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, contrary to the judgement and advice of the church at Battle Creek, of which we were members at that time, to venture 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, especially as I stood alone, with the influence of the church, including those at the head of the work at Battle Creek, against me.
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 if I remained longer from the work. 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, Ottawa County, Michigan. My husband stood the long and severe journey of ninety miles much better than I feared, and seemed quite as well when we reached our old home at Brother Root's as when we left Battle Creek. We were kindly received by this dear family and as tenderly cared for as Christian parents can care for invalid children.
We found this church in a very low condition. With a large portion of its members the seeds of disunion and
dissatisfaction with one another were taking deep root, and a worldly spirit was taking possession of them. And notwithstanding their low state they had enjoyed the labours of our preachers so seldom that they were hungry for spiritual food. Here commenced our first effective labours since the sickness of my husband. Here he commenced to labour as in former years, though in much weakness. He would speak thirty or forty minutes in the forenoon of both Sabbath and first day, and I would fill up the rest of the time, and then speak about an hour and a half in the afternoon of each day. 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 when he used to speak, 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 felt deeply. I felt assured that this was the dawn of better days for us.
We remained with this people six weeks. I spoke to them twenty-five times, and my husband twelve times. As our labours with this church progressed, individual cases began to open before me, and I commenced to write out testimonies for them, amounting in all to one hundred pages. Then commenced labour for these persons as they came to Brother Root's, where we were stopping, and with some of them at their homes, but more especially in meetings at the house of worship. In this kind of labour I found that my husband was a great help. His long experience in this kind of work, as he had laboured with me in the past, had qualified him for it. And now that he entered upon it again he seemed to manifest all that clearness of thought, good judgement, and faithfulness in dealing with the erring, of former days. In fact, no other two of our ministers could have rendered me the assistance that he did.
A great and good work was done for this dear people.
Wrongs were freely and fully confessed, union was restored, and the blessing of God rested down upon the work. My husband laboured to bring up the systematic benevolence of the church to the figures which should be adopted in all our churches, and his efforts resulted in raising the amount to be paid into the treasury annually by that church about three hundred dollars. Those in the church who had been in trial about some of my testimonies, especially respecting the dress question, became fully settled on hearing the matter explained. The health and the dress reform were adopted, and a large amount was raised for the Health Institute.
Here I think it my duty to state that as this work was in progress, unfortunately a wealthy brother from the State of New York visited Wright after calling at Battle Creek and there learning that we had started out contrary to the opinion and advice of the church and those standing at the head of the work at Battle Creek. He chose to represent my husband, even before those for whom we had the greatest labour, as being partially insane and his testimony consequently as of no weight. His influence in this matter, as stated to me by Brother Root, the elder of the church, set the work back at least two weeks. I state this that unconsecrated persons may beware how they in their blind, unfeeling state cast an influence in an hour which may take the worn servants of the Lord weeks to counteract. We were labouring for persons of wealth, and Satan saw that this wealthy brother was just the man for him to use. May the Lord bring him where he can see, and in humility of mind confess, his wrong. By two weeks more of the most wearing labour, with the blessing of God, we were able to remove this wrong influence and give that dear people full proof that God had sent us to them. As a further result of our labours, seven were soon after baptised by Brother Waggoner, and two in July by my husband at the time of our second visit to that church.
The brother from New York returned with his wife and daughter to Battle Creek, not in a state of mind to give a correct report of the good work at Wright or to help the feelings of the church at Battle Creek. As facts have since come to light, it appears that he injured the church, and the church injured him, in their mutual enjoyment from house to house in taking the most unfavourable views of our course and making it the theme of conversation. About the time this cruel work was going on, I had the following dream:
I was visiting Battle Creek in company with a person of commanding manner and dignified deportment. In my dream I was passing around to the houses of our brethren. As we were about to enter, we heard voices engaged in earnest conversation. The name of my husband was frequently mentioned, and I was grieved and astonished to hear those who had professed to be our firmest friends relating scenes and incidents which had occurred during the severe affliction of my husband, when his mental and physical powers were palsied to a great degree. I was grieved to hear the voice of the professed brother from New York before mentioned, relating in an earnest manner, and in an exaggerated light, incidents of which those at Battle Creek were ignorant, while our friends in Battle Creek, in their turn, related that which they knew. I became faint and sick at heart, and in my dream came near falling, when the hand of my attendant supported me, and he said: "You must listen. You must know this even if it is hard to bear."
At the several houses we approached, the same subject was the theme of conversation. It was their present truth. Said I: "Oh, I did not know this! I was ignorant that such feelings existed in the hearts of those whom we have regarded as our friends in prosperity, and our fast friends in suffering, affliction, and adversity. Would I had never known this! We have accounted these our very best and truest friends."
The person with me repeated these words: "If they would only engage as readily and with as much earnestness and zeal in conversation upon their Redeemer, dwelling upon His matchless charms, His disinterested benevolence, and His merciful forgiveness, His pitiful tenderness to the suffering, His forbearance and inexpressible love, how much more precious and valuable would be the fruits."
I then said: "I am grieved. My husband has not spared himself to save souls. He stood under the burdens until they crushed him; he was prostrated, broken physically and mentally; and now to gather up words and acts and use them to destroy his influence, after God has put His hand under him to raise him up that his voice may again be heard, is cruel and wicked."
Said the person who accompanied me: "The conversation where Christ and the characteristics of His life are the themes dwelt upon will refresh the spirit and the fruit will be unto holiness and everlasting life." He then quoted these words: "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." These words so impressed me that I spoke upon them the next Sabbath.
My labours in Wright were very wearing. I had much care of my husband by day, and sometimes in the night. I gave him baths, and took him out to ride, and twice a day, cold, stormy, or pleasant, walked out with him. I used the pen while he dictated his reports for the Review, and also wrote many letters, in addition to the many pages of personal testimonies, and most of No. 11, besides visiting and speaking as often and as long and earnestly as I did. Brother and Sister Root fully sympathised with me in my trials and labours, and
watched with the tenderest care to supply all our wants. Our prayers were frequent that the Lord would bless them in basket and in store, in health as well as in grace and spiritual strength. And I felt that a special blessing would follow them. Though sickness has since come into their dwelling, yet I learn by Brother Root that they now enjoy better health than before. And among the items of temporal prosperity he reports that his wheat fields have produced twenty-seven bushels to the acre, and some forty, while the average yield of his neighbours' fields has been only seven bushels per acre.
January 29, 1867, we left Wright, and rode to Greenville, Montcalm County, a distance of forty miles. It was the most severely cold day of the winter, and we were glad to find a shelter from the cold and storm at Brother Maynard's. This dear family welcomed us to their hearts and to their home. We remained in this vicinity six weeks, labouring with the churches at Greenville and Orleans, and making Brother Maynard's hospitable home our headquarters.
The Lord gave me freedom in speaking to the people; in every effort made I realised His sustaining power. And as I became fully convinced that I had a testimony for the people, which I could bear to them in connection with the labours of my husband, my faith was strengthened that he would yet be raised to health to labour with acceptance in the cause and work of God. His labours were received by the people, and he was a great help to me in the work. Without him I could accomplish but little, but with his help, in the strength of God, I could do the work assigned me. The Lord sustained him in every effort which he put forth. As he ventured, trusting in God, regardless of his feebleness, he gained in strength and improved with every effort. As I realised that my husband was regaining physical and mental vigour, my gratitude was unbounded in view of the prospect that I should again be
unfettered to engage anew and more earnestly in the work of God, standing by the side of my husband, we labouring unitedly in the closing work for God's people. Previous to his being stricken down, the position he occupied in the office confined him there the greater part of the time. And as I could not travel without him I was necessarily kept at home much of the time. I felt that God would now prosper him while he laboured in word and doctrine, and devoted himself more especially to the work of preaching. Others could do the labour in the office, and we were settled in our convictions that he would never again be confined, but be free to travel with me that we both might bear the solemn testimony which God had given us for His remnant people.
I sensibly felt the low state of God's people, and every day I was aware that I had gone to the extent of my strength. While in Wright we had sent my manuscript for No. 11 to the office of publication, and I was improving almost every moment when out of meeting in writing out matter for No. 12. My energies, both physical and mental, had been severely taxed while labouring for the church in Wright. I felt that I should have rest, but could see no opportunity for relief. I was speaking to the people several times a week, and writing many pages of personal testimonies. The burden of souls was upon me, and the responsibilities I felt were so great that I could obtain but a few hours of sleep each night.
While thus labouring in speaking and writing, I received letters of a discouraging character from Battle Creek. As I read them I felt an inexpressible depression of spirits, amounting to agony of mind, which seemed for a short period to palsy my vital energies. For three nights I scarcely slept at all. My thoughts were troubled and perplexed. I concealed my feelings as well as I could from my husband and the sympathizing family with whom we were. None knew my labour or burden of mind as I united with the family in morning and evening
devotion, and sought to lay my burden upon the great Burden Bearer. But my petitions came from a heart wrung with anguish, and my prayers were broken and disconnected because of uncontrollable grief. The blood rushed to my brain, frequently causing me to reel and nearly fall. I had the nosebleed often, especially after making an effort to write. I was compelled to lay aside my writing, but could not throw off the burden of anxiety and responsibility upon me, as I realised that I had testimonies for others which I was unable to present to them.
I received still another letter, informing me that it was thought best to defer the publication of No. 11 until I could write out that which I had been shown in regard to the Health Institute, as those in charge of that enterprise stood in great want of means and needed the influence of my testimony to move the brethren. I then wrote out a portion of that which was shown me in regard to the Institute, but could not get out the entire subject because of pressure of blood to the brain. Had I thought that No. 12 would be so long delayed, I should not in any case have sent that portion of the matter contained in No. 11. I supposed that after resting a few days I could again resume my writing. But to my great grief I found that the condition of my brain made it impossible for me to write. The idea of writing testimonies, either general or personal, was given up, and I was in continual distress because I could not write them.
In this state of things it was decided that we would return to Battle Creek and there remain while the roads were in a muddy, broken-up condition, and that I would there complete No. 12. My husband was very anxious to see his brethren at Battle Creek and speak to them and rejoice with them in the work which God was doing for him. I gathered up my writings, and we started on our journey. On the way we held two meetings in Orange and had evidence that the church
was profited and encouraged. We were ourselves refreshed by the Spirit of the Lord. That night I dreamed that I was in Battle Creek looking out from the side glass at the door and saw a company marching up to the house, two and two. They looked stern and determined. I knew them well and turned to open the parlour door to receive them, but thought I would look again. The scene was changed. The company now presented the appearance of a Catholic procession. One bore in his hand a cross, another a reed. And as they approached, the one carrying a reed made a circle around the house, saying three times: "This house is proscribed. The goods must be confiscated. They have spoken against our holy order." Terror seized me, and I ran through the house, out of the north door, and found myself in the midst of a company, some of whom I knew, but I dared not speak a word to them for fear of being betrayed. I tried to seek a retired spot where I might weep and pray without meeting eager, inquisitive eyes wherever I turned. I repeated frequently: "If I could only understand this! If they will tell me what I have said or what I have done!"
I wept and prayed much as I saw our goods confiscated. I tried to read sympathy or pity for me in the looks of those around me, and marked the countenances of several whom I thought would speak to me and comfort me if they did not fear that they would be observed by others. I made one attempt to escape from the crowd, but seeing that I was watched, I concealed my intentions. I commenced weeping aloud, and saying: "If they would only tell me what I have done or what I have said!" My husband, who was sleeping in a bed in the same room, heard me weeping aloud and awoke me. My pillow was wet with tears, and a sad depression of spirits was upon me.
Brother and Sister Howe accompanied us to West Windsor, where we were received and welcomed by Brother and Sister
Carman. Sabbath and first day we met the brethren and sisters from the churches in the vicinity and had freedom in bearing our testimony to them. The refreshing Spirit of the Lord rested upon those who felt a special interest in the work of God. Our conference meetings were good, and nearly all bore testimony that they were strengthened and greatly encouraged.
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 laboured 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 labour 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 labouring very hard and had been travelling 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 fulfilment 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 labourer 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 travelling until midnight, we found ourselves in the city of Boston without means. On
two or three occasions we walked by faith seven miles. We travelled 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 labour 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 arbour. 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 laboured 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.