Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)


Lt 5, 1879

King, Brother


July 1879

Portions of this letter are published in OHC 225-226; 4MR 99.

Dear Brother King:

While riding in the darkness that night when we started for Grand Prairie and lost our way, what I have been shown in reference to individuals in Dallas came, like a flash of lightning, vividly before me. The difficulties in the way of forming a sound, healthy church from the existing material were so forcibly presented to my mind that I decided to return immediately to Denison and make no further effort in Dallas. But I was loath to break a promise made to the people of this city, and for this reason I have made another visit. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 1

On the night referred to, your case, among others, came before me. You have good intentions, but will never make a success as a business man without an entire change in your plans of operation. You are hopeful of making a good income, but at the same time you sadly neglect your business. Put your own personal effort into your work, and you will be worth more than two employed hands. You must act upon regular and well-matured plans. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 2

You are at times energetic; when you set about a thing, applying your mind to it, you can do it. You can apply yourself if you will. But when you are disinclined, you shun the painstaking, the burden in putting forth effort and in showing a personal interest. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 3

It is easy to make grievous miscalculations in these matters. Energetic as you may be occasionally, you will find that the energy and personal attention you then give to your business will not make up for the neglect, and repair the loss incurred for want of that close interest and attention at the proper time. What is not done at the proper time, whether in sacred or secular things, is frequently never done at all or done very imperfectly. There is danger of laboring day after day with no results to correspond with the effort put forth. Many waste life in laboriously doing nothing. There is such a thing as being in a hurry and yet not getting forward. The reason is, too many are occupied with trifles, or they fail to carry through what they undertake. What the world and the church need is calm, steady, deep-thinking men. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 4

You must act upon regular and well-matured plans. When you do this, working continuously and systematically, doing your work unhurriedly, doing one thing at a time, taking hold yourself by well-directed effort, you will be astonished to see how much business you can get through. No man can make a success unless he cultivates and exercises order and regularity in the business entrusted to his care. Every business paper should have its date and place, then no time will be wasted in looking up scattered and lost papers. A regular account should be kept daily in a comprehensive manner, all outgoes and incomes being accurately recorded. You have made failure because you neglected to do this. You will never make a competent businessman until this defect is remedied. You should know every day your financial standing, and should not trust matters too much to others who have no interest in the truth. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 5

It will be necessary for you to entirely change your course of actions. You have made decided improvements in some respects since you embraced the truth, for this has been to you as an anchor of the soul; while you have been vacillating, the truth has been unchangeable. Yet there are many improvements for you to make before you can be what you must be in order to be saved. You must put yourself to task, you must guard your soul, or Satan will take the advantage of you. You must not follow inclination. You move by impulse; feeling has been your master. You must not pursue this course. You suffer because you do not resist temptation in the beginning. Sin is your own act. No earthly power can compel you to do a wrong action. Your will must consent, your heart must yield, before passion can dominate over reason and iniquity triumph over truth and justice. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 6

You do not show in your business life the reality and genuineness of your religion. Satan says to you, “Do not be overscrupulous in regard to honor or honesty. Look out sharply for your own interest, and do not be whimsical in regard to notions of generosity and honor.” Although you should deny yourself, even to want and hunger and death, do not commit a dishonest act. “Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord, that walketh in His ways; for thou shalt eat the labor of thy hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.” [Psalm 128:1, 2.] 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 7

Your religious faith must elevate you above every low trick. Industry, faithfulness, a firm adherence to right and trust in God will ensure success. Move slowly, honestly, upon strictly Bible principles, or stop business. No bargain is ever made, no debt is ever paid, in which God is not concerned. He is the all-wise, eternal guardian of justice. You can never exclude God from any matter in which the rights of His people are involved. The hand of God is spread as a shield over all His creatures. No man can wound your rights without smiting that hand; you can wound no man’s rights without smiting it. That hand holds the sword of justice. Beware how you deal with men. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 8

The religion of Christ enjoins upon men to carry the pure principles of truth into their daily life, in buying and selling, in the transaction of all business, with as true a sense of religious obligation as that with which they offer to God their supplications. Business must not divert the soul from God. You should by your example demonstrate to the world that the truth of God sanctifies the receiver and produces industry, frugality, and perseverance, while it extirpates avarice, overreaching, and every species of dishonesty. You have not in time past dealt fairly and honorably with your workmen. Just dues have been withheld. The course which you have pursued to serve your own selfish purposes is nothing less than fraud. God cannot prosper you in such a course. The record of your daily business transactions is registered in heaven, and a much more accurate account is kept there than you keep in your books. You must work from an altogether different standpoint. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 9

When you are embarrassed, and an opportunity is presented to keep yourself from falling, you are still in danger of applying means not justly your own by retaining the wages of those who have worked for you. You should make it a practice to settle promptly with your workmen. By withholding their wages you put them to great inconvenience and cause them anxiety and fears to which they should not be subjected. Circumstances may make it necessary to do this sometimes, but put yourself to any and every inconvenience rather than to commit one wrong against those in your employ; and never be betrayed into withholding from workmen the full value of their services because it may be in your power to do so. The means they earn is not yours. You have their time; give them a full equivalent. Remember the woe pronounced upon all who do this. While you shall pursue a steady, undeviating course of integrity, connecting yourself with men who are connected with God, His hand will be over you for good, and He will open ways that your business may prove a success. But let not one stain, however slight, be attached to your name or to your character. Be right and do right; it will pay. Let your name be free from stain in the heavenly records, and you will at last have the “Well done” spoken to you by the Master. [Matthew 25:21.] 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 10

Nothing is worth so much to a young man just starting out in life as a reputation for unbending integrity. Patient continuance in well-doing is necessary for success. Promptness in everything is essential. Moments wasted by employer or employed are like the loss of grains of gold. Piety, health, and success all suffer by this indulgence. Reckoning the day at ten hours of active employment, one hour lost in bed or in indolence daily, makes a loss of six years in sixty. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 11

Every time a young man engages in business and fails, he sinks his reputation; and his honesty is always questioned. There are several reasons why you may become bankrupt. One is, you do not know your own financial standing and trust your business to others when you should look after it yourself. You should not trust your financial matters to scoundrels. This you are in danger of doing. You shift the burden from your own shoulders, and let it drop upon those who fear not God and at heart regard not man. How much means has been obtained from you by fraud, you will never know. You lose because you do not put your own personal labor into your work. You are more of a spectator, telling others what to do, and not attending, yourself, to your own legitimate business. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 12

You need soul-culture and a lively solicitude for the things that never pass away. Your light shining in your business life, exhibiting the power of practical godliness, is worth vastly more to all with whom you come in contact than sermons or creeds. The world will watch and criticize and take knowledge of you in the midst of your temporal affairs, with keenness and severity. What you say in the church is not of half as much consequence as what you do in your daily business. You carry with you an unfixedness of purpose contracted in early life, and you will never become what you might have been and what Providence designed you should be. In your business, everything is hanging at loose ends, and in uncertainty. You are not fitted to stand at the head. If every one agrees with you, you feel that things are moving along nicely. If there is one who discerns that there are faults in your management, and who is frank enough to tell you so, you feel no more harmony with that man and draw away from him. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 13

There is nothing before you but failure and defeat unless some decided business manager shall come in and control matters. There are no bounds to your wants. You hand out means for trifles, not stinting yourself, but getting, grasping, and withholding means from your workmen because you have the power to do so. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” [Leviticus 19:18.] Let all connected with you see that you are governed by that divine rule, instinct with wisdom and love, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” [Matthew 7:12.] In this way you may do much to exalt the truth by showing its sanctifying influence upon your own life and your own character. You know scarcely anything of denying your inclination. You have many imaginary wants, and your means go readily to supply them; yet you dole out to your workmen as though to beggars the means that has no more right in your pocket than in mine. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 14

There is not that ability in you that you will rise by dint of sheer exertion, working your way up, climbing step by step, systematizing and expanding. You are too hopeful; you see the incomes, but not the outgoes. You think you need a great deal more in the line of conveniences to carry on your business than the business will warrant. All such investments are eating up the capital. You must guard continually that you may not be led astray by the sight of your eyes. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 15

The work is before you, to be an overcomer. You, my brother, have in your short lifetime seen and known enough of the evils of an excited temper to lead you to weigh with care the words you utter. One harsh word calls forth another, just as fire kindles fire, until what was at first a spark bursts out into an uncontrollable flame. You need patience, meekness, and self-control. These are lessons of the highest consequence, which you are inexcusable in not learning. While you should be resolute and unflinching, firm as a rock to principle, you should ever manifest forbearance and love. Rudeness is not essential to energy; neither is a dictatorial spirit. The government of your temper is your own work. In whatever situation you may be placed, you will meet with much that will conflict with your feelings and put your disposition to a severe test. But nothing can injure you if you keep your own spirit pure and true and elevated. The wise King Solomon placed the control of self higher than the victories gained by the most successful heroes. There is a moral dignity and power in being calm in the midst of trouble, patient under provocation. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” [Proverbs 16:32.] 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 16

You should be careful whom you trust. Brother Jenson is a man who has the fear of God before him. He is subject to like passions as other men, but he is true and conscientious, and is a faithful worker, a man of sterling integrity. While there is with him a disposition to find fault and be dissatisfied, there is also a disposition to see his faults and confess them. He has said many plain things concerning your affairs that were true, and yet it was not wise to mention them before the hands in your employ. He felt irritated over your loose management of business, and the bad influence exerted by some of the hands. But he is a far safer business manager than yourself. He becomes impatient; speaks from an impetuous temper; and creates enemies by doing this. Brother Jenson saw and felt what Brother King did not see and feel; his soul was grieved and stirred to its depths by the jesting and profanity he had to hear day after day. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 17

Brother King, you have much to learn before you can be successful; and one great lesson is to discern between the sacred and the common. Your feelings in reference to Brother Jenson were too strong; had the same feelings been exercised toward those who were cruel, blasphemers, and dissipated characters, had you expelled them from your employ, you would have been working in the right direction; your burden would have been more in accordance with the mind of Christ. All such dissipated hands have been serving Satan with all their might. They do not possess honor and integrity, and you will be involved through all such help. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 18

These persons attract the company of evil angels, and you mix up this polluted set with those who have a disposition to be right and to fear God, and you place them under continual temptation. The hearing of the low, vile language and profanity stains your own morals, corrupts you, although you may not be aware of the fact. It leaves its impression upon the minds of all who remain in the atmosphere of this degrading influence. Such a mixture of the precious and the vile is offensive to God, and when your spiritual sensibilities are as tender and keen as they should be, you will not need that I should write these words. There is a moral lack in yourself or you could not endure such an influence and would not consent to place others in such a polluted atmosphere. You are doing an injury to all your employees who are of decent habits and moral integrity. That which may appear to you gain will be a sad loss in the end. You need your heart brought into closer connection with God; then you will be shocked to hear His name taken into polluted lips. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 19

Your sensitiveness in regard to Brother Jenson, while you have tolerated this joking and profanity, is against you. It does not present a good feature in your Christian character. Your workshop should be as pure a place as you can make it. If you are continually connected with God, you will repress with calm determination any spirit of coarse vulgarism, profanity, or even too great an amount of jesting among your workmen, while you remember that these same sinners are the purchase of the blood of Christ, and should be treated as such, and with tender concern for their souls. They should be placed under the very best circumstances to form characters which God can approve. You will be accountable for the influences with which you surround them. You must learn that your best friends are those what tell you the truth. Men may, from selfish motives, fawn upon you and praise you; but they are the worst enemies you can have. You must not regard as your enemy every man who does not meet you with smiles. No one can degrade our character as we degrade it ourselves when we indulge in passion or faultfinding and censure. A petulant man knows not what it is to be happy. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 20

God will help you; you may be a successful overcomer; but you must make thorough work in your own heart through Jesus Christ our Lord. You can, through effort and the discipline of self, achieve precious victories; but you must be earnest, persevering, and continuous in your efforts. If you would make a success in business, you must give it your personal attention, not now and then, but continuously. You must show personal activity yourself. Your time is of value, and it may be used to the very best account to your own profit. If you rely upon Him for grace, He will impart it. You need more devotion to God, more living, active faith; distrust self, but have firm confidence in God. The Lord is proving you; if you are faithful in the things of this life, you will be faithful in the things of the future life. You should set your mark high and be satisfied with no low standard. God will bless all your efforts put forth in His strength. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 21

You must not show weakness and vacillation, for this will never secure respect for your Christian profession. In order to do men good, you must inspire them with confidence in your piety. If you show that you are sincere, earnest, and steadfast; at all times and in all places the same consistent, unshaken follower of Jesus, you will have the confidence of those whom you employ. If you reflect the image of Christ in your workshop as well as in the house of worship, you will have influence; your light will shine forth to the world, and they, by seeing your good works, will glorify your Father which is in heaven. God requires you to make the most of your opportunities and privileges to perfect a Christian character which will command the respect of unbelievers. You may be instrumental in their salvation; you may win them to Christ. You have ability if sanctified; you can be useful and a blessing to the world. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 22

Many seem to think that when they are converted from error to truth, the work there ends. This is a fatal error. They have just commenced the arduous struggle for holiness and heaven. This struggle must be lifelong and should be prosecuted with that earnest, persevering, untiring energy which the immense interest involved demands. Eternal life is worth every effort which you can put forth. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 23

Dear Brother King, you feel the pressure of care and of perplexity, and instead of arming yourself like a man, you give up to feelings. You should be willing to learn, be a patient learner, and seek to control your feelings. You give up to a reckless, desperate spirit when your path is obstructed. This does not remove difficulties; it does not give you an experience in surmounting obstacles, nor give you victories under temptation, but makes you weak and powerless. You may cultivate traits of character the opposite of those which you have developed. God will help you in the work. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1879, par. 24