Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 22 (1907)


Ms 79, 1907

The Temperance Work


August 15, 1907 [typed]

This manuscript is published in entirety in LLM 236-239.

(Extracts from printed testimonies and from unpublished MSS., outlining work done thirty years ago, and in more recent years; also, the work that should be done today.) 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 1

Soon after my husband and I returned from California to Michigan in the spring of 1877, we were earnestly solicited to take part in a temperance mass-meeting, a very praiseworthy effort in progress among the better portion of the citizens of Battle Creek. This movement embraced the Battle Creek Reform Club, six hundred strong, and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, two hundred and sixty strong. God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible were familiar words with these earnest workers. Much good had already been accomplished, and the activity of the workers, the system by which they labored, and the spirit of their meetings promised greater good in time to come. 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 2

It was on the occasion of the visit of Barnum’s great menagerie to this city on the 28th of June, that the ladies of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union struck a telling blow for temperance and reform by organizing an immense temperance restaurant to accommodate the crowds of people who gathered in from the country to visit the menagerie, thus preventing them from visiting the saloons and groggeries, where they would be exposed to temptation. The mammoth tent, capable of holding five thousand people, used by the Michigan Conference for camp-meeting purposes, was tendered for the occasion. Beneath this immense canvas temple were erected fifteen or twenty tables for the accommodation of guests. 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 3

By invitation, the sanitarium set a large table in the center of the great pavilion, bountifully supplied with delicious fruits, grains, and vegetables. This table formed the chief attraction and was more largely patronized than any other. Although it was more than thirty feet long, it became so crowded that it was necessary to set another about two-thirds as long, which was also thronged. 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 4

By invitation of the Committee of Arrangements, Mayor Austin, W. H. Skinner, cashier of the First National Bank, and C. C. Peavey, I spoke in the mammoth tent, Sunday evening, July 1, upon the subject of Christian Temperance. God helped me that evening; and although I spoke ninety minutes, the crowd of fully five thousand persons listened in almost breathless silence.—Testimonies for the Church 4:274, 275. 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 5


On Sunday, June 23, 1878, I spoke in the Methodist Church of Salem, Oregon, on the subject of temperance. The attendance was unusually good, and I had freedom in treating this, my favorite subject. I was requested to speak again in the same place on the Sunday following the camp-meeting, but was prevented by hoarseness. On the next Tuesday evening, however, I again spoke in this church. Many invitations were tendered me to speak on temperance in various cities and towns of Oregon, but the state of my health forbade my complying with these requests.—Testimonies for the Church 4:290, 291. 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 6


Early in August, 1878, we visited Boulder City, Colorado, and beheld with joy our canvas meetinghouse, where Elder Cornell was holding a series of meetings. The tent had been loaned to hold temperance meetings in, and, by special invitation, I spoke to a tent full of attentive hearers. Though wearied by my journey, the Lord helped me to successfully present before the people the necessity of practicing strict temperance in all things.—Testimonies for the Church 4:297. 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 7


Monday morning, June 2, 1879, while in attendance at a camp-meeting held at Nevada, Missouri, we assembled under the tent to attend the organization of a temperance association. There was a fair representation of our people present. Elder Butler spoke and confessed that he had not been as forward in the temperance reform as he should have been. He stated that he had always been strictly a temperance man, discarding the use of liquor, tea, and coffee, but he had not signed the pledge being circulated among our people. But he was now convinced that in not doing so he was hindering others who ought to sign it. He then placed his name under Col. Hunter’s; my husband placed his name beneath Brother Butler’s, I wrote mine next, and Brother Farnsworth’s followed. Thus the work was well started. 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 8

My husband continued to talk while the pledge was circulating. Some hesitated, thinking that the platform was too broad in including tea and coffee; but finally their names were given, pledging themselves to total abstinence. 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 9

Brother Hunter, who was then called upon to speak, responded by giving a very impressive testimony as to how the truth found him and what it had done for him. He stated that he had drank liquor enough to float a ship, and that now he wanted to accept the whole truth, reform and all. He had given up liquor and tobacco, and this morning he had drank his last cup of coffee. He believed the testimonies were of God, and he wished to be led by the will of God expressed in them. 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 10

As the result of the meeting, one hundred and thirty-two names were signed to the teetotal pledge, and a decided victory was gained in behalf of temperance.—The Review and Herald, June 12, 1879 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 11


In our public meetings in Australia, we took special pains to present clearly the fundamental principles of temperance reform. Generally, when I spoke to the people on Sunday, my theme was health and temperance. During some of the camp-meetings, daily instruction was given on this subject. In several places, the interest aroused over our position on the use of stimulants and narcotics led the friends of temperance to attend our meetings and learn more of the various doctrines of our faith. 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 12

During a series of meetings held late in the year 1899, at Maitland, New South Wales, I was requested by the president of the Maitland branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union to speak to them one evening. She said that they would be very glad to hear me, even if I should speak for only ten minutes. I asked her if the ten minutes that she proposed for me to speak was all the time that was allowed, because sometimes the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and I had more than a ten minutes’ talk to give. “Oh,” she said, “your people told me that you did not speak in the evening, and I specified ten minutes as the time, thinking that I would not get you at all if I made it longer. The longer you can speak to us, the more thankful we shall be.” 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 13

I asked Mrs. Winter, the president, if it was her custom to read a portion of Scripture at the opening of the meeting. She said that it was. I then asked for the privilege of praying, which was gladly granted. I spoke with freedom to them for an hour. Some of the women present that night afterward attended the meetings in the tent.—Mss. 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 14


In our work, more attention should be given to the temperance reform. Every duty that calls for reform involves repentance, faith, and obedience. It means the uplifting of the soul to a new and nobler life. Thus every true reform has its place in the work of the third angel’s message. Especially does the temperance reform demand our attention and support. At our camp-meetings, we should call attention to this work and make it a living issue. We should present to the people the principles of true temperance and call for signers to the temperance pledge. Careful attention should be given to those who are enslaved by evil habits. We must lead them to the cross of Christ. 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 15

Our camp-meetings should have the labors of medical men. These should be men of wisdom and sound judgment, men who respect the ministry of the Word and who are not victims of unbelief. These men are the guardians of the health of the people, and they are to be recognized and respected. They should give instruction to the people in regard to the dangers of intemperance. This evil must be more boldly met in the future than it has been in the past. Ministers and doctors should set forth the evils of intemperance. Both should work in the gospel with power to condemn sin and exalt righteousness. Those ministers or doctors who do not make personal appeals to the people are remiss in their duty. They fail of doing the work which God has appointed them. 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 16

In other churches there are Christians who are standing in defense of the principles of temperance. We should seek to come near to these workers and make a way for them to stand shoulder to shoulder with us. We should call upon great and good men to second our efforts to save that which is lost. 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 17

If the work of temperance were carried forward by us as it was begun thirty years ago; if at our camp-meetings we presented before the people the evils of intemperance in eating and drinking, and especially the evil of liquor-drinking; if these things were presented in connection with the evidences of Christ’s soon coming, there would be a shaking among the people. If we showed a zeal in proportion to the importance of the truths we are handling, we might be instrumental in rescuing hundreds, yea thousands, from ruin. 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 18

Only eternity will reveal what has been accomplished by this kind of ministry—how many souls, sick with doubt, and tired of worldliness and unrest, have been brought to the Great Physician, who longs to save to the uttermost all who come unto Him. Christ is a risen Saviour, and there is healing in His wings.—Testimonies for the Church 5:110, 111. 22LtMs, Ms 79, 1907, par. 19