Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Lt 27, 1872

Burton, Brother

San Francisco, California

November 22, 1872

Portions of this letter are published in 1MCP 157-158, 275; 2MCP 381, 394; HP 193; TDG 335.

Dear Brother Burton:

I have a few things to say to you this morning. Your case was presented before me in vision in connection with others of this church. I was shown your dangers, which you do not see and realize yourself. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 1

The prospect of a church in San Francisco being organized and coming into working order is rather discouraging unless there are efforts made by each to so far overcome his peculiarities that he may come into harmony with other minds and all unite their interest for the prosperity of the church and the upbuilding of the cause of present truth. If one has peculiarities, and retains them, he becomes the subject of remarks and trials and is a hindrance to the successful spread of the truth. Unbelievers mark the errors and defects of those who profess the truth, and they charge all these failings to the peculiar doctrines we hold. All are judged to be of the same stamp of character. This is why Brother Cornell has done so great injury to the cause of God. Other ministers of our faith are looked upon with suspicion because of his errors and the defects in his character. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 2

Brother Burton, you are in danger of losing eternal life unless you see your errors and correct them. You have had a very good estimate of yourself. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 3

Your past life before you embraced present truth was corrupt. You have had a checkered experience. Your estimation of yourself has led you to depreciate your wife. And even now the sanctifying influence of the truth has not cleansed and refined and elevated your thoughts as they should be. You need to cultivate self-control. You are very impulsive. You have made but feeble efforts to overcome. Your efforts should be earnest and thorough and persevering in order for you to succeed. You must learn as a follower of Christ to control every expression of fretfulness and passion. Your mind is too much centered upon yourself. You talk too much of yourself, of your infirmities of body. Your own course is daily bringing upon you disease, through your own wrong habits. The apostle entreats his brethren to consecrate their bodies to God. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:1, 2. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 4

When we pursue a course to lessen mental and physical vigor—in eating, drinking, or in any of our habits—we dishonor God, for we rob Him of the service He claims of us. When we indulge appetite at the expense of health, or when we indulge habits which lessen our vitality and mental vigor, we cannot have a high appreciation of the atonement and a right estimate of eternal things. When our minds are beclouded and partially paralyzed by disease we are easily overcome by the temptations of Satan. Eating of unhealthful food to gratify the appetite has a direct tendency to unbalance the circulation of the blood, cause nervous debility, and as the result there is great lack of patience and true, elevated affection. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 5

Constitutional strength, as well as the tone of the morals and the mental faculties, is enfeebled through the indulgence of perverted appetite. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 6

God does not propose to work a miracle to preserve our health and strength which we daily are injuring by pet habits and indulgences. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 7

Brother Burton, you should cultivate a high respect for your wife. She is a much better woman than you deserve. You have not appreciated her. You have been in danger of thinking more highly of other ladies than of your faithful, toiling wife. You are courteous to them, attentive in minor matters, in little courtesies, but neglect these things in your own family. It is these little attentions and courtesies which make up the sum of life’s happiness. To appreciate and commend your wife, giving her words of praise for her faithfulness and her attention, showing you appreciate these things, would not detract from your dignity or place you in a humiliating position. It would be an honor to you and a blessing to your wife. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 8

Many women pine for words of love and kindness and the common attentions and courtesies due them from their husbands who have selected them as their life companions. How much trouble and what a tide of woe and unhappiness would be saved if men, and women also, would continue to cultivate the regard, attention, and kind words of appreciation and little courtesies of life which kept love alive and which they felt were necessary in gaining the companions of their choice. If the husband and wife would only continue to cultivate these attentions which nourish love, they would be happy in each other’s society and would have a sanctifying influence upon their families. They would have in themselves a little world of happiness and would not desire to go outside this world for new attractions and new objects of love. Many a wife has sickened and died prematurely for the want of encouraging words of sympathy and love manifested in kindly attentions and in words. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 9

Brother Burton, you are exacting. If the hearts were kept tender in our families, if there were a noble, generous deference to each other’s tastes and opinions, if the wife were seeking opportunities to express her love by actions in her courtesies to her husband, and the husband manifesting the same consideration and kindly regard for the wife, the children would partake of the same spirit. The influence would pervade the household, and what a tide of misery would be saved in families! Men would not go from home to find happiness, and women would not pine for love and lose courage and self-respect and become lifelong invalids. Only one life lease is granted us, and with care, painstaking, and self-control it can be made endurable, pleasant, and even happy. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 10

Every couple who unite their life interest should seek to make the life of each as happy as possible. That which we prize we seek to preserve and make more valuable, if we can. In the marriage contract men and women have made a trade, an investment for life, and they should do their utmost to control their words of impatience and fretfulness even more carefully than they did before their marriage, for now their destinies are united for life as husband and wife, and each is valued in exact proportion to the amount of painstaking and effort put forth to retain and keep fresh the love so eagerly sought for and prized before marriage. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 11

Brother Burton, you dwell upon yourself. You view many things in a perverted light. You have suspicion of men, great distrust and jealousy, and you surmise evil. You think everybody is determined to ruin you. Many of these trials originate with yourself. Many things are construed by you to be premeditated to injure you, when this is farthest from the real truth. You do yourself the greatest injury by your wrong course. You are your greatest enemy. Your wrong habits unbalance the circulation of the blood and determine the blood to the brain, and then you view everything in a perverted light. You are quick and high-tempered and you have not cultivated self-control. Your will and your way seem right to you. But unless you see the defects in your character and wash your robe and make it white in the blood of the Lamb, you will surely fail of everlasting life. You love the theory of the truth, but you do not let it sanctify your life. You do not carry out in your daily deportment the principles of the truth you profess. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 12

Much of your God-given probationary time is spent in useless chit-chat, making yourself the theme of conversation. You will be called to give an account for your time. What have you done to bless others? Many who feel no responsibilities resting upon them to take up burdens where they can, in a quiet manner every day as they pass along, are constantly thinking they can do some more exalted work for which they are better fitted, which they are in no wise qualified to perform. These persons who have not gained an experience in doing the little duties, in performing well the little things that somebody must do, can never lay hold of the heavier burdens and assume the greater responsibilities. You neglect to perform the little duties of life which lie directly in your pathway. Your wife bears too heavy burdens and you do not help her as is your duty. This neglect on your part is a sin. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 13

The time you needlessly spend in pleasing yourself and glorifying yourself should be employed in doing good and being of use somewhere. You are rusting with inaction. Useful employment would be the best remedy for you that you can have. You dwell upon your little ailments, and think of them, and they increase upon you. This injures you more than physical labor. If you practice temperance in eating and in all your habits, your health will be much better. You need something to engage the mind and take it from yourself. Do good somewhere and to somebody if you die in the attempt. To overcome your faults and control your hasty temper, to get the victory over your dictatorial, overbearing and exacting spirit, and esteem others better than yourself, will improve your excellence and benefit your fellow men more effectually than anything you can do to them or for them. We glorify our heavenly Father in proportion as we purify and perfect our own selves. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 14

Your faults have been of the same character as Brother Cornell’s. In addition to this, you indulge your appetite to your injury. A dyspeptic stomach always leads to irritability. A sour stomach leads to a sour temper. Your body must be kept in subjection if you make it a meet temple for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Your spiritual service is to present to God your body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him. You have a work to do to purify your own life. Cease humoring and petting yourself. Take up your life burdens daily. Eat sparingly of even wholesome food. Exercise moderately, and you will feel that your life is of some account. Love your wife as you should. Take your share of the burden of life and seek to do others good, and you will be blessed yourself. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 15

God marks all our works, all our acts. There is an angel on our track taking cognizance of all our works. Every act of our life, however secret we may think it is, is recorded, and we are rewarded as our works have been. May God help you to work as you have never done before to overcome your hasty, passionate temper. God will work with your efforts if you will set about the work earnestly. You have no time to lose. Heaven is worth making an effort for. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 16

Brother Burton, your condition of health now is because your own wrong habits have brought upon you suffering and disease. Your brain would not have been affected as it is if all your habits had been in accordance with the laws of your being. Nature’s laws cannot be violated without suffering the penalty. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 17

You increase the difficulty of your head by indulgence of appetite. How much would you agree to receive to allow your memory to be clouded from henceforth while you live? No sum of money offered you would induce you to part with your mental capacity, yet you and thousands of others will sell your mental vigor for a dinner. Each mental capacity cannot be estimated by dollars and cents. By the powers of these faculties we serve the law of God and place our affections upon Him in whom all our hopes of eternal life are centered. Therefore, with these powers of mind God has given us we appreciate His claims, and move understandingly, in compliance with the conditions laid down in His Word, that we may have eternal riches and an immortal mind that will expand and increase in capabilities and power through the ceaseless ages of eternity. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 18

What, then, is the value of diamonds, of gold, of silver, in comparison with the mental faculties? All the treasures of the world sink into insignificance when compared to the value of the mental and moral powers. And the healthful action of these faculties is dependent upon the physical health. Then how important that we know how to preserve health, that our duty to God and man may be performed according to His commandments. The laws of God are plain and distinct. No uncertainty beclouds any of them. None of them need ever be misunderstood. Those who cannot discern them are benumbed by their own wrong habits enfeebling their intellect. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 19

God designs to teach us the importance of temperance in all things. As intemperance caused the fall of our first parents from their holy and happy estate, by their transgressing the law of God, so temperance in all things will keep our faculties in as healthy a condition as possible, that no mist or uncertainty may becloud any of them, that intellect may guide to right actions in keeping His law, whatever may be the consequence. God has made public His laws, commanding all His children to obey them. If we remain ignorant of the laws of our being, and through perverted habits lessen our mental and physical vigor, we are transgressors of the ten precepts of Jehovah. We cannot serve the law of God in rendering perfect service to our Creator, and in performing our duty to our fellow men, unless we practice temperance in all things. We must work in harmony with natural laws if we would discern the binding claims of the law of God spoken from Sinai. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 20

We all need knowledge upon the subject of health reform, and it is not safe to neglect the opportunities to read and learn and become acquainted with the light shining upon health reform. We want every move to be made understandingly and intelligently. We need the assistance of knowledge in our efforts to practice temperance, then we shall not move blindly or in the dark. As we practice these reforms, their benefits and truths will be established by experience. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 21

If you would engage in physical labor your health would be far better. Physical inaction induces mental sluggishness, while exercise of all the muscles gives mental vigor, quickens intellectual action, overcomes depression and despondency, and promotes happiness. When we by any indulgence or wrong habits, by eating to excess, clog the system, we cannot be spiritually-minded; neither can we bring the intellectual powers into energetic and efficient action. A sound constitution is necessary for a sound mind. No part of the body can be abused or diseased in any way without affecting the moral and intellectual. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 22

My brother, if you are saved at last it must be by strong efforts on your own part. Any amount of talk will not be acceptable to God. God calls for works, for deeds. Talk is cheap, but deeds cost us an effort. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21. “Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” James 2:17. We shall show all the faith we have by our works. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 23

You, my brother, need to humble your heart and cherish meekness and lowliness of mind, die to self, and have Jesus live in you. Talk of Jesus. Talk of the Christian’s hope and the Christian’s heaven, and you will have greater spiritual strength. You must be a transformed man. You do not see yourself. God will help you if you see your need of help and come to Him all broken, just as helpless as you are. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 24

God will not be trifled with. We must not be fitful in His service and act like pettish children. We must have a high sense of the sacredness and exalted character of the work and move not by impulse, but from principle—steady, sure, with calm consideration and sound judgment—for we are dealing with eternal realities. Our course of conduct in this world is determining our fitness for the heavenly world. We must manifest earnestness and zeal proportionate to the value of the object we are in pursuit of. You must lay aside your childishness, your impatience, and your fretfulness, and make an entire surrender to God. 2LtMs, Lt 27, 1872, par. 25