Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)


Lt 36, 1877

Clough, Mary

Oakland, California

November 10, 1877

Portions of this letter are published in 4MR 228-233.

Dear Mary:

Your letter is before me and you may be expecting some response. I have been highly pleased with your work as I have repeated again and again. I have felt that God had raised you up to render me the help I needed at the right time. We have never urged our faith upon you; and while we have felt the deepest solicitude for your spiritual interest and have watched and prayed that you might have strength to follow your convictions and obey the truth, we have kept even this great anxiety to ourselves. It has been known only to ourselves and to God. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 1

Upon religious subjects we have not been reticent, for God has given us our work to act as physicians of souls. When we see moral disease, an interest is at once awakened to point to the remedy. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 2

In regard to religious faith’s being sacred to one’s self and not to be interfered with, I cannot harmonize with the life mission and work of Christ upon the earth. Idolaters have a religion; they may make this same plea: “My religion is sacred to myself. Hands off; do not interfere with my honest belief and worship.” It is the work of God’s servants to feel a deep solicitude for the souls for whom Christ died. And if they see them in error or in danger, through a false faith, it is their duty to do all in their power to convert them to the truth and not leave them in darkness and deception. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 3

We have had hope that the reason of our faith would commend itself to your judgment. It is impossible for us to hold our faith as sacred and yet not feel the deepest interest for our relatives that do not see the Bible truth as we see it. We expected that when we connected with you that your mind would be open to conviction and that you would have a desire to search the Scriptures for yourself to know what is truth. We had no thought but if your mother should have an opportunity to be with those who observed the Sabbath, she would also, like the noble Bereans, search the Scriptures daily to know if these things were so. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 4

We thought that through you and your mother, Wilbur and Addie would also be converted to the truth. But within two weeks, I have had a sudden awakening, and these anxious hopes are dampened, if not dead. We are free to acknowledge that we did not connect with you merely from a business standpoint. We should never have presented to you the inducements we have from time to time in remunerations for your labor if we had not an interest deeper and higher for you and yours than merely a business standpoint. We saw your talent, we admired your adaptability, and we saw that you could be of great service to me in my work and the cause of God generally if your ability were sanctified by connection with heaven. We did not estimate your ability for time merely, but for eternity. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 5

We valued this gift of God to you as a precious jewel, a talent entrusted to you by Him, who is the giver of all mercies and all wisdom and all intelligence. He will hold you responsible for the same. Your accountability will be proportionate to the capital entrusted; and while [you] yourself acknowledge this ability as natural gifts which you possess in no ordinary degree, will you trifle with moral responsibilities? God has not dispensed His sacred trusts capriciously. He has distributed His gifts, His talents, according to the known powers and capacities of His servants. Your ability has been appreciated by those who know them, but they have been employed mostly where their effect would not be enduring, memorialized for eternity. We wished in connecting you with us to have you see and sense the fact that all which you possess God claims, and He will require His own with usury. Jesus has paid the wages of His own blood to secure your willing obedience and cheerful service. We have desired so much that your work upon the earth should bear the test of God and meet His plaudit, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” [Matthew 25:23.] If you shut from us this last hope, if you coolly tell us all the interest you have had and manifested is from a business standpoint, that you have no personal interest even now after you have had light and evidence and knowledge of the truth, I have no heart to maintain our connection; for I have no hope of any change in you. You will have your ability to use for time, but I greatly fear not for eternity. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 6

I had hoped so much—but when I stood in the office and that hack drove up and you seated yourself beside that gentleman, a revelation of matters opened to me that pained and shocked me; [my] confidence in you was shaken. You have concealed every thing from us. When we have been open and frank with you, connected as we are, this secret workings of things and we not advised or taken at all in your confidence are enough. Not knowing one day what will open the next, we cannot be brought into any such disagreeable positions as I have been in conviction and in feelings the last week. If we must work hitherto purely from a business standpoint, I have not the least heart or courage to continue our connection. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 7

The day of reckoning is coming when all the talents will be investigated. We read in the account of the talents when brought to the master, no credit is taken to themselves for their diligent trading: They give their lord all the glory. Thou deliverest to me such talents. And then they tell whence their profits came in trading. No gain could have been acquired without the deposit, no interest without the principal. I have gained beside them by their help, such and such increase, acknowledging the capital advanced by him; and if they have traded successfully, he shall have all the glory. Without the Master’s advanced capital, we should have been bankrupt for eternity; but when the Master speaks His approval of the talents well employed, He rewards the faithful worker as though the merits were his own. He speaks His unqualified approval, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Matthew 25:21. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 8

There is no deception so fatal, so hopeless, as a determination of living without God. The histories of good and bad men faithfully chronicled by the pen of inspiration were written to impress upon our minds this most practical lesson that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and in the keeping of His commandments there is great reward. All the honors or favors of the world are not sufficient compensation for one hour or one act of disobedience to God. Yet how many accept the temptations offered to Christ and concede to the powers of darkness. Disobedience to God is dishonor and disaster to ourselves. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 9

But all this I am afraid is distasteful to you. You have had from me the deepest affection. Last spring you would not receive our advice or counsel. You may insist you were right; I shall take the opposite ground. The experience of last spring has prepared me to take the position I now feel that God would have me take. I have loved your society. I have appreciated your labors. Your own mother could not feel any deeper or truer interest for you and more unselfish than I have had. Last spring, in the thought that we might be separated, I felt suffering which Paul described as crucifixion, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Galatians 6:14. That experience I passed through in connection with you nearly cost me my life. And now I am passing through a similar experience. The tendrils of my affections have been too strongly entwined about you. These tendrils are being severed. To me it is a crucifixion. My love is not demonstration, but nonetheless deep, earnest, and strong. A sadness has come over me that is pitiful, but God can heal. There is for me a balm in Gilead, a Physician in whom I can trust. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 10

It will take time for me to be in any condition to write on any subject or to engage in any new work. I had so hoped that your labors with me would be for time. But in the office as that hack drove up, the impression of the Spirit of God gave me presentiments of what I should expect. Not the slightest hint from any source had come to me, but the veil had by the hand of God been torn from my eyes. I can now look upon matters in altogether a different light. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 11

Mary, I have no disposition to urge our faith upon you. No, no. If you see nothing in it that savors of truth, I would not have you accept it. Mary, if you should lay aside all theories and theologies and only read the book of human nature with its dark and terrible revelations daily revealed to us, you would find reason enough to see that human character will have to be made over and utterly changed or the world will perish in its corruptions. The great mystery to me is not that man must be born again to see the kingdom of God, but that he should be unwilling to accept the help that Jesus left the courts of heaven and came to the world to give him; that he should feel so perfectly content and satisfied without His help, Jesus knows that if the world with its pride, and with its ambition and violence, possesses the soul, man can have no rest, no peace, no happiness. There is no true elevation of character outside of Christ. There is no peace, happiness, or joy attainable for man which can bear comparison for a moment with that which the possessor may find in Christ. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 12

Take the world’s conqueror, the commander of armies. He may disturb the throne of kings and make nations tremble at his approach, and the very same warrior may die of exile, disappointed and humiliated. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 13

Poets may soar to the skies. They may awaken the fiery passions of millions; they may cause any amount of misery over the ruins of their labors and may die cursing God and the day of their birth. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 14

The greatest philosopher may lift himself up in his pride, he may range through the harmonies and charms of the universe, tracing the wonderful manifestations of creative power and beholding the expressions of infinite wisdom in the formation of worlds, yet he has not wisdom to find God in His great and majestic works. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 15

The mystery of God’s hand discerned in His creative works he does not comprehend—wise in the world’s knowledge, but a fool as far as the mystery of godliness is concerned. Yet just such human greatness attracts the world, and millions are ready to worship this world’s gods which pass away to atoms of dust, to know nothing of the immortal life which runs parallel with the life of Jehovah. His glory has perished with his existence. But that humble child of God has the promise of heirship to riches that will endure, glory that will never cease to brighten with the progress of [the] ages. The change wrought in his affections have brought him into harmony with the will of the Controller of the universe. His name angels have enrolled in the record book of heaven, and mansions are prepared for his reception. When the Lord of life and glory shall appear, the second time without sin unto salvation, I would that you could see these things as I view them. I would that you could unite your work with ours, not merely from a business standpoint, but because you see and accept the work of God and help us to do the great work in warning the world because you see this is the work that God would have you to do. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 16

But I will say no more at present. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 17

In love, 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 18

Your aunt. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 19

I shall want this again as I have scarcely looked over it. I have written this after nearly a sleepless night. Excuse all mistakes. E. G. W. 3LtMs, Lt 36, 1877, par. 20