Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)

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Lt 39a, 1878

Kilgore, R. M.

Salem, Oregon

July 8, 1878

This letter is published in entirety in 4T 321-330.

Dear Brother [Robert] Kilgore:

I have arisen early to write you. Additional light has been given me of late, for which I am responsible. Twice while in Oregon the Lord has revealed Himself to me. While pleading with the Lord in the night season, I was shown in vision many things connected with the cause of God. The work of God in Europe and Old England was presented before me. The state of things at the great heart of the work—our college, sanitarium, church, and publishing house—was presented before me. The work in Oregon and in other new fields was shown me; also the work in Texas passed before me. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 1

There will be the greatest need of the work starting right in a new field, bearing the impress of the divine. In these new fields, many will be in danger of accepting or assenting to the truth who have not a conversion of heart. When tested by storm and temptation, it will be found that their house is not founded upon the rock, but on sliding sand. Practical godliness must be possessed by the minister and developed in his daily life and character. His discourses should not be exclusively theoretical, but spiritual and practical. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 2

I was shown some matters in Texas not favorable to the prosperity of the cause of truth. The Rust family have not heretofore been a blessing and help to the cause of God in any place. These brothers should not congregate together. Their influence has been shown me before this as not being a sweet-smelling savor. They cannot build up the cause of God. They have not the elements within them capable of exerting a healthful, true influence on the side of God and the truth. Had you the mind of God, you would not have been so void of discernment. Smooth words and fair speeches have deceived you. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 3

These brothers are not all alike, but all have defective characters. They may by constant watchfulness over themselves and by earnest prayer to God in faith make a success of keeping self in its proper position, and through Jesus Christ be transformed in character, that they may have a moral fitness to meet the Lord in peace when He shall come. But God will not lay any important responsibility upon these men, for souls will be imperiled if they attempt to lead them in any way. These men are simply unfitted to lead the flock of God. At the very time that the words should be few and well chosen, modest and unassuming, their natural traits of character will be woven into all that they do and all that they say, and the work of God will be marred. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 4

You, my brother, have had too great confidence in the ability of these men. A ship may be sound in nearly every respect, but if there is one defect, a bit of timber worm-eaten, the lives of all on board are imperiled. A chain may have mostly sound links, but one defective link makes it defective and worthless. There may be some excellent qualities in individuals, but some marked traits in their characters unfit them to be entrusted with the solemn, sacred work of God. The example of these men must not be considered fit for imitation. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 5

You need much done for you before your labors can be what they might be and what they should be. Your sympathy and union with the Brethren Rust has not elevated and sanctified you, but has had a tendency to rust and corrode your spirit. Your understanding has been darkened. Brother Robert, you are naturally tenderhearted, while you are not naturally refined. To have your sympathy and association with those whose life and character have been cast into an inferior mold will not elevate and ennoble you as God’s representative, but will mar your usefulness and disconnect you from God. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 6

You are of an impulsive temperament. Burdens of the cause do not set very heavily upon you; and unless you are constantly under the refining influence of the Spirit of God, you will become coarse and common. In order rightly to represent the character of Christ, you need to be spiritualized and brought into a closer connection with God. In the great work in which you are engaged, your own heart must be sanctified, your own thoughts elevated, in order for you to be a co-worker with Jesus Christ. “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.” Isaiah 52:11. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 7

Had you a high sense of sacred things, you would be very cautious in consenting to have any one of the Rust brothers occupy responsible positions in the cause of God. They are not fit for this work of heavenly origin. The work of God would stand higher today in Texas if the Rust brothers had no connection with it. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 8

I might mention every particular, but shall not at this time. Suffice it to say, These men are not right with God. The character transmitted to them as their legacy at birth is very objectionable; but they have been unable to see but that they were competent for almost any calling, if their brethren did not keep them back. Feeling thus self-sufficient, they have not made efforts to correct these objectionable traits of character; and although they have made some improvements, they are still weighed in the balances of the sanctuary and found wanting. Their birthright, education, and training have been very deficient—so much so that they are not fitted for the work of God. All the general principles abounding in the Word of God, all the testimonies, general and personal, to call their attention to the Word of God, have not made that deep impression upon their hearts and minds which will give them views of themselves in contrast with the perfect Pattern. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 9

These men, John excepted, are naturally arbitrary, dictatorial, self-sufficient. They do not consider others better than themselves, but exactly the opposite of this. They are envious and jealous of anyone of the church who they think will be esteemed higher than themselves. They profess conscientiousness and strain at a gnat and swallow a camel in their views and dealings with their brethren who they fear will have superiority to them. They will seize upon little things. They will talk over little particulars, put their construction upon acts and words. Elbridge in particular and the one who lived in Orleans—I know not his name—are free, easy speakers, especially Elbridge. His smooth manner of relating things has such an appearance of honesty and real, genuine interest for the cause of God that he deceives and beclouds minds. My heart aches with sadness as I write, because I know the influence of the Rust element wherever they shall go. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 10

I was determined never to mention the name of these men again, for if the teachers of the Word, professedly connected with God, cannot discern the influence of these men, they are unfitted to stand longer as teachers of the truth of God. But the solemn opening again of these matters presses me to write, much against my will. If these men would only keep their proper position and never attempt to teach or to lead, I would be silent; but when I see that the cause of truth is in danger of suffering, I can hold my peace no longer. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 11

If these brothers should be scattered, only one in a place, it would not be as bad for the churches where they reside; but to have a large share of the element in the church composed of this order is endangering the prosperity of the church and should not be allowed. They have not love and refined feelings toward each other. They are not free from envy, jealousy, and bickerings and strife toward each other. The love and gentleness and meekness of Christ do not come in to compose their experience. They have not refined feelings or sensitive consciences. God forbid this element should exist in the church. These brothers cannot see the kingdom of heaven unless they are converted. It is much more congenial to their feelings to tear down, to be picking, and seeking spot and stain in others, rather than to be washing their own robes of character from the defilement of sin and making them white in the blood of the Lamb. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 12

But now I come to the most painful part of this history, where Brother Bohler is concerned. I passed through an investigation when you, Brother Robert, and Brother Joseph Clark figured largely. God was grieved with you both. I saw and heard that which caused me pain and regret. This investigation was exactly what might have been looked for from the Brethren Rust, for just such unreasonable, godless things will take place in the development of character in connection with the work of God where they take a part in it. But my greatest surprise and grief was that such men as Joseph Clark and Elder Kilgore should bear an active part in this shameful one-sided investigation. You will all meet this scene faithfully registered in the books of heaven. It will not then, Brother Kilgore, appear as amusing to you as when you were sitting in judgment against a blind brother. And to Brother Joseph Clark, who acted the lawyer to question, to bring out minutia in the strongest light, I would say, I would not have that work laid to my charge for the riches of the world. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 13

You simply were deceived and deluded by a strange spirit, that should have no semblance of quarter, no grain of respect. Envy, jealousy, evil surmisings, doubtful disputations, all held a carnival on that occasion. I did give you, Brother Kilgore, credit for better sense and greater discernment. You may think me too severe, but I cannot be more severe than the transactions deserve. Did you all think God was altogether such an one as yourselves when you condemned the guiltless? The present condition of Brother Bohler is the result of your position taken upon that occasion. Had you shown one grain of sympathy and fairness, he would have stood today where his influence would tell on the side of truth with that power that a meek and quiet spirit should tell. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 14

Brother Bohler was not a ready speaker; Elbridge Rust was, and his smooth words and fair speeches had effect. But the poor sightless man who should have had everything in his favor was placed in the worst possible light. God saw, and God will not hold one of you guiltless who acted a part in that shameful, unfair investigation. You may feel tempted to write me all the particulars. I shall have no time to read them if you do. Sufficient have I seen of this sad and terrible affair. And if you cannot learn a lesson from this, to close your ears to those who would prejudice you by their version of things against the very ones whom God would have you sustain, pity, and strengthen, then you are not fit for the work of a gospel minister. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 15

Brother Clark or yourself could not see the defects in the Brethren Rust; neither could you discern the opposite traits of character in Brother Bohler. Brother Bohler’s influence, sanctified by the Spirit of God, would tell with tenfold more power upon the cause of God than the opposite developments in the Brethren Rust. You have done what you could to sacrifice Brother Bohler, which I advise you to repent of as thoroughly as you committed it. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 16

Brother Kilgore, in the name of my Master, I entreat of you to shake yourself from a human influence, to close your ears to gossiping reports. Let no one put a testimony in your mouth. Let God give you the burden for His cause, not men who are unconsecrated at home and abroad. Elbridge Rust needs the softening, refining Spirit of God in his heart, and to exercise it at his home. Let love be without dissimulation. Let the arbitrary, dictatorial, judging, condemning, censuring spirit be put away, with all malice, from his home. He knows not how to act as becometh a Christian at home. The very same vindictive, haughty, overbearing, judging spirit will be carried out in the church. If his feelings happen to be kind and somewhat softened for the time being, he will act them out. If he happens to feel the opposite, he will act that out. Self-control and self-discipline he has not exercised. This is the mischief in his home and will be the mischief in the church. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 17

Where Brother Bohler may have one human defect, his judges and those who condemned him have tenfold more. Brother Kilgore, why did you not take the part of the oppressed? Why did you not lift your voice as did your Saviour and say, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone”? John 8:7. Brother Kilgore, you have moved blindly and made a fearful mistake, which may result in the loss of more than one soul; but you have not known what you were doing. You were doing it ignorantly. Had one word of sympathy or tender pity been expressed by you to Brother Bohler, it would have been registered to your account in heaven. But you had no more sense of the work you were doing for time and for eternity than had those who condemned Christ. You have judged and condemned Him in the person of His saints. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” Matthew 25:40. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 18

Did you think you would make Brother Bohler believe that white was black and black was white because his brethren would have him believe it? Brother Bohler was diseased and nervous. Everything looked to him so dark, so uncertain. He could see no light ahead, behind him, or on either side. His confidence in Elder Kilgore was gone, and to whom should he look? He was blamed for one thing and then for another until he became distracted and desperate. Those who drove him to this have the greater sin. Where was even compassion on the common grounds of humanity? Worldlings would not, as a general thing, have been so careless, so devoid of mercy and Christian courtesy, and would have exercised more compassion for a man who for his very infirmity is entitled to the tenderest consideration and neighborly love. But here was a blind man and a brother in Christ, and several of his brethren sitting as judges upon his case. And more than once Brother Kilgore was so mirthful as to break out in a loud laugh during the process of trial when a brother was hunted like a poor rabbit to his death. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 19

There sat Brother Joseph Clark, naturally so kind, so sympathetic that he was censuring his brethren for cruelty in killing birds, and yet here was a poor blind man, of as much more value than birds as man, formed in the image of God and bought by the infinite price of the Son of God, is above the dumb creatures of His care. “Ye ... strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” [Matthew 23:24] would be the verdict of Him who spake as never man spake, were His voice heard in your assembly. Those who had such tender compassion for birds might have exercised a praiseworthy, reasonable, Godlike compassion and love for Jesus Christ in the person of His saints. But you were as men blindfolded. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 20

Elbridge Rust presented a smooth, able speech. Brother Bohler was not a ready speaker; his thoughts could not be clothed in language that would make a case. He was altogether too much surprised to make his best of the situation. His sharp, criticizing brethren, turned lawyers, could place the blind man at great disadvantage, and they did so. And God saw and God marked the transactions of that day. Those men, adept in casting mist and making out a case, apparently obtained a triumph, while the brother misused and abused by them felt that everything was sinking beneath his feet. His confidence in those whom he had believed the representatives of Jesus Christ was terribly shaken. The moral shock he received has nearly proved his ruin physically and spiritually. This is a work for which everyone who was engaged in it should feel the deepest remorse. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 21

Brother Bohler has made a mistake in sinking under this load of reproach and undeserved criticism that should fall upon other heads than his. Brother Bohler is a man who has loved the cause of truth with his whole soul. God has shown His care for the blind in giving him prosperity, but even this has been turned against him by his envious brethren. While God has been so kind to him and has put it into the hearts of unbelievers to be kind and sympathetic toward him because he is a blind man, his brethren have made this a fault in him and have turned it to his disadvantage. Brother Bohler has been a Christian gentleman and has made even his worldly enemies to be at peace with him, while God has been to him as a tender Father smoothing his pathway. He should have been true to God, true to his knowledge of truth, and served God with singleness of heart irrespective of censure, envy, false accusations, and calumny. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 22

It was the position you took that was the last finishing stroke to Brother Bohler. But Brother Bohler should not have let go his hold of God. Whether ministers or people should take a course he could not see any justice in, riveted to the Eternal Rock he should have stood firm to principle and carried out the faith and truth at all hazards. Oh, what a necessity for Brother Bohler to cling more closely to the arm that in his case has been strong to save! 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 23

All the worth and greatness of this life are derived from its connection with heaven and the future immortal life. The precious things of the hills shall perish, but the soul who lives for God in this life, unmoved by censure, unperverted by applause, shall abide forever with God. The tree of life shall yield its fruits, the city of God shall open its gates, and the songs of angels shall welcome him who, while on earth, learned to lean upon God for guidance and wisdom, for comfort and hope in trouble and amid loss and affliction. God’s everlasting arm is passed for protection around that soul, however feeble, who turns to Him for aid. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 24

Brother Bohler has failed where he should have been victorious. But the pitying eye of God is upon him. Although the compassion of man may fail, He still loves and pities and reaches out His helping hand. He will yet lift up his head and plant his feet firmly upon the Rock of Ages if he will only be humble, meek, and lowly of heart. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 25

“The mountains shall depart, and the hills shall be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.” Isaiah 34:10. We are not one of us excusable, under any form of trials, for having our hold shaken from God. In every trial God is our source of strength and our stronghold. When we look to God’s mercy and power and cry unto Him for help, His hand will be stretched forth, mighty to save. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 26

Brother Bohler should have felt that if he had God for his Father he could hope and rejoice though every human friend should forsake him. I entreat of him not to rob God of his service because frail man has misjudged him, but to make haste and consecrate himself to God and serve Him with all the powers of his being. God loves him and he loves God and his works must be in accordance with his faith, whatever course man may pursue toward him. His enemies may point to his present position as an evidence that they were right in their judgment of him. Brother Bohler’s course has been hasty and without due thought. His soul has been disgusted and too thoroughly wounded, he thinks, to be healed. Those who have pursued him so relentlessly have been in life and character far from blameless. If God had dealt with their crooked ways and imperfect characters as they have dealt with Brother Bohler, they would have perished long ago. But a compassionate God has borne with them and not dealt with them according to their sins. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 27

God has been true to Brother Bohler, and he should respond to the merciful dealings of God, notwithstanding man has showed so little tenderness and common feeling of humanity. It is Brother Bohler’s privilege to hide in Jesus Christ from the strife of tongues, and to feel that the exhaustless sources of gratitude, contentment, and peace are all open and accessible to him every moment. If he had earthly treasures without limit, he could not be as rich as it is now his privilege to be in the privilege of drinking to the full of the streams of salvation. What has not God done for him in giving him His Son to die for him, and how much more will He not with Him freely give him all things? Why should he be unfaithful to God because man has proved unfaithful to Him? How much stronger than death is the love that binds the mother’s heart to her afflicted child! Yet God declares that even a mother may forget her child, “yet will I not forget thee.” Isaiah 49:15. No, not a single soul who puts his trust in Him shall be forgotten. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 28

“Every human tie may perish, friend to friend unfaithful prove;
Mothers cease their own to cherish, heaven and earth at last remove;
But no change can attend Jehovah’s love.”
3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 29

God thinks of His children with the tenderest solicitude and keeps a book of remembrance before Him that He may never, never forget the children of His care. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 30

Brother and Sister Bohler might have been a precious help to the church in bringing them up to a position of better understanding had the church accepted their efforts. But envy, evil surmising, and jealousy have driven them away from the church. Had they left the scenes of their trials before they did, it would have been far better for them. 3LtMs, Lt 39a, 1878, par. 31