In a few days we found ourselves again at Battle Creek after an absence of about three months. On the Sabbath, March 16, my husband delivered before the church the sermon on “Sanctification” phonographically reported by the editor of the Review and published in Volume 29, No. 18. He also spoke with clearness in the afternoon and on first-day forenoon. I bore my testimony with usual freedom. Sabbath, the 23d, we spoke with freedom to the church in Newton and labored with the church at Convis the following Sabbath and first day. We designed to return north and went thirty miles, but were obliged to turn back on account of the condition of the roads. My husband was terribly disappointed at the cold reception which he met at Battle Creek, and I also was grieved. We decided that we could not bear our testimony to this church till they gave better evidence that they wished our services, and concluded to labor in Convis and Monterey till the roads should improve. The two following Sabbaths we spent at Convis and have proof that a good work was done, as the best of fruits are now seen.
I came home to Battle Creek like a weary child who needed comforting words and encouragement. It is painful for me here to state that we were received with great coldness by our brethren, from whom, three months before, I had parted in perfect union, excepting on the point of our leaving home. The first night spent in Battle Creek, I dreamed that I had been laboring very hard and had been traveling for the purpose of attending a large meeting, and that I was very weary. Sisters were arranging my hair and adjusting my dress, and I fell asleep. When I awoke I was astonished and indignant to find that my garments had been removed, and there had been placed upon me old rags, pieces of bedquilts knotted and sewed together. Said I: “What have you done to me? Who has done this shameful work of removing my garments and replacing them with beggars’ rags?” I tore off the rags and threw them from me. I was grieved, and with anguish cried out: “Bring me back my garments which I have worn for twenty-three years and have not disgraced in a single instance. Unless you give me back my garments I shall appeal to the people, who will contribute and return me my own garments which I have worn twenty-three years.”
I have seen the fulfillment of this dream. At Battle Creek we met reports which had been put in circulation to injure us, but which had no foundation in truth. Letters had been written by some making a temporary stay at the Health Institute, and by others living in Battle Creek, to churches in Michigan and other states, expressing fears, doubts, and insinuations in regard to us. I was filled with grief as I listened to a charge from a fellow laborer whom I had respected, that they were hearing from every quarter things which I had spoken against the church at Battle Creek. I was so grieved that I knew not what to say. We found a strong, accusing spirit against us. As we became fully convinced of the existing feelings we felt homesick. We were so disappointed and distressed that I told two of our leading brethren that I did not feel at home, as we met distrust and positive coldness instead of welcome and encouragement, and that I had yet to learn that this was the course to pursue toward those who had broken down among them by overexertion and devotion to the work of God. I then said that we thought we should move from Battle Creek and seek a more retired home.
Grieved in spirit beyond measure, I remained at home, dreading to go anywhere among the church for fear of being wounded. Finally, as no one made an effort to relieve my feelings, I felt it to be my duty to call together a number of experienced brethren and sisters, and meet the reports which were circulating in regard to us. Weighed down and depressed, even to anguish, I met the charges against me, giving a recital of my journey east, one year since, and the painful circumstances attending that journey.
I appealed to those present to judge whether my connection with the work and cause of God would lead me to speak lightly of the church at Battle Creek, from whom I had not the slightest alienation of feeling. Was not my interest in the cause and work of God as great as it was possible for theirs to be? My whole experience and life were interwoven with it. I had no separate interest aside from the work. I had invested everything in this cause, and had considered no sacrifice too great for me to make in order to advance it. I had not allowed affection for my loved babes to hold me back from performing my duty as God required it in His cause. Maternal love throbbed just as strongly in my heart as in the heart of any mother that lived, yet I had separated from my nursing children and allowed another to act the part of mother to them. I had given unmistakable evidences of my interest in, and devotion to, the cause of God. I have shown by my works how dear it was to me. Could any produce stronger proof than myself? Were they zealous in the cause of truth? I more. Were they devoted to it? I could prove greater devotion than anyone living engaged in the work. Had they suffered for the truth’s sake? I more. I had not counted my life dear unto me. I had not shunned reproach, suffering, or hardships. When friends and relatives had despaired of my life, because disease was preying upon me, I had been borne in my husband’s arms to the boat or cars. At one time, after traveling until midnight, we found ourselves in the city of Boston without means. On two or three occasions we walked by faith seven miles. We traveled as far as my strength would allow and then knelt on the ground and prayed for strength to proceed. Strength was given, and we were enabled to labor earnestly for the good of souls. We allowed no obstacle to deter us from duty or separate us from the work.
The spirit manifested in this meeting distressed me greatly. I returned home still burdened, as those present made no effort to relieve me by acknowledging that they were convinced that they had misjudged me and that their suspicions and accusations against me were unjust. They could not condemn me, neither did they make any effort to relieve me.
For fifteen months my husband had been so feeble that he had not carried his watch or purse, or driven his own team when riding out. But with the present year he had taken his watch and purse, the latter empty in consequence of our great expenses, and had driven his own team. He had, during his sickness, refused at different times to accept money from his brethren to the amount of nearly one thousand dollars, telling them that when he was in want he would let them know it. We were at last brought to want. My husband felt it his duty, before becoming dependent, to first sell what we could spare. He had some few things at the office, and scattered among the brethren in Battle Creek, of little value, which he collected and sold. We disposed of nearly one hundred and fifty dollars worth of furniture. My husband tried to sell our sofa for the meetinghouse, offering to give ten dollars of its value, but could not. At this time our only and very valuable cow died. My husband then for the first time felt that he could receive help, and addressed a note to a brother, stating that if the church would esteem it a pleasure to make up the loss of the cow they might do so. But nothing was done about it only to charge my husband with being insane on the subject of money. The brethren knew him well enough to know that he would never ask for help unless driven to it by stern necessity. And now that he had done it, judge of his feelings and mine when no notice was taken of the matter only to use it to wound us in our want and deep affliction.
At this meeting my husband humbly confessed that he was wrong in several things of this nature, which he never should have done and never would have done but for fear of his brethren and a desire to be just right and in union with the church. This led those who were injuring him to apparently despise him. We were humbled into the very dust and distressed beyond expression. In this state of things we started to fill an appointment at Monterey. On the journey I suffered the keenest anguish of spirit. I tried to explain to myself why it was that our brethren did not understand in regard to our work. I had felt quite sure that when we should meet them they would know what spirit we were of, and that the Spirit of God in them would answer to the same in us, His humble servants, and there would be union of feeling and sentiment. Instead of this we were distrusted and suspiciously watched, which was a cause of the greatest perplexity I ever experienced. As I was thus thinking, a portion of the vision given me at Rochester, December 25, 1865, came like a flash of lightning to my mind, and I immediately related it to my husband:
I was shown a cluster of trees standing near together, forming a circle. Running up over these trees was a vine which covered them at the top and rested upon them, forming an arbor. Soon I saw the trees swaying to and fro, as though moved by a powerful wind. One branch after another of the vine was shaken from its support until the vine was shaken loose from the trees except a few tendrils which were left clinging to the lower branches. A person then came up and severed the remaining clinging tendrils of the vine, and it lay prostrated upon the earth.
The distress and anguish of my mind as I saw the vine lying upon the ground was beyond description. Many passed and looked pityingly upon it, and I waited anxiously for a friendly hand to raise it; but no help was offered. I inquired why no hand raised the vine. Presently I saw an angel come to the apparently deserted vine. He spread out his arms and placed them beneath the vine and raised it so that it stood upright, saying: “Stand toward heaven, and let thy tendrils entwine about God. Thou art shaken from human support. Thou canst stand, in the strength of God, and flourish without it. Lean upon God alone, and thou shalt never lean in vain, or be shaken therefrom.” I felt inexpressible relief, amounting to joy, as I saw the neglected vine cared for. I turned to the angel and inquired what these things meant. Said he: “Thou art this vine. All this thou wilt experience, and then, when these things occur, thou shalt fully understand the figure of the vine. God will be to thee a present help in time of trouble.” From this time I was settled as to my duty and never more free in bearing my testimony to the people. If I ever felt the arm of the Lord holding me up, it was at that meeting. My husband was also free and clear in his preaching, and the testimony of all was: We have had an excellent meeting.
After we returned from Monterey, I felt it my duty to call another meeting, as my brethren made no effort to relieve my feelings. I decided to move forward in the strength of God and again express my feelings and free myself from the suspicions and reports circulated to our injury. I bore my testimony and related things which had been shown me in the past history of some present, warning them of their dangers and reproving their wrong course of action. I stated that I had been placed in most disagreeable positions. When families and individuals were brought before me in vision, it was frequently the case that what was shown me in relation to them was of a private nature, reproving secret sins. I have labored with some for months in regard to wrongs of which others knew nothing. As my brethren see these persons sad, and hear them express doubts in regard to their acceptance with God, also feelings of despondency, they have cast censure upon me, as though I were to blame for their being in trial. Those who thus censured me were entirely ignorant of what they were talking about. I protested against persons’ sitting as inquisitors upon my course of action. It has been the disagreeable work assigned me to reprove private sins. Were I, in order to prevent suspicions and jealousy, to give a full explanation of my course, and make public that which should be kept private, I should sin against God and wrong the individuals. I have to keep private reproofs of private wrongs to myself, locked in my own breast. Let others judge as they may, I will never betray the confidence reposed in me by the erring and repentant, or reveal to others that which should only be brought before the ones that are guilty. I told those assembled that they must take their hands off and leave me free to act in the fear of God. I left the meeting relieved of a heavy burden.
Chapter 103—Laborers in the Office
Here I will give two testimonies, one of them written March, 1867, addressed to all engaged in the work at the Review office, the other addressed to the young who labor in the office. I am sorry to say that all those warned have more or less disregarded these testimonies and now have to confess that they pursued a course contrary to that pointed out by the testimonies. The first is as follows:
While in Rochester, New York, December 25, 1865, I was shown some things concerning those who are engaged in the work at the office, also in regard to ministers whom God has called to labor in word and doctrine. Neither of these should engage in merchandise or traffic. They are called to a more sacred, elevated work, and it would be impossible for them to do justice to the work and still carry on their traffic. Those engaged at the office should have no separate interest. When they have given to the work that attention and care which it demands, they have done all they are able to do, and should not be further taxed. If trafficking which has no connection with the work of God engages the mind and occupies time, the work will not be done thoroughly and well. At the best, those engaged in the work have no physical or mental energy to spare. All are to a greater or less degree enfeebled. Such a cause, such a sacred work, as that in which they are employed should engage the powers of the mind; they should not labor mechanically, but be sanctified to the work and act as though the cause was a part of them, as though they had invested something in this great and solemn work. Unless they thus take hold of this matter with interest, their efforts will not be acceptable to God.
Satan is very artful, busy, and active. His special power is brought to bear upon those who are now engaged in the work of preaching or publishing the present truth. All in connection with this work need to keep on the whole armor, for they are the special marks for Satan to attack. I saw that there is danger of becoming unguarded so that Satan will obtain an entrance and imperceptibly divert the mind from the great work. Those who fill responsible positions in the office are in danger of getting above the work and losing humbleness of mind and the simplicity which has hitherto characterized the work.
Satan had a special object in striking down one at the head of the work who had a thorough experience in the rise and progress of present truth. He designed to get him out of the way, that he himself might come in and imperceptibly affect minds that were not experienced and thoroughly consecrated to the work. God designed to raise my husband to health after others had become acquainted with the burdens he had borne and had felt some of the weariness attending these burdens. At the same time they will never throw their whole soul, all the energies of mind and body, into the work and venture what he has ventured. It would never be their duty to do as he has done, for they could not stand at their post should they pass through a twentieth part of what he has endured.
Satan designs to obtain a foothold in that office, and unless there is a united effort and thorough watchfulness, he will accomplish his object. Some will get above the simplicity of the work and will feel that they are sufficient when their strength is perfect weakness. God will be glorified in this great work. And unless they cherish deep and constant humility and a firm trust in God, they will trust in self, indulge self-sufficiency, and one or more will drink the bitter cup of affliction. As the work increases, there is greater necessity for thorough trust in God and dependence upon Him and a thorough interest in, and devotion to, the work. Selfish interests should be laid aside. There should be much prayer, much meditation, for this is highly necessary for the success and prosperity of the work. A spirit of traffic should not be allowed in anyone who is connected with the office. If it is permitted, the work will be neglected and marred. Common things will be placed too much upon a level with sacred things.
There is great danger that some connected with the work will labor merely for wages. They manifest no special interest in the work, their heart is not in it, and they have no special sense of its sacred, exalted character. There is also special danger that those at the head of the work will become lifted up, exalted, and that the work of God will thus be marred, bearing the impress of the human instead of the divine. Satan is wide awake and persevering, yet Jesus lives, and all who make Him their righteousness, their defense, will be especially sustained.
I was shown that Brethren A, B, and C were in danger of injuring their health by remaining a considerable part of their time in heated rooms not sufficiently ventilated. These brethren need more physical exercise. Their employment is sedentary, and too much of the time they breathe heated, impure air. Their lack of exercise causes a depressed circulation, and they are in danger of injuring their health permanently by neglecting to heed the laws of their being. If they violate these laws they will at some future period just as surely suffer the penalty in some form as my husband has suffered it. They will be sustained no more than was he. No one of them is capable of enduring even a small part of the physical and mental taxation which he endured.
These brethren take the work with the heaviest battles fought, the sorest trials passed through, to establish the cause in its present standing. And yet a great and solemn work is before us, and it calls for devotedness from them and also from Brother D, who is in danger of exaltation. God will prove him and try him, and he must be girded about with truth and have on the armor of righteousness, or he will fall by the hand of the enemy. All these brethren need to adhere most strictly and perseveringly to a healthful, spare diet, for all are in danger of congested brains, and paralysis may fell one or more or all of them, if they continue living carelessly or recklessly.
I saw that God had specially selected Brother B to engage in a great and exalted work. He would have cares and burdens, and yet all these could be so much more easily borne with true devotion and consecration to the work. Brother B, you need a deeper draft from salvation’s fountain, a more thorough draft from the fountain of sanctification. Your will has not yet been fully submitted to the will of God. You move on because you think you cannot do otherwise; but to walk in cheerful light because you can see that Christ Jesus leads the way before you, you have failed to do. Standing in the responsible place which you occupy, you have in all this hurt your own soul and influenced others. If you walk contrary to God, He will walk contrary to you. God wants to use you, but you must die to self and sacrifice your pride. The Lord designs to use you in His cause if you will follow His opening providence and heartily and fully sanctify yourself and cleanse yourself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 579-588