Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Lt 49, 1875

Butler, G. I.

Battle Creek, Michigan

Circa 1875

This letter is published in entirety in 19MR 5-15.

Testimony Regarding D. T. Bourdeau and Wife

Brother and Sister Bourdeau should be united in their labor, and Sister Bourdeau may qualify herself to become a still more efficient laborer in the cause of God. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 1

In the government of children many make a mistake and govern too much. They give so much counsel, so much direction, and want to manage so completely, that they are liable to destroy the will, the identity of their children, and they confuse their minds so completely that they give them no opportunity to act out the powers and develop the qualities God has given them as their endowment. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 2

Just so it is with the family of God. There is diversity of operation of gifts and all by the same Spirit. These diverse gifts are illustrated by the human body from the head to the feet. As there are different members with their different offices, yet all of the body, so the members of Christ’s body all center in the Head, but have different gifts. This is in the economy of God to meet the varied organization and minds in the world. The strength of one servant of God may not be the strength of another. There is danger of seeking to make other minds bend so much to our ideas that we destroy their independent natural traits that would give them access to a class that others could not touch. While there may be with one minister peculiar traits which are to their minds very objectionable, they themselves may have some peculiarities just as objectionable and even more positive. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 3

Every man must be left free for God to convict and operate upon his heart, that he may obtain an experience for himself, founded in God. Great caution should be preserved lest efforts be made to mold minds and to work their judgment and character to our ideas, when God may be moving upon that mind and operating upon it to call forth its powers and develop an individual strength for a special work. Man’s hand and man’s training and discipline may spoil him for the work God would have him accomplish. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 4

These brethren should have been fitting up and growing into most able, successful laborers. They should be cautious not to be lengthy and prosy in talking or in writing for the benefit of their French or their American brethren. Brief, spirited, interesting matter upon the present truth should come from the pens of these brethren to meet the French. They have been slow to engage in this work. They should write and preach, taking advantage of the truth already in print, heeding the testimony in regard to the work not bearing exclusively the stamp of one man’s mind. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 5

A great work has been hindered which ought to have been encouraged years ago among the French. These brothers should have united their efforts and pushed on the work, if they had to do it at a sacrifice of their little all. But they have been held, fearing that they would not be considered in harmony with the body. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 6

I was carried into the particulars of Brother Daniel’s labor among the French in Illinois and in Wisconsin. I saw that it was a much harder work to convert souls to the truth from the French than from the Americans. Brother Bourdeau stood nobly amid opposition such as our brethren have no knowledge of. He worked in weariness under the most discouraging circumstances. He made slow progress. But what he did gain was labor that would bring results, that would tell in bringing an influence to bear upon the French people. One Frenchman soundly converted is labor that will result in a hundred-fold. Brother Daniel and his wife worked and wept and prayed. They toiled hard—some of our brother ministers have not known how hard, and many have cared less. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 7

Sister Bourdeau has been a laborer of no little influence, meek, cheerful, hopeful, and patient, a treasure of greater value than finest gold. She is needed with her husband. Some have envied her what they thought was an easy position. They have liberty to enter the field as workers. They have the privilege of becoming missionaries for God and testing the easy work of laboring for souls. We need more workers, earnest workers. But those who have so little idea of the real nature of the work as to think it a position of ease to labor in hard fields among those whose hearts are as hard as steel, show that they have not any sense of the real work for this time. It is easy work to visit churches and be waited upon, but it is not an easy work to seek to win the way into the hearts of the people. Would to God we had one hundred women consecrated to the work, going forth as missionaries, toiling in the harvest field. I wish there were more Frenchmen who could labor where the Americans can do nothing. These brethren’s nature is not exactly like their brethren, but their brethren have been too zealous to bring them exactly to their minds and their ideas and have not given them elbow room to act themselves. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 8

Solomon was a man of high capabilities to whom God gave wisdom and understanding. But Solomon did not feel his continual dependence on God and His providence. Brethren Bourdeau, God has a work for you which our American ministers cannot do. You need to exercise your powers, to put forth your efforts, and yet not rely upon these. You need to have self submerged in the will of God. His ways to be your ways. And you need at the same time that you are taking responsibilities in the work to feel a deep distrust of your own wisdom and prudence. You have been in danger of either self-confidence or despondency. You have not had that encouragement and that sympathy and consideration from your brethren that you should have had. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 9

Every minister who has ability to be sent forth to work for God’s cause in teaching the truth should be sustained. He should be stimulated to earnest and persevering exertion, while he needs to bear in mind that the way of a man is not in himself. Oh that men of God, His servants chosen to a special work, may never lean to their own understanding! The capacity of men at best is limited. How little, after all, do they comprehend of the operations of the natural heart or the mysteries of providence? A very few steps trusting to self take them beyond their depth. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 10

Brethren Bourdeau have moved too slowly. You should have moved out by faith and employed your influence, your capabilities and means, to carry forward a work among the French, and have been willing to venture and run risks as the Americans have done in the upbuilding and carrying forward of the work of spreading the truth among them. Your boats have been hugging the shore while the vast ocean is before you. Jesus says to you, as He did to Peter, Launch out into the deep and cast down your net on the right side of the ship, which is the side of faith. Work in deep waters. Oh, remember, it is only those who work with energy and with faith who will see the result of their labors. Do not lean to your own understanding. Do not dwell upon self, but on Jesus. Men of God of the clearest minds and of the best capabilities are generally the ones who are the most ready to admit that they have failings and weaknesses and that their own understanding may not be perfect. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 11

Humility is the constant attendant of true wisdom. Those who have this grace will patiently listen to the advice and counsel of others and give it due weight. They will not give up their own judgment for another’s, but if advice and counsel bear the recommendation of age and experience, they will carefully weigh the matter and incorporate it into their own experience and mind because they see the force of the counsel and advice given. God loves to impress men of deep reflection, men of independent minds. These men will never feel that they have a sufficient experience, but that the knowledge they have gained is so small in proportion to what they may obtain that they are stimulated to continue perseveringly to learn as well as to teach. God wants men of thought, of logical minds, yet not so slow as to lose golden opportunities, to do the very work the time demands. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 12

While Brother Daniel may be particular, difficult, and critical (which evil he needs to correct to be properly balanced), there are ministers who never go deep enough. They do not critically and carefully examine important subjects in order to become acquainted with the real difficulties, but assert and affirm in a talkative, boasting manner and let this answer for proof. Their minds are not disciplined by patient study and deep thought, and what they take for granted they express without much effort or depth of knowledge. They are glib talkers but not deep thinkers; they are fluent in words, but as far as real knowledge is concerned, they merely skim over the surface of things, gathering a little here and there but not having a deep fund or fountain to draw from. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 13

Men whom God has chosen for His special work must come in harmony with heaven. Earnest prayer for counsel and direction is necessary. If men will ask help of God, they will not ask in vain. The Lord comes near to His servants to encourage their confidence by His Word and promises and by His Holy Spirit. He loves to have the weak and diffident come to Him for strength. If they will find heart and voice to pray He will be sure to find an ear to hear and an arm to save. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 14

Brother Butler, I was carried back to your labors in Vermont. I saw that you meant to do your duty, but you were too hard, too unfeeling. You think that you have been dealt with severely. But, my dear brother, look at your severity toward others. God does not lead to such labor as you put forth in the case of Brother Agustin Bourdeau. Did you weigh this matter sufficiently? Was justice and the love of God combined in your labor? Did you make a difference, having compassion for a man who had been under the imperative force of circumstances, a suffering, dying father whom he could not turn from without a hardness of heart that was unchristian? Brother A. C. [Bourdeau] had made some sacrifices, more as far as means was concerned than many of his ministering brethren. He had not been active as a laborer, but he had tried to carry out the testimony to move from Bourdeauville. This has been done at quite a sacrifice on his part. This should have been considered. Again, the suffering of his father called for the time and care of his son. One son was at a distance, while the one within reach was relied upon and his help positively demanded. A. C. Bourdeau was dealt with in a manner such as Brother Butler would not have borne himself. Justice, mercy, and love were not mingled with that labor. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 15

You saw mismoves that Brother Bourdeau had made; could you see none in your own life to condemn? He moved just as honestly as you have done, and yet you have moved unwisely and injured the cause many times when you thought you were doing it justice. You had no right to deal in the unsparing manner you did with Brother A. C. Bourdeau, condemning and passing judgment on his course. You did not discriminate. You did not let pity and love come into your heart. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 16

Your course in turning from California as you did in their pressing need was deserving of censure even more than the case of A. C. Bourdeau. God came near to you; He brought you over the ground; He tested and proved you to reveal to you your weaknesses, and for the purpose of giving you an experience and softening your heart and subduing your severe and harsh traits of character. How did you bear the test? 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 17

There is much more I might say to you, my brother, but I have not time. God has in His providence placed the cup of sorrow to your lips that you might sympathize with your brethren who have tasted of its bitterness. To close the soul to human griefs, to make no consideration for circumstances where God’s providence is at work upon His suffering children, to force all, under any and every circumstance and condition, into one groove without reference to God’s providences, is a fearful mistake which will react upon our own heads. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 18

I was shown that in dealing with our fellow men we all are to consider that they are of like passions with ourselves, feeling the same weaknesses and suffering the same temptations. They, with us, have a struggle with life if they maintain their integrity in circumstances of peril, keeping the balance of the mind. We must deal with fellow mortals with kindly compassion and tenderest sympathy. We must cultivate in our character amiable tempers as well as firmness of principles. It is entirely out of place for one fellow laborer to lord it over another. We may be true to duty, true to principle, honest and firm for right, not swerving from principle in the least degree; but this should not hinder fellow laborers in the vineyard of God from exhibiting traits of character which are pleasing, deportment which is condescending, intercourse which is kind, and manners which are truly complacent, and affection and politeness without affectation or dissembling. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 19

I was shown that God requires true love to unite the hearts of the human brotherhood, and why this love does not flourish is because selfishness, envy, and jealousy exist. True justice will not injure our fellow men, and true politeness will not offend them. True Christian courtesy unites and perfects both justice and politeness, and mercy and love make up the filling, giving the finest touches and most graceful charms to the character. Genuine piety in the heart needs to be cultivated by all. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 20

Abraham was a true gentleman. In his life we have the finest example of the power of true courtesy. Look at his course with Lot. He gives his nephew, a man of much less years than himself, the choice of all the lands before them in order that there might be no strife with their herdsmen. How courteously he welcomes the travellers, the messengers of God, to his tent, and entertains them! He bowed before the sons of Heth when he purchased of them a cave in which to bury his beloved Sarah. What an example of a Christian gentleman! Well did Abraham know what was due from man to his fellow man. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 21

Paul, though firm as a rock to principle, yet ever preserved his courtesy. He was zealous for the vital points and was not regardless of the graces and politeness due to social life. The man of God did not absorb the man of humanity. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 22

But we present a greater than Abraham and Paul—the Saviour of the world. His life was a striking illustration of genuine courtesy. It is impossible to enumerate the instances of His kindness, courtesy, and tender sympathy and love. What rays of softness and beauty did His marvelous condescension shed over His entire life. He had a kind look and an encouraging word for all who were wearied and worn with labor. He was ready to help the most helpless. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 23

God is displeased when fellow laborers in His vineyard shut up their sympathy to themselves, esteem themselves highly and cannot see the good purposes, the noble efforts, of their fellow laborers, but live as if they felt no pitying love or tender sympathy. I have been shown that love, tender love and consideration for our fellow mortals, needs to be cultivated, for it is very essential and is the most valuable trait of Christian character we can have. We must learn to place the best possible construction upon doubtful conduct of others. We shall be very unhappy if we place ourselves in a position to question and criticize as an enemy every man who does not greet us with a smile. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 24

If we are ever suspecting evil we are in danger of creating what we allow ourselves to suspect. Oh, how many mistakes we make in attempting to judge the motives of our brethren! That which we condemn as grievous wrongs in them are no greater than those that exist in ourselves which we do not discern. While in connection with men of varied minds and organizations, we cannot pass along without sometimes having our feelings hurt and our temper tried, but as Christians we must be just as patient, forbearing, humble, and meek as we desire others to be. Oh, how many thousand good acts and deeds of kindness that we receive from our brethren pass from the mind like dew before the sun, while imaginary or real injury leaves an impression which it is next to impossible to efface! The very best example to give to others is to be right ourselves, and then leave ourselves, our reputation, with God and not show too great anxiety to right every wrong impression and present our case in a favorable light. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 25

The greatest cause of our inefficiency as a people is lack of faith and of love. These principles are essential for our prosperity as a people. The neglect to cultivate tender consideration and forbearance for one another has caused dissension, distrust, fault-finding, and general disunion. God wants this evil to exist no longer. He calls upon us to put away this great sin and to strive to answer the prayer of Christ that His disciples may be one as He is one with the Father, that the world may know that the Father had sent His Son. It is the special work of Satan to cause dissension, that the evidence of oneness which should exist with them might be hindered, that the world should be deprived of the most powerful testimony Christians can give it that God has sent His Son to bring into harmony turbulent, proud, envious, jealous bigoted minds. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 26

The power of God upon the natural heart, after having wrought its hidden work in renovating the soul through the truth received in love, will manifest its transforming power in the external life, softening, subduing, and elevating the possessor. Here the world has a problem that they cannot work out from natural causes. The power of Christian faith they can assign as the cause for the great change in the character. But the religion of Christ can never gain its full conquest while the subject of it continues course and rough, sour and uncourteous. We lose much, very much, by lack of love for our brethren and sisters. Our ministering brethren—by their unity, their steadfast love, their delicacy in dealing with their brethren, firmly sustaining one another, their forbearance and sympathy and tender compassion for each other—can give to the churches an example that will rightly represent the life of our dear Redeemer. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 27

The truth of God is not designed merely to deal with errors and vices, and the ministers to feel that they must be reined up to censure and condemn even if they see existing wrongs. Frequently the very best way to cure the evil is to let those who are wrong see the heart of the minister of God softened and tender and pitiful, their bosoms full of the milk of human kindness. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 28

The truth is designed to sanctify the receiver, to fashion and mold the entire man, externally as well as internally, by abasing pride and disposing his heart to be kind and amiable and condescending. Yes, the religion of Christ is a system of the truest politeness, and its triumphs are complete when a world may look on a people professing godliness with a united front, believers showing habitual tenderness of feeling and kindness of deportment and sincere regard for the reputation of each other. We may not look for the approval of God unless we work to the point of habitual kindness, acting upon the principles of the gospel. Tender mercy is to soften whatever is harsh in the disposition and to smooth, refine, and elevate whatever is course and rough in deportment. Love and faith carried out in our words and actions bear a testimony to the world that they cannot resist. It is the most powerful ministry that the church can have. 2LtMs, Lt 49, 1875, par. 29