Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)

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Lt 58, 1880

Harris, Chapin

Battle Creek, Michigan

January 12, 1880

Portions of this letter are published in LYL 68-69.

[Dear Brother Chapin Harris:]

I arise early this morning. My mind is not at rest in regard to you. In the solemn view presented me a short time since in the night season, your case was shown me. The Ledger of Heaven was opened and I read there a record of your life at a glance. I took it in, your weakness, your defects of character. As the eyes of the Judge of all the earth cast one glance at the record and then at you, not a word was spoken by Him. Your own lips repeated, “Weighed in the balance and found wanting. I have sown to the flesh; I shall reap corruption.” [Daniel 5:27; Galatians 6:8.] 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 1

Your face was as pale as the dead. Great drops of perspiration stood upon your forehead and there, before all the assembled throng, you openly confessed where you first stumbled, where your feet were first directed in the path to perdition. And you cast most bitter reflection upon yourself that you had trusted to your own judgment and walked in your own wisdom, rejected the voice of God, despised the warnings and advice of His servants, and with perseverance and persistency followed your own pernicious ways by which the way of truth was evil spoken of, and souls were lost who might have been saved through your instrumentality. Much more I might relate in reference to you, but this is enough for the present. 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 2

I felt so grateful when I came out of vision and found that it was not a present reality, that probation still lingered. And now I call upon you to make haste and no longer trifle with eternal things. 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 3

You flatter yourself that you are honest, but you are not. By your own course of conduct with Mattie Stratton you have been and still are welding the chains by your own course of conduct with Carol that will hold you in the veriest bondage. The voice of God you have rejected, the voice of Satan you have heeded. Light you have called darkness and darkness you have called light. You act like a man bereft of his senses, and for what? A girl without principle, without one really lovable trait of character, proud, extravagant, self-willed, unconsecrated, impatient, heady, without natural affection, impulsive. Yet if you cut entirely loose, she might stand a better chance to see herself and humble her heart before God. The tears of heartbreaking sorrow Jesus wept over the impenitence of Jerusalem added greatly to her guilt. It adds to your guilt that a God-fearing mother has wept in bitterness of soul over you. These tears will arise in condemning power in the day of judgment. 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 4

You should learn from Achan’s case never to undervalue the power of temptation. At the very time you may think yourself secure you may be in the greatest danger of stumbling and falling. You cannot meet and resist temptation in your own strength. 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 5

A review of the past will be profitable for you if it is done in a right spirit. You can then, after the excitement and passion have passed away, see more rationally and clearly the dark side of your character, and be humbled in the dust on account of your mistakes and errors which have brought the frown of God upon you and upon the church on your account. 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 6

When Joshua was nearing the close of his life, he took up a review of the past for two reasons: to lead the Israel of God to gratitude for the marked manifestation of God’s providence in all their travels, and to lead them to humility of mind, under a sense of their unjust murmurings and repinings and their neglect to follow out the revealed will of God. 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 7

Joshua goes on to warn them in a most earnest manner against the idolatry around them. They were warned not to have any connection with idolaters, not to intermarry with them, nor in any way put themselves in danger of being affected and corrupted by their abominations. They were counseled to shun the very appearance of evil, not to dabble around the borders of sin for this was the surest way to be engulfed in sin and ruin. He showed them that desolation would be the result of the departing from God and as God was faithful to His promise, He would also be faithful in executing His threatenings. The Lord would have you apply this to your individual self. 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 8

Joseph, in the providence of God, was deprived of his happy home and the teaching and example of his God-fearing father, and his lot was cast in a family of dark heathen. There his virtue was severely tested. It is always a critical period in a young man’s life when he is separated from home influences and wise counsel, and enters upon new scenes and trying tests. But, if he does not, of his own accord, place himself in these positions of danger and remove himself from parental restraints; but is, without will or choice of his own, placed in dangerous positions, if he relies upon God for strength—cherishing the love of God in his heart—he will be kept from yielding to temptation by the power of God who placed him in that trying position. God will protect him from being corrupted by the fierce temptation. 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 9

God was with Joseph in his new home. He was in the path of duty, suffering wrong but not doing wrong. He therefore had the love and protection of God, for he carried his religious principles into everything he undertook. 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 10

What a difference there was in Joseph’s case and the case of young men who apparently force their way into the very field of the enemy, exposing themselves to the fierce assaults of Satan! Joseph suffered for righteousness’ sake, while the trials of others are of their own procuring. Joseph did not conceal his religion or manly piety to avoid persecution. 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 11

The Lord prospered Joseph, but in the midst of his prosperity came the darkest adversity. The wife of his master is a licentious woman, one who urged his steps to take hold on hell. Will Joseph yield his moral gold of character to the seductions of a corrupt woman? Will he remember that the eye of God is upon him? 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 12

Few temptations are more dangerous and fatal to young men than the temptation to sensuality, and none, if yielded to, will prove so decidedly ruinous to soul and body for time and eternity. The welfare of his entire future is suspended upon the decision of a moment. Joseph calmly casts his eyes to heaven for help, slips off his loose outer garment, leaving it in the hand of his temptress, and while his eye is lighted with determined resolve in the place of unholy passion, he exclaims, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” [Genesis 39:9.] The victory is gained; he flees from the enchantress; he is saved! 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 13

You have had an opportunity to show whether your religion was a practical reality. You have taken liberties in the sight of God and holy angels that you would not take under the observation of your fellow men. 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 14

True religion extends to all the thoughts of the mind, penetrating to all the secret thoughts of the heart, to all the motives of action, to the object and direction of the affections, to the whole framework of our lives. 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 15

“Thou God seest me” [Genesis 16:13], will be the watchword, the guard of the life. Joseph’s faithful integrity led to the loss of his reputation and his liberty. This is the severest test that the virtuous and God-fearing are subjected to—that vice seems to prosper while virtue is trampled in the dust. 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 16

The seducer was living in prosperity as a model of virtuous propriety while Joseph, true to principle, was under a degrading charge of crime the most revolting. Joseph’s religion kept his temper sweet and his sympathy with humanity warm and strong, notwithstanding all his trials. 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 17

There are those who, if they feel they are not rightly used, become sour, ungenerous, crabbed, [and] uncourteous in their words and deportment. They sink down discouraged, hateful and hating others. But Joseph was a Christian. No sooner did he enter upon prison life than he brought all the brightness of his Christian principles into active exercise; he began to make himself useful to others. He entered into the troubles of his fellow-prisoners. He was cheerful; he was the Christian gentleman. God was preparing him under this discipline for a situation of great responsibility, honor, and usefulness, and he was willing to learn the lessons the Lord would teach him. He learned to bear the yoke in his youth. He learned to govern by first learning obedience himself. He humbled himself and the Lord exalted him to special honor. 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 18

You may take these lessons home. You have need to learn, and may God help you. 3LtMs, Lt 58, 1880, par. 19