Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Lt 24, 1885

Bourdeau, Daniel

Basel, Switzerland

November 23, 1885

Portions of this letter are published in 8MR 106-107.

Dear Brother Daniel:

Elder Whitney has read to me your letters to him, and I have also read your letter to me; and as it is not thought consistent to go by Geneva [Genoa?], Italy, I will write you a few lines. 4LtMs, Lt 24, 1885, par. 1

Elder W read to me the matter you had written for a tract or publication to come to the public to notify them of your meetings. 4LtMs, Lt 24, 1885, par. 2

Now, my dear Brother Daniel, I think it would not leave the best influence upon the people for you to advertize in this manner. Although we are not to be ashamed of our nationality, as Brother Loughborough and some others have appeared to be, in that they have sought to imitate the customs and blend with the peculiarities of the nations where and for whom they labor, thinking this would give them influence with the people, yet we must also consider in what matter we shall best introduce ourselves to the people with the object of gaining their confidence and engaging their attention. 4LtMs, Lt 24, 1885, par. 3

I have been shown that we need to move with the greatest wisdom, that we shall not in anything create prejudice by giving the impression that Americans feel themselves superior to people of other nations. There have been two errors—one error in seeking in our words and actions to exalt foreign national customs above our own American habits and practices, and suiting our American stamp to adapt it to foreign countries which will bring us no influence. Then there has been still another error of extolling in conversation and in the labor for souls American practices as far above those of other nations. We need to be constantly guarded and on every point. The religion of these nations they think superior to all others and are exceedingly jealous on this point. They send their missionaries to the uncivilized heathen; and to bear on the front in our approach to them that we are sent to this country from America as missionaries will create the suspicion and jealousy at once that [they] are regarded as heathen. It is a fact that we are missionaries and they are worse than heathen, but it will not answer to tell them so. This is missionary ground; we are doing missionary work, but the peculiar prejudice will be stirred against us if we put it just as it truly is. 4LtMs, Lt 24, 1885, par. 4

Now, my brother, I think it would be better if you did not put before the people so distinctly that you are an American and a missionary. I do not think it wise to present the sayings of men in reference to our own capabilities. Let nothing appear before angels or men savoring of self-exaltation, elevating yourself, that you are a smart man or a great man, and quote not the praises of men. But just go to work in the fear of God. Make no great spread, but keep self out of sight and let Jesus appear and commence in a humble manner. It is not best to arouse in this country and in such a place as Geneva the special attention of the clergy. If you enter large halls and then have to come down to the smaller buildings, it will not have the best influence. It would be best to take the lowly seat and then come up higher. 4LtMs, Lt 24, 1885, par. 5

The devil will outgeneral every effort we may as a people make if we do not exercise great wisdom. The course you propose would work more successfully in England than in this country; but the more success would, we think, from the light given, attend such an effort made in England as we think would be best in starting the work in Geneva. The more you make a big stir, the greater will be the pressure brought upon you and the people, to hedge up your way. The more gently you work in seeking to reach the people, the less prejudice will be aroused against you and your work to prevent the people from coming out to hear you. You want notices, but nothing of the kind to puff and to exalt yourself and call attention to the man which will be calculated to call out the bitterest opposition from men who consider themselves to be great teachers and who will feel that their rights and their dignity are invaded. You can come before the people as an evangelist to open the Word of God to them. And the truth presented will be new and singular and startling. These will speak for themselves and begin to work like leaven; and then as you shall find access to the people in a limited degree, the way is still open to make advance moves and still broader efforts; whereas, if the prejudice is aroused at once, the people will be warned, lies will be circulated and decisions be made against any effort you may make before the people really know what doctrine you are advocating. You will have the bitterest opposition from the scribes and Pharisees who are ignorant of the Scriptures and the power of God. 4LtMs, Lt 24, 1885, par. 6

I do not think you ought to ever commence an effort alone. You should have, I think, Brother Ertzenberger or your brother to work with you; and then, do not do all the labor yourself. Divide the labor equally. Brother Ertzenberger is the only one who seems now prepared to help you, for there is a dearth of ministers. But one man alone ought not to commence the work, depending on one man to do the preaching. The work should not bear the mold of one man’s mind; there should be two at least to engage in the work of preaching, even if you think you can do better preaching. Others may not feel as you do about it. You have in every effort you have made overdone, overtaxed your physical powers, and weakened yourself. When you had men who could help you, you felt as though you must do it all, and this is not right for you [to] overdo. You have talked too long and too frequently. You have ability; and if you use this ability prudently, you may do mighty strokes for God in advocating the truth. But when you become wearied, you fail in many ways. You become nervous and unbalanced. In such a place as Geneva, you need constantly to keep a reserve power in a rested condition, that when the enemies of truth shall attack, you may calmly and intelligently and in the strength of God work valiantly in standing in defense of the faith. 4LtMs, Lt 24, 1885, par. 7

You must not do all the preaching yourself, but a change of labor, a change of gifts, is often more profitable for the people. Where one would fail to reach some souls, the co-laborers may succeed. When you become worn, Satan knows it and he has fitted himself to work, at this very time, with peculiar temptations; and if yourself is attacked, then you will be very sensitive and not be inclined to pass right along without noticing the slime of Satan, preaching the truth; but you will be desirous to set yourself right, to make the matter sure that you have been abused, that you overdo the matter and hurt your influence. Your work is not to vindicate yourself and to answer charges against yourself or us. I was shown that one great hindrance in your work [is] that you overdo in much writing. Every impulse and suggestion you must not think must be written out. When you are making a public effort, the more you speak upon the truth, the more earnest and intense become your feelings until you are like a man intoxicated. You do not hold the rising of self-control firmly. Your feelings run away with you, and you are not balanced with reason and discretion and good judgment. You do double work because your interest and feelings urge you forward; your brain becomes taxed. Satan knows then how to arrange matters to make circumstances so that you will appear your worst, and you are in danger of counteracting the good that you have done. All your powers are needed evenly balanced to do necessary labor at the right time. 4LtMs, Lt 24, 1885, par. 8

Elder Sanborn is an excellent preacher, but he doesn’t know how to bring the people to a decision at the right time. God has made you successful where he fails. You can with the blessing of God plant the feet of those who are in the valley of decision upon the solid rock. Now, my brother, if you become overworked and your physical and mental powers exhausted, this very important work will not be done as it would be if you had worked prudently, not following impulse, but principle and reason. You want a reserve force to draw upon in an emergency that the binding off of your work shall be most thorough and complete. 4LtMs, Lt 24, 1885, par. 9

My brother, you have asked me for my judgment. I have given it to you. You are God’s ambassador, not your own servant to use your powers unwisely as you please. You must practice temperance in all things, in preaching, and praying and writing for your salvation; soul and body depends upon the wise use of your powers. You feel inclined to write, and it is a tax to your mental powers. You should not write one-half the amount you do. Let your brain have some chance to rest. Exercise physically in some way, but this constant writing God does not require of you. Take time to enjoy your family. Be cheerful, be happy, and throw off care and do not talk of trials or of yourself, but forget yourself all you can. As soon as you center your thoughts on yourself, you are a weak man and you expose your weakness to others. In regard to the halls you mentioned, I advise you to get the one you mentioned which seats 120 persons. Then your proposition to pray short is good, for long prayers frequently destroy the interest of the people before the first note of the discourse is struck and draws upon the strength of the preacher. 4LtMs, Lt 24, 1885, par. 10

I believe the Lord will help you; but do not do all the work of speaking yourself. Let there be another to unite with you. And you had better have less writing and speak less; and when you do speak, be in a condition to do justice to your work, than to speak double the number of times and have it less able and clear and forcible. 4LtMs, Lt 24, 1885, par. 11

May the Lord help you and strengthen and bless you greatly is my most earnest wish and humble prayer. 4LtMs, Lt 24, 1885, par. 12