In my husband's absence we prayed that the Lord would sustain and strengthen him, and obtained the assurance that He would go with him. About one week before he was to visit Mauston, Wisconsin, we received letters for publication from Sister G purporting to be visions given her of the Lord. As we read these communications, we felt distressed; for we knew that they were not from the right source. And as my husband knew nothing of what he was about to meet at Mauston, we feared he would be unprepared to meet the fanaticism, and that it would have a discouraging influence upon his mind. We had passed through so many such scenes in our early experience, and had suffered so much from unruly, untameable spirits, that we dreaded to be brought in contact with them. I sent in a request for the church at Battle Creek to pray for my husband, and at our family altar we earnestly sought the Lord in his behalf. With brokenness of spirit, and many tears, we tried to fasten our trembling
faith upon God's promises, and we had the evidence that He heard us pray and that He would stand by my husband and impart to him counsel and wisdom.
While looking in the Bible for a verse for Willie to commit to memory to repeat in the Sabbath school, this scripture arrested my attention: "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him." I could but weep over these words, they seemed so appropriate. The whole burden upon my mind was for my husband and the church in Wisconsin. My husband did realise the blessing of God while in Wisconsin. The Lord was to him a stronghold in time of trouble and sustained him by His free Spirit while he bore a decided testimony against the wild fanaticism there.
While at Mackford, Wisconsin, my husband wrote me a letter in which he stated: "I fear that all is not well at home. I have had some impressions as to the babe." While praying for the family at home, he had a presentiment that the child was very sick. The babe seemed lying before him with face and head dreadfully swollen. When I received the letter, the child was as well as usual; but the next morning he was taken very sick. It was an extreme case of erysipelas in the face and head. When my husband reached Brother Wick's, near Round Grove, Illinois, he received a telegram informing him of the sickness of the child. After reading it, he stated to those present that he was not surprised at the news, for the Lord had prepared his mind for it, and that they would hear that the child's head and face were greatly affected.
My dear babe was a great sufferer. Twenty-four days and nights we anxiously watched over him, using all the means that we could for his recovery and earnestly presenting his case to the Lord. At times I could not control my feelings as I witnessed his sufferings. Much of my time was spent in tears and humble supplication to God. But our heavenly Father saw fit to remove the loved one.
December 14 he was taken worse, and I was called up. As I listened to his laboured breathing and felt his pulseless wrist, I knew that he must die. The icy hand of death was already upon him. That was an hour of anguish for me. We watched his feeble, gasping breath until it ceased, and could but feel thankful that his sufferings were ended. When my child was dying, I could not weep. My heart ached as though it would break, but I could not shed a tear. At the funeral I fainted. We were disappointed in not having Brother Loughborough to conduct the funeral services, and my husband spoke upon the occasion to a crowded house. We then followed our child to Oak Hill Cemetery, there to rest until the Life-giver shall come, to break the fetters of the tomb and call him forth immortal.
After we returned from the funeral, my home seemed lonely. I felt reconciled to the will of God, yet despondency and gloom settled upon me. We could not rise above the discouragements of the past summer. From the state of God's people we knew not what to expect. Satan had gained control of the minds of some who were closely connected with us in the work, even of some who had been acquainted with our mission and seen the fruit of our labours, and who had not only witnessed the frequent manifestation of the power of God, but had felt its influence upon their own bodies. What could we hope for in the future? While my child lived, I thought I understood my duty. I pressed my dear babe to my heart and rejoiced that at least for one winter I should be released from any great responsibility, for it could not be my duty to travel in winter with my infant. But when he was taken from me, I was again thrown into great perplexity.
The condition of God's cause and people nearly crushed us. Our happiness ever depends upon the state of the cause of God. When His people are in a prosperous condition, we feel free; but when they are backslidden and there is discord
among them, nothing can make us joyful. Our whole interest and life have been interwoven with the rise and progress of the third angel's message. We are bound up in it, and when it does not prosper, we experience great suffering of mind.
About this time, my husband, as he reviewed the past, began to lose confidence in almost everyone. Many of those whom he had tried to befriend had acted the part of enemies, and some whom he had helped the most by his influence and from his own scanty purse, were continually trying to injure him and cast burdens upon him. One Sabbath morning, as he was going to our place of worship, such an overpowering sense of injustice came over him that he turned aside and wept aloud, while the congregation waited for him.
From the commencement of our labours we have been called to bear a plain, pointed testimony, to reprove wrongs and spare not. And all the way there have been those who have stood in opposition to our testimony, and have followed after to speak smooth things, daub with untempered mortar, and destroy the influence of our labours. The Lord would rein us up to bear reproof, and then individuals would step right in between us and the people to make our testimony of no effect. Many visions have been given to the effect that we must not shun to declare the counsel of the Lord, but must occupy a position to stir up the people of God, for they are asleep in their sins. But few have sympathised with us, while many have sympathised with the wrong and with those who have been reproved. These things crushed us, and we felt that we had no testimony to bear in the church. We knew not in whom to confide. As all these things forced themselves upon us, hope died within us. We retired to rest about midnight, but I could not sleep. A severe pain was in my heart; I could find no relief and fainted a number of times.
My husband sent for Brethren Amadon, Kellogg, and
C. Smith. Their fervent prayers were heard, relief came, and I was taken off in vision. Then I was shown that we had a work to do, that we must still bear our testimony, straight and pointed. Individuals were presented before me who had shunned the pointed testimony. I saw the influence of their teachings upon God's people.
The condition of the people in ----- was also presented before me. They have the theory of truth, but are not sanctified through it. I saw that when the messengers enter a new place, their labour is worse than lost unless they bear a plain, pointed testimony. They should keep up the distinction between the church of Christ, and formal, dead professors. There was a failure in this respect in -----. Elder N was fearful of offending, fearful lest the peculiarities of our faith should appear; the standard was lowered to meet the people. It should have been urged upon them that we possess truths of vital importance, and that their eternal interest depended upon the decision they there made; that in order to be sanctified through the truth, their idols would have to be given up, their sins be confessed, and they bring forth fruit meet for repentance.
Those who engage in the solemn work of bearing the third angel's message must move out decidedly, and in the Spirit and power of God fearlessly preach the truth and let it cut. They should elevate the standard of truth and urge the people to come up to it. It has too frequently been lowered to meet the people in their condition of darkness and sin. It is the pointed testimony that will bring them up to decide. A peaceful testimony will not do this. The people have the privilege of listening to this kind of teaching from popular pulpits; but those servants to whom God has entrusted the solemn, fearful message which is to bring out and fit up a people for the coming of Christ should bear a plain, pointed testimony. Our truth is as much more solemn than
that of nominal professors, as the heavens are higher than the earth.
The people are asleep in their sins and need to be alarmed before they can shake off this lethargy. Their ministers have preached smooth things; but God's servants, who bear sacred, vital truths, should cry aloud and spare not, that the truth may tear off the garment of security and find its way to the heart. The straight testimony that should have been given to the people in ----- was shunned by the ministers; the seed of truth was sown among thorns and has been choked by them. With some, evil besetments have flourished, and the heavenly graces have died out.
God's servants must bear a pointed testimony, which will cut the natural heart and develop character. Brethren N and O moved with a perfect restraint upon them while in -----. Such preaching as was given there will never do the work that God designs should be accomplished. Ministers of the nominal churches do enough cringing, and wrapping up of the pointed truths which rebuke sin.
Unless persons embrace the message aright, and their hearts are prepared to receive it, they would better let it entirely alone. I was shown that the church in ----- have an experience to obtain; but it will be much harder for them to obtain it now than if the pointed testimony had been given them at the very commencement, when they first discovered that they were in error. Then the thorns could have been more easily rooted out. Yet I saw that there were men of moral worth in -----, some who will yet be tested upon present truth. If the church will arise and be converted, the Lord will return unto them and give them His Spirit. Then their influence will tell for the truth.