“Souls around us must be aroused and saved, or they perish. Not a moment have we to lose. We all have an influence that tells for the truth or against it. I desire to carry with me unmistakable evidences that I am one of Christ’s disciples. We want something besides Sabbath religion. We need the living principle, and to daily feel individual responsibility. This is shunned by many, and the fruit is carelessness, indifference, a lack of watchfulness and spirituality. Where is the spirituality of the church? Where are men and women full of faith and the Holy Spirit? My prayer is: Purify Thy church, O God. For months I have enjoyed freedom, and I am determined to order my conversation and all my ways aright before the Lord.
“Our enemies may triumph. They may speak bitter words, and their tongue frame slander, deceit, and falsehood, yet will we not be moved. We know in whom we have believed. We have not run in vain, neither labored in vain. A reckoning day is coming, when all will be judged according to the deeds done in the body. It is true the world is dark. Opposition may wax strong. The trifler and the scorner may grow bold in their iniquity. Yet for all this we will not be moved, but lean upon the arm of the Mighty One for strength.
“God is sifting His people. He will have a clean and holy church. We cannot read the heart of man. But the Lord has provided means to keep the church pure. A corrupt people has arisen who could not live with the people of God. They despised reproof, and would not be corrected. They had an opportunity to know that theirs was an unrighteous warfare. They had time to repent of their wrongs; but self was too dear to die. They nourished it, and it grew strong, and they separated from the trusting people of God, whom He is purifying unto Himself. We all have reason to thank God that a way has been opened to save the church; for the wrath of God must have come upon us if these corrupt pretenders had remained with us.
“Every honest soul that may be deceived by these disaffected ones, will have the true light in regard to them, if every angel from heaven has to visit them, to enlighten their minds. We have nothing to fear in this matter. As we near the judgment, all will manifest their true character, and it will be made plain to what company they belong. The sieve is moving. Let us not say: Stay Thy hand, O God. The church must be purged, and it will be. God reigns; let the people praise Him. I have not the most distant thought of sinking down. I mean to be right and do right. The judgment is to set, the books are to be opened, and we are to be judged according to our deeds. All the falsehoods that may be framed against me will not make me any worse, nor any better unless they have a tendency to drive me nearer my Redeemer.”
From the time we moved to Battle Creek, the Lord began to turn our captivity. We found sympathizing friends in Michigan, who were ready to share our burdens and supply our wants. Old, tried friends in central New York and New England, especially in Vermont, sympathized with us in our afflictions, and were ready to assist us in time of distress. At the Conference at Battle Creek in November, 1856, God wrought for us. The minds of His servants were exercised as to the gifts of the church. If God’s frown had been brought upon His people because the gifts had been slighted and neglected, there was a pleasing prospect that His smiles would again be upon us, that He would graciously revive the gifts, and they would live in the church to encourage the fainting soul, and to correct and reprove the erring. New life was given to the cause, and success attended the labors of our preachers.
The publications were called for, and proved to be just what the cause demanded. The Messenger of Truth soon went down, and the discordant spirits who had spoken through it were scattered. My husband was enabled to pay all his debts. His cough ceased, the pain and soreness left his lungs and throat, and he was gradually restored to health, so that he could preach three times on the Sabbath and on first day with ease. This wonderful work in his restoration was of God, and He should have all the glory.
When my husband became so feeble, before our removal from Rochester, he desired to free himself from the responsibility of the publishing work. He proposed that the church take charge of the work, and that it be managed by a publishing committee whom they should appoint, and that no one connected with the office derive any financial benefit therefrom beyond the wages received for his labor.
Though the matter was repeatedly urged upon their attention, our brethren took no action in regard to it until 1861. Up to this time my husband had been the legal proprietor of the publishing house, and sole manager of the work. He enjoyed the confidence of the active friends of the cause, who trusted to his care the means which they donated from time to time, as the growing cause demanded, to build up the publishing enterprise. But although the statement was frequently repeated through the Review, that the publishing house was virtually the property of the church, yet as he was the only legal manager, our enemies took advantage of the situation, and under the cry of speculation, did all in their power to injure him, and to retard the progress of the cause. Under these circumstances he introduced the matter of organization, which resulted in the incorporation of the Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association, according to the laws of Michigan, in the spring of 1861.
Although the cares that came upon us in connection with the publishing work and other branches of the cause involved much perplexity, the greatest sacrifice I was called to make in connection with the work was to leave my children to the care of others.
Henry had been from us five years, and Edson had received but little of our care. For years our family was very large, and our home like a hotel, and we from that home much of the time. I had felt the deepest anxiety that my children should be brought up free from evil habits, and I was often grieved as I thought of the contrast between my situation and that of others who would not take burdens and cares, who could ever be with their children, to counsel and instruct them, and who spent their time almost exclusively in their own families. And I have inquired: Does God require so much of us, and leave others without burdens? Is this equality? Are we to be thus hurried on from one care to another, one part of the work to another, and have but little time to bring up our children? Many nights, while others were sleeping, have been spent by me in bitter weeping.
I would plan some course more favorable for my children, then objections would arise which would sweep away these plans. I was keenly sensitive to faults in my children, and every wrong they committed brought on me such heartache as to affect my health. I have wished that some mothers could be circumstanced for a short time as I have been for years; then they would prize the blessings they enjoy, and could better sympathize with me in my privations. We prayed and labored for our children, and restrained them. We did not neglect the rod, but before using it we first labored to have them see their faults, and then prayed with them. We sought to have our children understand that we would merit the displeasure of God if we excused them in sin. And our efforts were blessed to their good. Their greatest pleasure was to please us. They were not free from faults, but we believed that they would yet be lambs of Christ’s fold.
In 1860 death stepped over our threshold, and broke the youngest branch of our family tree. Little Herbert, born September 20, 1860, died December 14 of the same year. When that tender branch was broken, how our hearts did bleed none may know but those who have followed their little ones of promise to the grave.
But oh, when our noble Henry died, [The death of Henry N. White occurred at Topsham, Maine, December 8, 1863. ] at the age of sixteen; when our sweet singer was borne to the grave, and we no more heard his early song, ours was a lonely home. Both parents and the two remaining sons felt the blow most keenly. But God comforted us in our bereavements, and with faith and courage we pressed forward in the work He had given us, in bright hope of meeting our children who had been torn from us by death, in that world where sickness and death will never come.
In August, 1865, my husband was suddenly stricken down by paralysis. This was a heavy blow, not only to myself and my children, but to the cause of God. The churches were deprived both of my husband’s labors and of my own. Satan triumphed as he saw the work of truth thus hindered. But, thank God! he was not permitted to destroy us. After being cut off from all active labor for fifteen months, we ventured out once more together to work among the churches.
Having become fully satisfied that my husband would not recover from his protracted sickness while remaining inactive, and that the time had fully come for me to go forth and bear my testimony to the people, I decided to make a tour in northern Michigan, with my husband in his extremely feeble condition, in the severest cold of winter. It required no small degree of moral courage and faith in God to bring my mind to the decision to risk so much; but I knew that I had a work to do, and it seemed to me that Satan was determined to keep me from it. I had waited long for our captivity to be turned, and feared that precious souls would be lost by the delay. To remain longer from the field seemed to me worse than death, and should we move out we could but perish. So, on the 19th of December, 1866, we left Battle Creek in a snowstorm for Wright, Michigan. My husband stood the journey of ninety miles much better than I feared, and seemed quite as well when we reached our destination as when we left Battle Creek.
Here commenced our first effective labors since his sickness. Here he began labor as in former years, though in much weakness. He would speak thirty or forty minutes in the forenoon of the Sabbath and on first day, while I would occupy the rest of the time, and then speak in the afternoon of each day, about an hour and a half each time. We were listened to with the greatest attention. I saw that my husband was growing stronger, clearer, and more connected in his subjects. And when on one occasion he spoke one hour with clearness and power, with the burden of the work upon him as before his sickness, my feelings of gratitude were beyond expression. I arose in the congregation, and for nearly half an hour tried with weeping to give utterance to them. The congregation was deeply moved. I felt assured that this was the dawn of better days for us.
The hand of God in his restoration was most apparent. Probably no other one upon whom such a blow has fallen ever recovered. Yet a severe shock of paralysis, seriously affecting the brain, was by the good hand of God removed from His servant, and new strength granted him both in body and mind.
During the years that followed the recovery of my husband, the Lord opened before us a vast field of labor. Though I took the stand as a speaker timidly at first, yet as the providence of God opened the way before me, I had confidence to stand before large audiences. Together we attended our camp meetings and other large gatherings, from Maine to Dakota, from Michigan to Texas and California.
The work begun in feebleness and obscurity has continued to increase and strengthen. Publishing houses in Michigan and in California, and missions in England, Norway, and Switzerland, attest its growth. In place of the edition of our first paper carried to the office in a carpetbag, about one hundred and forty thousand copies of our various periodicals are now sent out monthly from the offices of publication. The hand of God has been with His work to prosper and build it up.
The later history of my life would involve the history of the various enterprises which have arisen among us, and with which my lifework has been closely intermingled. For the upbuilding of these institutions, my husband and myself labored with pen and voice. To notice, even briefly, the experience of these active and busy years, would far exceed the limits of this sketch. Satan’s efforts to hinder the work and to destroy the workmen have not ceased; but God has had a care for His servants and for His work.
Chapter 14—The Death of My Husband
Notwithstanding the labors, cares, and responsibilities with which my husband’s life had been crowded, his sixtieth year found him active and vigorous in mind and body. Three times had he fallen under a stroke of paralysis; yet by the blessing of God, a naturally strong constitution, and strict attention to the laws of health, he had been enabled to rally. Again he traveled, preached, and wrote with his wonted zeal and energy. Side by side we had labored in the cause of Christ for thirty-six years; and we hoped that we might stand together to witness the triumphant close. But such was not the will of God. The chosen protector of my youth, the companion of my life, the sharer of my labors and afflictions, has been taken from my side, and I am left to finish my work and to fight the battle alone.
The spring and early summer of 1881 we spent together at our home in Battle Creek. My husband hoped to arrange his business so that we could go to the Pacific Coast and devote ourselves to writing. He felt that we had made a mistake in allowing the apparent wants of the cause and the entreaties of our brethren to urge us into active labor in preaching when we should have been writing. My husband desired to present more fully the glorious subject of redemption, and I had long contemplated the preparation of important books. We both felt that while our mental powers were unimpaired we should complete these works—that it was a duty which we owed to ourselves and to the cause of God to rest from the heat of battle, and give to our people the precious light of truth which God had opened to our minds.
Some weeks before the death of my husband, I urged upon him the importance of seeking a field of labor where we would be released from the burdens necessarily coming upon us at Battle Creek. In reply he spoke of various matters which required attention before we could leave—duties which someone must do. Then with deep feeling he inquired: “Where are the men to do this work? Where are those who will have an unselfish interest in our institutions, and who will stand for the right, unaffected by any influence with which they may come in contact?”
With tears he expressed his anxiety for our institutions at Battle Creek. Said he: “My life has been given to the up-building of these institutions. It seems like death to leave them. They are as my children, and I cannot separate my interest from them. These institutions are the Lord’s instrumentalities to do a specific work. Satan seeks to hinder and defeat every means by which the Lord is working for the salvation of men. If the great adversary can mold these institutions according to the world’s standard, his object is gained. It is my greatest anxiety to have the right man in the right place. If those who stand in responsible positions are weak in moral power, and vacillating in principle, inclined to lead toward the world, there are enough who will be led. Evil influences must not prevail. I would rather die than live to see these institutions mismanaged, or turned aside from the purpose for which they were brought into existence.
“In my relations to this cause I have been longest and most closely connected with the publishing work. Three times have I fallen, stricken with paralysis, through my devotion to this branch of the cause. Now that God has given me renewed physical and mental strength, I feel that I can serve His cause as I have never been able to serve it before. I must see the publishing work prosper. It is interwoven with my very existence. If I forget the interests of this work, let my right hand forget her cunning.”
We had an appointment to attend a tent meeting at Charlotte, Sabbath and Sunday, July 23 and 24. As I was in feeble health, we decided to travel by private conveyance. On the way, my husband seemed cheerful, yet a feeling of solemnity rested upon him. He repeatedly praised the Lord for mercies and blessings received, and freely expressed his own feelings concerning the past and future: “The Lord is good, and greatly to be praised. He is a present help in time of need. The future seems cloudy and uncertain, but the Lord would not have us distressed over these things. When trouble comes, He will give us grace to endure it. What the Lord has been to us, and what He has done for us, should make us so grateful that we would never murmur or complain. Our labors, burdens, and sacrifices will never be fully appreciated by all. I see that I have lost my peace of mind and the blessing of God by permitting myself to be troubled by these things.
“It has seemed hard to me that my motives should be misjudged, and that my best efforts to help, encourage, and strengthen my brethren should again and again be turned against me. But I should have remembered Jesus and His disappointments. His soul was grieved that He was not appreciated by those He came to bless. I should have dwelt upon the mercy and loving-kindness of God, praising Him more, and complaining less of the ingratitude of my brethren. Had I ever left all my perplexities with the Lord, thinking less of what others said and did against me, I should have had more peace and joy. I will now seek first to guard myself that I offend not in word or deed, and then to help my brethren make straight paths for their feet. I will not stop to mourn over any wrong done to me. I have expected more of men than I ought. I love God and His work, and I love my brethren also.”
Little did I think, as we traveled on, that this was the last journey we would ever make together. The weather changed suddenly from oppressive heat to chilling cold. My husband took cold, but thought his health so good that he would receive no permanent injury. He labored in the meetings at Charlotte, presenting the truth with great clearness and power. He spoke of the pleasure he felt in addressing a people who manifested so deep an interest in the subjects most dear to him. “The Lord has indeed refreshed my soul,” he said, “while I have been breaking to others the bread of life. All over Michigan the people are calling eagerly for help. How I long to comfort, encourage, and strengthen them with the precious truths applicable to this time!”
On our return home, my husband complained of slight indisposition, yet he engaged in his work as usual. Every morning we visited the grove near our home, and united in prayer. We were anxious to know our duty. Letters were continually coming in from different places, urging us to attend the camp meetings. Notwithstanding our determination to devote ourselves to writing, it was hard to refuse to meet with our brethren in these important gatherings. We earnestly pleaded for wisdom to know the right course.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 99-108
Discussion Questions: Day 10
- Discuss the rise and strengthening of the work from when the tide shifted for the Whites out of their primary distress.
- Discuss the fear and anxiety of James White for the institutions at Battle Creek. What would he rather do than see this?
- Of what level of importance was the publishing work in James White’s experience? How did he thus emphasize this?