Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)

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Lt 16, 1879

Matteson, Brother

Denison, Texas

February 21, 1879

Portions of this letter are published in TDG 60; 4MR 207-210.

Dear Brother Matteson:

We feel very grateful to God as we read of your success. We hope and pray that the way may be opened before you and that many souls may be brought to the knowledge of the truth. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 1

My spirit is stirred within me as I see so many cities and villages in darkness, superstition, and ignorance, and no one to teach them the truth. I can scarcely restrain myself from crying aloud, Where are the missionaries to bear the truth to these ignorant ones? Where are the men and women who will be self-denying, self-sacrificing, to save souls? Alas are there not very many like the doomed fig tree that bore no fruit, mere cumberers of the ground? They seem to think that to profess Christ constitutes the sum of Christianity. Many live in a dead hope of something coming to help them on to a better platform, but they do not grow an inch. These dishonor the religion of the Bible by lowering the standard to their own attainments. They do not prepare themselves to meet hardships and the assaults of Satan, and to fight with principalities and powers. They do not see that there is a constant warfare against the flesh, against the inclinations, vanity, and pride of their own hearts. They do not experience the crucifixion of self. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 2

Oh, for the Spirit of the Master! How His children need it that they may put on the whole armor of righteousness and go forth to labor, denying self and suffering for Christ’s sake. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 3

I often think of you in your distant field of labor, and I think of your children so far separated from you. I think it would be well for them to be with their parents. But it is no small work to train up children for the heavenly courts. It requires patient, protracted, incessant effort. Sister Matteson has had much burden upon her, and has failed to give her children all that tender, motherly affection which they needed, and which would bind the heart of the children to the parent. There has been too much anxiety to save in worldly things, too close, rigid economy practiced to let the softening influence of love pervade her heart in her domestic life. Stern justice has shut out the twin-sister love, which should ever stand by the side of justice. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 4

Sister Matteson should open her heart to the genial, glad rays of the Sun of righteousness, and ever bear in mind that God is love. The attribute of love she should receive into her heart and have it interwoven with all her motherly duties. Then home will be a sunny place to her children. If she again assumes the care of her children, she must change her attitude toward them. While she is strict, she must be patient and tender. She must not be so involved in care as to neglect faith and payer and tenderness and love. She must encourage and discipline herself to have a gentle, winning, loving spirit, which will have a transforming power upon the children and make the home a Bethel, the hearth holy, consecrated. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 5

Just such a spirit as our dear sister needs among her children in her home, she needs in her connection with the church. The sweet, melting love of a compassionate Savior should be cultivated in her heart and soften the rugged features of her character so that she can feed the lambs of Christ. She should study to make the religious life pleasant and attractive. She should not have her whole soul absorbed in stern, homely duties, for as children have been brought into the world, it is the duty of parents to educate, discipline, and train them, making this life as pleasant for them as possible, and showing a disposition to make them peaceful and happy. Parents should endeavor to keep the soil of the heart mellow with love and affection, thus preparing it for the seed of truth, and they should preoccupy the soil by paring it for the seed of truth, and they should preoccupy the soil [by] sowing good seed, otherwise it will be impoverished and corrupted with noxious weeds. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 6

It is a very nice thing to deal with minds. It will require careful study to know how to deal with the tender, impressible minds of children. Too great severity makes them hard and coarse and unfeeling, while a neglect of discipline is like leaving a field untilled; it is speedily covered with weeds, thistles, and briers. The impressible, expanding minds of children are thirsting for knowledge. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 7

Parents should make it a point to keep their own minds informed, that they may impart knowledge to their children, thus providing their minds with proper food, leaving no place for hunger after debasing pleasure and indulgences. Good, sound instruction is the only preventive of evil communication which corrupts good manners. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 8

You may choose, if you will, whether your children’s minds will be occupied with pure elevated thoughts or with vicious sentiments. You cannot keep those active minds unoccupied, neither can you [keep them] away from evil. Only the inculcation of right principles in correct knowledge will exclude the elements of evil. But remember the Lord gives to the earth not only clouds and rain, but the beautiful, smiling sunshine which causes the seeds sown to spring up, the green foliage and buds and flowers to appear. Just so, dear parents, should be your work in your family and in the vineyard of the Lord. You need to give not only restrictions and reproofs and correction, but encouragement, the pleasant sunshine of kind words—cheerful, joyful, happy [words]—in your homes and in the church. You need to keep your souls in patience, waiting, hoping, and praying. You will reap if you faint not. You will always not see immediate results, but keep working in faith, quietly waiting for the salvation of God. You should be full of Bible truth, Bible stories, and interesting parables, your own heart softened [and] subdued with its pure morals and fascinating incidents; and as you teach your children, they will catch the inspiration you feel. Like the body, the mind derives its health and strength from the food which it receives. The mind becomes pure, and broad, and elevated when the thoughts and conversation are of that character. Yet it is too often debased, darkened, and soured with fretfulness, censure, and dwelling upon the things of the world instead of being elevated and attracted by heavenly subjects. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 9

Our children may be made noble, elevated, pure, and refined if they have the proper Bible instruction. We want more sunshiny parents and more sunshiny Christians. Oh, what a revelation will be made in the great day of accounts when the judgment shall sit and the books be opened! We are too much shut up to ourselves. The kindly, encouraging word is withheld. The smile which costs us nothing is not given to the children, to the destitute, the oppressed and discouraged. There are some members in the families who need more discipline, kindly training, and patient labor than others. Their stamp of character was given them as their legacy, and they need pity, sympathy, and love from those who have transmitted to them their hereditary tendencies. By patient, persevering labor given in kindly sympathy and love, these wayward ones or apparently perverse ones or dull ones may be fitted to do a good work for the Master. Such ones may possess undeveloped powers which will be aroused after a time, and they may fill a place far in advance of those from whom you expected very much. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 10

It is bad business to let a discouraging blight rest upon the lives of these peculiar-tempered children because they are so. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 11

The same principle should be carried out not only in the family, but in the church. The great day will reveal that those who have been earnest and persevering in helping these unpromising cases, so generally neglected and shunned, have as the result many stars in their crown of rejoicing. These very ones who seemed so defective had qualities that needed to be developed by patient love and untiring effort. Such persons have often made the most successful laborers in missionary fields. They knew how to help the very ones who like themselves needed help. Was the effort lost upon these apparently one-sided characters? Oh, no, when the right chord was touched, the response came. What a work for the laborer! What a reward will be his! How does God look upon it? We shall know when we shall see as we are seen and know as we are known, for eternity alone can reveal the amount of good accomplished. Who then will shrink from the unpleasant duties; where can the labor be better expended? Let all parents, teachers, and ministers feel that it is a solemn duty enjoined upon them by the Lord to be light-bearers, light-givers, holding forth the Word of life with persevering fidelity, sowing beside all waters. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 12

Christians are the light of the world. They should let their light shine in their own homes, and “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 13

We want our taper to illuminate our own home, brightening the path which our children shall travel, and then it will extend its rays beyond our dwellings, to be a bright and shining light to the world. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 14

Dear Bro. and Sr. Matteson, God will help you every hour, while you trust in Him. He loves you, He loves your children. One is not, but you should shed no tears for her who sleeps in Jesus. You may weep for the living. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 15

We are deeply interested for you and yours. Do not labor beyond your strength and thus incapacitate yourself for doing the work so essential to be done. Labor moderately. You pray too long, you talk too long, for your physical strength. You should labor intelligently, in accordance with the laws of life and health. Be temperate in all things. God does not require you to overwork. Be cautious. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 16

I have been shown the great need of help all over Europe, and God sees their want. He will work, He will move upon men to give themselves to His cause unreservedly. But meanwhile, do what you can without exhausting your energies. And in the end you will find you have accomplished very much more than if you had used your strength imprudently until your vigor were gone, and you were spiritless, nervous, and irritable. Attempt no more work than you can do well, and preserve calmness, patience, and cheerfulness of mind. When you overdo, a great share of your influence is lost entirely. You become sharp where you should be kind and patient. You give hasty answers where you should give thought and consideration. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 17

In preaching, your subjects are not always well chosen, nor treated with the most wisdom. God wants you to do less work and then you can do it more perfectly. As a general rule, a man whose physical system is exhausted with overlabor will not show forth the graces of meekness and patience. If you would glorify the Master in your body and your spirit which are His, you must pay proper attention to the laws of health. God has given you a place in His vineyard. He cannot be glorified in your working so vigorously as to unfit yourself to labor at all. You must work prudently and in the grace of God, and He will be to you a present help in every time of need. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 18

God can do more for the conviction of the people in one moment than you can do in a lifetime. Just hang upon the arm of Omnipotence, and have that faith which works by love and purifies the heart. Be constantly learning of Jesus, constantly increasing in faith and growing in grace and knowledge of the truth. We are doing a great work, and the Lord is our Helper. The Lord is our Shield. He will not leave nor forsake us. Angels of God are engaged in this work of proclaiming the message of warning for the world. Of ourselves we can do nothing. We are as weak as water without the Spirit of the Lord. Our strength is in hiding in Jesus. Let Christ appear as the One altogether lovely and the Chief among ten thousand. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 19

Again, I exhort you to take good care of the habitation which God has given you. Let not sin reign in your mortal body, and do not waste physical powers God has given you, but cherish your strength, putting your whole trust in a perfect Savior. He wants you to be victorious and wear a jeweled crown at last. Heaven, sweet heaven, is the saint’s eternal home. We shall rest by and by. Let us then so use our powers as not abusing them, that God may increase and sanctify them and make them of the highest service. May the Lord come very near you both, my dear brother and sister, and give you a strong influence to beat down error and superstition and the works of Satan. We may ask of God great things, and He will give them us. We shall be strong in His strength. You will receive opposition from the clergy as you live up to and present to others the high standard of the religion of the Bible; contempt and jeering, slander and falsehood will follow you. Your motives, your words, your actions will be misunderstood and misrepresented and contemned. But if you pursue the work irrespective of the abuse given you, if you do right, if you are kind and patient, humble in spirit, happy in God, you will have influence. You will receive the sympathy of all those who are honest and reasonable. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 20

Hold forth the Word of life; the tempest of opposition will spend itself by its own fury and will subside. The clamor will die away. You will be counted odd, overstrict, bigoted. But the people are perishing for knowledge and the harmony of truth will be seen and will be felt and will be obeyed by the honest and God fearing. The children of God will work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, carrying forward the work of God in their own lives and experience, silently and unconsciously to themselves, undermining the foundations of false religion and philosophy. The persecutor and scorner will be put to shame. God will bless the efforts made in His fear.. 3LtMs, Lt 16, 1879, par. 21