EXPERIENCE AND VIEWS
Visit to Vermont and Maine.
XIX. Visit to Vermont and Maine
While in Oswego, N. Y., we decided to visit Vermont and Maine. I left my little Edson, then nine months old, in the care of Sr. Bonfoey, while we went on our way to do the will of God. It was much harder laboring then than it is now. We labored very hard, suffering many privations, to accomplish but little. We found the brethren and sisters in a scattered and confused state. Almost every one was affected by some error, and all seemed zealous for their own opinions. We often suffered intense anguish of mind to meet with so few who were ready to listen to Bible truth, while they eagerly cherished error and fanaticism. We were obliged to make a tedious route of forty miles by stage to get to Sutton, the place of our appointment. I was sick, and traveled in much pain. My husband feared
every moment that I would faint, and often whispered to me to have faith in God. Our silent yet earnest prayers were going up to heaven for strength to endure. Every ten miles the horses were changed, which was a great relief to me, as I could step into a hotel and rest a few minutes, by lying down. The Lord heard us pray, and strengthened me to finish the journey.
The first night despondency pressed upon me. I tried to overcome it, but it seemed impossible to control my thoughts. My little ones burdened my mind. We had left one in the State of Maine, two years and eight months old, and another babe in New York, nine months old. We had just performed a tedious journey. I thought of those who were enjoying the society of their children in their own quiet homes. I reviewed our past life, called to mind expressions which had been made by a sister only a few days before, who thought it must be very pleasant to be riding through the country without anything to trouble me. It was just such a life as she should delight in. At that very time my heart had just been yearning for my children, especially my babe, in New York, and I had just come from my sleeping room where I had been battling with my feelings, and with many tears had besought the Lord for strength to subdue all murmuring, and cheerfully deny myself for Jesus' sake. I
thought that perhaps all regarded my journeyings in this light, and have not the least idea of the self-denial and sacrifice required to journey from place to place, meeting cold hearts, distant looks and severe speeches, separated from those who are closely entwined around my heart.
While riding in the cars I was unable to sit up. My husband made a bed on the seat, and I laid down with aching head and heart. The burden borne for others I dreaded above everything else. Agony of mind was my lot. All these things came before me that night, and I found myself saying, "It won't pay! It won't pay! So much labor to accomplish so little."
In this state of mind I fell asleep and dreamed that a tall angel stood by my side, and asked me why I was sad. I related to him the thoughts that had troubled me, and said, "I can do so little good, why may we not be with our children, and enjoy their society?" Said he, "You have given to the Lord two beautiful flowers, the fragrance of which is as sweet incense before him, and is more precious in his sight than gold or silver, for it is a heart gift. It draws upon every fibre of the heart as no other sacrifice can. You should not look upon present appearances, but keep the eye single to your duty, single to God's glory, and follow in his opening providence, and the path shall brighten before you. Every self-denial,
every sacrifice is faithfully recorded, and will bring its reward."
The blessing of the Lord attended our conference at Sutton. After the meeting closed we went on our way to Canada East. My throat troubled me much. I could not speak aloud, or even whisper, without causing me suffering. We rode, praying as we went, for strength to endure the journey. About every ten miles we were obliged to stop that I might rest. My husband braided the tall grass and tied the horse to it, giving him a chance to feed, then spread my cloak upon the grass for a resting-place for me. Thus we continued until we arrived at Melbourne. We expected to meet opposition there. Many who professed to believe in the near coming of our Saviour fought against the law of God.
We felt the need of strength from God. I could not speak aloud, and inquired, For what have I come this long distance? Again we tried to exercise faith, knowing that our only help was in God. We prayed that the Lord would manifest himself unto us. My earnest prayer was for the disease to leave my throat, and that my voice might be restored. I had the evidence that the hand of God there touched me. The difficulty was instantly removed. My voice was clear. The candle of the Lord shone about us during that meeting, and we had the victory. The children of God were greatly strengthened and encouraged.
then returned to Vermont. Again my voice failed me. We had an appointment at Johnson, and found quite a number of brethren and sisters collected. Some were in a perplexed and tried condition. Certain fanatics had imposed upon them, and cast a fear over them which held them in bondage. The conscientious were so fearful of offending God, and had so little confidence in themselves, that they dared not rise and assert their liberty. The night after we arrived I fainted a number of times through weakness. But in answer to prayer I was revived, and strength was given me of the Lord to go through the meeting. We knew that the next day we should have to battle with the powers of darkness, and that Satan would muster his forces. In the morning the individuals who had so long deceived and oppressed God's children came into the meeting, Libbey and Bailey, and two females, with white linen dresses to represent the righteousness of the saints, and their long, black hair hung loose about their shoulders. I had a message for them, and while I was speaking L. kept his black eyes fastened upon me, but I had no fear of his influence. Strength was given me from heaven to rise above their satanic power. The children of God who had been held in bondage began to breathe free, and rejoice in the Lord.
As our meeting progressed, these fanatics
sought to rise and speak, but they could not find opportunity. But as prayer was being offered at the close of the meeting, B. came to the door and commenced speaking. The door was closed upon him. He opened the door, and again commenced to speak. The power of God fell upon my husband, and the color left his face. He arose from his knees, and as he laid his hand upon B., exclaimed, "The Lord does not want your testimony here. The Lord does not want you here to distract and crush his people!" The power of God filled the room, and B. commenced to walk backward out of the house. The power of God in the house was painful to that fanatical party. B. looked terrified. He staggered and came near falling to the floor. The place was awful on account of the presence of the Lord. All that company of darkness left the place, and the sweet Spirit of the Lord rested upon his dear, tried children. The cause of God in Vt. had been cursed by fanatical spirits, but at this meeting they received a check which they never recovered from.
We returned from Vt. very anxious to see our child we had left in N. Y. We had been from him five weeks, and as we met him, and he clasped his little arms about my neck, and laid his head upon my shoulder, I saw that a great change had taken place in him. He was very feeble. My feelings cannot be described
It was difficult to suppress murmuring feelings. These thoughts would arise, I left him in the hands of God, and do I find him in this condition? My agonized feelings found relief in tears. Then I became more calm and reconciled to the will of God. We tried to look at the child's case in as favorable a light as possible. I was comforted with these words, The Lord "doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men."
We felt that our only hope was in God, and prayed for the child and obtained signal answers to our prayers. The Spirit of the Lord rested upon us, and his symptoms became more favorable, and we journeyed with him to Oswego to attend a conference there. Brn. Holt and Rhodes were in company with us. When we reached the Railroad, my husband took the cars that he might be present at the commencement of the meeting. We were to tarry one night at Camden, and the next day go on to Oswego. But we were disappointed. Our horse was sick, and we must show some mercy to faithful Charley. Brn. R. and H. urged us to drive faster. I told them that Charley was a free horse, and must be sick, and I could not urge him. It was getting late in the afternoon and we had ten miles further to go before reaching Camden. Bro. R. proposed that Bro. H. take our horse and come on slowly, and that Sr. Bonfoey and myself get into his carriage,
and he would drive on to get to Bro. Preston's before dark. We did so.
While in Tipton, Iowa, March, 1860, we met the report that I frequently traveled with Bro. R. This is the only time I ever rode with Bro. R. without my husband, and on this occasion Sr. Bonfoey was with me. Other reports equally groundless were circulated by a Mr. M. who had moved from Camden to Iowa, relative to the death of Sr. Prior. It was stated that we were the cause of her not having medical aid. I will briefly state that we knew nothing of Sr. P.s' sickness, were in Rochester, above one hundred miles from Camden, when this matter occurred, and we had no knowledge of her death until a brother from Camden visited Rochester and brought us the intelligence. There were but two families engaged in this matter. After this we visited Camden, and I was shown in vision that there had been a lack of judgment in regard to the case of Sr. P. in giving their influence against her obtaining medical aid. I saw that they had carried matters to extremes, and that the cause of God was wounded and our faith reproached, on account of such things, which were fanatical in the extreme. The reproof given and the plain testimony borne in regard to these things was the cause of E. W. W. turning from me and taking his position with the "Messenger" party in circulating falsehoods calculated to injure me.
We believe in the prayer of faith; but some have carried this matter too far, especially those who have been affected with fanaticism. Some have taken the strong ground that it was wrong to use simple remedies. We have never taken this position, but have opposed it. We believe it to be perfectly right to use the remedies God has placed in our reach, and if these fail, apply to the great Physician, and in some cases the counsel of an earthly physician is very necessary. This position we have always held.
It was quite a disappointment to us not to be able to attend the conference at Oswego. Sunday the horse was able to travel, and Sr. B. and I journeyed on very slowly. As we were within five miles of Oswego it shut in dark, and thundered and lightened, and rained very hard. As we entered Oswego not a person was to be seen. The darkness was intense. We wished to find Bro. Goodwin's. I was obliged to step from the wagon a number of times, and wait for the lightning's flash to see where we were. In this way we passed on. Again I stepped from the wagon, and the vivid lightning showed me that we were opposite Bro. G.'s house. Those in the house were perfectly astonished to meet me so late at night in such a fearful storm. The only way they found the horse and wagon was by the lightning's flash. As we entered the well-lighted, comfortable pilgrim's home we felt grateful to God that
He had preserved us on the road, and that our child was no worse.