Ellen G. White: The Early Years: 1827-1862 (vol. 1)


Letters to the Wife of a Minister

During the late 1850s and early 1860s John and Mary Loughborough were very close to James and Ellen White, both in labor and in personal fellowship. Several testimonies were directed to Mary and John, and in each case they were thoughtfully and gratefully received. Each of the families had lost a child at the turn of the decade. These were buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery. The two mothers were close in spirit. Sometime in the spring of 1861 Mary had asked Ellen White about the incoming hoop skirts. As she wrote to her on June 6, 1861, Ellen White answered this question and touched on some other points of importance to the wife of a minister: 1BIO 468.3

Mary, I have been thinking long and patiently upon what you said to me in regard to your wearing hoops. I am prepared to answer: Do not put on hoops by any means. I believe that God will have His people distinct from the nations around them. They are peculiar, and should we strive to abolish or put away every sign that marks us as peculiar? No, no; let us preserve the signs which distinguish us in dress, as well as articles of faith. 1BIO 468.4

By putting on hoops, however small, you give not only countenance but a powerful influence to this ridiculous fashion, and you place yourself where you could not reprove those who may choose to wear the larger hoops. Stand clear from this disgusting fashion. My mouth is open. I shall speak plain upon hoops in the next Review [June 25, 1861]. 1BIO 468.5

Then Ellen White touched on a matter on which Mary like some others, was growing careless: 1BIO 468.6

Dear Mary, let your influence tell for God. You must take a position to exert an influence over others to bring them up in spirituality. You must guard against following the influence of those around you. If others are light and trifling, be grave yourself. 1BIO 468.7

And Mary, suffer me a little upon this point. I wish in all sisterly and motherly kindness to kindly warn you upon another point: I have often noticed before others a manner you have in speaking to John in rather a dictating manner, the tone of your voice sounding impatient. Mary, others notice this and have spoken of it to me. It hurts your influence. 1BIO 469.1

We women must remember that God has placed us subject to the husband. He is the head, and our judgment and views and reasonings must agree with his if possible. If not, the preference in God's Word is given to the husband where it is not a matter of conscience. We must yield to the head. 1BIO 469.2

I have said more perhaps upon this point than necessary. Please watch this point. I am not reproving you, remember, but merely cautioning you. Never talk to John as though he were a little boy. You reverence him, and others will take an elevated position, Mary, and you will elevate others. 1BIO 469.3

Seek to be spiritually minded. We are doing work for eternity. Mary, be an example. We love you as one of our children, and I wish so much that you and John may prosper. Be of good courage. Trust in the Lord at all times. He will be your stronghold and your deliverer.... Please write me, Mary, fully. Tell me all your joys, trials, disappointments, et cetera. In much love, Ellen G. White.—Letter 5, 1861. 1BIO 469.4

Eleven days later Ellen White acknowledged Mary's response to hers of June 6, quoted above. She answered a question about quilted skirts, and told Mary she would find her answer in the next issue of the Review and told her to write again if this did not convince her or settle her mind. She wrote more of the importance of setting a right example, and made a suggestion: 1BIO 469.5

Mary, dear sister, let us covenant together to earnestly seek the Lord and learn wisdom of Him. Oh, for vital godliness! We must be examples to others around us, and never let us be a cause of stumbling. I am very desirous that you should continue to enjoy the free Spirit of God. Do not be content without it. It is your privilege to have it. Let us have strong confidence in God. Come to Him with living faith and let us rely wholly upon God. 1BIO 469.6

Dear Mary, I went up to Oak Hill Cemetery and fixed our babes’ graves and also Clara's. Fixed ours exactly alike. Put some pansies on the graves, and some myrtle, and at the foot of the stake put a bunch of tall moss. It looked very pretty. We shall go up again soon and see if the flowers are doing well.... 1BIO 470.1

Mary, fear not to speak to me freely and fully your feelings. Others have no business with what we write. Let us be faithful to each other. Your letter cheered and encouraged me. Love to yourself and John.—Letter 6, 1861. 1BIO 470.2