Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3

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Lt 33, 1879

Johnson, Brother

NP

1879

This letter is published in entirety in 19MR 55-61.

[Brother Johnson]:

Brother Johnson, you were shown me as no strength or benefit to the church. You are most thoroughly deceived in yourself. You have a stubborn, rebellious spirit. You have been no strength to the church, but only a clog. You have a disposition to dictate and control matters, and if you cannot do this you are almost sure to be sullen and uncongenial. This is a sad thing. God is not pleased with such soldiers: they would be discharged from an earthly army in disgrace. Jesus is ashamed of you. You are whole. You feel rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing, when you are miserable, poor, blind, and naked. “I counsel thee,” says the True Witness, “to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed; ... and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” Revelation 3:18. 3LtMs, Lt 33, 1879, par. 1

Oh, how blind you have been, how unworthy the name of Christian! Your spirit is not in harmony with the Spirit of Christ. You think too much of yourself. You are spiritually blind. The feelings you cherish in reference to the faithful sisters of the church are more satanic than divine. You have united with some others in cherishing feelings that were all wrong. If you only had as much piety, perseverance, earnestness, and steadfast energy as has been manifested by these humble, devoted women who have the benefit of your sneers, you would have been in a far better condition spiritually. But such feelings as you have had are displeasing to God and those who have united with you. 3LtMs, Lt 33, 1879, par. 2

Brother and Sister Buzzell have taken the same stand. They have had the same feelings. Would you wish all your remarks, as well as your feelings in regard to these sisters, registered in the book of heaven? It is a shame that men who have been as long in the truth as you have been are not qualified to stand in the church and build up the cause of God by faithful, earnest labor. But should you or Brother B. attempt to take any responsible position in the church, it would not prosper, for you are neither of you right with God. The converting power of God must come to your own hearts and sanctify your own lives and refine and purify your own characters before you will be a help to the cause of God in any place. You are both far from God. Self and self-esteem are standing directly in the way of your advancement, and you will not make progress until you have a sense of your own defects of character. 3LtMs, Lt 33, 1879, par. 3

You are not in sympathy with the great Head of the church. The church in South Lancaster has had the misfortune to have a large share of unconsecrated, talkative, envious, jealous members to discourage any effort which some are anxious to make to advance the prosperity of the church. This contemptible picking, faultfinding, seeking spot and stain, ridiculing, gainsaying, that you with some others have indulged in, has grieved the Spirit of God and separated you from God. 3LtMs, Lt 33, 1879, par. 4

It is not always men who are best adapted to the successful management of a church. If faithful women have more deep piety and true devotion than men, they could indeed by their prayers and their labors do more than men who are unconsecrated in heart and in life. 3LtMs, Lt 33, 1879, par. 5

You and others have seen the church struggling under the heaviest difficulties. Brother Stratton has from the first stood as a soul-trying case of hindrance to the church, and then other cases of difficulty have been continually arising. C. H. H. has been a very trying burden to the church. God’s frown has been upon him and upon M. B. S. Both have been an offense to God, and His frown has been upon those who have sympathized with them and reflected upon the mother of Chapin. There are other cases I cannot mention now, which have brought the displeasure of God upon the church. 3LtMs, Lt 33, 1879, par. 6

It was your privilege to be right and to stand for the right. Had you done this your soul would now be like a watered garden whose waters fail not, yourself constantly refreshed with a new and living experience, and you would be refreshing others. But your soul is as destitute of the grace and love of God as the hills of Gilboa. God calls upon you to be zealous and repent of your lukewarmness, your inconsistencies, your overbearing, dictatorial spirit, which is as unlike the Spirit of Christ as it is possible to be. 3LtMs, Lt 33, 1879, par. 7

It is just such material as you, who help compose our churches, that make these churches weak and full of disease. Make diligent work to save your own soul. You have become so weak, petting your own notions, so strong in self-confidence, so easily swayed from the right to the wrong side, that the South Lancaster church would be much better if they were not burdened with your unconsecrated, perverse spirit. But this need not be so one day longer if you will only have your way and your will in obedience to the way and will of God. Oh, my soul is in anguish day and night, as I see the weakness of our churches in consequence of men who want to rule by their own spirit. Unholy and unsanctified tempers control them, and they are so deceived they flatter themselves they are the only ones really right. 3LtMs, Lt 33, 1879, par. 8

Your feelings in regard to Brother Robinson have been in harmony with some others. An unsanctified sentiment and union has prevailed and had a deleterious influence upon others. Because Elder R. has not that self-sufficient pomposity that some men have who profess to be ministers of Christ, you and others run over him in the place of feeling a spirit of kindness and noble generosity to help him, to sustain him. God’s will is holy, just, and good, and when we do His will we shall succeed. Oh, the will of man, the ways of man that are brought in contrary to the will and ways of God! 3LtMs, Lt 33, 1879, par. 9

“Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” 2 Corinthians 13:1. Inquire into the character of your thoughts, tempers, purposes, words, and deeds. Compare your course of action in your daily life with the great mirror, the law of God, and see wherein your life, in words, in thoughts, in deeds, does not harmonize with God’s moral standard of right. Are you satisfied that you are an example of gospel holiness? Do the visible points of righteousness indicate before your brethren and the world that you have the truth and the Spirit of Christ abiding in you, or not? If you have, you will be a bright and shining light. You need to give yourself a more careful, thorough, and impartial examination of your heart and life, praying with the sincerity of your soul for the Lord to discover to you your defects, that you may not be deceived with the deceitfulness of sin. 3LtMs, Lt 33, 1879, par. 10

When you see a defect go to work to remedy it. Seek the grace of God to destroy whatever is wrong in you, to supply whatever you lack. Your experience must change. Many things need to be repressed and many things in your character strengthened and watered, especially those things that are pure, lovely, and of good report. 3LtMs, Lt 33, 1879, par. 11

If you do not examine yourself searchingly in the light reflected from the cross of Christ revealed in His Word, self-love will prompt you to have a much better opinion of yourself than is either just, true, or safe. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Jeremiah 17:9. “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool.” Proverbs 28:26. And yet we are naturally inclined to this trust in the goodness of our desperately wicked hearts. 3LtMs, Lt 33, 1879, par. 12

The Lord calls upon you to be converted. You need to see your spiritual necessities. Your feelings that you have cherished towards Elder Haskell are wrong. Write and speak bitter things against yourself, but “Touch not Mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm.” 1 Chronicles 16:22. God’s hand encircles His servants as a buckler, and the hand that would wound His servant strikes the hand that encircles him, and that hand bears the sword of justice. Far better be upon your knees before God, pleading for Him to sustain His servant to fight the battles of the Lord successfully, to give him courage and light and a clear conception of His will. In your murmuring and hatred against the man, you have not realized you were murmuring against the Master, whose servant he is. 3LtMs, Lt 33, 1879, par. 13

I tell you in the fear of God, you do not know yourself. I have respect for your soul. Christ has died for you, but you are surely destroying yourself. I want you to swell the song of triumph and victory in the city of God, that Christ shall not have died for you in vain. Be not like boasting Peter, although warned faithfully of his defection of character. Self-confident and presumptuous, he affirmed a constancy superior to that of the other disciples and expressed his willingness and readiness to follow his Master to prison and to death. The storm of opposition soon came like a sweeping tempest upon the devoted heads of Christ’s followers. How did they stand the test? They all forsook Him and fled, and he who had been earnest, forward, and loud in his fidelity and love, denied his Lord repeatedly when He stood condemned, in humiliation wearing the shameful crown of thorns in the judgment hall. It was just at this time he could have shown his bravery and his fidelity. 3LtMs, Lt 33, 1879, par. 14

You would do the same, with the spirit you now have. You have been swerved this way and that way in your religious experience. You are unreliable because [you are] self-trusting and self-confident. You have an experience marred and blotted with sad defects. Your soul is only safe when you distrust self and trust only in the wisdom of God. You know not what manner of spirit you are of. You need to be thoroughly converted. You are a stumbling block to outsiders, no honor to the cause of God, no strength or honor to the church, fretful, exacting, overbearing, dictatorial. All these things are a reproach to the cause of God. 3LtMs, Lt 33, 1879, par. 15

You want to be pure in heart and life. Let no unholy thoughts or actions be cherished. You have made in this matter serious mistakes that have made you a fearfully weak man, and let me tell you, you have all that you can do to save your own soul by your own righteousness. Bind your soul to the eternal Rock; it is your only safety. 3LtMs, Lt 33, 1879, par. 16

Your life in the past has been no honor or strength to the cause of God, or to the church. Will it, must it, be so till the close of time, and you be found not having the wedding garment on? Your self-righteousness must be laid aside and you must put on the righteousness of Christ. I tell you, cease your unjust complaints of Elder Haskell. Weed diligently your own plot of ground and let the gardens of others alone. The work is between God and your own soul: do not delay. 3LtMs, Lt 33, 1879, par. 17

This message from God is sent to you in love. Will you receive it? Will you be saved from yourself? Forever stop finding fault with others, for this is an offense to God; but get your own perverse heart right by humiliation, contrition, and penitence before God: this is your work. Be careful and make straight paths for your feet lest the lame be turned out of the way. Now is your time. Now is your day of opportunity and privilege. Time is closing—you are unready. Make haste in this thy day, lest the knell of irrevocable doom shall sound. “Now they are hid from thine eyes.” Luke 19:42. 3LtMs, Lt 33, 1879, par. 18