Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 12a, 1888

Rice, J. D.

Selma, California

March 1888

Portions of this letter are published in 2BC 1013; CTr 142. +Note

Dear Brother [J. D.] Rice:

You wrote to me from St. Helena to send you the communications I had sent you; but the letter did not reach me until the day you said you should leave. Since that time I have been unable to learn your whereabouts so I could explain to you that these letters were especially for the benefit of the Health Retreat and that I could not feel clear to pass them from my hands to your hands without a copy, and not even then, unless I had some evidence that they would do you good. In your present attitude I do not think the letters would be an advantage to you. But when you shall look upon these matters in a different light than you do now, then I will pass a copy of them all into your hands. 5LtMs, Lt 12a, 1888, par. 1

I have not lost my interest in you. I love your soul, and I am very sorry that matters stand as they do with you. When you came to the Health Retreat you were a man deeply afflicted. It was questionable whether you could live longer than a few months. We talked over this case with the board, and as we had confidence in you as a Christian, we all felt an interest in your welfare and wished to save your life, if possible. We thought if you should be, by voice of the board, placed for the time being as superintendent, it would be a great encouragement to you, as your staying at the Health Retreat was making inroads upon your means and that all should be done for you in line of treatment that you could bear. We made these arrangements because we, with all that interest we should have for one in your condition, felt your danger healthwise. We sincerely thought you would be a cautious man and, under the direction of the Board, could fill this position until some one would be found to fill the place who would be qualified to do the work in that office. 5LtMs, Lt 12a, 1888, par. 2

We soon went to Europe, and matters went on from that time till our return. The letters that were sent to you and Dr. Gibbs with warnings and cautions were the Word of God through His humble instrument. Had these words received from you that attention they should have had, you well know that many disagreeable and distressing things would not have occurred as they did. Slighting the warnings and reproofs, feeling sufficient in yourselves, you went on as you did. 5LtMs, Lt 12a, 1888, par. 3

The letter written to you while on the cars enroute for Europe was the voice of God to you. Had that warning been accepted and acted upon, then you would have done entirely differently from what you now have done. But your response was that you thought you would get along very well if Sister White did not scold you too much. 5LtMs, Lt 12a, 1888, par. 4

I wrote to you that your letter had afflicted me much, this letter you did not return to me. This revealed to me that you did not understand my position and my work. The Lord was trying to make His voice heard, pointing out the right way, but His voice and His warnings were unheeded, unless they could be interpreted to vindicate your course in some things. 5LtMs, Lt 12a, 1888, par. 5

Now, if this is the way all should treat the words the Lord gives me for them, if all should do as you have done, what kind of a state of things would exist among us as a people. The Lord has those in the church who are commissioned to do this work of warning, reproving, and rebuking, and if all are so entrenched by their own will and are following their own mind, how shall the people of God overcome to the unity of the faith? What means has the Lord in reserve to reach the cases of the erring and those who are walking contrary to His will? He will not work a miracle to convince the erring that they are endangering their own souls. 5LtMs, Lt 12a, 1888, par. 6

In the parable our Saviour told upon one occasion, a man is represented as asking the Lord to send a messenger from the dead to warn his brethren. The answer from Abraham was, “They have Moses and the prophets; if they hear not them, neither will they hear, though one rose from the dead.” [Luke 16:29, 31.] 5LtMs, Lt 12a, 1888, par. 7

The Lord has His appointed means whereby light shall be communicated to His creatures. If they set aside that light, if they choose their own way, then they become self-satisfied and confirmed in their own course of action. The Lord imparts knowledge to His people in His own way. 5LtMs, Lt 12a, 1888, par. 8

The Lord was not pleased with Israel because they chose a king. This grieved Samuel, and the Lord told Samuel that it was not a rejection of Samuel, but of Himself. The Lord told Samuel further to grant their request, but to bear strong testimony against them in regard to their sin in choosing a temporal ruler rather than a divine ruler. Samuel was to present before them the sure results which would follow in the administration of a king, which they desired like the other nations around them. To have a king was not after God’s arrangement, but after the order of the nations who knew not and did not acknowledge God. 5LtMs, Lt 12a, 1888, par. 9

After this plain statement, they still persisted in having their own way, and Samuel consented. The people still were determined that they would have a king. They decided that Samuel did not understand the situation. If he only knew all the circumstances, the motives, and the designs, and understood as well as themselves the great advantages, he would be as ready as they to have a king to go in and out before them, that the nations should not look down upon and despise them. They did not in their spiritual blindness look beyond Samuel and discern that it was the word of God that they were hearing through His servant. 5LtMs, Lt 12a, 1888, par. 10

God was leading and guiding and working for His people in many ways unseen. Their enemies could not distinguish the source of their wisdom and power and Who was to be glorified for the wonderful deliverance and marvelous success. God wrought through Gideon. But the manner of their deliverance was of that character that no man could take the glory, and in recounting the wonderful victory, they could not extol any man’s wisdom. Their deliverance could not be ascribed to things seen to human agencies or to things seen. The power, the wisdom, and the might were in heaven, but they wanted it upon earth. It was of God, their mighty King; but they wanted it visibly embodied in a man. In this light God accounted the sin of Israel a rejection of Himself. If they had cherished a sacred, reverent fear of God as their Supreme Ruler, they would never have invested authority in human power to be controlled by it. 5LtMs, Lt 12a, 1888, par. 11

Yet the Lord will not leave Saul to be placed in a position of trust without divine enlightenment. He was to have a new calling and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him. The effect was that he was changed into a new man. The Lord gave Saul a new Spirit, other thoughts, other aims and desires than he had previously had. This enlightenment, with the spiritual knowledge of God, <placing him on vantage ground,> was to bind his will to the will of Jehovah. 5LtMs, Lt 12a, 1888, par. 12

Knowing the will of God which had been plainly stated to him, did Saul bear the test, did he show reverence for God? When brought into a strait place, he did not heed and obey the express command of God, but he ventured to transgress. Samuel reproved him and told him that he had not kept the commandments of God in taking responsibilities <upon him> that did not belong to his position and which the Lord had not laid upon him. This movement on his part was presumption. It displeased the Lord because Saul by this gave to his subjects under him an example which would, if followed, would be ruinous to Israel. It was disregard for God’s express requirements. He had forfeited his right to the kingdom. His second transgression was still more marked and showed that he was disqualified to be a ruler or a king. 5LtMs, Lt 12a, 1888, par. 13

Now my brother, these examples are written with all their particulars that we should regard them, study the lessons they contain, and avoid making the same mistakes. I feel deeply for you for I see in you that same spirit of persistency, of stubbornness which I fear will prove your ruin, as it did to Saul. You are on perilous ground. Do not, like Saul, refuse to be corrected by reproof, and do not persist in having your own way. You have had great light, precious privileges, and many opportunities. Do not despise reproof. Do not open your heart to a spirit of revenge, as did Judas. He was so provoked because the Lord reproved him before others that he determined to be revenged, and he sold his Lord for thirty pieces of silver. Do not let a spirit of hatred and revenge take possession of your soul. 5LtMs, Lt 12a, 1888, par. 14

Our Lord is a jealous God. He faithfully scrutinizes our work, especially of those who are self-sufficient and full of self-esteem. God sifts everything to the bottom, and the motives of all our actions are tried by Him. When you see your natural face in a glass, you can detect the defects upon your features, and you know you must wash and remove all spots and stains. When you look into God’s great moral mirror, His holy law, you will see the defects in your moral character. You may appear honest before men, but all your actions are weighed in the balances of the Lord. He sees to the very heart; He tests the quality of your character. Do humble your heart before God, and do not separate from Jesus. We are in this life placed in positions where proud self-esteem, if in us, will be revealed. 5LtMs, Lt 12a, 1888, par. 15

I am troubled on your account, not because I have not done the duty devolving on me, but because I feel deeply your danger and am afraid that you will not humble your heart and come in close connection with God. I am troubled, greatly troubled, on your account. I want you to rise above yourself. Your traits of character are obtaining the mastery over you. Will you let the enemy work as he will, and will you imperil your soul? Will you take hold of Jesus Christ? Will you die to self and come into harmony with the people of God? Jesus has paid a dear price for your redemption. Oh, be determined to break the fetters of Satan now and stand on vantage ground. Be not deluded. Think not that you have been abused, for it is not the truth. Those who have made wrong statements will the sooner see these wrongs if you take a right course and do your duty. 5LtMs, Lt 12a, 1888, par. 16

May the Lord open your eyes is my prayer, that you may see all things clearly. 5LtMs, Lt 12a, 1888, par. 17