Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 1

491/519

Lt 30, 1868

Rogers, Brother and Sister

Greenville, Michigan

April 6, 1868

This letter is published in entirety in 2T 50-55.

Dear Brother and Sister Rogers:

I have been shown that Brother Rogers has had the cause of God at heart, but he has felt too deeply and taken on many burdens he should not have borne. He has suffered in health in this way. He has viewed things in a strong light, and has been too earnest and anxious to have all see matters in just the light he viewed them, and because they were backward in doing so he has felt nearly crushed. He feels to the depth and is in danger of urging his views of things too strongly. 1LtMs, Lt 30, 1868, par. 1

Jenny wants to be a Christian but is of a very sanguine turn of mind, self-confident, ardent, and has not cultivated discretion and true courtesy. She shows the rough part of her character, and has not appeared to advantage. She has moved from impulse, just as she felt, and sometimes very excited and strong. She has strong likes and dislikes, and has permitted this unfortunate trait in her character to develop itself greatly to the detriment of her own spiritual advancement and to the injury of the church. She has talked too much and unwisely, just as she felt. This has had a strong influence upon her husband and led him to move at times from excitement of feeling when to have waited and calmly looked at matters for some time, weighed them properly, would have been better for himself and for the church. Nothing is gained by moving hurriedly, moving from impulse or from strong feeling. 1LtMs, Lt 30, 1868, par. 2

Jenny moves from impulse and finds fault, and has had too much to say against her brethren and sisters, which will cause confusion in any church. If Jenney could control her own spirit, a great victory would be gained. If she would seek the heavenly adorning, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth calls of great price, she would then be a real help to the church. If she would cherish the spirit of Christ and be a peacemaker, her own soul would flourish and she would be a blessing to the church, wherever she may be located. Unless she is converted and an entire change wrought in her, and she educates herself to be slow to speak, slow to wrath, and cultivates true Christian courtesy, her influence will mar and blight her own happiness and that of those who are connected with her. She has an independence which is a damage to her and alienates her friends from her. This independence has caused her much trouble, and wounded her best friends. 1LtMs, Lt 30, 1868, par. 3

If those who had means have acted close toward her husband and did not favor him in business transactions more than worldlings, she has felt, and talked, and aroused feelings of dissatisfaction where none had previously existed. This is a selfish world at best. Those who profess the truth are not many of them sanctified by the truth they profess, and may not have a heart to make even a trifling variation in their prices of produce when dealing with a poor brother any more than they would with an able worldling. It would be more pleasing to God were there less selfishness and more disinterested benevolence. There is not loving their neighbor as themselves. 1LtMs, Lt 30, 1868, par. 4

As Jenny has seen that in deal this spirit was manifested, she has committed a greater sin by feeling and talking in regard to the matter as she has. She has erred in expecting too much. The tongue has been truly an unruly member, a world of iniquity set on fire of hell, untamed and untamable. Sister Jenny has had a spirit of retaliation, to manifest by her deportment that she was offended. This was all wrong. She has cherished bitter feelings, which is foreign to the spirit of Christ. Anger, resentment, and all unkind tempers are indulged by speaking against those with whom we are displeased, and in reciting the errors and failings and sins of neighbors. The hurtful desires are gratified. 1LtMs, Lt 30, 1868, par. 5

If, Jenny, you are grieved because your neighbors or friends are doing wrong to their own hurt, if they are overtaken in fault, follow the Bible rule. “Tell him his fault between thee and him alone.” [Matthew 18:15.] As you go to the one you suppose to be in fault, see that you speak in a meek and lowly spirit, for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. The erring can in no other way be restored than in the spirit of meekness and gentleness and tender love. Be careful in your manner of speaking. Avoid everything in look or gesture, word or tone of voice, that savors of pride or self-sufficiency. Guard yourself against word or look that would exalt yourself or set your goodness and righteousness in contrast to their failings. Beware of the most distant approach to disdain, overbearing, or contempt. With care, avoid every appearance of anger, and though you use plainness of speech, yet let there be no reproach, no railing accusation, no token of warmth, but that of earnest love. 1LtMs, Lt 30, 1868, par. 6

Above all, let there be no shadow of hate or ill will, no bitterness or soreness of expression. Nothing but kindness and gentleness can flow from a heart of love. Yet all these precious fruits need not hinder your speaking in the most serious, solemn manner, as though angels were directing their eyes upon you, and you acting in reference to the coming judgment. Bear in mind that the success of reproof depends greatly upon the spirit in which it was given. Do not neglect earnest prayer that you may possess a lowly mind, and that angels of God may work upon the hearts you are trying to reach, before you, and so soften them by heavenly impressions that your efforts may avail. If any good is accomplished take no credit yourself. God alone should be exalted. God alone hath done it all. 1LtMs, Lt 30, 1868, par. 7

You have excused yourself for speaking evil of your brother or sister or neighbor to others, before going to them first and taking the steps the Lord has absolutely commanded you, in this way, “Why, I did not speak to anyone until I was so burdened that I could not refrain.” What burdened you? Was it your own neglect of a plain duty? of a thus saith the Lord? You were under the guilt of sin, because you did not “go tell him his fault between thee and him alone.” [Verse 15.] If you did not do this, if you disobeyed God, how should you be otherwise than burdened, unless your heart was burdened while you were trampling the command of God underfoot, and hating your brother or neighbor in your heart. And what way have you found to unburden yourself? God reproves you for a sin of omission, not telling your brother or sister their fault; and you excuse yourself under His censure by a sin of commission, by telling your brother’s faults to another person! Is this the right way to purchase ease—by committing sin? 1LtMs, Lt 30, 1868, par. 8

All your efforts to save the erring may be unavailing. They may repay you evil for good. They may be enraged rather than convinced. What if they hear to no good purpose and pursue the evil course they have started to follow? This will frequently be the case. Sometimes the mildest and tenderest reproof will have no good effect. In that case the blessing you wanted another to receive by pursuing a course of righteousness, ceasing to do evil and learning to do well, will return into your own bosom. If the erring persist in sin, treat them kindly and leave them with your heavenly Father. You have delivered your soul; their sin no longer rests upon you. You are not now partaker of their sins. But if they perish, their blood is upon their own heads. 1LtMs, Lt 30, 1868, par. 9

Dear friend, an entire, thorough transformation must take place in you or you will be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary and found wanting. Talking women have a lesson to learn. “If any man [or woman] seem to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” [James 1:26.] Many will be weighed in the balance, and found wanting in this matter of so great importance. Where are the Christians who walk by this rule? Who will take God’s part against the evil speaker? Who will please God and set a watch, a continual watch, before thy mouth and keep the door of thy lips? Speak evil of no man. Hear evil of no man. If there are no hearers to be found, then there will be no speakers of evil. If any speak evil in thy presence, check him. Refuse to hear, if his manner be ever so soft and accents mild. He may throw out sideways hints, profess attachment, and yet stab the character in the dark. 1LtMs, Lt 30, 1868, par. 10

Resolutely refuse to hear, though the whisperer complain of being burdened till he speak. Burdened, indeed, with a cursed secret which separateth very friends. Go, burdened ones, and be delivered of your burden in God’s appointed way. First go tell thy brother between thee and him alone. If this fail, next take with thee one or two friends and tell him in their presence; if this does not prove a success, if these steps fail, then tell it to the church. Not an unbeliever is to be made acquainted with a particle of the matter. “Tell it to the church” is the last step taken. [Matthew 18:17.] Publish it not to the enemies of our faith. They have no right to the knowledge of church matters, lest the weakness and errors of Christ’s followers be exposed. 1LtMs, Lt 30, 1868, par. 11

Those who are preparing for the coming of Christ should be sober and watch unto prayer, for our adversary, the devil, goeth about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour; whom we are to resist steadfast in the faith. “He that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good: let him seek peace and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers.” [1 Peter 3:10-12.] 1LtMs, Lt 30, 1868, par. 12