Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5


Chapter 76—A Letter

Dear Brother O,

I have received your letter, and need not express to you the sadness of my heart at the very sudden turn you have recently taken. As I review your past history I call to mind your experience in Colorado, your reflections while upon that rock where descent seemed impossible, and your subsequent partial recovery to the faith, your temptations through false and ambitious hopes to become greater away from our people than with them, your disappointment, your praiseworthy course of remaining silent, the prayers and sympathies of God's people that were ascending to heaven in your behalf, and my constant pleadings: “Do not let him alone, but make efforts to save him. He is ensnared; he has lost his hold upon God.” 5T 621.2

I remember the last time I rode out with your wife before she died. Her burden was for you and her children. She said she trembled for the future because of her children and the skepticism of her husband. “If I should die,” she said, “and he should give up the faith and lead my children to give up the Sabbath, how terrible it would be after he has received so great light and so many evidences! For this reason I have clung to life. He has not that deep, inwrought work in the soul that will anchor him when temptations come. O Sister White, it is for the souls of my husband and children that I have clung to life. And I want to tell you right here that I am heartily sorry that I did not receive in a different spirit the testimony given me and my husband. I see now that the message to us was just what we needed; and had we accepted it, it would have placed us both in a better, far better, position spiritually than we have been in for some time. We were both proud in spirit, and since that time I have felt like shunning you; for I thought you had no faith or confidence in us. But during the last few months this has all disappeared, and I have felt the same confidence, the same close sympathy and love for you that I have had in my past life; but I know my husband does not feel thus, and it is of but little use for me to talk these things over with him. I am too weak to set matters before him as they are in my mind, and he is too firm in his ideas and feelings; but I wanted to tell you that I have implicit faith in the Testimonies and in your work, and have long been wishing for an opportunity to tell you this, and I shall now feel free. Will you forgive me for my feelings and words against you? I have grieved the Spirit of God and sometimes have felt that He had forsaken me; but I do not now have these feelings, neither have I had them for some time. I never realized the danger of talking unbelief as I have for a few weeks past. I fear greatly for my husband, for he expresses unbelief; and I fear he will give up all and become an infidel. Oh, how I wish I could help him!” 5T 621.3

Brother O, when you told me that your wife died disbelieving the Testimonies, I did not contradict you; but I thought you did not tell me the truth. I afterward decided that you were greatly in the dark, for I have a letter which she sent me saying that she had the fullest confidence in the Testimonies and knew them to be true in regard to you and to herself. I attended the camp meeting in -----, and you were present. You then had an experience that would have proved of lasting value to you if you had remained humble before God as at that time. You then humbled your heart and upon your knees asked me to forgive you for the things you had said about me and my work. You said: “You have no idea how mean I have talked about you.” I assured you I would just as freely forgive you as I hoped Jesus would forgive me my sins and errors. You stated there in the presence of several that you had said many things to my injury; all of which I assured you I freely forgave you, for it was not against me. None of these things were against me; I was only a servant bearing the message God gave me. It was not I personally that you were arrayed against; it was the message that God sent to you through the humble instrument. It was Christ that you injured, not I. “I do not want you,” I said, “to confess to me. Make all straight between your soul and God, and all will be right between you and me.” Some expressions that were written to you, you had taken in altogether too strong a light. And after reading them carefully again, you said they did not appear to you as they had, and everything was reconciled. You stated after this interview that you felt you had never before known what conversion was, but that you had been born again, converted for the first time. You could say you loved your brethren, your heart was light and happy; you saw the sacredness of the work as you had never seen it before; and your letters expressed the deep change wrought in you by the Spirit of God. 5T 622.1

And yet I knew that you would be brought over the ground again and tested on the very points where you had failed before. Thus the Lord did for the children of Israel; thus He has done with His people in all ages. He will prove them where they have formerly failed; He will try them, and if they fail under the trial the second time, He will bring them around to the same test again. 5T 623.1

My heart aches every time I think of you; my soul is sad indeed. Every soul is precious, because it has been purchased by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. I sometimes think that we do not place anything like a correct value upon the purchase of the blood of Jesus—the redemption of the soul. When I consider the infinite price paid for the redemption of individual souls, I think: “What if that soul is finally lost? What if he refuses to be a learner in the school of Christ and fails to practice meekness and lowliness, and will not wear the yoke of Christ?” This, my brother, has been your greatest failure. If you had taken less counsel of yourself and made Jesus your counselor you would now be strong in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. You have not yoked up with Christ; you have not been imbued with His Spirit. Oh, how much you need the divine mold upon your character! 5T 623.2

We have much to answer for, considering our superior advantages and knowing that we must be judged by the light and privileges the Lord has granted us. We cannot plead that we are less favored with light than that people who have been for ages an astonishment and a reproach to the world. We cannot expect judgment to be given in our favor because, like Capernaum, we have been exalted to heaven. The Lord has wrought for His commandment-keeping people. The light that has reflected to us from heaven was not granted to Sodom and Gomorrah, or they might have remained unto this day; and if the mighty works and knowledge and grace which have been manifested to this people had been made known to the nations in darkness, we know not how far in advance of this people they might now be. We cannot determine how much more tolerable it would be for them in the day of judgment than for those who have had the clear light of truth shining upon them as you have had, but through some inexplainable cause have turned from the holy commandment delivered to them. We can only point to your case with sorrow, as a beacon of warning. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” The Lord seeth not as man seeth. His thoughts and ways are not what blind, selfish men believe they are or wish them to be. The Lord looks on the heart and works in and with His creatures to will and to do whatever He commands or requires of them, unless they reject His counsel and refuse to be obedient to His commandments. 5T 624.1

The greater part of your life has been employed in presenting doctrines which, during the last part of your life, you will repudiate and condemn. Which is the genuine work? which is the false? Can we trust to your judgment? can we rely upon your interpretation of the Scriptures? We cannot. We would be in danger of being misled. You cannot now or at any future period of your life feel that your feet are standing on solid rock. I have been unable to keep from thinking of your future. The truth to me is a living reality. I know it to be truth. The word of God is sure. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Will your light go out in darkness? 5T 625.1

I am writing out more fully the volume of Great Controversy containing the history of the fall of Satan and the introduction of sin into our world; and I can have a more vivid sense of this great controversy between Christ, the Prince of light, and Satan, the prince of darkness, than I have ever had before. As I see the various devices of Satan to compass the ruin of erring man, and make him like himself, a transgressor of God's holy law, I would that angels of God could come to earth and present this matter in its great importance. Then I feel so intensely for souls who are willfully departing from light and knowledge and obedience to God's holy law. As Adam and Eve believed the lie of Satan, “Ye shall be as gods,” so these souls hope through disobedience to rise to greater heights, to gain some flattering position. I am so anxious that, while others are sleeping, I spend hours in prayer that God will work in mighty power to break the fatal deception upon human minds and lead them in simplicity to the cross of Calvary. Then I quiet myself with the thought that all these souls are purchased by the blood of the Lord Jesus. We may have love for these souls, but Calvary testifies how God loves them. This work is not ours, but the Lord's. We are only the instruments in His hands to do His will, not our own. We look at those who are doing despite to the Spirit of grace, and tremble for them. We feel sorry, and are disappointed, that they prove untrue to God and the truth; but we feel a deeper sorrow as we think of Jesus, who has purchased them with His own blood. We would give all our possessions to save one, but find we cannot do this. We would give life itself to save one soul unto life eternal, but even this sacrifice would not do the work. The one great sacrifice has been made in the life, the mission, and the death of Jesus Christ. Oh, that minds would contemplate the greatness of that sacrifice! Then might they be better able to comprehend the greatness of salvation. 5T 625.2

And now, Brother O, you who have had so great light, such an abundance of evidence of Bible truth, go not onward and upward with those who will triumph with the truth at last. You now take the side of the first great rebel, to make void the law of God; and he will lead others in the same path of transgression of God's holy law, to ridicule our faith. When the judgment shall sit, and everyone shall be judged out of those things written in the books, how will your case then appear? You will look on this one and that one who would have walked in the way of God's commandments if you had not surrounded them with the atmosphere of unbelief, if you had not perverted the Scriptures by misinterpreting their meaning, and led them away from strict obedience to God's holy law. Can you then look on these countenances with pleasure? You will hear the voice of the great Judge saying: “Who hath required this at your hand?” 5T 626.1

Your present wife has had no deep religious experience in self-denial, in self-sacrifice, in communion with God, in belief of the truth. She would easily be led from obedience to God to transgression. Your children will follow where their father leads the way; and unless some special providence shall rescue them, their disobedience and transgression will be laid upon your soul. The Judge of all the earth confronts you with that holy law of whose claims you are not ignorant. Your character and the characters of your wife and of your children are judged by that holy standard of righteousness. You have led them to transgress, and their ruin the holy law of God charges upon you. Through various devices, with which Satan is fully acquainted, you have worked for time and for eternity, trying to make others believe you an honest man in leaving the light of truth. Are you so? No, no. It is a deception, a terrible deception. What can you answer to God in that day? You will then have a terrible dread and fear of your Creator. You will try to frame some excuse for your course, but every thing will seem to evade you. You will stand guilty and condemned. You may feel angry with me because I have thus put the case, but so it is, and so it will be with every transgressor of God's holy law. 5T 627.1

Keep ever before you this truth: “Wherever I am, whatever I do, Thou, God, seest me.” It is not possible for the least item of our conduct to escape the observation of the One who says: “I know thy works.” The depths of every heart are open to the inspection of God. Every action, every purpose, every word, is as distinctly marked as though there were only one individual in the whole universe and all the watchfulness and scrutiny of God were employed on his deportment. Shall we then break even one precept of His law and teach others to do so, by evasions, by assertions, by falsehoods, in the very sight of the Lawgiver? Shall we brave the sentence in the very face of the Judge? In this there is a hardihood which seems to surpass the worst human presumption. I know, my brother, whom I expect to meet in the day of judgment, that you will have no words of excuse for your late defection. 5T 627.2

Oh, that I could present before you, and before others of my brethren, the necessity of an ever-abiding sense of God's presence, which would put such restraint on your life that your moral and religious standing before the people would be far different. We must reach a higher standard. Every soul, in going out and coming in, in all business transactions, at all times and in all places, should act with the consciousness that he is moving under the inspection of God and heavenly angels, and that the Being who will judge every man's work for eternity accompanies him at every step, observing all his actions and scrutinizing all his motives. A consciousness of the presence of God and the peril of violating His precepts would take possession of his entire being. What a change would be seen in man, what a change in society, what evils would be left undone! There would be exclamations from all ranks and among all ages: I cannot do this great wickedness, and sin against God.” 5T 628.1

Who shall enter in through the gates into the city? Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” You know what these commandments are as well as I do. I love your soul and the soul of your wife and the souls of your innocent children, and this is why I now address you. Consider carefully the way your feet are tending. I have more to say, but not now. Will you please to answer me, and return to me the letter containing the dream, as I requested. 5T 628.2

Yours with much sorrow and pity and love.

April 20, 1887