Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Lt 10, 1884

Matteson, J. G.

San Jose, California

May 3, 1884

Portions of this letter are published in TDG 132; ChL 48-49; 7MR 314-315.

Dear Brother Matteson,

I intended to write to you while I was attending the meetings held in Battle Creek, but because of the constant labor of speaking and writing, I did not have time. Now that the Conference in Europe is soon to be held, I must write to you. I fear that my letter may be sent too late to reach you before the Conference. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 1

My brother, I have been shown that Elders [J. N.] Andrews, [J. N.] Loughborough, and yourself have displayed a great lack of wise generalship. You yourself have not developed talent and trained helpers to take hold with you and assist in the work, as you might have done. You have the idea that no one can labor so well as you can. While you have too much to do, others have too little. You do not give others an opportunity to improve in efficiency by practical experience. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 2

You are willing to be helped and assisted if your helpers will leave the main responsibility resting on you. Especially among your own countrymen you desire to be placed above everyone else. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 3

You do not seem to have the ability to educate young men and give them a chance to do that which they have talents for doing if they were given an opportunity to learn. This is the work which should have been done, but which you have left undone. If you were unselfish, if you had Christlike meekness and lowliness, you would learn how to train the youth for useful service. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 4

Instead of helping the youth, you discourage them. Instead of taking them into your confidence and giving them fatherly instruction, you tyrannize over them as would a lord. You watch for their mistakes and are critical. If you chose to do so, you could instruct them in all patience, encouraging them to go forward and do an important work. But you keep them engaged in doing things of minor importance, giving them no opportunity to obtain an experience by which they might develop into trustworthy workmen. How much is lost to the cause of God, you may never know. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 5

You do not patiently seek to make others familiar with all parts of the work. This is because you desire to be first and do not want others to become acquainted with the details of the work or to become as efficient as you are. You have too much self-confidence, too high an estimate of your own ability. Today you should have standing by your side a large number of intelligent workers whom you have trained, but you have shaped matters according to your narrow conceptions and still stand almost alone. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 6

When you are like Jesus, meek and lowly, pure and undefiled in thought and action, you will work in a different manner and on another plan. You will then educate a company to advance the work. There are some men of ability who, if trained, would become excellent workers, equal with yourself. But it is most difficult for you to recognize talent in others and to teach them to make a right use of their powers. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 7

You criticize without mercy those who make mistakes, as if you were infallible, although you are an erring man, having grave faults that none can know so well as yourself and your God. Knowing your own weakness, how compassionate, how kind, how considerate, how courteous, how tender, you should be to others! To the purchase of the blood of Christ you should show tender respect, manifesting toward them not merely a brotherly love, but a fatherly love. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 8

The Lord desires to make of you just the man that you should be, but you have not yet permitted Him to do this. Then how improper it is for you to discourage those who might be workers for God because in every particular and in every minutae they do not meet your mind and come up to your standard! Even if they make mistakes, should you not try in a brotherly, fatherly manner to show them how to avoid making the same mistakes again, in the place of bearing down upon them as you have done, exaggerating their mistakes and taking from them all the courage that they might and should have to strive to improve? 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 9

You may be an altogether more noble man than you are. You should be considerate, true, and tender to your wife and to your children. Nearly all the time your wife’s heart is heavy and discouraged. In her religious experience she is not in harmony with my work, but the Lord loves her. He desires to do great things for her. He desires that she shall find comfort and peace and joy in Himself and that she shall rest in His love. He is acquainted with the secret sorrows and discouragements that by your course of action you are bringing upon her, which are uprooting her faith in everything. If you try, you can help her. Make her lot as pleasant as possible. She has powers and qualities that, if directed in the right channel, are of value. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 10

My dear brother, the idea that you are the only one who can do everything in the best manner, is not right. You have had advantages that others have not had. If others were given the same opportunity of gaining an experience that you have had, they might be strong in moral power and in Christian courtesy, points in which you are weak. If they could have the right kind of a teacher, they would receive a mould of character that you, because of your weak points, are unable to give them. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 11

It is your duty to change your course of action. Learn to see and to recognize ability and talent in others besides yourself. For Christ’s sake, do not lord it over His heritage, but be an ensample to the flock. Give to others the benefit of all the knowledge that the Lord has given to you. He has given you this knowledge that you may impart it. Teach to others everything that you know, not in an arbitrary manner, making light of their mistakes and ridiculing their ignorance; but in a kindly spirit, you yourself sitting at the feet of Jesus as a learner. Take young men into your mission home and be their instructor, teaching them as you would teach students in a school. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 12

With the same liberality and freedom that the Master teaches you, teach others, binding them to your heart by love and tenderness. Is there anything that you know which you have not received from the Source of your strength? You have had educational advantages. If you had improved your privileges and walked in the light that the Lord has given you, if you had been a diligent worker in the school of Christ, as well as a learner, you would today be a much more efficient laborer than you now are. How glad you should be for the privilege of training men, some of whom would reveal that they have much better balanced minds, much firmer self-control, far greater moral power, than you ever possessed. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 13

Let no one exalt himself, talking of himself, extolling his abilities, displaying his knowledge, and cultivating self-conceit. Let no one seek to tear down the work of others who do not labor according to his standard. The heavenly Teacher gives us the invitation, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Christ was never self-confident, bigoted, or self-conceited. He declared, “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” [John 5:19.] 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 14

Brother Matteson, will you now become a learner, as well as an instructor, in the school of Christ? Will you daily learn the lessons of meekness and lowliness of heart, the lessons that you must learn if you ever enter the kingdom of heaven? Will you wear Christ’s yoke? Will you bear His burdens? I am deeply anxious that you shall be an able workman, a wise general, able to discover and develop talent in others, as a wise teacher should ever do. Will you now regard this as your work? 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 15

Your Lord is willing to do great things for you if you will allow Him to work in and through you. But unless you cooperate with Him, He cannot use you to do His work. All your powers, physical, mental, and spiritual, are His. If you weaken or debase any of the faculties or organs that He has given you, you please Satan and sever your connection with God, the Source of your strength. Said Jesus, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] With all your powers strive most earnestly to co-operate with Him. If He is formed within, the hope of glory, you will through His strength become a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, giving by voice and pen to every man his portion of meat in due season. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 16

Constantly Christ is sending messages to those who listen to His voice, but too often His voice is drowned by our voices. O how my heart yearns to see those in the ministry become men after God’s own heart! The gospel minister is God’s messenger, bearing a message to men. If God has given to one man superior talents and greater advantages, He has a right to expect that that man will use his gifts, not boastingly, but wisely. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 17

No man has a right to call himself his own. And no man possesses any good thing that he can call his own. Every man, every thing, is the property of the Lord. All that man receives from the bounty of heaven is still the Lord’s. Whatever we have that is of value, we should use for the benefit of our fellow-men, in order that they shall become valuable workers. Every energy, every endowment, is a talent that should contribute to God’s glory by being used in His service. Our God-given capabilities should not be made to serve selfish ends. We should always be willing to impart, letting others know all that we know; and we should rejoice if they in their work develop an energy and an intelligence superior to that which we possess. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 18

God’s gifts are not to be used for the exaltation of self, but are to be put out to the exchangers, so that He shall receive His own with usury. Let not one attempt to secure greatness, happiness, or self-gratification by diverting from their proper use the powers with which he is endowed; for by so doing he dishonors the Giver and fails of fulfilling the purpose for which he was created. All our powers come from God and should be used to His glory. Energy, quick discernment, a good understanding, a fitness for God’s work—all these are talents given not only to fit a man for service, but also to enable him to teach others in those lines in which they may be deficient. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 19

Men need not flatter themselves that they possess brilliant talents and strength of intellect independently of God and that therefore devotion to Him does not necessarily oblige them to employ in His service every iota of their knowledge, every faculty of their being. Men can do this only when they can distinctly show that there are two gods, two creators, and when with fine discrimination they can distinguish between the two givers and the claims of each one. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 20

In all the departments of the Lord’s work, every laborer is to help his fellow laborers. The workers are to take no credit to themselves because they have many advantages, nor are they to think that they deserve praise for using in the service of Jesus Christ the talents that He has entrusted to them. They should realize that the nonemployment of their capabilities would lay them under a burden of guilt, making them deserving of the just displeasure and severest judgment of God. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 21

Every true minister of Jesus Christ, every true worker in His cause, will banish from the mind, as impious, every thought of inherent merit. Even the heavenly angels take to themselves no praise. Through the heavenly courts, in one grand chorus, resounds their praise of the Creator, “All things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee.” [1 Chronicles 29:14.] Those who live on this earth should join the heavenly host in ascribing praise and glory to the Creator. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 22

No one has the least cause of boasting. No one has any reason to glorify or exalt self, even when one does his very best. Men often fail of doing their duty. They leave undone a vast amount that a close connection with God would have enabled them to do. Constantly God is laboring to make up man’s deficiencies. Even repentance is brought about through the application of grace. The natural heart can feel no need of repentance. The tears that fall from the eyes of man because of sorrow for his sinfulness and because of his sympathy with other sinners, start unbidden. They are as dew from eyes that belong to God. Man’s sighs are but indications of the deep feelings in a heart that is God’s. The good resolutions made are but the outworking of faculties that are God’s. The reformed life is but the better employment of a life that is God’s. We should take no credit to ourselves for anything that we may do under the sun. “All things come from Thee,” we shall eventually be led to acknowledge to our Creator, “and of Thine own have we given Thee.” [Verse 14.] 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 23

Faith, too, is the gift of God. Faith is the assent of man’s understanding to God’s words that binds the heart to God’s service. Whose is the understanding, if it be not God’s? Whose is the heart, if it be not God’s? To have faith is to render to God the intellect, the energy, that we have received from Him; therefore, those who exercise faith do not themselves deserve any credit. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 24

Those who believe so firmly in God that they can trust Him with unlimited confidence, those who by faith can reach beyond the grave and grasp eternity, must pour forth to God the confession, “All things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee.” [Verse 14.] 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 25

A great work is to be done in England. As yet this field has hardly been touched. It should not be in the condition in which the Lord has represented it before my mind. The most important work before those who have been sent abroad as missionaries is to combine the forces and strength of all whom then can possibly enlist as helpers. Thus they can make mighty strokes for God. He will do a great work in every part of Europe, if the workers put self out of sight and labor only for His glory. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 26

Some workers are not capable of filling positions that others can fill. Many who might have been able to fill positions of trust have not disciplined themselves, nor have they done what they could from day to day to meet the increasing demands of the present time. Others are able to bear responsibilities and would do so, if they were encouraged and if there were some one who, with patience, kindness, and forbearance, would teach them how to work. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 27

Ministers should show a real earnestness in helping such persons to succeed and should put forth persevering effort to develop talent. The inexperienced are in need of a wise general who by prayer and personal effort will encourage and help them to become perfect in Christ Jesus, wanting in nothing. This is the work which every gospel minister should endeavor to do, but which so many have signally failed of doing. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 28

Many ministers seem to think that talent and ability have been given only to them and that they must do all the work in order to make sure that it is done right. They find fault with everything that they do not originate. They seem to think that knowledge will die with them. A great amount of talent is lost to the cause of God because many ministers, desiring to be first, are willing to lead, but never to follow. They never seem to question but that which goes forth from their hands is perfect; yet they think that they must closely scrutinize and criticize all that any one else does. Men who have varied talents and superior ability will join us in the work of giving the message. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 29

My dear brother, the Lord desires you to obtain decided victories. How does He who has borne so long, so patiently, and so mercifully with your perversities, regard your sharp, criticizing spirit, your lack of patience with those who do not meet your ideas? All of these things God sees. He is a discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart. Because the light of truth has shone so clearly upon you, you should have understood more fully than you have the relation that you sustain to your God and to your fellowmen. You should have learned to feel more deeply your helpless, dependent condition and your deep obligation to God, who has done and is still doing everything for you. You should now strive to train and discipline yourself to regard His work as sacred, a work given you as a faithful steward to do in righteousness. Your mind is to be purified, refined, and jealously guarded. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 30

The chief of the apostles has written, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” [1 Corinthians 9:27.] The lines of self-control must be held with a firm hand, lest the natural, carnal mind obtain the ascendency. If the body is not kept under control, it makes claims that are unreasonable. Yet many who profess to obey the truth are yielding themselves as servants to its imperative, unreasonable requisitions. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 31

All that you know which helps you in any way to be an intelligent workman, you should teach to your fellow workers. If God has entrusted you with unusual gifts, He has done so to enable you to pour back into His storehouse that which He has given you, by imparting your knowledge to others. If you strive to use for the benefit of others that which He has given you, glory and honor will redound to His name. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 32

Now, Brother Matteson, this is a fair representation of your case. You are not right in these matters. You should try to help those who make mistakes, but never should you do this in the self-sufficient, boastful spirit in which you have done it heretofore. You need to learn many more lessons at the foot of the cross of Calvary. The Lord is ever ready and willing to give His children ability to understand and power to obey His requirements. His truth is able to make us wise unto salvation. By believing it and obeying it, we receive grace sufficient to meet the duties and the trials that come to us from day to day. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 33

May the Lord help you, my brother, strengthening and blessing you. May you learn to do His work with unswerving fidelity. 4LtMs, Lt 10, 1884, par. 34