From what we have since learned of the cold, indifferent treatment which Sister More met with at Battle Creek, it is evident that in stating that no one in particular was worthy of censure in her case, my husband took altogether a too charitable view of the matter. When all the facts are known, no Christian could but blame all members of that church who knew her circumstances and did not individually interest themselves in her behalf. It certainly was the duty of the officers to do this and report to the church, if others did not take up the matter before them. But individual members of that or any other church should not feel excused from taking an interest in such persons. After what has been said in the Review of this self-sacrificing servant of Christ, every reader of the Review in Battle Creek, on learning that she had come to the city, would have been excused for giving her a personal call and inquiring into her wants.
Sister Strong, the wife of Elder P. Strong, Jr., was in Battle Creek at the same time as Sister More. They both reached that city the same day, and left at the same time. Sister Strong, who is by my side, says that Sister More wished her to intercede for her, that she might get employment, so as to remain with Sabbathkeepers. Sister More said she was willing to do anything, but teaching was her choice. She also requested Elder A. S. Hutchins to introduce her case to leading brethren at the Review office and try to get a school for her. This, Brother Hutchins cheerfully did. But no encouragement was given, as there appeared to be no opening. She also stated to Sister Strong that she was destitute of means and must go to Leelenaw County unless she could get employment at Battle Creek. She frequently spoke in words of touching lamentation that she was obliged to leave the brethren.
Sister More wrote to Mr. Thompson relative to accepting his offer to make it her home with his family, and she wished to wait until she should hear from him. Sister Strong went with her to find a place for her to stay until she should hear from Mr. T. At one place she was told that she could stay from Wednesday until Friday morning, when they were to leave home. This sister made Sister More’s case known to her natural sister, living near, who was also a Sabbathkeeper. When she returned she told Sister More that she could stay with her until Friday morning; that her sister said it was not convenient to take her. Sister Strong has since learned that the real excuse was that she was not acquainted with Sister More. She could have taken her, but did not want her.
Sister More then asked Sister Strong what she should do. Sister Strong was almost a stranger in Battle Creek, but thought she could get her in with the family of a poor brother of her acquaintance who had recently moved from Montcalm County. Here she succeeded. Sister More remained until Tuesday, when she left for Leelenaw County by the way of Chicago. There she borrowed money to complete her journey. Her wants were known to some, at least, in Battle Creek, for as the result of their being made known, she was charged nothing for her brief stay at the Institute.
Immediately after our return from the East, my husband, learning that nothing had been done, as we had requested, to get Sister More where she could at once come to us on our return, wrote to her to come to us as soon as possible, to which she responded as follows:
“Leland, Leelenaw County, Michigan,
February 20, 1868 .
“My dear Brother White: Yours of February 3 is received. It found me in poor health, not being accustomed to these cold northern winters, with the snow three or four feet deep on a level. Our mails are brought on snowshoes .
“It does not seem possible for me to get to you till spring opens. The roads are bad enough without snow. They tell me my best way is to wait till navigation opens, then go to Milwaukee, and thence to Grand Haven, to take the railroad to the point nearest your place. I had hoped to get among our dear people last fall, but was not permitted the privilege .
“The truths which we believe seem more and more important, and our work of making ready a people prepared for the Lord’s coming is not to be delayed. We must not only have on the wedding garment ourselves, but be faithful in recommending the preparation to others. I wish I could get to you, but it seems impossible, or at least impracticable, in my delicate state of health to set out alone on such a journey in the depth of winter. When is the General Conference to which you allude? And where? I suppose the Review will eventually inform me .
“I think my health has suffered from keeping the Sabbath alone in my chamber, in the cold; but I did not think I could keep it where all manner of work and worldly conversation was the order of the day, as with Sundaykeepers. I think it is the most laborious working day with those who keep first day. Indeed, it does not seem to me that the best of Sundaykeepers observe any day as they should. Oh, how I long to be again with Sabbathkeepers! Sister White will want to see me in the reform dress. Will she be so kind as to send me a pattern, and I will pay her when I get there. I suppose I shall need to be fitted out when I get among you. I like it much. Sister Thompson thinks she would like to wear the reform dress .
“I have had a difficulty in breathing, so that I have not been able to sleep for more than a week, occasioned, I suppose, by the stovepipe’s parting and completely filling my room with smoke and gas at bedtime, and my sleeping there without proper ventilation. I did not, at the time, suppose smoke was so unwholesome, nor consider that the impure gas which generated from the wood and coal was mingled with it. I awoke with such a sense of suffocation that I could not breathe lying down, and spent the remainder of the night sitting up. I never before knew the dreadful feeling of stifling sensations. I began to fear I should never sleep again. I therefore resigned myself into the hands of God for life or death, entreating him to spare me if he had any further need of me in his vineyard; otherwise I had no wish to live. I felt entirely reconciled to the hand of God upon me. But I also felt that satanic influences must be resisted. I therefore bade Satan get behind me and away from me, and told the Lord that I would not turn my hand over to choose either life or death, but that I would refer it implicitly to Him who knew me altogether. My future was unknown to myself, therefore said I, Thy will is best. Life is of no account to me, so far as its pleasures are concerned. All its riches, its honors, are nothing compared with usefulness. I do not crave them; they cannot satisfy or fill the aching void which unperformed duty leaves to me. I would not live uselessly, to be a mere blot or blank in life. And though it seems a martyr’s death to die thus, I am resigned, if that is God’s will .
“I had said to Sister Thompson the day previous, ‘Were I at Brother White’s, I might be prayed for, and healed.’ She inquired if we could send for you and Brother Andrews; but that seemed impracticable, as I could not, in all probability, live till you arrived. I knew that the Lord by His mighty power and with His potent arm could heal me here, were it best. To Him I felt safe in referring it. I knew He could send an angel to resist him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil, and felt sure He would, if best. I knew, also, that He could suggest measures, were they necessary, for my recovery, and I felt sure He would. I soon was better, and able to sleep some .
“Thus you see I am still a spared monument of God’s mercy and faithfulness in afflicting His children. He doth not willingly afflict nor grieve the children of men; but sometimes trials are needed as a discipline, to wean us from earth— And bid us seek substantial bliss Beyond a fleeting world like this .
“Now I can say with the poet: Lord, it belongs not to my care,
Whether I die or live.
If life be long, I will be glad
That I may long obey;
If short, yet why should I be sad?
This world must pass away.
Christ leads me through no darker rooms,
Than He went through before.
Whoe’er into His kingdom comes,
Must enter by His door.
Come, Lord, when grace has made me meet
Thy blessed face to see;
For, if Thy work on earth be sweet,
What must Thy glory be?
I’ll gladly end my sad complaints,
And weary, sinful days,
To join with the triumphant saints
That sing Jehovah’s praise.
My knowledge of that state is small,
My eye of faith is dim;
But ‘tis enough that Christ knows all,
And I shall be with Him.
“I had another wakeful season last night, and feel poorly today. Pray that whatever is God’s will may be accomplished in and through me, whether it be by my life or death .
“Yours in hope of eternal life,
“Hannah More .
“If you know of any way by which I can reach you sooner, please inform me .
She being dead yet speaketh. Her letters, which I have given, will be read with deep interest by those who have read her obituary in a recent number of the Review. She might have been a blessing to any Sabbathkeeping family who could appreciate her worth, but she sleeps. Our brethren at Battle Creek and in this vicinity could have made more than a welcome home for Jesus, in the person of this godly woman. But that opportunity is past. It was not convenient. They were not acquainted with her. She was advanced in years and might be a burden. Feelings of this kind barred her from the homes of the professed friends of Jesus, who are looking for His near advent, and drove her away from those she loved, to those who opposed her faith, to northern Michigan, in the cold of winter, to be chilled to death. She died a martyr to the selfishness and covetousness of professed commandment keepers.
Providence has administered, in this case, a terrible rebuke for the conduct of those who did not take this stranger in. She was not really a stranger. By reputation she was known, and yet she was not taken in. Many will feel sad as they think of Sister More as she stood in Battle Creek, begging a home there with the people of her choice. And as they, in imagination, follow her to Chicago, to borrow money to meet the expenses of the journey to her final resting place,—and when they think of that grave in Leelenaw County, where rests this precious outcast,—God pity those who are guilty in her case.
Poor Sister More! She sleeps, but we did what we could. When we were at Battle Creek, the last of August, we received the first of the two letters I have given, but we had no money to send her. My husband sent to Wisconsin and Iowa for means, and received seventy dollars to bear our expenses to those western convocations, held last September. We hoped to have means to send to her immediately on our return from the West, to pay her expenses to our new home in Montcalm County.
The liberal friends West had given us the needed means; but when we decided to accompany Brother Andrews to Maine, the matter was deferred until we should return. We did not expect to be in the East more than four weeks, which would have given ample time to send for Sister More after our return, and to get her to our house before navigation should close. And when we decided to remain in the East several weeks longer than we first designed, we lost no time in addressing several brethren in this vicinity, recommending that they send for Sister More and give her a home till we should return. I say: We did what we could.
But why should we feel interested in this sister, more than others? What did we want of this worn-out missionary? She could not do our housework, and we had but one child at home for her to teach. And, certainly, much could not be expected of one worn as she was, who had nearly reached three-score years. We had no use for her, in particular, only to bring the blessing of God into our house. There are many reasons why our brethren should have taken greater interest in the case of Sister More than we. We had never seen her, and had no other means of knowing her history, her devotion to the cause of Christ and humanity, than all the readers of the Review. Our brethren at Battle Creek had seen this noble woman, and some of them knew more or less of her wishes and wants. We had no money with which to help her; they had. We were already overburdened with care and needed those persons in our house who possessed the strength and buoyancy of youth. We needed to be helped, instead of helping others. But most of our brethren in Battle Creek are so situated that Sister More would not have been the least care and burden. They have time, strength, and comparative freedom from care.
Yet no one took the interest in her case that we did. I even spoke to the large congregation before we went East last fall, of their neglect of Sister More. I spoke of the duty of giving honor to whom it is due; it appeared to me that wisdom had so far departed from the prudent that they were not capable of appreciating moral worth. I told that church that there were many among them who could find time to meet, and sing, and play their instruments of music; they could give their money to the artist to multiply their likenesses, or could spend it to attend public amusements; but they had nothing to give to a worn-out missionary who had heartily embraced the present truth and had come to live with those of like precious faith. I advised them to stop and consider what we were doing, and proposed that they shut up their instruments of music for three months and take time to humble themselves before God in self-examination, repentance, and prayer until they learned the claims which the Lord had upon them as His professed children. My soul was stirred with a sense of the wrong that had been done Jesus, in the person of Sister More, and I talked personally with several about it.
This thing was not done in a corner. And yet, notwithstanding the matter was made public, followed by the great and good work in the church at Battle Creek, no effort was made by that church to redeem the past by bringing Sister More back. And one, a wife of one of our ministers, stated afterward: “I do not see the need of Brother and Sister White’s making such a fuss about Sister More. I think they do not understand the case.” True, we did not understand the case. It is much worse than we then supposed. If we had understood it, we would never have left Battle Creek till we had fully set before that church the sin of suffering her to leave them as she did, and measures had been taken to call her back.
A member of that church in conversation about Sister More’s leaving as she did, has since said in substance: “No one feels like taking the responsibility of such cases now. Brother White always took the charge of them.” Yes, he did. He would take them to his own house till every chair and bed was full, then he would go to his brethren and have them take those whom he could not. If they needed means, he would give to them and invite others to follow his example. There must be men in Battle Creek to do as he has done, or the curse of God will follow that church. Not one man only, there are fifty there who can do, more or less, as he has done.
We are told that we must come back to Battle Creek. This we are not ready to do. Probably this will never be our duty. We stood under heavy burdens there till we could stand no longer. God will have strong men and women there to divide these burdens among them. Those who move to Battle Creek, who accept positions there, who are not ready to put their hands to this kind of work, would a thousand times better be somewhere else. There are those who can see and feel, and gladly do good to Jesus in the person of His saints. Let them have room to work. Let those who cannot do this go where they will not stand in the way of the work of God.
Especially is this applicable to those who stand at the head of the work. If they go wrong, all is wrong. The greater the responsibility, the greater the ruin in the case of unfaithfulness. If leading brethren do not faithfully perform their duty, those who are led will not do theirs. Those at the head of the work at Battle Creek must be ensamples to the flock everywhere. If they do this, they will have a great reward. If they fail to do this, and yet accept such positions, they will have a fearful account to give.
We did what we could. If we could have had means at our command last summer and fall, Sister More would now be with us. When we learned our real circumstances, as set forth in Testimony No. 13, we both took the matter joyfully and said we did not want the responsibility of means. This was wrong. God wants that we should have means that we may, as in time past, help where help is needed. Satan wants to tie our hands in this respect and lead others to be careless, unfeeling, and covetous, that such cruel work may go on as in the case of Sister More.
We see outcasts, widows, orphans, worthy poor, and ministers in want, and many chances to use means to the glory of God, the advancement of His cause, and the relief of suffering saints, and I want means to use for God. The experience of nearly a quarter of a century in extensive traveling, feeling the condition of those who need help, qualifies us to make a judicious use of our Lord’s money. I have bought my own stationery, paid my own postage, and spent much of my life writing for the good of others, and all I have received for this work, which has wearied and worn me terribly, would not pay a tithe of my postage. When means has been pressed upon me, I have refused it, or appropriated it to such charitable objects as the Publishing Association. I shall do so no more. I shall do my duty in labor as ever, but my fears of receiving means to use for the Lord are gone. This case of Sister More has fully aroused me to see the work of Satan in depriving us of means.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 669-678