Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5

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Lt 51d, 1887

Rice, J. D.

Oakland, California

October 28, 1887

Portions of this letter are similar to Lt 51, 1887. Previously unpublished.

J. D. Rice

My Brother in Christ:

I have been oppressed in spirit since leaving St. Helena. I am not able to sleep, and I feel so deeply pained at heart that I arise early to write to you. I ponder upon these things night and day as to what course we shall pursue further to secure the proper ones for that institution who will not involve it in such a tangle of perplexities that seemingly is hopeless to untangle. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 1

It was with great pain at heart that I wrote to you and Dr. Gibbs, while on my way to Michigan, warnings and cautions and entreaties, because I felt the danger. I knew that the enemy would work his cards to bring in just such a condition of things as now exists. What do these things mean, my brother? No spiritual eyesight that they can see and discern the evils existing. They are not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices and snares. Will the very men placed in responsible positions, who claim all and more authority and power than their positions really warrant them to take, be found giving in their example and in their practice lessons that leave a demoralizing influence that others will quickly imitate? and upon any insinuation, shall your perverted ideas, Elder Rice and Dr. Gibbs, be woven into minds and into characters? The thought of such a thing is truly painful. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 2

I am thoroughly alarmed, for when this coarse commonness once leavens a public institution, it is next to an impossibility to eradicate the seeds sown. The evil, poisonous roots work unseen and are springing up constantly to produce their harvest. Your own blindness in regard to your own way of viewing these matters in the liberties taken with married women and girls explains why you did not discern the evils that were being practiced before your very eyes at the very first in the case of your brother and Etta. Certainly we should have those connected with so important an institution with greater discernment than you have evidenced. With such a careless sentinel as you have shown yourself to be, the whole institution would be in danger of becoming leavened before you would have been suspicious of anything objectionable. Your mixing and mingling with Brother and Sister Heald has confused your senses and mixed your ideas; and that which it has done for you, this course of action has done for many others. The judgment alone will reveal the extent of the harvest yielded from the seed sown. I do not believe that evil between your brother and Etta need to have been at all if those in sacred positions of trust had discernment and spiritual eyesight. You could not, if closely connected with God, have possibly become so mixed up with Brother and Sister Heald as you have been. You could not be so common with them and [at] the same [time] not be observed by others. Those who are inclined to take these liberties, whose moral standing is not high, are encouraged in their work, and a greater evil now is to be met. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 3

We shall have to meet our people who are full of surmising and suspicious of any persons who should be in charge of the institution of St. Helena. It has required most earnest labor to inspire even a degree of confidence because of the past miserable management in its successful operations. The Health Retreat was by all looked upon as on test and trial for its very existence. And you know all this. You know what had been its difficulties in the past, and that for want of vigilance and spirituality the institution had become demoralized. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 4

In the face of all this, you, through want of discernment, through want of spirituality, have permitted things to come right in and leaven the institution worse than anything that had hitherto cursed it. And your own example has been in the same line to demoralize it. What courage, what hope can we now have to elevate the institution to stand as one of God’s special instrumentalities before our people? Our mouths are closed. Whatever lies may be reported in regard to yourself, we have no arguments to use, for you have given occasion. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 5

The sound has gone forth abroad far and near, and we cannot untangle the difficulty; for it is such a case it cannot be that just the amount of blame and guilt that is deserved, and no more, should rest upon the ones who have given occasion, and the rebuke and censure rest upon those who have gossiped over it and loved to repeat it. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 6

We seem to be just helpless that exact justice can be done in the case. We have no hope of elevating and clearing the institution of the stigma resting upon it. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 7

I do not judge your motives in acting in the fashion you have done. You may be sincere in your professing attachment to the institute and the cause of Christ. But you have in some respects a very poor way of showing it. When spoken to and cautioned, you have firmly pursued your own course. One thing is certain, you are not a good and safe general. You have not rendered efficient service to the cause of God in your position. You have been self-confident, self-willed, have had too high an opinion of your own wisdom, and you complain and have been too ready to differ from the minds and plans of others. There has not been concerted action. With you there was need of self-restraint to be exercised, but you took the bit in ... [portion missing here] 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 8

... Had you received the warnings given to others, putting yourself on your guard, taking home the lessons that you should learn, I cannot believe the demoralized state of things should have cursed that institution as it surely has in the course of your brother and Etta Klase. You saw all this but were so blinded [that] you gave no warning, but were yourself instrumental in placing them into close relationship where Satan could tempt them and lead them, as he has done, to ruin. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 9

Your own course of action was wrong, like a man blindfolded. Now what has your own course of action, your own ideas, done toward bringing into the institution a low state of morals that will have a tendency to stain the life and leave a blot upon the characters of others? [All] because good Brother Rice could do these things of which warnings have been coming by pen and by voice in condemnation of the very loose, unguarded, demoralizing influences. You were not ignorant of the blot and stain which had rested upon the Health Retreat. You were not in darkness in regard to the difficulty to blot out these terrible impressions made and establish the institution upon vantage ground where it would have good repute. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 10

But your course of action has given occasion for your good to be evil spoken of, to the detriment of the institution. If no occasion had been given, if you had been circumspect, if you had not shown special preference for another man’s wife, manifested fondness and undue affectionate regard, then we could rebuke every word of evil spoken against you. But how can we prevent the exaggerated reports, the putting of things in their worse light, without appearing to vindicate the very things which God has condemned in the testimonies. You have fallen into free and careless habits yourself, and have passed the bounds of propriety, leading away a woman, young and inexperienced, to manifest toward you in deportment the little attentions and acts which should be given alone to her husband, who has taken her into the closest and holiest relations with himself in life. He has linked her life with his own, and whatever affects one affects both. If one is honored, the other is exalted. If one is dishonored, the other is debased. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 11

There has been, you know, unlawful love, and your ideas have not been elevated, your course of action has not been of a character to strengthen moral power, but to weaken and depress it. If you had stood as a faithful watchman at your post of duty, to see the danger and lift your voice of warning, the devil would not have been given so favorable a chance to work the moral debasement of two souls at that institution. The stubbornness evidenced by you to be deaf to all warnings, to pursue your own course notwithstanding you have been counseled and advised, and your inability to see things in their true light up to the very last, until that last meeting where I was obliged to set the thing before you in the true light, shows how many things would be transacted before your eyes, and you blind and deaf and without discernment as to where matters were drifting, and what must be the influence of your course upon others. You were as a watchman asleep so that you could not discern the evil and raise your voice of warning to those in danger until the enemy invaded the camp and took captive unwary souls. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 12

All this advantage Satan has gained in his work of demoralizing the Health Retreat. My brother, you have your standard altogether too low, and this has beclouded your discernment that you should not see and sense the existing evils around you. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 13

What is now wanted is men and women full of faith and piety, of high and holy purposes, to give themselves wholly to the work of reform in the Health Retreat. Rules and counsels will amount to nothing unless responsible men and women shall lead the way with a correct example and illustrate in their own circumspect lives the things commended. This will be accomplished more by example than precept. If self lives, self-esteem is the prevailing element, the atmosphere emanating from the person is poisoned. Lovesick attitudes, lovesick words, special preferences, special affection for one or two is not that love, that pure, holy, undefiled [love]. The love of Jesus was disinterested, not centered upon one favorite or two. It was love deep, broad, true, pure, and divine—so great that Jesus could die for the human family. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 14

There is a great lack with you to view all sides of a matter and take in the situation of your own individual dangers and the peril threatening others. And there is with you a great lack of those exhibitions of kindly thoughtfulness in feelings and attitudes toward those who are of that class the apostle mentions, with some have compassion, making a difference. Others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garments spotted with the flesh. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 15

You have had all the opportunity to exercise your ability in this direction if you had not been dazed and infatuated with the chapters in your own experience in connection with Brother and Sister Heald that made you oblivious to the influence you were exerting and the sure result. Joe Monah and Etta Klase only went a little further, in fact, than you were going. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 16

The state of things in that institution which now exists is because you have had perverted ideas and false standards; and when you have taken a given course, you have such confidence in your way and your course of action that you do not counsel with your brethren at every step, giving them an opportunity to use their judgment and look at all that is done on every side, that no bad moves shall be made and losses incurred. One man’s mind is not to be a controlling power in that institution. One man is not—even if placed as superintendent—to be a ruler. Else what is the need of a board of directors? 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 17

Our board of directors has trusted altogether too much to you. All without an exception had unlimited confidence in you as being a virtuous, discreet, God-fearing man. You stood high as it is possible for a man to stand in their confidence, and it has taken circumstances and facts to bring sorrow to their hearts and lead them to distrust you as a safe man to manage. You might have foreseen the course pursued by Dr. Burke; and had you been discerning, you could and should have prevented the leaven from working as it has done in that case. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 18

With these results in evil before your senses became active to see anything wrong, Satan has done his work, accomplished his purposes, and great loss is sustained to the institution. And you are so hard to be convinced, it takes so long for you to see that anything in your course is not right and the very best that can be done, that the enemy succeeds in doing according to his will before you begin to see he has taken the field. Your unlimited confidence in your wisdom and in your plans of action is alarming. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 19

Now you knew that reports were being circulated in regard to yourself, and you should at the very first intimation have changed your attitude and course of action, and cut off all occasion, then there would have been enlisted in your behalf the confidence of your brethren and sisters that you would not offend in one point and suffer the institution to be brought into disrepute by your course of action. Now all your errors and imprudence cast a dark shadow on the Health Retreat which it must remain under; how long, God alone can tell. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 20

For a little leaven of evil will work, exaggerated reports will be made, and as long as occasion has been given, it will be most difficult to present and work upon real facts and declare just what is truth and what is falsehood. To undertake to vindicate you would be in danger of creating a deeper evil in apparently making a light example of your example in the things you knew God has condemned in others, which is too great commonness in association, men with women and women with men. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 21

Notwithstanding all the light that has been given on these things, the warnings God has sent to His people, yet it has not restrained [them], and there has been a rushing into this commonness of association that is demoralizing and death to spirituality. And how far-reaching is such an influence, how large a harvest the seeds sown will produce of the same kind, eternity alone will reveal. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 22

We do not want you or anyone connected with the Health Retreat to be reserved, secretive, and severe and dictatorial. A man or woman whom God is leading, who is daily learning in the school of Christ, will be kind and courteous, watchful of the feelings of all brought under the sphere of his influence. There will be a moral, Godlike dignity in respectfulness of manners and bearing that will be shown not only to special favorites who will praise and flatter you, but to even the youngest and the lowest worker. Without weaving into your work sickening, soft expressions as mark the intercourse with some, there will be a genuine kindliness of manner with patients and helpers which has a wondrous, far-reaching power. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 23

All the graces of Christ are to be constantly brought into daily practice in the true gentleness, the kindly words, the careful observation and consideration of tender regard for all which shows a heart softened and refined and sanctified by the Spirit of the world’s Redeemer. This spirit needs culture, for even the very best of men and women are in danger of letting the precious plants of love, Christlike love, and tender thoughtfulness, wither and die. The Christian life should be full of gladness, not stiff and formal, but sincere and simple and fragrant as pinks and roses. Storms and coldness should be expelled from our hearts, and yet there need not and will not be one vestige of lovesick sentimentalism; none of this flattering attention needs to be given. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 24

If Christ is abiding in the soul, the religious character is symmetrically developed, sound, pure, wholesome, and vigorous. One selfish deed, one deception practiced in social relation to others will do more to mar and perpetuate evil than a thousand discourses can accomplish for good and the salvation of others. All our works, all our words should be of a character to implant true, deep principles in hearts and characters, which will rule them during their whole lives, and balance their characters and reveal in them Christlike perfection of character. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 25

Brother Rice, you may think because I write these words that I do not accept your repentance and confession. I do accept, but I feel sure that [that] which has led you to take the course you have done has been through wrong ideas and false principles which you have followed and cherished, else you would not have gone on in your own chosen course, indifferent to warnings and indifferent to counsel. Should your example be followed by others in a much less degree, that institution had better be consumed by fire than to exist and such practices be continued. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 26

I would ask you, Did you give counsel for McDonald to test the women and girls of the institution by familiarity of address, putting the arms around their waist [so] that it might be known who was weak and would yield to these influences and who would resist them, that this fact may be known? Please to frankly state these things as they are. If there is one particle of truth in this statement, let me know it, if you please. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 27

Now, you may feel that you have no friends in the world except your own relations, but this is not so. We mean to get down, as I told you in the tent at Oakland, to the very root of these evils and dig them out if possible. I see the evils existing which must have seemed as a light thing to you; but if we can make thorough work in the strength of Jesus to root out every fiber of these roots of evil, and God will turn His face this way and be entreated to bless this institution, we will be richly repaid for all our efforts in this direction. But we will not stop until this matter has been sifted thoroughly and the important change made to meet the mind of the Spirit of God and bring in a healthful influence into the institution. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 28

When you were taking so much pleasure in the familiar intercourse you were having with Sister Heald, how could you see, how could you interrupt and break up a similar familiarity with Joe Manoah and Etta Klase? You let that thing go on until it grew too big and strong for your handling, and all because your standard of such things was not high and elevated, and the result was disaster, crime, and failure in the end to close the door against Satan, because the first appearance of evil was not discerned and the door closed. Satan was permitted to make all the preparation for the mischief that men and women are too blind to discern, because they are so far separated from God. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 29

These are the young, inexperienced youth and men and women who need the guidance and the example of those who have wisdom and the fear of God. They must learn to submit, to be ruled. But no one is qualified to rule others who has not first learned to obey. God holds those who have been placed in positions of trust responsible for the mold given to the character of those brought into connection with them. They are to be the guardians of the young and inexperienced. They must qualify themselves for this work, teaching, training, shaping the character both by precept and example. Angels of God will help them in this work. 5LtMs, Lt 51d, 1887, par. 30