Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Lt 84, 1886

Butler, G. I.; Haskell, S. N.

Basel, Switzerland

September 14, 1886

Portions of this letter are published in 6MR 94; 10MR 267-268.

Elder Butler and Elder Haskell

Dear Brethren:

I arise this morning when all are sleeping, being unable to sleep since half-past two o’clock. Many things urge themselves upon my mind which it is difficult for me to drop. We received your letter written from Portland, Maine, last evening. We are always glad to hear from either of you because we expect to learn the real condition of the cause. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 1

I was glad to learn of Elder Butler’s taking rest. You have lost nothing by this, and the cause of God will be much better served in your so doing, for you will go to work with much better vigor than if you had kept on and on constantly, as in a treadmill. Elder Haskell should also have had the same rest. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 2

That which you write in reference to South Lancaster I admit is a little perplexing, but much of the perplexity might be avoided. If the old hands there who are troubled and perplexed would not hold so tenaciously to their own ideas and plans as infallible, the Lord would have some chance to do something for them by His Holy Spirit’s power. I see no reason why the lessons that God would have these learn cannot be accepted now, just now, as to wait and wait, and go on in a course that they cannot maintain. I believed that Professor Ramsey would be enabled to correct some things that if permitted to go on would run out your school in South Lancaster. The plan of continually watching the students as if you had no confidence in them, as if they had no principles, will certainly bring about the very things you would avoid. I do not believe in this way of management. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 3

I do not believe in making the table a place where all are under suppression, but a place of cheerfulness, a place where gratitude and kindness and love should flow out spontaneously toward each other. I do not believe in putting the youth into straightjackets. I am against all these things. It is because I know of the inability of some connected with the school to place a right mold on the work—although they would die martyrs in making it prosper—that I felt sure a different element would need to be introduced into the school to prevent a state of things which was coming in and which was not a correct stamp to give to the students and the work. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 4

This is why I though Professor Ramsey would work in an opposite direction and save the school from becoming that which it should not be, narrow and finally extinct. I see no reason why Professor Ramsey cannot serve you well, but the way to work with him is not to find fault with him, but to bring the truth to bear upon his conscience and convince him religiously of the errors that may endanger the school in becoming a worldly institution. The talent Professor Ramsey possesses, balanced by religious principle, is of great value. Without the controlling influence of the Spirit of God, it will take on the worldly mold. But if you expect ever that Professor Ramsey will bring himself into the ideas and the ways and plans of some of these good souls in South Lancaster in the running of the school, you might just as well give it up, for he will never do it—and I hope he never will. While Professor Ramsey is in danger of having the religious element subordinate to the educational, unless controlled by the Spirit of the Lord, those who have managed are in danger of becoming and maintaining a pharisaical narrowness, a sharp, critical spirit, which will make that school anything but that which God would have it. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 5

Here are two extremes, and both need the direct, melting, subduing Spirit of God; and when Christ reigns in the hearts of its managers, angels of God will minister in the school. But so long as there is a spirit of jealousy and evil surmising, suspicion and distrust will prevail, and this is the kind of seed that will be sown; and it will yield an abundant harvest. We see in the life of Christ that He met the people where they were and took them with Him in His way. He did not denounce them, but He sought to come as close to them as possible, that He might reflect light upon them. There must be a happy vein running through all our religious experience if we expect to be a channel of light, if we expect to win souls to Christ. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 6

There is far more pharisaism among our people than they suppose. This has no Saviour in it. That makes us in danger of being rigorous and gloomy, as though Jesus were still in Joseph’s tomb. We want our attitude in the religious life to be one of peace, happiness, and joy. Jesus is not dead. We have a living Saviour, One who is making intercession for us and who bears our cases by name before the Father. We want to cultivate more joy and bring attractiveness into the religious life, everything testifying that we have a risen Saviour, a living Jesus. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 7

There are those who have never studied human nature, those who know not how to deal with human minds, those who act as though it were a sin to smile and to show joy and gladness. This is the spirit that is separating them far from the youth, that they cannot understand them. This is what I have been shown, and I know it is truth, but I had hoped that general principles laid down would correct the evils that seemed to be steadily growing. This order of things I knew must change. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 8

I should feel sorry to have any one of the old, tried hands disconnect from the school, because they will have their lesson to learn and might as well learn it first as last—that there is with them altogether too much criticism, too much watching the youth, too much expected of them, and too little pity and sympathy for them who have inherited tendencies to evil and who have had a wrong education and training. All these need careful, patient study of character and need to have those deal with them who have a large stock of grace and forbearance, sympathy, tenderheartedness, and love. The most erring are the very ones they ought to seek to help the more earnestly, because they are the most needy. Seek to bind their hearts to your heart by the tenderest cords of affection. This work done for them, and done well, will be putting out the talents to good interest, for one scholar educated by precept and example, with right instruction, with correct habits, with gentleness, with love and courtesy, will influence many others both by precept and example, and the labor in talents invested will accumulate. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 9

The great lessons to be learned are how to bind them to your heart, then how to hold them by affection and love. Once obtain their confidence and let them see you are interested in them, and they will be much more likely to obey and come into subjection. Let them think you are suspicioning them and that you have no confidence in them, but must watch and restrain and command, and they will have no confidence in their teachers. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 10

I believe Professor Ramsey and the old hands can harmonize. Let them remember the words of Christ, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” [Matthew 9:13.] We are working in the establishment of schools that give proper instruction to reform characters. We are dealing with those who need everything done for them after the similitude of Christ’s work, and this work of reformation can be done only by faith and love. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 11

Now, should our old hands leave the school, God will surely bring them into other positions to learn the lessons they will need to learn, which I know they must learn, in bringing into their management more of the love of Jesus and far less suspicion and criticism. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 12

I like not these complaints which you make of Sister Harris. I believe her to be a woman who understands many things better than some would give her credit for. I hope you will, Brother Haskell, be careful how Sister Harris’ judgment and counsel are treated. God loves her, although she, as well as the rest in South Lancaster, may err. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 13

Things may be framed in the mind of Elder Haskell that, as the circumstances arise and matters develop, will make a change in his ideas because he is impressed by the Spirit of God at the right time. But if Elder Haskell or Elder Butler lays out a program which teachers must work to carry out, these teachers may not be clear-sighted to discriminate the effects of such a program, and the necessity of modifying the training principle in some respects, as he would do himself if he had the work to do. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 14

If Elder Haskell were on the ground under all and every circumstance, then I believe he could counsel and advise. But when he marks out a plan to work [toward] and is away himself, and those who are doing the work have a prescribed plan that he has fashioned for them, they do not use their own reason, but use the mind and plans of Elder Haskell, which may not always be safe to follow because God is constantly at work in His providence, and a change may be necessary. Were Elder Haskell on the ground, he might steer the ship so that it would clear the breakers. But those who have submitted to do just as other minds have planned can never be trusted in an emergency, for they will make mistakes in following laid-down plans [and] prescribed rules, to the letter, which may bind about the work. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 15

I wish to impress some things upon your minds. Our teachers and the preceptor of the school need the transforming grace of Christ. They do not know that self holds a large place in their experience. Christ must be enthroned in every heart, else self will be seated upon the throne. I have been shown that there has been a principle cherished, not designedly but ignorantly, that every sin of students may be forgiven but the one of casting any criticism or censure upon the teachers. The slightest deviation in this line is treated as the sin which cannot be atoned for. [But] the Majesty of heaven was spoken against, derided, insulted, mocked, and charged with having a devil. [Yet] He did not cast off those poor souls. He loved them. He labored for them. He saved the erring. More of Christ, brethren, and less of self. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 16

I feel so humiliated over the great estimate even some of my best brethren have in regard to my work in this respect. I think I will not take the least notice of their surmisings that my burden has been gathered up from what someone has told me. They must have a wonderful faith in my mission and my work. Those matters I have sought to correct have been urged upon my soul by the Spirit of God. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 17

In regard to Albert Harris, I have but little confidence in the conjectures and the position my good friends take in this matter. I find in place of our brethren and sisters seriously thinking they may not move wisely in all things, and that there may possibly be a necessity of change in their plans, they put all their powers to work to see who it is that is their enemy that has prejudiced Sister White. Do my friends in South Lancaster think their work is perfect? I think if they would just heed the light God has given them, and admit that their ways and plans may possibly need remodeling, then all this terrible burden and fearful discouragement would no longer exist. But when the Lord would correct some of our ways, and mold us as clay is molded in the hands of the potter, there is a surprising protest; there is an unwillingness to be molded. Self asserts its right to remain just as it is. What is wanted is more meekness, more lowliness, less of self, and a great deal more good, sweet, humble religion. When the Spirit of God melts us over, then self will be hid in Jesus. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 18

When Elder Canright began in Worcester, after he had started the work there and had it well going, two tents might have been run just as well as one with but little extra expense. But our brethren could not take in the situation. They could not plan, because Brother Haskell could not be there to plan for them. I saw that a much greater work might have been accomplished, perhaps treble, but men who had the entire charge of the work were not broad in their plans. They had been accustomed to following Elder Haskell’s plans. They could do nothing aside from his counsel. When deprived of this, they could not show tact to make the most of the opportunity. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 19

It is these things the Spirit of the Lord would seek to correct. Men must have wisdom from God daily and give God plenty of room to work and plan for them and not get in the Lord’s way. Until we have men who will have brains and will use them, we shall find difficulties. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 20

Our labor since we came to Europe has been to break up, if possible, the idea of one man’s mind and plans and stamp being placed on the several branches of the work. It has been hard work to change this and bring in a different order of things. Elder Daniel Bourdeau was determined to mold everything among the French; and after we have gained a victory on this point in every field, the battle has to be fought all over again. I might write a volume upon this matter since I came here. The facts of the case are, the potter must mold the clay, not the clay take any shape it chooses and then want every vessel to meet its exact dimensions and form. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 21

In England Brother Wilcox and Sister Thayer set their heads together to carry everything their way. We found the girls in the office standing upon their feet to fold and to stitch, to do all their work, because Elder Wilcox and Sister Thayer said they must not sit down because it made them do their work lazily. These girls were ready to faint with weariness. The tables were made high on purpose to put them to the necessity of standing. To some it was torture in their work. I thought then and since, What fools some people will make of themselves if they just have a little managing to do and others under their control! All these cast iron regulations show a narrowness of mind that to me is contemptible. Mercy and the love of God seem to be dropped out of their nature and their character. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 22

Jealousy—I find here in Europe a plenty of it! All it needed was the sight of our own eyes to understand a reform was needed. These dear souls, so free to control and so free to manage, were the most unwilling to be managed and controlled themselves. If their course was questioned, then it was intimated that some one had told us. Brother and Sister Lane had been talking about them and wanted to shove them out. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 23

Sister Thayer told me she had decided to go to America, and when I commenced to urge that she could not be spared if Brother Wilcox went, then she showed that her purpose was unalterable. She should go to America. And when it was decided she could go—thinking it would be the best thing, taking all things into account—and Brother Wilcox would stay another year, then she said she had changed her mind; she did not want to go to America, and she acted as though she was being pushed out. And Brother and Sister Lane and Willie White have the credit of being at the bottom of the matter. Nothing could be more wide from the truth. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 24

But I think we are all more or less grown-up children. Manhood or womanhood comes slowly to some, and those who are apparently the most conscientious need the melting, subduing spirit of Jesus before they can be of great worth in the noble work in which we are engaged. Weakness crops out on every side, showing a selfishness that is alarming and a want of the spirit of Christ in all that they do. What is wanted is more of Jesus and less of self. Oh, that all would see they must wash their robe of character and make it pure in the blood of the Lamb. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 25

In Denmark, Sweden, and Norway we found the same thing. Elder Matteson was molding and fashioning everything; and as we began to correct things, there was a stir in the camp. Sister Matteson charged upon one and another that they had been reporting to Sister White. Brother Hanson’s case was and still is critical, because Brother Matteson had linked with him, sustained him in a wrong course, and they stood together. Brother Matteson would go to Brother Hanson when reproved, and when reproved, Brother Hanson would go to Brother Matteson. I have written most clearly pointed letters. The result has been what might be expected. Neither Sister Matteson nor her husband believed the testimonies, and yet I consented to go to labor in their kingdoms again. Elder Matteson was determined to throw off every responsibility, and I talked with him in private a long time. I told him I would not advise him to take that course. “Why,” he says, “if I have placed a wrong mold on the work and I am, according to the testimony, leaving everything unfinished and imperfect, the sooner I am out of the way, the better.” I said, “Not so, Elder Matteson. The sooner you get rid of the peculiarities which Elder Matteson has fastened upon the work, the better. If you balk in the harness now, you will be a ruined man. If you want to see your imperfections and put them away, just as the Lord has shown you that you must do, then you will be a more useful worker for God than you have hitherto been. But you never should have been under the necessity of being a manager alone. You have worked hard. We know that you love the work. We want you to triumph with the success of the truth. But I tell you, every word in the testimony is true in regard to you, and God wants to save you, but you must be molded as clay is molded in the hands of the potter. I shall not abate one jot of the plain reproofs now or in time to come, but I shall cling to you, I shall pray for you, I shall feel kindly and tenderly toward you. I look upon you as a man who has worked hard, but is full of defects that God would take away from you if you will let Him.” 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 26

I just labored as a mother would labor for her children—just as I have labored for my own sons. And after I had told him the most cutting things, then I treated him and her with all the deference and respect and tenderness possible. He would stand by my side and translate. On some occasions the power of God was so manifestly upon me that Elder Matteson was almost overwhelmed himself. Once, when speaking of the plan of redemption, for two or three sentences I forgot that the words must be translated. I seemed to be in the very presence of Christ before the throne of God. I think these things have had a marked impression upon Elder Matteson. I have held him firmly by faith. None but God Himself knows the battles we have had to fight, but we were driven to prayer and to God for counsel. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 27

I believe I have not shunned to declare the counsel of God in these difficult cases. And just as soon as my work is done here, I believe I shall be only too happy to return to America. What the Lord has for me to do in the future I do not worry about at all. I just take up my duty for today, and I feel a sweet confidence and trust in God that passes my understanding. I feel no concern for home losses that may occur; this does not trouble me. All my anxiety is to do my work by the day in such a manner that God can accept me and my work. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 28

I am glad if Elder Matteson will come out decided on the testimonies. I told him he did not believe them, that his wife did not believe, but that did not separate me from either of them—that I should be true to them till the last. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 29

I believe the very best thing that Elder [D. A.] Robinson can do is to go into some place where he will work under no man’s directions. His burden has been heavy, fearing that he should not carry out to the letter the orders given to him. May God help him, for I believe him to be a sincere, honest man, and he should never have been manipulated by another man’s mind. He needs to be in the hands of the Potter, to be molded in some things. Sister [Maria L.] Huntley I believe to be an excellent sister, but neither of these, with their present mold, is fitted for the work connected with the school. Brother Ramsey needs a daily experience in the things of God. Then he can do a good work in the school. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 30

I hope there will be no enlargement of buildings in South Lancaster until there is an enlargement of ability and capability to manage; and if our good brethren and sisters there have decided that they cannot be molded in any way and cannot change their course, if they regard their own ways perfect and needing no reform, if they cannot connect with the school at South Lancaster and broaden and widen and outgrow their narrow plans and management, one of two things must be done. They must be separated from the school, or it must be closed up. Consistency is a jewel, but I am more pained than I can express to see the real outworkings of the reputed faith of our own people. In my work and testimonies I see that when self is interfered with, the faith is very tottering. Men hold to their ways, their plans, their ideas, and then question where I have received my ideas in reference to themselves. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 31

Well, so it is; so it was in Christ’s day, and so it will be. Self, self is not dead yet. Christ is not controlling yet. And the work is bound about and crippled just because Jesus is not brought into the everyday life. Pharisaism is thought to be genuine piety. Oh, the love of Christ—how it needs to come into the heart and into the life and into the character! I am alarmed for our brethren and sisters, for I see they need the converting power of God. The very ones who could do the most good, the very ones who could be the greatest blessing, need less pharisaism and more mercy and the love of God. I will seek the Lord; I will watch unto prayer; I will not exalt self, for I see so much of this my soul is sick and distressed. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 32

I sent you a letter to be read to Elder Waggoner, and I hope you will see this case fairly settled before you leave him. We need just such a man as God wants Elder Waggoner to be. We want a man that has his capabilities, his experience, and not his weaknesses. Save him if you can, brethren. Satan is trying hard for his soul. He has nearly made shipwreck of his bark; but, oh, if he will let Jesus take the helm, then he will right up his bark, that it shall not be wrecked. We must not give place to the devil. We must not become discouraged. We must not faint by the way. We must cling with both hands to Jesus. Talk faith, live faith; hold fast to Jesus, and He will hold fast to us. A great work is to be done. We must keep strong in spirit and not let Satan have any victory. I tell you, brethren, the truth will finally triumph, and we want to pursue such a course that we may triumph with it. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 33

I am much blessed of the Lord, although very much burdened, and I love Jesus with my whole affections. I think our warfare must be nearly ended. I think we are nearing home. I am rejoiced to think the rest will soon come, but even here in this hope I am not in a hurry. I want to do all my work with patience and fidelity day by day, and there are many souls to be saved, and we will be glad that the coming of the Lord is delayed to give them a little more opportunity to get ready. But once saved in the kingdom of God—only think of it—once beyond the temptations and warfare of this life, once in the haven of rest, in the presence of our adorable Redeemer—what will it be! These light afflictions, Paul says, which are but for a moment, “worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory: while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.” [2 Corinthians 4:17, 18.] God help us to look at the brightness of our Saviour’s countenance, and clouds will be dispelled. We must have more faith. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 34

The bell has just sounded for breakfast, and I have written sixteen pages. 4LtMs, Lt 84, 1886, par. 35