Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Lt 54, 1874

Lee, Charles

Battle Creek, Michigan

October 24, 1874

Portions of this letter are published in 3T 414-434.

Dear Brother [Charles] Lee:

My mind is exercised in regard to your case. Some things I have written you which have been shown me in regard to your past, present, and future course. I feel anxious for you because your dangers were shown me. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 1

Your former experience in spiritualism exposes you to temptations and severe conflict. When once the mind has been yielded to the direct control of the enemy through evil angels, that person should be very distrustful of impressions and feelings which would lead him on an independent track, away from the church of Christ. The first step that he would take independently of the church is just the step that Satan is leading him to take, where he may easily deceive and destroy him. God has made His church a channel of light. Through His church He communicates His purposes and His will. He does not give one an experience independent of the church, [so] that one man may know the will of God for the entire church, while the church, Christ’s body, is left in darkness. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 2

Brother Lee, you need to watch with the greatest care how you build. There is a storm coming which will test your hope to the utmost. You should dig deep and lay your foundation sure. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.” Matthew 7:24, 25. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 3

Steadily the builder places one stone upon another until the structure rises stone upon stone. The builder frequently carries his work in tears and amid trials, storms of persecution, and bitter opposition and unjust reproach; but he feels deeply in earnest for he is building for eternity. Be careful, Brother Lee, that your foundation is solid rock, and that you are riveted upon it, Christ being that Rock. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 4

Brother Lee, your domestic life has been unfortunate for you as well as your wife. Your life was not happy. You both manufactured trials, making life very bitter for you both to bear, because you did not possess self-control. You were more cool than your wife, more coldly calm, but your ways, your words irritated when they should have soothed. Your very coolness and sharp criticism exasperated your wife, filled her with bitterness that grew into hatred of you. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 5

Your wife was fitful, passionate, violent at times. She was changeable, [and] sometimes would have the highest elevation of feelings and was affectionate; then she was plunged into the darkest fits of gloom, complaining and faultfinding. It was difficult for you to have patience with her, for she was a jumble of opposites. She was unreasonable and inconsistent. One day she would be on the pinnacle, devotional and apparently ecstatic. The next day [she would] shut herself within herself, thinking and living only for herself, exacting and unapproachable. One day [she would be] fluent in prayer, stimulated when under religious influences with high purposes which she never had grace to carry out. The next day she would be faultfinding, peevish, censorious, and overbearing. She rose no higher in her attainments of Christian perfection than impulse. She possessed [a] combative, independent, self-willed spirit. She was ever inclined to call attention to herself and to favor herself and hang as a helpless burden. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 6

Your peculiar temperament was made worse by her disposition. And she was made worse by your temperament. You were exacting, noticing and marking her defects. You were faultfinding. You required too much of her sometimes. You could not see that you had defects. You were not the man to make concessions and meet your wife halfway. Even if she was the most in the wrong, you were not clear before God. You were frequently independent and unyielding. You felt that you were obliged to stand on the defensive and to vindicate yourself, or yield your independence and manhood. Your disposition to combat has strengthened. You have had opinions of your own which you would not yield, even when you might have done so without sacrificing any principle of right. This which she termed wilfulness and obstinacy on your part exasperated her already inflamed mind to such a pitch she would do you violence if she could or dared to do it. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 7

You might have saved much of the storms you have had at home by exercising policy and forbearance and patience on your part. Oh, if you had been pitiful and courteous, what a precious experience you might have gained. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 8

You have a strong, set will, a very independent spirit, which you feel that you must preserve at all hazards. You have carried this same spirit into your religious experience and life. You have not felt in harmony with the work of God as carried on by your American brethren. You have not seen as they see nor been in union with their manners of proceeding. You have had but very little acquaintance with the work in its different departments. You have not felt very anxious to become acquainted with the various branches of the work. You have looked with suspicion and distrust upon the work, and [upon] God’s chosen leaders to carry it forward. You have been more ready to question and surmise and be jealous of those upon whom God has laid the heavier responsibilities of His work, than to investigate and place yourself in connection with the work, [and so] to become acquainted with the workings and advancement of the cause of God. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 9

God saw you were not fitted to be a shepherd, a minister of righteousness to proclaim the truth to others, until you should be a thoroughly transformed man. He permitted you to pass through real trials and feel privation and want, that you might know how to exercise pity and sympathy and tender love for the unfortunate and for the oppressed, and [for] those borne down with want and passing through scenes of trial and affliction. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 10

While you prayed in your affliction for peace in Christ, a cloud of darkness seemed to blacken across your mind. The rest and peace did not come as you expected. Your faith at times seemed to be tested to the uttermost. As you looked back, you saw a life of sorrow and disappointment. As you reviewed the future, all was uncertainty. The divine Hand led you wondrously to bring you to the cross and teach you that God was indeed a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Those who ask aright will receive. He that seeketh in faith will find. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 11

The experience gained in the furnace of trial and affliction is worth more than the inconvenience and painful experience it all cost. The prayers you offered in your loneliness, in your weariness and trial, God answered as you could bear it. You did not have clear and correct views of your brethren, neither did you see yourself in a correct light. But, in the providence of God, He has been at work to answer the prayers you have offered in your distress, in a way to save you and glorify His own name. In your ignorance of yourself, you asked for things which were not the best for you. God hears your prayers of sincerity, but the blessing granted is something very different from your expectations. God designed, in His providence, to place you more directly in connection with His church, that your confidence should be less in yourself and greater in others whom He is leading out to extend His work. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 12

God hears every sincere prayer. He would, I saw, place you in connection with His work, bringing you more directly to the light. And unless you should seal your vision against evidence and light, you would be persuaded that if you were more distrustful of yourself and less distrustful of your brethren you would be more prosperous in God. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 13

It is God [who] has led you through straight places. He had a purpose in this, that tribulation might work in you patience, and patience experience, and experience hope. He permitted the trials to come upon you, that through the exercise of these you would experience the peaceable fruits of righteousness. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 14

Peter denied the Man of Sorrows in His hour of humiliation and in His acquaintance with grief. But Peter was afterward repentant and reconverted. He had true contrition of soul and gave himself afresh to his Saviour. With blinding tears, he makes his way to the solitude of the Garden of Gethsemane. He prostrates himself where he saw his Saviour prostrated, as the bloody sweat was forced from His pores by His great agony. He remembers he was asleep when Jesus prayed those fearful hours. His heart breaks and penitential tears moisten the sod so recently stained with [the] sweat drops of God’s dear Son. He leaves that garden a converted man, ready, then, to pity the tempted. He was humbled and could then sympathize with the weak and erring. He could caution and warn the presumptuous, and was fully fitted to strengthen his brethren. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 15

God would lead you through affliction and trials, that you might have more perfect trust and confidence in Him, and that you might think less of your own judgment. You can bear adversity better than prosperity. The all-seeing eye of Jehovah detected in you much dross that you considered gold and too valuable to throw away. The enemy’s power over you had at times been direct and very strong. The delusions of spiritualism had entangled your faith, perverted your judgment, and confused your experience. God in His providence would try you, to purify you as the sons of Levi, that you might offer to Him an offering in righteousness. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 16

Self is mingled too much with all your labors. Your will must be molded by God’s will or you will fall into grievous temptations. I saw that when you labored in God, putting self out of sight, you will realize a strength from God which will give you access to hearts. Angels of God will work with your efforts when you are humble and little in your own eyes. But when you think you know more than those whom God has for years been leading and instructing in the truth, and fitting for the extension of His work, you are self-exalted and will fall into temptations. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 17

You need to cultivate kindness [and] tenderness. You need to be pitiful and courteous. Your labors savor too much of an exacting, dictatorial spirit, overbearing and severity. You are not always kindly considerate of the feelings of others, and you create trials and dissatisfaction all needlessly. More love in your labors, more kindly sympathy, would give you access to hearts and win souls to Christ and the truth. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 18

You are constantly inclined to individualism [and] independence. You do not realize that independence is a poor thing when it leads you to have more confidence in yourself and to trust to your own judgment rather than to respect the counsel and highly estimate the judgment of your brethren, especially [of those in] the offices which God has appointed for the saving of His people. God has invested His church with special authority and power which no one can be justified to disregard and despise, for in thus doing they despise the voice of God. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 19

It is not safe for you to trust to impressions and feeling. It has been your misfortune to come under the power of the satanic delusion, spiritualism. This pall of death has covered you and your imagination and nerves have been under the control of demons. And when you become self-confident and do not cling with unwavering confidence to God, you are in positive danger. You may and frequently do let down the bars and invite the enemy in and he controls your thoughts and actions while you are really deceived and flatter yourself that you are in favor with God. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 20

Satan has tried to hold you from having confidence in your American brethren. You have regarded them and their moves and experience with suspicion, when they are the very ones who could help you and would be a blessing to you. It will be Satan’s studied effort to separate you from those who are as channels of light, through whom God has communicated His will and through whom He has wrought in building up and extending His work. Your views and your feelings and your experience are altogether too narrow, and your labors are of the same character. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 21

In order to be a blessing to your Swedish people, you need to improve in many things. You should cultivate courtesy. You should cherish a tender sympathy for all. You should have the crowning grace of God which is love. You criticize too much and are not forbearing, as you must be if you [would] win souls. You could have very much more influence if you were less formal and less rigid and were more energized by the Holy Spirit. Your fear of being led by men is too great. God uses men as His instruments and will use them as long as the world shall stand. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 22

The angels who fell were anxious to become independent of God. They were very beautiful, very glorious, but dependent on God for their happiness and for the light and intelligence they enjoyed. They fell from their high estate through insubordination. Christ and His church are inseparable. To neglect or to despise those whom God has appointed to lead out and bear the responsibilities connected with His work and the advancement and spread of the truth is to reject the means God has ordained for the help, encouragement, and strength of His people. To pass these by and think that your light must come through no other channel, but direct from God, places you in a position where you are liable to deception and to be overthrown. God has placed you in connection with His appointed help in His church that you might be helped by them. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 23

Your former connection with spiritualism makes your danger greater than it otherwise would be, because your judgment and wisdom and discrimination have been perverted. You cannot always of yourself tell or discern the spirits, for Satan is very wily. God has placed you in connection with His church, that they might help you. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 24

You need to reform in many respects. You are too formal and cold and unsympathizing. You must meet the people where they are, and not place yourself too far above them and require too much of them. You need to be all softened and subdued by the Spirit of God while you preach to the people. You should educate yourself as to your best manner of labor to secure the desired end. Your labor must be characterized by love—the love of Jesus abounding in your heart, softening your words, molding your temperament, [and] elevating your soul. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 25

You frequently talk too long when you do not have the vitalizing influence of the Spirit of heaven. You frequently weary those who hear you. It is a mistake which many make in preaching; they do not stop at the point when the interest is up. They go on speechifying until the interest [that] has risen in the minds of the hearers [has] died out and the people are really wearied with words of no special weight or burden of interest. Stop before you get there. Stop when you have no special matter of importance to say. Do not go on with dry words that only excite prejudice but do not soften the heart. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 26

You want to be so united to Jesus Christ that your words will melt and burn their way to the soul. Mere prosy talk is insufficient for this time. Arguments are good, but there may be too much of argumentation and too little of the Spirit and life from God. Without the special power of God working with your efforts, your spirit subdued [and] your heart softened, your words flowing from a heart of love, your spirit humbled in God, your labors will be hard and not productive of much blessed results. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 27

There is a point the minister of Christ reaches, beyond which human knowledge and skill are powerless. We are struggling with giant errors, and evils which we are impotent to remedy [or] arouse the people to see and understand, for we cannot change the heart. We cannot quicken the soul to discern the sinfulness of sin and feel their need of a Saviour. But if our labors bear the impress of the Spirit of God, if a higher and divine Power attends our efforts, sowing the gospel seed, we shall see fruits of our labors to the glory of God. He alone can water the seed down. Thus with you, Brother Lee. You must not get in too great a hurry and expect too much of darkened minds. You must cherish humble hope that God will graciously impart the mysterious quickening influence of His Spirit, by which alone your labors will not be in vain in the Lord. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 28

You need to cling to God by living faith, every moment realizing your danger and sensing your weakness, constantly seeking strength and power which God alone can give. Try the best you may, of yourself you can do nothing. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 29

You need to educate yourself, that you may have wisdom to deal with minds. You should with some have compassion, making a difference, while others you may save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garments spotted with the flesh. Our heavenly Father frequently leaves us in uncertainty in regard to our efforts. We are to sow beside all waters, not knowing which shall prosper, this or that, [in order] that we may stimulate our faith and energy from the Source of our strength and [learn] full and entire dependence upon Him. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 30

Brother Lee, you need to work with the utmost diligence to control self and develop a character according to the principles of the Word of God. You need to educate and train yourself in order to become a successful shepherd. You need to cultivate a good temper—kindly, cheerful, buoyant, generous, pitiful, courteous, compassionate traits of character. You should overcome a morose, bigoted, narrow, faultfinding, overbearing spirit if you are [to be] connected with the work of God. You need to battle with yourself vigorously and form your character after the divine model. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 31

Without constant effort on your part some evil development, under the influence of a corrupt mind, will appear and block up your way, which hindrance you will be inclined to charge to some other than the true cause. You need self-discipline. Our duty should not appear sour and cold and morose, but lovable, teachable. A censorious spirit will hedge up your way and close hearts against you. You will, if not humble [and] dependent on God, frequently close your own path with obstacles and charge the same to the course of others. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 32

You need to stand guard over yourself, that you do not teach the truth or perform duties in a bigoted spirit that will excite prejudice. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 33

You need to study how you may show yourself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed. Inquire of yourself, What is my natural disposition? What character have I developed? It should be the study of yourself, and [of] every minister of Christ, to exercise the greatest watchfulness that [you] do not cherish in [yourself] habits of action, or mental and moral tendencies, which [you] would not wish to see appear among the people. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 34

Ministers of Christ are enjoining to be ensamples to the flock of God. The influence of a minister can do much to mold the character of his people. If the minister is lax, if he is indolent, not pure in heart and life, if he is sharp, critical and faultfinding, selfish, independent, and lacking self-control, he will have these elements in a large degree to meet and deal with among his people. Like meets like, and how hard is the work to set things in order. What is seen in their minister will make a great difference with the people, in regard [to] the development of Christian virtues in them. If his life is a combination of excellences, those whom he brings to the knowledge of the truth through his labors will, to a great degree, if they truly love God, reflect his example and influence, for he is a representative of Jesus Christ. Thus the minister should feel his responsibility to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 35

The highest efforts of the gospel minister should be to devote all his talents, his every faculty, to his work of saving souls; then he will be highly successful, for he has done all for himself he can do, and he rests his soul upon his Redeemer for Him to accomplish the perfection of his character. Wise and watchful discipline is necessary for everyone who names the name of Christ, but in a much higher sense is it essential for a gospel minister, who is a representative of Jesus Christ. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 36

Our Saviour awed men by His purity and elevated morality, while His love and gentle benignity inspired them with enthusiasm. The poorest and humblest were not afraid to approach Him. Even little children were attracted to Him. They loved to climb upon His lap and to kiss that pensive face, benignant with love. This loving tenderness you need. You should cultivate love. Expressions of sympathy and acts of courtesy and respect for others would not detract from your dignity one particle, but would open to you many hearts that are now closed against you. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 37

Christ was just what every one of His followers should strive to be. We should learn to imitate the character of Christ and combine strict justice, purity, integrity, love, and noble generosity. A pleasant face where love is reflected, and kind and courteous manners, will do more aside from pulpit efforts than the labors in the desk with the absence of these. It becomes us to cultivate a deference to other people’s judgment, when we are, to a greater or less extent, absolutely dependent upon one another. We should cultivate true Christian courtesy and tender sympathy even for the roughest, hardest cases of humanity. Jesus came from the pure courts of heaven to save just such. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 38

You close your heart too readily to many who have apparently no interest in the message you bear, but who are still subjects of grace and precious in the sight of the Lord. “He that winneth souls is wise.” [Proverbs 11:30.] You must be in the position, as was Paul, to become all things to all men if by all means you may save some. You must unbend from your independence. You lack humbleness of mind. You need the softening influence of the grace of God upon your heart, that you may melt your way to the hearts of men, although these hearts may be callous by prejudice. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 39

The cause of God wants so very much earnest men abounding in zeal, hope, faith, and courage. It is not self-willed men who can meet the demands for this time, but men who are in earnest. We have too many sensitive ministers now, feeble in experience, deficient in Christian graces and lacking consecration—men who are easily discouraged, who are earnest to gratify caprice or their own wills, who are persevering in their efforts to accomplish their own selfish purposes. We need men in these last days who are ever awake. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 40

Minutemen are wanted who are sincere in their love of the truth, willing to labor even to the death if they can advance the cause of God and save precious souls. Men are wanted in this work who will not murmur or complain at hardships or trials, knowing that this is a part of the legacy Jesus has left them. [They should be] willing to go without the camp and suffer reproach and bear hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, bearing His cross without complaint or without murmuring or fretfulness, [and will be] patient in tribulation. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 41

The solemn, testing truth for these last days is committed to us; and we should make the truth a reality. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 42

Brother Lee, avoid making yourself a criterion. Avoid, I entreat of you, appealing to your own sympathies. All that [we] can and ever may be called to suffer for the truth’s sake is incomparably small [to] that [which] our Saviour endured for us sinners. You need not expect always to be correctly judged or correctly represented. “In the world,” says Christ, “ye shall have tribulation, but in me ye shall have peace.” [John 16:33.] 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 43

You have cultivated a combative spirit. When your track is crossed, you immediately throw yourself into a defensive position; and although you may be among your brethren who love the truth and have given their lives for the cause of God, you will criticize [them] and justify [yourself.] [You] become jealous of [their] words [and] suspicious of their motives, and [you] lose great blessings that it is your privilege to gain through the experience of your brethren. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 44

You have loved to debate the truth and loved discussions, but these contests have been unfavorable to your forming a harmonious Christian character, for in this is a favorable opportunity for the exhibition of the very traits of character you must overcome if you ever enter heaven. Discussions cannot always be avoided. In some cases the circumstances are such that of the two evils the choice must be made of the least, which is discussion. But whenever they can be avoided, they should be, for the result is seldom honoring to God. The people who love to see two opponents meet may clamor for discussion. Others who have a desire to hear the evidences on both sides may urge a discussion in all honesty of motives. But whenever discussions can be avoided, they should be. Discussions generally strengthen combativeness and weaken that pure love and sacred sympathy which should ever exist in hearts of Christians although they may differ in opinions. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 45

Discussions in this age of the world are not real evidences of earnest desire on the part of the people to investigate the truths but for the novelty, the excitement which generally attends discussions. God is seldom glorified or the truth advanced in these combats. Truth is too solemn, too momentous in its results, [whether] received or rejected, to make it a small matter. To discuss truth for the sake of showing opponents the skill of the combatants is poor policy. Opponents to truth will show skill in misstating [their] fellow combatants. [They] will make the most solemn, sacred truths subjects of ridicule. [They] will generally sport and deride and place the truth, precious, sacred truth, in so false a light before the people that minds that are darkened by error and polluted by sin do not discern the motives and objects of [these] designing men to thus falsify precious and important truths. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 46

There are but few discussions that it is possible to conduct upon right principles. Sharp thrusts are too frequently given by both parties; personalities are indulged, and frequently both parties descend to sarcasm and criticism. The love of souls is lost in the greater desire for the mastery. Prejudice, deep and bitter, is often the result of discussions. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 47

I have beheld angels grieved as the most precious jewels of truth have been brought before men utterly incapable of appreciating the evidences in favor of the truth. Their entire being was at war with the principles of truth, their natures were at enmity with the truth. Their object in discussing was not for the sake of getting hold of the truth themselves or that the people might have a fair understanding of our position, but that they might confuse the understanding by placing the truth in a perverted light before the people. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 48

There are men who have educated themselves as combatants. It is their policy to mistake an opponent [and] cover up clear arguments with dishonest quibbles. They have drilled their God-given powers to a dishonest end, for there is nothing in their hearts in harmony with the pure principles of truth. They seize any arguments they can get [with which] to tear down the advocates of truth, when they do not believe the things they urge against them. They bolster themselves up in their chosen position, irrespective of justice and truth. They do not consider that before them is the judgment and that then their ill-gotten triumph, with all disastrous results, will appear in its true character. Error, with all its deceptive fallacies, its windings and twistings and turnings to make the truth appear a lie, will then appear in all its deformity. No victory will stand in the day of God [except] that which truth, pure, elevating, sacred truth shall win. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 49

Angels weep to see the precious truth of heavenly origin cast before swine, to be seized by them and trampled with the mire and dirt. Cast not “your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” [Matthew 7:6.] These are the words of the world’s Redeemer. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 50

God’s ministers should not count as a great privilege the opportunity to engage in discussion. All points of our faith are not to be borne [to] the front and presented before the prejudiced crowds. Jesus spake before the Pharisees and Sadducees in parables, hiding the clearness of truth under symbols and figures; but to His disciples He spoke plainly. We should learn from Christ’s method of teaching and be careful to not cut off the ears of the people by presenting truths which they are in no way prepared to receive. The truths we hold in common should be first dwelt upon and the confidence of the hearers obtained; advance slowly, as the people can be brought along with the matter presented. Great wisdom is needed to present unpopular truth before a prejudiced people. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 51

Discussions place before the people, who are unenlightened in regard to our position and who are ignorant of Bible truth, a set of arguments skillfully gotten [up] and carefully arranged to cover over the clear points of truth. These men have made it their business to cover up plain statements of fact in the Word of God by making their theories plausible to those who have not investigated for themselves. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 52

These agents of Satan are hard to meet, and it is difficult to have patience with them. But calmness, patience, and self-control are elements which every minister of Christ should cultivate. These combatants of the truth have educated themselves for intellectual battle. They are prepared to present, on the surface, sophistry and assertions as the Word of God. They confuse the mind and place the truth in obscurity. Pleasing fables are presented to the minds of the people in the place of pure Bible truth. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 53

Men choose darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. But frequently, if the truth could have been presented in a different manner under different circumstances, giving them a fair chance to weigh the arguments for themselves and [to] compare Scripture with Scripture, many would have been charmed by its clearness and would have taken hold upon it. It has been very indiscreet for our ministers to publish to the world the wily sophistry of error, furnished by designing men to cover up and make of none effect the solemn, sacred truth of Jehovah. These crafty men who lie in wait to deceive the unwary give their strength of intellect to pervert the Word of God. The inexperienced and unsuspecting are deceived to their ruin. It has been a great error to publish to all [the] arguments wherewith to battle the truth of God, and [to] furnish every class of minds with [arguments] which they had never thought of. Someone must render an account for this unwise generalship. Arguments, subtle in their influence, affect minds that are not well informed in regard to the strength of the truth. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 54

The moral sensibilities of the community at large are blunted with familiarity with sin. Selfishness, dishonesty, and the many and varied sins which prevail in this degenerate age have perverted the senses to eternal things so that God’s truth is not discerned. Truth and error are placed upon a level in their minds, when, if they could have the truth before them in its clearness long enough to see and sense its sacredness and importance, they would see the strong arguments in its favor and could then be prepared to meet the arguments urged by opposers. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 55

But few sense the words of our Redeemer. He that doeth “His will shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.” [John 7:17.] 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 56

Those who are seeking to know the truth and to understand the will of God, who are faithful to the light they already have, and who are zealous in the performance of their daily duties, will surely know of the doctrine, for they will be guided into all truth. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.” [Psalm 25:14.] 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 57

God does not promise, by the masterly acts of His providence, to irresistibly bring men to the knowledge of His truth, when they do not seek for truth and have no desire to know the truth. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 58

Men have the power and ability to quench the Spirit of God. The power of choosing is left with men. They are allowed freedom of action. They may be obedient through the name and grace of our Redeemer, or they may be disobedient and realize the consequences. Man is responsible [for] whether he receives or rejects sacred and eternal truth. The Spirit of God is continually convicting, and souls are deciding for or against the truth. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 59

The deportment, the words, the actions, of the minister of Christ may balance a soul for or against the truth. How important that every act of the life be such that [it] needeth not to be repented of—especially [of] the ambassadors of Christ who are acting in the place of Christ. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 60

The world’s Redeemer has invested His church with great power. He states the rules to be carried [out] in cases of trial with its members. After He has given explicit directions as to the course to be pursued, He says, “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever” (in church discipline) “ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 8:18. Thus the highest authority, even the heavenly, ratifies the discipline of the church in regard to its members when the Bible rule has been followed. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 61

The Word of God does not give license for one man to set up his judgment in opposition to the judgment of the church, neither is he allowed to urge his opinions against the opinions of the church. Unless there were church discipline and church government, the church would go to fragments; [it] could not hold together as a body. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 62

There have ever been individuals of independent minds who have claimed that they were right, that God had especially taught, impressed, and led them. Each has a theory of [his] own, or views peculiar to [himself], each claiming [that his] views [are] in accordance with the Word of God. These are all of different theory and faith; and each claims special light from God. These draw away from the body; and each is a separate church of [himself]. All of these could not possibly be right. Yet they all claim to be led of the Lord. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 63

The word of inspiration is not, Yea and Nay, but Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 64

Our Saviour follows His lesson of instructions with a promise that if two or three should be united in asking anything of God, it shall be given. Christ here shows that there must be union with others, even in our desires for a given object. Greater importance is attached to the united prayers, the union of effort, the union of purpose. God hears the prayers of individuals, but on this occasion, Jesus was giving special and important lessons that were to have a special bearing upon His newly organized church upon earth. There must be an agreement in the things which they desired and for which they prayed. It was not merely the thoughts and exercises of one mind, which might be liable to deception, but the petition was to be the earnest desire of more minds than one that centered [on] the same point. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 65

In the wonderful conversion of Paul we see the miraculous power of God. A brightness above the glory of the midday sun shone around about him. Jesus, the name [above] all others which he hated and despised, revealed Himself to Paul for the purpose of arresting his mad yet honest career, that He might make this most unpromising instrument a chosen vessel to bear the gospel to the Gentiles. Notwithstanding the glory of heaven felled him to the earth, it did not exalt the apostle. He had conscientiously done many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. In his zeal he was a persevering, earnest persecutor of the church of Christ. His convictions of his duty to exterminate this alarming doctrine, which was prevailing everywhere, that Jesus was the Prince of Life [were] deep and strong. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 66

Paul verily believed that belief in Jesus made of none effect the law of God, the religious service in sacrificial offerings and the rite of circumcision, which had in all past ages received the full sanction of God. But the miraculous revelation of Christ to Paul brings light into the darkened chambers of his mind. That Jesus of Nazareth whom he is arrayed against is indeed the Redeemer of the world. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 67

Paul sees his mistaken zeal and cries out, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” Acts 9:6. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 68

Jesus did not tell Paul then and there, as He might easily have done, the very work He assigned him. Paul must be instructed in the Christian faith and move understandingly. He sends Paul to the very disciples he had been so bitterly persecuting, to learn of them. The light of heavenly illumination had taken away the eyesight of Paul, but Jesus, the great Healer of the blind, does not restore it. He answers the question of Paul in these words, “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” Acts 9:6. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 69

Jesus could not only have healed Paul of his blindness, but He could have forgiven his sins and told him his duty in marking out his future course. From Christ all power and mercies were to flow. But Jesus does not give Paul an experience, in his conversion to truth, independent of his church recently organized upon the earth. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 70

The marvelous light Jesus had given Paul upon that interesting occasion astonished and confounded Paul. He was wholly subdued. This was the part of the work which man could not do for Paul, but there was a work still to be accomplished which the servants of Christ could do. Jesus points him to His agencies in His church for a further knowledge of his duty. Thus He gives authority and sanction to His organized church. The work of revelation and conviction Christ had done, and now he [Paul] was in a condition to learn of those whom God had ordained to teach him in connection with His church. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 71

The men whom Paul was on his way purposing to destroy were to be his instructors in the very religion he had despised and persecuted. He passed three days without food or sight, making his way to the men whom in his blind zeal he was purposing to destroy. Here Jesus places Paul in connection with His representatives upon the earth. The Lord gave Ananias a vision—a vision to go to a certain house in Damascus and call for Saul of Tarsus, “for, behold, he prayeth.” [Verse 11.] 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 72

After Saul was directed to go to Damascus, he was led by the men who accompanied him to help him bring the disciples bound to Jerusalem to be tried and put to death. Paul tarried with Judas at Damascus, devoting the time to fasting and prayer. Here the faith of Saul is tested. Three days he was in darkness of mind in regard to what was required of him, and three days he was without sight. He had been directed to go to Damascus and it should there be told him what he should do. He was in uncertainty, [and] he cried earnestly to God. An angel is sent to Ananias, directing him to go [to] a certain house where Saul is praying for to be instructed what he is to do next. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 73

[Saul’s] pride is gone. A little before, he was self-confident, thinking he was engaged in a good work for which he should receive a reward; but all is now changed. He is bowed down and humbled to the dust in penitence and shame, and his supplications are fervent for pardon. Said the Lord through His angel to Ananias, “Behold, he prayeth.” [Verse 11.] The angel informed the servant of God that he had revealed to Saul in vision a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 74

Ananias can scarcely credit the words of the angel and repeats what he has heard of Saul’s bitter persecution of the saints at Jerusalem. But the command to Ananias is imperative: “Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” Acts 9:15. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 75

Ananias was obedient to the direction of the angel. He laid his hands upon the man who so recently was exercised with a spirit of the deepest hatred, breathing out threatenings against all who preached Christ and all who believed on His name. Ananias said to Saul, “Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales; and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.” Acts 9:17, 18. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 76

Jesus might have done all this work for Paul directly, but this is not His plan. Paul has something to do in the line of confession to the men whose destruction he had premeditated, and God had a responsible work for the men to do whom He had ordained to act in His stead. Paul was to take the steps necessary in conversion [which] the sinner is required to take, and to unite himself to the very people he had persecuted for their religion. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 77

Christ here gives all His people an example of the manner of His working for the salvation of men. The Son of God identified Himself with the office and authority of His organized church. His blessings were to come through the agencies He has ordained, thus connecting man with the channel through which His blessings come. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 78

Paul’s being strictly conscientious in his work of persecuting the saints does not make him guiltless when the knowledge of his cruel work is impressed upon him by the Spirit of God. He is to become a learner of the disciples. He learns that Jesus, whom in his blindness he considered an imposter, is indeed the Author and foundation of all the religion of God’s chosen people from Adam’s day, and the Finisher of the faith now so clear to his enlightened vision. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 79

He saw Christ as the vindicator of the truth, the fulfiller of all prophecies. Christ had been regarded as making of none effect the law of God, but when his spiritual vision was touched by the finger of God, [he] learned of the disciples that Christ was the originator and foundation of the entire Jewish system of sacrifices, that in the death of Christ type met antitype, [and] that Christ came into the world for the express purpose of vindicating His Father’s law. In the light of the law, [he] saw himself a sinner. That very law which he thought he had been keeping so zealously, he finds he has transgressed. In the light of the law he finds himself a sinner, and he dies to sin and becomes obedient to the claims of God’s law. [He] repents of his sins and has faith in Jesus Christ as his Saviour, is baptized, and preaches Jesus as earnestly and as zealously as he once condemned Him. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 80

In the conversion of Paul are given us important principles which we should ever bear in mind. The Redeemer of the world does not sanction the experience and exercise in religious matters independent of His organized and acknowledged church, where He has a church. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 81

Many have the idea that they are responsible to Christ alone for their light and their experience, independent of Christ’s acknowledged body in the world. But this is condemned by Jesus Christ in His teachings, and in the examples [and] facts given to us for our instruction. Here was Paul, one whom Christ was to fit for a most important work, one who was to be a chosen vessel unto Him, brought directly into the presence of Christ. Yet He does not teach him the lessons of truth he must learn. He arrests his course, He convicts him. [When] he asks Christ, “What wilt thou have me to do?” the Saviour does not tell him directly, but places him [for] his direction in connection with His church. They will tell thee what thou must do. [Verse 6.] 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 82

Jesus was the sinner’s friend, His heart was ever open, ever touched with human woe. He has all power both in heaven and upon earth, but He respects the means He has ordained for the enlightenment and salvation of men. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 83

He directs Saul to the church, thus acknowledging the power He has placed upon the church as a channel of light to the world. It is Christ’s organized body upon the earth, and respect is required to be paid to His ordinances. Ananias represents Christ in the case of Saul. He also represents Christ’s ministers upon the earth who are appointed to act in Christ’s stead. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 84

Saul was a learned teacher in Israel, but while under the influence of blind error and prejudice, Christ reveals Himself to him and then places Saul in communication with His church, who are the light of the world. They were to instruct this educated, popular orator in the Christian religion. In Christ’s stead Ananias touches his eyes, that they may receive sight. In Christ’s stead he lays his hands upon him, and prays in Christ’s name, [and] Saul receives the Holy Ghost. All is done in the name and authority of Christ. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 85

Christ is the foundation. The church is the channel of communication. Those who boast of personal independence need to be brought into closer relation to Christ by the closer communion with His church upon the earth. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 86

Brother Lee, God loves you and desires to save you and bring you into working order. If you will be humble and teachable and be molded by His Spirit, He will be your strength, your righteousness, and your exceeding great reward. You may accomplish much for your brethren if you will hide in God and let His Spirit soften your spirit. You have a hard class to meet. They are filled with bitter prejudice, but no more [so] than was Saul. God can work mightily for your brethren, if you do not allow yourself to get in the way and hedge up your own way. Let melting love and pity and tenderness dwell in your heart while you labor. You may break down the strong iron walls of prejudice if you only cling to Jesus Christ and are ready to be counseled by your more experienced brethren. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 87

You must not as God’s servant, be too easily discouraged at difficulties, or [by] the fiercest opposition. Go forth, not in your own name, but in the might and power of Israel’s God. Endure hardness as a good soldier of the cross of Christ. Jesus endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself. Consider the life of Christ and take courage and press on in faith, courage, and hope. 2LtMs, Lt 54, 1874, par. 88