Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)

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Lt 5, 1877

Chittenden, Charles

Oakland, California

May 9, 1877

Portions of this letter are published in TDG 138; 1BC 1094-1095; 2SM 329-330; CTr 85.

Dear Bro. Chittenden:

I have just been reading the testimony sent to you more than two years ago. I had forgotten the particulars of the testimony, therefore sent for it that I might read it. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 1

I have had a dream, which I related to you, which you may not remember, for I do not think these things have any great weight upon your surfeited mind. I wish to do all my duty, that I may be clear in the day of God from the blood of your soul. I dreamed I was wondering why you were so much away from your home and your family, and from the house of God on the Sabbath, and absent from the prayer meeting. In a moment I was on board your boat. There was a jovial class of men, talking and laughing, joking and card-playing. You were one with them. I saw the tables prepared with a quality of food to meet the vitiated appetite of the company. I heard them call for liquor. I looked up in astonishment to hear your voice, Charlie Chittenden, a professed disciple of Christ, professedly looking for and hasting unto His appearing, say, “Here, gentlemen.” Wine of different kinds was placed before them, and they partook of it, and you drank with them. To just that degree that you imbibed the liquor was your mind and judgment, your perceptive faculties, perverted. You felt good with the rest. You dishonored God in your words and actions as the rest. You were a disgrace to the Christian name. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 2

The young man who has so many times explained to me my dreams spoke to you and said, “Eating and drinking with the drunkard.” How have you treated the warning sent you of God to warn you to shun this society? God has given you light, but you have turned from it and chosen darkness rather than light. You have been wise in your own conceits, and imagined that you could get along quite well of yourself, that you could discern coming evils and shun them. You have despised counsel that warned you of danger in reference to your sailor life. You have thought they did not know what they were talking about. What did they know about boats? God has understood your danger and graciously warned you that you might not incur His displeasure and involve yourself in troubles and misfortunes which will mar and blot your life and that of your family. This young man asked, “Who bought those bottles of drink?” Said you, “I bought them for I could not get companions to sail with me unless I pleased their appetites in this respect.” 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 3

This is sufficient evidence that you are not pleasing God, and that you are placing yourself on Satan’s field of temptation. You are making a fearful sacrifice to gratify your inordinate love of being on the water. If this is your choice before doing the work which God would have you do, you will not long be allowed to pursue your course. You will lose both worlds. God will not be trifled with. You are a commandment-breaker. You profane the Sabbath of the fourth commandment in order to please yourself and profligate men. God accepts no divided heart. You are becoming, in spirit, in appetite, and in your taste, like the company you choose and enjoy far more than that of your wife and children. Your ideas of Christian character and of the claims of God are becoming more and more perverted. The atmosphere you breathe is polluted. The society you choose is corrupted, and you are defiled. Your spirit is impure, for it is impossible for you to place yourself in such society where Satan’s angels are reveling around and remain pure and uncorrupted. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 4

God has expressly warned you, but you have shown you despise that warning; for since it was given you, you have gone deeper into the evil than before. You have corrupted your ways before God. You have neglected to be warned. God will not bear always. Unless there is an entire transformation of character with you at once, and you connect yourself with Heaven and separate yourself from the society you have learned to love, you will make shipwreck of faith. Already the truth has but little charms for you. Its luster to you has become dim. Now is your day of privileges. Now is your day of opportunities. Soon your day will be past as surely as was Esau’s. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 5

I have, since this dream, had another. I dreamed you were again using tobacco. I thought that these miserable habits, once overcome, were being taken up by you and that you were going back, step by step, to darkness, selling your soul at a cheap market. But I will now ask you, Charlie Chittenden, what do you propose to do? You stand in imminent peril. With you there is a right way and a wrong way. If you continue to choose the wrong way, your course will be cut short by the judgments of God. In pursuing the wrong course, however you may imagine, under the fascination of the old serpent, that you have enjoyment, you will ere long discover it is dearly bought, and when too late, you will discern you have been satisfied with embracing a gilded shadow, filled with human woe, while the actual happiness is far from you. You are separating yourself from God. You are choosing your own pleasure at the expense of eternal life. I would speak to you as to a brother. I would warn, advise, and counsel you as one deeply interested in your welfare and prosperity. I appeal to your reason, your good sense, and advise you, in the fear of God, to do the things which will preserve to you refinement of mind and manners, and preserve to yourself true happiness. I warn you, as a mother would her son, to avoid those things which will endanger your morals, involve you in disgrace through the cultivation of perverted appetite. You are every day wearing away the links which bind you to God and the higher life. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 6

I commit these few pages to you as an ambassador of Christ. Beware lest you turn from the warning given. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 7

In love. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 8

*****

Dear Bro. Chittenden:

I have been shown some things in regard to your case, which is not pleasing to God. You have a work to do for yourself which no other can do for you. God has committed to you, my dear brother, talents which from inaction you are letting rust. You might do good in using your abilities to the best account in the cause of God. Individual effort is needed from all who love the cause of God. Earnest, thorough-going Calebs are needed to press to the front and bear responsibilities. But while you are allowing your mind to be engrossed with your boat and your love of the water, you cannot be engaged in doing the very work that is suffering to be done to build up the cause of present truth. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 9

A man of very small talent becomes a leading mind as soon as his heart is fully consecrated to God. He is so hearty and so earnest in the cause of God, he follows Jesus so thoroughly, that he carries others along with him by sheer momentum. Godliness and heart power will have a telling influence upon the cause of God. Individual effort of working members of the church who will never plead, “I pray thee, have me excused” [Luke 14:18, 19], but will with earnest endeavor seek to build up the church, will accomplish more than pulpit effort without this necessary labor. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 10

Bro. Chittenden, you are not training the mind and improving your abilities that you might make thorough and intelligent efforts to win souls to Christ. Labor of just such men as you is wanted. The time that you could devote to the work of God your mind is diverted from the important work for this time by your love of boats, and to be on the water. This love is increasing and is becoming an absorbing passion. You follow your inclination to the neglect of duties in your family. You deprive your wife and children of your society when it would make them very happy to have you with them, interested in their welfare and happiness. Your wife has claims upon you that you do not realize. It is not right for you to pursue a course of indulging your inclination at your wife’s expense. She loves you, and your absence from her causes her great anxiety for your safety, and is telling upon her nerves, and making her prematurely old. You have a good wife, but she is acquainted with sorrows in her past life. You love your wife and children, but you are so ardently attached to your boat, and so desirous of being upon the water, that you do not consider the loneliness of your wife and children while you are from them so much. Your wife cannot feel at rest, for she knows the water is treacherous. You purchase pleasure and enjoyment to yourself at considerable pain and suffering to your wife. You are too much infatuated with your sailor life. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 11

God is willing we should be happy. He wants to see us happy, but we are not to obtain happiness at another’s expense; neither to let our desire for change and enjoyment absorb our minds so fully that eternal and sacred things are made secondary. Your pleasure comes first, and the necessities of the cause second. You place yourself under an influence thoroughly worldly. Your influence encourages worldly associates and worldly pleasure. It is a solemn time in which we live, my brother, and you should not encourage habits and tastes that will separate you from God. You need now to be benefited more than amused. Many amusements do not increase our spirituality, but are positively injurious, for they bring no strength to the soul, and they do withdraw the thoughts from God and Heaven. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 12

There are many souls to be saved. Time is fleeting. Golden opportunities are passing. The Spirit will help our infirmities, and the grace of God will qualify us to live useful lives. We have a work to do for the Master, to gather souls to Him. We cannot afford to turn aside from this great work to while away the hours which might be to some soul the hour of repentance and salvation. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 13

God gives to men gracious opportunities to improve their abilities. Books and tracts, and, above all, the Bible, invite the careful study of all, that they may become intelligent upon the most important of subjects which will reveal their duty in this life, and give them a correct knowledge of how to prepare for the better life than this. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 14

There is too much yielding to desire and inclination for present enjoyment. There is not that earnest soul hunger for spiritual strength and heavenly wisdom. Temptations are yielded to, the appetite is gratified, and there is a separation from God. You, my dear brother, can become an instrument of great good, if you improve your abilities to the glory of God. But in order to do what you might, you must train the mind. Learn the trade. Discipline yourself, and in Sabbath schools and in meetings you can be of essential benefit. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 15

You remember the case of Esau. He passed the crisis in his life without knowing it. What he regarded as a matter worthy of scarcely a thought was the act which revealed the prevailing traits in his character. It showed his choices, showed his true estimate of that which was sacred and which should have been sacredly cherished. He sold his birthright for a small indulgence to meet his present wants, and this determined the aftercourse of his life. To Esau a morsel of meat was more than the service of his Master. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 16

Men are prone to forget God and unguardedly place themselves where temptations constantly assail them. Spiritual advantages and religious privilege may appear sometimes very small; yet in our absence or in our delays we may miss an interview with Jesus as did Thomas, who was not present when Jesus met with the disciples. All can do a work for God, and they must be minutemen, not off duty, for they may be needed. Words spoken, an act performed, at the right moment, may balance a soul in favor of truth and save him to life eternal. A small rope will bring a ship safe to land. So it is with souls. Influences which may seem to be small and of no special account may, if exerted aright, attract souls to Jesus, while the minister’s labor would not touch the heart. Personal, individual effort, gentle words spoken with a heart of yearning tenderness, will disarm opposition and remove prejudice. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 17

It is a blessed privilege to be connected with Heaven, to have an ear sensitive to catch the first tones that come from Heaven, and a heart softened and subdued to respond to the voice, “Here am I, Lord, send me.” [Isaiah 6:8.] Bro. Chittenden, now is our sowing time; the reaping time is soon to come. We shall reap only that which we have sown. If we have sown to the flesh, we shall reap only corruption; if we sow to the Spirit, we shall reap life everlasting. Our spirit must be in sympathy with God. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 18

Bro. Chittenden, you might today have had a capital of means to use in case of emergency, and to aid the cause of God, if you had economized as you should. Every week a portion of your wages should be reserved, and in no case touched unless suffering actual want, or to render back to the Giver in offerings to God. You have been favored by your employers, but this may not always last. The good will may change, and your kind friends may disappoint your expectations, but Heaven is ever true. If you invest in the heavenly treasure, you will have that investment secure. But your investment in boats is not sure and may disappoint your most ardent hopes. You flatter yourself that you will make a success of schemes you enter into, but the Lord knows whether your plans will have a tendency to wean your heart from Him, and He may try you by disappointing your ardent hopes. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 19

Is God pleased with the disposition you make of your time and money? How much, through careful economy, have you invested in the bank of Heaven? Now is our day of trust. The Master has lent you and me talents to improve for the benefit of souls and for His glory. He has given you physical and mental capabilities to acquire means; but the means you have earned have not been wisely and economically expended so as to have a margin should you be sick, and your family deprived of the means you bring to sustain them. Your family should have something to rely upon if you should be brought into straitened places. Means have slipped through your fingers in various ways that you do not realize. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 20

Jesus taught His disciples lessons of economy. “Gather up the fragments,” He said, “that nothing be lost.” [John 6:12.] God varies the talents He entrusts us with, according to our capabilities. To one He gave five, to another two, and to another one talent. The man that had the one talent put it in a napkin and hid it in the earth. He did not improve it. He buried his talent in the world, and he was denounced for so doing. “Take ye the talent from him,” said the Master, “and give it to him who has improved and doubled his talents, and take ye the unprofitable servant, and cast him into outer darkness,” etc. [Matthew 25:28.] 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 21

There is danger of your burying your talent in boats and on the water. Your Master has need of you. He calls you to follow Him, and not needlessly expend time and strength that He demands. Unto all of us are committed talents or some peculiar gift which is our trust, for which we are required to make returns. The talents of trust are not given to merely a favored few of superior genius or mental capabilities, or to those only who have a large amount of money. Both high and low, rich and poor, have committed to them talents of influence and of means to be employed to the glory of God. We should not make light or underestimate the smallest gifts. We all have a capital of some sort, either in physical strength or mental endowments, not to be left to rust from inaction, but to be exercised, strengthened, and enlarged by use. These sacred trusts the Master will call for by and by. Have they been increasing by use? Have they been doubling, or rusting from inaction? By diligent improvement of the talents God has given us we may greatly increase them, even to doubling them. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 22

As God has given us varied trusts, He expects corresponding returns. Some have five talents and by putting them to use receive returns. Some have two talents and move in a humbler sphere, consequently having less influence; but if these work in earnest love, their reward will be according to the spirit with which the work was done, rather than the great amount performed. They have done to the best of their ability, and according to what they had. God marks their fidelity. None need lament that they cannot honor God with talents He has not given them; for they will not be held responsible for what they never had. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 23

Bro. Chittenden, you have special qualities, in a marked degree, which God can accept, if sanctified to Him. You are highly social. But you love excitement, for your temperament is impulsive. You will be in danger of moving hastily and without proper forethought if you are not guarded. But men of your ardent temperament may be of great service if they are ever balanced by the Spirit of God. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 24

Christ said to Peter, “Follow Me. I will make you a fisher of men.” [Matthew 4:19.] It was as difficult for Peter to change his natural inclination and love for boats and for the water as it is for you. He had followed fishing for a living thus far during his lifetime. And frequently his love for boats and for the water called him from his Saviour’s side to his favorite occupation, but he would come from his boat disappointed and weary, for he had taken no fish. The Lord did not prosper Peter in this. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 25

You love the truth, but your natural love of boats and the water gains the mastery over you. You are infatuated and hardly sane upon this matter. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 26

You have thought that if you were in this or that place you could do a great work for the Master. But God only requires you to do what you can, and leave the result with Him. If you do the best in your power to do good with the ability God has already given you, your improvement will appear to all. You cannot expect to gain spiritual sinew and muscle without exercising the ability God has given you. You want to cultivate your understanding, that you may make the most of your privileges, and use them to the very best account. You may strengthen the intellectual powers by exercising them. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 27

If you are much in the society of pleasure-lovers, those whose minds are cast in an inferior mold, who have dwarfed the intellect by dwelling too much upon dress and in overindulgence in pleasure, it will be a miracle if your mind does not gradually, and imperceptibly to yourself, sympathize with them, and your soul feel the barrenness occasioned by such associations. Intercourse with the free and careless pleasure-lovers will affect your life and character. Never be a co-worker with any class of levity, pleasure-seekers, in wasting the precious hours of probation which were given you and them for higher, holier purposes. Your study should be to educate yourself, train the mind, to bring into exercise the powers which God has lent you to be employed to His glory. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 28

Every faculty is susceptible of the highest improvement. Your abilities should be exercised and strengthened and directed to do the greatest amount of good. You do not bear the responsibilities you can bear in connection with the church. You have not felt that God required of you to render yourself useful, to the very best of your ability, in seeking to bring souls to Jesus. You may never be called to speak the truth in the desk, but you may do much good, with the time that is now devoted to boats and water, in visiting those who need help. There are souls convicted of the truth. If you should labor for and with these in conversation and in prayer as earnestly and energetically as you labor with your boat and to ride upon the water, these souls who are now in great darkness would be rejoicing in the truth. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 29

The mind must expand and strengthen by exercise, and wherever your mind is turned and upon whatever it dwells the most, in that direction it becomes the strongest. If you exercise aright the ability you already possess, your usefulness will strengthen and increase, and you will grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth, and can do more, far more, than you have done, to win souls to Christ. Boats and water have absorbed your attention and taken the place, sometimes, of God. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 30

You should invest your means differently from what you have done. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 31

Dear Bro. Chittenden, you love the truth and desire to see the cause of God prosper. But the same energy and perseverance and zeal manifested to the end that a house should be built for the worship of God would have met with the best results. But those who thought they had no means to invest in a house of worship could have worked and prayed in faith and stirred up those who could have done something with their means. Christian zeal in a good work will do much to bring about the desired object. Christian zeal is greatly lacking. We see a world lying in wickedness, exposed to God’s wrath; and love for souls will seek to save the erring and win them to Christ. Christian zeal is not a mere casual emotion, but is deep, earnest, strong. A settled principle pervades the entire being. The whole soul is aglow with love to God. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 32

Sister Chittenden should preserve her precious strength; she will need it. She should not waste time in needless ornamentation for show, but should dress her children and herself in plain apparel, without ruffles or needless stitching, and improve her mind and use her influence to bless others. God will remember every good work done to His servants. Not a good deed will lose its reward. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 33

But Satan is very active, laying his snares for our souls. He will crowd us into difficult places, annoy our peace, harass and perplex to the extent of his power. We need a strong hold on God, and while clinging to the Mighty One we should watch for souls as those who must give an account. The eternal reward awaits the faithful overcomer. Press to the mark of the prize. Jesus will guide you safely through if you trust in Him. 3LtMs, Lt 5, 1877, par. 34