Ellen G. White: The Early Elmshaven Years: 1900-1905 (vol. 5)


Laboring for Two Misguided Physicians

On Friday, August 23, just before she went over to Healdsburg for the three-week teachers’ institute, there had rolled upon her heart a great longing to help the Drs. S., connected with the St. Helena Sanitarium. In vision she had been shown the peril of their course, one marked with indifference toward Bible study and an unusual interest in amusements. Worldly aspirations and a determination to rule seemed to mark their characters. 5BIO 127.5

Before reaching America on her return from Australia, she was given instruction regarding conditions at the St. Helena Sanitarium. Now among other pressing tasks she must deal faithfully with these two leading workers. This case, in which several visions were involved and a number of most earnest testimonies written, extended over a period of months before the final breakthrough; it illustrates an important phase of her work. Dr. S., 36 years of age, was the medical superintendent and had been for most of the ten years since he came to the institution. Mrs. S., also a physician, stood close by his side. The seven-page letter Ellen White addressed to Mrs. S. on that Friday, August 23, opened with the words: 5BIO 127.6

My Dear Sister: I have been alarmed for you, because you are not a practical Christian. Your salvation depends upon a change, not a spasmodic change, but an entire, lasting change of heart. You cannot be a child of God unless this change takes place.—Letter 117, 1901. 5BIO 128.1

This letter was to be followed by others to the husband-and-wife doctor team—thirteen in all, in eight weeks. The opening lines of these communications, ranging from two to sixteen pages each, provide a glimpse of the concern the messenger of the Lord felt for those whose cases had been revealed to her and the labor on her part in bearing testimony to them. On August 24, she wrote again: “My Dear Sister: The past night has been one of labor, and it concerned you. I have words to speak to you.”—Letter 118, 1901. There were eight pages. On August 26 she wrote: “My Dear Sister: I am up at one o'clock, my soul filled with sorrow on your account.”—Letter 119, 1901. 5BIO 128.2

Another written the same day to Dr. S, her husband, filled six pages. This letter referred to perils in their medical work. It was the introduction to further counsel she would give concerning their use of hypnosis in their practice. In this letter she wrote: 5BIO 128.3

The physician is never to lead his patients to fix their attention on him. He is to teach them to grasp with the trembling hand of faith the outstretched hand of the Saviour. Then the mind will be illuminated with the light radiating from the Light of the world. The mind cure must be free from all human enchantment. It must not grovel to humanity but soar aloft to the spiritual, taking hold of the eternal.—Letter 120, 1901. 5BIO 128.4

Two weeks later, on Thursday, September 12, she wrote from the Healdsburg Institute: “Dear Brother: I have said many things to you by letter, but I am so weighed down in your case that I must continue to write to you.”—Letter 121, 1901. 5BIO 128.5

In the fifteen pages of this letter Ellen White entered more deeply into what she termed “a species of mind cure.” Speaking of the vision that formed the basis of this letter, she declared: 5BIO 128.6

In tones of earnest warning the words were spoken: Beware, beware where your feet are placed and your mind is carried. God has not appointed you this work. The theory of mind controlling mind is originated by Satan to introduce himself as the chief worker, to put human philosophy where divine philosophy should be. 5BIO 129.1

No man or woman should exercise his or her will to control the senses or reason of another, so that the mind of the person is rendered passively subject to the will of the one who is exercising the control. This science may appear to be something beautiful, but it is a science which you are in no case to handle. If you do handle it, it will finally handle you.— Ibid. (Medical Ministry, 111-115). 5BIO 129.2

In another communication to these same physicians Ellen White wrote: 5BIO 129.3

In dealing with the science of mind cure, you have been eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God has forbidden you to touch. It is now high time for you to begin to look to Jesus, and by beholding His character become changed into the divine likeness. Cut away from yourselves everything that savors of hypnotism, the science by which satanic agencies work.—Letter 20, 1902; Selected Messages 2:350). 5BIO 129.4

As an alternative she counseled these physicians: “The only safe and true mind cure covers much. The physician must educate the people to look from the human to the divine. He who has made man's mind knows precisely what the mind needs.”—Letter 121, 1901. 5BIO 129.5

Then there were letters of response, one from each of the husband-wife physician team. 5BIO 129.6

This brought great relief to Ellen White, and it was with joy that she wrote: 5BIO 129.7

Your letters have been received and carefully read. I will now write a few lines in reply. I thank you for writing; for your letters have taken a heavy weight off my heart. I greatly desire that you shall both so will and so do that God will be honored and glorified by your service in the sanitarium. 5BIO 129.8

I know that changes must be made, and we shall help you in every way possible. I felt like weeping when I read Sister S.’s letter. I thank the Lord, my sister, that you are resolved to open your heart to the Saviour. I would not speak one word to discourage you. I will try to help you in every way that I can.—Letter 123, 1901. 5BIO 130.1

But as is true so many times, the battle was only partly won. Steps had been taken in the right direction, but it was revealed to Ellen White in vision that there was a great deal yet to be accomplished. She continued to write to these workers until thirteen letters had been sent. Through the winter she continued to carry the burden of this couple on her heart. One letter was written December 3, 1901. Then in February, 1902, there was another. It began: 5BIO 130.2

My Dear Sister: Do you know that you are spending your life for naught? If converted to the truth, you could be a help to your husband.... You are not building on the Rock of Ages, but are laying your foundation on the sand, and when the tempest beats on the house you are building, it will surely be swept away.—Letter 18, 1902. 5BIO 130.3

It was this letter that brought the response for which Ellen White was hoping and praying. On March 2, Sister S. sat down and penned these words to Ellen White: 5BIO 130.4

Dear Sister White: I feel that some word of explanation and gratitude is due you from me, after your many messages of warning and reproof, especially those received yesterday morning. 5BIO 130.5

I wish I had language to express to you just how I have felt over these things. I have not thought myself indifferent to your words, only puzzled and unable to apply all of them to my case. It may be that, as you say, it has simply been that I have stubbornly turned from what might have proved life and salvation. 5BIO 130.6

I will not take your time to tell you of what parts of your messages I could not understand. I feel sure now that, had I accepted and lived up to what I could understand, in time I should have been enabled to understand all. 5BIO 130.7

I am by no means blind to certain of my faults, though entirely incapable, no doubt, of seeing them in their true light. For some weeks I have been studying and praying that God would reveal Himself to me and enable me to see my true needs. And I really felt glad when your letters came yesterday. It seemed to me that they had come in direct answer to prayer, feeble though it was. 5BIO 131.1

I am fully determined now, by earnest prayer and studying God's Word, to learn what is duty, and to perform it. I realize that this will be no easy task, and that only by constant vigilance shall I be enabled to have God's blessing dwelling in the heart. But I am fully determined in purpose, and I am glad that the struggle will be only one day at a time. 5BIO 131.2

I am greatly grieved as I look back over my worse than misspent life. I can see, in some measure at least, how I have been to blame for many of the failures in our work at St. Helena.... I believe we have needed just the experience through which we have passed, to teach us our true condition. I am only too grateful that even through these troubled experiences, God has brought us to as much of a knowledge of our own need as we possess. 5BIO 131.3

I am anxious to do or to be anything that the Lord will have me, so that I may have a close and abiding connection with Him. I have at times known His blessing, but never for long. Yesterday I spent the most of the day in seeking God, and He specially blessed me. For all this I am truly thankful. It is wonderful how ready He is to bless me after all my perversity.... 5BIO 131.4

So far as I know, we have no reservations, but are willing to do whatever is best and pleasing to God. 5BIO 131.5

Very gratefully,

Dr. S.

What rejoicing Sister S.’s letter brought to Ellen White, and she could not refrain from an early reply: 5BIO 131.6

Dear Sister S.: I have just read your letter. I need not say that I am very glad that you are making use of your will to break the power of Satan, that you may be his slave no longer. I thank the Lord for this movement in the right direction. I shall pray for you and unite with you in drawing near to Christ Jesus.—Letter 30, 1902. 5BIO 131.7

In the five pages of this letter Ellen White discussed her Lord, His cross and what it means to the human family, and the importance of the study of the Word of God in the development of Christian life. And then she wrote: 5BIO 132.1

In your character building you must work in union with your heavenly Father, your will conformed to His will. We are to work in union with Him “who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Then why should we doubt Him? Do not stop, my sister, with a work half done. 5BIO 132.2

Do not stop before receiving a new and sanctified nature, in which will appear the fruits of righteousness. Those who stop short of this are Christians only in name. Make diligent work for eternity. Take hold with your husband, walking and working in all humility, and you shall receive grace for grace.— Ibid. 5BIO 132.3

A few weeks later the husband wrote to Ellen White in appreciation and reported that his wife had been rebaptized. 5BIO 132.4

This is the picture of Ellen White's care for individual cases. However, she was eager to get on with the book work that awaited her attention. She now had a good staff: Sara McEnterfer was her personal secretary, nurse, and traveling companion; Marian Davis, Clarence Crisler, Sarah Peck, and Maggie Hare composed her secretarial force; Mrs. M. J. Nelson was cook; Iram James managed the farm; Mrs. N. H. Druillard was her accountant; and Mr. Druillard the builder. W. C. White gave general supervision and served Ellen White and the General Conference in varied capacities. 5BIO 132.5

The new eight-room office was now in use. 5BIO 132.6

On October 26, Ellen White wrote, “I shall now remain at home for a time, to do the work on my books which has been so long neglected.”—Letter 153, 1901. Her hope would not be realized. Within two weeks she was on the train to New York City to meet a critical situation there! 5BIO 132.7