Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4

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Lt 74, 1886

Chittenden, Sister

Basel, Switzerland

January 25, 1886

Previously unpublished.

Dear Sister:

I commence this letter not knowing as I can finish it because of pain in my eyes. If not, I shall have to dictate, which I would rather not do because it is of that character I wish to not entrust to another unless compelled. 4LtMs, Lt 74, 1886, par. 1

Several years ago I talked most earnestly with you in regard to your encouraging the familiarity which was apparent to many in Oakland. This matter became a byword. “Where is Brother [J. H.] Waggoner?” “I do not know unless visiting Sister Chittenden.” We were on the ferry boat coming from San Francisco to Oakland. I conversed freely with you, warning you in regard to this matter. Then again I have written under the pressure of a burden to Elder Waggoner. Twice he assured me that the offense should cease, but I know it has not ceased. You promised me you would move from Oakland. I went to see you the second time after I had conversed with you in Oakland, but you were away. But I do not feel clear in reference to this matter. Both you and Elder Waggoner said you would break this spell by confessing prudently to your husband. Had this been done I think I should have heard something about the matter. But I have not the slightest evidence it has been done. And now you have both pursued the same course as heretofore. 4LtMs, Lt 74, 1886, par. 2

I was determined to keep this matter as private as possible, for I have had respect for you both; but notwithstanding our labors you have not broken your intimacy, and you are both an offense to God. I feel it is now my duty to tell it to the church, for I think nothing that I may say, no testimonies I may bear, will have sufficient weight with either of you that you will cease your unlawful lovemaking to one another, and God’s frown is upon the office. God’s frown is upon the church until we do all in our power to rid the church and cause of blot and stain. It is fully as grievous a sin as was that of Achan, who hid a golden wedge and a Babylonish garment. He dissembled. You are both working under a deception. You are transgressing the commandments of God you profess to revere—coveting and stealing the affections and property that belong to another. And I fear the cause of God will be disgraced by our enemies’ getting hold of the matter, and then what a handle they would make of this—a man of gray hairs, a man whose religious life has been devoted to proclaiming the sacred claims of the law of God, with great responsibilities upon him. He is handling sacred things. “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord,” is enjoined upon God’s servants who minister in sacred things. [Isaiah 52:11.] 4LtMs, Lt 74, 1886, par. 3

I cannot tell what to do next in order to clear my soul. I am satisfied neither you nor Elder Waggoner believe the testimony of warning that God has sent to you. And if you did, how dare you sin against so great light? God will let this reproach fall upon us from our enemies if we do not do what we can to put sin out of the camp. God has borne with your perversity for years, but He will not always bear. I shall feel it my duty to lay the matter open to your husband and to the church. It is the love and respect I have had for you both that has kept me silent. 4LtMs, Lt 74, 1886, par. 4

It is the case of M. E. Cornell repeated. Testimony after testimony was borne to him. Every one he acknowledged, and he was so bound in the bewitching snares of Satan that he had not strength to break the spell and did not see the sinfulness of sin. Is it not so with you both? You flatter yourselves that this is not so wrong after all. 4LtMs, Lt 74, 1886, par. 5

David thought only of his pleasure when he stole the wife of Uriah from her husband. But Nathan, a servant of God, lays the charge of his sin heavily upon him, without glossing over the matter at all. You are not at all excusable, and there is sin and only sin in the course you are pursuing. The position Elder Waggoner occupies in close connection with the cause of God makes his crime far greater than even that of Elder Cornell. Elder Cornell never had the talents and entrusted capital of intellect and acquired ability that Elder Waggoner has had. His playing the lover with you, and the liberties he has taken with your person, register you both in the books of heaven adulterers; and now, while I feel the deepest sorrow for you both, I must act. But I will not say anything to expose this matter till I hear from you. You have gone on Satan’s ground, and I saw he was exulting over you both, pointing to your filthy garments. Why should he have control over you both, to cause you the deepest affliction and misery? What can you, either of you, say when the books of heaven reveal not only covetous thoughts, but words and deeds? Then shall we keep this thing cloaked? Shall we say nothing? Shall this offense rest upon the church? 4LtMs, Lt 74, 1886, par. 6

Elder Waggoner should blush with shame, and so should you. You have both unfitted yourselves to be guardians of youth, to be guardians of families or guardians of the church. 4LtMs, Lt 74, 1886, par. 7

While I love your souls, I hate your sins with a perfect hatred. 4LtMs, Lt 74, 1886, par. 8