Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 1 (1844 - 1868)


Ms 5, 1867

Vision Regarding Brother Howard



This manuscript is published in entirety in 2T 695-711.

I was shown the case of Brother Howard. He had been standing for some time resisting the truth. His sin was not because he did not receive that which he sincerely believed to be error, but because he did investigate diligently and have a knowledge of what he was opposing. He took it for granted that Sabbath-keeping Adventists as a body were in error over this view, were in harmony with his experience, and he did not see the necessity of finding out for himself by diligent searching of the Scriptures with earnest prayer. Had Brother Howard pursued this course, he might now have been far in advance of his present position. He has been too slow to receive evidence and too neglectful in searching the Scriptures to see if these things are so. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 1

Paul did not consider those worthy of commendation who resisted their teachings as long as they could, until compelled by overwhelming evidence to decide in favor of the doctrine, [which] he taught [and] which he had received of God. Paul and Silas left Thessalonica where they had labored in the synagogue of the Jews with some success, but to the great dissatisfaction of the unbelieving Jews, who created a disturbance and made a great uproar against Paul and Silas. These devoted apostles were obliged to leave under the cover of night and came to Berea where they were gladly welcomed. They speak in commendation of the Bereans: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so, Therefore many of them believed.” Acts 17:11, 12. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 2

Brother Howard has failed to see the vital importance of the question. He did not feel the burden pressing him to diligent search, independent of any man, to find out what is truth. He has had too much of Elder Howard and has not felt the necessity of learning of one who is meek and lowly of heart. He has not been teachable, but self-confident. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 3

Our Saviour has no words of commendation for those who are slow of heart to believe in these last days, any more than he had for a doubting Thomas, who boasted that he would not believe upon the evidence the disciples rehearsed, which they credited, that Christ had indeed risen and appeared to them. [Said Thomas:] “Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe.” John 20:25. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 4

Christ granted the evidence he had declared he would have. He reprovingly said to him, “Be not faithless, but believing.” John 20:27. Thomas acknowledged himself convinced. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 5

Jesus said unto him, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” John 20:29. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 6

Brother Howard’s position made him a weak man. He remained for quite a length of time warring against nearly everything but the Sabbath, fellowshiping commandment breakers, claimed by the Adventists who were in bitter opposition to the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. He has been in no condition to help because he was in a state of indecision himself. His influence has rather confirmed many in their unbelief. With all the evidences, help, and encouragement Brother Howard has had, his standing back has displeased the Lord while it has strengthened the hands of those who were fighting against God by their opposition to the truth. Brother Howard might now have been [a] strong man possessing influence with God’s people in Maine, esteemed highly in love for his works’ sake. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 7

Brother Howard, I saw, would be inclined to the ideas that his backwardness was a special virtue rather than a sin which he must repent of. He has been very slow to learn the lessons God has designed to teach him. He has not been an apt scholar, having a growth and an experience in present truth qualifying him to bear that weight of responsibility he might now bear had he diligently improved all the light given. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 8

I was shown a time when Brother Howard began to make efforts to subdue himself, restrain his appetite. He could then the more readily be patient. He had been easily excited, passionate, irritable, depressed in spirit, and his eating and drinking had very much to do in keeping him in this state where the lower organs bore sway and predominated over the higher powers of the mind. Temperance, I saw, would do much for Brother Howard, and more physical exercise and labor are necessary for his health. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 9

As Brother Howard made efforts to control himself, he began to grow, but did not receive that blessing in his efforts to improve had these efforts been made at an earlier period. Instead of gathering with Christ into the truth, he too long drew back, would not advance and stood directly in the way of the advancement of others and scattered abroad. His influence has stood directly in the way of the progress and reform and the work which God sent His servants to do. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 10

Brother Howard’s ideas of order and organization have been in direct opposition to God’s plans of order. God has order in heaven to be imitated by those upon earth who are heirs of salvation. The nearer mortals attain to the order and arrangement of heaven, the more closely are they brought into that acceptable state before God, which will make them subjects of the heavenly kingdom and give them that fitness for translation from earth to heaven which Enoch possessed preparatory to his translation. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 11

Brother Howard must be guarded. There is a lack of order in his organization. His being has not been in harmony with that restraint, that care and diligence, necessary in order to preserve harmony, union of action and order which is the result. His education for years in his religious experience has been a great detriment to his dear children, and especially to God’s people. The obligations Heaven has imposed upon a father, and especially upon a minister, he has not realized. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 12

A man who has but a feeble sense of his responsibility as a father to encourage and enforce order, discipline and obedience like Abraham, who commanded his household after him, will fail, too, as a minister, as a shepherd of the flock. The same lack which characterizes his management at home in his family will be seen in a more public capacity in the church of God. Wrongs will exist uncorrected because of the unpleasant results which attend reproof [and] earnest appeals. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 13

I saw that Brother Howard’s family needs a great reform. God is not pleased with their present state of disorder, having their own way and following their own course of action. This condition of things is destined to counteract his influence where Brother Howard is known. It also has the effect to discourage those who have a will to help him in the support of his family. This lack is an injury to the cause. Brother Howard does not restrain his children. God is not pleased with their disorderly boisterous ways, their unrefined deportment. All this is the result of, or the curse which follows, the unabridged liberty which Adventists have claimed were their blessed privilege to enjoy. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 14

Brother and Sister Howard have desired the salvation of their children, but I saw that God would not work a miracle in the conversion of these children while there were duties resting upon the parents which they have but little sense of. God has left a work for these parents to do which they have thrown back upon God to do for them. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 15

When Brother and Sister Howard feel the burden they should for their children, they will unite their efforts to establish order, discipline and wholesome restraint in their family. Brother Howard, you have been slothful in bearing the burdens which every father should bear in the family, and as the result very heavy has been the burden which has been left for the mother to bear. You have been too willing, Brother Howard, to excuse yourself from care and burdens at home and abroad. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 16

When in the fear of God, with solemnity in view of the judgment, he resolutely takes the burden Heaven has designed he should, and when he has done all that he can on his part, then can he offer to God the understanding prayer with the Spirit, and in faith, for God to do that work for his children which is beyond the power of man to perform. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 17

There has been a lack of judiciously using means. Wise judgment does not influence you as much as the voices and desires of your children. You have not too much means. You have had a limited amount for your large family, yet Brother Howard, you do not place the estimate you should upon means in your hands, and expend it cautiously for the most useful articles, the very things you must have for comfort and health. You all need to improve in this respect. Many things are needed in your family for convenience and comfort. The lack of appreciating order and system in the family arrangement leads to destructiveness and working at great disadvantage. Every member of the family should realize that a responsibility rests upon them collectively and individually to do their [part] in adding to the comfort, order, good regulation and system in the family arrangements. One should not work against another, but each unitedly engage in the good work of encouraging each other, exercising gentleness, forbearance, patience, speaking in low even tones, shunning confusion, each doing all they can to lighten the burdens of the mother. Things have been left at loose ends, each excusing themselves from duty, leaving for another to do that which they can and ought to do themselves, which although [it] may be but a trifle, yet put along side of many trifles, makes a great neglect, great disorder which God frowns upon. It is the neglect of the littles which poisons life’s happiness. A faithful performance of the littles is the sum of happiness to be realized in this poor life. He that is faithful in little is also faithful in much. He that is unfaithful in small matters, will be unfaithful in greater matters. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 18

Each in the family arrangement should understand just what part they are expected to act in connection with the family. Each should bear their share of life’s burdens from the six year old child and upward. Important lessons can these children learn, now better than at any later period in their history. God would work for these dear children and bring them to be learners in the school of Christ. Jesus invites these dear children to separate from the vanities of the world and leave the pleasures of sin and choose the path of humble obedience. If they will heed the gracious invitation and accept Jesus as their Saviour, He will cleanse them from their sins and impart grace and strength to follow on to know the Lord. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 19

Dear Brother Howard, your lessons learned amid the distracting influences which have existed in Maine, have been exceedingly injurious to your family. You have not been as circumspect as God requires you to be in your conversation to dwell upon the truth in your family, to teach the principles of truth, the commandments of God, diligently unto your children when you rise up and when you sit down, when you go out and when you come in. You have neglected this duty at home and abroad. You have not appreciated your work as a father or as a minister. There has not been that zealous performance of duty with your family of requiring their attendance and devoting time to family worship. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 20

I was shown that the true meaning of husband is houseband. Every member of the family centers in the father. He is the law-maker, illustrating in his own manly bearing, sterner virtues, energy, integrity, honesty, patience, courage, diligence, and practical usefulness. The father is in one sense the priest of the household, laying upon the altar of God the morning and evening sacrifice. The wife and children should be encouraged to unite in their offering and also in the songs of praise to our merciful, compassionate Redeemer for His unbounded mercy and matchless love. The father should, as priest of the household, confess morning and evening to God the sins committed by himself and [his] children through the day, which have come to his knowledge, and also those sins which are secret, which God’s eye alone has taken cognizance of. This rule of action heartily, zealously carried out on the part of the father when present and the mother when the father is absent, will redown in blessings to the family. Why the youth of the present age are not more religiously inclined is because of the defect in their education. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 21

It is not true love which is exercised towards children to permit in them the indulgence of passion, or permit disobedience of your laws to go unpunished. As the twig is bent, the tree inclines. You love your ease too well. Brother Howard, you are not painstaking enough. It requires constant effort, constant watchfulness, and earnest prayer without ceasing; that is, without relaxing, keeping in a praying mood, the mind uplifted to God. Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 22

Another point where you have failed in your family, is appreciating the sacredness of the Sabbath and teaching it to your children and enjoining upon them its sacredness, and their keeping it according to the commandment. Your sensibilities are not clear and ready to discern the high standard we must reach in order to be commandment keepers. God will assist you in your efforts when the work is earnestly taken hold of. Possess perfect control over yourself, then can you have better success in controlling your children when they are unruly. A large job is before you, but you have it not to perform in your own feeble strength. Ministering angels, who are sent to minister unto those who shall be heirs of salvation, will aid you in your persevering efforts. No discouragement is allowed in this, no throwing up of the work or laying aside the burden, but to lay hold of it with a will and repair your long neglect. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 23

You must have higher views of God’s claims upon you in regard to His holy, sanctified day. Everything that can possibly be done of your work should be done in the six days God has given to you, and you should not rob God of one hour of His sanctified holy time [that] He has reserved, set apart for His own use and for the benefit of man. Great blessings are promised those who make a great account of the Sabbath and have a high sense of its sacredness and the obligations resting upon them in regard to its observance. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 24

“If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isaiah 58:13, 14. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 25

When the Sabbath is brought to us we should from its commencement place a guard upon ourselves, upon our acts and our words, lest we rob God by appropriating that time which is strictly the Lord’s to our use. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 26

We should not do ourselves, or suffer our children to do, any manner of our own work for a livelihood, or for gain, or that could have been done in the six days. Friday is the day of preparation. It should be devoted to thinking and doing and conversing upon things necessary, preparatory to the Sabbath, that nothing should be left unsaid or undone, to be said and done upon the Sabbath, which will, in the sight of heaven, be regarded as a violation of the sacredness of the Sabbath. God requires not only refraining from physical labor upon the Sabbath, but the mind must be disciplined to dwell upon sacred themes. The fourth commandment is virtually transgressed by conversing upon worldly things, business transactions, and light and trifling conversation. Talking upon everything or anything which may come into the mind is speaking our own words. Every deviation from the right brings into bondage and condemnation. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 27

Brother Howard, you must discipline yourself to discern the sacred high and elevated character of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and labor to raise the standard in your family and among God’s people, where you have by precept and example lowered it. Counteract the influence you have exerted in this respect by a change of words and acts. You have too often forgotten and spoken your own words upon God’s sanctified day. You have failed to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 28

You have been unguarded and frequently joined with the unconsecrated in conversation upon common topics of the day—in regard to losses and gains, stock and provisions, crops and etc. This is all wrong and injures your influence. Your example is wrong. In this respect you should reform. Those who are not thoroughly converted to the truth frequently refrain from physical labor upon the Sabbath while their minds are left free to run upon worldly business and their tongues speak out what is in their hearts—cattle, crops, losses, gains, etc. All this is Sabbath breaking. If the mind is running upon worldly business, the tongue will reveal it, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 29

The example of ministers especially in this respect should be circumspect, and they [should] anxiously restrict their conversation upon the Sabbath to religious themes, dwelling upon present truth, present duty, the Christian’s hopes and trials, conflicts, and afflictions and overcoming at last and the reward gained. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 30

Ministers of Jesus Christ should stand as reprovers to those who fail to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. When in a family or company composed mostly of Sabbath-keepers, if conversation is introduced calculated to lead to conversation upon worldly things, it should be kindly rebuked. A spirit of devotion to God should be encouraged upon His sanctified holy day. We should not feel as much at liberty to occupy God’s holy, sanctified time in an unprofitable, useless manner than we should any of the days of the week given to us. It is not pleasing to God [to] sleep off a greater portion of sanctified, holy, honorable time. While doing this, we are not honoring our Creator. By this example we testify the six working days are too precious for me to stop and rest. I must make money. I must not take even the allowance of sleep my physical wants require. I will make it up on the Sabbath, for that day is given to me as a rest day. I will not tax myself by attending meeting, but will rest for I need rest. Such make a wrong use of the sanctified rest day. They should upon that day especially interest their family in its observance, and should gather with the few or many, as the case may be, and devote the time and energies in spiritual exercises that the divine influence and sanctification resting upon the Sabbath may attend them through the week until another holy Sabbath comes around. Of all the days in the week, none are as favorable for devotional thoughts and feelings as the Sabbath. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 31

All heaven was represented to me as upon the Sabbath beholding and watching those who acknowledged the claims of the fourth commandment upon them and were observing the Sabbath. Angels were marking their interest in and their high sense of the divine institution of God’s appointment. 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 32

Those who sanctified the Lord God in their hearts by a strict devotional frame of mind and sought to improve the sacred hours in helping to the best of their ability others to serve and honor God, and to call the Sabbath a delight, were placing blessings upon those faithful ones. Special light and help and special strength were given to them, while on the other hand, angels were turning from those who failed to appreciate the sacredness of God’s sanctified day, removing their light and strength. I saw them overshadowed with a cloud, desponding, frequently sad. They felt a lack of the Spirit of God. [The remainder of this letter is in Testimonies for the Church 2:705-711.] 1LtMs, Ms 5, 1867, par. 33