Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4

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Lt 43, 1886

Matteson, Brother

Basel, Switzerland

April 13, 1886

This letter is published in entirety in 17MR 98-106.

Brother Matteson:

Your letter was received yesterday. You state in your letter, “Your mother speaks of Bro. Hanson as a transgressor of the Sabbath. I suppose you know that Bro. Hanson is not a member of the church, consequently we cannot labor with him, or cut him off because he is already cut off by his own positive request.” 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 1

He places himself outside of the pale of the church where he cannot be brought under the discipline of the church, and yet he has a voice in the church as if he belonged to the church. I cannot see the consistency of this and know that this move is all out of God’s order. It shows blind, hazardous movements; it is giving influence to a man who refuses to be in harmony with the church, and through this one man whose way is after the world and not after the Lord’s plans Satan comes in to control other minds. Then how could you or any member of the church, if they stood in the light, place him on a committee? 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 2

You state, “I do not know whether he will make an application for admittance. If he should do so, he would have to take a better stand than he has ever done yet.” My brother, notwithstanding this attitude of Bro. Hanson who has cut himself loose from the church, he is made one of the committee of your board to have influence in the matters of the church, and you have allowed this thing done. Strange foresight!—a man who does not keep the Sabbath, for he does do business on the Sabbath, collects debts, pays his workmen, settles accounts, and has no more sacred sense of the Sabbath than to keep it when convenient and transgress it when it is convenient for his own interest. 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 3

I know that God cannot approve of your connecting Brother Hanson with a committee or giving him any trust while he has cut himself loose from the church and stands dishonoring God in his business matters. It shows that the man has not true and sacred ideas of holy things, and you are fastening him in a fatal deception in thus treating his case. My brother, you have done more to keep him in this position of blindness than any other man could do. You have in your attitude said to the sinner, “It shall be well with you.” You say you could not labor with him, or turn him out because he is not in the church, yet you have linked up with him and showed your preference for him and made him your confidant and counsellor. He has upheld you, and you have upheld him, and God is dishonored by you both. 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 4

“Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at My mouth, and give them warning from Me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.” [Ezekiel 3:17-21.] These solemn words speak to you and me. I have to bear the plain notes of warning from God. I must not suffer my brother to continue in sin; [I must warn him of] his danger; I must tell him “the wages of sin is death.” [Romans 6:23.] God has said it. “Cry aloud and spare not. Lift up thy voice like a trumpet and show My people their transgressions and the house of Israel their sins.” [Isaiah 58:1.] Here, my brother, is a work that you have not done as you should have done. And why? Because your own soul was not right before God. [Line illegible.] 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 5

My brother, had you felt the necessity of preaching the lessons of true Christianity yourself, and of taking J. G. Matteson under strict discipline, then you could have seen and felt the necessity of instructing others. When you do not reach the standard yourself, how can you bring others up? When I see the people in Christiania and other places regarding you in the light they do, as though you were almost as Christ, and then know how far short you come of practical godliness, I am distressed beyond measure. A man who has ability as you have, and with your entrusted talents, is far more accountable than those who have less light and less ability. Your position, then, what you have done or may do, will be no excuse in your case that you do not reach the Bible standard in Christian character. You need daily the transforming grace of Christ on your heart, or you cannot do the work of God with clear spiritual discernment, with an eye single to His glory. 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 6

From time to time God has seen fit to open before me your life, your temperament, your character; and I must say to you that you have a work to do for yourself before you can be admitted to become a member of the Lord’s family in the heavenly courts. Sin is sin, whether it is in J. G. Matteson or in the man of lowly position. You are not right with God. A man in God’s eye is just what he is in his own family. The converting power of God will be seen in his home. You should have had a testimony to bear to individuals and families in the Spirit of Christ, and a love for their souls that would have placed you among the faithful watchmen, but, I feel compelled to say, you are not there now. You must set your own heart in order. You have a work to do for yourself which no other can do for you, to overcome your pettish spirit and to cleanse the soul temple of its defilement. 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 7

When you see yourself as God sees you, you will possess genuine humility, not humility put on for special occasions, but a principle that is abiding. You cannot be clear before God and prepared for His appearing unless you put away every wrong from you. It will be a most difficult lesson for you to learn true humility. While you appear to be at times very humble, there is a self-esteem, a self-devotion, a high opinion of yourself which leads to dangers that you do not discern. You are not ready for Christ’s appearing; and unless you are a changed man in heart and in character, in manner, in deportment, you cannot be a true watchman on the walls of Zion. There is earnest work before you. You must be a different man. 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 8

While it is duty for the watchmen to be wide-awake, faithful to discern evil, and understanding the necessities of the cause and work of God, they will frequently be called to bear a plain, pointed testimony to individuals who are in danger. Their testimony must not be given in an impatient spirit, not in an overbearing spirit, not with a domineering spirit, but with the spirit and meekness of Christ. There are two extremes to be avoided, one is the shunning to declare the whole counsel of God, and running into the spirit of revivalists in this age of crying, “Peace, peace, where there is no peace” [Jeremiah 6:14], and weaving into the labors an element which moves the feelings and leaves the heart unchanged. A sensational religion is to be dreaded, for it is hard work when once it has been woven into the experience to ever make the individuals feel that they must go deeper than mere emotional exercise; that they must practice true godliness. 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 9

My brother, you have been weaving into your labors this kind of an element. While evils have been growing and gaining the mastery, you have fastened many to J. G. Matteson, but not to the cross of Jesus Christ. Now I am alarmed for you because I was shown that you have unbounded confidence in yourself and your manner of labors. You have not laid the ax at the root of the tree, and various kinds of evils have been springing up that needed to be rooted out from the church, with judicious labors and with far-seeing judgment. 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 10

The very work that needed to be done has not been done. Your ways appear right in your own eyes, but not so in the eyes of the Lord. The truth of God may be proclaimed from the lips while it has not a sanctifying influence upon the heart and character, having a constraining power upon the man. The thoughts, the affections are engrossed by worthless revolting things, and the heart is defiled. The salvation of the soul will not be secured without a deeper work. Your supreme love and confidence in yourself must be broken up in some way, or you will be weighed in the balance and found wanting. Your conscience feels the power of the truth, you work earnestly to present the truth, and for this reason I feel so bad because I know that unless you are an overcomer, you will not have the overcomer’s reward. You lack the very experience you need to make you what God would have you to be. You need to study the law of God. Look in the mirror; bring your own heart to its searching, far-reaching principles, and go not away and forget what manner of man was presented to you in that mirror. I have not much hope for the church, unless the very ones who labor for them are converted men and Christlike in character. I am pained to write you these things. I hoped I should not have to write them. Search and see if self is not idolized. You must cleanse the soul temple. 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 11

The second extreme is to be always hammering at the people and in a harsh, unchristlike manner, talking in a way that they think you are provoked, weaving self into your labors, in the place of learning lessons of Jesus and having His Spirit. Now, my brother, whatever you have done or may do, I feel burdened with the Word of the Lord. The Lord says to you as to Nicodemus, “Unless ye are born again, ye can never see the kingdom of God.” [John 3:3.] The truth has been accepted and preached by you, but the heart has not been cleansed of its moral defilement. You need the divine impression on your character. There are men like Bro. Hanson who are not controllable by the Spirit of God, who are harsh in their families, dictatorial, severe, and overbearing. If you were a thoroughly converted man and a daily learner in the school of Christ, a man to put away your childish, babyish feelings and manners at home, and put on meekness, gentleness, kindness, forbearance, and long-suffering, then you would be prepared to give instruction to those who need it. 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 12

You have so little self-control that when you read these words I greatly fear you will act like a child that when reproved or corrected will throw itself down. “A new heart will I give you, a new spirit will I put within you.” [Ezekiel 36:26.] While you are desirous to appear right with your brethren, do for Christ’s sake surrender your soul to God. The truth is kept far away from the center of your being; [part of line illegible]. This is an individual work. I was shown while in America the condition of the churches in the kingdoms that had your labor. Many precious souls had been raised up, but they were receiving a mold that would not tend to make them perfect and entire, wanting nothing. One of the most earnest prayers in the Bible is, “Create in me a clean heart.” [Psalm 51:10.] Oh, will men in any position, as superiors, inferiors, or equals, learn the simple lessons to begin at the beginning and have the heart right with God through the new creating power of His Holy Spirit? Then what pure streams would flow forth from a pure fountain. How precious the experience; how precious the lessons that they have learned and can in their turn teach others. But if they have not reached the standard themselves, how can they teach others to reach it? The church must be refined, purified. Better if they had never connected themselves with the truth than to claim to believe it, take the name of Seventh-day Adventists, and yet not stand as high in the scale of morality and practical godliness as do many who have never seen the truth. Thus Christ and the truth are misrepresented; the world is encouraged in their unbelief; other churches do not care to examine the evidences of doctrine and faith that bear such fruit. The example of men and women professing the truth is of such a character that it works against the truth. 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 13

They are holding the truth in unrighteousness because they are destitute of the first principles of Christianity exemplified in the life. Hearts are buried up in worldliness, saturated with that which is earthly, sensual, cut off by their own course of action from communion with God, dead to holiness, twice dead, plucked up by the roots. 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 14

Now you can never cure these evils till you see the necessity of subduing and controlling J. G. Matteson. The truth must be planted deep in your own soul first and then in the souls of others. I want you to be a conqueror, God wants you to be a conqueror, but you are far from this today. You need to be busy and earnest with your own soul. A solemn message is to be given to the world, and you are standing directly in the way of our reaching the hearts of many because all their experience and all their religion centers in their high estimate of yourself. No one can ask you to labor more than you do; but you must have a living connection with God so that you will have His grace to be with you. You must bring religion into your home; religion must regulate your life. The truth must sanctify your words, your thoughts, and your actions. Your faith must produce beauty of soul that will be manifested [in] words and actions, else it will be a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 15

When you are sanctified through the truth, you will be a Christian, patient, kind. You have an overbearing temperament. You hold yourself too high and others hold you too high; therefore anything you may do looks right in the eyes of others, but they do not look into the soul. The great Searcher of hearts says, “I know thy works.” [Revelation 14:15.] Your heart needs to be humbled before God. You need to be very jealous of yourself. You have made acknowledgment of your errors at different times in your experience, but you have not put them away. You have not seen the sinfulness of many thoughts or the offensive character of your works before God. As a faithful watchman, I see the danger, if you die as you are, of your losing your soul; therefore I warn you. 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 16

Now, my brother, I have not thrown you aside, I have not lost my interest in you; but I do urge upon you to face the mirror. Sin is offensive to God. We must live so near to Jesus that we shall protest against iniquity and disobedience of God’s requirements. While self is strictly disciplined, God will give wisdom and power to aid in disciplining others. Thus all the influence will be exerted on the side of pure, faultless, undeviating obedience, and no exception will be made on any policy principle and no unsanctified influence will be tolerated to weaken and demoralize a church. Oh, how I dread to write these things to you! But I dare not withhold them, lest my soul will be chargeable with your sin. 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 17

There must be a decided reformation in Bro. Hanson’s family or they will all be lost together, parents and children. Their attitude to the help in their family is, How can flesh and blood be turned to the profitable account? The management in the house is conducted upon principles the reverse of Christians. The employer is too ready to prey upon the employed. They are often arrayed against each other like natural enemies. How can angels abide in that house? 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 18

May the Lord turn and overturn in Christiania. Better, far better, would it be today, so far as the church is concerned, if a blow had not been struck there until an altogether different mold could have been placed upon the work and the church. This work may look all right in your eyes, but oh, my soul, how it looks in the eyes of the Lord! Now I shall write no more on this, although there are other things I might say in reference to the work as God has presented it before me. Now you can see why I have not desired to come to Christiania again. I am soul-sick. If you stood free and clear, then I should know that God would work for us; but as you have stood, I have no confidence that He will. 4LtMs, Lt 43, 1886, par. 19