Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)

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Lt 72, 1886

Matteson, Brother and Sister

Basel, Switzerland

January 2, 1886

Portions of this letter are published in EGWE 79.

Dear Brother and Sister Matteson;

I have attempted to write you several times, but other matters pressed in demanding immediate attention, and I did not complete a letter to you commenced at Christiania. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 1

After I reached Basel, I found an urgent call for me to go to Torre Pellice, Italy. I went; Mary White accompanied me. We did hope to save Brother Mallon. We heard he was writing a tract against us. We attended meeting in the hall—his hall hired and used for meetings by our people. I spoke in regard to the Sabbath’s distinguishing us from the world and that it was a sign, a test, and then spoke of the martyrs who suffered for the truth’s sake. Meanwhile Mallon came into the meeting, and as I was near the close of my discourse interpreted by Brother Bourdeau, Mr. Mallon arose and interrupted me and expressed in strong terms great anxiety for his soul and wanted to know whether he would be lost if he did not keep the Sabbath. Say, Yes or No. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 2

I told him, that was a question not for me [to] answer. I could say that if light came, we would be judged according to the light the Lord had permitted to reflect upon our pathway. This answer made him very impatient. Yes or No, he was determined should be my answer. I told him very much depended upon Yes or No, and I would have to lay out general principles and then leave the matter where the Bible left it. Blessed are they that do His commandments for they shall have right to the tree of life and enter in through the gates into the city. He then began to read a manuscript which he had written which he threatened to have published. He just amplified around there to a great rate. He produced the same objections, going over the same ground which had been answered about one thousand times, and seemed to feel proud of his exploits. When he had read his objections to the Sabbath, he said that Christ broke the Sabbath. I said, Bro. Mallon, I hope you will not place yourself on the side of the cavilling, plotting Pharisees. Then he seemed to be enraged. He fairly jumped up and down. I said, You asked me to answer your arguments, and when I attempt to answer, you get up and become so excited. You do not know one word I say. I say you will not give me a chance to say anything. I have answered some questions in the French paper. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 3

He worked until the meeting was about to break up in confusion, and we closed with the benediction. He would not publish our appointment that night for next day, would not publish notices of the meeting, and the next day he came into meeting, and while I was speaking made display of himself in gesticulating like a crazy man, throwing his arms about wildly and talking aloud, and finally arose and called Elder A. C. Bourdeau an impostor. We went calmly on, taking no notice of the interruption. He snatched his hat and rushed out of the hall, and when we left the meeting had a crowd gathered around him, talking in a very excited manner. Before the next meeting we had notices out and what was our astonishment next day to find notices pasted just above our notices for meetings on the very evenings and days that we had out our appointments. Cocorder and Elder Miles Grant began their work which at first was a tract against me and the visions. You can imagine how I was situated. I had no real hold on the people. They were unacquainted with me. I pled with the Lord most earnestly for Him to give us wisdom and grace that we might take a course that He would approve. The Lord did help us. We had Mary attend his meetings with Elder A. C. Bourdeau and take notes. But we decided not to make the least reference to Elder Grant’s tirade, but have our appointments come on a different hour than Grant’s meeting and I would talk on practical subjects. We had a very fair attendance. Elder Grant took the position there was no Sabbath at all to be kept, there was no law, and he placed me in the company with the law and swept us away together. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 4

I was glad I was in such good company. He claimed that the law of God was a yoke of bondage; if we kept it, we were fallen from grace. Then he presented me and my work in as ridiculous a light as possible, bringing forward the testimony of those who had twenty-five and thirty years ago manufactured the lies which you have heard oft repeated, no doubt, which Elder Grant had loved so well and repeated so often. It seemed so truly to represent the dragon spirit in this effort. And the dragon was wroth with the woman and went to make war with the remnant of her seed who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 5

Cocorder is a preacher, an “Age to Come” man, and he is a licentious man. He is an adulterer and has a very smooth tongue, but truth and honesty are not his companions. This kind of a man is the one Elder Grant yoked up with, and with satanic zeal they tried to do their work. But their efforts were to provoke a discussion, to create an excitement, but we kept right along, doing our work as though they did not exist. We did considerable praying about that time. We felt that if we trusted in God, all things would work together for our good. The one of the Vaudois came to Grant’s meeting and went home stating to their people there were two parties of Adventists [who] came to quarrel with one another, that the people ought not to go to the meetings of either party. These things made it difficult for us, although we had no quarreling to do. That is Grant’s business. He loves this work of picking up hearsay and peddling it out as truth. We have not such a work to do. We do not go from place to place to speak of myself and vindicate my character. I had testimonies sent me from Basel that would contradict every statement Grant made, but his was not my work. I left myself in the hands of God and just talked of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 6

We had some of the best class to hear us. The question was asked when we would leave. I told those who inquired, I would stay as long as Elder Grant stayed, if it were till spring, [lest] he should add to his other lies that he drove me from Italy, that I dared not stay after he had exposed my work, etc. Well we stayed until after Elder Grant left. We had some very precious meetings on Sabbath and Sunday especially. A Baptist minister came three miles on foot from St. Johns. His brother and his brother’s son also came. The son interpreted for me on one occasion. These men seemed to be much interested. The Baptist minister visited me, and I had an opportunity to explain to him somewhat in regard to my work. We had a profitable season of prayer together. One has embraced the truth since I left Italy, but Italy is not an easy field by any means in which to labor. The churches are closed against any preaching unless it be of their own sect. There are halls to be had, but frequently these are small. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 7

After we left Mallon’s hall, we rented one under Cocorder’s, so Grant’s meetings were above, ours below. A man had rented all the building, including the hall of the owner, and then in his turn rented out these buildings. Brother A. C. Bourdeau rented the hall of the man that hired it, but Cocorder told the proprietor he would give up his hall if we were permitted to occupy the room below his hall. And the owner of the building found that he could by law turn us out of the hall and so informed Brother A. C. B., so that there seemed to be a hedging up of the way on all sides. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 8

We looked at several halls, but one they wished to sell, another they did not wish to rent unless they could rent the whole flat, several rooms on the same floor. So Elder A. C. Bourdeau has devoted one of his rooms to a hall. It will hold about fifty. It looks like a hard field, but the standard of truth has been raised there, and it does not look like policy to give up the field until a more thorough effort is made. It is so hard to do much for a people whose habits are so that you cannot reach them. They, nearly all rich and poor, go right into their stables; and to reach them in evening meetings where they are, the gospel must be carried into these stables. There are cows, goats, hens, calves, and donkeys in the stable—the heat of the manure filling the stable with a strong scent that is hard exceedingly on the lungs. There is no ventilation except one pane of glass or a little slide about six inches square. There are no floors to these stables, and dry leaves or old refuse straw is brought in and covers the earth. In this place fifty or sixty assemble to hear the Bible opened to their understanding, and there are among these hearers men and women of intelligence—those who want to hear the truth and are astonished at the strange and new things that are taught them. In these places our brethren have to go from three to five miles in an evening up in the mountain gorges and then walk through most dangerous places in the dark. It is not safe for one to go alone, for if anything is said that one of these Italians takes offense at, in his irritation he might do anything that would endanger life. While some may be glad to hear, others will be enraged. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 9

Brother A. C. Bourdeau went about one week ago to attend one of these meetings. There were about twenty-five or thirty to hear, and the ministers of the churches had warned their people not to go to hear these people, for they taught heresy. These have their supper very near the time meetings commence, and they expect the minister will partake with them. They take a basket of bread hung from a rafter and some cheese and milk that has had all the benefit of the stable atmosphere and pass it to their guests. Bro. A. C. B. partook of this, for in doing so he opened his way to the hearts of the people. Now you can see what kind of a field that the laborers in Italy have. There are churches all through the mountain steeps like a city set on a hill, and there are large settlements in these mountain gorges and on the mountain sides, rich vineyards, chestnut groves, and cultivated lands. They may have meetings in the valleys, but how are these mountain settlements to be reached. They will not, while they have no interest, go into the valleys to the halls, for it is a very laborious process, so missionaries must reach them where they are, and if they can get access to them; then they may become informed in regard to the unhealthful manner of living in the stable with their cattle in winter to secure the advantages of the heat without the expense of fuel, for the wood is very scarce. They plant mullens and cut off the sprouts, some no thicker than your finger, and sell these in little bundles for one cent per pound. They also use all the sprouts and every limb they can spare of their chestnut trees. All the trimmings from the grapes are treasured and used for fuel. How these people are to be educated in regard to the healthfulness of the air they breathe is a perplexing question. It is impossible for the people who live in this way to have healthful lungs and to have pure blood, but how can we make them believe this? Habits and customs have confirmed them so firmly in this way that they do not know any better way. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 10

Well, this is the work that is now being done in Torre Pellice, Italy, and just such a work will have to be done in other places in Italy. There are very nice cities. Turin is one where we tarried all night, but it is almost thoroughly Catholic; and there are several places near Torre Pellice, small settlements—some are Protestants and some are almost wholly Catholics. The cities in the Alpine certainly ought to have much done for them, but how shall it be done? Shall we leave them to perish? or where are the missionaries who will go to work in such places? May the Lord God of Israel look upon these cities and valleys in Italy whose sod pilgrim feet have trod, where martyrs’ bones have been buried, where there will come up from caverns from the craggy rocks a host of precious ones who gave their lives, but would not yield their faith. Certainly the prayer should go up to God that He would raise up laborers to go forth in the harvest field. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 11

I feel very solemn as I think over this matter and see the condition of the people in such amazing ignorance of God’s Word and amazing ignorance of how to preserve their bodies in the best condition of health. Here we are shut away from the higher classes by the men professing to be shepherds of the flock, who feed themselves, but who feed not the flock of God. Every church is refused to those who would preach any other doctrine than that which their denomination believes, and the halls will bring out numbers to hear; but the very ones who need the words in the message of warning, it does not reach these. Well, the Lord of heaven has a care for His own, the purchase of His blood. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 12

When I came back to Basel, I was thoroughly exhausted. I had spoken ten times, Sundays twice in the day, and the anxiety and burden carried me very near the borders of breaking. I had a tremendous taxing labor at Christiania. It seemed the burden on my soul would give me no rest day nor night, and the journey was severe home from Christiania to Basel. Without rest, I went in answer to their call immediately to Italy, and the harassing time was a trying one; and when we reached here we found work. Edith was dying. We labored and prayed with her, and the Lord heard our prayers. The afflicted one was comforted, relieved, and the peace of Christ came into her heart; and we have not a question but she has fallen asleep in Jesus. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 13

Well, I am again coming up from great weakness, and I am able to write and speak again to the people. I shall put my trust in God and not be discouraged. If the Lord permits Elder Grant to follow on my track and hedge up my way, I will go right on doing my best. He can make the wrath of man to praise Him. I have had on the night before, New Years, a most precious dream. I thought I went into a room to pray, and my burden was the state of things in Europe. What could we do to improve matters? How could we arouse the people to do what they could do with their influence to help build up the work? While I was telling the Lord about this matter, a voice spoke to me in a distant corner of the room. I looked up in surprise and I thought it was Jesus. What a glow of happiness I felt. He assured me that He was not a great way off when I was in sore perplexity, that He was nigh, and He told me that I might ask great things and the Lord would answer, that He was not willing that His people should be disheartened, that they did not have the simplicity of faith, and with most comforting, loving words, He blessed me and told me I might confide all my troubles to Him, and I might draw by faith from Jesus the very things I needed. I felt so thankful that I implored at once that I might have greater wisdom, that I might give wise counsel, that I should not in any instance mislead one soul. I asked that the presence of Jesus and His light and power would go with me as I bore the message. He said, I will answer your prayer. O how happy I felt when I awoke. I was so free and all peaceful. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 14

I have had many letters to write—one matter of a very perplexing character was in regard to courtship and marriage. A young man was urging his attentions upon Brother Albert Vuilleumier’s daughter. I had letters to write to him and have sent the general part of it for Review. You will see it. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 15

I have many things I would like to write, but I cannot now. I will state that one young man from the theological school, a native German, has taken his stand fully on the truth. He is a man of excellent mind. He is now at work in the office. His coming out as he did without having personal labors for him has aroused the attention of the teachers in the school and the students, for this young man stated plainly his faith. They all bribed and urged him to remain in school and study. Would arrange that he should keep the Sabbath and yet carry on his studies, but he said, No. I cannot conscientiously do this, for if I believe this truth, I must act a part in proclaiming it. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 16

Brother Whitney has received letters from two in France who have come out on the truth by reading. They sent money for the volumes of the French Signs, so the work is moving slowly. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 17

Yesterday, Sabbath, Christine took her stand fully with us and was baptized. Oh, how thankful I felt for this. She is a precious child. We like her very much, and I think she is perfectly contented. Elder D. T. Bourdeau writes that three have embraced the truth in Geneva, and many others are interested. So we will look upon all the things the Lord is doing for us and take courage. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 18

Write me how you are getting along. I want to hear from you. I want to hear about your boy’s hand. How are your wife and daughter? 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 19

May the Lord bless you all with health and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost is my prayer. 4LtMs, Lt 72, 1886, par. 20