Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)


Lt 52, 1876

Cornell, M. E.



Portions of this letter are published in TSB 168-171; 3SM 53.

Brother [M. E.] Cornell:

In the last vision given me, your case was presented before me. I have been waiting to see if you had a tender, sensitive, or a seared conscience. I have had the following written out for a long time but have thought I would wait till you made some move yourself. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 1

I was shown that you have not lived up to the light. You have departed far from the light. The Lord has been following you with reproofs and counsel to preserve you from ruining your own soul and from bringing a reproach upon His cause. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 2

I was shown that you have been retrograding rather than advancing and growing in grace and the knowledge of the truth. You have not had a multitude of cares. You have no excuse why you should not have become thoroughly intelligent in doctrinal and practical subjects combined. But you have been losing what ability you have had in teaching the doctrines which substantiate our faith. You have made girls and women the theme of thought, rather than the Word of God. Your mind has been restless and dissatisfied if it could not be occupied with girls and women. You could not relish the study of the Word of God while your thoughts have been upon subjects which war against the soul. There is no excuse for your life of folly. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 3

From what has been shown me you are a transgressor of the seventh commandment. How then can your mind be in harmony with the precious Word of God, truths which cut you at every turn? If you had been betrayed into this folly unwittingly it would be more excusable, but you have not. You have been warned. You have been reproved and counseled. You have apparently received the reproof, but not in heart sufficient to die to the carnal mind. You have not set to work to eradicate the evil. You have soon lost the smart of the chastening rod of the Lord, and rush on in as great foolishness as ever, like a fool to the correction of stocks. Your love for self-indulgence has become a warring lust. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 4

You love the society of girls and women. During a series of meetings you have allowed your mind to plan and contrive how you can get into the society of young girls or women and not betray your true feelings. You will run into temptation when you have not moral power to resist temptation. Your mind is constantly impure because the fountain is never cleansed. You have found no delight in diligent, careful searching of the Scriptures. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 5

You have not superior genius and have not made great attainments in any department of science or literature. You cannot afford to lose the opportunities you now have of cultivating your mind and refining your manners. You have sinned against great light. God has erected the barriers of testimonies as a wall about you, to guard you from falling under the specious wiles of the enemy, but you break all these down and press over everything to follow your inclination. Your sorrow for your sins is like that of those who anciently rent their garments to express their grief but did not afflict their souls. You have not a correct sense of what sin is. You have not sensed the aggravating character of unchastity of thought and actions. Your mind is carnal and that almost continually. If you really were sorry for your sins, if you really had a true sense of your wrongs, you would exercise that repentance that needeth not to be repented of. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 6

I desire now to state facts. I have been shown that your life and your labors in the cause of God for some years have been a greater injury to the precious cause of present truth than a benefit. Had you had no part in this work, and been separated entirely from it, you would have saved much heart sorrow to those who love the cause of God, and you would have saved them much hard labor which has been forced upon them to counteract your wrong influence. The labor that has been required to get you right and to keep you from disgracing the cause, had it been spent in converting souls from error to truth—and had the laborers had nothing whatever to do in regard to you—the interest and strength of the cause of present truth would stand better today in California as well as in the East. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 7

Satan has made you his agent to carry out his mind. The great stir and great excitement you have made in discussions from time to time, and the apparent success you have had, has built you up in your own self-righteousness. Allowing you to labor as you have been permitted to labor when your heart was not right with God has done you great injury. You have not searched your own heart and afflicted your soul before God. You have felt too lightly your terrible mistakes in the past. Everything has been done to save you from utter disgrace and ruin. You have been patiently borne with, and when wholly unfit for the sacred work, in order to save your soul you have been permitted to continue your labors while hearts have groaned and ached under the burden of your foolish, sinful course. Had you been left to yourself long ago, till you gave the evidence that God was indeed with you and that you were a thoroughly reformed man, you might now be of some use in this solemn work. But I saw that we were risking altogether too much in encouraging you to go out to labor to convert sinners to Christ when your way has been polluted before God, your heart all stained with sins. The true servants of God are judged to be like yourself. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 8

No longer should you mar the work of God with your corrupt, your carnal heart, and thus miserably represent the cause of present truth. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 9

In order for you to do good you must live a new life that is in harmony with God. Your perverse nature has not been transformed. You are not at peace with God or with yourself. You are in bondage to the great adversary of souls, in subjection to the old man of sin. You are not a free man in Christ. There is needed a spiritual change in you before God can work with you. You may argue that you have success as you labor. So do many who are at war with God have a measure of success. If some do embrace the truth, [because] the arguments you use are so convincing, it is no evidence you are in a state of even acceptance with God. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 10

You do not believe that you have really deserved the censure of your brethren. You have (I was shown) felt that Elder Loughborough was exacting and hard upon you. You talk this out when you think it will do. You talked it to Elder Butler on your way across the Pacific plains and he felt his sympathy aroused for you. Oh, how little did he discern, how little did he know of your course, your set, willful course in San Francisco with Mrs. Harris, your deceptive course there and the great labor brought upon us to place you in the confidence of the people! The jealousies and surmisings in San Francisco in regard to my husband and myself because we had to speak plainly, the great difficulties under which we have had to labor because of your wicked course! If only it had stopped there—but it did not. You felt for a little time the evil of your course, but not as fully as you should [as to] how you had been deceived by Satan, infatuated; and your eyes never did have the mist fully removed from them. You humbled your heart before God and He accepted your humiliation. You soon became careless again, and allowed your mind to become again filled with vain and impure imaginings. You were a little more cautious, but full of deception. Your mind was active to invent means to gain your object. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 11

Love of praise has been the mainspring of your life and when stern facts are presented before you, and you know that they are truth, instead of setting resolutely at work to reform, you appeal to your own sympathies, excuse your errors, and flatter yourself that you are misjudged and abused, and you seek to gather sympathy to yourself. It is yourself that is generally the theme of conversation, yesterday, today, and forever. You insinuate yourself into the sympathies of soft and sympathetic women and they become easy victims to your desire for personal conquest, and you have inwardly triumphed at your ability to win personal power over weak and impressible women. You have excused your loose, lax conduct under the plea of great love for the females. The power of great passion has been your apology for vice. Your life has been a shame—nothing in it of which you might glory. You have had great depression if you were not strained up to some excitement and had not some girl or woman to attract you and to listen to your troubles in regard to your wife. Shame, shame should cover you for your course. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 12

While holding tent meetings, instead of connecting yourself with God that His Spirit may imbue you, it has been your nature to get some girls and women to associate with. This has been your effort on the sly. You have even slipped away secretly to get in the company of girls or women, and then put on appearance of sickness and encouraged them to wait on you. Your sickness has been affected and imaginary in a considerable degree, and you have fallen so readily into these indulgences or luxury of sickness that it has become habit. You draw upon the sympathies of others when, if you would go out of the company of women and go to work like a sensible man, you would have health. You have petted your passions and cultivated them rather than restrained them. You have indulged a fretful, peevish spirit. When your way was crossed [you would] get into a contradiction with others, combating them and revealing your true littleness of soul to them in your impatience and whining and complaining and appealing for sympathy. This course has been demoralizing upon others. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 13

Are you the man to feel injured? Are you the one to feel that you have been ill-treated when the things we have known have been concealed and excused, while you have been a terrible burden and grievous reproach to the cause of God? These complainings show you almost void of conscience. If your case were fully understood, men of God, as well as men of moral worth, of nerve and muscle and common sense, would hold you in supreme contempt. You have for years been dwarfing your mind intellectually. It is impossible for a man to subject his mind to such dissipation of thought without receiving damage of character. He can have no elevated, ennobling social relation or home influence. Self-gratification is the motive of action. A man disconnected from God, with natural tendencies which you possess, and which have for years been cultivated, is a weak creature indeed, and it takes a most constant and powerful influence to keep him in the path of rectitude and religious duties, to keep his mind elevated in sympathy with the grand, solemn truths for this time, and to develop a character for the higher and immortal life. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 14

Your course in Napa was shown me. Your influence there has told upon others with fearful results. Souls have been turned from the truth by your course. Your gathering the sympathies of women to yourself has awakened jealousies and hatred in the minds of their husbands, which has led them to despise your name. Your sickness at the young Brother Cummery’s [?], calling for attention from his wife in her feebleness, was simply ridiculous. You were better able to take care of yourself than she was to take care of you. You eat and sit still, full of flesh and without physical exercise. The blood was sluggish. What you needed was work—stern labor that would accelerate the blood in your system. You had fever because you loved to eat rich food. You pampered your appetite, and were too lazy to wait on yourself. I wish I could make you feel how God regards such a course as you pursued at Napa. And yet you professed to be a representative of Jesus Christ. Circumstances and actions were revealed to me which if you desire I can name. Never complain of being misused. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 15

If you hear of reports in regard to your conduct you need not be surprised. You have hurt the church at Napa so that they may never outgrow it. Your loose example to young girls, in your conversation with them, your levity of conduct, your lazy habits, have all had their influence upon that church. Cummery [?] is aping your course in some things. He is very attentive to one or more girls, growing out of the feelings he had in reference to your being in his house and so closely associated with his wife. You have had no sense of the fitness of things or of real propriety. Your visiting a sister—a grass widow, I believe—sister to Sister Pond, your intimacy with her I saw; and your course, your conversation with several of the sisters, I was made to hear, and your seeking to engage them to yourself. This is more in harmony with Utah than anything I can compare it to. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 16

My soul is stirred within me. I shall not now give all particulars of this past. But I will not varnish over your case. You are in a fearful state and you need to be entirely transformed. I must say, I never expect that this will take place. I never expect you to do differently from what you have done. I have no hope in your case. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 17

Things have been opened before me which astonish me, notwithstanding I have from time to time had some things revealed in regard to your character before. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 18

I was shown, away back, your character in youth. You did not lay the foundation for a virtuous character. You followed inclination, you followed the bent of your own mind. You loved yourself. You were very exacting, very pettish and fretful. Had your morals in your youth been unsullied, you could then, with some hope of ultimate success, have built upon a virtuous character, the graces which Peter specifies. “Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 19

Like the wall the mason is building, one brick is added to another and thus the wall goes up proportional and firm. Peter’s ladder of eight rounds is the true sanctification we must all attain. We cannot be sanctified by a mere profession of faith. We must work. We must act for ourselves. We must build. If we add, God will multiply His grace unto us. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 20

Your youth was not pure. Your life was lax and loose and immoral. The cornerstone which holds the entire building together was rotten and decaying; therefore, anything built upon this foundation is not durable. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 21

How hard for vicious habits of youth to be overcome! Familiarity with self-indulgence and acquaintance with sin has such a polluting influence upon the principles that it is a difficult matter to overcome the stamp of character received in youth. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 22

Your mind has been cast in an inferior mold which has given form to your entire life. But if, since you professed the truth, you had educated the mind to bring into exercise the powers which God has given you in a manner to do the greatest amount of good and to glorify God, you would not be dwarfed in mind and barren in soul as you now are. You might have cultivated your faculties and restrained your self-love, your self-esteem, your impatience, your babyish fretfulness, and by working in the opposite direction you might have strengthened and developed energies of soul, a noble character which would qualify you to be indeed a minister of righteousness. You have not cared to study of late, and you have less ability to present subjects forcibly before the people than you had years ago. You are far from being an able workman. You are dwarfing every year instead of expanding. Your mind would strengthen and expand by exercise. But you have strengthened the animal propensities and the Lord has departed from you. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 23

Each of our varied faculties has its distinct purpose in God’s wise economy. Let these powers be perverted or turned out of the proper direction and the ends for which they are designed are defeated. You have an ill-balanced mind. Your attainments might have been now much greater than they are, but your life has been wasted in whining, complaining, and petting yourself, indulging but not denying yourself, until God despises your course. You are not naturally endowed with very great intellectual powers or genius, but the faculties you do possess, properly cultivated, would have carried forward from strength to strength until you would have so educated and trained your powers to bear the strongest test. Now you have but little experience, but little moral power. You have indulged and compromised with your animal propensities until they have become a warring lust and your faculties have been perverted. In order for you to be of any special use you have to do a great deal of hard thinking and hard studying, and earnest praying and diligent watching thereunto. Your supreme love of M. E. Cornell has led to indulgence which has made your life a fearful mistake, for you have done little else but serve yourself while you have professed to be laboring for God. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 24

These are straight things to say to you, but I cannot withhold them. And I expect they will arouse you for a few days and then you will go on just as before as soon as the first impression wears away. I have no confidence in you as a Christian. God forbid I should acknowledge you as a servant of Jesus Christ when you serve yourself, your carnal mind, rather than the law of God. I should not be sorry to learn that you had given up the truth any day because you are more of a stumblingblock to sinners than a faithful watchman. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 25

I have been shown you in different attitudes with women which I will not now relate. I wait for you to empty your soul and make, if it is possible, thorough confession. You have insinuated yourself into the affection and thoughts of others, and how many minds you have corrupted you have but little idea, and care less. God has marked your course. He never forgets. You have not been sanctified by the truth you have preached to others. The truth in the heart is diffusive, sanctifying the life. It takes hold upon the affections and is carried out in every department of life. You profess the truth but do not live it. To be sanctified through the truth is to have its influence pervade the entire being, controlling the affections and the external conduct. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 26

There are those—and you belong to that class—who seem to think that religion consists merely in emotions and beliefs. You can talk upon the most solemn, affecting truths of the gospel sometimes with real earnestness, and dwell upon the decline of religion, the evils existing in the different religious bodies, and show considerable intelligence, while the everyday duties of life requiring action are not considered among the weightier matters of the law. You do not act in harmony with your preaching. You are more like a spoiled child, fretful and irritated and speaking and acting just as you happen to feel. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 27

You ought to be intelligent upon the reasons of our faith, but many subjects you have no interest in and will not touch some of these subjects that are of vital importance to our faith and present position. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 28

You might now be an able workman if you had cultivated the intellect as thoroughly as you have the acquaintance of young ladies and married women. If the time you have spent in writing letters to these had been devoted to the close searching of the Scriptures with earnest prayer, oh, what an amount of good you might have done! What a laborer you might now be! The time you have spent in foolish chit-chat, in levity and nonsense, is a disgrace to you. If you had only spent a portion of this time in laboring with your hands and in becoming thorough master of the doctrinal as well as practical subjects, you could do a great amount of good. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 29

Your life has been much of it squandered. You have at times labored hard, and then have fallen under temptation and done more injury than ten men could counteract, because an evil deed seems to do so great an amount of positive harm, for our enemies will seize upon it and as far as possible extend it and make that wrong a powerful influence against not only the doer but the cause which the man represents. Oh, if you had only talked and fretted and complained less and spent your time and strength in prayer, what advantages you might have gained! But you have opened wide the door of your heart and invited Satan in to tempt and bind you with fetters of darkness. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 30

You have had set before you time and again the strong tendencies of your nature which you are prone to indulge. You have been guarded by warnings of the strong points in your character which need to be repressed and the weak points which need to be strengthened by exercise. You have put on the appearance of a martyr, complained of aches and pain and infirmities that were almost wholly in consequence of indulging your appetite, and then not laboring or having physical exercise to quicken the circulation of the blood. You are too thoroughly self-indulgent for your own good. You have made public your home troubles, which should never have been introduced into California, for the purpose of gaining sympathy. The knowledge of your troubles could not spiritualize any mind. You stirred human feelings and aroused human sympathy and made yourself the subject of thought and diverted minds from the truth and away from Jesus. Unhallowed sympathy led the ladies and married women to write you, although they did not know this. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 31

Oh, how little have you cared to look into the mirror, the law of God, and there discern the defects in your moral character! “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was, but whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the word, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:22-27. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 32

If it is wrong to be a hearer of the Word and not a doer, how much more grievous in the sight of God to be a teacher of the Word and not a doer of the same! How little have you grieved over your wrongs! Until you view sin as it is, all your knowledge of the truth, all your efforts to proclaim the truth will result only in injury to the cause of God, even if you make a great stir and the minds of the people are excited. Your being under the control of Satan in a very great degree, you will lack that wisdom which cometh from above and you will be left to yourself to make moves that will eventually result in more harm than all the apparent good you have done. Your unconsecrated heart, your unsanctified life, will be so developed as to reproach the cause of God in the end. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 33

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. You have not searched carefully to find out whether the scriptural doctrine of natural depravity applies to your case. You remain in willing ignorance of your guilt and of your danger of making shipwreck of faith. You are professedly keeping the commandments of God while you are continually violating them. You know you have brought reproach upon the cause of God. You know that the only course for you to pursue is to humble yourself before God and walk in integrity before Him. Let that disagreeable expression pass from your countenance. It is the sign of an unhappy mind, a fretful, dissatisfied spirit impressed or mirrored upon the face. It is the deformity of your soul revealed in your countenance. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 34

Get the fountain pure. Let the image of God shine into your heart and make all pure and peaceful and glorious within, and the reflection will be seen in your face. God is not with you. That is the reason of your unhappiness. Eat plain, wholesome food, and not in large quantities, and you will not have so much groaning to do in regard to yourself. Work, work is better for you than preaching until your heart is cleansed, purified, sanctified. Tax your physical powers to real weariness. Tax the muscles and become so weary you can have peaceful rest. Mortify self, crucify the carnal mind, forget self in caring for others, seek to do others good. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 35

God wants laborers in His cause who are devoted, self-sacrificing workmen. But much as He needs laborers for this time, He can afford to do without you. He can spare you until you show that you are a converted man. You must have a pure, lowly, loving, obedient heart that will abhor evil and seek and practice the good because you love the right. Have you been born again? Has your old life of sin and disobedience and transgression been given up? I answer, No, no, no. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 36

The Lord’s teaching shows that He cannot use at all in His service the natural ruling disposition of men, for they are sold under sin and must be renewed, sanctified, and fitted for the service of their Redeemer. When Christ describes the life of good men, He commends some excellencies but states that their lives are not perfect. But their salvation is in sensing their sins. You have been so many times warned and you have so many times disregarded the light and gone directly contrary to the special light Heaven has sent you that you set darkness for light and light for darkness. You have harbored motives and purposes, and when you knew you would be censured if you spoke or made known your feelings and purposes, you have concealed them from your brethren and done slyly what you would not have them to know. Did you remember that an eye was ever open and taking cognizance of all your actions? “O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thoughts afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.” Psalm 139:1-4. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 37

Now think, Elder Cornell, would you want Elder White to witness some of your foolishness, your words, your deportment? Well, then, think the holy Lord, the dear Redeemer, the pure angels, have looked upon you and seen your sin. Your wrongs were not hid from heaven, although covered from the sight of men. The Searcher of hearts is acquainted with all your acts which you suppose are hid from mortal sight. I could speak more definitely of circumstances but was bid to keep silent, for unless you emptied your soul of these things and felt yourself compunctions of conscience, your case was hopeless and soon it would be said in heaven, Let him alone, for he is joined to his idols. If you fail to make clean and thorough work, I shall be free to speak publicly and no longer cover up your wrongs and sins as we have tried to do. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 38

You realize instability of feeling and action. You are sometimes on the mountain, then you are all down, just as circumstances are. When you can get the minds of the people diverted to yourself, you are forgetful of your wrongs and flatter yourself that you are not so bad after all. You dread the result of an examination of yourself by the only correct standard. But you have no time to lose. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 39

I do not expect this will do you any more good than former testimonies I have sent you, but I will leave no word unspoken to bring you to the truth, for my soul will then be clear of your blood. You need to make most diligent work of repentance before God and confession of your wrongs to others, and realize the influence of the truth on your own heart and life. You have acknowledged time and again your weakness and your sins and then gone and done the same thing, or nearly as bad, over again. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 40

You seem bewitched to get in the society of women. If you had a practical knowledge of the truth, if you felt its sanctifying influence upon your life, you would be able to point sinners to Christ and souls would be converted. If you would only be converted like Peter, Christ could then pardon and work with you, but prayer that goes up from a heart cherishing iniquity will not be heard and strength will not be given from heaven. God’s Spirit will not fall into a vessel corrupted and fouled with sinful indulgences. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 41

Now I have but a word to say in regard to your wife. In her very best condition she was all selfishness and was not a help and blessing to the cause of God. And after trampling underfoot the blood of the covenant and connecting herself for years with demons, she has not improved her light or connected herself any more closely with heaven [so] that her influence will be more saving than it was before she embraced spiritualism. If her place was then at home for her own and the good of the cause of God, it certainly is so now. If you go to preach, with her as your companion, may God pity His people! You know the light that has been given. Heed it, and in no case introduce Angeline to the notice of the people of God. If she was Satan’s agent before she went into spiritualism, she has certainly been more so since she openly connected herself with spiritualism after she had had light and truth. If she comes out of this horrible deception, it will not be in a corner. She will have a work of retraction that she has not realized if she rids herself of the influence of demons. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 42

Satan would be highly exultant to have you—unconsecrated, unsanctified—go to preach to the people, and connected with Angeline, form a link with the enemy stronger than you have ever yet had. With your brethren strong in faith and moral power all around you, you have not had sufficient moral force or connection with heaven to keep yourself from hurting the cause of God. With your present plans and present surroundings, you will make a failure sooner or later. I beg of you to desist. Tarry in Jerusalem till God will give evidence in some way that you are accepted of Him. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 43

God weighs our characters, our conduct, our motives in the balances of infinite truth. There is nothing so grievous in the sight of God as to have one who professes to represent Him and yet be living in self-indulgence. God is weighing motives, character. To be wanting before God is no trifling matter. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 44

Be careful how you treat this message. I send it to you in hopes that it may have a deeper weight with you than those I have repeatedly given you before. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 45

But my hope is not strong and bright, but very trembling. May God pity you is my prayer. 3LtMs, Lt 52, 1876, par. 46