Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 7, 1887

Maxson, Brother and Sister

Basel, Switzerland

April 16, 1887

Portions of this letter are published in 3SM 52-53.

Dear Brother and Sister Maxson:

I received your letter from South Amherst dated April 3. I have recently heard from St. Helena—Dr. Gibbs has overworked. He was found in his office, standing against the wall, holding on to a lounge, insensible. He was immediately removed, and some minutes passed before his heart resumed its action. He is the only physician at the retreat. He has worked far beyond his strength. There will be no economy in the end to have the doctor worked to death. 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 1

I firmly believe it to be your duty to go to California. I believe there is abundance of work to be done by you both, and I can not overcome the impression that you will be the help that is needed there. I have a decided interest that you both should fill the place for which you have been educating yourselves. 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 2

I have some things to say to you upon this matter. I have been shown that the Lord had an experience for you both to obtain, and that this experience in bearing responsibilities would be more readily gained by Sister Maxson than by her husband. Brother Maxson takes things too easy. He does not take the burden upon his soul. Does not study his patients and feel their needs and their wants as is necessary, and as he should. He is too superficial. He needs to carry the weight of the cases of the patients. He needs to study more deeply and to look to God for wisdom to aid him in making such a physician as God can pronounce his work, “Well done.” [Matthew 25:21.] He lacks thoroughness and efficiency in his work, because he does not love close, taxing effort. Dr. Maxson is not now what he might be in the medical profession, with the opportunities and advantages he has already had. He has framed an excuse for this, because Dr. Kellogg has not advanced him. But he should not make this an excuse. If he were thoroughly intent to make a first-class practitioner, he could have made progress; but he has been willing to meet a low standard, he not considering that the fault was in himself, but charged to circumstances. But the reasons lie mainly in himself. If he had put to the highest stretch his powers to be a first-class physician, he would have been recognized as such, in spite of every untoward circumstance that has hindered him. He has desired to grasp the higher rounds of the ladder, to do the most responsible work, when he has not qualified himself by study, by close, hard climbing, to gain this experience. He has not had real love for the taxations that are attendant upon a physician’s life. He will never be able to stand equal to Dr. Kellogg, as a practitioner, and there are very few men in our world who can do the nice, critical work that Dr. Kellogg does, with equal success. 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 3

The letters I have written in regard to a physician's duty, his capabilities, and his power to do a wonderful work for the Master were meant for you both. You were young. You both needed an experience. But Dr. Maxson especially needed the qualities of care-taking, of greater reflection, of careful, thorough study to perfect himself most thoroughly to do the work assigned him, wherever he is placed. Under whatever circumstances you are, God would have you, my brother, go deeper and be more thorough in that you undertake. I have naught to say in regard to Dr. Kellogg's neglect to trust you with responsibilities of a critical character. But I think he has seen this very want in your habits of study. Your want of care-taking was so marked that he has feared to put responsibilities upon you, fearing the result, if mistakes were made, would hurt you and him more. A man, in order to bear responsibilities with success, must show an aptitude to take any department of the work and make himself master of the situation wherever he has duties to do. He must put his powers to the tax; he must make his aim high and be willing to place himself in any position that he may gain his object. 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 4

I was carried from one sick room to another where Dr. Maxson was the physician. In some cases I was made sad to see a great inefficiency. He did not have sufficient knowledge to understand what the case demanded and what was essential to be done to baffle disease. The one of authority that has often instructed me said, “Young man, you are not a close student. You skim the surface. You must make close study, make use of your opportunities, learn more; and what lessons you learn, learn thoroughly. You go too lightly loaded. It is a solemn thing to have human life in your hands, where any mistake you may make, any neglect of deep insight on your part, may cut short the existence of those who might live. This danger would be lessened if the physician had more thorough intelligence how to treat the sick.” 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 5

I never have written this to you, but I have presented all, in a general manner, without applying it to your case. I feel now that you should know these things, that the light which has been given to the workers at the sanitarium in some things meant you. And I tell you in the spirit of love for your soul, and with an interest in your success as a medical practitioner, you must drink deeper at the fountain of knowledge before you are prepared to be first or alone in an institution for the sick. 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 6

Knowing these things, I cannot for a moment feel it to be your position to occupy the place as physician in the institution in Ohio. While I know that you could stand by the side of Dr. Gibbs, counseling together and working together, you say his plan of using medicine would not be in harmony with your plan of using medicine would not be in harmony with your plan of treatment on hygienic principles. I would say that there is most thorough treatment given by his own hands and by helpers in hygienic methods. He has a laboratory, as they have in Battle Creek. The method of dealing out drugs, it was perfectly understood, should not become a habit in the institution. I do not suppose he uses drugs half as freely as they do in the sanitarium at Battle Creek. There are patients who have been in the habit of taking medicine, and they will not be satisfied unless they have something in that line. But the hygienic methods are practiced in the retreat. 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 7

But after this letter, I shall not urge the matter. I think an invitation will come to you ere long to go to California. Hold yourself in readiness, if you want to go. But if you are averse to going, then we do not want you to go against your will. But, Dr. Maxson, I have said all I feel it duty to say, in regard to the Ohio institution. I question the whole thing of its establishment. I think our ministers are involving themselves in perplexities and preparing for disappointment. I know that Dr. Maxson is not prepared to stand as head of that institution. He might have obtained the qualifications, if he had only exercised his ability to the utmost, to learn all that he could. If it is a pleasing prospect before you, to stand as the first in an institution, and for this reason you wish to go to Ohio, I tell you plainly you will be a disappointed man. And the people will be disappointed. 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 8

I can see that you could connect with Dr. Gibbs; for he is not an envious man, a man that wants the highest place. He has not been carried; he is not a man who has had an easy time; he has carved his way, under most trying circumstances, under discouraging things that would have sunk you where you would not have risen above them. You have an experience to gain, and you can obtain that experience better in a small institution in connection with another physician, like Dr. Gibbs, than in any other place that I can think of. I believe that will help you, if you both seek to put your ability to use in God’s appointed way. 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 9

I wish you to closely read all that has been put in print in regard to the light which God has given in the duties devolving on a physician; for you will see the standard you are required to reach. I now leave all this with you. I shall take no more burden on. If I can lay it off, I mean to do it. If you want a field of labor, you have it open before you. If you want to labor unselfishly, not merely for the remuneration, not for money value, but for the love of souls; if you want to be a missionary in the highest sense, then the way is opened for you. But do not come to this field of labor with an indifferent, careless manner. Rather, O, much rather, that you would not come. If you are ready to devote all your God-given powers to do good and thorough work which will bear the scrutiny of Jehovah, then we will do all in our power to help you. We will stand by your side, we will pray for you, we will work with you as far as possible. 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 10

Now I felt that I must say these things to you in the fear of God. We are doing up work for eternity, and the end is near. We can find no easy place where we can any of us work in the cause of God and shun painstaking, persevering effort. God would have earnest, whole-souled workmen who will think far less of their wages and who will have the work that will come forth from their hands well done. This is to be your anxiety. This is to be your aim. God will help you, if you only take hold of the work in earnest. 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 11

I was sorry when I heard you had left the Sanitarium. I was sure you would not make a success in the missionary work; for you would not bring that energy into the work, that thoroughness that would insure success. The work of God in winning souls requires a great outlay of positive power. The worker, in season, out of season, may confuse the plans of the adversary. Satan is a diligent, persevering, artful enemy that we have to contend against, and sinners cannot be taken out of his ranks without determined, persevering effort. It is not enough to be content to exert no really deleterious influence, but there must be a positive influence to save souls. There must be a strong, decided influence holding forth the Word of life. Not to wait until we are importuned for counsel and help, but labor earnestly for souls as they that must give an account. We are to show by the luster of our piety, by our earnest zeal, by the energy of our godly example, and the earnest prayers and entreaties, that the truth is to us a living reality. Not to do this, and do it habitually and perseveringly, is to be guilty of neglect of souls, neglect of doing our appointed work. You are, neither of you, to live to please yourselves. God will accept nothing of you or me but a thorough consecration, unreserved surrender of ourselves to His service, as pattern Christians. We know not how we are being read by others. We are not always on our guard. Our only security against failures, that we shall not be false guides, and do infinite harm to souls, is to be in constant communion with God, having that unreserved piety which is a shining light constantly. If connected with the Source of light, we all shall unconsciously reflect this Christian light, so that others will be benefited by its beams. We must not be in that position that we are consumers, and not producers, and never attain to that efficiency and consistent activity that we win no souls to Christ and strengthen no believers. Such will be doing harm. 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 12

God calls you to closer connection with Himself, that you may give to Him cheerful, hearty performance of all Christian duties. You both have a mission to fill, which is to give light. The greatest harm is done to those who believe not the truth, to come under the influence of one who claims to believe the truth, and yet has no vitality or power. God’s sentinels must be wide-awake men, and not sleep at their post and endanger important trusts. Christ is coming. Our time to work is short, and we must make no false moves now. We must show no negligence, murmur at no demands of the Lord upon us. May the Lord impress your hearts and give you a deep experience in the things of God. Aim high, cultivate the powers entrusted to you, execute whatever you do with a strong hand. Cultivate the habit of not thinking you can do a great work, but in doing your very best in what you do undertake, whether you consider it important or not. Put your highest powers into requisition. Summon to your aid the strongest impulses which that immediate work you have in hand is entitled to enlist in its favor. You are yet to consider yourself a student, a learner; strive to go to the bottom of every subject under investigation. Aim at nothing less. Continual additional knowledge in every branch of science to which your attention is directed—thus you will have habits of mental discipline. 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 13

You need these words I have written to you. You have been willing to accustom yourself to superficial studying, and neglected close investigation, and are becoming, through this practice, incapable of going to the very bottom of things. The mind soon learns the habit of being satisfied with an inferior standard and minor attainments. The mind circles around a narrow boundary and becomes satisfied and does not try to become acquainted with the depths beyond the measurement of his own short line, and in the want of the very knowledge he should have, he becomes conceited, egotistic, and flippant. But you need mental, as well as practical taxation, learning, and putting into practice what you learn. You need to bring into your work vigorous, intellectual effort. This will soon become easy, and you will rally the mind’s best powers, which will electrify all your movements. You will be sustained by the strong impulse which you must possess in your work as a practitioner. Distaste is overcome; ease is not sought; manly, vigorous, noble effort alone will satisfy. Brave, earnest endeavor God accepts. And He will accept nothing else. 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 14

Do your best, and God will do the rest. I have a deep interest for you both, that you may be successful in climbing round upon round of the ladder heavenward. There are many who go through life with no heart in their work, wanting something more congenial to their taste, and these are shorn of half their strength for want of symmetrical, well-expressed moral and mental development. These thwart the great design of heaven, because they fail to co-operate with the privileges and opportunities—blessings which heaven has granted them, because grave care sets lightly upon them. They do not want present enjoyments to be interrupted, and they go on preferring dreams to realities. May the Lord help you to trample Satan under foot, to be brave and strong; and if you closely connect with God, you will be living channels of light. I love you in the Lord. I know what you both may be, or I would not write as I have done; for I do not write to discourage you, but that you, through the grace of Christ, may be elevated, ennobled, and be altogether that which God would have you to be. 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 15

Make alliance with God, and with those who are connected with Him. Let the Word of God be the man of your counsel; for it is the expression of the divine will, with a full recognition of your duty. Learn from the Word of God; for in that you find a source of mental power and help to intellectual attainments. I am pained to see so many who claim to believe the truth reach a low standard. They are not strong men. They cannot plan and execute, because they love ease and enjoyment and do not put to the stretch their mental capabilities and gradually lose their vitality and earnestness, which are essential for the success of the great work. I write you in candor, and with faithfulness, because I have a love for your souls. I want you to win the benediction, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” from the lips of your Redeemer. [Matthew 25:23.] 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 16

May the Lord help you to see the necessity of walking in all humility of mind and making sure work for everlasting life. 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 17

Now, dear Brother and Sister, I do not want you to go to California without you see it to be duty yourself. I do not want you to be sent there as were Brother and Sister Sisley, and become homesick, and discontented, and uneasy, and want to go back. No, No! Do not decide to go, unless you are well satisfied that it is duty. I have placed the whole matter of their needs before you, and now I have not further to say. It may be God has some other place for you; but we greatly need help such as I think you could be, if you are fully consecrated to God. If you are not, then we do not want you at all 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 18

If you make up your minds to be missionaries for God, and are willing to endure something in the path of duty, willing to be anything or nothing, then you will be a blessing in California, and God’s hand will exalt you in due time. If your great anxiety is for the exaltation to the highest place, you will, in God’s providence, find yourselves in the lowest place. If you are willing to work anywhere, rise by your own merits, and let others testify to your value; then I know you will be exalted in due time. I am so thoroughly disgusted with this striving for the supremacy, that I will not hold out the least encouragement to you, or any one, as any inducement to exalted positions. Your own merits will exalt you far more than words or position can do. If you are willing to work for God, wherever He in His providence places you, then the Lord will reward all such humility. But there is so much child’s play in regard to the Christian life and duty that I am pained to the heart. Look at Christ, meek and lowly of heart. Study His life and character closely; copy it, and you will be like Jesus. 5LtMs, Lt 7, 1887, par. 19