has blessed them in doing this, and it is next to impossible to make them see that they should make any improvements. The moral tone once degraded and demoralized cannot be brought up without a most thorough conversion. The Spirit of the Lord alone can help the people in this state of things. This is wearing work. My heart is sick and sore and pained beyond anything I can express. Now we must work with all our might and mind and soul to bring in altogether a different order of things. 4LtMs, Ms 57, 1886, par. 19