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Life Sketches of Ellen G. White

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    Chapter 59—The “Elmshaven” Funeral Service

    At five o'clock on the afternoon of Sunday, July 18, 1915, at “Elmshaven,” “A little spot hallowed by grace,
    Out of the world's wide wilderness,”
    there assembled nearly five hundred friends and neighbors to pay their last tribute of respect to the memory of Mrs. Ellen G. White, and to comfort by their presence and sympathy those who had been called to suffer the loss of one they had loved dearly.
    LS 450.1

    The service was held on the lawn in front of Mrs. White's quiet country home, which had long been to her a haven of rest,—a veritable “refuge,” as she often styled it when returning from public labors. At one end of the lawn had been erected a canopy for the officiating ministers; while chairs and benches conveniently placed beneath the wide-spreading elms, with sofas and rockers for the aged and the infirm, gave seats for all who came.LS 450.2

    The familiar strains of the hymn, “It is well with my soul,” sung by a double quartette from the Pacific Union College and the St. Helena Sanitarium, marked the opening of the service. Elder R. W. Munson, in his prayer, petitioned that all might profit by the example of the devoted and godly life of the one now sleeping, and that special help and strength might be found by many through reading her published writings. “Grant especially,” he prayed, “to bless those writings which she has sent forth to the four corners of the earth, that the world may hear the message in the many languages into which her books have been translated. We thank Thee for those in China, in Korea, in Japan, in India, in Africa, and in the islands of the seas, who have been helped to a saving knowledge of truth by reading the writings of Thy servant. Bless also, we beseech Thee, those who have gone forth into these countries to carry the truth for this time.... O God, hasten the proclamation of this message to all the inhabitants of earth, that this generation may hear it and heed it, and the way he prepared for the coming of our blessed Saviour.”LS 450.3

    The Scripture reading, by Elder George B. Starr, comprised the following passages, some of which were read only in part: Psalm 116:15, Ecclesiastes 7:2, 4; Romans 8:35, 37-39; John 6:39, 40; Daniel 12:2, 3; Revelation 14:12, 13; Ezekiel 37:12-14; Isaiah 26:19; Revelation 7:9-17; 21:4. The reading closed with a few verses especially illustrative of Mrs. White's life experience: Psalm 40:9, 10 and Mark 14:8.LS 451.1

    Elder J. N. Loughborough, venerable with many years of Christian service, yet wonderfully sustained by God as a living witness of manifold providences in the rise and progress of the advent movement, was the first speaker. He bore a loving tribute to the life work of the one with whom he had so often labored in close association since the year 1852. His discourse, largely reminiscent, served the purpose of a biographical sketch, though it was far more than a mere sketch, revealing, as it did, the special workings of the Holy Spirit in connection with her labors. He emphasized anew the fact that her published works tend to the purest morality, lead to Christ and to the Bible, and bring rest and comfort to weary and sorrowing hearts.LS 451.2

    Elder Starr, the next speaker, referred to some personal phases of Mrs. White's life. “I have never heard any other person,” he said, “speak of love for Jesus, as I have heard her speak. Many times have I heard her exclaim, ‘I love Him, I love Him, I love Him!’ Her entire life was devoted to winning others to love Him and serve Him with all the heart....LS 451.3

    “I regarded her as one of the strongest characters I ever met. I can compare her life only to the sturdy oak that meets the wind and bears its severest pressure, or to the mountain that laughs at the storm.... Her faith in God was invincible. Under trials that might have swept away the faith of many, she maintained firm confidence, and triumphed.”LS 452.1

    “In bidding her good-by two weeks ago today,” Elder Starr continued, “I said, ‘We are glad to find you so bright this morning.’ Sister White replied, ‘I am glad you find me thus, and I wish to tell you it is bright inside.’ And then she added, ‘I have not had many mournful days, have I?’ ‘No, Sister White,’ I said, ‘not in all your life, because you have risen above them.’ ‘Yes,’ she responded, ‘my heavenly Father has planned it all for me, and He knows when it will end, and I am determined not to murmur.’LS 452.2

    “Then I said to her, ‘I can only repeat to you, Sister White, what you wrote us in one of your last letters. You said: “The shadows are lengthening, and we are nearing home. We shall soon be at home, and then we will talk it all over together in the kingdom of God.”’ She replied, ‘Yes; it seems almost too good to be true, but it is true.’”LS 452.3

    “Passed away from earth forever,
    Free from all its cares and fears,
    She again will join us never,
    While we tread this vale of tears,” the first lines of the second hymn, affected deeply many in the listening congregation. Years ago these lines were penned by one of Mrs. White's associates in the Master's service, the late Elder Uriah Smith. Sad are the partings of this life; “But a glorious day is nearing,
    Earth's long-wished-for jubilee,
    When creation's King, appearing,
    Shall proclaim His people free;
    When, upborne on Love's bright pinion,
    They shall shout from land and sea,
    ‘Death, where is thy dark dominion!
    Grave, where is thy victory!’”
    LS 452.4

    Elder E. W. Farnsworth, who had charge of the service, spoke as follows:LS 453.1

    “It seems, brethren and friends, almost impossible for any one to think of preaching a sermon, a memorial sermon, commemorative of one whose life and labors have been a constant living sermon for nearly fourscore years. Seventy-eight years ago this summer, Sister White gave her heart to God; and during all those years, there has scarcely been any cessation or interruption in most ardent and earnest labor for the Master, and her life and what it represents in literature is the greatest eulogy that could possibly be pronounced on her funeral occasion.LS 453.2

    “I have wondered what Sister White herself would say if she were here alive, and one of us were in her place. I am certain of some things that she would say. I think she would read, for the benefit of her friends and relatives and neighbors and others who are congregated here, this passage:LS 453.3

    “‘For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men’—and I venture to say that no living person in this generation has ever held up more insistently the grace of God for the salvation of men than has she—’teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.’LS 453.4

    “She would speak to her neighbors and friends along that line, but she would not stop there. This afternoon she would add, ‘Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.’ She would emphasize that. She would press it home upon all our hearts and all our minds. Not only that, in a general way; but she would emphasize the fact, the great truth, that that blessed hope is soon to be consummated. She would lift our hearts and our minds up to that blessed hope which was her hope, and her joy, and her inspiration. I should like to echo that voice here this afternoon, brethren and friends and neighbors. I am sure that is the message she would give. But she is at rest.LS 454.1

    “Somehow I am impressed that there is a present fulfillment of that passage in the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, where it says, ‘The sting of death is sin.’ Let me read it to you. It is this: ‘For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.’ And she would read further: ‘Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?’LS 454.2

    “The thought I have in mind is this,—that there is a certain sense in which the sting is taken out of death here and now, brethren. [Hearty amens.] Our natural affections, the love of our hearts, will force the tears from our eyes, and we cannot help it; but back of it all, brethren, there is the consolation that sin has gone from this one, and hence the sting of sin has been extracted, and death cannot hold such a person a great while. [Many amens.]LS 454.3

    “We read in one place of Jesus that it was not possible that He should be holden of death. Why?—Because there was no sin there. Where righteousness reigns and sin is gone, death has lost its grip. The subject may sleep in the grave for a little, but death cannot hold him there very long. The day of deliverance draws near. Soon the trumpet will sound, and, thank the Lord, we shall see Sister White again.LS 455.1

    “I say to the family and friends, I am a mourner with you today; but there is something about a righteous life in Christ which robs death of its terrors, and the grave of all its woe. Jesus has been there, and we may safely walk the path which Jesus trod. So, brethren, let us look up. Let us look beyond this present vale of tears and sorrow to a brighter and an eternal hope and life, for Jesus’ sake, amen.”LS 455.2

    With the singing of one of the hymns best loved by Mrs. White, “We shall meet beyond the river,” and the pronouncement of a benediction by Elder S. T. Hare, the service closed.LS 455.3

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