Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Lt 16, 1875

Butler, G. I.

Newton, Iowa

June 6, 1875

Portions of this letter are published in TDG 166; 2Bio 442; 5MR 232.

Dear Brother Butler:

I have thought I would not address you one line or write to Brother Littlejohn until your position and feelings change. I cannot see the least consistency in the position that either of you have taken. I cannot in the least justify your course and frame any excuse for it. But my object this morning is not to discuss the matters that the Lord has seen fit to give me written out in plain testimony to you, but to say a few words in reference to our feelings toward you. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 1

We feel sad when we think of you. Last year we were united in labor in the camp meetings and we realized the power of God attending our humble efforts. Now we see you overcome by the temptations of the enemy. You have failed in bearing the test of God when you were counseled and reproved by Him. You may have accounted us your enemies because we have tried to do our duty to you. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 2

I know that the enemy is seeking to take advantage of the testimony the Lord has given you for your good, which would have proved a blessing to you of the highest value if you had received it as you should, but the enemy takes advantage of your active mind as he took advantage of the active, traveling mind of Brother Littlejohn. And unless you are especially watchful, you will find yourself drifting farther away than you had the slightest thought you would. Satan is active in suggestions which he makes appear to the imagination as a reality. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 3

My husband was very anxious to stop at Mount Pleasant on our way to Michigan to see you and consult together. I have suffered so much in mind since the interview with Brother Littlejohn—his acting the lawyer and his taking the course that he did—that I was sick at heart and did not wish to place myself in a position to have my soul wounded and my peace disturbed as it was in going to Allegan. I knew your turn of mind and I did not wish to say one word that should be turned by you to place yourself in the wrong position, worse than you were. In short, I dreaded a meeting. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 4

Had I loved you less, had I had less esteem for you, and had I not known the position God would have you take and the course He would be pleased to have you follow, I would not have felt so reluctant in meeting you. My husband urged the matter. He had kind and brotherly feelings toward you and yet he feels that you are pursuing a very wrong course and feels as I do, [that] you are giving the enemy every advantage in tempting you. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 5

Brother Jones came to California before we left. Brother Charles stated that you had written a letter to Brother Littlejohn purporting to be a letter of confession which they thought might tend to harmonize with all, but Brother Jones stated that your letter disappointed them and made matters tenfold worse. If you had only stated your own feelings and stopped there, but you referred to us and stated that you could not harmonize my present testimony with my past testimonies. This was a point they wanted to make and when they read this, they just triumphed and the brethren lost all hope of doing anything. Why could you not have stated what you had to say and leave us out of the question? When I heard this, I decided I would not again visit Allegan or Monterey. I leave you and them to work out this matter if you can. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 6

Brother Charles Jones, Leander, and Brother Day left Monterey and Allegan thoroughly discouraged and came to California intending to stay. When I consider how much harm impulsive moves and unadvised acts may do, I feel like being careful how I place myself in a position where I shall be abused, my feelings grieved, and I lose confidence in the stability and discretion of my brethren. We did not know that these brethren were coming from Monterey and Allegan until we heard that they were on the way. We would be glad to see you free as we have seen you, but we knew not how we could help you and we have thought the only thing we could do was to let you work your own way out, for anything we might attempt may make matters worse. You alone can work yourself out of this matter. I will say, I am troubled for you, for I know that God is not leading you, although you may flatter yourself that He is. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 7

I have full confidence that you will come out all clear in the end. But although you may be again free, I tremble for the influence you are giving to unbelief, to questioning and doubt, to move impulsively and from feeling. How many souls will be turned out of the way by your example, time will show. The harm of these things, the judgment will reveal. It is a time when it is necessary that all move with an eye single to the glory of God. The enemy would lead us to appeal to our feelings, to make feelings our criterion, to appeal to our sympathies. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 8

My husband and myself have not the feelings toward you, you think we have. We believe that you had improvements to make in accordance with the testimony. We believed that the Lord would fit you up to take your position in His cause and make you a more successful worker in His cause, to bear grave responsibilities. Therefore, He in mercy corrected your errors that you might become an able workman, lacking in no gift. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 9

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” John 15:1, 2. “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” Hebrews 12:6. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 10

Christ is our example. He was exposed to hardship. He endured suffering; He humbled Himself to humanity. Christ bore His burdens without impatience, without unbelief, without repining. He felt His trials nonetheless because He was the divine Son of God. You have not a trouble, perplexity, or difficulty which did not press with equal weight upon the Son of God, not a sorrow to which His heart was not equally exposed. His feelings were hurt as easily as yours. Again the life and character of Christ were faultless. His character was composed of moral excellencies, including everything pure and true and lovely and of good report. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 11

God has given us a perfect, faultless Pattern. God designed to make of you an able, efficient workman. The mind He designed should be purified, elevated, ennobled. If the mind is allowed to be exercised with small things, it will be feeble as the result of unchanging laws. God wants His servants to enlarge the scope of their thoughts and plans of labor and bring their powers into vigorous contact with things that are grand, elevating, ennobling. This will give new springs to the intellectual faculties. His [God’s servant’s] thoughts will take broad scope and he will gird up his energies for the task of a broader, deeper, grander work, swimming in deep and broad waters where there is no bottom or shore. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 12

Brother Butler, you may feel that you are taking a right course to become a free man, but you are taking a course to bring your own soul into bondage and bring darkness upon other minds. I am now of the opinion that the Testimonies will not live among God’s people. They will be removed. I have some light on this point but cannot now give it. Said Christ, “I have many things to say unto you but ye cannot bear them now.” [John 16:12.] 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 13

God sees men’s hearts and characters when they do not see their own state correctly. He sees that His work and cause will suffer if wrongs are not corrected that exist in themselves unobserved and therefore uncorrected. Christ calls us His servants if we do what He commands us. There is to every man assigned his particular sphere, place and work, and God asks no more and no less from the lowliest as well as the greatest than that they fulfil their calling. We are not our own property. We are the purchase of the blood of the Son of God. If we were our own property, we might have exercised our will, our discretionary powers, but the capital given us, our physical, mental and moral powers are God’s and we are responsible for their use or abuse. We shall be justly called to give an account of our stewardship for Christ will require His own with usury. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 14

We are hired servants. Christ has paid for us the price of His own blood, His own sufferings and agony to secure our willing service and ready obedience. He is prepared to direct our work. He sees that some have susceptibilities and powers which He wishes to put to the best use to advance His cause. He proves those He designs for a special work. He brings them into different positions to test their character upon different points, to develop the weak points of their character that they may see them and strengthen them, that when He shall call upon them to execute a special work and engage in special action in His service, they may be depended upon and not imperil the precious cause. He reveals the defects that exist in the character and manner of labor of His servants whom He would select to fill responsible positions. He would direct them to look within and examine critically the complicated emotions and exercises of their own hearts and to detect what is their wrong, that they may correct their errors and guard against them. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 15

The Lord would have them modify their wrong habits and soften and refine their manners of labor, and rectify every irregularity of motion in the feelings, the habits and will. The Lord sends forth Brother Butler to try his moral powers in active labor. While thus engaged he should improve every opportunity of intellectual and moral culture, that he should go forward from strength to strength to the perfection of Christian character. In order that this object may be gained, the understanding is not to be darkened but the heart to be renewed. The working of the intellect is not to be cramped, but the affections and thoughts changed. The work of God on the human heart is to unfold and call out all the mental and moral powers. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 16

The Lord designs that His servants, upon whom He lays the responsibility of His work, should become acquainted with the complicated moral machinery of the human heart which prompts to action, until they shall work as God would have them. [They then] are prepared to act with efficiency in any emergency and to fill important positions of trust and qualified to accomplish the grand purposes for which their powers have been educated and trained. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 17

In the design and plan of God, He places men upon trust. He proves them; He tries them with blessings given and blessings withdrawn. He works on the right hand and on the left for their good. He sends reproof, counsel, and warnings that when He shall call to active labor, they may not through selfishness, through impulse or wounded pride, imperil the cause of God. He brings men over the ground again and again, bringing the pressure and test of trial closer and still a little closer every occasion, until the transformation of character shall bring them in harmony with heaven. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 18

Our camp meeting from its commencement to the present time has been most solemn and the Spirit of the Lord in a most signal manner has been manifested in the social and preaching meetings. The great sin of Jerusalem was the rejection of her present blessings and present warnings. I spoke from these words, “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.” Luke 19:41, 42. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 19

I made a practical application of these words to the people of God. The solemn power of God was upon me and upon the hearers. The tearful eye and earnest looks revealed the true state of feelings. I invited them forward and about fifty responded to the call—Brother Nichola’s eldest son among the rest. There were no very young children, but mostly middle-aged and youth. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 20

June 8.

Sunday our meeting was good all day. The morning meeting they all said was the best they ever attended. There were sometimes seven on their feet at a time. But I will not give particulars. Brother Smith will make some report in [the] Review. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 21

We are of the best of courage. My husband will not let anything depress him. We have been harmoniously working with the armor on since we left Battle Creek for California. I regard it that you have taken yourself from the work and from the responsibilities God had called you to bear. If you are blessed in this move, I shall be disappointed, for I know that you are not moving as God designed you should. I do not write this to draw out your sharp answers, acting the lawyer, criticizing as did Elder Littlejohn. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 22

The Spirit of the Lord is grieved by the course you and others have pursued, whom the Lord has reproved. You must meet the result of your course. You have had great light and are accountable for the light. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 23

If your course leads the lame out of the way, if souls stumble over you, you alone must bear it, not the instrument whom God has used to warn and counsel. I see it makes no difference with men whom God tests with reproof. They all go over the same ground and act out self. They carry out their own will for a time as did Elder Canright and others I might mention, but I will forbear. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 24

These moments are golden. We cannot afford to trifle with time and opportunities for doing the work God has left us. Now is our day of opportunity. Now is our day of visitation. But these things will not always be. They will be hidden from our eyes—privileges abused, privileges rejected. We feel that God requires much of us in return for His blessings. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 25

We can but reflect what a venture you are making in having your own way. It is a terrible thing for a man to have his own way. Oh, what an example the shepherds will dare to give the poor sheep! What a record the angels will make in heaven of these fitful, spasmodic movements! It will be seen in the day of God, when we shall see as we are seen and known as we are known, that these fitful, impulsive movements are disastrous to the cause of God. To gratify self in acting out our feeling, costs too much. Such moves open a door for temptation to the naturally unbelieving, the weak and trembling souls, [so] that when the effort is made to close the door it is not an easy matter to accomplish. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 26

Merritt Kellogg’s freak on the round world turned a number from the truth who were the very best ones, apparently, in the cause of God. But he has, since he became again settled in the truth, tried to bring back these he had [caused to] stumble. But this could not be done. They stand as living witnesses of the fearful results of a man having his own way and serving the enemy while feeling fully confident he is right and doing God service. Oh, men who have filled responsible positions, men who have a knowledge of the truth and divine will, ought not to act like unreasonable children, fractious and petulant. Satan seizes every instance of weakness manifested by God’s servants and presents them in the worse light to inexperienced, faltering souls and they are thrown into doubt and discouragement. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 27

You, with other ministers who take such unreasonable freaks as you have done under reproof, are venturing much and are making yourself responsible for grave results. You are opening a door and inviting Satan in to weaken and darken your mind and the minds of others. You are tempting the enemy to tempt you. You are turning from clear light to questioning, uncertainty, and unbelief. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 28

I entreat of you to come out of this position which you have voluntarily taken. Die to self. I warn you not to twist the Testimonies to make out a case in order to justify your present course, for excuses will not [avail] in the balances of the sanctuary. You are deceived, deluded by the enemy. You are on the wrong track. But if you fortify yourself and take a position that you are excusable to do as you have done, you gather darkness about your soul, please the enemy, and grieve the Spirit of God. You may come to the light if you will, but it is at your own option whether you walk in the light or wander longer in darkness. You are not right with God. How solemn is the period in which we live! Oh, how important that we be hid in God, sanctified and elevated and thoroughly furnished unto all good works! 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 29

I must close. In much love and interest for yourself and wife and dear children, I remain, 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 30

Your sister in Christ. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 31

Please copy and send me the original or a copy. 2LtMs, Lt 16, 1875, par. 32