Sabbath morning, as usual, we went to the grove together, and my husband prayed most fervently three times. He seemed reluctant to cease pleading with God for special guidance and blessing. His prayers were heard, and peace and light came to our hearts. He praised the Lord, and said: “Now I give it all up to Jesus. I feel a sweet, heavenly peace, an assurance that the Lord will show us our duty; for we desire to do His will.” He accompanied me to the Tabernacle, and opened the services with singing and prayer. It was the last time he was ever to stand by my side in the pulpit.
On the following Monday he had a severe chill, and the next day I, too, was attacked. Together we were taken to the sanitarium for treatment. On Friday my symptoms became more favorable. The doctor then informed me that my husband was inclined to sleep, and that danger was apprehended. I was immediately taken to his room, and as soon as I looked upon his countenance I knew that he was dying. I tried to arouse him. He understood all that was said to him, and responded to all questions that could be answered by Yes or No, but seemed unable to say more. When I told him I thought he was dying, he manifested no surprise. I asked if Jesus was precious to him. He said “Yes, oh, yes.” “Have you no desire to live?” I inquired. He answered: “No.”
We then knelt by his bedside, and I prayed for him. A peaceful expression rested upon his countenance. I said to him. “Jesus loves you. The everlasting arms are beneath you.” He responded: “Yes, yes.”
Brother Smith and other brethren then prayed around his bedside, and retired to spend much of the night in prayer. My husband said he felt no pain; but he was evidently failing fast. Dr. Kellogg and his helpers did all that was in their power to hold him back from death. He slowly revived, but continued very weak.
The next morning he seemed slightly to revive, but about noon he had a chill, which left him unconscious. At 5 p. m., Sabbath, August 6, 1881, he quietly breathed his life away, without a struggle or a groan.
The shock of my husband’s death—so sudden, so unexpected—fell upon me with crushing weight. In my feeble condition I had summoned strength to remain at his bedside to the last, but when I saw his eyes closed in death, exhausted nature gave way, and I was completely prostrated. For some time I seemed balancing between life and death. The vital flame burned so low that a breath might extinguish it. At night my pulse would grow feeble, and my breathing fainter and fainter till it seemed about to cease. Only by the blessing of God and the unremitting care and watchfulness of physician and attendants was my life preserved.
Though I had not risen from my sickbed after my husband’s death, I was borne to the Tabernacle on the following Sabbath to attend his funeral. At the close of the sermon I felt it a duty to testify to the value of the Christian’s hope in the hour of sorrow and bereavement. As I arose, strength was given me, and I spoke about ten minutes, exalting the mercy and love of God in the presence of that crowded assembly. At the close of the services I followed my husband to Oak Hill Cemetery, where he was laid to rest until the morning of the resurrection.
My physical strength had been prostrated by the blow, yet the power of divine grace sustained me in my great bereavement. When I saw my husband breathe his last, I felt that Jesus was more precious to me then than He ever had been in any previous hour of my life. When I stood by my first-born, and closed his eyes in death, I could say: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” And I felt then that I had a comforter in Jesus. And when my latest born was torn from my arms, and I could no longer see its little head upon the pillow by my side, then I could say: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” And when he upon whose large affections I had leaned, with whom I had labored for thirty-six years, was taken away, I could lay my hands upon his eyes, and say: I commit my treasure to Thee until the morning of the resurrection.
When I saw him passing away, and saw the many friends sympathizing with me, I thought: What a contrast to the death of Jesus as He hung upon the cross! What a contrast! In the hour of His agony, the revilers were mocking and deriding Him. But He died, and He passed through the tomb to brighten it, and to lighten it, that we might have joy and hope even in the event of death; that we might say, as we lay our friends away to rest in Jesus: We shall meet them again.
At times I felt that I could not have my husband die. But these words seemed to be impressed on my mind: “Be still, and know that I am God.” I keenly feel my loss, but dare not give myself up to useless grief. This would not bring back the dead. And I am not so selfish as to wish, if I could, to bring him from his peaceful slumber to engage again in the battles of life. Like a tired warrior, he has lain down to sleep. I will look with pleasure upon his resting place. The best way in which I and my children can honor the memory of him who has fallen, is to take the work where he left it, and in the strength of Jesus carry it forward to completion. We will be thankful for the years of usefulness that were granted to him; and for his sake, and for Christ’s sake, we will learn from his death a lesson which we shall never forget. We will let this bereavement make us more kind and gentle, more forbearing, patient, and thoughtful toward the living.
I take up my lifework alone, in full confidence that my Redeemer will be with me. We have only a little while to wage the warfare; then Christ will come, and this scene of conflict will close. Then our last efforts will have been made to work with Christ, and advance His kingdom. Some who have stood in the forefront of the battle, zealously resisting incoming evil, fall at the post of duty; the living gaze sorrowfully at the fallen heroes, but there is no time to cease work. They must close up the ranks; seize the banner from the hand palsied by death, and with renewed energy vindicate the truth and the honor of Christ. As never before, resistance must be made against sin—against the powers of darkness. The time demands energetic and determined activity on the part of those who believe present truth. If the time seems long to wait for our Deliverer to come; if, bowed by affliction and worn with toil, we feel impatient to receive an honorable release from the warfare, let us remember—and let the remembrance check every murmur—that we are left on earth to encounter storms and conflicts, to perfect Christian character, to become better acquainted with God our Father, and Christ our Elder Brother, and to do work for the Master in winning many souls to Christ. “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”
Number One—Testimony for the Church
Chapter 15—Thy Brother’s Keeper
November 20, 1855, while in prayer, the Spirit of the Lord came suddenly and powerfully upon me, and I was taken off in vision.
I saw that the Spirit of the Lord has been dying away from the church. The servants of the Lord have trusted too much to the strength of argument, and have not had that firm reliance upon God which they should have. I saw that the mere argument of the truth will not move souls to take a stand with the remnant; for the truth is unpopular. The servants of God must have the truth in the soul. Said the angel: “They must get it warm from glory, carry it in their bosoms, and pour it out in the warmth and earnestness of the soul to those that hear.” A few that are conscientious are ready to decide from the weight of evidence; but it is impossible to move many with a mere theory of the truth. There must be a power to attend the truth, a living testimony to move them.
I saw that the enemy is busy to destroy souls. Exaltation has come into the ranks; there must be more humility. There is too much of an independence of spirit indulged in among the messengers. This must be laid aside, and there must be a drawing together of the servants of God. There has been too much of a spirit to ask, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Said the angel: “Yea, thou art thy brother’s keeper. Thou shouldest have a watchful care for thy brother, be interested for his welfare, and cherish a kind, loving spirit toward him. Press together, press together.” God designed that man should be openhearted and honest, without affectation, meek, humble, with simplicity. This is the principle of heaven; God ordered it so. But poor, frail man has sought out something different—to follow his own way, and carefully attend to his own self-interest.
I asked the angel why simplicity had been shut out from the church, and pride and exaltation had come in. I saw that this is the reason why we have almost been delivered into the hand of the enemy. Said the angel: “Look ye, and ye shall see that this feeling prevails: Am I my brother’s keeper?” Again said the angel: “Thou art thy brother’s keeper. Thy profession, thy faith, requires thee to deny thyself and sacrifice to God, or thou wilt be unworthy of eternal life; for it was purchased for thee dearly, even by the agony, the sufferings, and blood of the beloved Son of God.”
I saw that many in different places, East and West, were adding farm to farm, and land to land, and house to house, and they make the cause of God their excuse, saying they do this that they may help the cause. They shackle themselves so that they can be of but little benefit to the cause. Some buy a piece of land, and labor with all their might to pay for it. Their time is so occupied that they can spare but little time to pray, and serve God, and gain strength from Him to overcome their besetments. They are in debt, and when the cause needs their help they cannot assist; for they must get free from debt first. But as soon as they are free from debt they are farther from helping the cause than before; for they again involve themselves by adding to their property. They flatter themselves that this course is right, that they will use the avails in the cause, when they are actually laying up treasure here. They love the truth in word, but not in work. They love the cause just as much as their works show. They love the world more and the cause of God less; the attraction to earth grows stronger and the attraction to heaven weaker. Their heart is with their treasure. By their example they say to those around them that they are intending to stay here, that this world is their home. Said the angel: “Thou art thy brother’s keeper.”
Many have indulged in needless expense, merely to gratify the feelings, the taste, and the eye, when the cause needed the very means thus used, and when some of the servants of God were poorly clothed and were crippled in their labor for lack of means. Said the angel: “Their time to do will soon be past. Their works show that self is their idol, and to it they sacrifice.” Self must first be gratified; their feeling is: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Warning after warning many have received, but heeded not. Self is the main object, and to it everything must bow.
I saw that the church has nearly lost the spirit of self-denial and sacrifice; they make self and self-interest first, and then they do for the cause what they think they can as well as not. Such a sacrifice, I saw, is lame, and not accepted of God. All should be interested to do their utmost to advance the cause. I saw that those who have no property, but have strength of body, are accountable to God for their strength. They should be diligent in business and fervent in spirit; they should not leave those that have possessions to do all the sacrificing. I saw that they can sacrifice, and that it is their duty to do so, as well as those who have property. But often those that have no possessions do not realize that they can deny themselves in many ways, can lay out less upon their bodies, and to gratify their tastes and appetites, and find much to spare for the cause, and thus lay up a treasure in heaven. I saw that there is loveliness and beauty in the truth; but take away the power of God, and it is powerless.
Chapter 16—Time to Begin the Sabbath
I saw that it is even so: “From even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath.” Said the angel: “Take the word of God, read it, understand, and ye cannot err. Read carefully, and ye shall there find what even is, and when it is.” I asked the angel if the frown of God had been upon His people for commencing the Sabbath as they had. I was directed back to the first rise of the Sabbath, and followed the people of God up to this time, but did not see that the Lord was displeased, or frowned upon them. I inquired why it had been thus, that at this late day we must change the time of commencing the Sabbath. Said the angel: “Ye shall understand, but not yet, not yet.” Said the angel: “If light come, and that light is set aside or rejected, then comes condemnation and the frown of God; but before the light comes, there is no sin, for there is no light for them to reject.” I saw that it was in the minds of some that the Lord had shown that the Sabbath commenced at six o’clock, when I had only seen that it commenced at “even,” and it was inferred that even was at six. I saw that the servants of God must draw together, press together.
Chapter 17—Opposers of the Truth
I was shown the case of Stephenson and Hall of Wisconsin. I saw that while we were in Wisconsin, in June, 1854, they were convicted that the visions were of God; but they examined them and compared them with their views of the age to come, and because the visions did not agree with these, they sacrificed the visions for the Age-to-Come. And while on their journey East, last spring, they both were wrong and designing. They have stumbled over the Age-to-Come, and they are ready to take any course to injure the Review; its friends must be awake and do what they can to save the children of God from deception. These men are uniting with a lying and corrupt people. They have had evidence of this. And while they were professing sympathy and union with my husband, they (especially Stephenson) were biting like an adder behind his back. While their words were smooth with him, they were inflaming Wisconsin against the Review and its conductors. Especially was Stephenson active in this matter. Their object has been to have the Review publish the Age-to-Come theory, or to destroy its influence. And while my husband was openhearted and unsuspecting, seeking ways to remove their jealousy, and frankly opening to them the affairs of the office, and trying to help them, they were watching for evil, and observing everything with a jealous eye. Said the angel as I beheld them: “Think ye, feeble man, that ye can stay the work of God? Feeble man, one touch of His finger can lay thee prostrate. He will suffer thee but a little while.”
I was pointed back to the rise of the advent doctrine, and even before that time, and saw that there had not been a parallel to the deception, misrepresentation, and falsehood that has been practiced by the Messenger party, or such an association of corrupt hearts under a cloak of religion. Some honest hearts have been influenced by them, concluding that they must have at least some cause for their statements, thinking them incapable of uttering so glaring falsehoods. I saw that such will have evidence of the truth of these matters. The church of God should move straight along, as though there were not such a people in the world.
I saw that decided efforts should be made to show those who are unchristian in life their wrongs, and if they do not reform, they should be separated from the precious and holy, that God may have a clean and pure people that He can delight in. Dishonor Him not by linking or uniting the clean with the unclean.
I was shown some coming from the East to the West. I saw that it should not be the object of those who leave the East for the West to get rich, but to win souls to the truth. Said the angel: “Let your works show that it is not for honor, or to lay up a treasure on earth, that ye have moved West, but to hold up and exalt the standard of truth.” I saw that those who move West should be like men waiting for their Lord. Said the angel: “Be a living example to those in the West. Let your works show that you are God’s peculiar people, and that you have a peculiar work, to give the last message of mercy to the world. Let your works show to those around you that this world is not your home.” I saw that those who have entangled themselves should break the snare of the enemy and go free. Lay not up treasures upon earth, but show by your lives that you are laying up treasure in heaven. If God has called you West, He has a work, an exalted work, for you to do. Let your faith and experience help those who have not a living experience. Let not the attraction be to this poor, dark speck of a world, but let it be upward to God, glory, and heaven. Let not the care and perplexity of farms here engross your mind, but you can safely be wrapped up in contemplating Abraham’s farm. We are heirs to that immortal inheritance. Wean your affections from earth, and dwell upon heavenly things.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 109-118
- Discuss the Blessed Hope as it was experienced in the life of Mrs. White.
- How might we say to those around us that we are intending to stay here, that this world is our home?
- What lame offerings should we avoid to bring to God today?
- Who are we not to link or unite with? What should be done for those who are unchristian in life?