Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2

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Lt 26, 1873

Ferguson, Brother

Bloomfield, California

February 17, 1873

Previously unpublished.

Dear Brother Ferguson:

Your case presses upon me this morning. I was shown that you have duties to do in your own family which cannot lightly be turned aside and laid upon the shoulders of another. You have children that claim a father’s care and discipline. Your first duty is to your family. You have a duty to do to them and for them which no other can take up and do in your place. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1873, par. 1

You have not, brother, borne the burdens in your family that you should. You have been willing that the weight of responsibility should rest upon your wife. You have been too easy in your home. The cares of home have set very lightly upon you. You have not loved physical labor at home. You have not been interested in the home cares and home duties you should bear. You have not been wide awake at home to see what there needs to be done and do it resolutely. You have been willing burdens should drop upon your wife. Your ease-loving disposition should be overcome. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1873, par. 2

I was shown that your mind was exercised in regard to teaching the truth to others. Brother Ferguson, you are not prepared to give yourself wholly to the ministry. The position of your young family forbids this. Your most sacred duty is your family; to train your children for God and heaven. While doing this, if you can do errands for the Lord as a missionary feeling the worth of souls upon you, your efforts will not be in vain in the Lord. It is not your duty to be separated any length of time from your family, who need your counsel, your encouragement, and your efforts. It is not your duty to travel long distances. If you can labor and improve the opportunity in presenting the truth before others as you can, without separating yourself from your family for any length of time, you can cultivate your gift where large expenses are not incurred, and you can prove yourself. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1873, par. 3

You seriously lack the qualifications for a minister to go amid moral darkness to present the truth. You have not moral energy, determination, and unabated zeal to make your efforts successful. You have a theory of the truth but you have not that spiritual energy, that heavenly zeal, which would move and stir the people. The mere presentation of arguments to convince the people is not enough. There must be a power, a living energy, which will arouse the consciences. There must be a power coming from God to attend the efforts. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1873, par. 4

You have not felt, Brother Ferguson, that labor was a blessing, a pleasure. Every man and woman has a stock of vitality which must be used in some way. It may be exhausted very much in unnecessary sleep or appropriated almost wholly in digestion of food, and this stock of vitality may be wasted in more than one way. Upon this vitality depends mental and muscular power. You, my brother, have not cultivated your facility to labor physically or mentally. Some men accomplish double what others do, not because they have greater vitality than others, but they have improved their ability. Use and habit has given them facility to enable them to do more in a given time than others who have taken matters easy. You have not been a man who has bowed your shoulders to take on and bear burdens. You can now do to advantage a trifle in the work and cause of God, because you lack the education essential for such a work. You have been very slow to develop your powers of physical and mental strength with practical, good results. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1873, par. 5

Objects in life, if gained, must be worked for. They will cost effort. And if these objects are gained without effort they are not prized, and seem of but little value. You have not felt stimulated to earnest effort to achieve high results. You have had a wife who has been a shrewd manager, a worker, a practical woman. This has been an inestimable blessing to you in some respects, while in others it has been a detriment; not because she was to blame, but because you have not had that necessity before you to stimulate you to exertion, to urge you on to exercise the faculties of the mind and the strength of the body till taxation became habit which is second nature. A life of burden-bearing and of toil is not without its reward. We see efforts produce results which prompt us to continue the effort of earnest, persevering labor which trains us to use all our powers, thereby increasing our facilities to accomplish worthy ends. This is reward of itself. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1873, par. 6

If you go out among your brethren or among unbelievers and are relieved from physical labor to a great extent, and yet continue to eat as when engaged in physical labor, your health will fail. You have a kind, quiet spirit, but you lack energy to do and to dare and to venture. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1873, par. 7

In the presentation of truth in new places, weighty responsibilities are involved by the one who engages in the work. The minds of a community are agitated upon important truth where eternal interests are involved. This truth may be presented in a manner which will stir and arouse the conscience of those who hear, and lead them to feel that the speaker believes these truths to be terrible and earnest realities which call for immediate action. Or he may repeat the most solemn truths, sustained by conclusive arguments, in so tame and spiritless a manner that he will fail to make an impression upon hearts and will lead the hearers to the conclusion that the speaker did not believe these truths himself or they would have a more manifest power upon his life and manners. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1873, par. 8

When a speaker arouses the minds of the people to investigate unpopular truth, but lacks essential qualifications to represent the truth in power and clearness, and the people’s minds are balanced in opposition to the truth, it is almost impossible to raise the interest again. Hearts are closed against the truth. Satan with his sophistry and his darkness and pleasing fables is at hand, and he triumphs while the truth frequently gains nothing. If places which warrant a more thorough effort could be left until efforts could be made which would present unpopular truth before the people in its beauty and force, so that their minds are brought along gradually and they are tested and proved sufficiently, having the truth fairly and candidly represented, many might be brought to a decision who, under the labors of one not fully qualified, would decide against the truth. This preaching will be a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1873, par. 9

Those who are messengers of God should be sanctified in heart and life, for those who receive the truth from them will frequently bear the same stamp of character according to the impressions received from the minister; and they will be liable to take these impressions through all time, even into eternity. That which the minister most prizes and best understands he impresses upon the people. To bring up the people to points which demand a decision and which excite opposition, and then lack the power to carry out and make thorough work affecting the springs of action, causing a healthful circulation of moral and spiritual life and activity through the soul, will result in failure to bring out souls upon the truth. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1873, par. 10

It is not a small thing to be a minister, to stand between the living and the dead, and so preach Christ and represent His truth that a compelling power will attend it and souls will come out and decide for the truth. A minister must in all his labors leave a brighter light to shine on the road that leads to heaven. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1873, par. 11

Brother Ferguson will not exert a bad influence. His influence will be good in families and in communities; but it is not as positive an influence as is required in these days of fog and mist and cloud of error. Ministers must have the light and power from God to work with their efforts or they can accomplish but little. The life and spirit of Christ must be in you. If Brother Ferguson has the power and Spirit of God, He will use him as His instrument. If not, he can do more at home in his family than in attempting to preach. 2LtMs, Lt 26, 1873, par. 12