Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 16, 1887

Butler, G. I.

Basel, Switzerland

April 21, 1887

Portions of this letter are published in TSB 239-242.

Elder George I. Butler

Dear Brother:

Your last letter is received, and the questions asked in reference to Oviatt and Brother Sharp I cannot answer further than I have done. I am inclined to the same opinion that I had when I wrote Smith Sharp. The counsel that I gave him, I think, was safe, and if my good brethren had acted in concert with that counsel, I think they would have done that which was pleasing to the Lord. I think matters have now come in a bad shape for him. He has been entrusted with responsibilities which will have a tendency to elevate him. And it may be that he is not in as good a condition to go forth to labor in some far off field than he was months ago. 5LtMs, Lt 16, 1887, par. 1

I have not changed my mind in his case, I do not think that it has been managed wisely, taking his soul into consideration. He proposed to prove himself, on his own responsibility, without expense to the conference, and he should have had this chance. 5LtMs, Lt 16, 1887, par. 2

In regard to Brother [J. H.] Waggoner, I do not think your management the wisest. I think he should have a chance for his life. If the man is willing and desirous of coming to Europe on his own responsibility, perhaps that would be wisdom. He will never recover himself where he is under present circumstances. I did have a dream many months ago, which showed him restored with the blessing of God resting upon him; but he was not brought to this position by the help of yourself, or Elder Haskell, but would have as far as you both were concerned the attitude you assumed toward him, have ever remained in the dark, and his light would have gone out in darkness. 5LtMs, Lt 16, 1887, par. 3

That dream prompted the letter that W. C. White wrote him, asking him in reference to coming to Europe, which your conference had voted one year ago that he should do, and made a mistake in sending him to Oakland instead of Europe. He should have come here at once. 5LtMs, Lt 16, 1887, par. 4

We shall not urge anything more in his case, but shall do the uttermost in our power to save his soul from death and hide a multitude of sins. I am in great perplexity at times and have about come to the conclusion, when a case of error and grievous sin is presented before me, to say nothing to my ministering brethren if they do not know the matter themselves, but labor earnestly for the erring one and encourage him to hope in God’s mercy and cling to the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour, look to the Lamb of God in repentance and contrition and live His strength. 5LtMs, Lt 16, 1887, par. 5

“Come and let us reason together, though your sins be as scarlet I will make them white as wool, though they are as crimson, I will make them as snow.” [Isaiah 1:18.] 5LtMs, Lt 16, 1887, par. 6

There is not the mingling of the elements of character that brings justice and mercy and the love of God into beautiful harmony. There is altogether too much talking, too many strong words and strong feelings that the Lord has nothing to do with, and these strong feelings influence our good brethren. 5LtMs, Lt 16, 1887, par. 7

I am compelled to deal plainly and rebuke sin, and then I have it in my heart, placed there by the Spirit of Christ to labor in faith, in tender sympathy and compassion for the erring. I will not let them alone, I will not leave them to become the sport of Satan’s temptations. I will not myself act the part of the adversary of souls as is represented by Joshua and the Angel. Souls cost the price of my Redeemer’s blood. When men, themselves liable to temptation, erring mortals, shall be free to pronounce upon another’s case who is humbled in the dust, and shall take it on themselves to decide by their own feelings or the feelings of their brethren just how much feeling the erring one should manifest to be pardoned, they are taking on themselves that which God has not required of them. When I know that there are those who have fallen into great sin, but we have labored with and for them, and God has afterwards accepted their labors; when these have pleaded for me to let them go and to not burden myself for them, I have said, “I will not give you up; you must gather strength to overcome.” These men are now in active service. This course toward them was wrong, or the course that is pursued is not exactly that which Jesus would pursue under similar circumstances. 5LtMs, Lt 16, 1887, par. 8

My mind is greatly perplexed over these things, because I cannot harmonize them with the course that is being pursued. I am fearful to sanction sin, and I am fearful to let go of the sinner and make no effort to restore him. I think if our hearts were more fully imbued with the Spirit of Christ, we should have His melting love and should work with spiritual power to restore the erring and not leave them under Satan’s control. 5LtMs, Lt 16, 1887, par. 9

We need good heart religion that we shall not only reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine, but we shall take the erring in our arms of faith and bear them to the cross of Christ. We must bring them in contact with the sin-pardoning Saviour. 5LtMs, Lt 16, 1887, par. 10

I am more pained than I can express to see so little aptitude and skill to save souls that are ensnared by Satan. I see such a cold Pharisaism, holding off at arm’s length the one who has been deluded by the adversary of souls, and then I think, what if Jesus treated us in this way. Is this spirit to grow among us? If so, my brethren must excuse me, I cannot labor with them. I will not be a party to this kind of labor. 5LtMs, Lt 16, 1887, par. 11

I call to mind the shepherd hunting the lost sheep and the prodigal son. I want those parables to have their influence upon my heart and my mind. I think of Jesus, what love and tenderness He manifested for erring, fallen man, and then I think of the severe judgment one pronounces upon his brother that has fallen under temptation, and my heart becomes sick. I see the iron in hearts and think we should pray for hearts of flesh. 5LtMs, Lt 16, 1887, par. 12

Oh, how I long for Jesus to come, how I long for Him to set things in order. I am now becoming convicted that I have made a mistake in specifying wrongs existing in my brethren. Many are so constituted that they will take these wrongs and deal so severely with the wrongdoer that he will have no courage or hope to set himself right, and this mismanagement will ruin a soul. They, knowing the things I know, treat the erring in altogether a different manner than I would. Hereafter I must exercise more caution. I will not trust my brethren to deal with souls, if God will forgive me where I have erred. I plead with all to look away from me, look away from human, finite, erring men’s opinions, and look to Jesus. Plead with the dear Lord, talk much less with different ones, and pray more. 5LtMs, Lt 16, 1887, par. 13

I will write no more on this point. I will not confuse judgment, but I wish that we had much more of the Spirit of Christ and great deal less self and less of human opinions. If we err, let it be on the side of mercy rather than on the side of condemnation and harsh dealing. 5LtMs, Lt 16, 1887, par. 14

Now I have a word to say upon other matters. Brother Mason has written in reference to the camp meeting in Michigan being held in the fall instead of June and has given some encouragement that we would attend the meeting if it were put off till fall. He asked me a question on the point and then wrote the letter which he sent you. After he read me his, I thought I would send one in the same mail to tell you not to depend on our attending the meeting and therefore make no change on that account. It is uncertain how long we shall remain in England. Brother Haskell’s delay will detain us. We are daily pleading with God to know our duty, that we may do it in His fear. We hope to move in His counsel. We may have to remain here another year. If anything can be done in England, we want to see it done. It is impossible to lay definite plans, so do not make any change in your camp meeting merely with the encouragement he gave you in his letter. The Lord must guide our future. We see a terrible lack of men here to prepare publications for translation in the different languages, but the Lord knows all about it, and we trust the matter with Him. 5LtMs, Lt 16, 1887, par. 15

Brethren Ertzenberger and Conradi are having a good interest in Zurich. One sister from Lausanne has been visiting and giving Bible readings from house to house. One lady has become so interested that she gave this sister one hundred and sixty francs for the mission and says if this sister will continue her work in Zurich she will give one thousand francs to aid in the work. Brethren E. and C. begin to see that there is fruit quite near us to be picked, but it was hard to make them understand it. They thought they must go to a distant field to work; but twenty have been raised up in Basel, and we hope more will be in Zurich. God speed the work is my prayer. Our brethren are of excellent courage in the Lord. If we could have twenty laborers right here in Switzerland for this year, I believe a good work would be accomplished. But I fear that much is being lost in sending off many of the workers into far distant fields when new workers are not being fitted to take the places of the ones removed. We hope that God will give you His spiritual enlightenment in all difficult problems. Let us get our light from God and not depend too much on what different ones may say and have them feel as if it were the voice of God. 5LtMs, Lt 16, 1887, par. 16

Brother Butler, I do not want to make you feel bad, but I do feel sadly burdened over many things. I hope that we will draw nigh to God, that He may draw nigh to us. 5LtMs, Lt 16, 1887, par. 17