Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5

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Lt 33, 1888

Church, Brother

Fresno, California

March 21, 1888

This letter is published in entirety in 20MR 363-372.

Dear Brother Church:

I learn that you intend to erect a health institution in this place. This may be all right in time, but you are not ready, my brother, to engage in any such enterprise just now. There are other things that demand both your time and your means. You want not to do anything that shall bear the least appearance of working against the Lord, for in this you will not prosper. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 1

I meant to have laid open before you plainly the things the Lord had been pleased to open before me in regard to the elements connected with the [Rural] Health Retreat. I had a long, tedious, painful effort to set things in order there. It nearly killed me for I carried the burden upon my soul day and night. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 2

I have, in the fear of God, related to the board and to Elder Rice and to all parties concerned where they were deficient and where they must reform. We could no longer keep Elder Rice connected with the health retreat; not because he did wrong in his imprudence with his course of familiarity with Mrs. Heald, but his management in other things was so unsafe. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 3

When he was first connected with the health retreat, he was a poor invalid, and it was questionable whether he could live longer than a few months. But Dr. Gibbs patiently and interestedly worked in his behalf so that he was encouraged to take some exercise, and he linked his arm with his and just urged him to do many things he was not inclined to do. I was at this time at the retreat. Dr. Gibbs watched over him as he would his own brother. Then it was thought best, in order to encourage Elder Rice, to give him the position, for a few months at least, of superintendent, while there were but few patients. We all thought this advisable. Well, through much persevering effort, Elder Rice, who appeared to be on the very borders of the grave, began to improve; and if these efforts had not been made for him, he would not have been alive today. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 4

But as time passed, Elder Rice assumed larger responsibilities, and he felt that his head was sufficient to control altogether more than his position gave him any right to do. He did not consult the board, but repeatedly said, when spoken to about certain things done, that he knew better than the board what was needed. He took about absolute control of everything. He outgrew his humility and had altogether too exalted [an] opinion of himself, and he separated from God. He followed his own impulse and not the way of the Lord. After much prayer and burden of soul, we felt that things must change and must be set in order if we would have the blessing of the Lord upon the institution. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 5

Brother Fulton, a man who loves and fears God, requested an interview with me during our conference in Oakland, and then stated that the burden was upon him day and night to connect with the health retreat at St. Helena. This looked like the work of the Lord, and we set this matter before the board, and he was given a place there with his pleasant, good wife. This is what we needed, a man and his wife. This would close the door to scandal, and these two united, we knew would place a different mould upon the institution. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 6

I had several conversations with Dr. Maxson and his wife. Their only reason for resigning, they stated, was the methods of treating in drug medication. Dr. Gibbs was, they said, an homeopathist; but this is not the case. He is an eclectic physician, and had, when he came to the health retreat, eight years of successful practice. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 7

Dr. Maxson and his wife stated that homeopathy was of the devil—it was like spiritism and mesmerism—and they could not conscientiously connect with him, although Dr. Gibbs, he acknowledged, had always treated him like a gentleman and had given him far greater liberty and freedom than he would have given Dr. Gibbs were he in his place. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 8

I told Dr. Maxson we did not erect an institution at such immense cost to have people educated to resort to drugs, but to instruct them how to cure without drugs. I told them what the Lord had been pleased to show me nearly thirty years ago in regard to the old-school practice of drug medication upon the miserable wrecks of humanity, made so by the use of drugs. I told him of the two systems: the old-school system had killed its thousands and its tens of thousands, while the eclectic, or as he called it, homeopathy, had done no such deadly work. But this, I am sure, had no weight with him for he frequently repeated the same thing. Finally he sent in his resignation. We tried to have him and his wife remain upon a different plan: we could form a training school and Dr. Maxson and wife could educate in regard to hygienic principles and how to give treatment. But they declined to do this, and left. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 9

Now, Brother Church, I have only just presented a few items before you. We learned that Dr. Maxson and wife were closely united with Elder Rice and always ready to excuse his course. Dr. Maxson denied to me that Elder Rice had been as imprudent as had been stated. I said, “Dr. Maxson, I have talked with Mrs. Heald and received from her own lips the statements to be true which you claim to be untrue.” An unholy bond has connected these together to the injury of all parties. This has stood directly in the way of Elder Rice’s receiving the very reproofs and corrections the Lord had for him. Dr. Maxson has done this before in Battle Creek, and it grieved me to the heart to see that he would be on the wrong side in this case. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 10

Now you have the cases of Dr. Burke, Dr. Maxson, and Elder Rice. Are you willing, and do you think it safe to yoke up with these to start your institution? Do you think there could be the approval of God upon such a movement? We have seen it tried many, many times, but by-and-by there has always been a working out of rebellion and disorderly elements which have been unable to harmonize, and the result eventually has been departing from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and the loss of the soul. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 11

Now, my brother, I have a request to make of you, which is to make haste slowly. I do not want you to connect with these elements. You are a man of very set, determined traits of character, and when things go contrary to your ideas you are greatly disturbed. Your life course has been opened before me. You have had a wrestling life, and when your course has been questioned or opposed, you have been trained by course of circumstances to push just as much harder to make your plans a success as that you were opposed. This element of character still exists with you, and it is a dangerous element to you and others to be brought into your religious life because you may in some things be inclined to push, when you may not have the Lord back of you to push with you. I know that the Lord can use you as His instrument if you will be passive in His hands. He can make you a conqueror if you are willing to submit to the light. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 12

You are now in the decline of life and will not be able to wrestle as you have done. You want now more decidedly to seek those things which are above, where God sitteth. You want now to be fitting for those mansions Christ has gone to prepare for those who love Him. I do not want that you should make a failure here. And for you to get mixed up with elements which I know that you cannot harmonize with will do the very worst injury to them, and not only this, but a greater injury to yourself and to the precious cause of God. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 13

You may say, “Has the Lord shown you this peculiar case of Elder Rice and Mrs. Heald?” If I had my diary here, written during my last trip to Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, I could read to you some things therein. In a vision of the night I was passing through the rooms of the institution and saw the very scenes which did take place there in this familiarity, men with women and women with men. My soul was deeply troubled, and I arose and wrote out these things at one o’clock in the morning. I have copied out much of this and sent it to Elder Rice. I have read to Elder Rice, the board, Dr. Maxson, Dr. Gibbs, and Brother and Sister Heald the things written in regard to Dr. Gibbs. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 14

Dr. Gibbs made his acknowledgements. Elder Rice made no confession, only admitted that which he was compelled to admit before the board. But I should say, he made quite a number of confessions to me at Oakland at the time of the camp meeting. Dr. Gibbs confessed to his wife, too, in a most thorough manner. He confessed to me, and then to the board. He has done all that he could do to make wrongs right. He asked the forgiveness of the board, and then a vote was taken by all the board. Brother and Sister Maxson and Elder Rice raised their hands in unison with the board to vote their acceptance of the confession and their forgiveness. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 15

I was, in the night season, conducted to the rooms in the health retreat where I was made to hear words spoken by Brother Rice [and] by Brother and Sister Heald. Their deportment towards each other [and] their attentions were such as should be given only to the wife or husband of married people. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 16

The course pursued in settling the bills with the patrons of the health retreat was not of that character to leave a favorable impression upon their minds. The words expressed by these patrons as they left the retreat were anything but flattering to its managers. Great dissatisfaction was created in regard to the settlements of the accounts. They thought they paid large prices for board and treatment, and then the sums exacted for any additional favor bestowed was but a very little gain to the institute but resulted in the loss of patronage, and therefore the loss of means. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 17

When I expressed my dissatisfaction in regard to these things to Dr. Maxson and his wife, both vindicated the course of Elder Rice, stating that this was the way they did at the sanitarium at Battle Creek; that the prices exacted were not equal to the prices of the sanitarium for the same favors. It was evident that in our experience with the parties and management there was a complete unity with Elder Rice and Dr. Maxson and his wife, and Brother and Sister Heald. There was one voice and one judgment with these parties. Many things I was made to see and hear which it is not necessary for me to write at this time. Now, these parties were either right or wrong. If the Lord was leading me and presenting before me the true state of things as they existed, laying the burden upon my soul, then these parties were not standing in the counsel of God. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 18

I was shown at a certain time when the Spirit of the Lord was working upon those connected with the institution, some confessions were made. They seemed to be assembled in a meeting of worship. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 19

Elder Rice was standing upon his feet, and the Spirit of God was deeply moving upon his heart to confess his way out of darkness into the light. But he only spoke in general terms. He in no wise cleared his soul from the stains of wrong on his part in connection with Sister Heald. He trembled for a while under the promptings of the Spirit of God, but refused to humiliate his soul before God in lifting up the cross. From that time he began to walk in darkness, contrary to light and truth. He had a moulding influence upon Sister Heald. She felt at one time that she could never be free unless she made an humble confession. But Elder Rice moulded matters to please himself. He might have made straightforward work; he might have come out of darkness into the light; he might have drawn near to God; and the Lord would have forgiven his sins and lifted up a standard for him against the enemy. But he has verily turned away from the light and convictions of the Spirit of God as did the assembly of the Jews at Nazareth when Christ announced Himself as the Anointed One. All responded, under the impression of the Spirit of God, witnessing to the gracious words which proceeded from His lips. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 20

It is a dangerous thing under circumstances like these to open the heart to unbelief, which causes the Spirit of God to depart from them. After unbelief came in, after doubts were entertained, the pointed, close remarks of Jesus showing that apostate Israel could not be trusted with the hiding of God’s servant for they would betray him, filled them with madness, and they would have put an end to the life of Jesus then and there if they had been permitted to do this. But the angels of God preserved the Son of God, till His work was done, and He passed through the murderous throng and went on His way to continue His work and fulfill His mission. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 21

It is Satan’s constant work to lead minds to deny the light. It takes but a step to leave the straightforward path and enter a diverging path where Satan leads the way. Light is called darkness; darkness is called light. I have no confidence that Elder Rice is under the influence of the Spirit of God. He has been moving and working under the deceptive influence of another spirit, and if he does not see this matter and gather up the rays of light that God has flashed upon his pathway and cherish this light as from God, he will just as surely come in the same position as did Jannes and Jambres who withstood God and Moses in ancient times. These men were so self-confident and had turned so fully from the ways of the Lord that by their own standard they believed themselves to be in favor with God and in the light because they had set light for darkness and darkness for light. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 22

We have had many years of experience in the cause and work of God, and have seen many persons who have moved in blindness, resisting the work of the Spirit of God, and we have seen the result, which has been a separation from God and eventually from the truth. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 23

The natural heart despises reproof, and there are those who, when corrected by the Spirit of God, rise up against it. They appeal to their own sympathy and relate matters to others in their own way, putting a wrong light upon everything and obtain their sympathies, and friends and relatives unite with them to make of none effect the work of God, to correct, reprove, and rebuke the erring. They lean to their own understanding; they refuse counsel; and in the place of harmonizing with the Spirit of God to set things in order, they work in an opposite direction. They erect standards of their own by which they measure character. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” [John 8:12.] 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 24

I might continue this subject to a much greater length, but I have not, neither will I go into particulars; but I feel it to be my duty to call your attention to a few points. If Elder Rice has made statements to you that have been of sufficient force to change your former opinion concerning him insomuch that you would connect with him in the most responsible work of establishing and running a health institution, we would be pleased to know the reasons upon which this change has been brought about. We do not want you to be brought into perplexities through any deceptive influences, through any misrepresentations. We would not suppress one syllable of truth that the Lord makes it our duty to utter, to gain favor with you, my respected brother, or any person living, in order to secure means to do any work in the cause of God. Your course must be straightforward in the fear of God. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 25

The Lord is not dependent upon any living man, but He graciously gives us the privilege of co-operating with Him, that we may be laborers together with God. We cannot do His work from our own standpoint. We cannot follow our own finite judgment, but we must have any eye single to the glory of God. “The gold and silver is the Lord’s, and the cattle upon the thousand hills are His.” [Haggai 2:8; Psalm 50:10.] He can work with His power to do whatsoever He will. If any one man refuses to co-operate with the Lord in doing the work after God’s order, that God’s mould may [be] upon it, and not man’s, then another will be chosen in His place, and He will make the willing and obedient to do His work which will be wrought in righteousness and will be as enduring as eternity. This work will be laid upon the foundation which will not be hay, wood, or stubble, but gold and silver and precious stones, which will stand the great conflagration which must take place when every work will be tried of what sort it is. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 26

Now, my brother, we want you to stand side and shoulder with us, to build up those things that God is building up which are imperishable. We want you to lift and to wear the yoke of Christ. We want you to be ripening up for the future life. We want your help in the work which we are doing for these last days. We do not want you to be involved in perplexities that I know at your age you will be if you undertake to build and conduct a health reform institution. If, in the order of God, such an institution is established in Fresno, be sure that the very foundation of its establishment is laid in solid timber. Do not let the enemy come in and spoil the work by placing defective timbers into the institution, for these defective characters, not under the special control of the Spirit of God, will work at cross purposes. It is Satan’s special business to create variance and dissension among the people who claim to be Seventh-day Adventists. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 27

I call upon you, my brother, in the name of the Lord, to unite with us, to close every door through which Satan would enter to cause strife and alienation among brethren. Let us counsel together. There has been altogether too much moving in one’s own independent judgment. Self-sufficiency and self-esteem lie at the foundation of the greatest trials and discords that have ever existed among the people of God. The angel of God has repeated again and again, “Press together! Press together! Be of one mind, of one judgement! Let God be your leader! Follow His footsteps!” 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 28

My brother, God’s people are one body. God has a people whom He is leading, teaching, and guiding, that they may teach and lead and guide others. There will be among the remnant of these last days, as there was with ancient Israel, those who wish to move independently of the body, who are not willing to be subject to the body of the church, who are not willing to submit to advice or counsel; but ever bear in mind that God has a church upon the earth, and [to] that church God has delegated power. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 29

He expects them to grow up as a holy temple unto the Lord. Men will rise up against reproof; men will despise counsel; men will depart from the faith; men will apostatize; they will want to follow independent judgment. Just as sure as they do this, disaster and ruin of souls will be the result. In short, Satan will become their leader and will work constantly to tear down the things which God is building up and follow their own finite judgments and plans. But the works of all are to bear the test of the judgment. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 30

Angels of God are watching the development of character; angels of God are weighing in the balances of the sanctuary moral worth. The record is being made daily in the books of heaven of every man’s work. None of these discordant elements will be able to retard the great day of God and the final completion of His eternal plans. Truth is advancing. Missionary fields are constantly opening, and those who use the means which God has entrusted to them as His stewards to spread the knowledge of truth, which is of heavenly origin, are truly missionaries of God and co-laborers with Jesus Christ. “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.” [Daniel 12:3.] 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 31

Those who will now support and build up the truth of God are ranging on one side and are standing with heart to heart, with one mind, with one voice, with one judgment, glorifying God by keeping a united front in defense of the truth which will eventually triumph. While those who will break up and confuse and do not labor to have harmony of purpose and action are verily doing the work of Satan, not the work of God. They feel annoyed because all honor and all praise are not given to their superior judgment. They feel fully capable to grasp in their arms large responsibilities and to be an independent body under no control. They do not keep the way of the Lord. They are ranged on the other side, ready to say, “Has not God spoken by us? You take too much upon yourselves.” 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 32

God will set His own seal upon His work, and God will enlist men to co-operate with Him. As God has given to every soul His measure of power, He expects that they will put it forth in the very branch of the work where they may labor intelligently and effectively. It is a delusion of the enemy for anyone to feel that he can disconnect from the body and work on an independent scale of his own and think he is doing God’s work. We are one body, and every member is to be united to the body. Not one is to be shut up to himself and live for himself. Men must be like-minded with God, pure, holy, sincere. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 33

My dear brother, you have a special work before you to do. If you will work in harmony with the Spirit of God, the Lord will bless you and work with your efforts. I have an intense interest for your soul. I do not want you by any wrong course that you may pursue, to hedge up the way which will deter you from doing the work the Lord has for you to do. My brother, there is only one safe course for you, and that is for you to make straight paths for your feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way. Sound doctrine must be brought into actual contact with men’s souls that it will produce sound practice. God gives sufficient light to guide every man that He shall perform right actions. But unless this light is appreciated and obeyed, he will be left in the condition of Chorazin and Bethsaida of old. It is not enough to believe the truth, but its sanctifying power must be felt in our life and character. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 34

My brother, God requires of us more than we are willing to give Him. We must individually be honest with God, and in no case rob God in tithes or in offerings. “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house; and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” [Malachi 3:8-10.] 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 35

Do not, my brother, neglect a plain duty revealed to you in the oracles of God. The books of heaven will reveal the fact in the past and the present standing of your accounts with God. Be strictly honest with your Maker in tithes and in offerings. You have been moved by the Spirit of God, and under the influence of His spirit you have made pledges. Then while you have means in your hands, make your account straight with God. Now God looks at all these transactions that bear any relation to the work and the cause of God. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 36

I entreat of you, my brother, to make straight work for time and for eternity. Do not rob God in the least measure. Take the truth of God in your hand and in your heart, in every transaction with your fellow men. Go under its escort to your place of business. There God will be near you in every settled, determined effort to apply the simple but searching maxims which come from heaven to guide men through all the highways, the byways, and the broad ways through this life to eternal glory. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 37

You are often troubled by the dishonesty and perversity of man. His crooked ways are an offense to you, his disregard of his word, the forfeiting of his promises, make you grieved and provoked. Well, Satan is pleased to have him do this way in order to tempt and discourage you. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 38

But then, how do you, my brother, treat the Lord? Are you not disappointing His expectations? Are you faithful and exact in your promises, and do you pay your vows to your Creator? Do you not withhold from the Lord His own portion that He has reserved for Himself? Will my brother, whom I respect, whose soul I value above gold and silver because it was purchased by human agony and the price of the blood of the Son of God, will you look carefully to all these things? You need expect but little of man except through the power and prevalence of truth, which is alone able to elevate his nature to its true dignity by its sanctifying, holy influence. The only means of purifying man from his defilement is to make him like-minded with God. 5LtMs, Lt 33, 1888, par. 39