Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)


Lt 17, 1879

Tay, Brother

Denison, Texas

February 27, 1879

Previously unpublished.

Dear Brother Tay:

I have felt urged to write you. For some time your case has troubled me very much. I was shown in my last testimony that you have a great work to do for yourself. You do not understand your own heart and you do not see yourself as you are. You want to be right, but you make many mistakes. I was shown the attitude you have maintained in your family, especially toward Mittie Severns, has been censurable and decidedly unchristian. Your assuming to dictate and control in the manner you have has been unchristian. You have taken upon your responsibility to dictate and have been overbearing. It would not be her duty to ever place herself where there is any possibility of the repetition of the same course of treatment. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1879, par. 1

You will not be clear before God till you humbly confess the unchristian course you have pursued toward Brother Papworth. Your course in that matter was decidedly unchristian; and more than that, it was ungentlemanly. You are headstrong; you are stubborn and unyielding. You have your ideas in regard to a person you think not just right, and then you are blind to their virtues. You persecute them relentlessly. You watch them with jealousy. You are determined to make it that your judgment is correct and they wrong. You concentrate your mind on the point. You magnify their words and their actions. You color everything they may say and do, and you persecute them in every way you can and justify yourself that you are doing your duty. This you have done in the case of Mittie and Papworth. Should Mittie become again a member of your family, she could not be happy. You would not feel at rest or happy unless you dictated [to] her, were conscience for her, making duties for her, and restricting her to your ideas. She and you would have unhappy differences because she could not follow your judgment and would rise up against your arbitrary requirements. After the reproof given you, you made some changes, but you have not been transformed. You are narrow, not broad and elevated. Were you this, you would look upon your past course as despicable. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1879, par. 2

Your wife has been an unhappy sufferer in consequence of the superiority of your bearing and your overbearing, dictatorial spirit. All this is an offense to God. When have [you] decided to make the change God requires? When will you turn your eyes from others’ supposed failures to see yourself as God sees you? You are possessing a haughty, self-confident spirit, having a much better opinion of yourself than others can have of you. You need to learn of Jesus who was meek and lowly of heart, that you may find rest to your soul. The characters of others would not appear as faulty as they now do. You would see that a great work is before you to care for the plot of ground before your own door. Weed the garden of your heart and [do] not be so burdened over the supposed wrongs of others. Unless there is a thorough change in you, you will never see the kingdom of heaven. You would, if there, desire to reform the angels of heaven and make some improvement among the heavenly host. This spirit possessed by you will never find access to heaven. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1879, par. 3

Your wife and her sister have suffered long years by this cruel, oppressive spirit. It is self and self-confidence and a disposition to control that have brought unhappiness and corroding, cankering care and heartache upon two of the best of women. You have felt that you must teach them when you needed that one should teach you. This same spirit you exercise in your home is carried into the church. If you fancy that one does not regard you as highly as you wish to be esteemed, you will tear them down through persevering effort. If they stand in opposition to your plans, or ideas, then you will be on their track as a persecutor. All this must be put away from you. You have exercised this spirit during your lifetime. It has grown with your growth and strengthened with your strength, and at your age it will be most difficult for you [to] overcome and become a child of God in spirit as well as in name. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1879, par. 4

Watchfulness and prayer will be necessary. Your spirit must be changed, softened, refined, and elevated. Get above and away from yourself and esteem others better than yourself; then there will be more peace, love, and happiness in your house. The more that you have in your family, the more unhappy you will be, for there is more to call out these miserable traits of character which exist with you. You are in very many respects deficient in good judgment and keen foresight. You follow impressions frequently that are the result of your own self-confidence and self-esteem. I dare not withhold this from you, for I know you will be weighed in the balances and found wanting without a decided change of your character. You need a reconversion. To be a Christian is to be Christlike. However much you love the truth, you are not sanctified by it, and you need to be melted over and become purified from the dross of self-love, self-confidence, and self-esteem. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1879, par. 5

I call upon you in the name of Jesus Christ to reform. Your soul is in peril and others are in peril because of your deficiencies in Christian character. You need to awake to yourself. You need to be alarmed in regard to yourself. Turn your whole heart to the work of criticizing your motives, take on the burden of yourself. Have pity upon your own soul and the souls of those connected with you, and work for your life, for there is more work and greater than you have supposed to be done for you. You need the sweet spirit of Jesus. You need the power of true religion. You need to be a thoroughly converted man. Can you not see you have reason to be very jealous of yourself? Can you not see your judgment and plans, as far as financial business is concerned, have not been a success? Turn your critical eye upon your life failures, and when tempted to criticize others, see your own errors and mistakes and be silent. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1879, par. 6

God looks from heaven upon your course with displeasure. You are feeling yourself to be rich and increased with goods and having need of nothing when you are wretched and blind and poor and miserable and naked. But the true Witness graciously invites you to buy now before it shall be too late—gold that you may be rich, eyesalve that you may see, and white raiment, pure and faultless character, that you may be clothed and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear. For the day of God will present every man’s case as it is. Those who have not cherished the graces of the Spirit of Christ, but [have] been preoccupied and elevated in self-will, have a fearful awakening. I dare not withhold this matter from you. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1879, par. 7

You have unchristian feelings towards my son Edson White. Were he as faulty as yourself at the present time, I would not rest, but would go to him and plead in his behalf before God until he should see and sense his true condition. I have been fully aware of the errors of my son, but he has been making most earnest efforts in the strength of the Mighty One to reform. He may still have many things to overcome. Because he is my son, I have had but little to say in regard to the unjust feelings against him from you and others. But now I shall take my stand. I shall sustain my own child as well as strangers probably. I know more in regard to the standing of my children before God than you or those who are so fearful that Edson White shall gain the confidence of the people in California. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1879, par. 8

If God’s cause is imperiled by Edson White, it is much more so by those who have such feelings as you and others have had. I have no sympathy for this spirit because it is satanic. I have kept silent, knowing that God would not let Edson faint and fall under the spirit you and others have had. The unreasonable prejudice, the emotion and exercises of your mind, had they been for your own soul, it would be as God would have it and much safer for you and others. 3LtMs, Lt 17, 1879, par. 9