Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5

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Lt 19, 1887

Brethren and Sisters in St. Helena

St. Helena, California

October 24, 1887

Previously unpublished.

Dear Brethren and Sisters in St. Helena:

There has been a great deal of gossiping over certain things that have happened among you, but you all know that scandal and gossip are condemned in the Scriptures, and by the testimonies of the Spirit of God. Brother Rice has been blind and has needed the heavenly anointing, but he is not alone in error. His brethren have also failed to do the will of God. If they had come to him in the spirit of meekness, in the spirit of Christ, and had patiently labored with him, striving to recover him from the snare of the enemy; if they had done their whole duty in the fear of God, according to His Word, telling him his fault in the private way that the Lord has directed, they would have been clear in the sight of heaven. But as they have departed from the plain injunction of the Lord, condemnation rests upon them. 5LtMs, Lt 19, 1887, par. 1

Those who have believed the evil reports and have repeated them to others have utterly disregarded the lesson that Jesus left on record for those who profess to be His disciples. In censuring those who have been engaged in gossip, I do not refer to the Board of Directors, whose duty it is to investigate these reports that come to them concerning those in the employ of the institution. It is positively essential that the moral tone of the retreat should be of a high character; and in a case of this kind, it is only prudent to examine the matter most thoroughly. 5LtMs, Lt 19, 1887, par. 2

Achan stole and dissembled, and his sin was charged upon the whole camp of Israel. He knew that when he took the golden wedge and the Babylonish garment he was acting contrary to the command of the God of Israel. The Lord had said, “And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed.” [Joshua 6:18.] If matters of difficulty between brethren are not laid open together, but frankly spoken of between themselves in the spirit of Christian love, the difficulty would in nearly every case be healed and the brother won. Misunderstandings have arisen that have been thus explained in Christian tenderness, and the breach has been healed. When brethren come together in harmony with the directions of Christ, Jesus Himself is the witness of the scenes, and the whole universe looks with intense interest upon the man who not only believes, but does the word of Christ. The Spirit of God will move upon the heart of him who has erred, when Christ’s words are carried out, and the one at fault will be convicted of his error. But if he is too proud, too self-sufficient to confess the wrong, others are to be taken in order to follow out the complete directions of the Word. “But if he will not hear thee (in that private interview), take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.” [Matthew 18:15, 16.] The matter of difficulty is to be confined to as small a number as possible. But two or three are to labor with the one who is in error. They should not only talk with him, but bow in prayer, and with humble hearts seek the Lord. 5LtMs, Lt 19, 1887, par. 3

“And if he shall neglect to hear, then tell it unto the church, but if he neglect to hear the church”—if he persists in his unreasonable course, and will not be corrected—then there is only one more step to be taken, and that is a very sorrowful one—“let him be unto thee as a heathen and a publican.” [Verse 17.] “Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” [Verse 18.] When every specification which Christ has given has been carried out in the true Christian spirit, then, and then only, Heaven ratifies the decision of the church, because its members have the mind of Christ and do as He would have done had He been here. Brethren, it must be made manifest that we are not only Bible readers, but doers of the words of Christ. Those who fully trust in the Lord Jesus will be obedient children and will have guidance from above. The mind and will of God are made plain in the living oracles. 5LtMs, Lt 19, 1887, par. 4

In our churches we should not act as though we were groping our way in the dark. Clear light has been given us; the Lord has spoken to everyone in His Word, and that Word is luminous with light and waiting with precious ore of truth. In the Bible we have a perfect rule on conduct, and we will be safe in following it. With reverent hearts we should bow to God’s expressed will. We are not left in uncertainty, for in all the varied circumstances of life we walk in accordance with the instructions of God, which are based upon the golden principles of truth, and revealed in the precepts of His love. In the Bible there are rules to meet every case. A complete system of faith has been revealed, and correct rules for practice in our daily lives have been made known. Those who turn from the beaten path marked out in God’s Word, because it suits their feelings better to do so than to work according to the commandment, leave the light and are enshrouded in darkness; peace of mind, happiness, and heaven are sacrificed for the sake of maintaining human pride and indulging stubbornness of will. 5LtMs, Lt 19, 1887, par. 5

We are not to place our dependence upon man nor expect homage from our fellow men. Jesus says, “Be ye not called Rabbi, for one is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren; call no man your father upon the earth, for one is your Father which is in heaven.” [Matthew 23:8, 9.] We should remember that the best and most intelligent men have only a limited ability, and we should pray for discernment to understand what is each man’s true place. We are not to be blind; we may see the prejudices which some have, and which are criticized by those with whom we associate; we may see the errors that hinder their religious growth, we may discern their instability of opinion, their partiality of action; but because we see this we should not feel that we are superior to them, measuring ourselves among ourselves and leaning to our own understanding. As we see the deficiencies of others, it should lead us to have less self-confidence, to be jealous of our own spirit and action. No living man should come in to take the place of God in your mind. “Call no man your father upon earth, for one is your Father which is in heaven. Neither [be ye] called masters, for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be [your servant], ... and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” [Verses 9-12.] 5LtMs, Lt 19, 1887, par. 6

These words of Christ are not only to be read, but are to be obeyed to the letter. Those who meekly and humbly pursue their course of duty, not to be praised, petted, and honored of men, but to glorify God, will receive as their reward glory, honor, and eternal life. But many are so lifted up in spiritual pride that they act as though it were not enjoined upon them to live in harmony with the instruction of Christ. We are to walk in humility before God, and we can do this as the clear light of heaven reveals Christ’s perfection of character and we see in contrast the weakness and imperfection of our own. Those who have a view of Christ in contrast with self will not feel like boasting. They will not lift up self, but will appreciate the value of souls for whom Christ died. You will see, brethren, by the writing dated October 24, 1887, that I have called your attention to certain rules that the Lord requires us to observe. I have great sorrow of heart that these rules have been so strangely neglected by those who profess to be followers of Christ. Merely reading the Bible, believing the Bible, will not save any of us, for it is only doers of the Word that shall be justified. 5LtMs, Lt 19, 1887, par. 7

I know of nothing more injurious to the soul than this habit of talking of one another’s errors, of reporting every unfavorable tale that is brought to your ears, and of magnifying the mistakes of a brother. When a brother’s fault comes to your notice, how much better it would be to go to him with it, following out the Bible rule that has been given by Him who owns the souls of all men. An infinite price has been paid for the ransom of the souls of men from the power of the enemy, and how terrible it is for one who professes to love God to set forth the mistakes and errors of his brother in high colors, doing a wicked work against Jesus in the person of His saints. The rebuke of God is against all who engage in such work; they are doing the work of Satan. The Lord has declared, “Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto Me.” [Matthew 25:40.] 5LtMs, Lt 19, 1887, par. 8

When Christians accuse and condemn their brethren, they show themselves to be in the service of the accuser of the brethren. When they talk of the faults and failings of others, they plant roots of bitterness whereby many may be defiled. It is through this kind of work that brother becomes suspicious of brother. Confidence is unsettled, and variance arises in the [churches]. Love cannot exist where the conversation is largely upon the errors and mistakes of others. The words of Christ are thus treated with contempt as though frail, erring man had found some other way to heaven than that appointed by the Lord, the path of obedience to His commandments. We all hope to reach the same home in heaven, but if Christ is not formed within, if you have not the mind of Christ and do not practice the words of Christ, if you are fully satisfied with your own peculiar ways, so that you feel justified in complaining of your brethren, you will never reach heaven. If you cannot live in harmony on the earth, how could you live throughout eternity in love and peace? Kindness, love, courtesy, and delicate regard must be manifested toward one another even here and now. To practice the principles of love, this will not prevent our dealing plainly with our brethren, in brotherly kindness, pointing out shortcomings and wrongs when it is necessary to do so. But we must do this in harmony with the directions of Christ. When you are yourself connected with God, you may speak plainly to those who by their crooked steps are turning the lame out of the path. The apostle directs, “If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” [Galatians 6:1.] Satan designs to keep the church in a state of wrangling, of envy, jealousy, and evil surmisings, so that brethren cannot pray or work in harmony. While thus at variance, they fail to bring the saving power of the truth to bear upon the hearts of unbelievers; people become disgusted with religion when they witness the way in which a brother treats an offending brother. 5LtMs, Lt 19, 1887, par. 9

It is the duty of every true follower of Christ to reflect light to the world. God has laid upon us the responsibility of the souls of those who are unsaved. As an ambassador of Christ, I will tell you, brethren, that if you talk more of the merits of Christ, if you engaged more frequently in humble prayer, and said less to your brethren about the failings of others, you would advance in spirituality and be far ahead of what you are now. You must give the precious plant of love some chance to grow. Jesus has said, “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.” [John 13:35.] He told His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. [Luke 24:49.] Said He, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] But Paul declares, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” [Philippians 4:13.] 5LtMs, Lt 19, 1887, par. 10

We should be often in prayer. The outpouring of the Spirit of God came in answer to earnest prayer. But mark this fact concerning the disciples: “They were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” [Acts 2:1-4.] They were not assembled to relate tidbits of scandal, they were not seeking to expose every stain they could find on a brother’s character. They felt their spiritual need and cried to the Lord for the unction to help them in overcoming their own infirmities and to fit them for the work of saving others. They prayed with intense earnestness that the love of Christ might be shed abroad in their hearts. This is our great need today in every church in the land. “For if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” [2 Corinthians 5:17.] That which was objectionable in the character is purified from the soul by the love of Jesus. All selfishness is expelled, all envy, all evil speaking is rooted out, and a radical transformation is wrought in the life. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, meekness, goodness, faith, temperance; against such there is no law.” [Galatians 5:22, 23.] 5LtMs, Lt 19, 1887, par. 11

“The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” [James 3:18.] Paul says that as touching the law, as far as outward acts were concerned, he was blameless [Philippians 3:6]; but when the spiritual character of the law was discerned, and when he looked into the holy mirror, he saw himself a sinner. Judged by a human standard he had abstained from sin, but when he looked into the depths of God’s law and saw himself as God saw him, he bowed in humiliation and confessed his guilt. He did not go away from the mirror and forget what manner of man he was, but he exercised genuine repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. He was washed, he was cleansed. He says, “I had not known sin except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” [Romans 7:7-9.] Sin then appeared in its true hideousness, and his self-esteem was gone; he was humble. He no longer ascribed goodness and merit to himself. He ceased to think more highly of himself than he ought to think and ascribed all the glory to God. He was no longer sensitive to reproach, neglect, or contempt. He no longer sought earthly alliance, station, or honor. He did not pull others down to uplift himself. He became gentle, condescending, meek, and lowly of heart because he had learned his lesson in the school of Christ. He talked of Jesus and His matchless love, grew more and more into His matchless image. He bent his whole energy to win souls to Christ. When trial came upon him because of his unselfish love for souls, he bowed in prayer, and his love for them increased. His life was hid with Christ in God, and he loved Jesus with all the ardor of his nature. Every church was dear to him; every church member was a person of interest to him, for he looked upon every soul as the purchase of the blood of Christ. 5LtMs, Lt 19, 1887, par. 12

This should be the experience of every member of our churches. We are to bear the precious fruits of the Spirit of God to His glory, even rich clusters of fruit that will make us more precious than the golden wedge of Ophir. Brethren, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, and He will lift you up. 5LtMs, Lt 19, 1887, par. 13

If a fountain that is rank and bitter loses its corrupt qualities, those who drink of it will recognize the change. The water will be pure and sweet, and the streams that flow from it wholesome and refreshing. 5LtMs, Lt 19, 1887, par. 14

The members of the church at St. Helena need a deeper work of grace wrought in their souls, or they will be found wanting in the day of God. We must be found faithful stewards of the grace of God, or we shall be represented by the parable of the foolish virgins, who took their lamps, but had no oil in them. We must have the oil of grace in our vessels; the lamps must be trimmed and burning, and we be ready to meet the Bridegroom. 5LtMs, Lt 19, 1887, par. 15

In the past the Lord has signified that Brother Rodgers should connect with the Health Retreat at Crystal Springs. This brother has made mistakes, and he has been critical and has not always encouraged those who have been working under him. He has had experience and knowledge in treating the sick, which he might have used to the glory of God. He might have been far advanced in practical knowledge so as to be a helper in the institution if he had gone forward and upward since his connection with the work. But I saw that the rebuke of God was upon him because he has not stood at his appointed place of duty until he was honorably released. When trouble arose, he should have gone directly to Brethren Fulton, Baker, and Loughborough and laid his case and all the circumstances connected with it before them and let them know the true situation. But instead of doing this he disconnected himself from the work, and some felt a sense of relief that he had done so; but I can see no other way than for Brother Rodgers to see his mistake and so far as possible correct it. He has been at fault in criticizing others, and he should confess this, humble himself before God, and take any position that he can fill to serve the cause of God, by devotion and faithfulness, endeavoring to redeem his failings of the past. If he has been falsely accused, he must take it as a Christian should and by his life prove the accusation to have been false. He must not feel that his dignity has been wounded and take himself away from his appointed work. If he had but stood faithfully at his place, he would have won precious victories, but he has need to humble himself as a little child before God and in no way dishonor his Redeemer. 5LtMs, Lt 19, 1887, par. 16

Brethren, God would work for us if He could do it safely. He wants to do great things for His people, but the strife of tongues has dishonored God, weakened the hands of His professed children, and brought dearth and feebleness into the church. Is it not time to arise, to open the heart and receive the rays of light that are shining forth from the living oracles? Is it not time that the love of God should be permitted to make its imprint upon the soul, that Jesus may be glorified among those who claim to be His followers? Brother Rodgers, if your brethren open the way, and you are willing to do what you can at the institution in the meekness of Christ, the Lord will accept the efforts that you put forth in His cause, but self must be hid in Jesus. The Lord wants every soul in the church at St. Helena and at Crystal Springs to obey His Word, to learn His will, to give heed to His requirements. There must be a decided change in the church. In place of gossip and censure there must be a spirit of sympathy, willingness, and desire to strengthen the hands that hang down, and to confirm the feeble knees. You are to be constantly seeking for precious pearls of truth; there must be a dying to the world. No cowardice nor compromise. There must be a seeking for that wisdom that is from above. The apostle asks, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation his words with meekness of wisdom; but if ye have bitter envy and strife in your hearts, glory not and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish, for where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” [James 3:13-18.] May the Lord give you wisdom that you may heed the words I now present to you in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 5LtMs, Lt 19, 1887, par. 17