Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Lt 6, 1886

Kellogg, J. H.


December 30, 1886

Portions of this letter are published in Ev 69; 6MR 256-260.

Dr. Kellogg

Dear Brother:

There has come to us from Battle Creek an address given in Battle Creek, Michigan. I think this will do good, but I was pained to see in this book the statement, “There are undoubtedly novels, such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin and a few others which I might mention, which have been active agents in the accomplishment of great and good results. Such novels are not likely to do anybody any harm.” 4LtMs, Lt 6, 1886, par. 1

This is the way many regard the matter, but is it really truth? My brother, the Lord has not opened before you the beginning, and carried you down through the end, showing you the influence of these works, that you can give such unqualified statements as these. Have you looked into the inward workings of these books which you pronounce “active agents of great and good results”? The fact is, my brother, you need a deeper insight to see the tendencies and the results of the reading of even Uncle Tom’s Cabin. There are many things in the work that would do no harm, and there are many things which have served a purpose in the exposure of slavery, but I would not want to recommend this book to our youth for their perusal. 4LtMs, Lt 6, 1886, par. 2

There are statements and pen-pictures which set the imagination upon a train of thought that has been deleterious and positively injurious. These highly wrought pictures have taken hold of nervous, susceptible youth, and they have lived them over and over again in the imagination. It has destroyed appetite for the Bible, and the desire to attend prayer meetings; for everything was stale and without interest after feasting upon the diet found in this book. The food taken into the mind was of such a character that heavenly and divine things found no place in the thoughts, and the imaginations were evil; and these youth have made confessions that this was caused by the reading of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. This laid the foundations for a train of evils, and the imaginations became intensely excited, and the thoughts would recur again and again to immoral subjects which led to the sin of licentiousness and impurity, to disobedience, to secret plannings, and to deception. 4LtMs, Lt 6, 1886, par. 3

But let this statement be treated as it may; many individual cases have been reproved by testimony for a wrong course of action which was the sure result of reading this book which you have recommended, and which Elder Canright has also recommended. While I esteem your wisdom and skill as a physician, I do not praise your wisdom in making these statements. Your little pamphlet is a good work; but while this statement may increase its value in the minds of novel readers in our churches, yet I shall have to meet its results with pen and voice by saying that God has not prompted the writing of these sentences in regard to novels. I know whereof I speak. 4LtMs, Lt 6, 1886, par. 4

At the present time I am writing to a wealthy family of high standing, and who have been long in the truth; and the oldest daughter living is fast becoming a physical and mental wreck because of reading just such a class of books as Elder Canright and you have so decidedly recommended. Such statements are exactly of the same order as telling the poor inebriate, You must not drink a certain class of stimulating liquors which are intoxicating, but you may drink the milder kinds, such as wine, cider, and beer—just as though you could describe and define and have your word law in the matter. The only safety for the inebriate is total abstinence. 4LtMs, Lt 6, 1886, par. 5

At least those who have an understanding of the workings of the appetite, the cravings of the mind, should not have all barriers broken down by those who ought to know better, and who understand the workings of the human mind in these things. They will claim that the fictitious books that they read are among the novels that are doing great good, and this may be the popular opinion, and they declare that there is no harm in them. They say they do not read anything of an impure character; it all condemns everything of this kind; and yet the influence is demoralizing to the mind. The sense of right and wrong becomes confused; deceptions and imaginations are practiced as truth. I might go on and write a volume on this matter. 4LtMs, Lt 6, 1886, par. 6

Whatever you yourself may think of this class of books, for Christ’s sake do not present to others the temptation to read them. You may think they do good, but in the judgment, when the matter is weighed in the balances of God, it will be found that the evil results predominate a hundredfold above the good results. 4LtMs, Lt 6, 1886, par. 7

This matter has been opened before me. There are many minds that are hopelessly wrecked. The beautiful girl just entering womanhood, of whom I have spoken, is, I fear, hopelessly ruined, both in physical and mental health, so that she has had a partial shock of palsy. She was encouraged in her course of reading by the storybooks and papers found on their own tables at home. Notwithstanding all the pure, elevating influences of home, her parents fully in the truth, the daughter is, I fear, hopelessly lost to the truth and ruined in health and in mind. This appetite was cultivated by the parents. Now the mother writes me in mournful strains; she knows not what to do for her daughter. She has no desire to attend meetings, although she has professed to be a Christian. She wants to do nothing but read, read storybooks. And it all comes from these good, fictitious novels. While answering the mother’s piteous appeal to me for help, your address was placed in my hands; and when I read that paragraph which I have quoted, I felt a burden, a weight upon me; I felt like weeping aloud. I shall meet this statement and shall have to answer to it. 4LtMs, Lt 6, 1886, par. 8

I am laboring to call the attention of the young to the close searching of the Scriptures. I am laboring to have them bring to the foundation gold, silver, and precious stones that the last day cannot consume. I am working with pen and voice to awaken the youth to the stern realities just about to open before us and to lead them to leave the superficial, the fictitious in everything large and small, for living realities; that they shall not live an unreal, imaginary life, but take right hold of the verity and truth of practical life. It is realities with which we are to deal. Everything is tainted and corrupted with falsehood and fiction in this age. We want now solid truth for our foundation. Men and women are asleep. Youth are enchanted, infatuated with the false. They lay upon the foundation hay, wood, and stubble which the fires of the last day will consume. The mind will be of the same character as the food is composed of, upon which it has been fed. There is only one remedy; that is, to become conversant with the Scriptures. We cannot study the Bible too much. Christ said, “Search the Scriptures;” but the natural heart would search everything else rather than the Scriptures. 4LtMs, Lt 6, 1886, par. 9

Every faculty is injured. The affections become depraved, and the whole heart becomes, through improper reading, even among our people, deceitful in practice, fictitious in life and character, living and acting a lie. He who made man, He who understands the working of the human heart, He who can see beneath the surface has said, “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life.” [John 5:39.] Every position of truth taken by our people will bear the criticism of the greatest minds; the highest of the world’s great men will be brought in contact with truth, and therefore every position we take should be critically examined and tested by the Scriptures. Now we seem to be unnoticed, but this will not always be. Movements are at work to bring us to the front; and if our theories of truth can be picked to pieces by historians or the world’s greatest men, it will be done. 4LtMs, Lt 6, 1886, par. 10

We must individually know for ourselves what is truth and be prepared to give a reason of the hope that we have with meekness and fear, not in a proud, boasting, self-sufficiency, but with the Spirit of Christ. We are nearing the time when we shall stand individually alone to answer for our belief. Religious errors are multiplying and entwining themselves with satanic power about the people. There is scarcely a doctrine of the Bible that has not been denied and, by men of high intellectual ability, shorn of its beauty and simplicity, from the infidel to the men claiming to be watchmen upon the walls of Zion. The sincere seeker for truth who, while he believes the Bible, practices its truth, making himself a prey. The world is full of books. If we had more genuine religion and less books, we should have a different class of society. These books teach false doctrines, just as false and crooked as the Bible is true, straightforward, and infallible. These books are Satan’s agents attracted by the outward and superficial adornment of error. The youth receive as truth that which the Bible denounces as falsehood, and they love and cling to every form of deception that is certain ruin to the soul. The beauty of the Bible is not seen until we bring it into the inner life. It is kept too much in the outer court. It is searching that reveals its hidden jewels. The Bible alone is our guide to heaven, and now is the time to urge it upon the attention of old and young as coming from God. It is His voice to us. It is the sure word of prophecy, profitable in all things. We must study it for ourselves, and know what saith the Scriptures. 4LtMs, Lt 6, 1886, par. 11

Well, I have written you now on several points and will close. 4LtMs, Lt 6, 1886, par. 12