Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Lt 1a, 1872

Lay, Brother

Battle Creek, Michigan

January 11, 1872

Portions of this letter are published in OHC 93; CTr 212; 5MR 294-295.

Dear Brother Lay:

It becomes my duty to write you at this time. In the last vision given me, which was on December 10, 1871, I was shown the condition of God’s people. They are not awake and showing their faith by their works. I was pointed to ancient Israel. They had great light and exalted privileges, yet they did not live up to the light or appreciate their privileges and their light became darkness, and they walked in the light of their own eyes instead of the counsel of God. The people of God in these last days are following the example of ancient Israel. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 1

Brother Lay, you were shown me enshrouded in darkness. The love of the world has taken control of your entire being. Every other consideration is secondary to this passionate love of acquiring. The very best of your days are passing and your vitality is exhausted, your power of endurance in physical lines is gone, and now when you should be able to look back upon a life of noble effort, blessing others and glorifying God, you can but have regret. You realize the absence of happiness and peace. You are not living that life which will meet the approval of God. Your spiritual and eternal interest is made secondary. Brain, bone, and muscle are taxed to the utmost. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 2

Why all this accumulation of care and burdens for your family to bear? What is your reward?—the satisfaction of laying up for yourself a treasure upon the earth, which Christ has enjoined upon you not to do, for it would prove a snare to your soul. Christ says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-21. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 3

Your treasure, my brother, is laid up upon the earth. Your interest, your affections, are upon your treasure. You have cultivated a love for money and houses and lands until your earthly goods have absorbed the powers of mind and body, and you love your worldly possessions better, more highly, and more deeply than you love God, better than you love souls for whom Christ died. The god of this world has blinded your eyes so that eternal things are not discerned. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 4

The great leading temptations wherewith man would be beset, Christ met and overcame in the wilderness. His coming off victor over appetite, presumption, and the world shows how we may overcome. Satan has overcome his millions in tempting the appetite and leading men to give up to presumptuous sins. There are many who profess to be followers of Christ, claiming by their faith to be enlisted in the warfare against all evil in their nature, yet who, with hardly a thought, plunge into scenes of temptation that would require a miracle to bring them forth unsullied. Meditation and prayer would have preserved them and led them to shun the dangerous positions in which they have placed themselves and which give Satan the advantage over them. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 5

The promises of God are not for us to claim rashly, to protect us while we rush on recklessly into danger, violating the laws of nature, or disregarding prudence and the judgment God has given us to use. This would not be genuine faith but presumption. The thrones and kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, were presented to Christ. Never will we have temptations as strong as those that assailed Him. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 6

But Satan comes to us with worldly honor, wealth, and the pleasures of life. These temptations are varied to meet men of every rank and degree, tempting them away from God to serve themselves more than their Creator. “All these things will I give thee,” (Matthew 4:9) said Satan to Christ. “All these things will I give thee,” says Satan to man. “All this money, this land, all this power, and honor, and riches, will I give thee;” and man is charmed, deceived, and treacherously allured on to his ruin. If we give ourselves up to worldliness of heart and of life, Satan is satisfied. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 7

The Saviour overcame the wily foe, showing us how we may overcome. He has left us His example, to repel Satan with Scripture. He might have had recourse to His own divine power and used His own words, but His example would not then have been as useful to us. Christ used only Scripture. How important that the Word of God be thoroughly studied and followed, that in case of emergency we may be “throughly furnished unto all good works” [2 Timothy 3:17] and especially fortified to meet the wily foe. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 8

I was shown that had you regarded the light God has given you through testimonies of warning you would not now need this testimony. You would have been advancing in the divine life, and now you would have had your abilities used especially in the work of Christ to the glory of God. But your mind is dwarfed in spiritual things. As you have concentrated your mind and soul upon worldly things, you have power in that direction. You are decidedly a worldly businessman. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 9

God designed that you should use your ability and influence in a higher calling, but Satan has had more control of your mind than the Lord. You idolize the world. Mammon is your god, and yet you are so dazed and blinded by the god of this world that you really suppose that gain is godliness. You have dwarfed the higher powers of your being to serve the world. You are a slave to mammon. Your family might now have been devoted to the service of God, but with your example before them they had no courage to urge their way and strive to enter in at the strait gate, when you were continually encouraging their minds to love and serve worldly things. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 10

A responsibility rests upon you, Brother Lay, that you do not realize. In the great day of final accounts, unless you make a decided change in your life, many will charge their ruin upon you, the blood of their souls will be on your garments. You knew your Master’s will but you did it not. You have quieted your conscience in regard to your true condition until the voice of God is but faintly and seldom heard by you. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 11

Your family are taught that work, work should be the great aim and ambition of their lives. They are too thoroughly weary to have strength left in reserve to devote to the service of God. They have sometimes realized their condition and made efforts to change their course, but you have piled so much worldly care and constant labor upon them that they have been overwhelmed and they sink into discouragement. You have allowed yourself to be a slave of the world. You have also arranged matters so that of necessity your family have been slaves to the world. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 12

The young ruler asked Christ what good thing he should do that he might inherit the kingdom of Christ. Jesus answered, “Keep the commandments.” He returned [the] answer, “All these have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” Matthew 19:17, 20. Jesus then points to the defects in his Christian character—he had not kept the commandments of God, he did not love his neighbor as himself—which if not removed would debar him from heaven. “Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” Verse 21. Jesus would have him understand that He required nothing of him but that He had Himself experienced and all He asked of him was to follow His own example. He left glory and honor and riches to come to a world of sin to save lost man. He became poor, that man through His poverty might be made rich. Jesus then gave the sure promise, “Thou shalt have treasure in heaven.” 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 13

How did the young man receive the words of Christ? Was he rejoiced that he could in any way secure the heavenly treasure? He was very sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Riches to him were honor and power. The largeness of his treasure made its disposal seem like an impossibility. This is the danger of earthly treasures. The more men gain the harder it is to break in upon the hoarded treasure. To diminish the principal would be like parting with life. Rather than do this the young man turned from the immortal, heavenly treasure. He decided to keep his earthly treasures that he had gained, and that he loved, rather than to diminish them for Christ’s sake, and have the immortal heavenly treasure. His heart was set upon his earthly treasure, and he sacrificed the heavenly for the earthly. O what a miserable change! Yet many who profess to keep all the commandments are doing this. You are doing this, dear brother. Be not offended because I tell you the truth. God loves you. How poorly have you returned this love! 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 14

I was pointed back and saw how earnestly the truth had struggled for the supremacy in your heart. And I also saw how earnestly Satan had sought to deceive and mislead you, and place the world before you in its most attractive light to enchain your senses and benumb your sensibilities to God’s claims. Satan has succeeded in a great degree. Now you will have to make a most earnest, persevering effort to dislodge the enemy and assert your liberty, for he has made you his slave through love of this world. Your love of the world has become a ruling passion, increasing with exercise until it has brought into subjection to its control your powers of mind and body. Your example to others has been bad. The grace of God ruling in your heart and bringing your mind and thoughts into subjection to Jesus Christ would make you a powerful man on the side of Christ and the truth. Selfish interest has been first with you. By your profession you say to the world, “My citizenship is above,” while your works say decidedly you are a dweller upon the earth. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 15

As a snare shall the day of God come upon all those who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. Your faith will only be a hindrance to souls if you have not corresponding works. “I know thy works,” says the True Witness. [Revelation 3:15.] God is sifting His people, sifting their purposes, their motives. Many will be sifted till nothing remains—no wheat, no value in them. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 16

Christ has committed unto us talents of means and of influence and He bids us occupy till He comes. This includes every one who has reasoning powers who claims to be His servant. All are required to improve according to their capabilities, whatever they may be. After a long time the Master cometh and reckoneth with His servants and all are called to the strictest account. What use have they made of their Master’s trust? The first servant shows that he has gained ten pounds, the second has gained five pounds. The Lord commends them saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Matthew 25:23. Every man received his own reward according to his own labor. Each received in exact proportion to the zeal, fidelity, and success he had had in trading with the talents. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 17

One hid his talent in a napkin and buried it in the earth; therefore he made no profits. This you are doing. God has given you talents of means and influence to be exercised to His glory because they are His, not your own. Yet the sense of your accountability you have not felt. God has made you His steward. What account will you render of your stewardship? You are handling your Lord’s goods, but you call them your own. You have powers of mind that if employed in the right direction would make you a co-worker with Christ and His angels. Had your mind been turned in the direction of doing good and getting the truth before others, you would now be able to be a successful laborer for God, and as your reward you would have many souls as stars in your crown of rejoicing. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 18

What are your houses and lands in comparison with precious souls for whom such an infinite price was paid? You cannot take any of these to heaven with you, and you know not when your probation will close—how small a space there is between you and eternity. Are you prepared for the reckoning? How many souls have been saved through your instrumentality? How will your means be appropriated when your voice and power shall no longer control? Your means are of no more value than sand, only as they are used to provide for the daily necessities of life and to bless others, to advance the cause and work of God. In your dealing it is your object to do the very best you can to advantage yourself. Your works testify of you that you are not a Christian. To be a Christian is to follow the example of Christ. You should have put your money and influence out to the exchangers, seeking to advance the cause of Christ and save precious souls. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 19

You have had but little love of the truth in your heart for years; but you had the love of the truth previous to your choosing darkness rather than light. God gave you testimonies showing you your duty, but you turned from the light. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 20

And again God seeks to reach you, girded about with selfishness as you are, and covered up with the cares of this life. Again God invites you to withdraw your affections from the world and place them upon heaven. In order to do the will of God you must study His will rather than your own will and pleasure. What wilt Thou have me to do? should be the earnest, anxious inquiry of your heart. If you live for the world and for yourself, the world alone you will have, but not heaven. If you live for God and for heaven, pointing the way onward and upward to others, you will enter into the joy of Christ, which joy was that of seeing souls saved in the kingdom of glory. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 21

God is no respecter of persons. All your efforts to gain the treasures of the world, to use them as you have been doing to separate your affections from God, will be to you a terrible curse. You are depriving yourself of time to pray, of time to meditate, of time to instruct your children and keep before them the highest interest of our lives. You need to be alarmed. You do not see yourself. You are deceived in regard to yourself. You can do good. You can bless others with your influence, and with your means which God has lent you. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 22

Our lives are to be devoted to God. He requires that we love Him with our whole heart, and soul, and mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. You are daily violating this requirement of the Lord. Don’t flatter yourself that you can love the world and serve the world and your own interest as you have done, and yet be of that number who shall hear the “Well done” from the Master. What is it your well-doing has consisted in?—In serving yourself with all your might, in following the bent of your own natural inclination in direct opposition to the injunctions of Christ. “Well done” will not be heard from the lips of the Master by any but those who have earned the “well done.” May God tear from your poor, world-loving soul the covering of deception that the enemy has thrown about it and lead you to work as for your life. An entire transformation is the only hope in your case. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 23

You have looked to the case of Dr. Lay and thought that he was not treated as he should be by the Health Institute. But you are not looking at this matter aright. He can inform you if he will, and explain all this matter that you may not have incorrect views of this matter. There was no lack of labor for Dr. Lay by his brethren. But the course of his wife and children disqualified him for the position of such responsibility. His manhood was destroyed, his spirits depressed, and then he would charge his condition of discouragement upon the Health Institute. He had no help at home. His wife was only a terrible burden, yet he was so deceived he would talk before the patients as though she was a superior woman, capable of almost any position. At the same time she was not much more than a machine to eat and breathe. She could have aroused herself, but her set will made it impossible to convince her of her errors. We hope that the doctor will prosper, but we think he remained at the Health Institute too long, considering all things. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 24

We hope, Brother Lay, that you will take time to ponder and think seriously of how you are coming out in the end. Turn the remnant of your life to some account for God. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” Matthew 6:33. I beg of you not to slight this warning. Let not your pride of heart arise and throw back this reproof. Look at these things in the light of eternity and ponder them with an unprejudiced heart, and flee, flee, for your life to the Stronghold, crying, Life, life, eternal life. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 25

In love. 2LtMs, Lt 1a, 1872, par. 26