Ellen G. White Writings

<< Back Forward >>

«Back «Prev. Pub. «Article   Article» Next Pub.» Forward»

The Review and Herald

January 29, 1884

Notes of Travel

By Mrs. E. G. White

From Battle Creek, Mich., to Oakland, Cal

A little before two o'clock on the morning of December 16, our party left Battle Creek on our long journey across the plains to California. On this journey, in which I had visited Michigan, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, New York, Nebraska, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, I had seen more accomplished than I had anticipated. The Lord had seemed to mark out each step for me, and to give strength according to my day. I felt the need of guidance as never before. This was the first round of camp-meetings I had attended since my husband's death. He is no longer at my side as a counselor; and I must evermore lean more firmly on the arm of Infinite Power.

On this first night of our journey, I slept about three hours. When we reached Chicago Sunday morning, Eld. R. F. Andrews, Dr. Anderson, and Bro. Shireman came into the car, and said they had made an appointment for me to speak in their newly hired hall, and the people were already assembling. My head was dizzy, and I knew I was in no condition to labor; but the pleadings of my brethren prevailed, and I was soon standing in the humble but well-filled room. While on my way to the hall, I had opportunity to offer a prayer for help and special grace, that I might have in my heart and on my lips words of truth which would strengthen the faith of the believing, and shed a ray of light upon the pathway of those who were in darkness. The Lord heard and answered my prayer. He gave me the assurance, as he has done many times before, that he was my helper. He hears the first breathing of our desires; and if it is for his glory, the mandate goes forth for help to be given as it is needed.

I spoke an hour and a half with great freedom from Zechariah 3:1-7, where Satan is represented as man's adversary, claiming his prey in the person of Joshua the high priest, even in the presence of the Lord of hosts; while our Advocate rebukes Satan, and pleads for man as a brand plucked from the burning. The people hung upon my words as those who were hungering for the bread of life. Tears started from many eyes, as I presented events to transpire in the near future which will test the people of God, bringing them where they will be required to make such decisions as Daniel made when the decree went forth that all who for the next thirty days should offer a petition to any save the king, should be thrown into the lion's den. Had Daniel obeyed the decree, he would have dishonored God; but he was true to principle, and the Lord delivered him. It is Satan's constant aim to exalt himself and his inventions, and to dishonor God. He is not satisfied unless he has the supremacy. It is not the purpose and work of God to compel men's consciences; but Satan pushes his advantages. He is a rebel against God and Christ, and is determined to war against them and those who are loyal to them. He hates them all with a bitterness that it is impossible to describe; and plots against the lives of those whom he cannot deceive by his devices.

Brn. Corliss and St. John took part in this meeting. The precious season closed with prayer; and we were again hurrying through the icy streets to the cars. We resumed our journey westward, and the next morning reached Kansas City, where I spent the day with my children, Edson and Emma White. From this point our party numbered forty-eight. We here took the skeleton-sleepers, our party occupying the whole of one car, and nearly all of another.

Our train left Kansas City Monday evening, a little after nine o'clock. Tuesday we pursued our way across the wide Kansas prairies. Between ten and eleven o'clock in the evening, I was alarmed to find from the violent motion that the car we were in was off the track. Twenty-eight years ago when going from Jackson, Mich., to Wisconsin, I had a similar experience. The engine with part of the train was thrown from the track, and four persons lost their lives and a number were wounded. I thought of that time, and my heart was drawn out in prayer for safety from disaster and death. I called to my son to pull the bell rope. Before this could be done the lights had been shaken out; but to our great relief the cars soon stopped. The hind wheels were turned half way around; and had we not stopped just as we did, our car would have broken down, and the next car would have run into ours. Were not angels of God watching over us? I believe they were, and that could our eyes have been opened, we should have seen these holy beings, sent to preserve our lives. But for their care, we might have witnessed the suffering and death of dear friends.

The accident was caused by running through a herd of cattle that had taken shelter from the wind and storm in a railroad cut. The storm prevented their being seen in time to stop the train, and so the engineer put on steam and drove through them. Eleven of these poor creatures were killed, and others were badly injured.

Our car was left standing on the track while the engine and part of the train, including one of our cars with part of our company, went on to the next station; and as another train was expected, precautions were taken to prevent a collision. We were hindered about two hours. There was a lively scene on our car. All were astir, dressing, packing bedding, and moving into the next two cars. But though we were obliged to make this change in the night, and some of our company were moved into a crowded car and some into a cold one, none of us felt like murmuring. We were too deeply thankful that our hearts were not wrung with anguish over dead and dying friends. One of the railroad officials remarked that he had taken many parties across the plains, and had met with accidents, but he never before saw a company that were so cheerful under such circumstances. Not a word of complaint was uttered; and yet little children were roused up, and women in feeble health went to work with energy and cheerfulness. This was a merited compliment to our party; for under the trying circumstances, it would not have been surprising had there been just a little complaining.

We remembered what sorrow and suffering might have been our portion. Twenty-eight years ago, when the train was wrecked three miles from Jackson, there was heard, not the moaning of dumb animals, but the groans and shrieks of wounded and dying human beings; and the next morning, as we took the cars to pursue our journey, we had on board the coffins of the dead, who, only a few hours before, had been as full of life and hope as any of us who were on the train. The psalmist says, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them;” and we felt that our safety on this occasion was due to the protection of heavenly messengers.

How carefully should we avoid mirth and unbecoming levity on the cars, on the boat, wherever we may be; for the daily record of disasters shows that there is no safety anywhere. Even in our homes we are in danger; for storms, floods, and fire are sweeping off thousands, while earthquakes are destroying additional thousands. If there ever was a time when we should be sober and watch unto prayer, it is now. Our lives are safe only when hid with Christ in God. We need every day to purify ourselves even as he is pure. There is always hope for us in God. Faith is our defense, for it connects our human weakness with divine power. Men may laugh at our credulity in believing that angels of God were commissioned to avert a terrible calamity; but I am just simple enough to believe it, and this faith I shall cherish. I believe that God delivered us from what Satan would have been glad to make a terrible calamity.

I felt that some of us—nay, all of us on that train—had a great work to do for the Master. Some on board, had they lost their lives, would have had no hope of coming up in the first resurrection. Did these know that on that night they stood face to face with death, and Satan was claiming his own, who had served him, while God's hand was stretched out to save them? If these would only feel the gratitude they should, they would leave the ranks of the enemy, and make their calling and election sure. Not one of us is safe without the care of God. We must commit the care of our souls to Jesus, and by faith place our hands in his. I appeal to those who were on that train, if they should read these lines, to make thorough work of repentance. Will they realize that God has something for them to do, and change the current of their lives? By watchfulness, faith, and prayer, by the diligent use of every means of grace, and above all by the help of Jesus, who died for them, they may cast sin out of their hearts, and turn aside from following Satan. If the lives saved are henceforth devoted to the service of Jesus, this gracious deliverance will work out glorious results.

At Denver we were told that we must go into a smoking-car, and at the same time no restriction was placed upon the smokers. When one or two were asked to forego smoking, they decidedly refused, declaring they should smoke all they chose to, and neither men nor women should hinder them. If any did not like it, “let them keep out of the car.” These men were tobacco slaves. They had lost their sense of manly politeness, and did not care for their appearance. If they would abandon the use of the disgusting, defiling narcotic, and then could see its effects on the physical, mental, and moral powers, they would exclaim, as we felt like saying, “The Lord deliver us from such associates, and from such degrading bondage!”

I knew that to inhale tobacco smoke for any length of time was to imperil my life. On a former occasion, I had been obliged to take the smoke when crossing the plains in a palace sleeper. The government inspector of steamboats, whose duty it was to see that all the machinery was sound, was in our car; and his good wife and daughter told him they had no objection to his smoking; they rather enjoyed it. He thought it might be the same with us all. After breathing the poisoned air several hours, my head began to feel strangely, as though a tight band were about it; but I did not realize that it was the tobacco smoke. Everything began to look strange to me, and soon I was in a spasm. My husband and a sister that accompanied me worked over me three quarters of an hour before I was relieved, and it was weeks before I fully recovered. The gentleman was told that it was the poison of his tobacco that had produced this effect, and he smoked no more in the car.

This man, who was doing an important work, whose decision involved the safety or peril of human life, did not understand the wonderful machinery of the human organism. He was indulging a habit which would cause friction, and mar the fine workings of the delicate organs of the human body. He might easily have learned that tobacco possesses deadly properties; that it not only impairs physical strength, but robs the mental faculties of much of their activity and vigor.

Would that there were a law passed that none but strictly temperate men should have any position of trust on ships and railroads. No others are fit to be intrusted with human life. How many terrible calamities by sea and land are wholly due to rum and tobacco, the great day of God will reveal. No code of morals, no rules of etiquette, no force of reasoning, will avail with men who for rum and tobacco abandon the teachings of common sense and intelligent judgment. With them, self-created lust is the ruling power.

None of our party used tobacco in any form, and we were unwilling to breathe the poisoned atmosphere of a smoking-car; and when those who had charge of the party decidedly protested against it, we were permitted to occupy a new day coach of an improved pattern, manufactured by the Pullman company, until we reached Ogden and were again provided with a skeleton sleeper. This new coach was the best we ever had the pleasure of riding in. The conveniences were similar to those we used to have when cars were first introduced, but they were improved. There was a ladies’ toilet room, supplied with towels and other conveniences for washing. This was a luxury highly prized by all of us. We cannot see why the coaches for day passengers should be so destitute of these necessary things. On this car there was a toilet room for gentlemen also, and this is as it should be. Those who boast, that ours is an age of improvements, would receive the heartfelt gratitude of travelers if they would furnish the cars with such conveniences as this one was supplied with.

We reached Ogden, Utah, Thursday morning; and by the kindness of the Union Pacific Railroad Company, our party were given a free excursion to Salt Lake City. As we were to spend but three hours here, we hired several conveyances, and were driven to points of the greatest interest. We visited the Mormon tabernacle, and also saw the new temple now in process of erection. This building was begun seven years ago, and has already cost $2,000,000, and it is believed that seven years more will be required for its completion. We were gratified that we had this privilege of visiting the city of the Mormons; but we saw nothing very attractive in this place, and had no desire to make it our home. After we had started to return to Ogden, we found that two of our number had been left behind. We all greatly regretted this; but while we were planning what could be done to help them, a telegram was received at the station seven miles from Salt Lake City to hold the train, as an engine had been dispatched to bring them on. They would receive nothing for this great favor.

During the entire journey we felt that angels of God were protecting us. In our preservation the night of the accident, we had unmistakable evidence that Heaven was interested in this little party making their way to the Pacific coast. Believing that special gratitude was due for this great mercy, it was decided that we hold a Bible-reading on the subject of Thanksgiving. This service was conducted by Eld. Corliss about ten o'clock Friday morning, not far from Tecoma, Nev. Some who were not of our faith joined in this interesting exercise. Gratitude for divine protection was made a prominent theme in subsequent services also.

As the Sabbath drew on, we were left for two hours at Wells, Nev. We again assembled in one car for a prayer and social meeting. Twenty-six testimonies were borne, and the blessing of the Lord rested upon us. Some of the residents of the place looked in at the door to see what was going on, and seemed amazed as they saw us quietly holding a religious service, apparently as much at home in the car as in a church. There were several Chinese houses in this small place in the desert. Although it was still daylight, candles were burning before the door of one house and in another, and several Chinamen were bowing in reverence before their idols. How grateful we should be that we have not been left in the darkness of heathenism to worship hideous idols of wood, the work of men's hands. The living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all created things, is our God, and he is worthy of all honor. I was led to inquire, Have I set up idols in my heart? Have I allowed anything to come between myself and God, that he should not be supreme in my affections? We need individually to make close investigation on this point. The love of money, pride in dress and display,—anything that diverts the attention from God,—becomes an idol.

On Sabbath, December 22, we were at Winnemucca, Nev., two hours. I spoke, and enjoyed as much freedom as when speaking to thousands in our large churches or at camp-meetings. We had good singing, and enjoyed much of the blessing of the Lord. Sunday the cars made another long stop at Truckee, and Eld. St. John gave an interesting Bible-reading. In these services and on this journey, we seemed to be brought very near to Jesus, and our hearts were made glad in his love.

Monday morning, December 24, we arrived at Oakland, thankful that our long journey was ended, and glad to meet our dear friends again after an absence of nearly five months. Sabbath, December 29, I spoke to the church in Oakland. The house was full; in the congregation were some not of our faith, and others who had recently received the truth. The Lord gave me freedom in speaking. My mind went back ten years to the first meetings held in Oakland in Bro. Tay's house. Then, there were about six in the faith; now, the church-members number about two hundred. The Lord has wrought in Oakland, and we expect to see a still larger number of believers there ere long.

I reached my home in Healdsburg, Sunday, December 30, in time to attend the Sabbath-school reunion on New Year's eve.

January 29, 1884

Sabbath-School Reunion at Healdsburg, Cal

At the close of my long journey East, I reached my home in time to spend New Year's eve in Healdsburg. The College hall had been fitted up for a Sabbath-school reunion. Cypress wreaths, autumn leaves, evergreens, and flowers were tastefully arranged; and a large bell of evergreens hung from the arched doorway at the entrance to the room. The tree was well loaded with donations, which were to be used for the benefit of the poor, and to help purchase a bell. Except in a few instances, the names of the donors were not given; but appropriate Bible texts and mottoes were read as the gifts were taken down from the tree. On this occasion nothing was said or done that need burden the conscience of any one.

Some have said to me, “Sr. White, what do you think of this? Is it in accordance with our faith?” I answer them, “It is with my faith.” In Healdsburg, San Francisco, and Oakland, there are many things to attract our children; large sums are expended every year on Christmas and New Year's in purchasing gifts for friends. These gifts are not generally satisfactory; for many receive presents that they do not need, when they would be glad to have some other article; some receive the same article from several different persons; and others receive nothing at all. We have tried earnestly to make the holidays as interesting as possible to the youth and children, while changing this order of things. Our object has been to keep them away from scenes of amusement among unbelievers. Instead of following a selfish custom, and giving to those from whom presents will be expected in return, let us make our offerings to the Lord. This plan has proved successful in many of our churches, and it was a success on this occasion, the donations amounting to $138.00. Thus the new year was opened with offerings to the Giver of all our mercies and blessings.

I have thought that while we restrain our children from worldly pleasures, that have a tendency to corrupt and mislead, we ought to provide them innocent recreation, to lead them in pleasant paths where there is no danger. No child of God need have a sad or mournful experience. Divine commands, divine promises, show that this is so. Wisdom's ways “are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Worldly pleasures are infatuating; and for their momentary enjoyment, many sacrifice the friendship of Heaven, with the peace, love, and joy that it affords. But these chosen objects of delight soon become disgusting, unsatisfying.

We want to do all in our power to win souls by presenting the attractions of the Christian life. Our God is a lover of the beautiful. He might have clothed the earth with brown and gray, and the trees with vestments of mourning instead of their foliage of living green; but he would have his children happy. Every leaf, every opening bud and blooming flower, is a token of his tender love; and we should aim to represent to others this wonderful love expressed in his created works. God would have every household and every church exert a winning power to draw the children away from the seducing pleasures of the world, and from association with those whose influence would have a corrupting tendency. Study to win the youth to Jesus. Impress their minds with the mercy and goodness of God in permitting them, sinful though they are, to enjoy the advantages, the glory and honor, of being sons and daughters of the Most High. What a stupendous thought, what unheard of condescension, what amazing love, that finite man may be allied to the Omnipotent! “To them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” “Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” Can any worldly honor equal this?

Let us represent the Christian life as it really is; let us make the way cheerful, inviting, interesting. We can do this if we will. We may fill our own minds with vivid pictures of spiritual and eternal things, and in so doing help to make them a reality to other minds. Faith sees Jesus standing as our mediator at the right hand of God. Faith beholds the mansions he has gone to prepare for those who love him. Faith sees the robe and crown all prepared for the overcomer. Faith hears the songs of the redeemed, and brings eternal glories near. We must come close to Jesus in loving obedience, if we would see the King in his beauty.

Mrs. E. G. White

«Back «Prev. Pub. «Article   Article» Next Pub.» Forward»