Ellen G. White: The Lonely Years: 1876-1891 (vol. 3)


Chapter 12—(1880) The Changing of the Guard

While at the Magog camp meeting in Quebec, James White wrote an item for the Review: 3BIO 144.1

It was just fifteen years ago this morning, August 15, 1880, when enjoying our usual morning walk with Mrs. White, that in the act of opening a green ear of corn with the right hand, a stroke of paralysis crippled the hand that now traces these lines, and touched the brain to that degree that we could speak only the word, “Pray.” Friends bowed around us in earnest prayer, and immediately the arm was restored to its natural feeling, and the hand and fingers could be moved clumsily. 3BIO 144.2

Each year, during the past fifteen, by the blessing of God, the hand that writes these words has become more natural. This wonderful restoration from paralysis, which came upon us in consequence of excessive labor and care in the cause of truth, has been the work of God in answer to the prayer of His people. 3BIO 144.3

The past fifteen years of our life have been marked with labor, care, and periods of illness and despondency. But God has been gracious. When we have fallen under affliction, His hand has lifted us up. When we have erred in our efforts to advance the cause of truth, the Lord has corrected in love and has reached down His arm to point the way and to sustain. God is good. Christ is worthy of all praise. We are unworthy of the care, love, and mercy of the Lord during the past fifteen years, which enables us to say, to the praise of God, August 15, 1880, we are free from pain and feebleness, and have been able to do as much work during the last, as any year of our life. 3BIO 144.4

And yet we feel a want of that spiritual life and power which the work of the times demands. We hunger and thirst for righteousness, and claim the promise “Ye shall be filled.” Here we consecrate all to the cause of God. Will He accept the poor remnant of life? and permit us to finish our course with joy? Eternity will be none too long to give expression of gratitude for the privilege of laboring on in the work we entered upon in youth.—Aug. 26, 1880 3BIO 145.1

Although he knew it not, James was just entering the last year of his life. He was within a few days of turning 59; Ellen was 52. 3BIO 145.2

It was a time of mellowing for James White, but not always on an even plane. He sensed that he must lay off the burdens of leadership. His sometimes erratic movements and statements, and the light given to Ellen White in vision, as well as her own judgment, indicated clearly that the time had come. And James White tried. He had written to his wife a few weeks earlier: 3BIO 145.3

I shall ...do all I can to please God, please and relieve you, and serve the cause of God. I do not reject your appeals. I am confused. I shall wait, and pray till these matters become clear in my mind. 3BIO 145.4

The next day, July 15, he wrote to Willie: 3BIO 145.5

Where I have erred, help me to be right. I see my mistakes and am trying to rally. I need the help of yourself, Mother, and Haskell.

The experience of attending the eastern camp meetings, in which both James and Ellen White had enjoyed good health, a hearty reception on the part of the people, and God's rich blessing in their ministry, had been exhilarating. At these meetings James White usually spoke Sabbath morning and Ellen White in the afternoon. She often closed her meeting with an altar call; this was followed by a social meeting in which the members bore their testimonies. James White usually spoke Sunday morning on some identifying doctrines of the church. On Sunday afternoon Ellen would usually present a powerful temperance address to audiences of from one thousand to four or five thousand, for people flocked to the Adventist campgrounds on Sundays. 3BIO 145.6

The reports appearing in the Review and the Signs frequently mentioned the part Ellen White took in the Sabbath school hour, speaking for fifteen or twenty minutes in a telling presentation of the mission of the Sabbath school, for Sabbath schools were just getting under way. They were well organized and enjoyed general acceptance. 3BIO 146.1

Several times in her letters Ellen White referred to a special burden she and she alone carried through some of these meetings, something from which she could seldom escape: 3BIO 146.2

I have had many individual testimonies to write which has been quite a heavy burden on me in addition to my labors in talking the truth.—Letter 41, 1880. 3BIO 146.3

She made reference to this work in a letter to Willie and Mary in California, reporting on the Vermont meeting: 3BIO 146.4

Friday night I bore my testimony with great power. It seemed to cut everything before it that night. Brother Stone was nearly all night in prayer in the grove, and Sabbath morning he made a most humble confession. I assure you there was a break in the camp.... We indeed had the best meeting we ever had in Vermont. 3BIO 146.5

I had some very bad, bad jobs to perform. I took Brother Bean and wife and talked to them very plain. They did not rise up against it. I cried myself, could not help it.—Letter 42, 1880. 3BIO 146.6

But she could report, “Every camp meeting has been good. Father has labored well and has been very pleasant. I am satisfied it was my duty to come east. We have attended six camp meetings.”—Letter 41, 1880. When she wrote this several meetings were yet ahead; the season would close with the national camp meeting in Michigan, accompanied by the General Conference session. Nearly all published accounts of the camp meetings reported that each had the largest attendance ever. 3BIO 146.7