EXPERIENCE AND VIEWS
Labors in Michigan.
XXVI. Labor in Michigan
After Nathaniel's death, my husband was much afflicted. Trouble and anxiety of mind had prostrated him. He had a high fever, and was confined to his bed. We united in prayer for him, and he was relieved, but still remained very weak. He had appointments out for Mill Grove, N. Y., and Michigan, and feared that
he could not fill them. We decided to venture as far as Mill Grove, and if he grew no better, to return home.
While at Bro. Cottrell's, at Mill Grove, he suffered such extreme weakness that he thought he could go no farther. We were in great perplexity. Must we be driven from the work by bodily infirmities? Would Satan be permitted to exercise his power upon us, and contend for our usefulness and life as long as we remain in the world? We knew that God could limit the power of Satan. He may suffer us to be tried in the furnace, but will bring us forth purified, and better fitted for his work.
I went into a log house near by, and there poured out my soul before God in prayer that he would rebuke the fever and strengthen my husband to endure the journey. The case was urgent, and my faith firmly grasped the promises of God. I there obtained the evidence that if we should proceed on our journey to Michigan the angel of God would go with us. When I related to my husband the exercise of my mind, he said that his mind had been exercised in a similar manner, and we decided to go trusting in the Lord. My husband was so weak that he could not buckle the straps to his valise, and called Bro. Cottrell to do it for him. Every mile we traveled he felt strengthened. The Lord sustained him. And while he was upon his feet preaching the word I felt assured
that angels of God were standing by his side to sustain him in his labors.
At Jackson we found the church in great confusion. In their midst the Lord showed me their condition, and I related that portion of it which was clear before me, which related to the wrong course of one present. C. and R. were greatly prejudiced against this sister, and cried out, "Amen! amen!" and manifested a spirit of triumph over her, and would frequently say, "I thought so! It is just so!" I felt very much distressed, and sat down before finishing the relation of the vision. Then C. and R. arose and exhorted others to receive the vision, and manifested such a spirit that my husband reproved them. The meeting closed in confusion. While at family prayer that night at Bro. S.'s I was again taken off in vision, and that portion of the vision that had passed from me was repeated, and I was shown the overbearing course of R. and C., that their influence in the church was to cause division. They possessed an exalted spirit, and not the meek spirit of Christ. I saw why the Lord had hid from me the part of the vision that related to them. It was that they might have opportunity to manifest before all what spirit they were of.
The next day a meeting was called, and I related the things which the Lord had shown me the evening before. C. and R., who zealously advocated the visions two days before,
were dissatisfied when shown to be wrong, and did not receive the message. They had stated before I came to the place that if I saw things as they looked upon them, they should know that the visions were of God; but if I saw that they had taken a wrong course, and that the ones whom they regarded wrong were not faulty, they should know the visions were incorrect. But both parties were shown me to be wrong, especially C. and R. and some others. They now began to fight against my testimony, and here commenced what is called the "Messenger" party.
I will here give an extract from a letter written to my parents in Gorham, Me., June 23, 1853:
"While in Michigan we visited Tyrone, Jackson, Sylvan, Bedford and Vergennes. My husband in the strength of God endured the journey and his labor well. His strength did not entirely fail him but once. He was unable to preach at Bedford. He went to the place of meeting, and stood up in the desk to preach, but became faint and was obliged to sit down. He asked Bro. Loughborough to take the subject where he had left it, and finish his discourse. He went out of the house into the open air, and lay upon the green grass until he had somewhat recovered, then Bro. Kelsey let him take his horse, and he rode alone one mile and a half to Bro. Brooks'.
"Bro. Loughborough went through with the subject with much freedom. All were interested in the meeting. The Spirit of the Lord rested upon me and I had perfect freedom in bearing my testimony. The power of God was in the house, and nearly every one present was affected to tears. Some took a decided stand for the truth.
"After the meeting closed, we rode through the woods to a beautiful lake, where six were buried with Christ in baptism. We then returned to Bro. B.'s and found my husband more comfortable. While alone that day his mind had been exercised upon the subject of Spiritualism, and he there decided to write the book entitled, Signs of the Times.
"Next day we journeyed to Vergennes, traveling over rough log-ways and sloughs. Much of the way I rode in nearly a fainting condition, but our hearts were lifted to God in prayer for strength, and we found him a present help, and we were able to accomplish the journey, and bear our testimony there."
Soon after our return my husband engaged in writing the Signs of the Times. His health was poor. He was troubled with aching head and cold feet. He could sleep but little. But the Lord was his support. When his mind was in a confused, suffering state, we would bow before the Lord, and in our distress cry unto him. He heard our earnest
prayers, and often blessed my husband, so that with refreshed spirits he went on with the work. Many times in the day did we thus go before the Lord in earnest prayer. That book was not written in his own strength.
In the fall of 1853 we attended Conferences at Buck's Bridge, N. Y., Stowe, Vt., Boston, Dartmouth and Springfield, Mass., Washington, N. H., and New Haven, Vt. This was a laborious and rather discouraging journey. Many had embraced the truth, who were unsanctified in heart and life, and the elements of strife and rebellion were at work, and it was necessary that a movement should take place to purify the church. The "Messenger" party soon drew off, and the cause was relieved.
In the winter and spring I suffered much with heart disease. It was difficult for me to breathe lying down, and I could not sleep unless raised in nearly a sitting posture. My breath often stopped, and fainting fits were frequent. But this was not all my trouble. I had upon my left eye-lid a swelling which appeared to be a cancer. It had been more than a year increasing gradually, until it was quite painful and affected my sight. In reading or writing I was forced to bandage the afflicted eye. And I was constantly afflicted with the thought that my eye might be destroyed with a cancer. I looked back to the days and nights spent in reading proof-sheets, which had strained my
eyes, and thought if I lose my eye, and my life, it will be a martyr to the cause.
A celebrated physician visited Rochester who gave counsel free. I decided to have him examine my eye. He thought the swelling would prove to be a cancer. He felt my pulse, and said, "You are much diseased, and will die of apoplexy before that swelling will break out. You are in a dangerous condition with disease of the heart." This did not startle me, for I had been aware that unless I received speedy relief I must lie in the grave. Two other females had come for counsel who were suffering with the same disease. The physician said that I was in a more dangerous condition than either of them, and it could not be more than three weeks before I would be afflicted with paralysis, and next would follow apoplexy. I inquired if he thought his medicine would cure me. He did not give me much encouragement. I purchased some of his medicine. The eyewash was very painful, and I received no benefit from it. I was unable to use the remedies the physician prescribed.
In about three weeks I fainted and fell to the floor, and remained unconscious about thirty-six hours. It was feared that I could not live; but in answer to prayer again I revived. One week later, while conversing with sister Anna, I received a shock upon my left side. My head was numb, I had a strange sensation
of coldness and numbness in my head, with pressure, and severe pain through my temples. My tongue seemed heavy and numb. I could not speak plainly. My left arm and side were helpless. I thought I was dying, and my great anxiety was to have the evidence amid my suffering that the Lord loved me.
For months I had suffered such constant pain in my heart that I did not have one joyful feeling, but my spirits were constantly depressed. I had tried to serve God from principle, without feeling, but I now thirsted for the salvation of God, to realize his blessing, notwithstanding the pain in my heart. The brethren and sisters came together to make my case a special subject of prayer. My desire was granted. Prayer was heard, and I received the blessing of God, and had the assurance that he loved me. But the pain continued, and I grew more feeble every hour.
The brethren and sisters again came together to present my case to the Lord. I was then so weak that I could not pray vocally. My appearance seemed to weaken the faith of those around me. Then the promises of God were arrayed before me as I had never viewed them before. It seemed to me that Satan was striving to tear me from my husband and children, and lay me in the grave, and these questions were suggested to my mind, Can you believe the naked promises of God? Can ye walk out by faith, let
the appearances be what they may? Faith revived. I whispered to my husband, I believe that I shall recover. He answered, "I wish I could believe it." I retired that night without relief, yet relying with firm confidence upon the promises of God. I could not sleep, but continued my silent prayer to God. Just before day I slept.
As I awoke, the sun was seen from my window, arising in the east. I was perfectly free from pain. The pressure and weight upon my heart was gone, and I was very happy. I was filled with gratitude. The praise of God was upon my lips. O what a change! It seemed to me that an angel of God had touched me while I was sleeping. I awoke my husband and related to him the wonderful work that the Lord had wrought for me. He could scarcely comprehend it at first. But when I arose and dressed, and walked around the house, and he witnessed the change in my countenance, he could praise God with me. My afflicted eye was free from pain. In a few days I looked in the glass, the cancer was gone, and my eyesight was fully restored. The work was complete.
Again I visited the physician, and as soon as he felt my pulse he said, "Madam, you are better. An entire change has taken place in your system; but the two women who visited me for counsel when you were last here are dead." I told him it was not his medicine that
had cured me, for I could use none of it. And as I was about to relate the wonderful dealings of the Lord with me, a poor laborer rushed into the room, almost beside himself, saying, "Doctor, they say I must die! that I am in consumption!" Large drops of sweat stood upon his brow. The physician tried to calm his excited mind while he examined his lungs. He waited his examination with intense anxiety. The physician shook his head, and told him he could not deceive him; that he had the quick consumption, and must soon die. His feelings overcame him, and he burst into tears.
He had no hope in God, and the future to him was a fearful uncertainty. I was obliged to leave. Sister P., who now rests in the grave, had accompanied me, and related to the physician after I left, that the Lord had heard prayer for me, and restored me to health. Said he, "Her case is a mystery. I do not understand it."