Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 1 (1844 - 1868)


Lt 3, 1863

King, Brother and Sister

Battle Creek, Michigan

March 2, 1863

Portions of this letter are published in 2Bio 95.

Dear Brother and Sister King:

While conversing with Sister King I felt grieved to see not that change in her feelings I might expect after the testimony which I wrote and sent her. She thinks that her course has been about right when it has been very faulty. That which had been shown me in vision came so plainly to my mind [that] I cannot forbear writing out more explicitly that she may more fully understand her case. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 1

I was carried back in the past to your marriage. I saw that Brother King could have obtained a younger and more capable woman, but his study was to obtain a person who would fill the place of mother to his children. He thought he chose for the good of his children one who would be affectionate and tender and kind to his infant flock. But his expectations have not been realized and his disappointment has been most bitter. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 2

Sister King, from the first your interest has been separate from your husband’s. You have felt thus: that which belongs to my husband is mine, and that which belongs to me is my own. Your interest has ever been more with your relatives than with your husband and those poor motherless children. You have been extremely selfish and penurious. This is a trait of character with your relatives. Your mother, but more especially your brother and sister, are wrapt up in their own interest. This is a miserable spirit. You have cherished it, and it has been one cause of shutting love and harmony from your family. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 3

Your husband possesses a noble, generous heart. He has suffered much and been much annoyed with the extreme selfishness which you have exhibited, and yet he has not realized it half as bad as it is. God’s frown is upon it. Angels of God flee from the presence of those who possess it. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 4

This selfish spirit you brought into the family with you, and have kept up a separate interest. You were indulged in your childhood. You were allowed to fret and scold, and if a little ailing, to complain. At such times you have been waited on and petted. And now it is natural to complain and fret and to draw all the sympathy to yourself; it has become second nature. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 5

You knew that you were totally unfit to take charge of motherless children, for you had no love for children and were very easily annoyed by their childhood merriment. You permitted your husband to be deceived in you, and through a misplaced confidence he gave you his heart. Then if you had tried to act a mother’s part and cherished a love for those dear children, and been patient with their childhood waywardness, you would have filled an important place and been esteemed by all, and in the end obtained a rich reward. You have taken a course which God hates. You have never taken those children into your heart. You commenced to care for them as though it were a drudgery, a task which nobody understood or could ever understand. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 6

You have been at times situated inconveniently where it was highly necessary for you to exercise patience. You professed to be a Christian, your husband a perfect unbeliever. But you could not bear the least trial of your patience. Unless everything moved just so smoothly you were agitated and angry and brought a cloud, dark and heavy, over the household, and any place was preferable to your presence. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 7

You have mourned over your lot and over the trials of married life, and have sometimes advised those who were unmarried to remain so while free to keep so. Oh, if you had only done as you have advised others it would have been a mercy to more than one! The happiness of five were depending on the course you might pursue. But instead of making your husband and children happy, the most you thought of was yourself. You have made them very unhappy and miserable. The children could not love you; you gave them no chance to do so. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 8

Your husband has tried to make the best of everything, but your course has told upon his even temper, and upon his strong affections, and he has been in a measure alienated from his children through your influence. Yet he did not realize it. You have pursued a course toward his children which he never should have suffered. He has borne with your fretfulness and complaining until forbearance ceases to be a virtue. Now he should be decided that no fretfulness, censuring, or complaining should be indulged in to his children. Unless this is overcome now it never will be, and Sister King will have no part with God’s people, no home in His heavenly kingdom. God cannot take you to heaven as you are. You would mar that peaceful, happy place. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 9

What can be done for you? Do you design to wait until Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven? Will He make you all over new when He comes? Oh, no. This will not be done then. The fitting up must be done here; all the hewing and squaring must take place here upon earth, in the hours of probation. You must be fitted up here, the last blow must be given here. When Jesus takes His place on the great white cloud, He that is holy will be holy still and he which is filthy will be filthy still. His reward is with Him to give to every one according as his works shall be. Now is your time to get ready, to make haste and repent, and seek meekness and righteousness, that you may be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger. Now is the time to search your heart and to rid yourself of your supreme selfishness and covetousness. It is time for you to possess nobleness of soul. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 10

Your supreme love of self has led you to spare yourself and suffer the heavy burdens to come on Lucia when she was a mere child, and at the very time when she needed the greatest care to establish a good constitution. The seeds of disease were in her system, therefore she needed the most careful attention to help her overcome that which has threatened to carry her to an untimely grave. Lucia has been suffered to go beyond her strength for years. When she has complained of sickness or of suffering you have sometimes charged her, sensitive child that she was, of complaining to get rid of work, that you thought she complained more than she needed to, that she was not as bad off as she represented. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 11

I heard in vision the very words spoken: “You are as well as I am. You are as able to work as I am. You do not feel any worse than I do.” You were ever referring to yourself as a criterion, as though no one could feel any worse than yourself. You have never realized how hard Lucia has worked, and she never has received credit for the amount of labor she performed. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 12

Your health was not good; yet it might have been better if you had possessed fortitude and self-denial to have broken yourself of habits indulged in from childhood. Had you risen early in the morning and superintended your household matters as every mother should, your health would have been better. You have indulged yourself in the injurious habit of spending the very best hours in bed. If you had risen earlier you would not have felt so languid and weak. Often, mornings, Lucia has arisen after passing a restless, painful night, to do that which you ought to have done. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 13

Self has been your highest consideration. Lucia’s strength has been taxed to the utmost. You have sometimes pitied her, but have pitied yourself three times where you did her once. She was far less able to endure hard labor than yourself, but she was left to do it. God has noticed these things. You have a faculty that Lucia has not, of calling attention to yourself and enlisting sympathy. Hours of suffering she has endured without a murmur, when if you had suffered half as much you would have had much to say about it and would have done nothing at all. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 14

Lucia’s lot has been hard. Her father has been like one asleep. His eyes have seen some things which have caused him sorrow, but his eyes have not been half opened. He should, above all things, have looked out for the interest of his only daughter. He did not reflect and realize how lonely he should be without her. She is a sunbeam in his path. He should have known that the burdens came too heavy upon her frail constitution, else she would not have suffered so much. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 15

You, Brother King, have let the statements of your wife sway your judgment. She has enlarged upon and swelled her own labor, while that of your daughter has been often represented to you as small, light, that which she could do without injuring her. You have felt alarmed at times, but as often efforts were made to make you see that your fears were groundless. These efforts of your wife have proved too successful. It should not have been so. You have not known half of the sadness and suffering Lucia has borne. It was your duty to have had a sharp lookout for these things and not be pacified so readily. It was for you to say what course your daughter should pursue—your only daughter, left you by a tender wife and mother, whose whole interest was for you and her children, one whose heart was wholly yours, one who never caused you a moment of sadness, one who never gave you a harsh or fretful word. Lucia is a type of her mother. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 16

Your children have not been properly cared for. Your present wife has been close and has stinted them. She has begrudged them good and abundant clothing. Especially has Lucia been neglected in this respect. Her wardrobe has been kept scanty and poor. Everything desirable to your wife has looked too good for Lucia. I saw her looking at things brought into the house which might have made Lucia comfortable and which she actually needed. She knew Lucia needed those very things. She held up these things, examining them, and finally decided to keep them for herself. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 17

Lucia is a sensible girl. She felt the injustice of these things and has wept over them in secret, but made no complaint to her father or anyone. Lucia richly earned treble what she had, and even if she had not worked so hard, even if she had not been as patient and submissive as she has, as a daughter she was entitled to a liberal supply. But I saw that she had borne burdens which persons who are much older would shrink from. Had Lucia gone out to work in any family among strangers and labored as she has at home, she could more than have supported herself and supplied herself with a liberal wardrobe. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 18

But she has done what she never should have done and has been overtaxed. She has not been an equal sharer in privileges with her present mother. Instead of her mother denying herself of privileges of visiting and attending meetings at a distance from home, and for Lucia’s encouragement had her go occasionally with her own father, if one must stay at home, it has generally been Lucia. The mother claimed all the privileges and Lucia has had but very few privileges or bright spots in her experience. There has been an astonishing selfishness manifested in this. She has been left to take the care at home when her mother was enjoying privileges that Lucia was a stranger to. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 19

Sister King, your constant complaining has shut out all room for Lucia to tell when she did suffer, and has shut away from her the sympathy she ought to have had. Such exhibitions of selfishness are alarming. I was compelled to enter into your family and was shown things in vision which had transpired. I have heard you and Brother King in conversation. I have heard the very words which have been spoken between you. I have seen the passion and rage which you exhibited because your course was censured. Then I have seen Brother King in the deepest perplexity. He hardly knew what course to pursue. He has wished himself alone again with his infant flock. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 20

While you have talked and acted as though it were a great task to have the care of those children, and as though it was a great condescension in you to come into the family, you looked only on one side of the matter. You have not seen your course of injustice and selfishness. You have not seen that the family have been greater sufferers than you. You have never known how much misery you have caused. You have never thought that the family would have been far better off if you had never entered it. Your course has driven one son from his home to the army. And yet you justify yourself and think you are about right. May God give you true repentance before it shall be too late. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 21

Brother King, you have been greatly perplexed at times to know just what to do, and to save a storm have let your wife have her own way in many things. This would be excusable, somewhat, in you if you alone were concerned in the matter, but when your children are brought into the account, when you know they must be affected by the course you pursue, then let the consequences be what they may, you should act for the good and for the interest of your children. You should take a firm, decided course when you know that you are right, and act the double part of father and mother to your children. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 22

There has been but little union and harmony in your family. There never can be a true state of feeling of love and union until there is a decided reform in Sister King. She has not been willing to see herself and there can be no reform until she does. She is constantly striving to save herself from censure and to make her case good when she ought to feel that she has been all wrong and should feel true repentance for the evil she has caused. As Brother King’s eyes are opened he will do his part to correct the evil which has existed in his family, which has nearly ruined his children. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 23

If Sister King remains as she has done, justifying her course in almost everything, criminating others, there will be a greater variance than there has ever been yet between them. She must see her course as it is and confess her wrong course, her selfishness, her covetousness, and overcome these things, redeem the past, and cherish a noble, generous spirit. Be benevolent and kind to the children. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 24

I would that she could see how heaven has regarded her course. All such things God hates. Would that she could see how angels of God have regarded these motherless children. Angels have been commissioned to have special charge of them and to efface the impressions her influence was making upon them. How tenderly have these angels watched to preserve the affections of the children that they might not wither, and to preserve their noble qualities that the fine feelings of the soul need not die. If anything could move Sister King, such a sight would move her, and her course would be arrayed before her just as despicable as it is. She would see how she had repulsed those dear children whom she should have taken close to her heart. She would see how harshly she has dealt with their young and sensitive natures. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 25

She has been willing and even anxious that others should think that she had a hard lot, that she had taken upon herself a great burden. The most of her unhappiness she has made herself by her own fretful, peevish disposition. She talks too much, gets easily excited, talks just what comes into her mind, follows her feelings instead of governing them, controlling them by obtaining the Spirit of God to help her in the work. She creates confusion by so much talk. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 26

She has supposed she had trials but she is unacquainted with real trials. She has manufactured trials for herself. She has a noble, kind husband, a good house, and everything she needs. Yet she is often unhappy because she makes herself so by ugly traits of character. She would not be corrected in these things. God calls upon her now to reform. Will you take hold of this work in earnest, and act as though you had something to do? If you see yourself as God sees you, you will make haste to separate these evils from you. When you have a sense of your true condition, hours which you spend in bed in the morning will be spent in humble, fervent prayer before God for grace to help you to reform. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 27

Before I saw you last I had strong hope that you had reformed. I am disappointed. I thought Lucia’s sickness would have a tendency to open your eyes to see how frail the poor child was, and I expected you would feel deeply when you came to see her, that you would feel reproached for your course toward her and the lack of care you have had for her. But from remarks you made in regard to Lucia, I judge you are either entirely blind or utterly incapable of feeling. You remarked that your conscience was clear in regard to Lucia, that you had not made her work hard. I have thought you could not be honest or that your conscience was seared and you were past feeling, for if your conscience did not condemn you, you must be past hope. You cannot mend a wrong till you see it and feel it. When you spoke depreciatively of Lucia’s labor in the house, and that Lucia had done nothing to hurt her, that the washings were not much, etc., I knew better, and so does any reasonable person. I never felt so discouraged in regard to you. I do not think there has been the least change in your feelings or views. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 28

Sometimes I think that you have been selfish and covetous so long, have been self-caring all your life, that you cannot see that selfishness is a part of your very existence. You have grown up with it and it cannot be separated from you. I know that it will require a great effort on your part; it will be equal to the death struggle to separate this darling sin from you. But from what I have seen, it is life or death with you. Reform and become a true Christian, overcome and have everlasting life, or continue as you are and perish with the sinner. It is certain you can never be saved as you are. You may plead your own cause, but the Judge of all the earth you cannot deceive. He will judge righteously and from His decision there will be no appeal. There is no excuse for your course. God help you to repent with all your heart, and to labor just as zealously to undo what you have done as you did to do wrong. Remedy the evil while there is hope. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 29

Lucia, I saw, had not been extravagant in her wants. She has put up with anything which has been presented to her without a murmur. She has been a child whom God has loved. She has not been appreciated and loved as she deserved. Her sensitive heart has been so often crushed with censure and reproof, which she did not deserve, that she has submitted to suffer and toil in silence when she was not able, and when she should be at rest. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 30

If her ways of doing work did not agree with her present mother’s idea of the matter, she would talk to her in an ordering, censuring manner, to irritate her and deeply wound her feelings. There was nothing to inspire love or reverence in the children for her. There has been no love in her heart for Lucia. Her selfish nature forbids her exercising love for the children. The main idea with Sister King is that the children are to wait on her and make the work easy for her. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 31

I saw that it was Brother King’s duty to study to make his children happy. But little happiness have they had in their life. God requires you, Brother King, to redeem the past. You have been too severe at times, and too impatient with your children. They have had but little to inspire them with courage and there has been much to irritate and provoke them to wrath. Oh, what miserable work there has been made in your household! God grant, Brother King, that you may realize this to its full extent, and now seek to counteract the evil. Never correct your children upon the testimony of any one who gets easily excited and angry. That which you see with your eyes and hear with your ears, credit; but you have punished your children when the whole wrong lay upon your wife. She was unreasonable and created disturbance. It is time for you to see as you never have seen before. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 32

A stepmother often makes a stepfather. You have meant to be right and true to your children, but you have not known just what course to take. Angels of God will help you, for they are interested for you. But there must be an entire change, a thorough reform in your family. There has been too much mischief done already to permit or allow things to go any farther as they have gone. One has been driven from his home to the army. Lucia’s health is gone. She is a mere wreck in point of health. Is not this enough evil fruit? Is it not time for a reform? My spirit is stirred within me. I will not let this matter rest until there is a thorough change. 1LtMs, Lt 3, 1863, par. 33