Ellen G. White: The Progressive Years: 1862-1876 (vol. 2)


The Cold Turned to Pneumonia

As the cold turned to pneumonia, a kindly, experienced physician was summoned, and Henry was treated in the conventional manner, which called for the employment of poisonous drugs. The attending physician was ignorant of hydrotherapy, which was just then being pioneered by a very few practitioners. Early in the year, following Dr. James Jackson's guidance, two of the boys had been nursed back to health from diphtheria by an appropriate use of water, fresh air, and rest. But this disease now confronting them was pneumonia. In the health reform vision, Ellen White had been instructed that the rational use of water would be beneficial in the treatment of disease, but as yet she and her husband were not prepared to use hydrotherapy as a means of treating other illnesses. 2BIO 70.5

Henry failed rapidly. The earnest prayers of the Whites and the Howlands for his healing were not answered. His parents did not hesitate to talk with him about death, and even to prepare him for it. Henry's faith in Jesus remained firm. He had an opportunity to meditate on his past life, and he deeply regretted his waning Christian fervor, in Battle Creek setting an example short of what it should have been. This he confessed to God, his parents, and brothers. As he confessed his waywardness and sins, he was drawn nearer and nearer to God and enjoyed peace of mind and the blessing of the Lord. His faith grew ever more firm and his confidence of eternal life bright and secure. 2BIO 71.1

One morning while his mother was attending him, he said: 2BIO 71.2

“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.”—An Appeal to the Youth, 26.

He was given the assurance that this would be. From day to day he grew weaker. Medical science of the time had little to offer in treating pneumonia, and it was now certain there would be no recovery. The record is: 2BIO 71.3

On the fifth [day], burdened with grief, his father retired to a place of prayer, and after returned to the sickroom, 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.”—Ibid., 27. 2BIO 71.4

In one conversation, he said: 2BIO 72.1

“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.”—Ibid., 29.

On several occasions he dictated short messages of admonition and assurance to young friends in Battle Creek, but a deathbed scene not forgotten by the family was recorded by Adelia Patten: 2BIO 72.2

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.—Ibid., 31. 2BIO 72.3