Life Sketches of James White and Ellen G. White 1880

Chapter 9—God's Providences

“We soon visited Michigan again, and I endured riding over log-ways, and through mud-sloughs, and my strength failed not. We felt that the Lord would have us visit Wisconsin, and were to take the cars at Jackson at ten in the evening. About five in the afternoon a young man of very pleasing appearance called at Brother Palmer's and inquired if they wished books bound, and stated that he was going out on the evening train, and would bind them at Marshall, and return them in a few weeks. LS80 307.2

“As we were preparing to take the train we felt very solemn, and proposed a season of prayer. And as we there committed ourselves to God, we could not refrain from weeping. We went to the depot with feelings of deep solemnity. We looked for seats in a forward car, which had high backs, with the hope that we might sleep some that night, but were disappointed. We passed back into the next car, and there found seats. I did not, as usual when traveling in the night, lay off my bonnet, but held my carpet-bag in my hand, as if waiting for something. We both spoke of our singular feelings. LS80 307.3

“The train had run about three miles from Jackson when its motion became very violent, jerking backward and forward, and finally stopping. I opened the window and saw one car raised nearly upon one end. I heard most agonizing groans. There was great confusion. The engine had been thrown from the track. But the car we were in was on the track, and was separated about one hundred feet from those before it. The baggage car was not much injured, and our large trunk of books was safe. The second-class car was crushed, and the pieces, with the passengers, were thrown on both sides of the track. The car in which we tried to get a seat was much broken, and one end was raised upon the heap of ruins. The coupling did not break, but the car we were in was unfastened from the one before it, as if an angel had separated them. LS80 308.1

“We hastily left the car; and my husband took me in his arms, and, wading in the water, carried me across a swampy piece of land to the main road. Four were killed or mortally wounded. One of them was the young book-binder referred to. Many were much injured. We walked one-half mile to a dwelling, where I remained while my husband rode to Jackson with a messenger sent for physicians. I had opportunity to reflect upon the care which God has for those who serve him. What separated the train, leaving our car back upon the track? I have been shown that an angel was sent to preserve us. We reached the home of Brother Smith in Jackson, about two o'clock, thankful to God for his preserving care. LS80 308.2

“We took the afternoon train for Wisconsin. Our visit to that State was blessed of God. Souls were converted as the result of our efforts, yet it was a hard field of labor. The Lord strengthened me to endure the tedious journey. We returned from Wisconsin much worn, desiring rest; but were distressed to meet sister Anna afflicted. She had changed much in our absence. We also found brethren and sisters assembled at our house for Conference. Without rest we were obliged to engage in the meeting. After the labor of the Conference was over, Sister Bonfoey was taken down with fever and ague, and was a great sufferer for several weeks. It was a sickly summer. Deep affliction was in our family, and we felt the necessity of help from God. Many and fervent were our prayers that his blessing might be felt throughout our dwelling. Especially was sister Anna a subject of our earnest prayers; but she did not seem to feel her danger, and unite with us for the recovery of health, until disease had fastened upon her, and she was brought very low. LS80 309.1

“Trials thickened around us. We had much care. The Office hands boarded with us, and our family numbered from fifteen to twenty. The large Conferences and the Sabbath meetings were held at our house. We had no quiet Sabbaths; for some of the sisters usually tarried all day with their children. Our brethren and sisters generally did not consider the inconvenience and additional care and expense brought upon us. As one after another of the Office hands would come home sick, needing extra attention, I was fearful that we should sink beneath the anxiety and care. I often thought that we could endure no more; yet trials increased, and with surprise I found that we were not overwhelmed. We learned the lesson that much more suffering and trial could be borne than we had once thought possible. The watchful eye of the Lord was upon us, to see that we were not destroyed. LS80 309.2

“August 29, 1854, another responsibility was added to our family in the birth of Willie. He took my mind somewhat from the troubles around me. About this time the first number of the paper falsely called the Messenger of Truth was received. Those who slandered us through that paper had been reproved for their faults and wrongs. They would not bear reproof, and in a secret manner at first, afterward more openly, used their influence against us. This we could have borne, but some of those who should have stood by us were influenced by these wicked persons, some of whom were comparative strangers to them; yet they readily sympathized with them, and withdrew their sympathy from us, notwithstanding they had acknowledged that our labors among them had been signally blessed of God. LS80 310.1

“The Lord had shown me the character and final come-out of that party; that his hand was against them, and his frown upon those connected with that paper. And although they might appear to prosper for a time, and some honest ones be deceived, yet truth would eventually triumph, and every honest soul would break away from the deception which had held them, and come out clear from the influence of those wicked men; as God's hand was against them, they must go down. LS80 310.2

“Sister Anna continued to fail. Father and mother White, and her sister, E. Tenny, came from Maine to visit her in her affliction. Anna was calm and cheerful. This interview with her parents and sister she had much desired. She bade her parents and sister farewell, as they left to return to Maine, to meet them no more until the trump of God shall call forth the precious dust to health and immortality. In the last days of her sickness, with her own trembling hands she arranged her things, leaving them in order, and disposed of them according to her mind. She expressed the greatest interest that her parents should embrace the Sabbath, and live near us. ‘If I thought this would ever be,’ said she, ‘I could die perfectly satisfied.’ LS80 310.3

“The last office performed by her emaciated, trembling hand, was to trace a few lines to her parents. And has not God regarded her last wishes and prayers for her parents? In less than two years, father and mother White were keeping the Bible Sabbath, happily situated within less than one hundred feet from our door. We would have kept Anna with us; but we were obliged to close her eyes in death, and habit her for the tomb, and lay her away to rest. Long had she cherished a hope in Jesus, and she looked forward with pleasing anticipation to the morning of the resurrection. We laid her beside dear Nathaniel in Mount Hope Cemetery. LS80 311.1

“After Anna's death, my husband's health became very poor. He was troubled with cough and soreness of lungs, and his nervous system was prostrated. His anxiety of mind, the burdens which he bore in Rochester, his labor in the Office, the sickness and repeated deaths in the family, the lack of sympathy from those who should have shared his labors, together with his traveling and preaching, were too much for his strength, and he seemed to be fast following Nathaniel and Anna to a consumptive's grave. That was a time of gloom and darkness. A few rays of light occasionally parted these heavy clouds, giving us a little hope, or we should have sunk in despair. It seemed at times that God had forsaken us. LS80 311.2

“The ‘Messenger party,’ the most of whom had been reproved for their wrongs, framed all manner of falsehoods concerning us. These words of the Psalmist were often brought forcibly to my mind: ‘Fret not thyself because of evil doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity; for they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.’ Some of the writers of that sheet even triumphed over the feebleness of my husband, saying that God would take care of him, and remove him out of the way. When he read this he felt some as Wickliffe did as he lay sick. Faith revived, and my husband exclaimed, ‘I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord, and may yet preach at their funeral.’ LS80 312.1

“The darkest clouds seemed to shut down over us. Wicked men, professing godliness, under the command of Satan were hurried on to forge falsehoods, and to bring the strength of their forces against us. If the cause of God had been ours alone, we might have trembled; but it was in the hands of Him who could say, No one is able to pluck it out of my hands. Jesus lives and reigns. We could say before the Lord, The cause is thine, and thou knowest that it has not been our own choice, but by thy command we have acted the part we have in it. LS80 312.2

“My husband became so feeble that he resolved to free himself from the responsibilities of publishing, which had been urged upon him. He was editor and proprietor of the Review and Herald, until it reached Vol. vii., No. 9. No one ever asked him to give the Review, Instructor, and the publication of books, into other hands, or leave the position of editor. No one suggested anything of the kind to him. It was his choice that he might be relieved, and that the Office might be established beyond the influence of those men who had cried, Speculation! He never claimed the property at the Office which had been donated to be used for the benefit of the cause. He called upon the church to take the Office at Rochester, and establish it where they pleased, and suggested that it be managed by a publishing committee, and that no one connected with the Office should have a personal interest in it. LS80 312.3

“As no others claimed the privilege, the brethren in Michigan opened the way for the Office to be removed to Battle Creek. At that time my husband was owing between two and three thousand dollars, and all he had besides the books on hand was accounts for books, and some of them doubtful. The cause had apparently come to a halt, and orders for publications were very few and small, and he feared that he would die in debt. Brethren in Michigan assisted us in obtaining a lot and building a house. The deed was made in my name, so that I could dispose of it at pleasure after the death of my husband. LS80 313.1

“Those were days of sadness. I looked upon my three little boys, soon, as I feared, to be left fatherless, and thoughts like these forced themselves upon me: My husband dies a martyr to the cause of present truth; and who realizes what he has suffered, the burdens he has for years borne, the extreme care which has crushed his spirits, and ruined his health, bringing him to an untimely grave, leaving his family destitute and dependent? Some who should have stood by him in this trying time, and with words of encouragement and sympathy helped him to bear the burdens, were like Job's comforters, who were ready to accuse and press the weight upon him still heavier. I have often asked the question, Does God have no care for these things? Does he pass them by unnoticed? I was comforted to know that there is One who judgeth righteously, and that every sacrifice, every self-denial, and every pang of anguish endured for his sake, is faithfully chronicled in Heaven, and will bring its reward. The day of the Lord will declare and bring to light things that are not yet made manifest. LS80 313.2

“About this time I was shown that my husband must not labor in preaching, or with his hands; that a little over-exercise then would place him in a hopeless condition. At this he wept and groaned. Said he, ‘Must I then become a church pauper?’ Again I was shown that God designed to raise him up gradually; that we must exercise strong faith, for in every effort we should be fiercely buffeted by Satan; that we must look away from outward appearance, and believe. Three times a day we went alone before God, and engaged in earnest prayer for the recovery of his health. This was the whole burden of our petitions, and frequently one of us would be prostrated by the power of God. The Lord graciously heard our earnest cries, and my husband began to recover. For many months our prayers ascended to heaven three times a day for health to do the will of God. These seasons of prayer were very precious. We were brought into a sacred nearness to God, and had sweet communion with him. I cannot better state my feelings at this time than they are expressed in the following extracts from a letter I wrote to Sister Howland:— LS80 314.1

“‘I feel thankful that I can now have my children with me, under my own watchcare, and can better train them in the right way. For weeks I have felt a hungering and thirsting for salvation, and we have enjoyed almost uninterrupted communion with God. Why do we stay away from the fountain, when we can come and drink? Why do we die for bread, when there is a storehouse full? It is rich and free. O my soul, feast upon it, and daily drink in heavenly joys. I will not hold my peace. The praise of God is in my heart, and upon my lips. We can rejoice in the fullness of our Saviour's love. We can feast upon his excellent glory. My soul testifies to this. My gloom has been dispersed by this precious light, and I can never forget it. Lord, help me to keep it in lively remembrance. Awake, all the energies of my soul! Awake, and adore thy Redeemer for his wondrous love. LS80 315.1

“‘Souls around us must be aroused and saved, or they perish. Not a moment have we to lose. We all have an influence that tells for the truth, or against it. I desire to carry with me unmistakable evidences that I am one of Christ's disciples. We want something besides Sabbath religion. We need the living principle, and to daily feel individual responsibility. This is shunned by many, and the fruit is carelessness, indifference, a lack of watchfulness and spirituality. Where is the spirituality of the church? Where are men and women full of faith and the Holy Spirit? My prayer is, Purify thy church, O God. For months I have enjoyed freedom, and I am determined to order my conversation, and all my ways, aright before the Lord. LS80 315.2

“‘Our enemies may triumph. They may speak bitter words, and their tongue frame slander, deceit, and falsehood, yet will we not be moved. We know in whom we have believed. We have not run in vain, neither labored in vain. A reckoning day is coming, when all will be judged according to the deeds done in the body. It is true the world is dark. Opposition may wax strong. The trifler and scorner may grow bold in his iniquity. Yet for all this we will not be moved, but lean upon the arm of the Mighty One for strength. LS80 315.3

“‘God is sifting his people. He will have a clean and holy church. We cannot read the heart of man. But the Lord has provided means to keep the church pure. A corrupt people has arisen who could not live with the people of God. They despised reproof, and would not be corrected. They had an opportunity to know that their warfare was an unrighteous one. They had time to repent of their wrongs; but self was too dear to die. They nourished it, and it grew strong, and they separated from the trusting people of God, that he was purifying unto himself. We all have reason to thank God that a way has been opened to save the church; for the wrath of God must have come upon us, if these corrupt individuals had remained with us. LS80 316.1

“‘Every honest one that may be deceived by these disaffected ones, will have the true light in regard to them, if every angel from Heaven has to visit them, and enlighten their minds. We have nothing to fear in this matter. As we near the Judgment all will manifest their true character, and it will be made plain to what company they belong. The sieve is moving. Let us not say, Stay thy hand, O God. The church must be purged, and will be. God reigns; let the people praise him. I have not the most distant thought of sinking down. I mean to be right and do right. The Judgment is to set and the books be opened, and we are to be judged according to our deeds. All the falsehoods that may be framed against me will not make me any worse, nor any better, unless they have a tendency to drive me nearer my Redeemer.’ LS80 316.2

“About this time I wrote as follows, which appeared in the Review for January 10, 1856: ‘We have felt the power and blessing of God for a few weeks past. He has been very merciful. He has wrought in a wonderful manner for my husband. We have brought him to our great Physician in the arms of our faith, and like blind Bartimaeus have cried, ‘Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on us;’ and we have been comforted. The healing power of God has been felt. All medicine has been laid aside, and we rely alone upon the arm of our great Physician. We are not yet satisfied. Our faith says, Entire restoration. We have seen the salvation of God, yet we expect to see and feel more. I believe without a doubt that my husband will yet be able to sound the last notes of warning to the world. For weeks past our peace has been like a river. Our souls triumph in God. Gratitude, unspeakable gratitude, fills my soul for the tokens of God's love which we have of late felt and seen. We feel like dedicating ourselves anew to God.’ LS80 317.1

“From the time we moved to Battle Creek, the Lord began to turn our captivity. We found sympathizing friends in Michigan who were ready to share our burdens and supply our wants. Old, tried friends in Central New York, and New England, especially in Vermont, sympathized with us in our afflictions, and liberally assisted us in time of distress. At the Conference at Battle Creek in November, 1856, God wrought for us. The minds of the servants of God were exercised as to the gifts of the church. If God's frown had been brought upon his people because the gifts had been slighted and neglected, there was a pleasing prospect that his smiles would again be upon us, and he would graciously revive the gifts, and they would live in the church to encourage the fainting soul, and to correct and reprove the erring. New life was given to the cause, and success attended the labors of our preachers. LS80 317.2

“The publications were called for, and proved to be just what the cause demanded; so that by turning them out to the Committee at a discount, my husband was enabled to pay all his debts. His cough ceased, and the pain and soreness left his lungs and throat, and he was gradually restored to health, so as to preach three times on the Sabbath and three times on first-day with ease. This wonderful work in his restoration is of God, and he shall have all the glory. LS80 318.1

“The paper called the Messenger of Truth soon went down, and the discordant spirits who spoke through it are now scattered to the four winds. We leave them, with the falsehoods they have framed. They will have to render an account to God. All their sins are faithfully registered in Heaven, and they will be judged according to their deeds. LS80 318.2

“The publication of the Review, Instructor, and books, was commenced under most discouraging circumstances. The friends and supporters of the cause were then very few, and generally poor; and it was by extreme labor and economy that the truth was published. For several years we suffered more or less for want of suitable food and clothing, and deprived ourselves of needed sleep, laboring from fourteen to sixteen hours out of the twenty-four, for want of means and help to push forward the work. LS80 318.3

“Again, the present truth was not then as clear as now. It has been opening gradually. It required much study and anxious care to bring it out link after link. By care and incessant labor and anxiety has the work moved on, until the great truths of our message are clear. And now, as there are many writers, it is a light task to conduct the Review compared with what it was at first. In the struggle to bring up the Review and Instructor where the number of paying subscribers would be sufficient to meet the expenses, and in the publication of numerous tracts, pamphlets, and books, my husband nearly lost his life. He then gave all away into the hands of the Publishing Committee as the property of the church, like a man who commences in poverty to make a farm, and when he has spent the strength of manhood in improving it, gives it to others. LS80 319.1

“I do not make these statements with one murmuring feeling. It is a pleasure to me in this work to state the facts in the case. We have acted from choice, for the good of the cause. Its prosperity and the confidence of its true friends are worth a thousand times more to us than the good things of this life. We are raised above want; and this is sufficient for all true believers in the third message. For this we feel grateful to God. I would here express our gratitude to our friends who lent my husband money without interest to publish with. This enabled him to purchase stock at the lowest rates, publish large editions of our books, and manage his business to advantage. Had it not been for this, the Office must have gone down, unless sustained in some other way. LS80 319.2

“Our numerous personal friends have been liberal. Many to whom I sent the several numbers of the Testimonies, sent to me in return, some tenfold, and some more. Some who have never helped us have appeared to feel very much annoyed to see us raised above want and dependence. But if the Lord has put it into the hearts of our personal friends to raise us above want, that our testimony may not be crippled by the galling sense of dependence, I do not see how these persons can help it. LS80 319.3

“In December, 1855, I fell and sprained my ankle, which confined me to crutches six weeks. The confinement was an injury to my lungs. I attended meeting in my afflicted state, and tried to labor for the good of some souls who seemed to manifest interest to become Christians. At the close of one of these meetings I felt very weary; but a request came for us to visit a family, and pray for some of their children who had been afflicted. My judgment told me that I had not strength to go farther. But I finally consented to go. While praying, something seemed to tear on my left lung. After I returned home, I could not breathe without pain. My lung seemed to be filling. LS80 320.1

Our family bowed before the Lord, and earnestly prayed that I might be relieved. I found relief, but discharged blood from my lung. I have not been entirely free from pain in the left lung since that time. After this, I suffered with a dull, heavy pain in my head, which increased for three weeks, when it became intense. I tried every means in my power to remove it; but the pain overcame me. It was inflammation of the brain. I entreated those around me not to let me sleep, fearing I should never wake to consciousness. I did not expect to live, and wished to spend my moments, while reason lasted, in talking with my husband and children, and giving them up into the hands of God. At times my mind wandered, and then again I realized my critical situation. My husband called for a few who had faith to pray for me. The Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and my grateful thanks ascended to our great Physician who had mercifully relieved me. LS80 320.2

“A Conference was held at Battle Creek in May, 1856. While we were very busy preparing for the meeting, I was startled by a scream of distress. My little Willie, than about twenty months old, was brought to me by Sister Fraser apparently lifeless. While playing around a tub of dirty suds, he had fallen into it, and had not one of his little feet appeared above the dark surface, he would not have been discovered in season to save him. His arms and face were purple, and he was entirely breathless. We cut off his wet clothes, and rolled him on the grass, when he manifested a faint sign of life. We took him before a fire, and by heating flannels produced some heat in his body. He breathed with difficulty. I kissed him, and he opened his eyes languidly, and tried to return the token of affection with his pale, cold lips. LS80 321.1

“The Lord spared our dear babe to us, when to all appearance he was already in death's embrace. Oh, how grateful we felt to God for his mercy to us! I felt very solemn as I heard in the still evening the cry, “Child lost!” and then the description of some mother's little one whose fate was in uncertainty. I clasped my little Willie to my heart, which throbbed with love and gratitude to the Lord who had spared our dear boy. LS80 321.2

“But we were yet to pass through another severe trial. At the Conference a very solemn vision was given me. I saw that some of those present would be food for worms, some subjects for the seven last plagues, and some would be translated to Heaven at the second coming of Christ, without seeing death. Sister Bonfoey remarked to a sister as we left the meeting-house, ‘I feel impressed that I am one who will soon be food for worms.’ The Conference closed Monday. Thursday, Sister B. sat at the table with us apparently well. She then went to the Office as usual, to assist in mailing the Review. In about two hours she sent for me. She had been suddenly taken very ill. My health had been very poor, yet I hastened to suffering Clara. In a few hours she seemed some better. LS80 321.3

“The next morning we had her brought home in a large chair, and she was laid upon her own bed, from which she was never to rise. Her symptoms became alarming, and we had fears that a tumor, which had troubled her for nearly ten years, had broken inwardly. It was so, and mortification was doing its work. Friday evening, about seven o'clock she fell asleep. She had her senses until her eyes closed in death. She stated that her pilgrimage was ended, and that she had no fears of death. We united in prayer, and she responded. She kissed us, and bade us an affectionate farewell. She seemed very solicitous for my health, and was grieved if I manifested distress. We were unprepared for her death. To lose her was a living loss. Eight years she had shared our joys and trials, and she had never proved untrue. We have missed her cheerful society, and her sisterly affection, and her care in our family. We laid her in Oak Hill Cemetery to rest until the sleeping saints awake to immortality. LS80 322.1

“Immediately after the funeral my health failed rapidly. I had a severe cough, and raised some blood. I thought that I, too, should soon rest in the grave. There was to be a tent-meeting at Monterey, and we were invited to attend. My children were my greatest anxiety. How could I leave them? They had been deprived of our care so much that they needed attention from one who could feel an interest for them. I left them, with a mother's keenest feelings, and thought, as I parted with them, that I might not be permitted to return to them alive. I was assured by one of the sisters that my children need not trouble my mind, that she would have especial care for them. I rode in much suffering to Monterey, Mich., coughing almost incessantly. LS80 322.2

“Sabbath morning we retired to a grove to have a season of prayer. We were soon to go to the tent, and I was so weak that it was impossible for me to sit up long at a time. We felt like pleading with the Lord for his sustaining grace. We there committed my case to Him who while on earth was ever touched with human woe, and claimed the promises for strength and grace. The Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and with a firm trust in the promises of God, we went to the meeting. I bore my testimony during that meeting five times, and continued to grow stronger. My cough did not leave me at once, yet I knew the Lord Had given me strength as I needed it; for nothing but his power could have carried me through that meeting. LS80 323.1

“When I returned home, I found that my children had been neglected by those who had assured me that they should have their care. I felt grieved. My greatest anxiety had been for my children, to bring them up free from evil habits. Our work had been to travel, and then write and publish. Henry had been from us five years, and Edson had received but little of our care. For years at Rochester, our family was very large, and our home like a hotel, and we from that home much of the time. I often felt grieved as I thought of others who would not take burdens and cares, who could ever be with their children, to counsel and instruct them, and to spend their time almost exclusively in their own families. And I have inquired, Does God require so much of us, and leave others without burdens? Is this equality? Are we to be thus hurried on from one care to another, one part of the work to another, and have but little time to bring up our children? Many nights, while others have been sleeping, have been spent by me in bitter weeping. LS80 323.2

“I would plan and frame some course more favorable for my children, then objections would arise which would sweep away these calculations. I was keenly sensitive to faults in my children, and every wrong they committed brought on me such heartache as to affect my health. I have wished that some mothers could be circumstanced for a short time as I have been for years; then they would prize the blessings they enjoy, and could better sympathize with me in my privations. We have prayed and labored for our children, and have restrained them. We have not neglected the rod, but before using it have first labored to have them see their faults, and then have prayed with them. We have our children understand that we should merit the displeasure of God, if we excused them in sin. And our efforts have been blessed to the good of our children. Their greatest pleasure is to please us. They are not free from faults, but we believe that they will yet be numbered with the lambs of Christ's fold.” LS80 324.1