Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2

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Lt 22, 1872

Diggins, Brother

San Francisco, California

December 18, 1872

Portions of this letter are published in 2Bio 369-370.

Much respected Brother Diggins:

I have felt that it was my duty to write to you in regard to some things. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 1

When we arrived at Santa Rosa we found my husband much improved in health and very free in the Lord. From time to time the manifestation of the Spirit of God rests upon him in answer to prayer in a most wonderful manner. He is now writing, and Bible subjects open before him and he is really storing away the grain. The Lord has let him into the storehouse of His truth and he is refreshed and elevated by the pure and glorious truths opened to his mind from God’s Word. He is cheerful and happy in the Lord and in His truth of heavenly origin. This house, in some of our seasons of prayer, seems indeed like the gate of heaven and the gleamings of glory are beaming upon us from the throne of God. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 2

We shall make our home this winter at Elder Loughborough’s. We should have remained at San Francisco, but in truth no way opened before us, and the position of yourself and Sister James and Mrs. Piercy united on one hand and Sister Rowland’s hard, unforgiving spirit on the other hand, made our work doubly hard. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 3

We feel that our testimony was not received and had no weight with you. This disheartened my husband and he left in great discouragement. But God has met him here and lifted him above his depression and is giving him great freedom in prayer and in writing. Last Sabbath he spoke to the church at Healdsburg and had a very precious season with them. The last Sunday meeting he attended at San Francisco was most disheartening to him. If you, Brother Diggins, had stood by the servants of God He had sent among you to do His work, we should have felt that we could have remained in San Francisco. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 4

My husband cannot bear discouragement now. He started in the ardor of youth and devoted the tireless energy of his manhood to the service of Christ, seeking to warn sinners and to proclaim the last note of warning to the world. As a Christian soldier he enlisted during the war under the blood-stained banner of Prince Immanuel. It has been his special work to storm the strongholds of sin. God united us that he might be a helper to me to bear the reproach I should suffer for the truth’s sake. He has had unabated zeal in the great work in which he has been engaged. He has sought to inspire others with the earnestness and energy which has characterized his own life. But he has seen the forces of the enemy so strong against the advancement of the truth and the progress of God’s people in the divine life, that he has been disheartened frequently, for he has been left to bear the hardest conflict alone. When his earnest efforts have been put forth and he has been leading out in new enterprises, those who ought to have stood by his side have not helped, but censured. After a while he lost his ardor and hope and courage under disease. He became cautious, distrustful, suspicious. Had his health remained firm, his courage would not be so easily dampened. His soul has been fired with zeal and earnestness, with courage that knew nothing of failure. But at last he cannot bear up under discouragements and a lack of his brethren appreciating his efforts. He can labor untiringly in feebleness if he sees that he is accomplishing good. When his efforts seem to be in vain he has no heart to bear up and hope as he once did. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 5

The word of the Lord has come to the people of San Francisco in messages of light and salvation. If they neglect to improve the present opportunity and wait for louder calls or greater light, the light which has been given may be withdrawn and the path be left in darkness. The light which shines today upon the people and upon the church, if not cherished, will have less force tomorrow. To have better opportunities and greater light in the future we must improve the blessings of the present with willing hearts. Those who defer their obedience till every shadow of uncertainty and every possibility of mistake is removed will never believe and obey. A belief that demands perfect knowledge will never yield. Faith and demonstration are two things. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Faith rests not upon probability. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 6

It has been our work to obey the voice of duty even when many voices may be raised in opposition against it. It requires discernment to distinguish the voice which speaks for God. The messengers of God must obey the divine voice which sends them with a disagreeable message, even at the peril of life and if there is not one to sustain them. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 7

Dear Brother Diggins: Since our meeting at Brother Stockton’s I have felt not only distressed but alarmed for you. Could I have believed that the Spirit of God was leading you to take the positions that you did in that meeting, I should not feel as I do. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 8

The position you stood in at that meeting was so singular, considering the evidences adduced against Mrs. Harris. The facts were not wanting. One-half would have been of sufficient weight to make it a positive duty for the church to act in her case. And if they did not act they would have been guilty of her sin. This action was not a freak of impulse, but a solemn necessity on the part of the church. Your position and apparent blindness in this case was painful. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 9

If you had only the testimonies which the Spirit of God had given you alone, without the facts, or the testimony of the church alone, I should not have been surprised and grieved, but you had both, and you showed you had more confidence in the word of that one woman than in the testimony of the Spirit of God and the testimony of the church harmonizing together. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 10

You had opportunities to hear how highly she regarded the mission and labor of God’s servants. You know she showed no reverence or respect for our calling and labors because we did not exalt her; we were not smitten or beguiled with her charms as many had been. God had presented the case of this woman before me and, as I have said, I was shown that she was a dangerous woman to associate with. She has no little sense of the purity and holiness which God requires of His followers that she could not shed a ray of heavenly light upon the pathway of anyone. Then her disposition in her married life had been such that she brought not peace into the family, but rather, discord. She provoked her husband and irritated him needlessly. She exasperated him by her determined will and unyielding spirit, the very same she manifested in the meetings where her case was investigated. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 11

Again, I was afraid of her tongue and did not mean to come where its power could affect me. Her tongue, I saw, was not truthful. She would not hesitate to say anything to make out her case. I would not dare trust myself in conversation with her any length of time, even in the presence of others, for, if disposed, she would make me say that which I never had said, and misconstrue my statements and distort my ideas to others. If I should undertake to relate the facts and words I uttered, she would have not the least hesitancy in facing me and bluntly laying me in the lie. If I should bring witnesses to prove my words, she would dare to confirm her statements by calling upon God as her witness. These things I had seen acted over as the circumstances were presented to me. I did not mean to have any intercourse with the woman more than I could possibly help. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 12

She has chosen to charge me, as well as all the church, as being unchristian and acting like a heathen. Let God be judge between Mrs. Harris and me. Mrs. Harris accuses me of “reading my opinion of Mrs. Rowland and Stipp’s domestic affairs under the name of a testimony from God,” thus accusing me, while doing the very work I have been engaged in twenty-six years, of being a hypocrite and designing. As you did not feel called upon to reprove her, but stood in vindication of her course, perhaps you see as she sees. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 13

Mrs. Harris states: “She (referring to me) will have to get a weaker-minded subject than I to cower like a whipped dog to her imaginations. (I underscore it as she did.) They have but few and weak-minded friends here.” 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 14

Could you not see, my brother, the spirit of these expressions did not call forth a remonstrance on your part? You felt not called upon to vindicate the work of God’s Spirit. Perhaps you looked upon these things as Mrs. Harris did. Mrs. Harris and the people of San Francisco have had an opportunity to test the spirits. If God is with Mrs. Harris, sustain her, sympathize with her, and have confidence in her Christian life and character. If we have spoken to you the words of eternal life, if we have brought you light and messages from heaven, receive us as the servants of God and confide in our judgment and in our being led by the Spirit of God in our manner of labor. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 15

With the prophet Elijah we would say, “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.” 1 Kings 18:21. When God bids me speak I shall not hold my peace. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 16

The providence of God is wiser and more powerful than the philosophy of men. All our wisest counsels may come to naught, yet God ever remains true. So far as our mission and labor is concerned, we feel a sacred responsibility to God to do faithfully the work He has committed to us. God has given us light and a commission for the faithful performance of which He holds us answerable. If we are true to our calling, we are warranted in looking upon ourselves as colaborers with Jesus Christ. This fact will make us earnest, ardent, cheerful, and firm under all the burdens, discouragements, trials and difficulties we meet. We are strong under the consciousness that we are doing God’s work; that God will accept our efforts and approve our work if we do it faithfully. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 17

I wish to make a statement that you can let have weight upon your mind if you desire. Mrs. Harris says slanderous reports were whispered in my ears against her. Who could have whispered slander in my ears while in Vermont? The Lord there presented the cases of many before me in vision. I was especially shown the sacred work of a gospel minister. Brother Cornell was shown to me, with the defects in his character which crippled his labors, and his imprudences were disqualifying him for the labor in the great harvest field to save souls. His dangers and sins were pointed out to me. When I returned to Battle Creek, we made our home at the Health Institute during the General Conference. I was writing out testimony for the conference when the case of Brother Cornell pressed with such weight upon my mind I could not sleep after I had retired to rest. When all were asleep in the building, I arose and commenced writing at three o’clock in the morning and continued to write while my husband attended the morning meeting. I did not even wait for him to read the testimony but sent it immediately to California. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 18

I will state, not one word had been written to us from California of the state of things, and not a thought had been suggested in relation to there being any disappointment or trial on Brother Cornell’s account. When we came through San Francisco we only tarried overnight and had, of course, no hints then of matters. After the camp meeting the question was to be settled in regard to Brother Cornell’s field of labor. He wished to go into new fields. I told my husband I wished to see Brother Cornell before him and Elder Loughborough and Brother Kellogg. I then told Brother Cornell what had been shown me of his peculiar traits of character and of his wrongs previous to this vision. I had not been shown that Brother Cornell was in danger of thinking too much of women, previous to this case. No one had accused him, to my knowledge, of imprudence in these things before. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 19

Brother Cornell acknowledged the truth of the testimony and said he had not seen himself as the testimony represented, but that he could plainly see now where the enemy had deceived him. He wished me to write out definitely every point which related to his case. The week we spent in San Francisco I was not able to write much. Sister Rowland wished me to visit Sister Stipp, saying that she would talk with me in reference to Brother Cornell and Mrs. Harris. I told her I did not wish to hear anything in reference to the matter. God has presented the case before me and I was then writing it. I had partly copied the testimony at Woodland and finished it after I returned to Sister Rowland’s, and read her the testimony. Then she talked with me and told me some facts. Brother and Sister Stipp had told me nothing up to the time of the reading of the testimony at Mrs. Piercy’s. I had no talk with anyone except what was said at your house in response to my stating to you some points in the testimony for Elder Cornell and Mrs. Harris. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 20

After I related the vision to Brother Cornell he wept much, and we all bowed before God and mingled our tears and prayers together. We entreated the Lord to give us heavenly wisdom that we might know how to manage this particularly trying case. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 21

Mrs. Harris has but a faint sense of the sinfulness of sin. She calls light darkness and darkness light. She has not a high and elevated sense of purity and virtue. Her words and conduct are just in accordance with the light in which she has viewed these things. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 22

Said the Saviour, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, the whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, they whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22, 23. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 23

Mrs. Harris views sins as little trifles, unworthy of notice. You have not viewed this woman in her true light. You have become confused and bewildered by her fair words and smooth speeches. If God has by His Spirit been moving us to action in this case, He has not been moving you in an opposite direction to withstand our efforts to relieve the church of a burden which has been heavy upon them. This woman was a body of darkness, and she brought with her to meeting evil angels and the darkness was apparent. A cloud has attended her presence. In the character and life of Christ there is given to the world an example or pattern for us to imitate. The perfection of the professed follower of Christ consists in the oneness of his own will with the will of God. The happiness and glory of the inhabitants of heaven are perfect, because the will of God is their joy and supreme delight. Those who adore and love the will of God are united in harmony with His work and the cause of all good upon the earth. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 24

I have not written nor told all I know of Mrs. Harris, neither shall I at present. I have felt that she should never say that she was condemned and disfellowshipped upon the testimonies alone. But facts have been brought forth that would be of sufficient weight to separate her from the fellowship of the church if not half as strong. God seeth not as man seeth; He judgeth not by appearance. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways,” saith God, “higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8. “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:24. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 25

As certainly as the bloodless hand traced the writing upon the wall in the palace of Belshazzar in the hour of his mad revelry, God has written “Wanting, fearfully wanting,” by the testimonies He has given me in reference to Mrs. Harris. Some have, by their position of pleading in her behalf, been covering the writing upon the wall which reveals her true condition. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 26

Dear brother, Mrs. Harris has a fascination about her when brought in contact with individuals. I am sorry that your kind and sympathizing nature should be imposed upon by this designing woman. You are in danger of incurring the displeasure of God by standing in defense of this woman. You deceive yourself in thinking that you can help her case. Has God removed His Spirit from His servants that they are entirely deceived in their work? If God has been moving upon us, He has not been moving upon you to hinder us. We cannot both be actuated by the same Spirit. We have the utmost confidence in your integrity, but the deceptive influence of Mrs. Harris has perverted your otherwise good and sound judgment. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 27

Dear brother, if I had not had presented before me by the angels of God the dangerous influence of this woman, I should not see and feel in regard to her case as I do. The spirit she has manifested, the character she has developed which has been open to all, is enough to suspend her from the fellowship of the church. But the depth of the matter is not yet seen and understood. She has told you of her husband’s evil course and of his abuse of her, a woman and his wife. This story she tells to everyone whose ears she can obtain. Sympathy is created for her, and they all look upon her husband as a demon. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 28

But Mrs. Harris has not told that when she received provocation or when her will was crossed, the demon has awakened in her. She has not told that her course has been without principle and conscience. When everything in her house has been favorable to the flattery of her pride, and with money enough to spend to support her pleasure, and I might say pride, she was apparently an attractive and splendid woman. But when everything did not please her, and her vanity was not flattered and her caprices were not studied and humored, she was violent in temper, stubborn, and unyielding. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 29

When you told me her pitiful story which she had related to you, which you said would melt the heart of a stone, I was unmoved, for I had been shown her manner of deceiving and blinding the eyes of those who were unsuspecting of her designs, and who could not read her past life. She has glorified herself. She has been given to pleasure, was fond of amusement and afraid of work. She has been excited and passionate at trifles, and spiritless about the nobler demands of effort and duty. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 30

She says she has not a friend in the church or out of it. If she has been so consistent a Christian from her childhood as she maintains, would she be thus friendless? A Christian indeed will not be in this position. Mrs. Harris has herself to blame for the principal difficulties of her life. The spirit she has manifested at her home she has carried into the church. A Christian life is consistent, although it may be a constant battle and a march. For the Christian there is no period of repose, no time in which he can lay off his armor and rest from duty. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 31

I hesitate not to say in the most positive terms, Mrs. Harris is not a Christian; she is a battle axe and a storm, but has never been a subdued, humble, meek follower of Christ. May God pity this woman. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 32

Humility Mrs. Harris has never brought into her life. “Why,” says this proud and perverse spirit, “need I be troubled and humbled? Why must I be pierced through with the sorrows of self-abasement and penitence? Why should the Christian path be so uneven and self-sacrificing?” 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 33

There is no rest for the sinning soul, save that which comes through penitence and genuine sorrow for sin. Then will the deepest joy and the sweetest rest and the most perfect assurance of the heart spring from the deepest penitence and humiliation. The most enduring strength and elevation of character are built upon the foundation of submission, humiliation, patience, and unwavering trust in God. Tears are not always the evidence of penitence or of weakness. But when one has sinned against a holy God and wronged his best Friend, his heavenly Father, there is need of tears, not shed to create sympathy but for sorrow of sins. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 34

The least that she [Mrs. Harris] can do is to confess and deplore her sin in bitterness of soul and not add to guilt by making it appear a very “little thing, unworthy of notice, simply a mistake.” Mrs. Harris will say anything that comes into her mind without regard to truth. She can never gain self-respect or be entitled to the confidence of the wise—whom she calls “weak-minded”—until her confessions and repentance are as broad, thorough, and deep as the sin. The only way possible for her to build up a good and symmetrical character is to begin at the foundation and meet the demands of truth and duty as God requires. Then can she have confidence toward God and be beloved of her brethren and need never say she is without a friend. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 35

A true Christian sees very much in his own heart to make him weep. It is the gross darkness and corrupt life of Mrs. Harris that makes her so insensible to the aggravating character of her past life and her sins. Should she see herself as God sees her, she would say, “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night.” Jeremiah 9:1. She would, like the Ninevites, clothe herself in sackcloth. The sins she has committed against God have had the influence to turn souls from the truth of God. It is no credit to her feelings or susceptibility of heart or tenderness of conscience to talk of her wrongs and her misstatements as if they were trifles. Bitter trifles indeed! Penitence and sorrow for sin, which God requires, is the beginning of nobleness of character and true exaltation. Penitence and humility which lead one to deplore wrong and sin are infinitely nobler and better than pride and scorn upon the lip, asserting proud superiority. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 36

Nobleness of character will be seen in humbleness of mind, sorrow and repentance for sin and wrong. Meekness and lowliness of heart are not the evidence of weakness of mind, but are evidences of a tender heart and are the qualifications for strength and victory. Christ, the Majesty of heaven, says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit (not the haughty and the defiant): for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn (not those who have a vindictive spirit): for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 6:3-5. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 37

Brother Diggins, Do not, I entreat of you, allow this woman to deceive you. I know her, and as God’s servant engaged in saving souls, I warn you to break yourself from the company of this woman. She has no knowledge of the will of God, but is at too great a distance from God and is in complete darkness. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 38

Walk in the light while ye have the light, lest darkness shall come upon you. I have written in great haste. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 39

In much love. 2LtMs, Lt 22, 1872, par. 40