Those were days of sadness. I looked upon my three little boys, soon, as I feared, to be left fatherless, and thoughts like these forced themselves upon me: My husband dies of overwork in the cause of present truth; and who realises what he has suffered, the burdens he has for years borne, the extreme care which has crushed his spirits and ruined his health, bringing him to an untimely grave, leaving his family destitute and dependent? I have often asked the question, Does God have no care for these things? Does He pass them by unnoticed? I was comforted to know that
there is One who judgeth righteously, and that every sacrifice, every self-denial, and every pang of anguish endured for His sake, is faithfully chronicled in heaven, and will bring its reward. The day of the Lord will declare and bring to light things that are not yet made manifest.
I was shown that God designed to raise my husband up gradually; that we must exercise strong faith, for in every effort we should be fiercely buffeted by Satan; that we must look away from outward appearance, and believe. Three times a day we went alone before God, and engaged in earnest prayer for the recovery of his health. Frequently one of us would be prostrated by the power of God. The Lord graciously heard our earnest cries, and my husband began to recover. For many months our prayers ascended to heaven three times a day for health to do the will of God. These seasons of prayer were very precious. We were brought into a sacred nearness to God, and had sweet communion with Him. I cannot better state my feelings at this time than they are expressed in the following extracts from a letter I wrote to Sister Howland:
"I feel thankful that I can now have my children with me, under my own watch care, and can better train them in the right way. For weeks I have felt a hungering and thirsting for salvation, and we have enjoyed almost uninterrupted communion with God. Why do we stay away from the fountain, when we can come and drink? Why do we die for bread, when there is a storehouse full? It is rich and free. O my soul, feast upon it, and daily drink in heavenly joys. I will not hold my peace. The praise of God is in my heart and upon my lips. We can rejoice in the fullness of our Saviour's love. We can feast upon His excellent glory. My soul testifies to this. My gloom has been dispersed by this precious light, and I can never forget it. Lord, help me to keep it in lively remembrance. Awake, all the energies of my soul! Awake, and adore thy Redeemer for His wondrous love!
"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 laboured 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 judgement, 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 judgement 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, sympathised 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 labours 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 labour.
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 organisation, 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 favourable 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 sympathise with me in my privations. We prayed and laboured for our children, and restrained them. We did not neglect the rod, but before using it we first laboured 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 labours 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 labour 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 labours since his sickness. Here he began labour 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 labour. 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 laboured 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.