Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5

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Lt 26d, 1887

Covert Brother; Indiana Conference

Grand Rapids, Michigan

September 27, 1887

Portions of this letter are published in CM 66; HP 172, 195-197, 199; 1MCP 104-105, 226-227, 235-237; 6MR 165.

To Brother Covert and those who hold responsible positions in the Indiana Conference:

I have been troubled in regard to the mission established in Indiana. By inquiry I learned the names of some who are connected with that mission and became alarmed at once. I know that such persons have not the qualifications for any such positions. Their influence will be demoralizing. They have not a high sense of sacred things and have a cheap experience in the truth. Their thoughts are not chaste and pure, holy and refining. In short, they are not sanctified through the truth; they will place a wrong mold upon the work, and their connection with it will bring a discouragement upon the conference in regard to supporting a mission in Indiana. The influence of one person who has had a cheap experience will leaven a dozen workers. Because these workers are not consecrated themselves, they have not an experience that will bear the test of the judgment. If some of these workers could be placed under the influence of solid, proved characters, they could be trained and educated to be of real value. With the mixture you now have, God cannot bless your mission with marked success. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 1

I study over this matter with much sorrow of heart. I fear that Brother Covert and others of our brethren have not awakened to the state of things which now exist. The young men and women connected with such a work should be those of high moral standing, having the highest sense of sacred things. Those who are light, trifling, jesting, joking, and laughing carry no weight or burden and are not the ones to engage in such a work. Every conference is responsible for the course pursued by the workers in its missions. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 2

I feel deeply burdened over these things, because instead of souls being saved by the missions which are not properly conducted, the influence is to belittle the truth, disgust those who are sensible and discerning. Our missions are not to be a place where young persons and married men and women can carry on a flirtation. They are not schools for courtship and marriage. They are not places where men and women are to commingle and talk upon things which have no reference to the truth, or talk in regard to the truth without a true sense of its elevated character, while showing undue familiarity with one another. God reads the heart. The intents and purposes of the heart are open to His all-seeing eye. Nothing is hid from Him. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 3

There must be a decided stand taken by all our ministers and by all who profess to believe the truth, in reference to the low level that some seem inclined to take in regard to their words and their deportment. These in many cases in no way correspond with the holy, sacred truths that we profess. Many feel competent to become canvassers and colporteurs who are unconverted. They never have had the transforming grace of Christ. They are not pure. They are daily living a careless, sinful life. Their practices are such as make holy angels hide their faces. We must reach a higher standard, or we will be a reproach to the cause of God and a stumbling block to sinners. When youth or those of mature age, whatever may be their ability, talent, or position, feel impatient over the counsel of those of more experience, and lean to their own understanding, you may always fear the results. These should never be united with others in responsible positions, for they will be constantly departing from the rules which must control all connected with the work. There are always those of pliant, accommodating dispositions who can with difficulty pronounce the word “no” squarely who are ready to be led away from God by a stronger, determined will. These have no interior strength to rely upon, no firm principle to save them from accepting evil suggestings and forming wrong habits. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 4

The very ones who most need to be educated and trained religiously are those who are the most self-sufficient and self-confident. They are wise in their own conceit. They feel secure and that they do not need cautions. This class will not reach the standard of purity and holiness. They have no root in themselves, and Satan feels sure that some of his temptations will take with them and cause them to make shipwreck of their faith. They sacrifice a good conscience, make grievous mistakes, are impatient under reproof, and despise control, confidently relying upon their own wisdom. Glad are such ones when they can be placed where they can enjoy liberty, put on the air of importance, and act as if no one had the right to interfere with or judge them. All this is the unmistakable sign that they are not Christians, and never will become Christians, unless they are converted and transformed by the grace of Christ. These should be humble learners before they are placed as teachers. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 5

There are many who are handling sacred things whose hearts are not pure, whose hands are not clean, and who have not on the robe of Christ’s righteousness. One thing is certain, before many of those who are now engaged in canvassing and in the work as colporteurs shall exert an influence that is saving upon others: they must themselves know the sanctifying power of the truth. They have hard lessons to learn in self-denial and self-crucifixion, learn how to pray and sing with the spirit and the understanding also, learn how to lift up holy hands to God without wrath and doubting. And there is no delay to be made in this matter, if they are to be fitted for positions of trust. The moral dangers to which all, both old and young, are exposed are daily increasing. Moral derangement, which we call depravity, finds ample room to work, and an influence is exerted by men, women, and youth professing to be Christians that is low, sensual, devilish. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 6

Satan is making masterly efforts to involve married men and women and children and youth in impure practices. His temptations find acceptance in many hearts, because they have not been elevated, purified, and refined, and ennobled by the sacred truth which they claim to believe. Not a few have been low and vile in thought and common in talk and deportment, so that when Satan’s temptations come, they have no moral power to resist them and fall an easy prey, committing adultery. In wantonness they practice iniquity, and yet claim to believe the truth. “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying: but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Romans 13:11-14. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 7

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the daytime. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: a heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.” 2 Peter 2:9-15. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 8

Here is a picture presented to us by the Lord. This description of the state of things that should be prior to the coming of our Lord is held before us as a sign of the soon coming of Jesus Christ. The Lord is dishonored by men and women claiming to be teaching the law of God, and at the same time they are breaking that law. Watchmen upon the walls of Zion are found charged with the sin of adultery. All this is because they have held the truth apart from their lives. They have not practiced the truth. They have a Christian profession, but not a real living Christian principle, having a controlling power upon conduct and character. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 9

We have need to be alarmed if we have not the fear of God constantly before us. We have need to fear if there is any departing from the living God, for He alone is our strength and fortress, into which we may run and be safe when the enemy may make a charge upon us with his temptations. It is a subject of interest to every soul of us, how we shall keep our vessels unto honor in the sight of a holy God. This half-way religion is accepted by a large number. It is abundant in the Christian world, and it is a dangerous life to live, keeping ourselves apart from God. There is no safety for us when we lie down, when we rise up, when we go out, and when we come in. Satan and evil angels have conspired with evil men and evil women, and the whole energies of the powers of darkness will gather themselves together to lead astray and destroy every soul that is not garrisoned with firm principles of eternal truths. Those who have learned the truth and do not have corresponding works with their profession of faith are subject to Satan’s temptations. They encounter danger at every step they advance. They are brought into contact with evil, they see sights, they hear sounds that will awaken their unsubdued passions; they are subjected to influences that lead them to choose the evil rather than the good, because they are not sound at heart. Just at the time when the power of the will is to be exercised, when firmness is required to resist the first approach of temptation, you find them easy subjects of Satan’s devices, a mere plaything of the devil. Every temptation is now at work to lead those who claim to keep God’s commandments to break them. (The marriage vow is not kept.) 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 10

In our work in every city, in all our labors, there must be more careful, painstaking efforts to give examples of moral rectitude. It must be plainly stated and oft repeated that all must learn the lessons of what power there is in a good character. There is no training we need so much now as the preparing of young men and women to have moral rectitude and to cleanse their souls of every spot and stain of moral defilement. Unless you can rouse the moral sensibility of all classes of young men and women, as well as men and women of mature age, to live for God’s glory, having an eye single to His glory, you cannot make a success in your selected workers. The standard of morality and holiness is trailing in the dust. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 11

The principles of righteousness must be implanted in the soul. The faith must grasp the power of Jesus Christ, else there is no safety. Licentious practices are getting to be as common as in the days before the flood. None should be buried with Christ by baptism unless they are critically examined whether they have ceased to sin, whether they have fixed moral principles, whether they know what sin is, whether they have moral defilement which God abhors. Find out by close questioning if these persons are really ceasing to sin, if with David they can say, I hate sin with a perfect hatred. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 12

There are men and women engaged in holy, sacred work whose thoughts and eyes are full of adultery. They no sooner associate together than they begin to show that their souls are tainted with vile imaginations. Women do not maintain that propriety of conduct that makes them secure from improper attentions and advances of men. They are not in their associations abstaining from the very appearance of evil, but they show themselves in a very different light. Lawless affection by even men who have been shepherds of the flock is breaking down God’s erected barriers. You can see readily exhibited how external ways depend on internal feelings. The weak moral powers of men and women in this age who claim to be commandment keepers alarm me. Every one needs to arouse and lift up the standard of purity. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 13

There is an alarming commonness in conversation at the present day which shows a low state of thoughts and morals. True dignity of character is very rare. True modesty and reserve is seldom seen. There are but few who are pure and undefiled. The home of every Sabbath keeper needs to be renovated. All common, cheap, coarse thoughts will be revealed in undignified conversation. God looks upon these things with displeasure. Indulgence of common talk, mouths full of guile, eyes full of adultery, all these things have separated God from us. Evil angels have been encouraged in the family, and Jesus is grieved and put to open shame. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 14

We are near the close of probation when every case is to pass in review before God. Now, in probation, is the time God has given us for the formation of pure and holy characters. If this time is not improved, if the thoughts are impure, if the heart is not sanctified, if unholy practices are indulged, be sure that the portion of all will be with the unholy, the debased, the abominable. It is now in probationary time that every soul must make his choice. This choice will be seen in the family, will be seen in the association with the church. Virtue and true unselfish principle will bring its own reward, for it will be reproduced in others. This life is the place in which the character is to be tested. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” [Matthew 7:20.] The same dignified reserve, the same unbending principle will be seen in the association with all. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 15

Women may seek to make themselves attractive. They may place themselves in the way of the true worker to confuse his judgment, to awaken passions, to lead away from honor and principle, but he remembers that he is a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men, and he remains firm as a rock to principle. All heaven looks with approval upon such a spectacle as this. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 16

Such conduct shines brightest by contrast with the weak and frivolous, with men devoid of fixed principle who have no inward piety to regulate their conduct. They are no sooner tempted than they yield, and in yielding carry the consciousness with them of sacrificed dignity. They have lost self-respect, and in doing this they have lost respect for others. They measure others by themselves and think others have no more virtue than they. They grow more and more careless to recover themselves until the whole nature is under the sway of Satan, and next they give up the truth because they are not satisfied with it. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 17

How can such an one be satisfied with the truth when the law of God condemns his life and practices? How convenient for him to tear down God’s great moral standard, and declare against the law and trample it under his feet, because it testifies that his deeds are evil. Satan has been playing the game of life for his soul and has succeeded. He erects a standard of his own, a human standard in the place of God’s standard, and by that standard he measures his character. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 18

Take heed how ye yield to the first temptation to begin to do evil, to cast aside the divine authority of any requirement in the law of God, because you do not like it, because it condemns your lawless behavior. This is the work that many are doing. The words of inspiration are, “If ye offend in one point, ye are guilty of all.” [James 2:10.] The one truth yielded because it condemns your wrong course of action is only one of the great whole, and the whole truth will finally go. The mind is so formed that one error in the place of truth makes way for the acceptance of other errors. The mind that yields to one doubt will accept a train of doubts and will soon leave all the main points of truth which distinguish us as a peculiar people. The steps are short and decisive which lead men down from high and holy ground to a low level; sharp turns are made. With many the first departure from integrity is a superficial piety. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 19

They are unconverted and Satan finds access to them whenever he chooses. Now there is need of true, thorough conversion. As a people we must be elevated, we must have a converted tongue, a sanctified heart. There needs to be a voice lifted in earnestness and decision. Bring forth fruit meet for repentance. Let your hearts be purified, let your affections be sanctified. Ye must be born again. Accept Jesus Christ fully, entirely. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 20

The religion of the Bible is what is needed, that religion which exalts God and lays men in the dust at His footstool. Our faith, the truth for these last days, brings eternity near, and the religion of Christ becomes interwoven and identified with the every-day concerns of time, leading to faithfulness in all things. This religion is a reality, beginning with a heartfelt conviction of sin, inspires a hatred of sin, a deep, earnest, growing desire for the righteousness of Christ, the growth of life which fadeth not away, that religion which is a constant teacher, giving lessons to men to deal justly, to love mercy, and walk humbly with God. This will never lead you to softness and feebleness and indecision of character. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 21

The true Christian is seen and known best at home. If Christians at home, they will be Christians in the meeting, bright and shining lights in the church. Their candle is on a candlestick, giving light to all in the house. We must have a clear, sharp testimony to bear, all full of love, and yet so sharp that it will be a two-edged sword to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, joint and marrow. The new birth is to be taught, experienced, and exemplified in the life, then a pure, elevating, holy conversation will accompany a good conscience. A good tree will provide good fruit. If a man and a woman feel at liberty to talk cheap, low, common talk in their common business every-day life, the evidence is plain they are not identified with Christ. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 22

In the meetings there may be smooth words and fair speeches, but this is not religion. He has a false hope which will leave him open to the temptations of Satan to be licentious, to commit adultery, to lie, to steal, to go to any length in wickedness, and yet all is hid under a cloak of godliness. He who has the mind of Christ will be Christlike in all his relations and duties of life. Unbridled thoughts and corrupt conduct come from a heart polluted, uncleansed—a false, hypocritical heart. We must have a decided work of reform. If this reformation is not made, many, many souls will be lost who now claim to be Christians. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 23

The beginning of evil must be resisted. The devil leads on from step to step in a wrong direction, leads on from smaller to greater sinful indulgences, until their sense of shame is lost, their tenderness of conscience, their fear of God gone. They break loose from restraint. Multitudes are infatuated with the cry of license, and the clamors of debased appetite are indulged, and counsel is despised. They put on the bravado, swaggering air of a desperado, and in their hardihood licentiousness is called freedom, independence. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 24

Now ministers must begin to lay the ax at the root of the tree in their own cases. Licentiates, colporteurs, and canvassers must take hold of this work and obtain a personal conversion, thorough heartwork, for they will, unless converted and maintaining watchfulness and prayer, fall under some one of Satan’s prepared temptations. When they put away all this cheap talk, this love-sick sentimentalism, when they show true manliness, true elevation of Christian character, putting solid timber into their character building, having an experience in the things of God, they will know how to seek God, how to agonize, how to pray, how to believe. Then they will arise above everything like this cheap, low, common living. They will set a high value upon their own being because God has magnified and exalted them by giving His Son to bear the garb of humanity. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 25

God has given man intellect and endowed him with capacities for improvement. Then let there be a strong taking hold upon God, a putting away of frivolity, amusement, and all uncleanness, and overcome all defects of character. Although there is a natural tendency to pursue a downward course, there is a power that will be brought to combine with man’s earnest effort. His will power will have a counteracting tendency. If he will combine with this divine help, he may resist the voice of the tempter. But Satan’s temptations harmonize with his defective, sinful tendencies and urge him to sin. All he has to do is to follow the leader Jesus Christ who will tell him just what to do. God beckons to you from His throne in heaven, presenting to you a crown of immortal glory, and bids you to fight the good fight of faith and run the race with patience. Trust in God every moment. He is faithful that leadeth forward. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 26

I feel deeply over the way the mission has been run in Indiapolis. Were there no men of spiritual eyesight? Where was the president of your state conference, what was he doing? Was he like Eli, easy, careless, ease-loving, unwilling to restrain evil, unwilling to correct the existing wrongs? Were not Bro. Peebles and his wife placed in that mission to be respected, to stand as experienced workers at the head of the mission, to correct the evils that would surely occur where young men and women are associated together who have no real dignity of character, no deep religious experience? If correctly managed, some elements might be used and educated, while some should have no part with any mission because their stamp of character is such that they will never exert a safe influence. Sr. Green is one of these who needs a thorough conversion before her influence will be right. Her whole religious life has been defective. Unless she is thoroughly transformed by the grace of Christ, she will never meet Him in peace. Where was Bro. Covert? Ezekiel 33:2-9. The Lord has a solemn charge for His servants. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 27

I was shown years ago that Bro. Covert was altogether too easy. He was not quick to discern and correct the evils existing in his own family, and this easy disposition has characterized his labors in the church from first to last. He has not been a thorough workman. He has left things undone which ought to have been done with firmness and fortitude. Wrongs should have been righted, sins rebuked, and the standard lifted. Thorough work will have to be done throughout the State of Indiana before the Lord can bestow His favor. I entreat of you to look upon the work of your mission, that unwise, undiscerning men have allowed to become burdened with a cheap irreligious element and which, I say in the fear of God, has been a demoralizing school. Look brethren and consider. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 28

There are many more pages that I have not had time to copy. Will send them on to you. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 29

There are men and women who invite temptation; they place themselves in positions where they will be tempted, where they cannot but be tempted, when they place themselves in society that is objectionable. The best way to keep safe from sin, is to move with due consideration at all times, and under all circumstances, never to move or act from impulse. Move with the fear of God ever before you, and you will be sure to act right; then leave your reputation with God. Slander cannot then sully your character one particle. No one can degrade our character but ourselves by our own course of action. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 30

There are men who claim to be shepherds of the flock who are not doing their God-given work, as one watching for souls, who must give account to God. The workers together with God will have deep, earnest reflection, studying carefully the results of their own course of action. None are aware till they make the effort of what they are really capable; and the very foundation of their usefulness is in a virtuous character, a pure, untainted heart. The mind must be kept mediating upon pure and holy subjects. An impure suggestion must be dismissed at once and pure, elevating thoughts, holy contemplation be entertained, thus obtaining more and more knowledge of God, by training the mind to the contemplation of heavenly things. God has simple means opened to every individual case, sufficient to secure the great end, the salvation of the soul. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 31

Resolve to reach a high and holy standard; make your mark high; act with earnest purpose as did Daniel, steadily, perseveringly; and nothing that the enemy can do will hinder your daily improvement. Notwithstanding inconveniences, changes, perplexities, you may constantly advance in mental vigor and moral power. None need to be ignorant unless they choose to be thus. Knowledge is to be constantly acquired, it is the food for the mind. With us who look for Christ’s coming should be the resolve: you will not live this life constantly on the losing side of the question, but in understanding, in spiritual attainments. Be men of God, on the gaining side. Knowledge is within the reach of all who desire it. God designs the mind shall become strong, thinking deeper, fuller, clearer. Walk with God as did Enoch; make God your counselor, and you cannot but make improvement. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 32

Be faithful students of the holy Scriptures; test all that is taught to you in doctrine by the Bible. “To the law and to the testimony: If they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them.” [Isaiah 8:20.] Know for yourselves what is truth, and your minds will expand with the highest, purest, noblest thoughts, and your acquirements will be solid, and you can take all these improvements with you into the future life. Shepherds of the flock must be holy men, men who are elevated, men who have moral worth, men free from every pollution. They may be betrayed into sin, but if they at once repent and confess and forsake and abhor their sins, and seek strength from Jesus Christ, they will recover themselves out of Satan’s power. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 33

There are men who claim to keep God’s commandments, who will visit the flock of God under their charge and lead unwary souls into a train of thought that results in shameless liberties and familiarities, which bring the curse of God upon this false, defiling, polluted shepherd. He will, as he visits families, begin to enquire the secrets of their married life. Do they live happily with their husbands? Do they feel that they are appreciated? Is there harmony in their married life? And thus the unsuspecting woman is led on by these ensnaring questions to open her secret life, her disappointments, her little trials and grievances to a stranger, as the Catholics do to their priests. Then this sympathizing pastor puts in a chapter of his own experience; that his wife was not the woman of his choice; that there is no real affinity between them. He does not love his wife. She does not meet his expectations. The barrier is thus broken down, and women are seduced. They believe their life is one great disappointment, and this shepherd has great sympathy for his flock. Lovesick sentimentalism is encouraged, and the mind and soul are spoiled of their purity, if this kind of work does not result in the breaking of the seventh commandment. Polluted thoughts harbored become habit, and the soul is scarred and defiled. Once do a wrong action and a blot is made which nothing can heal but the blood of Christ; and if the habit is not turned from with firm determination, the soul is corrupted, and the streams flowing from this defiling fountain corrupt others. His influence is a curse. God will certainly destroy all those who continue this work. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 34

The features of the character of each one are being transferred to the books of heaven as the features are transferred to the polished plate of the artist. What kind of pictures are we transferring to the books of heaven? 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 35

We must be elevated, ennobled, sanctified. We may have strength in Jesus to overcome; but when the character is lacking in purity, when sin has become a part of the character, it has a bewitching power that is equal to the intoxicating glass of liquor. The power of self-control and reason is overborne by practices that defile the whole being; and if these sinful practices are continued, the brain is enfeebled, diseased, and loses its balance. Such ones are a curse to themselves and all who have any connection with them. The power of the will is gone, and they finally lie upon their dying beds, self-murderers. Nothing can cleanse them from their guilt; their probation is ended; their characters are fixed for eternity. Thus many die, victims of their own impure practices; and although they profess to be Christians, they are not. They are loaded with guilt and will not enter into the holy city. Then why should not men and women cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God? This is the requirement of the gospel, that we individually cherish virtue and discountenance and resist the first intimation of impure practices. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 36

Now we present before you the necessity of constant resistance to evil. All heaven is interested in men and women whom God has valued so much as to give His beloved Son to die to redeem. No other creature that God has made is capable of such improvement, such refinement, such nobility as man. Then when men become blunted by their own debasing passions, sunken in vice, what a specimen for God to look upon! Man cannot conceive what he may be and what he may become. Through the grace of Christ he is capable of constant mental progress. Let the light of truth shine into his mind and the love of God be shed abroad into his heart, and he may, through the grace Christ has died to impart to him, be a man of power, a child of earth, but an heir of immortality. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 37

There is a work to be done in Indiana that few, even of those who believe the truth, realize. There is great need of moral education. When I take into consideration the elements selected to do the work that rests upon missionary workers, I am lost in amazement of the spiritual blindness, the want of foresight in taking young people, such as the children of Bro. Covert, and placing them in the mission under the guardianship of those who need to be taught lessons day by day, line upon line, precept upon precept from God’s Word, in order to carry with them an influence that will not be deleterious to others. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 38

I was in the night season carried into several missions, and shown a cheap low spirituality. The daily home influence in the work in the missions in Indianapolis was to confuse the sense of right and wrong, by mingling the sacred with the common. Bro. Covert was not left ignorant of the low moral atmosphere that was breathed in these missions; and every one that has been connected with this mission, should not have that connection again. The associations there have been of that character, that principles and practices have taken root and the impressions made upon the mind and character will never be effaced so perfectly, that any one of the young men and women, will not be the worse spiritually for these deleterious influences. The past life experience of Sister Green is not of that character that will meet the approval of God. Traits of character have been transmitted and cultivated that have made the life and daily influence of that nature that spiritual things will be placed on a level with common things. And for those to be entrusted with that sacred Word, which demands keen spiritual discernment, is the worst kind of management, for a darker cloud than midnight will settle upon the prospects of your missionary labors. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 39

Bad habits are more easily formed than good habits, and the bad habits are given up with more difficulty. The natural depravity of the heart accounts for this well-known fact, that it takes far less labor to demoralize the youth, to corrupt their ideas of moral and religious character, than to engraft upon their character the enduring, pure, and uncorrupted habits of righteousness and truth. Self-indulgence, love of pleasure, enmity, pride, self-esteem, envy, jealousy will grow spontaneously, without example and teaching. In our present fallen state all that is needed is to give up the mind and character to its natural tendencies. In the natural world, give up a field to itself,and you will see it covered with briers and thorns. But if it yields precious grain or beautiful flowers, care and unremitting labor must be applied. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 40

The value of pure uncorrupted principles can never be overestimated; and every youth should seek to reach the highest standard in the development of a good and righteous character. There is an amazing strength in habits which one becomes accustomed to. Let the habit or influence be good or bad, it is difficult to abandon. Let them every moment be closely guarded and criticized, lest the youth shall receive impressions that will scar and mar their characters and injure their usefulness for life. For young men and women to be mingled together just exactly suits their unconsecrated minds and hearts. There is a lack of serious reflection, a want of solid thought, there is levity. There are, in short, corrupt thoughts and defiling practices. The youth are now weaving for themselves a web of habits that it will be most difficult to break. If careless habits are formed—want of order, love of indolence, skepticism, irreligious feelings, and want of respect for sacred things—there will be a deception that is weaving into the experience that leads to fatal results. They will not see that temptations must be resisted at the first step; and they will not see what they are, or what they may be, and what God would have them, until it is too late to recover themselves out of the snare of the devil. The education given to children and youth must be to resist temptations that lie directly in their path. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 41

How high an estimate can be placed upon Bro. Covert’s judgment as a faithful watchman upon the walls of Zion can be estimated by the influence and management of the mission in Indianapolis. Unless his ideas are materially changed in management of his own family, in management of the churches, there will be left a loose, demoralizing state of things that years of labor will be difficult to remedy. He neglects his God-given duties to set things in order in the home and in the church. But he can reach a higher standard if he zealously sets to the work. There is some work to be done by faithful God-fearing persons, living Christian men and women, to meet the enemy on the borders and not suffer him to take possession of the church. There must be an educating in practical godliness, a bringing up to pure and holy living. The fear of God must be brought into the education. All want of sobriety must be put away. There must be a different mold upon the churches in Indianapolis. For from the very first, the mold has not been high and sacred as God’s Word requires. The responsible men have not been grave and dignified in proportion to the character of the sacred truth we profess. The parents must awake. Mothers and fathers must have a higher type of religious life. They must be converted. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 42

Young people desire companionship, and just in proportion to the strength with which their feelings and affections fasten upon those with whom they associate will be the power of these friends to be either a blessing or a curse to them. Then let parents beware. Let them guard every influence of association. “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” [Proverbs 13:20.] The youth will have associates and will feel their influence. One catches the spirit, breathes in doubt, unbelief, infidelity, by believing the expressions often made in regard to their views and sentiments; and they soon are found repeating the same words. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 43

Wax does not more certainly retain the figure of the seal than does the mind the impressions produced by intercourse and association. The influence is often silent and unconscious, nevertheless it is strong and impressive. If wise and good men and women are the chosen companions, then you put yourself in the direct way of becoming sound in thought, in ideas, correct in principles. And such intimacies are of highest value in the formation of character. A network of virtuous influences will be woven around you, which the evil one will not be able to break with his seductive wiles. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 44

The only safe course for the youth is to mingle with the pure, the holy, and thus natural tendencies to evil will be held in check. By choosing for their companions such as fear the Lord, they will seldom be found disbelieving God’s Word, entertaining doubts and infidelity. The power of a truly consistent example is very great for good. It is far-reaching. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 45

But let the youth choose the influence of and become associated with men and women of bad principles and practices, let them love the atmosphere of flattery and entertain the idea of false love, by the words breathed into their ears, which they should not listen to for a moment, and they are polluted. Silent and unconscious influences weave their sentiments into their lives, become a part of their very existence, and they walk on the very brink of a precipice and sense no danger. They learn to love the words of the smooth-tongued, honeyed words of the deceiver and are restless, uneasy, and unhappy, unless they are carried to the pinnacle of someone’s flattery. Examples that are heavenly they do not want, they feel no attraction to; but examples and influences which set in a wrong direction are peculiarly attractive. The reason is their ideal, their model is depraved, and they regard it as the essence of greatness, of purity. The wicked flatterer is attractive and congenial; and improper intimacies once formed make such a scar on the soul and separate the affections from God that they do not love to think the Bible truth, or its utterances infallible; and the result is fatal. All that their friends, their relatives, or the most godly may do for them disappears as the dew in the morning sun. To walk in the counsel of the ungodly is the first step towards standing in the place of sinners and sitting in the seat of the scornful. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 46

In the place of asking, What God would say? What would be His pleasure? the question is, How shall I best secure the end to please myself? But the sickbed, the dying chamber, has to be experienced. It is not excitement and festive seasons and days of mirth that ripen the soul for heaven or prepare it for the great day of judgment; but all this is the fruitful soil of sin. Universalism and infidelity are plants that never thrive well in secret meditations on a sickbed or in the byplaces of the earth. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 47

The adulterer, the profligate, the seducer would cease his work in words of flattery if there were no women who would listen to these seducing words and unlawful attentions. God would have Elder Covert something besides a one-sided character. He must reach a higher, holier standard in his labor for souls. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 48

And now my writing must close. I have other things, but no time to write them. May the Lord help you to understand what must be done to set things in order; and may you do it with thoroughness, and yet in the love of Jesus, is my prayer. 5LtMs, Lt 26d, 1887, par. 49