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Ellen G. White: The Progressive Years: 1862-1876 (vol. 2)

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    Amusements and Diversions

    While James and Ellen White had deep appreciation for the methods of treatment at “Our Home,” they were disturbed by methods employed to keep the minds of the patients from their physical woes—dancing, card playing, and theatergoing. They absented themselves from most of the morning lectures given by Dr. Jackson, first because the room was overheated, but primarily because of the mental conflicts created by the doctor's philosophy. Wrote Ellen White:2BIO 121.4

    When he dwelt upon the subject of health, we were too deeply interested for the good of our wearied minds, for our minds would begin to travel, comparing Dr. Jackson's philosophy with facts established in our minds, which had been received from higher and unerring authority....2BIO 121.5

    And again, when Dr. Jackson and other physicians advanced and sought to sustain ideas that we could not receive from our religious standpoint, especially in regard to amusements and pleasure, ...we could not see harmony between his religious teachings and the teachings of Christ recorded in the New Testament.—Ibid.2BIO 121.6

    One day when Ellen White was taking treatment in the bathroom, she, with others, was solicited for an offering to pay the fiddler for a forthcoming dance. As she wrote of the incident she quoted a portion of her response:2BIO 122.1

    I am a follower of Jesus.... This dancing is thought essential to keep up the spirits of the patients, but have you not marked that the very ones who engage in this exercise are languid for a day or two afterward, and some are unable to rise from their beds? ...2BIO 122.2

    The ideas that are here advanced that we are too intensely religious, and that is the reason we are invalids, I will not, I cannot, admit. Do you ever see me gloomy, desponding, complaining? I have a faith that forbids this. It is a misconception of the true ideal of Christian character and Christian service that leads to these conclusions. It is the want of genuine religion that produces gloom, despondency, and sadness. Earnest Christians seek ever to imitate Jesus, for to be Christians is to be Christ-like....2BIO 122.3

    A half service, loving the world, loving self, loving frivolous amusements, make a timid, cowardly servant. Such follow Christ a great way off. A hearty, willing service to Jesus produces a sunny religion. Those who follow Christ the most closely have not been gloomy.... We need more Christ and less worldliness; more Christ and less selfishness.—Manuscript 1, 1867.2BIO 122.4

    In time the Whites were able to secure a ground-floor apartment. There were good days for James, and there were bad days. When disturbed with the extreme nervousness that accompanied his illness, he seemed to lose courage. But the good days outnumbered the bad. On October 23 Dr. Lay sent to the Review a report of the progress he was making:2BIO 122.5

    Though he has made marked progress toward recovery since coming to this place, yet he is far from being well; and in order for him to fully recover, it seems indispensably necessary that he should devote at least several months to that special object; and in order to do this successfully, he needs rest, simple diet, judicious bathing, a certain amount of exercise in the open air, with the most pleasant social surroundings; consequently his family should be here with him. He should also have a team at his command, that he may ride every day when the weather will permit.—Ibid., October 31, 18652BIO 122.6

    He wrote of the arduous labors of Ellen White in caring for her husband, and felt she should have some help and several months’ treatment. He called for Adelia Patten, now Mrs. Van Horn, who had filled such an important place in the White family, to be sent to Dansville.2BIO 123.1

    Dr. Lay's suggestions were taken seriously, for everyone was ready to do whatever was thought best to hasten James's recovery. On November 7, Adelia Van Horn and the children, Edson and Willie, left Battle Creek, and the next day there was a united White family at Dansville. Arrangements were also made for the use of a carriage and a team of horses that would augment James's physical activities.2BIO 123.2

    The total expense for the White family was now running at $40 per week, and that of Loughborough about $20. The denomination had no plan for aiding workers who were ill. Fellow Adventists sent generous gifts to Battle Creek to help carry the burden. In six weeks’ time, Smith and Loughborough were fully recovered, but Loughborough stayed on to be a help to the Whites.2BIO 123.3

    Morning, noon, and night, those of like faith met to pray for James White. He made very slow progress. In explanation, Ellen White wrote:2BIO 123.4

    My husband could obtain but little rest or sleep nights. He suffered with the most extreme nervousness. I could not sew or knit in his room, or converse but very little, as he was easily agitated, and his brain confused almost beyond endurance. He required almost constant care, and the Lord gave me strength according to my need....2BIO 123.5

    Many nights when my husband was suffering with pain, unable to rest or sleep, have I left my bed at midnight and bowed before God and earnestly prayed for Him to grant us this token of His love and care—that my husband might realize the soothing influence of His Holy Spirit, and find rest in sleep.... We had the evidence that God heard us pray, and my husband would drop into a quiet sleep.—Ibid., February 27, 18662BIO 123.6

    With the coming of December, the family knew they would have to endure a winter in somewhat cramped quarters, and with the very slow recovery of James, there were days of discouragement, days James thought he might not live. In his condition such an attitude was not helpful. Wrote Ellen:2BIO 124.1

    I felt intensely. I did not believe for a moment that my husband would die. But how was he to be inspired with faith to feel and say, “I shall not die, but live to declare the works of the Lord”? That night was the most distressing I had experienced during his illness. I did not sleep, but pondered the matter in my mind in regard to our future course. Previous to this night, I had not thought of leaving Dansville. I saw that the courage, hope, and buoyancy of spirits which had sustained my husband were failing.2BIO 124.2

    I had been remarkably sustained to endure anxiety, and the care of him during his sickness. He was considerate of my health and strength. Yet his case required constant care. I knew that no one at Dansville could take my place.... I did not consider this a task—it was to me a privilege. I have been nearly all my life an invalid, and tenderly and patiently has he sympathized with and watched over and taken care of me when I was suffering, and now my turn had come to repay in a small measure the attention and kind offices I had received.—Ibid.2BIO 124.3

    She knew that she could not keep up the program as it was at Dansville through the whole winter that was upon them. Her thoughts turned to Battle Creek:2BIO 124.4

    I thought of our large and convenient house at Battle Creek, with its high and airy rooms, and asked myself the question Would we not make more rapid progress toward health were we at our own home? I thought of the large reservoir of hot water upon our stove—ready for use at any time, and our immense cistern of soft water, and our filter in the cellar, our various bathing pans, and bath room fitted up with a stove.2BIO 124.5

    But all these convenient things had but little weight in my mind compared with my anxiety to get my husband, while I could, among his tried brethren who knew him, and who had been benefited by his labors, and were acquainted with the perseverance and zeal with which he had toiled to do the work of God, that he might be found at his post. His faithful brethren could sympathize with and help him by their prayers and faith.—Ibid.2BIO 125.1

    But she would not trust her judgment alone. She prayed that God would guide her and not allow her to take one wrong step. As she prayed, the conviction grew that she must take James where he could be among his brethren. She talked with Dr. Lay. He told her that she could not take him home, for he could not endure the journey. Then she talked with Dr. Jackson. He thought it would be well to try it, taking the journey in stages. She sought the counsel of Loughborough, who was surprised at first at such a sudden move, but saw light in it. James, overhearing her conversations, was soon enthusiastic to go. They packed that evening, finishing before nine o'clock.2BIO 125.2

    The next morning drizzling rain did not deter them. After an early and hasty breakfast they were on their way to the depot at Wayland, seven miles distant, and caught the train for Rochester. There they stayed with the Bradley Lamson family, who lived three miles from the city (JNL, in Pacific Union Recorder, November 21, 1912). It was Wednesday, December 6.2BIO 125.3

    But Ellen White could not leave Dansville without thoughts and words of appreciation. She wrote:2BIO 125.4

    I shall ever remember with gratitude the kind attention and respect we received, not only from physicians at “Our Home,” but also from the helpers. The attendants in the bath rooms and waiters at the table were as attentive to our wants as we could wish. They seemed desirous to make our stay with them as pleasant and happy as it was in their power to do.—The Review and Herald, February 20, 1866.2BIO 125.5

    Soon James proposed calling in trusted friends to come to Rochester to engage in seasons of prayer—J. N. Andrews, who lived in Rochester but was laboring in Maine; the Lindsays from Olcott; and friends in Roosevelt “who had faith in God, and felt it their duty.” “These friends,” wrote Ellen White, “came in answer to his call.”2BIO 125.6

    For ten days we had special and earnest seasons of prayer. All who engaged in these seasons of prayer were greatly blessed. They not only felt a burden of prayer for my husband, but in their own behalf.... I never enjoyed greater freedom in prayer. We had the assurance that our petitions were heard.... My husband was often especially blessed as he ventured to believe God and trust in His power to save.... It seemed to be a struggle with the powers of darkness. Sometimes the trembling faith of my husband would grasp the promises of God, and sweet and precious was the victory then enjoyed. Then again his mind seemed depressed, and to be too weak to hold the victory he had gained.... I felt the assurance that we should come forth from the furnace of affliction purified.—Ibid., February 27, 1866.2BIO 126.1

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