Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Ms 2, 1875

Concerning Families in the San Francisco Church


January 3, 1875

Previously unpublished.

In the vision given me January 3, 1875, I was shown some things which stand directly in the way of the advancement and healthful prosperity of the church in San Francisco. There were dissensions among them and much independence of spirit. Another serious evil—a spirit of gossiping and vain talking. Individuals feel at liberty to dissect the characters of others, judge their motives, and question anything which does not meet their ideas, when these very ones have so great a work to do for themselves in setting their own hearts in order. It will require their time and the closest attention with tears and prayers and humble repentance before they can draw nigh with pure, sincere desire for the blessing of God upon themselves to prevent them from making shipwreck of faith. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 1

There are murmurers and complainers which please the enemy and bring evil angels about them. When they should have the love and tender compassion akin to Christ’s love, they are harsh, unfeeling, independent. Envious feelings are cherished, and the truth professed by them has no sanctifying influence upon their lives. Are they then in any better condition for having professed the truth? No, indeed, but worse, for they in professing the truth say, I am the light of the world, I am the salt of the earth, an acting agent to preserve the world from the tainting, polluting corruption which threatens its destruction, when they are neither the light of the world nor the salt of the earth. Their light is darkness, and they are as salt without a savor, thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 2

There are several families in San Francisco whom Jesus would address as He did Nicodemus: “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” [John 3:3.] Several families were presented before me. Among these were the families with which you, Brother Stockton, are connected—your wife, her sisters, and your brother-in-law Edwards. These have professedly taken hold of the truth, but the truth has not taken hold of them to work its transforming influence upon the characters to ennoble, elevate, refine, and beautify their characters, assimilating them to the divine image. Were they partakers of the divine nature, you would not be pained with exhibition of temper in the words and actions to grieve and annoy and make each other miserable. These dear, deceived souls are not connected with heaven. The natural mind, the old man with his deeds, has not been crucified, and they have not put on the new man. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 3

The carnal mind works out, developing enmity, wrath, malice, hatred, strife, and ungovernable temper. Such things can never proceed from a renewed heart. Here is the weakness of the San Francisco church. Self lives, self rules, judgment and reason are overborne. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” [Galatians 5:22-26.] 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 4

The fruit which grows upon the tree determines the character of the tree. By their words ye shall know them; by their profession of faith ye shall know them. Search the church records for the names of Christians. Christ has said, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” [Matthew 7:20.] Words and actions are the fruits determining the right one has to bear the name of Christ. These dear souls God loves, but He sees their faults and would have them see and feel them while mercy lingers and before it shall be forever too late. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 5

These souls have not been correctly disciplined in their childhood. Their standard of Christian character is very low. They have almost everything in the education wrong. They need now to be learners in the school of Christ, to be taught every one of them, Bro. Stockton not excepted, correct principles. You should all, without reproaching one another, without censuring one another, but individually and in humility, make personal efforts to purify your life and overcome the defects in your characters through watchfulness and prayer. The surest evidence is given that Jesus does not dwell in the heart if disappointment, or to be crossed, arouses the worst passions of the heart. The great lessons these dear souls are to learn if they would be Christlike is how to keep Jesus in the heart and ever seeking earnestly to subdue self and to glorify God in the everyday life. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 6

This is the secret of success in perfecting Christian character and is the only hope of their final salvation. The self-sufficient, self-confident Bro. Stockton, already to preach Christ, but utterly fails to live Christ, is not acceptable to God and cannot strengthen the church. There is in the families mentioned a great work to be done which they can only do by individual, personal effort for themselves. But what a work! If they could only see, as in the light of eternity, what heart struggles, what soul wrestlings, what bitter repentance, what broken confessions would be heard that needeth not to be repented of. But here is the danger, the hopelessness: the standard of spiritual attainments as well as moral is very low with the entire company named. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 7

Yet God is pleading in their behalf. Will He plead in vain? Will Christ have died for them in vain? 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 8

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: in the which ye also walked sometime, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with the deeds: and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.” [Colossians 3:1-10.] 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 9

Ye are dead to the carnal desires, dead to the fierce, burning passions which consume love and gentleness, kindness and Christian courtesy. It is not enough for the Christian to say, I was once converted. Too many Christians base their faith and hope not on present experience, not on what they now are, but on what they once were when they first professed Christ. Unless conversion brings us into a new state before God, transforming the entire being, what is it good for to us? The man that is born again can say, Old things, the quick and impatient temper, the hate, the envy, revenge, the spirit of retaliation, the pride of heart, all emulation, seeking for supremacy, shall be overcome, shall be emptied out of my heart and not seen in my life. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 10

Will the converted man and woman have no temptation to speak and act wrong? He will have a tempting devil on his track continually, and he must arm himself with faith and prayer to resist him. There will be a strong undercurrent to work against which is running swiftly to bear him back to his former state of sin, to indulge the natural passions of the unrenewed heart. No heart can be kept pure without being constantly salted with divine grace. No man can remain converted unless he watches unto prayer, keeps his soul firmly united to Christ, trusting in Him every moment, forcing his passage heavenward against the current of sinful indulgences, rowing against wind and tide, using both oars—faith and works. Conversion is putting all our powers to work for the Saviour who has left His majesty, His honor, His riches, and come into the world to save man. He loved him with a love that was infinite. He gave His life for poor, rebellious man. What more could God do for humanity than He has done? What now will man do on his part in his own behalf, and for the salvation of his fellow man, to evidence that he appreciates the sacrifice made and the mercy bestowed upon him? Will he not, in view of this great love and infinite mercy, cling to the Saviour with constant, persevering fidelity? 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 11

You all need to humble your hearts greatly before God and repent of your sins and be Christians indeed. These unchristian words and acts stand directly in the way of your advancement in spirituality. Brother Stockton, you poorly represent Christ and our faith. Your early training was deficient, and it has left its marks upon you. Your heart is inclined to love the truth. Its theory has been well understood, but you have shown but little of its practical influence upon your life. You have desired to be saved. You want to overcome. You say it again and again, but you love self. Your inclination is followed, and the truth is not practiced. He resolves again and again, but it is like seeking to cleanse the stream coming from a fountain without commencing at the fountain. The heart must be cleansed, then that which proceeds from it will not be so defiling and corrupt. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 12

You are in constant danger of being exacting and overbearing. You need to encourage gentleness, meekness, forbearance. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 13

You must make an entire change. Your heart is not right with God. Brother Stockton has not had the grace of patience to endure his trials connected with the peculiar and trying element in his connection with his wife and her sisters. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 14

Sister Davison will have a conflict with herself if she is finally an overcomer. She has failed to do her duty to her children. Her neglect is seen in their course of conduct. She has not government herself over them, and she is too sensitive if others seek to control them. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 15

Brother Stockton has not the best way of dealing with children, but his management is far better than that they have had. But he has done a serious wrong in consenting to have in his house children that he was not permitted to correct their wrongs. These children are developing as Satan’s agents. They are forming characters that will certainly be punished with the plagues, that will come upon the earth as virtually as Eli’s sons fell beneath the wrath of God and the Father, also because he neglected his duty. The children knew that the mother did not approve or allow her children to be controlled. This they have taken advantage of to train as they pleased, to lie, deceive and steal, and practice iniquity and think it is smart and cunning. They have no sense of sin. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 16

These children need strict discipline, but Sister Davison feels no necessity of disciplining herself, of governing herself, and therefore does not feel the importance of bringing up her children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Sister Davison has good impulses and thinks she is a Christian, but she is deceived. She needs converting grace, or she will be weighed in the balance and found wanting. Her combatant spirit which is so easily stirred must be subdued by the grace of God. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 17

It is of the highest importance that the training of children be right. How essential that that government is correct which lays the foundation to character and principle. The foundation of character for life and for eternity is laid in childhood through parental discipline. Well-instructed, well-ordered, and well-governed families are preparing the way for unity and harmony and well-disciplined churches. No church can be in a prosperous state long at a time composed of members whose training in their childhood was sadly deficient and they have not overcome the evil. If family order and subordination are generally neglected, society feels the neglect, but in a special manner is the religious experience and religious life of these neglected ones molded by their training in childhood. It is in families at the fireside [that] the great and telling work for the church is done. Indulgent parents foster a spirit of self-love, selfishness, and independence by allowing their children to be their equals and to have their own way, which traits of character are carried into the religious experience. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 18

It is at home by the fireside where parents mold the tempers of their children for good or evil. Here parents should be self-possessed and exercise perfect control over themselves, then may they undertake to control and govern others. Nothing should be done through caprice or passion. Calm and dispassionate, unmoved by revenge or uninfluenced by hatred, parents should rule well their own house, having their children in subjection with all gravity. This cuts off the idea of making children the equal of the parents. The words of Solomon are important. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” [Proverbs 16:32.] 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 19

Parents should be guarded and not change their feelings at every circumstance, sometimes calm, and composed, indulgent, and lenient to their children by petting and praising them, then quick, passionate, and censuring for little misdemeanors. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 20

Sister _____ was not trained. She was unfortunate enough to be left to come up undisciplined and untrained. She did not learn to bear the yoke in her youth, and now how hard for her to govern her spirit, how hard for her to love care and the taxing of the mind. As the twig is bent, the tree inclines. But there must be earnest, zealous, constant effort to press against the evils which have become natural as her breath. All this spirit is contrary to the Spirit of God. They are like rank weeds which have gained a start and are in danger of overtopping and rooting out the precious plants. The Spirit of God needs to be cherished in order to grow. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 21

These sisters should be alarmed for themselves. They are poorly fitted to bear the burdens of life and the trials, which they meet in everyday life, and perfect Christian character. How could their spirit harmonize with the spirit of the heavenly angels? Every redeemed saint will have perfected Christian character in the probationary time given them of God. Satan has had to be met by them and vanquished. But the conqueror, what a victory gained, what a crown of glory obtained for the successful conquest they have endured. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 22

The people of God are stupid and as it were paralyzed. They do not sense sin. They do not see the grievous character of sin and how offensive is sin in the sight of God. Impatience, stubborn independence, working at cross purposes with one another, suffering emulation, discord, and strife to be developed, God sees, God knows. The angels of God mark these defects, and the judgment will reveal what a spotted record [is recorded] in heaven. The pure in heart alone can see God. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 23

That which is worthless and evil grows spontaneously; whatever is precious and valuable requires labor—constant, diligent work. The symmetrical character does not come naturally; it is of slow growth, the reward of industrious, patient toil, a daily dying to self. Moral culture through Jesus’ merits alone will bring the desired harvest. The knowledge and cultivation of the minds of our children should make parents feel a weight of responsibility that will drive them to God in prayer. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 24

Could parents see and feel, as I was made to see and feel, the consequence of the neglect of their God-given duty, there would not be such pampering and indulgence of children. My heart yearns for the youth to come to Jesus. And I know the greatest reason why a large number do not come is because of the deficient training they have had in their youth. They have been self-indulged and feel that they have command of themselves, and can do and act as they please and are irresponsible to anyone, even to their Creator, for their time and strength and means. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 25

Submission [and] obedience are lessons which all youth should be familiar with, but they are not. The noblest work of God upon the earth was man formed in the image of his Creator, but there is nothing of worth in the image of the man. It is the mind that makes the man. The moral excellence of man is attained only as the reward of hard labor. First, the unremitting labor of their parents on them devolves the responsibility of the formation of correct taste, habits, and manners of their children. Their views are to be widened, enlarged; the judgment ripened and the intellect strengthened to understand the battles of life and how to grapple with its problems. The mind is to be improved. The talent (that) the children possess should be understood by the parents and brought into exercise. Mothers have their hands on the cradle that rocks the world. It is a sad fact that the time so very precious in forming the mind and manners of children which shall fit them for the responsibilities of life is frittered away upon unimportant, manufactured cares and burdens in needless display of the outward adornings. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 26

Beauty is heaven’s gift. It is not to be despised, but the outward grace may be estimated as we read the apostle’s caution, “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of the wearing of gold, or of the putting on of apparel, but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit.” 1 Peter 3:3. How many sacrifice peace of mind, a pleasant temper, health and happiness to the care and anxiety of the externals. The beauty of character, the loveliness of temper, God estimates of higher value, of great price. The development of perfect character should be our aim and nothing short of this. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 27

The lax government in households God frowns upon. The lax discipline in churches is the cause of the moral declension we see in the Christian world. The religion which now prevails is running in the same channel of the lax, deficient government in households. It is an easy, careless religion, an outward show of conformity to the requirements of God, but without heart consecration, where are the conflicts of soul, the wrestling with God, the self-denial and self-sacrifice. Where is the walking, trembling, and fearing lest we shall come short of the recompense of reward? What do we see in the conversions now that answer to the pangs of the new birth? Where is the deep and pungent conviction that is answerable to death of the old life, death of the old man? Where is that desperate struggle with inclination and desire day by day for a power that can bind the adversary and make them free? 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 28

The modern conversions of the present time are mostly spurious. There does not come in the new life ... [sentence unfinished]. It was this warfare which led Paul to say, “I die daily.” [1 Corinthians 15:31.] His desires, his selfish nature had to meet with a daily crucifixion. Indwelling sin was constantly striving for the mastery while he was grasping the grace of God by faith and by self-control, subduing the carnal mind. The follower of Christ will be constantly aspiring after holiness, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, being earnest to reflect the image of Christ, to tread in His footsteps and overcome as Christ overcame. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 29

Paul’s experience in the Christian life should be our experience. Paul trampled under his feet every interest which conflicted with his duty. He laid aside every weight. What things he counted gain to himself he counted loss for Christ. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 30

My sister, the truth of God has been brought nigh you, and you have been as it were flooded with it. Many receive the truth, but at the same time are not sanctified by it, because they have not the love of the truth in the heart and see not the necessity of carrying it out in the discharge of duty. Indifference to the truths of eternal interest, which relates to the salvation of men, prevails to an alarming extent. Minds seem paralyzed to these things which are of the highest importance. The sacred truths for these last days are awful realities which should be valued above every earthly consideration. For the sanctifying influence of truth the ancients labored and died. Earnest men and women are wanted who feel the truth and who act the truth. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 31

There is a wilfulness with many, an earnestness to gratify caprice or follow their own wills, a perseverance to accomplish their own selfish interest, but who are quite indifferent in regard to the holy principles of truth. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 32

Brother Stockton has a very good knowledge of the truth and can explain the truth in a very acceptable manner, but he is sadly deficient in the essential qualifications of a missionary or a preacher. He has not felt the evils resulting from a lack of prompt exactitude in all his business relations, and the same lax, loose way would be carried into his work in connection with the sacred work and cause of God which would bring disgrace upon the cause of truth. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 33

A recklessness in reference to the work of God is a sin which God will not tolerate. Sterling integrity is essential for all those who engage in God’s work. There is not a nice discrimination with Brother Stockton between his own temporal business and the business which relates to the cause of God. He would bring it all upon a level unless he is a transformed man. He needs the refining, purifying fire to kindle upon him and to consume the dross and tin which compose a large part of his character. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 34

Brother Stockton has excellent impulses, but he needs very much done for him besides this, or he will be unfaithful in the littles and unfaithful in the weightier responsibilities. He that is unfaithful in that which is least is unfaithful in much. Brother Stockton needs to dig deeper and lay his foundation sure upon the eternal Rock, or his house will surely fall by the floods of temptation and through the specious devices of the enemy. He needs to soften and sweeten his temper. He needs self-control. He should not seek to dictate, but to win. He needs a transformation of the Spirit of God. He needs to fall upon the rock and be broken, or it will fall on him and grind him to powder. Unless Brother Stockton can be lifted up, out, and away from himself, he will surely perish in an evil way. He will have to strive harder than he ever has yet if he overcomes the wily foe. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 35

Brother Edwards and his wife are not happy, and their difficulties will increase as long as they are unwilling to die to self. If they cherish their own unsanctified tempers and are so far from God, they will be shadows of darkness to each other. Their only hope of happiness in this life and in the life to come is to experience the mysteries of the new birth. Ye must be born again, not only of the water, but of the Spirit. Oh, how little this inexperienced couple knows of the influences of the Spirit of God upon the heart. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 36

Brother Edwards has had habits of dissipation; dissolute, reckless, intemperance. As he looks upon his child, he may there see the consequence of his own unsanctified life. The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. These drops of gall in his cup of sinful indulgence should lead to such candid conviction as would cause deep penitence and thorough reform. This young man has not felt like tasking himself to self-control. A most bitter, wretched life is before him in this world and the judgment of God in his condemnation when the judgment shall sit and the books be opened and he shall be judged according to things written in the books. He has a hard battle to overcome self, and he cannot do this in his own strength. He may be a conqueror in the name of Jesus; through His merits he may overcome. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 37

I saw that Brother Edwards would yield up his faith, dishonor God, bring ruin to himself and to his family, unless he firmly and resolutely adopted habits of strict temperance in his eating and drinking. The heart is the fountain which needs to be cleansed. Out of the heart proceedeth evil thoughts and evil acts. If the heart fountain is pure, the streams issuing from it will be pure, not sour and muddy and tainted. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 38

The church at San Francisco has too many in its midst who need to be purified as Christ purified the temple. They have made the temple of God a place of general defilement. The grace of God does not sanctify and purify the heart. The words are what, Brother Edwards? What are they? How stands the words written in the books of heaven? 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 39

You must face right about, or you are lost. To dally now, to hesitate, is certain ruin. You must plant your feet firmly upon the platform of self-denial and temperance in all things. If you will cringe and blush by the taunts of men; if you will be ashamed and put down by the defiant, reckless, dissolute speeches and influences of those who boast of their shameless life, you may say farewell to heaven. You will be soon lost to virtue, to character, or peace of mind, and to all prospect of heaven. You will stand forth as a revolting spectacle who fell under temptation because you did not arm yourself with watchfulness and prayer. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 40

You are too much affected by a jeer. You have thought it slavish to be always fearing and trembling lest you shall do something wrong. The very ones whom you may consent to be led by into wrong will laugh at your weakness and despise you for the very thing they led you to do. Your yielding to them to go in an evil way lowered you in their estimation. You have learned ways of life and habits of speech and modes of thought which have been so many lodestones to drag you back to your former life of intemperance and sin, step after step. I saw you taking to darkness and perdition. You were degraded in your own eyes. While the worthless for a time may applaud, the heartless and vulgar and hell-bound will exult, but what have you gained? Freedom, nobleness, manhood? Oh, no, these were sacrificed to become a slave to Satan’s devices. You became an unhappy, disappointed man for the pleasures of sin. You must have fixed resolutions to be firm to principle. Touch not, taste not, handle not. And shun the society of the depraved, the worthless, as you would a viper. When asked to join their evil practices, say, No, no, decidedly no. Answer the tempter’s voice, “I love God, I fear Him. I will not disobey or dishonor Him for any favor man can bestow. I love truth and purity, and I will not soil my conscience and poison my heart by indulgence of sins that embitter the best hours of life and make my family wretched, and which close forever to me the doors of heaven.” 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 41

You have not any right to be a husband and a father while you have not self-control, but are a slave to appetite and passion. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 42

Choose ye, young man, this day whom ye will serve, God or mammon. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1875, par. 43