Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 26, 1888

Rice, Brother

Healdsburg, California

February 20, 1888

Portions of this letter are published in MM 171.

Dear Brother Rice:

My mind has been much troubled in regard to the situation of things, more on your account and that of your mother and sisters than anything else. We have been compelled to press home upon you quite earnestly and positively, hoping you would be able to see yourself and the mistakes that have been made by you in your management at the Rural Health Retreat. But we have had to be disappointed every time in your seeing the matter as it really is. You had an excuse for everything; you have justified yourself on nearly every point. 5LtMs, Lt 26, 1888, par. 1

We felt as sorry as we could feel that your management was not of that sort that we could have any hopes of the Health Retreat making a success under it. You were so self-confident that you felt you constituted the board. Your mind, your ideas, you considered of more value than that of the board, and you acted in accordance with your own confidence in your management. If you could have reasoned from cause to effect, you would have seen that you were leaving impressions upon the minds of outsiders deleterious to the institution and that you were closing the way of patronage by your exorbitant prices and in the manner you settled their bills, by the extra charges for every trifle done them, and by your want of courtesy and Christian politeness. I sent you testimonies that had been given for Battle Creek that would have met these points, and published a pamphlet for their benefit. Complaints were made of the way visitors were treated, and I thought the reading of these cautions and counsels would help you, if you wanted to see the true and right way. 5LtMs, Lt 26, 1888, par. 2

The prices charged at the Health Retreat were high enough; but besides that, you charged the patients for little extras, such as hot water bags and a variety of little things. Does not this come under the treatment and the care that are to be given to the patients? It is a wise thing to make good and righteous rules, but it is a still wiser thing to know how to use these rules in a manner not to cut off the patronage and send the report from east to west, in every direction, that Seventh-day Adventists are a set of swindlers who put on their heaviest charges and [that] you cannot obtain the slightest favor without paying twice of three times what it is worth. Sound reflection and wise forethought must be exercised. Iron rules and iron treatment must not be found in such an institution. Particular pains should be taken that no impressions shall go out that Seventh-day Adventists are a company of schemers who will rob you of your money if they have any pretense for so doing. 5LtMs, Lt 26, 1888, par. 3

You have been very zealous to exact in little things. This has left most disagreeable impressions upon minds. No doubt you have thought that you were working for the good of the institution, but it was an error, a great want of discernment. This penny-wise management, this supposed dollar-saving principle, by grasping every supposed advantage, has kept hundreds of dollars from the institution that otherwise would have come to it. You do not now see these things; you have a decided want of discrimination, true tact and discernment in dealing with men and women. You do not know how to deal wisely with human minds. You do not have intuition that you can discern what is best to be done to have right impressions made upon unbelievers as well as believers. 5LtMs, Lt 26, 1888, par. 4

You do not discern how principles and sound maxims must be combined with enlightened rules that unite us together in the great web of humanity. These will not be exacting, cold, rigid rules to be followed whatever the consequences. 5LtMs, Lt 26, 1888, par. 5

You are to always place yourself in the position of the one with whom you deal and see how you would feel under similar circumstances, then act as you would have others act toward you, that no shadow may be cast upon the precious cause of truth. It must not be reproached for the sake of gaining a few dollars or cents. Let no occasion be given for anyone to say that Seventh-day Adventists will ever do mean actions. Contempt will be what they will reap. Let all our business transactions stand in a pure, untarnished light before the world and with those of our faith. Do not let your course of action be of that character that they require explanations in order to make them appear any way in a favorable light. 5LtMs, Lt 26, 1888, par. 6

Let all see this institution standing as an institution to promote the happiness and well-being of our fellow men. Better, far better, to submit to some inconveniences and loses than to become mercenary and create angry feelings and leave the unhappy impression on minds that they have been taken advantage of and cheated, and they go away hostile to the institution. The principles and morals of the institution must ever be governed in all relations, to believers and unbelievers, with generous, well-defined principles of nobility and consideration, especially toward those who are suffering affliction. It is worth everything to the prosperity of the institution to pursue such a course toward all its patrons on all occasions that no occasion may be given for anyone to say that Seventh-day Adventists are a dishonest set and that they will take advantage of you if they possibly can do so, and let this impression go forth to the world. The institution had better burn to the ground than be the cause of such feelings as have been created in minds because of mismanagement. 5LtMs, Lt 26, 1888, par. 7

Brother Rice, it has been a sorrow to us all to be thoroughly convinced that you were not in your place as superintendent of the Health Retreat. We can see that it is not in your character to manage such interests. There has been not merely want of reflection of the right character, but of enlightened discretion of fixed rules of conduct by which you should be governed under all circumstances and which should place you above temptation, feeling that your name and deeds would, on every point in connection with your brethren’s, leave impressions that it will be difficult to erase. Write your name by kindness on the hearts of all you are brought in contact with. Let love be without dissimulation, and let love and mercy, gentleness and strict equity and reasonableness leave impressions on minds that will never fade. Good, unselfish deeds shine as brightly on the earth as the stars in the heavens. You need, Elder Rice, to pitch your tent nearer heaven. 5LtMs, Lt 26, 1888, par. 8

Honesty is approved of God and all the heavenly angels and all upon the earth. You need a clearer comprehension of what constitutes honesty and integrity. You need to learn that at the same time [that] there must be cultivated strict rules, there must [also] be an accommodating disposition, full of friendliness to all. Those who wish the friendship and good will of others must have accommodating habits themselves. The Saviour’s golden rule is of highest value to us, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” [Matthew 7:12.] If this is carried out, impressions will be left on hearts that will soften and subdue the soul. Truth and goodness and usefulness, in purpose, in deeds, or in words, will be as enduring as eternity. 5LtMs, Lt 26, 1888, par. 9

It is positively essential that all who have a part to act in the association with the Health Retreat should act with true-hearted Christian politeness. None can be otherwise while influenced by the Spirit of Christ. Christian men and women are not harsh, dictatorial, commanding, not haughty and exclusive. They show their Christlike disposition in being kind and respectful to all. They study to make all within the sphere of their influence easy and happy. Those who cultivate universal kindness will make themselves agreeable and pleasant to all whom they meet, and yet not condescend to flattery or deception, not encouraging any undue familiarity with men or women. It is natural for the well-disciplined Christian to be kind and attentive, as well to the plain and modest and unassuming as to the most wealthy. These are Christian principles which are to be constantly observed. 5LtMs, Lt 26, 1888, par. 10

I feel deeply, because I know that the Lord has given you light which you have not respected or heeded. I am sure, had you made earnest work with yourself to separate sin from you, you would now have spiritual discernment. But now I look for your mind to become stronger and stronger in following your way and not God’s way, and this will lead you away from the light into darkness and clouds, because you have not grasped the light that God has given and acted upon it. You have gone away from where the light shines into darkness and deception, self-righteousness, and self-sufficiency. You will go farther and farther from God, and we shall expect the enemy to use you as his agent, to do his special work. 5LtMs, Lt 26, 1888, par. 11