Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Ms 6, 1875

Testimony Regarding Brother Ings


Circa 1875

Previously unpublished.

There have been some things shown me that I feel it my duty to write for the benefit of Br. Ings and those connected with him. While my husband and myself were to be in Battle Creek, I did not feel much burden of the matter because Br. Ings would respect our advice and our testimony. But since we are to be absent from Battle Creek, we know not how long, I feel it to be duty to write out what has been shown me in regard to his case. 2LtMs, Ms 6, 1875, par. 1

The Lord loves Br. Ings. He is a strictly conscientous man, and has the fear of God before him. His soul responds to the truth, and he desires to carry out its principles in his life. He has a true heart. But there are strong points in his character which need to be softened and refined. He makes too much of the jots and tittles in life. He is exacting upon many things. In point of dress he is frequently too exacting. There are matters essential and profitable to dwell upon in the theory of truth, which he may bring to bear upon his own heart and life, and the hearts and lives of others, with good account. But when he makes small points of dress and peculiarities of dress a personal matter, he hurts his influence and injures the effect of the good he might do were he less observant and watchful of others’ conscience in these little things. He is in danger of overstraining in these things and making his conscience a criterion for others. Br. Ings must allow others to have a conscience as well as himself, and he must guard himself lest his suspicion and jealousy of his brethren lead him to give place to the enemy, and he mar the very work of God he wishes earnestly to build up. 2LtMs, Ms 6, 1875, par. 2

Sr. Ings has had trials in regard to these strong traits of character in her husband. While she has had the utmost confidence in his motives, she has feared the influence of his exacting traits upon others. Sr. Ings is more evenly balanced in this respect than her husband. 2LtMs, Ms 6, 1875, par. 3

Br. Ings, unless constantly balanced by minds that are more evenly organized, will be in danger of carrying things too far, and being an extremist. He is in danger of judging other mens’ consciences and binding upon others exacting burdens that God does not bind. As a people we have an unpopular faith which separates us from the world. We should be exceedingly cautious that we do not place ourselves, in our sympathies and views, so far from the world that we cannot reach them. Christ’s example is our pattern. His sympathies were identified with suffering humanity. He reached the sinful, helpless, and needy where they were, and He makes their necessities His own. There is danger of closing the door of access to souls by some exacting traits of character, which have an influence upon them of burdening restraint which they cannot for a moment think of enduring. 2LtMs, Ms 6, 1875, par. 4

The great principles of truth should be our subject; the worth of souls our burden. When souls are converted to the truth it commences to guide the conscience, gradually molding it, purifying, refining, and ennobling the life. But there is danger of wanting to gauge other mens’ opinions and views to our standard, when that standard may be very defective. Let the principles of truth suitably affect the heart and life and it will do the work of purifying and separating from the world. Br. Ings, I know, needed an experience in his religious life that he had not yet gained. He was severe in his criticism upon others, distrustful and jealous of the course of others unless they came in the channel of his ideas. If these defects could be seen and corrected, the influence of Br. Ings would be a greater blessing than it could be if he continued to view matters as he has done. 2LtMs, Ms 6, 1875, par. 5

Straight testimonies are needed, but God must choose His instruments who can judiciously and wisely reprove wrongs and correct the erring. It is not everyone who has the judgment and discretion to reprove and counsel. They will be so apt to make their own views and feelings paramount when their neighbors’ consciences may be even more correct than the one who would set himself up as a reprover. 2LtMs, Ms 6, 1875, par. 6

Never should we make items of dress a test of faith if the Christian character is in other respects consistent. These things will come in order without being crowded. The Lord would not have us crowd and press anyone. “My sheep,” says Christ, “hear My voice and they follow Me.” [John 10:27.] The voice of Christ woos and charms but does not command. You are too ready to bear down upon others to censure. You do not cultivate that winning manner, that loving spirit, that Jesus manifested. You must seek to win souls, for you can never compel them. Said the apostle who died for his faith, “I am made all things to all men that I might by all means save some.” [1 Corinthians 9:22.] The salvation of the soul is precious. You must not repulse; you must not make yourself objectionable by your stern manners and by being so very set in your own way. Come just as near others as you can and yet preserve your integrity. 2LtMs, Ms 6, 1875, par. 7

Br. Ings, you need to cherish a kindly spirit. You should have words of encouragement for others. You should seek to bless and brighten their pathway. You should not cast a shadow of gloom. You should be cautious that you do not make the question of diet and dress essential to salvation. You may exalt the truth; you may exalt the law of God and exalt faith in Jesus Christ. These are vital points of truth. Diet and dress have their place, but they are not by any means to be made foremost and the prominent features of our religious faith. These are lesser duties. They must be handled with the greatest caution and must not be made a testing question. 2LtMs, Ms 6, 1875, par. 8

You abominate pride and a superficial character, but you must hide your strong feelings and not be ready to express your peculiar views and your strong feelings of disgust. You have a right to your opinion, but you have no right to force this opinion upon others. Your strong position has been a great hindrance to your wife. She might have been driven away from the truth where she could not be reached, had not God in His great mercy reached down His arm in love and pitying tenderness to draw her to Himself. You need both to be guarded and not be too ready to see the errors and failings of others. 2LtMs, Ms 6, 1875, par. 9

God will make you a blessing to others if you seek to be right with Him, and do not try to fix others over too much to meet your ideas. May God help you to leave others to God unless He gives you a word of encouragement to brighten their pathway. You may be a comfort and live in the hearts of your brethren. But Br. Ings must not take too much upon himself in seeking to set others right. This is not the work God has for him to do. He should look well to his own case, lay aside his suspicion and his jealousy, and see that he has the precious love and pitying tenderness that dwelt in the bosom of Jesus. This he needs to cultivate. All the rough edges and harsh surface must be removed by the planing knife of God. He must be right with God in seeking to be imbued with the gentleness of Christ. He is not in the way of duty in reproving, in making cutting remarks, in reining up others to his standard, and in making man an offender for a word. This is not the work God has given him to do. 2LtMs, Ms 6, 1875, par. 10

Br. Ings, you should soften your spirit and be less stern, and be less severe and less exacting or you will be a burden to the church instead of a help. You do not do justice to yourself, my brother. There are but few men who, beneath the surface, have a more tender, pitiful heart than yourself. You have received false ideas of duty, and stern duty you have thought demanded of you what God has not really required. Your manners must soften. You do not deserve the name of a stern, hard man, for you are not so at heart. Your words and your sternness belie the truly soft and tender love of your heart. This sternness and exacting in your intercourse with others is not required of you. Lay it off, Br. Ings. Love itself is the element to be mingled in all your duties from God. 2LtMs, Ms 6, 1875, par. 11

Do not feel compelled to rein yourself up to appear to others what you are not in reality. Cultivate a kindly expression of voice. You should throw into it a little more smoothness, make it a little more musical, and not so dictatorial, not overbearing. Let the music of love tone and moderate your voice to reach the heart rather than to repel and close the avenues of the soul against your influence. There are many men and women who have few enough kindly, loving words spoken to them. Few words of sympathy have ever fallen upon their ears. Speak sympathizingly to others and you will find your words cherished. Kind, loving words will subdue and break the hardest hearts and secure to you friends lasting and true. You must not rein up souls to your ideas. You peck at little things in point of dress and controvert the dress of your wife. You weary her patience needlessly and make points and raise issues that are not essential. You press and wound and grieve needlessly. God would have you reform upon these points, and allow others to a have a conscience in regard to their diet and dress as well as yourself. 2LtMs, Ms 6, 1875, par. 12

You are cultivating a spirit of watching and judging others which makes your labors very objectionable. You have not erred intentionally. God’s love is toward you. But all defects in your character must be remedied and your life be faultless before God. (I read this testimony for it correctly describes the case of others.) 2LtMs, Ms 6, 1875, par. 13