Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 1 (1844 - 1868)


Lt 5, 1864

Hutchens, Brother

Battle Creek, Michigan

February 22, 1864

Portions of this letter are published in 2Bio 77; ChL 68-69.

Dear Brother Hutchens:

We received your letter in due time but have been unable to answer it until now, and cannot now write more than a brief letter. Willie is just recovering from lung fever. We have been so anxious and have been obliged to watch over him day and night until we are much worn, and my head aches nearly all the time. We feared that Willie, too, was to be removed from us, but in answer to our earnest petitions the Lord has stayed the progress of disease and spared our dear boy to us. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1864, par. 1

Dear Brother, in my last vision I was shown some things concerning you. I was shown your labor in connection with the cause of God, that it had not been as beneficial in advancing the work as the names mentioned in the testimony. You have moved too much from impulse and your own feelings. The cause of God has needed a correcting influence upon this point, instead of a leading influence. You have rather encouraged this impulsive movement than otherwise. In many respects your influence upon the church has not been right. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1864, par. 2

You have caused doubts to arise in many minds in regard to positions taken by those who have the burden of the work of God upon them and moved only as God directed them to move. Instead of helping those who had all upon them that they ought to bear, you have taken your position on the wrong side. Your feelings have arisen in opposition to any new important advance, and instead of your trying to find evidence favoring the position those you should have confidence in have conscientiously taken, your labor has been to search up every objection and cast them in the way to encourage infidelity and doubt upon the very things which God would have you believe. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1864, par. 3

In your experience you have often been fanatical, carried matters to extremes, had great faith in small things which you should not, and acted with zeal in those things which proved to be all wrong. Such a zeal was not according to knowledge or good sound reason. Such a gift cannot be relied upon and is not to be safely followed in the church. You have your ideas, and expect others to carry them out. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1864, par. 4

You make of great account small things, while things of the utmost importance you have treated with indifference because every objection was not removed from your mind; and you have unwisely awakened unbelief in the minds of others who have had confidence in you. You have interested yourself in things of minor importance in others, noticed articles of dress, little acts, words, and such things which should not call forth reproof or remarks from you. Your holy example will be the greatest corrector of these things. You have noticed these little things and spent many words upon them and have suffered yourself to become irritated over them. Even if the ones you reproved sinned, your sin was greater by arbitrarily bearing down upon them for these small matters when in many things you were more faulty than they. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1864, par. 5

I was shown that your influence has not been what it should have been in Brother Barrows’ family. You have been notional and very exacting and have not had that influence to happily unite and harmonize the feelings of parents and children, as was your privilege. You have said too much and cut off your influence from the unbelieving children of Brother Barrows. You have had too much voice in things connected with that family, and this has separated the unbelieving children, in part, from the truth and from their parents. It would have been better for that family if your influence had not been there. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1864, par. 6

You have not a happy disposition. You are, rather, selfish, exacting, fault-finding and arbitrary, censure others who do not deserve censure half as much as yourself, and do not make that Christian, compassionate allowance for others which their case deserves. You are generally looking out for your own interest and that which would be pleasant for yourself, but show severity toward this brother or that sister for a supposed wrong, or because they do not exactly meet your ideas of right. You often mistake your feelings in these things. It is often the case that instead of your being moved to thus labor because God has laid the burden upon you, it is a burden of your own seeking, through your own peevish, exacting feelings, and you have a mistaken idea that it is a zeal for the truth and cause of God. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1864, par. 7

Your health is poor, and God does not lay any very heavy burdens upon you or leave you to bear any great responsibilities; yet you could do good to others if you would only overcome as you wish to see others overcome. If you would bear a comforting, encouraging testimony, and labor to comfort and build up and not try to fill the most prominent place but to be useful to the cause, your own soul would be watered and others strengthened. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1864, par. 8

When those who have had the burden of the work upon them for years take positions which you cannot explain but which cross your track, you should not feel that the responsibility of the work rests upon you to array yourself in opposition to the positions advanced lest the cause of God would be in jeopardy. You get up feelings in regard to things you do not understand. You should wait until these things are proved and tested somewhat. You should feel that God stands at the helm, that the cause is no one man’s, it is the Lord’s; and if He sees that those who stand at the head of the work, bearing the heavy responsibilities connected with the work, are moving wrongly, He has means to correct that wrong and turn them right without Brother Hutchens in his feeble, nervous state becoming impulsive and taking burdens upon him and feeling that the great responsibility rests upon him to keep the body upon the right track. If you would realize that God does not lay very heavy burdens upon you, and will leave upon others the responsibility which God has laid upon them, and you bear and act only that part for which God has qualified you and given you strength to carry out, you would accomplish a greater amount of good and be a happier man yourself. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1864, par. 9

God has not laid upon you the special work of reproving the erring and setting them right, for the very reason that it is a trait in your character to be ready to censure others’ acts and doings. By doing this you have done a great amount of harm and destroyed your influence which otherwise would be good. These conscientious souls who have had implicit confidence in Brother Hutchens have been in danger of casting away their own experience and looking for him to mark out an exact experience for them or a path that they should walk in. They have taken extreme views of some things and some have been affected with fanaticism. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1864, par. 10

If God lays the burden of reproof upon any one it will be upon him who is reluctant to see faults in others but is well aware of his own failings and errors, and can reprove in pity and Christian meekness, with some having compassion, making a difference. Your testimony will accomplish good in the church if you will be content to comfort and entreat the church and lay aside the whip. You would be happier, your health would be better. You must not undertake to set so many right around you. Fret less, censure less, and pray more. Be sure and keep Brother Hutchens in subjection and the faults of others will not be so many or so great in your estimation. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1864, par. 11

The Lord has not released you or taken His work from you, but He requires of you to have your work in His cause marked with less imperfections. We have the tenderest feelings toward you all and pray that you may be prospered and enjoy the rich blessings of God. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1864, par. 12

In love to all dear friends, 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1864, par. 13

Your sister in Christ. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1864, par. 14

Please send me a copy or the original of this as I retain a copy of all testimonies I send out. 1LtMs, Lt 5, 1864, par. 15