Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)

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Lt 3, 1879

Harris, Chapin

Ballardvale, Massachusetts

August 1879

Portions of this letter are published in 4MR 214-226; 9MR 384.

Brother Chapin Harris:

I repair to my tent with aching heart, to relieve my mind by writing you some things which were shown me in the vision given me in Battle Creek at our camp meeting. 3LtMs, Lt 3, 1879, par. 1

I cannot express to you the pain I have felt to see you accompanying Mattie Stratton, sitting by her side and coming to the meetings together, notwithstanding all that has been shown and all the advice given you. I have spoken plainly in regard to these things, but have not mentioned your names. You are in this—keeping her society—disregarding the light which the Lord, who reads the purposes of every heart, has given you. The Lord has shown you that your association with Mattie was not in any way calculated to help your morals or strengthen your spirituality. You are placing yourself in the way of temptation, and God will leave you to follow the carnal promptings of your own mind. 3LtMs, Lt 3, 1879, par. 2

I have plainly stated that Mattie would not make you a happy wife; she knows nothing of economy. You would both be a financial failure. Your cup of misery would be full. You have made some feeble attempts to break away from her society, but you have soon renewed your attention to her, she sometimes making the advance and you infatuated with her. You have chosen her company and her frivolous, superficial talk to the company of your God-fearing mother, the very best and dearest friend you have upon earth. This was because you were blinded by Satan’s delusive suggestions. You have spent hours of the night in her company because you were both infatuated. She professes love for you, but she knows not the pure love of an unpretending heart. Satan has ensnared your soul. I was shown you fascinated, deceived, and Satan exults that one who has scarcely a trait of character that would make a happy wife and a happy home should have an influence to separate you from the mother who loves you with a changeless affection. In the name of the Lord, cease your attentions to Mattie Stratton or marry her—do not scandalize the cause of God. 3LtMs, Lt 3, 1879, par. 3

You may pursue a course to cause your mother the keenest sorrow and apprehension and may separate your sympathies from her who has loved and prayed for you and to whom you owe everything, and for what? A bold, forward girl who has not a pure heart or holy affections. Truly it may be said of you, “Thou hast destroyed thyself.” [Hosea 13:9.] Unsanctified affection has been cherished despite warning from your brethren and warnings from the servants of God. You have pursued your own course irrespective of consequences. Your heart has rebelled against your mother because she could not in any way receive Mattie Stratton or sanction the attention you gave her. No modest girl would have done as she has done. No God-fearing son, true to duty and principle, would have continued to persistently pursue the course you have done. The carnal heart has clamored for the victory. 3LtMs, Lt 3, 1879, par. 4

Had you followed the light God has given you at this time, you would stand free in the Lord, honoring your mother, respecting her judgment, and following her counsel, having the highest regard for her happiness, acting the part of a dutiful son. How little do you now appreciate that mother love you once prized so highly. This influence is not divine, but satanic. No greater evidence could be given the world of your sterling worth than your former faithfulness to your mother. This has made you esteemed; this has given you influence. But the world marks the change in your life and deportment, though not as fully as your brethren. It is a rare circumstance in this age of the world where selfishness, love of pleasure, and self-indulgence reign, to see a young man turning from the allurements of the world and with religious principle devote attention and courtesy and respect to his mother. This you did do until Satan’s artifices succeeded through Mattie Stratton to insinuate and tell falsehoods which you believed and which had the influence to separate the mother and son. You have made a mistake in being in her presence, in sitting by her side, or showing her the slightest preference after God had spoken and told you she would be the bane of your life. Do you believe this testimony, or do you reject it? 3LtMs, Lt 3, 1879, par. 5

The intimacy formed with Mattie has not had a tendency to bring you nearer the Lord or to sanctify you through the truth. You are risking your eternal interest in the company of this girl. When the light was first given, had you then humbled your heart and acknowledged your wrong and showed that the word of your godly mother was accepted before the word of an unprincipled girl, you would now have been free. Satan’s device would have been broken and you far advanced in knowledge of the truth and knowledge of the will of God. In the place of idling away your time in the company of this unconsecrated girl, you would have been studying your Bible and been active in the service of God. Time has passed into eternity with its burden of record that has been passed in her society. Is this record such that you would never blush to read it? What you might have been and what you might have done had you heeded the voice of warning will be seen when the assembled throng shall gather about the great white throne. O Chapin! could you not consider that you were not your own; that you had been bought with an infinite price? Your time, your strength, your affections belong to God, and you are not at liberty to dispose of them as you please. 3LtMs, Lt 3, 1879, par. 6

Mattie expects to consummate a marriage with you, and you have given her encouragement to expect this by your attentions. But will you choose this piece of perversity as your wife, and will you separate your affections from your mother and the people of God? Your happiness in this life and in the future life is in peril. You have followed her deceptive, foolish entreaties and your own judgment which have not made you a more consistent Christian or a more faithful, dutiful son. I speak that I do know and testify that I have seen. If you will separate yourself from her society, you will find a welcome in Battle Creek to engage in labor or attend school and fit yourself as a laborer in the cause of God. If you keep up your connection with Mattie, you will not be benefited at Battle Creek. If you persist in the course you have pursued, it would be much better for you to marry her, for your course is as directly contrary to God’s will as to marry her. Satan accomplishes his purposes all the same. If the atmosphere surrounding her is the most agreeable to you, if she meets your standard for a wife, to stand at the head of your family; if, in your calm judgment, taken in the light given you of God, her example would be worthy of imitation, you might as well marry her as to be in her society and conduct [yourselves] as only man and wife should conduct themselves towards each other. You have about ruined yourself as it is. If through the period of your life you wish to enjoy the society of Mattie as you now appear to enjoy it and be fascinated with it, why not go a step further than you already have and make yourself her lawful protector and have an undisputed right to devote the hours you choose in her company and be charmed with her presence night after night? 3LtMs, Lt 3, 1879, par. 7

Your acts and conversation are offensive to God. The angels of God bear record of your words and your actions. The light has been given you, but you have not heeded it. The course you have pursued is a reproach to the cause of God. Your behavior is unbecoming and unchristian. When you should both be in your beds, you have been in one another’s society and in one another’s arms nearly the entire night. Have your thoughts been more pure, more holy, more elevated and ennobled? Did you have clearer views of duty—greater love for God and the truth? 3LtMs, Lt 3, 1879, par. 8

Chapin should have been released from every responsibility in the cause of God when he showed no disposition to heed the light given. The rebuke of the church should have been upon him for he has corrupted his ways before God. But there have been those of the church who sympathized with him and encouraged him in his inconsistent, unholy course of action. The Lord reads the secrets of the life, the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. You have both departed far from the right and the only course for you to pursue is to return every step with confession and repentance. While you do not dare to marry, do you know your present attitude is most offensive to God? You give occasion to our enemies to judge our people as being loose in morals, and they should take the most decided move to show they sanction no such conduct. 3LtMs, Lt 3, 1879, par. 9