Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)

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Lt 61, 1880

Harris, Chapin

Hornellsville, New York

September 9, 1880

Portions of this letter are published in 4MR 223-226; 9MR 384.

Chapin Harris,

I feel a deep interest that this last call shall not be treated indifferently as the former have been. It is the last invitation you will have, if you do not heed this. I will send with this several pages that have been written about one year [ago]—at the time of last camp meeting. After that meeting, before I could get a chance to copy it, another vision was given me which I read to you at the meeting, withholding the closest portions. 3LtMs, Lt 61, 1880, par. 1

Your course of action, I was shown, has done more to lower the standard in the Lancaster church of order and discipline and subjection to order than any other one. Your influence has been demoralizing—your example to encourage undue attachments and a courting spirit with the young. Your course is not at all in accordance with the will of God. You have stated to me that you had done the best you could. You knew better than this. You have had plain, clear light in respect to your duty and gone directly contrary to the light given of heaven and to the advice of your brethren. 3LtMs, Lt 61, 1880, par. 2

But it remains to be seen now whether you will pursue the course of infatuation you have done; whether Mattie Stratton will, after her confession, do the same that she has done. I was shown her course was like this—she would make open acknowledgement and then draw upon your sympathies in a most pathetic manner in letters and in conversation. You have been drawn to her again to give her sympathy and encouragement, and you were so weak, so completely blinded, that you were entangled again more firmly than ever. 3LtMs, Lt 61, 1880, par. 3

You were shown me in her society hours of the night; you know best in what manner these hours were spent. You called on me to speak whether you had broken God’s commandments. I ask you, Have you not broken them? How was your time employed hours together night after night? Were your position, your attitude, your affections such that you would want them all registered in the ledger of heaven? I saw, I heard things that would make angels blush. 3LtMs, Lt 61, 1880, par. 4

Every time you placed yourself in her company you grieved the Spirit of God. Your sin was much greater than hers, for you have had an experience that she has not. Her moral sense of right and wrong was never of any value. She would not hold the same mind any length of time. But I was shown you had come to her level; you would prevaricate, and so would she; you have debased yourself, so has she. 3LtMs, Lt 61, 1880, par. 5

Once you were beloved of God, a young man of promise, but you have forfeited the confidence of your brethren, and your wisdom has been taken away; you cannot now discern between the sacred and the common; sin has lost its offensive character. You are no more what Chapin Harris was, but a young man that has refused light. You have followed the bent of your own mind and are transformed, not perfecting Christian character, but deteriorating in principle, in manners, in temper, in every trait of character. You have been laying up for yourself a record that you will blush to meet in the day of God. 3LtMs, Lt 61, 1880, par. 6

No young man should do as you have done to Mattie Stratton unless married to her; and I was much surprised to see that you did not sense this matter more keenly. Why I write now is to implore you for your soul’s sake to dally with temptations no longer. The influence of this association has changed a loving, dutiful son into an unfeeling, undutiful child. You would listen to the words and suggestions of such a girl as Mattie Stratton against a godly mother. You would break your union with the mother who bore you for a worthless girl who would ever prove the bane of your life. Make short work in breaking this spell that like a fearful nightmare has brooded over you. Cut yourself loose now and forever, if you have any desire for the favor of God. 3LtMs, Lt 61, 1880, par. 7

Such a course as you have pursued has been enough to destroy confidence in you as an honest man and as a Christian. Unless you were under the bewitching of satanic power, you would not have done as you have. But I stand in doubt of you now, whether you will change your course of action. I know the power that holds his enchantment over you, and I want you to see and sense it before it shall be too late. 3LtMs, Lt 61, 1880, par. 8

Will you now change entirely, cut the last connection with Mattie Stratton? Will she do this on her part? If neither of you will do this, marry her at once and disgrace yourselves and the cause of God no more. 3LtMs, Lt 61, 1880, par. 9

Now is the time for you to grasp the light; now is the time to work. Pass this period and you are where you cannot break the power of Satan. Do not trifle with the Spirit of God. Do not delay longer to retrace your steps. 3LtMs, Lt 61, 1880, par. 10

Your mother is a woman beloved of God. You have despised her counsel and set your heart in stubbornness. But every pang you have caused her to suffer, every tear to shed, every heartbreaking prayer to send up to heaven, will confront you in the day of God unless you fully repent and redeem the past. There is no excuse for you. That so good and faithful a mother should be turned from you, and your affection and time and attention be spent hovering over a girl of no moral worth, is a most astonishing thing. I was shown the true state of these things: the indifference, the inattention, the positive disrespect with which you have treated your mother; and how God looks upon them, you cannot sense. You have been like a man paralyzed, and if you see things at all, it is as trees walking. Pray, oh pray as never before, that God would show you your true state as you have been and as you are. 3LtMs, Lt 61, 1880, par. 11

I intend to have the testimony I read sent to you as I can get time to copy these things off. 3LtMs, Lt 61, 1880, par. 12

Now, Chapin, will you see how unworthy your course has been of a son to his mother? God has not and will not bless you until you see this; and you will never see this until you break away from the influences that have thus transformed you and changed all your feelings and deportment to your mother. 3LtMs, Lt 61, 1880, par. 13

If this girl could have such an influence over you [now]—poor, infatuated, deceived boy—what would she do were she married to you? 3LtMs, Lt 61, 1880, par. 14

Your mother is right in her estimate of the worth and character of Mattie. She is right in not treating her with respect or inviting her to her house. You are the one that is wrong, because you are dazed by the bewitching power of Satan. When your mother sees one exerting an influence over her son that is leading him to reject the counsel of God against himself, to treat with indifference all the counsel of church members who see his danger, how can she smile upon and invite such an one to her house? How can she give the least sanction to this forward girl’s advances? She has done her duty. 3LtMs, Lt 61, 1880, par. 15

You have signally failed in almost every respect. Now the rest of your life seek to get back what you have lost. There is scarcely the pure thread of gold in your character now left, but you may be winning back in a measure what you have lost by your own foolishness and stubbornness in a wrong course. 3LtMs, Lt 61, 1880, par. 16

Your first duty is to your mother. Talk it over with Albert. He does not do what he can do and should do to make his mother happy. You can both do what you have not done in this respect, if you will, and let the ledger of heaven give a different record of your course. 3LtMs, Lt 61, 1880, par. 17

God bless you. 3LtMs, Lt 61, 1880, par. 18