Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 3, 1887

Oyen, Sister

Moss, Norway

June 9, 1887

Previously unpublished.

Dear Sister Oyen:

I have felt grieved at heart to learn of your increased infirmities, and with this sad intelligence I feel an anxiety for your soul. I know that you have not been in the habit of cherishing faith and of repressing doubts. You gather an atmosphere of doubts about your soul, you breathe it in, you talk it out, and this is the sowing of doubts. Now how shall we understand “Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap”? [Galatians 6:7.] One doubt, one word of skepticism expressed, is a seed sown; and if the mind is allowed to gather everything which will strengthen unbelief and weaken faith, then doubting is the atmosphere which you have accepted and chosen. Always questioning and giving birth to doubts by expression binds the soul in the chains of unbelief. That evidence God gives to all His children is sufficient to encourage faith and strengthen confidence, but talking unbelief strengthens unbelief and the conversation is not of faith but of unbelief. The natural consequence is, there is a harvest of unbelief to be reaped. The confidence in God is broken up and cast away, which if retained would produce a recompense of reward. Then when adversity comes, when suffering and distress and anguish, as it will to every soul, the shield of faith has been cast away, and how shall he quench the fiery darts of the wicked one? How shall the soul be comforted, strengthened, and blessed when it has cut itself loose from the only source of consolation by the constant cherishing and cultivating unbelief, and how then can the tempted one put trust in God whom he did not believe and educate the soul to rely upon. 5LtMs, Lt 3, 1887, par. 1

This is the victory, even your faith. The exercise of the mind has been to strengthen unbelief and to distrust the goodness and manifold mercies of a gracious, compassionate God, so that the mind of the one who has buried his talents is full of complaints against God because of His injustice and want of mercy and tender, pitying love. All that that unbelieving soul can see is a stern, just God, and the soul that wants to be free to indulge pride and cherish unbelief is constantly misjudging God and His Son Jesus Christ. And as the mind views God and the Bible, so it represents Him. God is dishonored, His own soul and spirit grieved and wounded because of [a person’s] misapprehension of the best Friend he has. Satan sees the soul open for his assaults, and he rushes in his temptations like a flood, and the soul is taken captive at his will. When it becomes habit to doubt, no language can describe the unhappiness of the dark clouds like midnight enshrouding his soul and settling over his prospects. 5LtMs, Lt 3, 1887, par. 2

To you and me this matter is one of intense interest. What is my habit? What has it been for years? Have I been guided by principle and have I talked away and thought away from doubt into the clear atmosphere of faith, then I shall reap that which I have sown. When my strength faileth, when my powers are no longer vigorous, when afflicted with sickness, when weary and worn with pain, then that faith that I have talked and that hope that I have nourished will I be able to reap, for my faith and confidence in God have grown into habit; and as I have been treasuring up the words of promise in these days when it is impossible to endure any mental struggle, I can only believe and trust in the Lord, I can commit the keeping of my soul to Him as unto a faithful Creator, saying, “Simply to Thy cross I cling,” relying in my helplessness wholly by faith upon the precious promises. 5LtMs, Lt 3, 1887, par. 3

It is by daily fighting the good fight of faith that this work becomes habit. The formation of habits is a gradual process in which we proceed step by step, the preceding steps always influencing the succeeding steps. No one settles down suddenly into fixed habits. We may so educate and train the mind that doubts will not be allowed to find lodgement. Unbelief will not grow, for the words and the deeds repel unbelief and dislodge it by being forced into a channel of faith. The tongue is trained to not utter a word that would weaken our souls or that shall sow the seeds of doubt in other minds. For if they begin to form habits of skepticism, Satan will so arrange matters that one tiny seed of unbelief may be cherished; one doubt leads to another until there is an entire unsettling of the mind, and faith becomes weaker and weaker, unbelief stronger and bolder. Therefore the first intimation of skepticism should be fought prayerfully, and then the second temptation is to be as earnestly resisted. The habit of faith and confidence in God will grow by repetition. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life. There must be an earnest, painful warfare on our part day by day and hour by hour to repress unbelief that we may rejoice in the victories of faith. 5LtMs, Lt 3, 1887, par. 4

The habit of unbelief grows with every indulgence of the tongue, and every thought of unbelief cherished and every word uttered to strengthen unbelief operates with a force which no mortal can fully estimate. It becomes an ensnaring lust, it becomes a warring lust, it becomes a fascinating, bewitching power. Unbelief becomes a dangerous snare. It is engrafted in the character. There seems to be an evil in all good, a taint and defilement and deception upon everything that has to do with God, with religion, and the Bible. And the soul is in trouble when it longs to find something tangible to lean upon. This soul is like a troubled sea, casting up mire and dirt. [It] has no faith in anything, no hope in God, no power to exercise faith, because it learned unbelief in the school of Satan, and it will reap a harvest of unbelief. 5LtMs, Lt 3, 1887, par. 5

In the natural world the gardener will tell you, if he leaves a field to itself it will soon be covered with briers and thorns. He will tell you that he must cultivate the soil and sow good seed if he would see a harvest of beautiful waving grain. The unsightly poisonous weeds thrive without culture, but the good seed must be sown, must be watched, must be cultivated with painstaking effort in order to produce the very harvest which will be profitable in this life and enduring, reaching within the future eternal life. 5LtMs, Lt 3, 1887, par. 6

It is easy, my dear sister, for you to float down the stream, talk your doubts and your unbelief, but to resist the current and reach the fountain requires continual persevering effort. While God grants you your reasoning powers, subdue yourself through the grace given you of God, keep pride of dress under control, keep unbelief apart from your life, for unbelief has been cherished until it has become a part of your abiding character. You talk it as naturally as a stream flows down the hill, and sow the seeds of your doubts and skepticism, and know it not. You have children that will bear the traits of character you have given them of unbelief. No one can tell what terrible struggles it costs the soul that has thrown away the shield of faith and opened the door to the enemy to expel him and gain the solid foundation again for their feet. Then remember the atmosphere that surrounds your soul affects your children. Your words impress their minds, and the seeds you sow are taking root in their hearts. There will be hard battles for you both to fight, but you both may obtain the victory even under discouraging circumstances; unbelief may be overcome by cultivating faith. If poor short-sighted mortals follow their own will and their own way rather than God’s will and God’s way, they will have a hard time; but if they will see their need of the guidance of the Spirit of God and return unto the Lord, He will not break the bruised reed, He will not quench the smoking flax. Oh, my dear sister, God is very good, He is merciful, He is of tender compassion, and now if you will place yourself wholly on the Lord’s side, and seek with all your powers to break this delusive snare of unbelief which holds you like a chain of steel, you will obtain the victory. You should now seek constantly, determinedly to exercise faith, talk faith, and throw around your children an atmosphere which will encourage faith, strange and unnatural as this may be to you. Jennie, do it, I pray you. Unbelief has become habit with you, your children breathe it, and for their sakes, for the sake of those with whom you associate, talk faith, stop grumbling, stop murmuring. You have precious work to do. Will you do it? 5LtMs, Lt 3, 1887, par. 7

You have nausea, headache, languor. Well, my sister, regulate your diet; and then after you have done all you can do, believe that the Lord will help you. It is not the will of your heavenly Father that you should perish. There are battles for you to fight against your own indulgence of appetite; you have cultivated habits which are not healthful and which are injurious to physical, mental, and moral power. Habits have been formed which you reason must be kept up and indulged in because you feel so bad if you do not. Could you see this matter in the true light, could you overcome your love of dress and your strong desire for selfish indulgence, if you would come into the path of humble obedience, you may be transformed by the grace of God; but if you pursue your own way in the acquired habit of unbelief, then you will be unhappy. Break up your habits, even if you think it will cost you your life; struggle against them, pray, fight the battles. 5LtMs, Lt 3, 1887, par. 8

Your fiends and your relatives will hear your self-indulgent excuses that beg for a continuance of wrong habits both in physical and spiritual life and will sympathize with you, and pity you, and even urge you to continue a captive in Satan’s chains, because of the force of habit. Jennie, I love your soul, because you are the purchase of the blood of Christ. I long for you to be a happy woman, which you can only be by a thorough transformation of character for which God has made provision that you should have. Now take hold of the work anew, and be determined, come life or death, you will be a child of God, you will talk faith, you will practice faith, and bring the peace of Christ into your soul. The happiness of your husband, the happiness of your own soul, depends upon the course you both shall pursue. Seeds of unbelief have been dropped into the soil of the heart to produce its harvest, but if faith is now diligently cultivated, you will reap a glorious harvest of confidence, of humble trust. The Lord will make your husband highly useful in His cause if he will follow the leadings of His Spirit. Be careful of your words, if you want a happy life here and hereafter. Be careful not to reach out your hands to hinder his spiritual advancement. Smother your repinings; and as he sees you walking in humility and in the path of self-denial, it will be a help to him that you can hardly understand. But if you indulge in repining, in regretting that you cannot have all the indulgences which other women have, if you show that your thirst is for the outward adorning, grieving because you cannot have all your cravings satisfied, you may start thoughts and feelings in his mind that will draw his heart from God and make you both very miserable. 5LtMs, Lt 3, 1887, par. 9

Satan will seize the chance to tempt him, and he will not have strength to resist him unless he shall close his ears. Your words and your spirit shall find no place in his heart. Now, my Sister, I want you to be happy. I want you to be a Christian, because it is for your present and eternal interest to be thus. I will write you no more now. All that I have said to you in testimonies is of God, not one word has failed or will fail of all that the Lord has said in your case. But if you will come in humble submission to God, He will receive you, He will forgive all your sins, He will bless you. But you must comply with the conditions on your part. If any will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. So shall he be My disciple. 5LtMs, Lt 3, 1887, par. 10