Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3

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Lt 48, 1876

Van Horn, Brother and Sister

NP

Circa 1876

This letter is published in entirety in DG 138-140.

Elder and Mrs. Van Horn:

My Dear Children, ever near and dear to me:

It is with pain I now address you. When you went to your field of labor in Oregon it was with the idea that your wife and yourself would work in the interest of the cause of God. This I was shown was the will of God concerning you. 3LtMs, Lt 48, 1876, par. 1

But you changed this order of things by your own course. God did not order it thus. Had you both devoted your powers, the ability that God had given you, to do the work with an eye single to His glory, you would have done only that which it was your duty to do. The importance of self-sacrificing labor in this cause and work of God should be ever felt in a higher sense than it is, and if it was felt then there would be a self-sacrificing spirit manifested. The love and pity for souls for whom Christ has died would call the thoughts away from selfish desires and selfish plans. 3LtMs, Lt 48, 1876, par. 2

The love for Him who died for man will exercise a constraining power over our imagination, our purposes, and all our plans. We shall not plan for our pleasure, to gratify our wishes, but lay ourselves on the altar of God a willing sacrifice for the Lord to use us to His glory. The mind of Jesus Christ must be in us, controlling every thought, every purpose of our lives. This is the attitude in which we should ever keep our souls before God. This we will do if we realize the worth of souls and if the truth as it is in Jesus is stamped upon the soul. This work was given you, to be missionaries for God. 3LtMs, Lt 48, 1876, par. 3

Now Satan lays his plans to defeat the purpose of God. He helps you to plan for yourselves, which plan he knows will succeed in hedging you both about with difficulties, not only robbing God of the labors of Adelia, but in a large degree of Brother Van Horn also. The care of children will so preoccupy the mind that Christ and His work will be neglected. The strongest earthly affection would be awakened, the mother for her children, which would make the work of God all secondary; and thus Satan would obstruct the path of usefulness the Lord had pointed out. 3LtMs, Lt 48, 1876, par. 4

Oh, could you both have seen that the truth, the truth of God, the salvation of souls, is something stronger, deeper, and more constraining than even the love of a mother for her sons! No selfishness must come in to mar the work of God. Self-denial may be agonizing to the flesh, but the better portion, religion, must take the helm. Truth and love for Christ must occupy the citadel of the soul. There is God enthroned, there is conscience obeyed, and God would have given you a place in His house better than of sons and of daughters. 3LtMs, Lt 48, 1876, par. 5

The Lord has given Adelia superior talents. Exercised in the work of winning souls to Jesus they would have been wholly successful. The plain, sweet, elevating manner of teaching would have brought many sons and daughters to Jesus Christ. The light would flash from the throne of God to her mind and be reflected upon others. 3LtMs, Lt 48, 1876, par. 6

But the enemy took the field and his suggestions were followed. You entered upon a work which God could not and did not approve. A way was contrived by the enemy to strike at you both and block your way. Adelia was a timid soul, feeling pain deeply, easily discouraged. That imagination which, if devoted to and exercised upon the truth, would have become a power for God, was now to be used as a hindrance, easily excited in a wrong direction to forebode evil, to see things in a distorted light, to feel that there is danger when there is none, to distrust God, to distrust her husband. 3LtMs, Lt 48, 1876, par. 7

She had her own ideas about managing her case. No one would be accepted but her husband. There was but little faith and but little trust in God. Satan could control her feelings so as to make it a necessity for her husband to be with her and for her to feel aggrieved if he was not a present help. Imagination made light sufferings seem at times very earnest and acute. The minds of both were preoccupied in their new experience. The work in the conference was woefully neglected. The minister’s labor was but little after the pulpit effort. Sometimes there was greater neglect than others, and Satan had things very much his own way. Neither of you have a sense of your neglect of duty. The very time you were so fully preoccupied with your own troubles, which you had brought about yourselves, was the time when the right kind of labor would have brought a harvest of souls to Jesus Christ. 3LtMs, Lt 48, 1876, par. 8

It is really not wise to have children now. Time is short, the perils of the last days are upon us, and the little children will be largely swept off before this. If men and women who can work for God would consider that while they are pleasing themselves in having little children and caring for them, they might be at work teaching the way of salvation to large numbers and bringing many sons and daughters to Christ, great would be their reward in the kingdom of God. 3LtMs, Lt 48, 1876, par. 9

Adelia, my heart is pained because you have made a failure, because you have robbed God. You are naturally fearful, borrowing trouble. You could not have rest or peace of mind separated from your children; and the worrying disposition you have closes up the way for your work. And this is not all: the work is greatly neglected. 3LtMs, Lt 48, 1876, par. 10