Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Ms 31, 1887

Diary, May 1887

Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland

May 13 - 22, 1887

Portions of this manuscript are published in 5MR 319.

Second Visit to Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland

May 13, 1887

In company with Brother and Sister Whitney we left Basel for Chaux-de-Fonds at 10 A.M. We were seven hours on the journey. Stopped one hour at Bienne. Walked from the depot to Brother Virgil Vuilleumier’s about three quarters of a mile. Saw his sick wife, who has been a great sufferer for five weeks. We arrived at Chaux-de-Fonds at five o’clock P.M. Were met at depot by Brother Albert Vuilleumier, Ademar Vuilleumier, and several others. Rode in the omnibus to Brother Arthur Rules [?] and were cordially welcomed. We had some talk in regard to meetinghouse. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 1

As the cars with our iron horse tugging and blowing urged their way painfully up the steep ascent, the air became much cooler, and that which had been rain in the valleys became snow. I felt chilly. My lungs felt as if I were breathing in an icy atmosphere. I had taken off my cloak, but put it on again, and yet was cold. We saw grand old rocks and wonderful natural cataracts pouring down their perpetual streams from high precipices. Beating upon the rocks in their descent, they sent out their beaten spray almost white as milk. We can never tire of this scenery. We looked down, down a mountain ravine to a noisy stream rushing and beating against the rocks, which battlements of rocks rose hundreds of feet on either side; and this green, clear stream rushing and roaring in this narrow, deep gorge acted as if it were mad. It was awfully grand. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 2

We were not sorry when we reached the depot. Every mile we pulled up the mountain steeps seemed to increase in icy coldness. It seemed to me my lungs were nearly frozen, although I had an abundance of clothing and it was nearly the middle of May. We tried to counteract the coldness of throat, lungs, and stomach with hot drink, but did not succeed and slept but little through the night with this disagreeable inward chilliness, which had seemed to grasp my very vitals. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 3

May 14, 1887

[Chaux-de-Fonds,] Switzerland

Sabbath morning I spoke to the church about one hour, Brother Albert Vuilleumier interpreting for me. I had freedom in speaking and a good impression was made. I also spoke again in the afternoon about one hour with deep feeling. There were many testimonies of interest borne. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 4

We felt decidedly the necessity of making some change in advance of what had been made in the church in this place as we experienced the inconvenience of worshiping God in a room no larger than a common dwelling room in a tenement. There was a small room adjoining the large room. There were sixty of our brethren assembled, and they could not be accommodated with a chance to kneel down, being so closely packed. It is true that there were brethren from Tramelan and from Bienne, which made the inconvenience still more apparent. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 5

With this crowd in so small a place, it was next to impossible to ventilate without exposing some to a strong, cold, snowstorm draft of air; and when the windows were open ever so little, the confusion of noises coming from buildings across the narrow street made it most difficult to hear distinctly the words of the speaker. And from this manufacturing establishment, not only was the sense of hearing confused, but that of smelling was involved. The strong fumes of fermented wine were most offensive to the senses of a temperate man or woman, however pleasant it might be to the wine lover. And added to this was the confusion of exhalations from the lungs and emanations from the bodies of sixty people enclosed in a small compass. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 6

We were not at all surprised to see one and still another of our good brethren asleep. Who can blame them? I was obliged twice or three times to call them to their feet to sing in order to arouse them from that sleepy lethargy which comes in consequence of breathing impure air poisoned by the atmosphere within and without. How my heart ached for the worshipers! Here is the only place they could obtain where they could assemble to worship God, and if it were the very best they could do, the Lord would accept their best efforts. And for this little place our brethren have to pay seventy-five dollars per year. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 7

It is this condition of things we meet here everywhere in Europe—places can be obtained for halls, for theaters, for every purpose but to preach the gospel. I inquire if this thing must continue in these missionary fields. Our brethren have felt the need of planning and devising for something better than this. They see themselves left wholly to the mercies of those who own buildings, whether they shall find tenements or whether they shall find rooms called halls, but only rooms in a dwelling house where they can worship God upon the seventh day. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 8

We deem it to be for the good of the cause of God in Chaux-de-Fonds and other cities that there should be a general awakening, and in much humble supplication to God for wisdom, and with their own exertions in faith, to make a change in this order of things, to arise unitedly and do to the uttermost of their ability, to press against difficulties and in faith to go forward. The Lord will help them to obtain, in these cities where there are churches already raised up, suitable places of worship on such terms as shall not embarrass our poor brethren, that they may worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 9

Souls are being added to the church in Chaux-de-Fonds, showing that notwithstanding the unfavorable situation, yet souls have courage to decide for the truth, to keep the Sabbath because it is truth. And if all do what they can, hoping and believing that God will pity them and help them in their great need, they will surely see His promises verified in this matter. If all will be united, counsel together, pray together, and live out their faith, the Lord will work for their good and His own name’s glory. When we consider the precious truth to be drawn from the storehouse of God’s Word to be given to all them who will receive it in the love of it, we know that this is no time to be silent or indolent or unbelieving. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 10

God has given the light to us that we may give the same to others. The solemn warnings are given us in the Scriptures that we are not to receive the grace of God in vain. It concerns us and the welfare of others, each and every one of us who claims to be a child of the light, to summon our various God-given powers to action. We are to yield our bodies to God a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service. Here it is not our feelings to be consulted, our ease and convenience to be first provided for, but we are to reason that as Christ has given all on His part, and withheld not His precious life that salvation might be brought within our reach, so likewise should we arm ourselves with the same mind and manifest the same spirit of self-denial and self-sacrifice. We should show the same interest, self-denial, and disinterested love for the souls of those for whom Christ has given His precious life. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 11

We are to reason sensibly in this matter, that as God has done all on His part, we should individually be more than willing to do all possible in our power on our part, that we may be laborers together with God in bringing many sons and daughters to glory. Jesus Christ hath loved us, and it is His blood that cleanseth us from spot and stain of sin. If, then, the great Head of the church and Captain of our salvation has condescended to leave the royal courts of heaven and come to our world to live in His human life as our example, that we should make no mistake in finding the path that leads to heaven, let us follow the pattern He has given us. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 12

Brother Albert Ball [?] has been a zealous mover in seeking to obtain means to build a chapel, but he moved rashly, and it all had to be reconsidered and rearranged. The lot was purchased, but was too small, and it was decided to duplicate the lot and build not only a chapel, but tenement rooms where six families could be accommodated. I have donated my horse, for which I paid $175; my carriage, for which I paid $110; my harness, for which I paid $30. I have had these in use a little more than one year. They may sell them and get what they can to invest in the house of worship. I pledged also $100 towards a meetinghouse in Bienne. We can see no other way to do than to build houses of worship, and our brethren must begin to work themselves into houses under their control as tenement houses. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 13

I spoke both forenoon and afternoon, Sabbath, May 14. In the afternoon there was a good social meeting. Elder Whitney spoke in the evening. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 14

May 15, 1887


Sunday at 10 A.M. I spoke about one hour in regard to the necessity of our people’s making some arrangements to have tenement buildings under their own control and the necessity of moving with great wisdom so that no one should become embarrassed. And this could be accomplished only by concerted action. Elder Whitney spoke lengthily upon the same subject, and the minds of the brethren were unanimous in regard to this matter. I became very weary, and after sitting in the close room three hours, Sister Whitney and I returned home. Wrote out important matters. In the afternoon we were taken in a hack to visit the lot selected and already purchased for a chapel—the adjoining lot was to be added which would gain much better facilities for building. Visited Sister Roberts, who stands at the head of a watch-manufacturing establishment. Her husband is dead, leaving the business in her hands. She has embraced the Sabbath. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 15

Monday, May 16, 1887

I could sleep but little through the night. There was an election of some kind, and cannonading was kept up till long after midnight. We were unable to sleep, for the report of the cannon reverberated through the mountains as though crashing them to atoms. At three o’clock we were astir and made our way to the depot, about one mile, on foot. I felt sick and lay down. We arrived at home in Basel about 10 A.M. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 16

May 22, 1887


Was not well through the week. Spoke on Sabbath forenoon May 21 for the last time in Basel. We had a private interview with several, placing before them the danger and the peril which cost me much sufferings of mind. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 17

[May 23, 1887]

Sunday I was unable to eat and unable to sit up, but I had an appointment in Zurich for Sunday night. I waited till the last train, hoping to feel better, but was obliged to go sick, unable to eat anything. I lay down in the cars and rested when we arrived in Zurich. One who had been interested in the meetings and almost a regular attendant interested himself to secure a large hall for me to speak in. This brother took us to his house and gave us every attention. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 18

I felt so weak and my head so confused that I knew I should fail unless the Lord helped me. And He did help me. There were two hundred and sixty people assembled. They listened with the deepest interest, and I had freedom in speaking to them. Afterward we took a hack to Brother Ertzenberger’s where we tarried for the night. I had a severe season of vomiting and felt relieved. Slept well. I had eaten nothing for two days. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 19

Monday, May 23, 1887

We bade our friends farewell and took the early morning train for Basel. 5LtMs, Ms 31, 1887, par. 20