Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)

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Lt 41, 1877

Belden, F. E.

St. Helena, California

December 7, 1877

Portions of this letter are published in 2SM 330; OHC 80, 193; FLB 26; TDG 350.

Dear Nephew:

I have had deep feelings in regard to you, but my time and my mind have been so occupied I have not had time or opportunity to see you and talk with you. I have but little hope that talking or writing will reach your case unless the Holy Spirit shall speak to your heart and arouse your conscience. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 1

It has been to many remarkably singular that you, who have been educated from your cradle by a godly mother, you who know the truth, should follow the suggestions of Satan and become a transgressor of the law of God. You have, I think, thought you would wound your best friends in venturing to imperil your soul by pursuing a course of sin, grieving the dear Saviour who died for you and putting Him to an open shame by your renunciation of the truth and Bible religion, and taking your stand with unbelievers. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 2

Never would this shipwreck of your faith have occurred had you been humble and teachable. You are self-conceited, wilful, and obstinate. Pride of heart has gained such mastery over you that you are weakness itself. Headstrong and unteachable, you were left to yourself and have stumbled and fallen. You were never wholly on the side of God. You were ever trying to serve two masters. “What agreement hath the temple of God with idols?” 2 Corinthians 6:16. You are stumbling on to perdition, trampling the blood of the crucified Redeemer under your feet. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 3

It is not too late yet for you to make a decided effort in the right direction. Your soul’s salvation is in peril. If you now stop your life of sin, it may not be too late. If you now will humble yourself at the foot of the cross, your repentance may be accepted. Holiness to the Lord has not been written upon your life. Selfish and self-important, you have felt sufficient in yourself without feeling the necessity of washing your robe of character and making it white in the blood of the Lamb. The cleansing fountain is now flowing. Christ is the Lamb of God. If you present yourself, sinful and polluted as you are, feeling that you are the sinful creature that you are, it may not yet be too late. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 4

I do not propose any argument with you at all. You know the truth as well as I do. You may seek, with Satan’s sophistry, to silence the voice of conscience, but it will not be quiet. It will be heard. You are acting a lie every day you continue in your present state of wickedness. You say by your deportment that you do not believe the truth, when you know that you believe as Satan believes. You tremble under the truth as Satan trembles. But, O what an account will you have to render to God for this terrible backsliding! 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 5

You have nursed the Sabbath truth from your mother’s breast, and how you can now pursue the course you do can only be explained in the defective foundation you have laid. You have been self-deceived. You have trusted to your own frail wisdom, and it has proved foolishness and is likely to prove your ruin. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 6

You have not been extravagant of your means as far as dress is concerned, but it is certain you have not economized in everything, or you would now have something to show as the result of that wise economy which is praiseworthy in any young man. To carefully reserve a portion of each week’s wages, and lay by a certain sum every week which is not to be touched, should be your rule. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 7

No one can accuse you of being hardhearted, penurious, or stingy, and yet you are selfish. You will indulge your pleasure, gratifying your inclination and desires while you make others wait your time to pay your just dues. This is not a good and praiseworthy trait in any young man. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 8

Diligence in business, abstinence from pleasure, even privation so long as health is not endangered, should be cheerfully maintained by a young man in your circumstances, and you would have a little competency untouched should you become sick, that the charities of others would not be your dependence. You have needlessly expended much means which now might be on interest and you be having some returns. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 9

You are in danger of being too liberal when there is a call for means. Selfishness has something to do even with this. You wish to be thought of as having plenty of means at your command, and you also wish not to be behind others when there is a demand for means. This failing is not to be condemned, unless you are liberal before you are just, and do not quickly settle your just debts. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 10

We would not have you, my dear nephew, deify wealth and love it with your heart and mind and soul. Means is valuable and to be desired. It is a blessing, a precious treasure, if used prudently, wisely, and not abused. To sacrifice one principle of truth or of duty to acquire means for extravagant expenditure or to hoard is very poor policy. It is money and position gained at the expense of the soul, selling the soul to the devil for the worldly advantages supposed to be gained thereby. “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:36, 37. Whatever may have been your motives for yielding the principles of truth, I cannot divine. I think that Satan has made you spiritually blind. You are in a fearful deception. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 11

But I have not yet ended on the point of means. You might have had, even from your limited wages, means in reserve for any demand. It might have been invested in a lot of land which would be increasing in value. But for a young man to live up to the last dollar he earns shows a great lack of calculation and discernment. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 12

Since mortals have bodies and heads and hearts to be provided for, some provision for the body must be made in order to hold a proper position in the world. Not to meet the world’s standards—oh, no, no indeed; but to be of influence in the world for good. Love and sympathy may be exercised, and the tenderness of common brotherhood. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 13

If you go on as you have done, in self-gratification, chasing after your own pleasure, indulging in the dissipations of the world, you lose not only this world, but the next. And remember the day of reckoning is not far distant, when the Master will say, “Young man, give an account of thy stewardship.” [Luke 16:2.] You will then be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary. All your words, your acts, and even your motives will pass the trying test of Him who knows the heart of man. The day is just upon us when the spirit which governed the life is to be tested. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 14

However desirable money may be, it should never be obtained at the sacrifice of lessor or greater truths. Want and poverty are evils to be dreaded; but hunger and nakedness, lack of home, sympathy, or a name, and even starvation, are more desirable than to sacrifice one principle of truth. Let the eternal truth be cherished, for it is immortal. If we make it a part of us, we shall surely gain immortal glory and eternal riches, with the addition of a victor’s crown. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 15

If God has not given you the power to obtain means with perfect uprightness and integrity, then He never meant that you should have it, and it is best for you to submit to the will of God. Do not seek to be a dandy, for such a person is most contemptible. But, dear Nephew, the infinite Creator is the possessor of all things. Any loss you may sustain in your allegiance to Him is infinite gain in the future immortal life, if not fully realized in this life. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 16

Go out, dear young man, at night, and behold the glories of the firmament. Look up to the gems of light which like precious gold stud the heavens. There is a wealth of glory there, but millions of minds are so obtuse they cannot appreciate this treasure. It is a little bit of heaven hung out before our senses to testify of the surpassing glories within. This is only one item. We might dwell upon glories without number, but we are lost in the contemplation of the great works of God and forbear. The apostle, in the words of inspiration, addresses us: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 17

Cannot He who spread above us this glorious canopy, who, if the sun, moon, and stars were swept away, could call them again into existence in a moment, requite His faithful, loyal servants who would be obedient to Him though they lost wealth, honor, or even a kingdom for His sake? To walk the world a pure man of untarnished morals, bearing the sacred principles of truth in your heart, its influence seen in the acts of your life; to live uncorrupted by the baseness, falsity, and dishonesty of a world which must soon be purified of its moral corruption by the fires of God’s retributive justice, is to be a man whose record is immortalized in heaven, honored among the pure angels who weigh and appreciate moral worth. This is what it is to be a man of God. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 18

He who has no power to resist temptation is not a man. He is wanting in the attributes which entitle him to manhood. Every young man who yields to temptation debases himself. Every sin, every unrighteous action, every transgression of the law of God, tells with a thousandfold more force upon the actor than the sufferer. Every time one of the glorious faculties with which God has enriched man is abused or misused, that faculty loses forever a portion of its vigor and will never be as it was before the abuse it suffered. Every abuse inflicted upon our moral nature in this life is felt not only for time, but for eternity. Though God may forgive the sinner, yet eternity will not make up that voluntary loss sustained in this life. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 19

To go forth into the next, the future life, deprived of half the power which might be carried there is a terrible thought. The days of probation lost here in acquiring a fitness for heaven is a loss which will never be recovered. The capacities of enjoyment will be less in the future life for the misdemeanors and abuse of moral powers in this life. However high we might attain in the future life, we might soar higher and still higher if we had made the most of our God-given privileges and golden opportunities to improve our faculties here in this probationary existence. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 20

Every man will receive according to the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or evil. Our rewards and punishment will be apportioned in accordance with the light and privileges within our reach—whether these are cherished and appreciated, or turned from, despised, and abused. Every instance of violated conscience will, like the broken strings of a harp, cause discordant notes and limit the compass of our influence. Whatever influence the beings of God’s creation may exert in the cultivation of their energies, whether right or wrong, in that particular direction new fields will open before the developing mind, new discoveries will be made, new openings for good or for evil will be unfolded to the mind. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 21

We are all under one or the other of two great captains. One, the Creator of man and of the world, is the greatest of all. All owe Him the allegiance of their whole being, the devotion of their entire affection. If the mind is given to His control, and if God has the molding and developing of the powers of the mind, new moral power will be received daily from the Source of all wisdom and all strength. Moral blessings and divine beauties will reward the efforts of every one whose mind is heaven bent. We may grasp revelations—heavenly beauties—that lie beyond the short vision of the worldling, that outshine the imagination of the greatest mind and the most learned philosopher who has not connected himself with infinite power. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 22

While the worldly-wise is skimming along the surface, grasping the things of sight and sense, the one who fears and reveres God is reaching into eternity, penetrating the deepest recesses and gathering the knowledge and riches that are as enduring as eternity. Justice, honor, love, and truth are the attributes of God’s throne. They are the principles of His government which is to be established on the earth, made pure by the fire of His retributive justice. These are jewels to be sought after and cherished for time and for eternity. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 23

In view of these things, how important that you, my dear Nephew, feel the worth of your time, that you build your character not after the worldly standard, but for eternity. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 24

Satan is the leader of the worldly, but in every way he is inferior to the object of our adoration. Our God is the Creator, good, righteous, and holy. Satan was created by Him and has turned all his abilities and powers against the One who created him. His highest aim is to gather under his banner the majority of the world, that numbers may stand against the power of righteousness and eternal truth. Talent and ability given of God to be devoted to His service are laid at the feet of the greatest rebel of God’s government. While Satan holds his sway over minds regarded wise and powerful after the world’s standard, they look through his deceptive, alluring presentations and regard as degraded those who are connected with God, who fear and love Him, while those who are grasping worldly wisdom are regarded superior and to be honored and glorified. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 25

Many who profess to be servants of Jesus Christ in their deportment and daily life appear to be ashamed of their Captain. They never speak His praise. They show no zeal to exalt His ability, to show the exalted character of their service under such a Captain in contrast with the opposite leader. They act as though they were in a specie of slavery under their Captain and that their life was one long life of self-sacrifice. John, who in vision had been given the right conception of the true exalted character of all connected with God, writes: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him (of being like Christ when He shall appear) purifieth himself, even as He is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:1-4. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 26

These are the sons of God, presented before us in their true light as highly favored of heaven, yet not appreciated or understood by the world. John’s heart was glowing with a vivid conception of the correct estimate of the truth and a connection with the God of truth. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 27

My dear Nephew, I designed to write you further. I have written you several pages more, but I cannot complete it all now. I send you this, and if you will take this kindly and reflect upon it seriously, it will do you good. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 28

Your aunt. 3LtMs, Lt 41, 1877, par. 29