Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Lt 9, 1884

Haskell, S. N.

On the Steamboat “Columbia,” Pacific Ocean en route for San Fransico, California


Portions of this letter are published in 9MR 9-10.

Dear Brother Haskell:

In the providence of God, we are having a very pleasant passage. There has none of our party been sick. Yesterday we had a council in regard to matters of the cause. There were Elds. Waggoner, Corliss, Jones, W. C. White, and myself. We were talking in regard to European plans presented for our attention in letters and plans of building from Brother Butler. Letters were read and several hours of close application given to these matters. 4LtMs, Lt 9, 1884, par. 1

I wrote you a letter before I left the camp in answer to yours; but not expecting to be able to sit up, I did not expect to do anything with the letters and put them in the trunk. The trunk may be delayed one day after we arrive at San Francisco. The transfer is often tardy in delivering our baggage to Oakland. 4LtMs, Lt 9, 1884, par. 2

In my letter I wrote that it was not best to make calls for so large sums in one year as you are making. No one should be permitted to pledge unless his circumstances are closely investigated. If a man has only a little home from which he can make a living and do something for the cause of God, even if it is no great sum, he should not be allowed to make large donations to the cause and be obliged to sell his home. It is not best, for it does not have a healthful influence upon the cause and work at large to uproot men who have families to support with the idea which they entertain that they can labor in the cause, giving their time to the work. This will surely result in harm to the man and worse harm to the cause, unless he is qualified for the work and will do justice to that branch in which he engages. 4LtMs, Lt 9, 1884, par. 3

Many men are better off to take care of their little families [and] do what they can by home influence than to extend their efforts and influences in a broader capacity. They are far better adapted to move in a narrow sphere. To uproot them and send them adrift because they flatter themselves they can do something is a wonderful mistake. We must have sharp discriminating powers, and there must be much prayer offered before decisions are made. Things are accepted as in God’s order that are not in His order. There must be much prayer in every move made, in every man chosen for a particular work. There are mistakes made. Finite judgment, without the counsel of God, makes sad blunders. 4LtMs, Lt 9, 1884, par. 4

We should bring God into all our counsels and not make moves unless we have the enlightenment of God. Plead with God. Importune Him for light, for wisdom, and for counsel, that every move may be made in God. If this is so, less haphazard work will be done. There will be less to tear down, less to go to pieces, more steady, firm, thorough work done, and more power in what is done. We do not pray in humble dependence one half as much as we should. We cannot afford to make a mistake in this matter where eternal interests are involved. 4LtMs, Lt 9, 1884, par. 5

I feel to question the matter of your making so large a draw for means. I greatly question the plans of your many reading rooms established and maintained with so great an outlay of means. Has there been all the prayer and consideration over the matter that there should be? That some such places should be, I have no doubt, but that this should be general, I have no idea. The very same men calculated or qualified to take charge of a reading room and manage it, might be city missionaries and make personal efforts for a much more promising class that will never enter a reading room. If there can be access obtained to families and Bible readings given, if home work can be done, it would be at far less outlay of means, with far more successful results. There may be carrying the matter of reading rooms to extravagant outlay of means, and when figures are investigated, it will be shown to amount to very little. 4LtMs, Lt 9, 1884, par. 6

Will you consider all these matters? There are few enough workers in the field, and none should be taken out of the field and anchored in a reading room with so few promising results. Will you then consider, you and Elder Butler, and not be so enthusiastic over untried plans and enterprises in which large means shall be invested with but little afterwards to show for it? We have a great work to do, and we have failed decidedly to educate workers to do that which needs to be done. Then the large means called for in the several conferences—if some have moved hastily and pledged without due consideration, temptations come when everything looks in a different light, and great reaction comes. These efforts, just a little overdone, are too expensive in their after-influence to be repeated. 4LtMs, Lt 9, 1884, par. 7

I do not attach blame or censure any one, but we must move with due caution and consideration, firmly, decidedly, cautiously guarding every move that it may bear criticism. 4LtMs, Lt 9, 1884, par. 8

But [there is] one thing I am sure upon, and that is: my testimony should not be made the principal thing to pry over because our brethren have confidence in my testimonies. Then, if unguarded moves are made and there is a reaction, doubts are entertained in regard to my testimonies, because they argue, the results are not good. Now, it is essential that the brethren should not lose confidence in these testimonies, and our brethren, moving unwisely, have cast doubt and questionings that would not otherwise exist. Brethren, while we move promptly in matters over which we have no questionings, but that are as God would have them, be cautious in regard to untried plans. When larger moves are made, be cautious not to move extravagantly, but cautiously, and with constant prayer, and with holy, humble, earnest trust in God. 4LtMs, Lt 9, 1884, par. 9

Every case must be investigated of those who have pledged their means, for if some cases have to be afterward considered and their pledges reduced to smaller sums, the sacredness of vows and pledges is not preserved. There is a going back on the pledge, and a demoralized state of things exists. When the matter of pledges is made, every case should be reviewed, and if some in their ardor do too much to embarrass their families, then, at the very time, let the protest be made and the figures increased or reduced as the circumstances shall admit. We must move understandingly, intelligently, with due consideration, and then the confidence of the people will be established in the leaders. They will be not only ambassadors of Christ, but fathers in Israel. 4LtMs, Lt 9, 1884, par. 10

We must not repeat the failures and mistakes of the past in any department of the work. We can not do anything as we should do it unless Jesus is suggesting and planning for us and working with His mighty power in our behalf. “Without Me,” said Christ, “ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] 4LtMs, Lt 9, 1884, par. 11

I do not want to retard the work at all, but to have it move surely amid every discouragement. There is no more means raised than that is needed in the work. I do not wish to discourage you, but I want you should feel that more depends upon the Spirit of God working with our efforts than any amount of means without the special blessing of God. We need men of brains, men of determination and will power for the work. Let us unite our prayers to God for this blessing, workers in the cause. Do not let anything I have written discourage or dishearten you, for it is not for that purpose I write, but that with all our planning and more extended operations, we shall move intelligently, have connection with heaven, and plead with God to raise up workmen. 4LtMs, Lt 9, 1884, par. 12

Secure all the ability and talent profitable. See it, and with discriminating powers, with wisdom, learn to use it. The work is certainly languishing for want of workers. We must do more than we have done to prepare men for working, bearing responsibilities in this work. 4LtMs, Lt 9, 1884, par. 13

Dear brother in Christ, I long to be at your meetings, but can not see how this can be. But we will pray for you. Last year the meetings might have been in Portland, but that can not be cured now. I shall not be able to attend. I feel the tenderest regard for you and Elder Butler and believe the Lord will guide you, bless you abundantly in doing your work. 4LtMs, Lt 9, 1884, par. 14

In love. 4LtMs, Lt 9, 1884, par. 15