Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Lt 4, 1870

Rhodes, S. W.

Battle Creek, Michigan

March 23, 1870

Portions of this letter are published in TSB 28-31.

Brother [S. W.] Rhodes:

I have been writing out some things which have been shown me in regard to those who have thought that they had a duty to teach others. Among them was yourself. You feel anxious to go among your brethren and instruct, exhort, reprove, and rebuke them as your judgment shall dictate. You are mistaken in your duty. God will not trust you with this work. He will not send a man out to bear burdens and labor for others when his own case is more perplexing and troublesome to the church than anyone he may undertake to labor for. Your errors and wrong have done great injury to the cause of God. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 1

Your case, I was shown, was a sad one. Your heart is far from being right with God. You flatter yourself that you are making improvements, but you are in danger of deceiving your own soul. You have scarcely touched the work you have to do, which is to subdue and control self. You have been a very selfish man. You have a special interest for yourself. Your attention is so much devoted to self that God will not accept your service. In your deal, in your business transactions, you will seek to advantage yourself to the disadvantage of others. Your influence and example is a reproach to the cause of God. You have had your mind so much upon yourself that you have thought others should favor you and should manifest a special interest for you because they should feel that you were God’s servant. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 2

I have been shown that you dwell upon your infirmities and talk of them and are full of your childish notions in regard to yourself and your own interest, which makes you a special burden and an annoyance wherever you go. Your influence in this respect is bad. It grows out of your studying so much how to convenience and accommodate yourself. You wish to make everything so easy for self. You wish to save yourself care and labor, and you shun burdens. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 3

There are hundreds who are greater sufferers than you have been, who labor for the support of their families daily. You are so constantly laboring to care for yourself and shield yourself from danger of being sick that you bring upon yourself the very evils you seek to avert. You can perform physical labor, and industry will be the greatest blessing you can have. Your active mind will be diverted and your thoughts will be turned in a more even, healthful channel. You have no burden to fear for God’s people. You have a great and important work to do for yourself to cultivate self-control. You should control your mind, bear your own burdens, not expect others to wait upon you and indulge your ideas, that you must have special care and attention because you are sick. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 4

The best way to overcome disease is to turn the attention from self to engage in some useful, physical labor. Forget yourself. You think yourself all broken to pieces, when, as far as constitution is concerned, you will outlive a large class who make no complaint and who are not working perseveringly to save themselves, fearing they shall suffer pain or die. You have a diseased imagination and desire to be favored and petted and waited upon, when you do not need it and should not have it. Those who have done this kind of work for you have indulged you to your own injury. You expected to be the object of their special care. You were better able to wait upon them, and it would have been for your good to have done so, rather than they to wait on you. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 5

You have a powerful will which has never been subdued. If you can turn your will in the right direction and control yourself in matters where there is a decided failure, you would complain less, and be more cheerful, and would not regard yourself so much in the light of a martyr. The will power you should bring to your aid to rise above your little ailments. You are not as great a sufferer as you imagine yourself to be, and you have had more care than you needed or deserved. You have required more attention and labor to be done for you than any three common men would think they needed. All you have done for years in the cause of God has been dearly paid for, and then they were in a worse condition than if you had done nothing at all. I have been shown your case so clearly I have no hesitancy in saying you have educated yourself to think especially of your interest, fearing that everything would not be exactly convenient or pleasant to yourself. It is self and self-interest that is the first and last with you. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 6

Again I was shown this self-love has led to a wish to bring all others to your ideas. Their opinions or judgment was of no account in your estimation, if there was a failure to agree with yours. I saw that you were a lover of self in every sense of the word. S. W. Rhodes is his idol. Supreme love for self prevents you from regarding the opinions and judgment of others. You, I saw, are an arbitrary man. You have not heeded the light given, and overcome your overbearing spirit. You inherited evil traits of character and have so long indulged this spirit that it has become second nature. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 7

You might have controlled yourself if you had been willing to have seen your wrongs and felt the sinfulness of them, and realized how hateful they were in the sight of God. But you had so good an opinion of yourself, with such supreme self-love, you thought yourself not far from being right after all. Here you have deceived your own soul. In regard to this overbearing, arbitrary spirit you have possessed, it has done more injury to souls than you could now do good if you should see the evil and sinfulness of your past course, and should labor with all your power to overcome and should be transformed by the power of God. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 8

You carried your harsh, severe spirit into Brother Abbey’s family. You knew that they wished to do their duty to their children. They thought you to be God’s child and servant and you imbued them with your spirit and they moved according to your light, when you had not a correct view of how a family of children should be managed. You have done great harm. Brother and Sister Abbey used severity that they should not have used toward their children, especially in the case of Venelia. Through unwise management she was separated in her affections from her parents. You also separated the confidence of Sister Abbey from her husband. She was afraid to sympathize with him. You have a work to repair the wrong as far as you can. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 9

Brother Abbey was so fearful he should suffer wrong in his children that he took extreme measures when love would have done much more than severity. You have caused misery in that family that God holds you responsible for. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 10

You have been a hard man in the church to manage the cases of the supposed erring members, and you have been a hard man in families. You have taken the liberty to dictate, order, and control in matters that did not concern you in the least. You have a great work now to do to attend to S. W. Rhodes. You love to dictate and control it is almost next to an impossibility for you to keep your hands off from interfering and meddling with matters that you have not the prudence, wisdom, or judgment to correct. You mar almost everything you touch. You are in danger, through your strong, set, self-will, of being carried by Satan to insanity of mind. You are upon some points nearly insane. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 11

If you would take a position that is humble and teachable, you would escape what now looks to me an unavoidable shipwreck of faith. You study and contrive and lay your plans to bring about your purposes to meet your ends, when all your perseverance and earnestness was prompted from purely selfish motives. You have possessed an avaricious, covetous spirit which has given form to your motives and actions. You have some qualities which would be useful in the church if you did not possess so many positively dangerous traits to counteract your every effort that might do good. I feel alarmed for you and would entreat of you, for your soul’s sake, to be converted and live a life of repentance for the past. Your influence has been very bad. You would pray earnestly and weep; your prayers would express great humility. You would frequently no sooner rise from your knees when you would exhibit your selfishness and impatience and your overbearing, indomitable will. Such prayers are a mockery and go no higher than your own unconsecrated head. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 12

You have a most difficult job to submit your will and your way to the will of God. You have a work that will last you as long as you live, to die to self, to control self, and possess a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. You have not always been honest in your deal with others. You frequently knew that they were having a hard bargain but your hard, selfish spirit could not feel over these things. You seemed to think it was the regard the Lord had for you which placed opportunities before you to improve your condition while a brother or an unbeliever should be disadvantaged and realize loss. Here you have deceived yourself. You have not heeded the injunction of the faithful apostle, “Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have.” [Hebrews 13:5.] You have had covetousness in your heart for some things possessed by others and you have frequently talked in a manner to work upon their sympathies. You would weave into your conversation your supposed wants until the unsuspecting have been moved to gratify this spirit of covetousness and deprive themselves of things to let you have that which they needed far more than yourself. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 13

All these things in your experience are marked by One who seeth not as man seeth. God has had His eye upon all your motives. He is acquainted with the intents and purposes of the heart. Nothing can be hid from His eye. You have accounts to settle with God in regard to these things in your experience. You have in your dealing with souls been destitute of love, compassion, and deep tenderness. You have been a stranger to true justice and mercy. Your heart in many instances has been as unfeeling as a stone. Yet you have talked as though you were especially directed of God. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 14

I have a few words to say in regard to your marriage, not by revelation but permission. Yes, I feel compelled by the Spirit of the Lord to say to you, I have had less confidence in your integrity since your marriage than I have had heretofore. My heart was greatly burdened. I knew you were not qualified to make a proper husband for Sister Drake. If you had permitted her to lay her case before us we could have advised her according to the light God has given us of your case. You knew this, therefore you were unwilling to have us consulted. Brother Rhodes, I believe that your motives in this marriage were purely selfish. I do not believe you had a thought of the good of Sister Drake or the glory of God. You urged yourself upon her without consulting those who knew you best. You hurried this matter off with your own hasty spirit that you have ever possessed. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 15

Your course since your marriage, in taking possession of and controlling the means of her [whom] you had made your wife, shows your motives to be wrong. All these things are against you and shows on your part very deep selfishness and a dictatorial spirit which God would not have her submit to. Her marriage does not make null and void her stewardship. It does not destroy her identity. Her individuality should be preserved if she would glorify God with her body and spirit which are His. Her individuality cannot be submerged in you. She has duties she owes to God which you have no right to interfere with. God has claims upon her which you cannot meet. In the providence of God she has become His steward, and this she should refuse to yield to you or any other one. You have not wisdom more exact and perfect than hers which should lead her to give to you the stewardship of her means. She has developed a far better character than yourself, and has a better balanced mind than yourself. She can manage this means in her hands more wisely, more judiciously, and more to the glory of God than yourself. You are a man of extremes. You move by impulse and are most of the time more directly under the control of evil angels than the angels of God. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 16

I need not tell you I deeply regret your marriage. You are not the man that can make your wife happy. You love yourself too well to be kind, attentive, patient, affectionate, and sympathizing. How tenderly should you now treat her whom you have married. How carefully should you study to make her not regret that she has united her destiny with yours. God looks upon the course you have pursued in this matter, and you will be without excuse for the course you have taken. God reads your motives. You have now an opportunity to exhibit your true self, to demonstrate whether you were actuated by true love or deep selfish interest in your marriage. You married, I have no doubt, thinking you would come in possession of property and have the handling of it as you pleased. You have no right to dictate to your wife as you would a child. You have not earned a valuable reputation of goodness that would require reverence. You need, considering your failures in the past, to take an humble position and divest yourself of a dignity you have not earned. You are too weak a man to require submission to your will without an appeal. You have a work to do to govern yourself. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 17

You have sacrificed your true, noble, God-like manhood to a perverse will. Therefore your demands upon a good, conscientious, God-fearing woman should be very modest. Your dictatorial spirit she should not submit to for moment. If you choose to exercise it, she should every time choose to be indifferent to it. She should no more gratify your perverse, unreasonable commands than a mother should gratify all the whims and boisterous claims of a wilful, spoiled child. You do not know yourself. God will sustain your wife in seeking to keep her own soul free and in not yielding to your arbitrary spirit, bringing herself in bondage by so doing. You are not to be conscience for your wife. She is to maintain a clear, pure conscience before God and not permit your variable, changeable, fitful spirit to terrify or intimidate her. You, sir, have yet to learn that he who has not control of his own spirit is not qualified to control or dictate to others. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 18

You should never set yourself above your wife. She needs kindness and love, which will be reflected back upon you again. If you expect her to love you, you must earn this love by manifesting love and tenderness in your words and actions for her. You have in your keeping the happiness of your wife. Your course says to her, in order for you to be happy, you must yield your will up fully to mine; you must submit to do my pleasure. You have taken special delight in exercising your authority because you thought you could do so. But time will show that if you pursue the course your own temperament would lead you to do, you will not inspire in the heart of your wife love, but will wean her affections from you, and she will in the end despise that authority, the power of which she has never felt before in her married life. You are certainly making hard and bitter work for yourself, and you will reap what you are sowing. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 19

I dare not do otherwise than speak to you plainly. The case demands it. How is the marriage of Sister Drake to you improving her condition? Not a wit; but your course is making her life a bitterness, her lot almost unbearable. I knew how it would be as soon as I heard of your marriage. She thought she was to have one to help her take care of her boy, but you would tear the mother from her son, and require her to yield her parental care and affection for her son to you who have only your marriage to plead why this should be so. You have done nothing to earn this great sacrifice. You have not pursued a course to even gain her confidence. Yet you demand this great sacrifice, the separation of the mother from her son. You may plead that you understand the case, while we plead you know but little about it. Instead of your feeling it to be your duty to be patient and affectionate and judiciously manage the case of this her son, you take a course that a heartless, unfeeling tyrant would pursue. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 20

I would advise the mother to move in the fear of God and not allow a comparative stranger to come in claiming the title of husband and separate her child from her affection and care. God has not released that mother from her responsibility because she has married you. You do not possess true love. You are not acquainted with the pure article. If you were, you would never have pursued the course you have. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 21

There are a few words more I will add. I was shown that it was your selfish spirit that led you to withhold from us means which the brethren of Jackson had sent to your aid. We were, while in Paris, Maine, in want. We had not suitable food or clothing. You knew it all. You understood our situation, but kept means that were sent expressly for us, to use according to your own judgment. God has regarded this as a great sin in you. It was not us alone that you thus wronged, but that God whose servants we were. You have never realized the crime, the cruelty of these things. Selfishness was at the bottom of it all. You took the very means which God had moved upon His servants to send to us in answer to our earnest prayers for assistance, and you handed a portion to men who had no special burden in the work and no heart in it, but who were doing a distressing work of death, rather than giving their lives for the truth. Satan’s angels stood by, close by, your side as soon as you yielded to retain that money and deprive us of it. The evil angels then prompted you to show great apparent liberality where it was not called for, and where no benefits of the means would be realized in the cause and work of God. One step in the wrong direction leaves you captive to Satan’s power. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 22

I have been shown that you profess to receive the testimonies given, yet you do not take them to heart and realize that it is the voice of the Lord to you. You do not entirely change your course. You act over the same things which you have been reproved for doing, and this leaves you in darkness. You so have long violated your conscience by selfishly serving your own interest that you have become hardened. You do strange things for a professed Christian. Yet your heartless course in many things does not alarm you. My soul is sad over these things. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 23

In haste. 2LtMs, Lt 4, 1870, par. 24