Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 51, 1888

Ballou, George

Healdsburg, California

January 1, 1888

Portions of this letter are published in OHC 140; 1MCP 32-33.

[George Ballou:]

I have received your letter. I feel distressed over your condition and would not add to your affliction if I could conscientiously avoid it. But I cannot see any safety for you or the cause of God to connect you with His sacred work. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 1

Brother Ballou, you cannot be trusted. The base metal abundantly composes your character. These have been so long weaving into your character the threads of evil, in thought, in action, that in your hands the salt of truth has lost its savor, and the revealed will of God has not for years acted as light to guide your feet, having a controlling influence upon your character and leading the erring to the true foundation. Satan has had the control of your thoughts and led you into the subtlest reasoning which has decided in your impure mind that which was allowable and that which was forbidden, until in your case, as with many others, this has resulted in your making decided transgressions of the law while appearing to be in perfect harmony with its requirements. This is the danger; this is Satan’s manner of working, making void the law of God by traditions or a subtle manner of reasoning. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 2

Paltry evasions, quibbling, and distinctions as to what constitutes sin have led other minds to have confused ideas of right and wrong and lessened the crime of sensual indulgence. The great God and His holy claims have become so obscured by thoughts issuing from defiled hearts that sin no longer appears the vile thing that it is, and the minds left to drift into this channel make innocence of crimes most revolting. The Scriptures are wrested from their true meaning, and the oracles of God, by a system of reasoning inspired by the devil, are meaningless, and the ingenuity of the devil knows no bounds in twisting and torturing terms to such a degree until the plainest statements are explained to mean the very opposite of that which the ordinary reasoning of intelligent minds would suppose they did mean. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 3

The guilty Scribes and Pharisees worked at this business until they made those things positively forbidden in the Word of God to appear in conformity with His requirements, thus turning things upside down, setting darkness for light and light for darkness; and when general precepts are laid down without a particular specification or form how it was to be obeyed, they felt no obligation to obey these general, far-reaching requirements. Practical godliness was made as thin and incomprehensive as possible, and they set aside the spiritual altogether. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 4

This is becoming one of the dangerous and most artful workings of Satan to make of none effect God’s purposes that are given all in these virtues which are stated, because the form and measure of conformity is left to be met and acted upon by the circumstances of each case, and the promptings of a loving, loyal heart will see and practice virtue and truth. Many professedly religious lives are shamefully defective because the law of God has not specified the particular way, under all circumstances, it was to be fulfilled. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 5

The law of God covers the whole matter, but their love of particular sins leads them to the position there is no law to condemn these particular transactions. The Lord’s prohibitions and requirements are in perfect consistency with His moral law, the great [law] of righteousness, which is a matter of character rather than of form. The heart work will lead to the righteous actions. The law of Jehovah is exceedingly broad. Jesus in His lessons on the Mount plainly declared to His disciples that this holy law of God may be violated in even the thoughts and feelings and desires, as well as [in] the word and deed. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 6

The heart that loves God supremely will not in any way be inclined to narrow down His precepts to the very smallest possible claims, but the obedient, loyal soul will cheerfully render full spiritual obedience when the law is seen in its spiritual power. Then will the commandments come home to the soul in their real force. Sin will appear exceedingly sinful. The light of principle illuminates the whole law of Jehovah. Sin is cleansed from the soul temple. The law is pronounced to be holy, just, and good. There is no longer self-righteousness, self-esteem, self-honor. Self-security is gone. Deep conviction of sin and self-loathing is the result, and the soul in its desperate sense of peril lays hold on the blood of the Lamb of God as his only remedy from the condemning power of sin. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 7

Many are deceiving their own souls today. They restrict the injunctions of God to condemn outward acts alone and do not consider it sin to dishonor God in thoughts and affections. They flatter themselves that they are keeping the law of Jehovah, while their life and character as daguerreotyped in the books of heaven reveal them as venturing to see how far they can go in the direction of wrongdoing without being branded as transgressors of God’s law. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 8

God’s holy Word is a book of living principles that every soul who desires to depart from all iniquity is not left in doubt as to what course to pursue to meet the claims of God’s Word. They will be ever laboring in thought, in word, and in character to be on the Lord’s side, obedient to all His requirements. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 9

In the place of seeking opportunities to evade the law of God, they will give the largest interpretation to His far-reaching commandments and will strive most earnestly to bring the will, the affections, and all the heart to exemplify the great principles of His holy commandments. This is genuine sanctification. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 10

The Pharisees of today are among those who have a reputation as Christians. Who are Pharisees and who are bearing the stamp of Christ’s purity, holiness and devotion will exemplify the same in their life and character. Those who are unconscious of their danger in Pharisaism think all is well with them. If man will preserve humility, keeping I out of sight and God in the forefront, then there will be a power of influence going forth from their words, their deportment, and character that will be for good—far-reaching as eternity. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 11

If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! So many are working earnestly on a wrong line which seems to them to be right. They are building a very fine structure but the foundation is not safe. It is on sand and not solid rock. Their ideas are wrong. The work must begin at the heart. Their conceptions of their God-appointed work is confused. It is false. If the heart is right with God, then the whole life will be purified, refined, ennobled, sanctified. If the eye is single, the whole body is filled with light. Religion is not a matter of externalities which can be kept out of work. The heart must be subjected to the influences of the Spirit of Christ, then all hours, in all places will be devoted to one grand aim to save souls for whom Christ has died. The influence of the transforming grace of Christ will be brought into the minutest deeds of the life, in every department of the work. Religion is a thing of the heart. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 12

Selfish interests lead in one direction; ambition is constantly urging to acceptance of positions for gain that will place man in difficult places where it is impossible for him to maintain right motives and principles that reveal the love of God. It is fidelity on the one hand to the commandments of God; and unsanctified ambition, selfish interest on the other hand—God’s commandments on the one hand and transgression on the other hand. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 13

Satan was constantly saying, “Why be so particular and exact. Obeying the commandments of God is greatly against your interest; you overact in being so far separated from worldly customs. You are narrow and you can never rise very high until you change your sentiments.” Satan gets the day; man yields to Satan’s suggestions and divorces his soul from God. We do not place you in a position where you cannot receive the pardoning love of God. If you repent of your transgressions, God is just to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. A broken and contrite heart the Lord will not despise. If you regard iniquity in your heart the Lord will not hear you. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 14

When I learned that you stated before your brethren in the ministry that when you undressed and got into bed and induced the young sister to do those things she would never have thought of doing had you not presented matters as did Satan in his temptations, you claimed you had no impure thoughts or evil intentions in so doing, I said then, “It is a hopeless case. Evil is so ingrained in his character that even his very thoughts are evil and that continually, and the eye is so obscured to light and purity and holiness that his whole body is full of darkness.” If no impure thoughts could be attached to such a course of conduct, then, blameless in this course, you would act over the same under the slightest temptations and corrupt pure minds by your satanic reasoning and specious sophistry. You would come to consider this a part of your ministerial work and you would tear and devour the sheep of God’s pasture. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 15

The very fact that while you were preaching the most solemn truth of God’s Word you could be guilty of such conduct shows a conscience defiled. Men may be surprised by temptations to do many things that are wrong, then they become disgusted and horrified with their transgressions, but your mind has been under the control of Satan to deliberately plan and devise a course of action in accordance with your unsanctified character to gratify lustful desires. You have boldly urged your common, corrupting actions upon others. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 16

It has been difficult to turn you aside from your purpose. And, think you, should you lay bare the sins that you have been guilty of practicing during your ministerial office, that there is one member of the conference [who] would consider you a safe man to be entrusted with the responsibility as a shepherd of the flock of God? Would they not consider you a wolf in sheep’s clothing? 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 17

I have no confidence that you see your sinfulness. You have been continually in your mind and words referring to others who have, you claim, no more right to credentials than you have. I have naught to say to you of any such. But their sins will not excuse your sin one iota. Yours is black as midnight, and if you save your own soul, you will be a brand plucked from the burning. Your moral taste has been perverted, corrupted, and the moral defilement runs through your whole life, notwithstanding the clearest testimonies have been borne directly to you, and you have made humbling acknowledgments. I felt the burden again and again of your case. I pressed it home upon you at the April meeting in Oakland. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 18

You see the light. You know you were polluted. You sought to humble yourself before God but were not converted. Your course, after the clear light in general principles has been laid before you, has been more bold and defiling to draw other souls into your snare of pollution, and this has been practiced so long that the whole moral taste is corrupted. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 19

You have no right to stand in the place of a minister of righteousness. You need to be proved. God will test you. If you cannot bear the proving of God, the matter is decided forever that you can never stand as [a] mouthpiece for God again. Long has it been since the Lord has used you directly in His work and in His cause. Your heart has been corrupt, your hands defiled, your thoughts full of defilement. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 20

I counsel you, think no more of entering the ministry, but seek some humble employment and work not with the brain, but with your hands. Physical exercise you need. The animal in you is largely developed, and if you can perfect a Christian character in an humble way, revealing Christ in your life and in your deportment, if you will show you are not ignorant of Satan’s devices, that you will stand the test of temptation, tearing out the rotten timbers in your character building and putting the solid timbers in, then you may so work out your own salvation that you will see and acknowledge that it is God that worketh in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 21

If the sin of Achan brought [the] curse of God upon Israel, what can be your ideas of your sin, and how can God excuse the church or conference that will pass you credentials as being a delegated minister in good standing in the conference. It cannot be done. You will be sought after by those who are watching for all such souls who are ready to sympathize with you and give you the right hand of fellowship and will place you in the pulpit, and you will be tempted to accept of this opening. You have so little spiritual enlightenment, you know so little of what constitutes Christian character that you may be deceived and be found with D. M. Canright. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 22

You have fully as high an estimate of yourself as had D. M. Canright. You are full of self-esteem and pomposity. You know not yet what true humility is. Self, self has been held up, exhibited, admired, worshipped. God’s Spirit has had so little to do with you. Your proud boasting has pleased the devil but has not in any way glorified God. You have glorified yourself; you have ... [Remainder missing.] 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1888, par. 23