Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 14, 1888

Burke, Dr.

Fresno, California

March 19, 1888

Previously unpublished.

Dear Brother:

This morning I received your letter directed to this place. It is impossible for me to decide this matter: it belongs to the board of directors. As I am not at the present time within reach of any of the board, I cannot speak for them. 5LtMs, Lt 14, 1888, par. 1

But I can speak for myself [alone] in view of the light the Lord has given me in your case. And as this has been definitely set before you, I need not repeat all that I have hitherto written [to you]. The painful experience I have had in connection with the Health Retreat since my return from Europe deeply impresses us all, as far as I can learn the minds of my brethren and sisters. Far greater care must be exercised as to whom we shall call to prominent positions in that institution. We know that persons have not been right. Their deportment and attitude have given the enemies of our faith occasion to say evil of the institution, notwithstanding warnings and entreaties that have been given to restrain them from taking the course they have pursued. 5LtMs, Lt 14, 1888, par. 2

Now, Brother Burke, if it were possible for you to connect with the Health Retreat and everything could move harmoniously, gladly would we welcome you back. But your experience since leaving the Health Retreat has not been of a character to increase our confidence in you as a man who is walking in the counsel of God. We could hope for no better success in harmonizing with Dr. Gibbs in his methods of practice or in your respect for him than when you before were connected with him. You were not right then; you did not treat him right. You are no nearer right now. We have labored hard, with much meditation, with earnest prayer and decided effort, to set things in order. Confessions have been made by the erring, and the Lord, we believe, has seen the contrition of soul and accepted these confessions. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1 John 1:9.] 5LtMs, Lt 14, 1888, par. 3

I tell you plainly that we cannot have confidence in you as a Christian. You profess to believe the truth. You claim to believe the Bible and claim to have a sacred regard for its teachings, yet you are one of those who, while they may claim to be sound in the faith, are to be feared, for you seek to establish your own righteousness. All this boasting, all this self-sufficiency, does not elevate you one jot before God. You stand upon your own personal worth before Him. You are a probationer. Your future weal or woe depends upon your repentance before God and your faith in Christ as the only One who can cleanse you from the defilement of sin. Unless your conscience shall be aroused and alarmed, you will be prepossessed in favor of your own virtues. 5LtMs, Lt 14, 1888, par. 4

It is the work of the Holy Spirit of God to reprove the world, to reprove the self-righteous. All this self-applause, all this flattering of self, this lip service, is a false estimate of your own merits. This overrating of your poor, finite work, your tainted performances, your blemished obedience, is an offense to God. The Lord will permit you for a time to go on in your self-boasting. You may deceive others, obtain the sympathy of some of your brethren and sisters; you may misconstrue, prevaricate; but the Lord, who reads the purposes of the heart, never makes a mistake. He can establish truth and righteousness, directly opposite to that which now prevails. 5LtMs, Lt 14, 1888, par. 5

It is through unfeigned repentance alone that you can come into a right relation with God. The Lord Himself, through the convicting power of truth, can remove your blindness and master this inordinate love and esteem of yourself and subdue your stubborn prejudice. We would not for one moment favor your connection with the Health Retreat without special evidence of thorough conversion on your part. There are traits of character which you possess that you would not be able to work with any living man, unless you were first. In order to obtain the favor and approbation of men, you would act the deceptive part. Unless the exaltation of self ceases, unless Christ is magnified, unless your self-righteousness is cast away and you put on the righteousness of Christ, you cannot be among the overcomers. The straightforward course of integrity must be pursued by you, ere Christ will take pleasure in you. 5LtMs, Lt 14, 1888, par. 6

May the dear Lord open your heart to sense what is sin and what is righteousness; then you will possess the fruit of the Spirit, possessing in your heart the heavenly treasure of love, peace, and joy. If you are patient under trials and even injuries, gentle under aggravating provocations, kind according to your ability, meek and lowly, so you will evidence that you do not highly esteem yourself, then you will be in a position where God can use you in His work. At present He can not accept you because the image and superscription you bear is more a representation of the Lord’s enemies than of the sanctified Spirit of Christ. 5LtMs, Lt 14, 1888, par. 7

The working of the Spirit of God in you will never lead you to any kind of deception; it will never lead you to accuse your brethren. Though the Spirit of Christ works upon hearts, its operations are silent, not boastful. Its fruits are to be seen in good works; the effect produced is more powerful in its influence for good upon others. 5LtMs, Lt 14, 1888, par. 8

Conflict and toil and labor are the lot of every Christian, as he is harnessed for the conflict. Yet his victory is complete as he advances step by step in the path of humility. Power is proportioned to him in accordance with the difficulties with which, as a Christian, he has to struggle, and he is fitted with strength according to the enemies with whom he has to contend. The love of praise and of applause will not weigh one straw with him to corrupt his steadfast integrity. The fear or frowns of the ungodly will not swerve him from the straight paths of loyalty to God. This influence which binds him to God and to humanity must be full of energy, and yet he must be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. The influence of the Holy Spirit is in exact harmony with the written Word. God calls our attention by reproofs and warnings to that which He has written. 5LtMs, Lt 14, 1888, par. 9

Now, my brother, your character has been laid before me as an open book. What others have done or have said will not excuse you at all or vindicate you in one wrong. We would not for one moment consent, in your present state of feeling, with your present ideas and vices, to say, Come and connect with us at the Health Retreat. No, no. 5LtMs, Lt 14, 1888, par. 10

Persons may be brought in there and for a time apparently remain all right. If light came from heaven, searching out the secrets of [their] life and character, if they were wrong and continued in the same course after being reproved and we retained them still, the Lord would condemn us, but we would not be condemned until we saw the evil. The children of God are liable to make mistakes, but if they are humble and show contrition of soul, the Lord will pardon them. If they stand in self-vindication and do not repent and reform, then they will be a curse to any institution. 5LtMs, Lt 14, 1888, par. 11

I have seen so plainly the peculiar course that you would pursue if left to yourself that we are afraid of you. If you were under the government of the Spirit of God, then we would have no fears. You possess some excellent qualifications which would fit you as a Christian physician if all your abilities were sanctified. If you were consecrated to God, you could make wise improvements of your talents which God has committed to your trust. But you often grieve the Holy Spirit of God in many ways. God reads the hearts, the intentions, and the purposes of the children of men. I must tell you, your ways are an offense to God and you are in serious danger of fatal deception through your high opinion of yourself. You are in danger of criminal rashness. You will in blindness of mind confound the spirit of delusion with the spirit of truth. 5LtMs, Lt 14, 1888, par. 12

I feel it to be my duty to tell you these things. Gladly would we have you come into the closest connection with us in seeking to do the very work we had hoped you would do when you obtained your medical education. We have been disappointed in you, for self has had the supremacy. Sanctified ability is what this institution needs. But it needs no more elements connected with it of self-importance and individual assumption of responsibilities, aspiring for the highest place. 5LtMs, Lt 14, 1888, par. 13

All dissimulation is hateful before God. There must be with you an entire renovation of mind. The meek and lowly Spirit of Christ must be brought into your life and developed in your character. Then your inordinate love of supremacy will be overcome, and your Redeemer will be brought more directly into your thoughts and your affections. Unless true repentance shall take place for your past course, you will remain in deception, setting up your own will above the will of men and God. If you lose the approval of God, what will the praise or approval of men amount to? God is acquainted with the inward workings of the heart. He will not countenance the least deception or dishonesty. He sees the pride of heart, the self-sufficiency that has had a controlling power upon your life and character. A wrong course of action is sure to be applauded by selfish men who are unacquainted with God. 5LtMs, Lt 14, 1888, par. 14

The most valuable traits of character the Lord has entrusted to men. He has graciously given them tact and skill to obtain success with others. But all these valuable talents may be perverted and made to flow in a channel to exalt and glorify self, and there is danger of deception that will increase to their ruin. If [one] is closely connected with God, he will honor the authority of God in a world that despises His authority. In his judgment, the command of God is supreme. He wants no higher authority for his course of action, nor can any objections from selfish considerations induce him to prevaricate. Every faculty of his soul is a consecrated offering to God; every member of his body he acknowledges as belonging to his Maker. All his time, his strength, he lays [on the altar], a consecrated gift to his Creator, who has given him these talents in trust to be employed in His service. And when through want of watchfulness he falls under temptation, he is filled with remorse and shame, true sorrow and indignation, that he should offend God; and he becomes more humble, more vigilant against the workings of Satan. There is constant and earnest desire to imitate the life and character of Jesus in every phase of life. 5LtMs, Lt 14, 1888, par. 15

I love your soul. Your natural defects would not have been so strongly developed were you not brought into [a] situation that revealed them; yet there is a mighty Helper for you in God. The question is, Will you avail yourself of the present opportunity to become all that God would have you? Will you learn in the school of Christ to become meek and lowly of heart, like the Master, pure and undefiled in character? We are nearing the judgment, when we must individually meet the record of our lives, for our character will be stamped upon the books of heaven just as it is, as the features of the person are stamped upon the polished plate of the artist. I greatly desire that you should stop and consider these things. I do not expect to make you my friend by writing you these plain statements, but I cannot be clear before God unless I tell you these things which He has revealed to me. 5LtMs, Lt 14, 1888, par. 16