Life Sketches of James White and Ellen G. White 1888

Death of Henry N. White

Sister Adelia P. Patten, who had been a faithful and devoted member of the family for about two years, wrote a brief sketch of the life, experience, and last sickness of this much-loved and much-lamented son, from which the following is taken:— LS88 342.1

“Henry Nichols White was born in Gorham, Maine, August 26, 1847. In October following, his parents removed to topsham, in the same state, and occupied part of the house owned by their much-esteemed friend and brother in Christ, stock-bridge howland. LS88 342.2

“In December of the same year, Henry was taken sick with inflammation of the lungs, and all who saw him thought his recovery doubtful. One evening he appeared to be fast failing, and it seemed that he must die. It was then, when all earthly means failed, that his parents presented his case before the great physician, trusting in his power and willingness to save their beloved child. They spent much of the night in prayer, and while pleading with god to spare his life, he fell into a sweet sleep, and from that hour began to recover. LS88 342.3

“His parents felt it to be their duty to give themselves unreservedly to labor in the cause of god; and when henry was but one year old, they decided to leave him in the care of brother Howland's eldest daughter, Frances, who cheerfully accepted the charge. He remained with this kind family, and they had the entire care of him, for five years. As he grew older, his sweet disposition and the affection he had ever manifested for his friends endeared him to all who knew him. LS88 342.4

“When six years old, he had an attack of fever; and when he had partially recovered from it, his parents, who then resided in rochester, New York, thought that a change of climate might benefit his health, and took him under their own care. Henry always manifested a cheerful obedience to his mother's wishes, and a tender regard for her feelings. His prospects in life were fair; he was aspiring, and seemed determined to excel in scholarship. So far as the parents saw that his mind was governed by religious principles, they were willing to indulge him in his persevering efforts in study. He possessed an uncommon love for music, and during the last few years of his life he applied himself very closely to its study and practice. He loved the society of the educated and refined, and in return shared their highest regards for his intelligence and manliness. LS88 343.1

“During the winter of 1862-3, the church at Battle Creek enjoyed a season of revival, and thirteen youthful members were added to their number. Henry and his brother, James Edson, were among the little believing company who followed their Lord in baptism. LS88 343.2

“In the summer of 1863, the parents made arrangements for a journey to New England. For the benefit of the children, who had attended three terms of school in succession, and especially for the improvement of the health of the two youngest, it was decided that they should accompany their parents. Accordingly they all left home, August 19. The principal object for which Elder White went east at this time was the publication of the charts of the ten commandments and the prophecies. LS88 343.3

“From New York they proceeded to boston, where the work was executed. From boston the family went to topsham, maine. Here, at his old home, Henry was affectionately and joyfully Welcomed by those who had formerly cared for him. LS88 343.4

“After a short visit, the parents left their three sons at topsham while they went to hold meetings in New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. LS88 344.1

“The special blessing of the lord attended them on this mission. But while in brookfield, New York, Elder White received impressions from a dream which led him to feel that all was not well with the children, and that they must return to maine without delay. Each day they anxiously awaited the arrival of the mail, but the news from topsham reported ‘all well.’ However, this did not satisfy their minds, and in accordance with their convictions of duty, when they had filled their appointments, they immediately returned to their children. LS88 344.2

“The day before they reached Topsham, Henry came in from his work in the afternoon, and threw himself upon the sofa, saying that he never had felt such a gloom resting upon his mind in all his life. He said that it was not anything he had done which caused such feelings, but it seemed to him that something dreadful was about to happen. When the parents arrived, the next day, they found their three sons waiting for them at the depot. When the cars stopped, Henry bounded through the crowd with more than usual activity, and embraced his mother most affectionately, while in her heart she thanked god for such a son. They went directly to brother Howland's house, and when the salutations were over, Henry played and sang one of his favorite pieces, ‘Home Again,’ so appropriate for the occasion. LS88 344.3

“In four days from this time, which was December 1st, he was taken sick with lung fever, and rapidly failed. From his room in the chamber he was carried into one of the lower rooms—the very one where, sixteen years before, when but an infant, he was apparently brought to the point of death. LS88 344.4

“On the morning of the 2d, his mother said to him that life was uncertain, and that persons violently attacked as he had been were frequently deprived of their reason, and if he had anything to say, he had better improve the present opportunity. He said that he felt unprepared to die, and requested his parents to pray for him. After they had prayed for him, he called his brothers to him, embraced them, and told them he had not always treated them as a brother should have done, and wept as he asked their forgiveness. LS88 345.1

“In the evening he requested that all the family should have a praying season in his room. This was a most solemn and affecting time. He feared that on account of his unfaithfulness as a professed Christian, God would not look upon him with approbation. He was pointed to the sinner's friend, and was told that Christ came to save just such sinners as he was; that if any man sin, we have an advocate with the father, and that he must rely wholly upon the merits of Christ. Then he said, ‘O Lord, forgive my sins, and accept me as thine.’ With deep feeling he repeated these lines several times,— LS88 345.2

‘Here, Lord, I give myself away,
‘Tis all that I can do.’

“He entreated the forgiveness of god that he had not formed a better Christian character, and set a better example before the world. He then expressed a desire to recover, that he might show his gratitude to his faithful parents, and live a Christian life. He said that his great failure had been in the neglect of secret prayer; and he thought that if his life could be spared, he might be a blessing to the young. While thus engaged in conversation and prayer, the spirit of the lord rested upon him and upon all in the room, and he felt that his confessions were accepted of God, and he praised the Lord for his goodness. LS88 345.3

“On the morning of the 3d, his friends were alarmed by the discharge of blood from his nose and mouth. From this time forward he expressed but little desire to get well. He said to his mother, as she was attending him, ‘promise me, mother, that if I die, I may be taken to Battle Creek, and laid by the side of my little brother, John Herbert, that we may come up together in the morning of the resurrection.’ He was assured that his wishes should be gratified. He also told his mother that he had sometimes felt that too much restraint had been placed upon him. ‘But,’ he added, ‘you have not been any too strict. I now realize that I was in danger, and am glad you said as much as you did. I wish I had heeded your advice more faithfully.’ LS88 346.1

“On the 4th, he carefully reviewed the events of his life, mourning over his imperfections, still pleading with god for pardon and acceptance. From this time he seemed to enjoy peace of mind and the blessing of god. He often requested his parents to pray for him, not that he might get well, but that he might feel his acceptance with god every moment. He grew weaker, and could not speak above a whisper. LS88 346.2

“On the 5th, burdened with grief, his father retired to a place of prayer, and afterward returned to the sick-room feeling the assurance that god would do all things well, and thus expressed himself to his suffering son. At this his countenance seemed to light up with a heavenly smile, and he nodded his assent and whispered, ‘yes, he will.’ He suffered much through the night, but seemed to bear all with patience. LS88 346.3

“On the morning of the 6th, he said that he had enjoyed more of the blessing of god during the past two days than ever before in all his life. He realized that many were the dangers of the young, and seemed to have no desire to live. As he expected to die, he said that though for some time he would lie unconscious in the grave, yet it would seem to him but a moment, and would be the same to him as though he went to heaven immediately. He felt that he could not live long, and wished to leave a few sentiments for the young, which he dictated as follows:— LS88 347.1

“‘I consider it a privilege before I sleep to say a few words to my young friends. My age is sixteen years. I was baptized, and united with the church last winter. I mourn over my unfaithfulness and lack of devotion in the good cause. I believe that god has laid the hand of affliction upon me to save me, and if I go down to the grave now, I have a good hope of coming up with the saints in the first resurrection. I would appeal to all my young friends, not to let the pleasures or accomplishments of the world eclipse the loveliness of the saviour. Remember that the death-bed is a poor place to prepare for an inheritance in the second life. Spend the best of your days in serving the lord. Farewell.’ LS88 347.2

“After this he wished to say especially to his young friends in Battle Creek: ‘Don't take my life for an example; give up the world and be Christians.’ In the evening, as one of his sinking spells was coming on, all thought that in a few minutes his heaving bosom would be at rest. He bade each one an affectionate farewell, as they listened to catch each whisper. LS88 347.3

“He inquired for his brothers, and as they came to his side he said, ‘Eddie, I shall not be a brother to you any more; never give up trying to do right; a death-bed is a poor place for repentance.’ To his younger brother he said, ‘willie, be a good boy; obey your parents, and meet me in heaven. Don't mourn after I am dead.’ While in calmness and composure of mind he was taking his farewell, his father said, ‘God can make a sick-room one of the happiest places on earth;’ and the cheerful sufferer replied, ‘yes, I know that from experience.’ LS88 347.4

“He felt anxious lest some one might be away weeping, and inquired for his mother, saying, ‘o my dear mother, may God comfort her.’ After this he inquired if the physician was coming soon, and said there was not much need of a physician then. His mother asked him if he suffered pain, and he replied that he did not. He called his father, and said, ‘father, you are losing your son. You will miss me, but don't mourn. It is better for me. I shall escape being drafted, and shall not witness the seven last plagues. To die so happy is a privilege.’ He said that music had been his greatest earthly pleasure, and asked edson to play ‘mount vernon’ for him on the melodeon. Edson went into the parlor and complied with his request, and on his return henry said, ‘music in heaven will be sweeter than that.’ LS88 348.1

“On the morning of the 7th, he expressed a wish to die, fearing that if he lived he would not be able to escape the many dangers to which the young are exposed. His father told him he must be submissive to the will of god; that it would be blessed to live to do good in his service, and blessed to die in the Lord. To this he submissively assented. During the day and the night following, his sufferings were great. For about ten minutes his mind seemed to be wandering. His father sat near him and supported him in his arms, praying for him, and trying to soothe and comfort him, and he was soon restored to his former clear and peaceful state of mind. He seemed most happy thus supported in his father's arms, seeming unwilling for his father to leave him for a moment. LS88 348.2

“December 8th, a short time before his death, he said to his mother, ‘mother, I shall meet you in heaven in the morning of the resurrection, for I know you will be there.’ He then beckoned to his brothers, parents, and friends, and gave them all a parting kiss, after which he pointed upward and whispered, ‘heaven is sweet.’ These were his last words. And when he could not whisper he expressed the power of that grace which sustained him in a dying hour, by waving his hand upward, while a heavenly smile beamed upon his countenance. His breath grew shorter, and, without a struggle, he sank in death at half-past one o'clock, p. m. LS88 349.1

“His sufferings were over. At an early hour his work on earth had ended. It was indeed a trying day for the afflicted family, yet they were sustained by the thought that their dear son and brother was enabled to calmly resign himself into the hands of his heavenly father; that the presence of the saviour cheered him as he entered the dark valley, and that henceforth there was laid up for him a crown of righteousness. LS88 349.2

“In compliance with his request, Henry was brought to Battle Creek in a metallic burial casket, and, agreeably to the wishes of many friends, appropriate funeral services were held, and a large congregation was addressed by Elder U. Smith. One interesting feature of the occasion was the order in which the students of the public school, accompanied by the teachers, came to pay their last token of regard for one of their number whom they loved. As the speaker proceeded with his remarks, many in the congregation were moved to tears. One in the bright morning of youth, whose course of life had won their highest regard, had closed his eyes in death, cheered by those sacred hopes and promises whose attractive light ever takes from the joys of earth their delusive brightness. The exercises were closed with singing, by the school,— LS88 349.3

‘One sweet flower has drooped and faded,
One sweet youthful voice has fled,
One fair brow the grave has shaded,
One dear schoolmate now is dead.’

“After the last look had been taken, a large procession of sympathizing friends followed the remains to oak hill cemetery, where the lifeless form of noble henry was laid by the side of his little brother, there to rest till the lifegiver returns to bring them from the land of the enemy.” LS88 350.1