The brethren in the office feel that they cannot leave the work for a few days for a change, for recreation; but this is a mistake. They can and should do so. Even if there were not as much accomplished, it would be better to leave for a few days than to be prostrated by disease and be separated from the work for months, and perhaps never be able to engage in it again.
My husband thought it wrong for him to spend time in social enjoyment. He could not afford to rest. He thought that the work in the office would suffer if he should. But after the blow fell upon him, causing physical and mental prostration, the work had to be carried on without him. I saw that the brethren engaged in the responsible labor in the office should work upon a different plan and make their arrangements to have change. If more help is needed, obtain it, and let relief come to those who are suffering from constant confinement and brain labor. They should attend convocation meetings. They need to throw off care, share the hospitality of their brethren, and enjoy their society and the blessings of the meetings. They will thus receive fresh thoughts, and their wearied energies will be awakened to new life, and they will return to the work far better qualified to perform their part, for they will better understand the wants of the cause.
Brethren abroad, are you asleep to this matter? Must your hearts be made faint by the fall of another of God’s workmen, whom you love? These men are the property of the church. Will you suffer them to die under the burdens? I appeal to you to advise a different order of things. I pray God that the bitter experience that has come upon us may never be allowed to come to any one of the brethren in the office. Especially do I commend Brother C to your care. Shall he die for want of air, the vitalizing air of heaven? The course he is pursuing is really shortening his life. Through his confinement indoors his blood is becoming foul and sluggish, the liver is deranged, the action of the heart is not right. Unless he works a change for himself, nature will take the work into her own hands. She will make a grand attempt to relieve the system by expelling the impurities from the blood. She will summon all the vital powers to work, and the whole organism will be deranged, and all this may end in paralysis or apoplexy. If he should ever recover from this crisis, his loss of time would be great; but the probabilities of recovery are very small. If Brother C cannot be aroused, I advise you, brethren, who have an interest in the cause of present truth, to take him, as Luther was taken by his friends, and carry him away from his work.
Since writing the above, I learn that most of Thoughts on the Revelation, was written in the night, after the author’s day’s work was done. This was the course which my husband pursued; I protest against such suicide. The brethren whom I have mentioned, who are so closely confined in the office, would be serving the cause of God by attending meetings and taking periods of recreation. They would be preserving physical health and mental strength in the best condition to devote to the work. They should not be left to feel crippled because they are not earning wages. Their wages should go on and they be free. They are doing a great work.
Chapter 88—The Reform Dress
In answer to letters of inquiry from many sisters relative to the proper length of the reform dress, I would say that in our part of the State of Michigan we have adopted the uniform length of about nine inches from the floor. I take this opportunity to answer these inquiries in order to save the time required to answer so many letters. I should have spoken before, but have waited to see something definite on this point in the Health Reformer. I would earnestly recommend uniformity in length, and would say that nine inches as nearly accords with my views of the matter as I am able to express it in inches.
As I travel from place to place I find that the reform dress is not rightly represented, and am made to feel that something more definite should be said that there may be uniform action in this matter. This style of dress is unpopular, and for this reason neatness and taste should be exercised by those who adopt it. I have spoken once upon this point, yet some fail to follow the advice given. There should be uniformity as to the length of the reform dress among Sabbathkeepers. Those who make themselves peculiar by adopting this dress should not think for a moment that it is unnecessary to show order, taste, and neatness. Before putting on the reform dress, our sisters should obtain patterns of the pants and sack worn with it. It is a great injury to the dress reform to have persons introduce into a community a style which in every particular needs reforming before it can rightly represent the reform dress. Wait, sisters, till you can put the dress on right.
In some places there is great opposition to the short dress. But when I see some dresses worn by the sisters, I do not wonder that people are disgusted and condemn the dress. Where the dress is represented as it should be, all candid persons are constrained to admit that it is modest and convenient. In some of our churches I have seen all kinds of reform dresses, and yet not one answering the description presented before me. Some appear with white muslin pants, white sleeves, dark delaine dress, and a sleeveless sack of the same description as the dress. Some have a calico dress with pants cut after their own fashioning, not after “the pattern,” without starch or stiffening to give them form, and clinging close to the limbs. There is certainly nothing in these dresses manifesting taste or order. Such a dress would not recommend itself to the good judgment of sensible-minded persons. In every sense of the word it is a deformed dress.
Sisters who have opposing husbands have asked my advice in regard to their adopting the short dress contrary to the wishes of the husband. I advise them to wait. I do not consider the dress question of so vital importance as the Sabbath. Concerning the latter there can be no hesitation. But the opposition which many might receive should they adopt the dress reform would be more injurious to health than the dress would be beneficial. Several of these sisters have said to me: “My husband likes your dress; he says he has not one word of fault to find with it.” This has led me to see the necessity of our sisters’ representing the dress reform aright, by manifesting neatness, order, and uniformity in dress. I shall have patterns prepared to take with me as we travel, ready to hand to our sisters whom we shall meet, or to send by mail to all who may order them. Our address will be given in the Review.
Those who adopt the short dress should manifest taste in the selection of colors. Those who are unable to buy new cloth must do the best they can to exercise taste and ingenuity in fixing over old garments, making them new again. Be particular to have the pants and dress of the same color and material, or you will appear fantastic. Old garments may be cut after a correct pattern and arranged tastefully, and appear like new. I beg of you, sisters, not to form your patterns after your own particular ideas. While there are correct patterns and good tastes, there are also incorrect patterns and bad tastes.
This dress does not require hoops, and I hope that it will never be disgraced by them. Our sisters need not wear many skirts to distend the dress. It appears much more becoming falling about the form naturally over one or two light skirts. Moreen is excellent material for outside skirts; it retains its stiffness and is durable. If anything is worn in skirts, let it be very small. Quilts are unnecessary. Yet I frequently see them worn, and sometimes hanging a trifle below the dress. This gives it an immodest, untidy appearance. White skirts, worn with dark dresses, do not become the short dress. Be particular to have your skirts clean, neat, and nice; make them of good material and in all cases at least three inches shorter than the dress. If anything is worn to distend the skirt, let it be small and at least one quarter or one half a yard from the bottom of the dress or outside skirt. If a cord, or anything answering the place of cords, is placed directly around the bottom of the skirt, it distends the dress merely at the bottom, making it appear very unbecoming when the wearer is sitting or stooping.
None need fear that I shall make dress reform one of my principal subjects as we travel from place to place. Those who have heard me upon this matter will have to act upon the light that has already been given. I have done my duty; I have borne my testimony, and those who have heard me and read that which I have written must now bear the responsibility of receiving or rejecting the light given. If they choose to venture to be forgetful hearers, and not doers of the work, they run their own risk and will be accountable to God for the course they pursue. I am clear. I shall urge none and condemn none. This is not the work assigned me. God knows His humble, willing, obedient children and will reward them according to their faithful performance of His will. To many the dress reform is too simple and humbling to be adopted. They cannot lift the cross. God works by simple means to separate and distinguish His children from the world; but some have so departed from the simplicity of the work and ways of God that they are above the work, not in it.
I was referred to Numbers 15:38-41: “Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: and it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: that ye may remember, and do all My commandments, and be holy unto your God. I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God.” Here God expressly commanded a very simple arrangement of dress for the children of Israel for the purpose of distinguishing them from the idolatrous nations around them. As they looked upon their peculiarity of dress, they were to remember that they were God’s commandment-keeping people, and that He had wrought in a miraculous manner to bring them from Egyptian bondage to serve Him, to be a holy people unto Him. They were not to serve their own desires, or to imitate the idolatrous nations around them, but to remain a distinct, separate people, that all who looked upon them might say: These are they whom God brought out of the land of Egypt, who keep the law of Ten Commandments. An Israelite was known to be such as soon as seen, for God through simple means distinguished him as His.
The order given by God to the children of Israel to place a ribbon of blue in their garments was to have no direct influence on their health, only as God would bless them by obedience, and the ribbon would keep in their memory the high claims of Jehovah and prevent them from mingling with other nations, uniting in their drunken feasts, and eating swine’s flesh and luxurious food detrimental to health. God would now have His people adopt the reform dress, not only to distinguish them from the world as His “peculiar people,” but because a reform in dress is essential to physical and mental health. God’s people have, to a great extent, lost their peculiarity, and have been gradually patterning after the world, and mingling with them, until they have in many respects become like them. This is displeasing to God. He directs them, as He directed the children of Israel anciently, to come out from the world and forsake their idolatrous practices, not following their own hearts (for their hearts are unsanctified) or their own eyes, which have led them to depart from God and to unite with the world.
Something must arise to lessen the hold of God’s people upon the world. The reform dress is simple and healthful, yet there is a cross in it. I thank God for the cross and cheerfully bow to lift it. We have been so united with the world that we have lost sight of the cross and do not suffer for Christ’s sake.
We should not wish to invent something to make a cross; but if God presents to us a cross, we should cheerfully bear it. In the acceptance of the cross we are distinguished from the world, who love us not and ridicule our peculiarity. Christ was hated by the world because He was not of the world. Can His followers expect to fare better than their Master? If we pass along without receiving censure or frowns from the world we may be alarmed, for it is our conformity to the world which makes us so much like them that there is nothing to arouse their envy or malice; there is no collision of spirits. The world despises the cross. “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Galatians 6:14.
Chapter 89—Surmisings About Battle Creek
In 1865 I saw that some have felt at liberty, through envious feelings, to speak lightly of the church at Battle Creek. Some look suspiciously on all that is going on there and seem to exult if they can get hold of anything to take advantage of to the discredit of Battle Creek. God is displeased with such a spirit and course of action. From what source do our churches abroad obtain their light and knowledge of the truth? It has been from the means which God has ordained, which center at Battle Creek. Who have the burdens of the cause? It is those who are zealously laboring at Battle Creek. Burdens and heavy trials necessarily come upon those who stand in the forefront of the hottest battle, and perplexities and wearing thought are attendant upon all who engage in making highly important decisions in connection with the work of God. Our brethren abroad, who are relieved from all this, should feel thankful and praise God that they are thus favored and should be the last to be jealous, envious, and faultfinding, occupying a position, “Report, and we will report it.”
The church at Battle Creek have borne the burdens of the Conferences, which have been a severe tax upon nearly all. In consequence of the extra labor many have brought upon themselves debility which has lasted for many months. They have borne the burden cheerfully, but have felt saddened and disheartened by the heartless indifference of some and the cruel jealousy of others after they returned to the several churches whence they came. Remarks are thoughtlessly made—by some designedly, by others carelessly—concerning the burden bearers there and concerning those who stand at the head of the work. God has marked all these speeches and the jealousy and envy which prompted them; a faithful record is kept. Many thank God for the truth and then turn around and question and find fault with the very means which Heaven has ordained to make them what they are or what they ought to be. How much more pleasing to God it would be for them to act the part of Aaron and Hur and help hold up the hands of those who are bearing the great and heavy burdens of the work in connection with the cause of God. Murmurers and complainers should remain at home, where they will be out of the way of temptation, where they cannot find food for their jealousies, evil surmisings, and faultfindings, for the presence of such is only a burden to the meetings; they are clouds without water.
Those who feel at liberty to find fault with and censure those whom God has chosen to act an important part in this last great work would better seek to be converted and to obtain the mind of Christ. Let them remember the children of Israel who were so ready to find fault with Moses, whom God had ordained to lead His people to Canaan, and to murmur against even God Himself. All these murmurers fell in the wilderness. It is easy to rebel, easy to give battle before considering matters rationally, calmly, and settling whether there is anything to war against. The children of Israel are an example to us upon whom the ends of the world are come.
It is easier for many to question and find fault in regard to matters at Battle Creek than to tell what should be done. Some would even venture to take this responsibility, but they would soon find themselves deficient in experience and would run the work into the ground. If these talkers and faultfinders would themselves become burden bearers and pray for the laborers, they would be blessed themselves and would bless others with their godly example, with their holy influence and lives. It is easier for many to talk than to pray; such lack spirituality and holiness, and their influence is an injury to the cause of God. Instead of feeling that the work at Battle Creek is their work, and that they have an interest in its prosperity, they stand aside more as spectators, to question and find fault. Those who do this are the very ones who lack experience in this work and who have suffered but little for the truth’s sake.
Chapter 90—Shifting Responsibilities
Those Sabbathkeeping brethren who shift the responsibility of their stewardship into the hands of their wives, while they themselves are capable of managing the same, are unwise and in the transfer displease God. The stewardship of the husband cannot be transferred to the wife. Yet this is sometimes attempted, to the great injury of both. A believing husband has sometimes transferred his property to his unbelieving companion, hoping thereby to gratify her, disarm her opposition, and finally induce her to believe the truth. But this is no more nor less than an attempt to purchase peace, or to hire the wife to believe the truth. The means which God has lent to advance His cause the husband transfers to one who has no sympathy for the truth; what account will such a steward render when the great Master requires His own with usury?
Believing parents have frequently transferred their property to their unbelieving children, thus putting it out of their power to render to God the things that are His. By so doing they lay off that responsibility which God has laid upon them, and place in the enemy’s ranks means which God has entrusted to them to be returned to Him by being invested in His cause when He shall require it of them. It is not in God’s order that parents who are capable of managing their own business should give up the control of their property, even to children who are of the same faith. These seldom possess as much devotion to the cause as they should, and they have not been schooled in adversity and affliction so as to place a high estimate upon the eternal treasure and less upon the earthly. The means placed in the hands of such is the greatest evil. It is a temptation to them to place their affections upon the earthly and trust to property and feel that they need but little besides. When means which they have not acquired by their own exertion comes into their possession, they seldom use it wisely.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1 pp. 519-528