Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 41, 1887

Wilcox, Brother and Sister

Basel, Switzerland

April 12, 1887

Previously unpublished.

Dear Brother and Sister Wilcox:

I received your letters and will try to answer them. I am sorry that Bro. Butler left the impression that I thought you should not come to England because you justified yourself when reproved. I did not regard it in this light. I did not at any time think that you braced yourself up to resist what I said. Bro. Butler has certainly received a wrong impression. 5LtMs, Lt 41, 1887, par. 1

There were reasons given in my letter that were objectionable to your being in England. I considered the matter of your wife and child’s coming; where they are you should be. I am glad that your wife is in better health, and is not wholly absorbed in herself. But to take her to such a field as England, knowing she could be no help to the work there, and considering your own poor health, and the little helpless child, it looked to me to be injustice to you all. 5LtMs, Lt 41, 1887, par. 2

Sister Wilcox has had an experience in her life that has made her a helpless burden much of the time, when she need not have been so. There is a sort of helplessness about her which is as natural as her breath, but, which I do believe she is making efforts to overcome, and yet temptation will be strong in the direction of laying her weight upon others. 5LtMs, Lt 41, 1887, par. 3

You wrote to have rooms prepared in the mission for your family, that your wife was feeble and so forth. Now, Bro. Wilcox, you could not be in that mission house with your feeble wife and your child without occupying so much space that there would be no place to use for the accommodation of a mission. It is, I consider, very objectionable to transport over to England those who will only be helpless burdens to a poverty-bound mission, and then there would be your own poor health with that of your wife. It seemed to me, from all that has been shown me in regard to this mission, that there should be transported only such as could be a help and not a hindrance. There are inconveniences to be met here that you would not meet in America. It did not seem justice to me to transport your family here after you wrote that your wife was very feeble. She is not fitted for a missionary life at all. And as you should be with your family, it seemed clear to me you should remain with them in America. 5LtMs, Lt 41, 1887, par. 4

You are well aware that much of your time was spent in tears and gloom and physical weakness in consequence. And then your feelings in other directions which you mention in your letter show a weakness that has been an offense to God. 5LtMs, Lt 41, 1887, par. 5

Your relation to Sister Thayer, your being so much in her society, you both were very critical with others, especially the young, and yet your own example was not worthy of imitation. Your association with the work made this course of action offensive to God. And this, if there were no other cause, would be sufficient reason that you should remain in America among your brethren. In many respects you are a weak man. Your fasting, your long prayers, and then continuing in the same objectionable course of action, seems to me, shows an unbalanced mind. You should be where there are those who can help you. I regard these failures as an offense to God, the outgrowth of an ill-balanced, one-sided character and calculated to give the wrong mold to all with whom you connect in the work. Your spirit or your temperament is not of that kind that would make you a safe missionary and a well-balanced Christian. You are very set, very firm in your own ideas. And unless you are a transformed man, your weaknesses will be copied by others to their ruin. I speak plainly in these matters. I consider you a very weak man in many respects. 5LtMs, Lt 41, 1887, par. 6

In regard to your ability to issue the Present Truth, your work has been good. I know of no fault here in particular, and for this reason I wish it were so that you could continue your work in England upon the paper. The Lord understands all these things. 5LtMs, Lt 41, 1887, par. 7

Sister Thayer told me decidedly, when we first saw her at Grimsby, that she wants to go to America. I talked the other way, but her mind seemed fully settled to go. Arrangements were made to have her go and put herself into a position to learn bookkeeping, and in that case you would have to remain another year. But after the conference at Basel decided that she should go to America. She then said that she did not want to go. Several letters from different sources came to me after she went to America that Sister Thayer thought she was sent to America because they wanted to get rid of her and did not want her in England. There the green-eyed monster, jealousy, came in, and she made impressions there that were not true. Poor Sister Thayer gained much sympathy. I was obliged to answer several letters stating the facts in the case. 5LtMs, Lt 41, 1887, par. 8

Now had she done the work for which she was sent there, it would have been a great blessing to the cause of God in England, as well as in Switzerland. But she let her strong, set will control her and did not perfect the work for which she was sent to America. She acted in the matter as though she would follow her own mind and judgment and give herself up to this gloom and self-martyrdom that is so offensive to God, and she left impressions everywhere that she was a misused person. 5LtMs, Lt 41, 1887, par. 9

I wonder that the Lord bears so long with the perversity of human beings. I am so pained over this child’s-play work in God’s cause that I cry out in anguish of spirit, Oh, that those who are so exacting and critical as yourself and Sister Thayer have been would turn your criticisms upon your own hearts, your motives and your spirit; for if God has ever spoken by me, unless you both are transformed by the grace of Christ, your unholy traits of character will overcome all good, and you will never enter heaven. This Christian warfare is not child’s play; it is earnest, solemn work. 5LtMs, Lt 41, 1887, par. 10

Well, I will say no more on this point, except this: it takes more labor to keep straight and in working order those characters that are ill balanced than to convert souls from the world. It is the wearing, exhausting labor with the least profit. I feel sorry for you. You sin and repent, and sin and repent, and keep it up, I fear, to the end, until the heart, the fountain, is made pure. Now my duty is done in this matter. In regard to your coming to England, if you feel it your duty to come, we will be glad to see you. God will tell you what your duty is, if you will humble yourself before Him; but while you are self-sufficient and think yourself about perfect, God can do nothing for you. I hope that you will seek the Lord. I hope His converting grace will take possession of your soul. I hope that you will become altogether what God would have you and that you, by learning in the school of Christ, will be softened, subdued, and perfect a Christian character and be a firm, bold soldier of the cross of Christ. If this does not take place, you will fall under temptation and lose your soul. 5LtMs, Lt 41, 1887, par. 11