Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Lt 19c, 1874

White, W. C.

San Francisco, California

April 20, 1874

Portions of this letter are published in UL 124; 4MR 340-341.

Dear Willie:

We have been spending Sabbath and first day in San Francisco. We think the church here are willing to be helped. There were, some of them, taken up with Elder Grant, and his reports against me had some effect; but he has carried the matter so far that his influence is killed. He can do us no harm. His efforts for a time confused some minds. His claims to sanctification sound very heavenly, but his raid against the holy law of God and those who vindicate the honor of God’s law reveals to those who have spiritual eyesight that he can claim sanctification only by meeting a human, finite standard which he has erected. 2LtMs, Lt 19c, 1874, par. 1

He exalts a false religion. He does not contemplate his character in the light of the holy law of God, the commandments on which hang all the law and the prophets. While he tears down God’s standard, His holy law, and erects one of his own, he can claim to be sinless, but in the light of God’s law, he is a sinner. Sin is defined by the beloved John as transgression of God’s law. Paul says that without the law he had not known sin. This is as the case stands with all those who are trampling upon the law of God. They have not a sense of sin because they have refused to look into the mirror to discover the defects in the moral character. All are defective and sinful and know it not, for they have rejected the great moral looking glass. 2LtMs, Lt 19c, 1874, par. 2

Some were liable to be deceived with these self-righteous pretensions, but the evasion of truth and the false statements in regard to Mrs. White was so against facts that the eyes of many were opened. They could not reconcile the claims to holiness with the law of God which says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” [Exodus 20:16.] While some were being deceived with the claim to sanctification, we felt that we could do them no special good. But now they were seeing things more nearly in the true light, and we could help them. 2LtMs, Lt 19c, 1874, par. 3

What is genuine sanctification? Read Exodus 31. In that chapter we shall understand the term, for God Himself has defined it. The Lord Jesus had given the special directions how to build the tabernacle. As the children of Israel had been compelled to work on the Sabbath, the sacredness of the day was not preserved. As slaves in Egypt, they had largely lost the knowledge of the Sabbath. This is the reason the commandments of God were given in awful grandeur upon Mount Sinai. The Lord would guard His Sabbath in particular, and He knew the people would forget the commandment of the Sabbath, and in their zeal the workman would say, “This work is the Lord’s and under His supervision, and we can do His work without observing the Sabbath.” Therefore God enforced their observance of the Sabbath. He spoke through Moses to the people. 2LtMs, Lt 19c, 1874, par. 4

“Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end on communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.” Exodus 31:13-18. 2LtMs, Lt 19c, 1874, par. 5

Therefore the seventh day was distinguished as God’s memorial and was to be kept holy unto the Lord that the people “may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify” them. [Verse 13.] This is genuine sanctification. 2LtMs, Lt 19c, 1874, par. 6

We had a very excellent meeting. There have been two brothers and sisters who have been causing trouble through much talk, criticizing the ministering brethren and nearly every member of the church, and boasting of themselves. They think they could stand at the head of rank and file and do better than any one has done or can do. The complaints and murmuring have made impressions on minds that are naturally quarrelsome and faultfinding, but their self-esteem, self-praise and seeking for supremacy became so evident that these men could not hurt the church. The visit to this place was timely. This contentious, self-sufficient element will be weeded out. What a light might shine forth here in San Francisco if all would be learners in Christ's school, and learn of Jesus, His meekness and lowliness of heart. Then His yoke would be found easy and His burden light. 2LtMs, Lt 19c, 1874, par. 7

But the work must needs go deeper, take firmer hold of the life and of the character. Some have thought they could easily persuade a sinner to give up his idols, to keep God’s commandments, to believe Jesus is soon to come in the clouds of heaven. When they can awaken no interest, no desire to search the Scriptures to see if these things are indeed truth, when they see no conviction assured in the minds of those who transgress the law of God, when they are frequently met with flimsy excuses, with indifference or decided opposition and ridicule, when their hearers turn aside to heap contempt upon God’s holy law, they become discouraged. Where they looked for success, they found defeat. They had not enduring patience and unwavering faith. 2LtMs, Lt 19c, 1874, par. 8

O, how many lessons these young in the faith will have to learn in the exercise of winning souls to Christ! Some will learn in defeat and failure the lessons they would not otherwise have learned, but a few repulses have so chilling an influence that the spark of grace almost becomes extinct in their own souls, and they think it does not pay to make efforts to save souls and they no longer shine as lights in the world. The thought of turning souls from the errors of their ways, the sense of obligation to impart to others the precious light of truth, dies and they do nothing. I look about upon this great city and I am pained almost to agony at the present state of things. The cause of God is almost universally made void, but my heart is oppressed for those who have stepped upon the platform of truth. I tremble for them, lest they will be superficial, and will not, in life, in good works, represent Jesus. 2LtMs, Lt 19c, 1874, par. 9

The Lord has given us victory today. The deep moving of His Spirit has been in our midst. We tried to present before our people the necessity of looking the difficulties they must meet squarely in the face, perform the duties that devolve upon them, and not shun to declare the whole counsel of God. 2LtMs, Lt 19c, 1874, par. 10

These difficulties, opposition, disappointments, and discouragements they must meet again in a more decided, intense manner, but they must be firm as a rock to principle. If we are Christians, we must be Christlike, we must reflect light. Said Christ, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” Matthew 13:16. And we can but speak the things we see and we hear. We hope, we pray, and we work, and we want these newly come to the faith to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. 2LtMs, Lt 19c, 1874, par. 11

Your father is much improved in health. We have had long, earnest struggles in prayer for him. We have seen signal victories in answer to prayer. We hold him by living faith before God, and we shall see him restored to soundness again. God can do it. Do not cease to pray for him. 2LtMs, Lt 19c, 1874, par. 12