Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 51, 1887

Rice, Brother; Gibbs, Brother

Oakland, California

October 28, 1887

Previously unpublished.

My Brethren in Christ:

I have been depressed in spirit since leaving St. Helena. I am unable to sleep nights, and I feel deeply pained at heart. I have risen early to write to you. I ponder upon the condition of things at Crystal Springs night and day, studying what can be done to set things in order and secure the proper ones for that institution who have elevated and sanctified ideas in business management, and in regard to the moral tone of the institution, that it shall not be involved in such a tangle of perplexities that from a human standpoint is hopeless to untangle. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1887, par. 1

It was with great pain at heart, and pressed under the burden of the condition of things at the institute, that I wrote to you, Elder Rice and Dr. Gibbs, while on the cars en route for the East, warnings, and cautions, and entreaties, because I felt the danger that you were in. I knew that the enemy would not be at rest, and let the reproach be removed from the institution, but he would work his cards to bring in the very condition of things that we now see, to cut off its influence and its outside patronage. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1887, par. 2

What do these things mean? Have my brethren no spiritual eyesight that they cannot discern the existing evils? You are not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices and snares. Will the very man placed in responsible positions and who claims all and far more authority than his position grants him, and pursues a course he would certainly condemn in another; will he feel that he is above temptation? And [will] his example and his practice give mold to characters that have less experience than himself in religious advantages, a mould which will deform character and demoralize the institution? For others will not be slow to plead an excuse to imitate the example that men in important positions give them. Shall the perverted ideas of yourself and others connected with you become woven into other minds and characters? The thought of such a thing is most painful to me. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1887, par. 3

I am thoroughly alarmed because of the way things have been managed at the Rural Health Retreat. Certainly, it has not been after God’s order. When this loose commonness of manners, women toward men, and men toward women, once obtains a foothold in any institution, there is an active leavening power which is most impossible to eradicate. The evil, poisonous roots are getting firm hold unseen and are working out their harvest of evil. There has been great blindness upon your part which has resulted in wrong views as to your own course of action in financial management, as well as the way you have viewed the privileges you have deemed to be yours in liberties taken with married women and girls. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1887, par. 4

This explains to my mind quite plainly why the evils were not understood in the very first in the case, Bro. Rice, of your brother and Etta Holliday. Certainly those who serve in filling responsible positions are to be ever on guard, watchful, prayerful, with far greater discernment than has been evidenced. The whole institution has need of faithful sentinels. Your attitude in mixing and mingling with Bro. Heald, and Sister Heald especially, has brought the disapprobation of God. As you have persisted in having your own way, irrespecting of cautions and reproof, your senses have been blunted, and your ideas confused, that you could not discern between right and wrong. The further you went in this direction, the further you separated from God, the source of all light and righteousness. The judgment alone will reveal the sure result of straying from the path where Jesus leads the way. There must be a lifting up of the standard, a constant cultivation of purity of thought, and shunning the very appearance of evil. It must be a determined rule never, under any circumstances, to violate in thought or action, in language or deportment the high standard of moral and religious principles. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1887, par. 5

The nature of temptation is to blind and deceive by false ideas and imaginings of what constitutes happiness. The enlightened conscience must have fixed rules of conduct by which it will be governed in every hour of temptation. The outward, lawless actions, the common, familiar attitudes are an expression of the inward thoughts. There are some minds so constituted that they cannot resist temptation in this direction. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1887, par. 6

A minister of truth should be so closely connected with God that he will see and sense danger in himself and keep himself guarded, that he may have clear conceptions to guard others who are weak in moral power. His words and acts should be characterized by purity, that he shall not send forth muddy waters. There should be an aiming high in all the purposes of life. Those in responsible positions are surrounded with the young, and with those who have no high moral standard of action to govern them, but allow their whole life to be cheapened by floating with the current of circumstances, veering about with every breeze, and they need constantly to have before them sound and substantial characters who are Bible Christians. Eternity will reveal the harvest gathered from the tiny seed sown in loving affection, caresses, in undue familiarity by those who should be examples to all around them. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1887, par. 7

The evil between your brother and Etta might have been prevented if every precaution had been taken to shut out that which leads into the dark streams of sin; but once in the current, the nature of the character is such that they have very little power to resist the clamors of passion, and they are borne on without seeking to resist the temptations of evil. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1887, par. 8

If your thoughts were centered upon God, pure as crystal, sanctified by virtue, your life would be spotless, winning admiration. With purity as a shield, you are armored against every evil work, however enticing the temptations may be, however artfully or strongly they may assail you; you know its character and its author, and resist Satan on every hand; you have no inclination to step your feet off the path of strict rectitude. If you had been living in the light of God, you would not have become so closely and determinedly mixed up with Bro. and Sr. Heald. You would have seen to what this commonness would lead, and how it would affect Bro. and Sr. Heald, that the sacred and common would become so mingled in their ideas of righteousness and purity that they could not distinguish between the sacred and the common, the pure, holy, Christian character, and the free, loose, unchaste in words and in appearance. Those who are wanting some excuse for liberties they want to take with women and girls will quote you. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1887, par. 9

But a greater evil now is to be met. These things transpiring in an institution where parents send their children, husbands their wives, who are afflicted with various disorders, will not have that confidence that it will be an asylum for those who are weak in moral power. They need a strong current setting heavenward, that the help may be given them which they require. Many come for medical advice and treatment who have become moral wrecks through their own wrong habits. They are bruised, and weak, and wounded, feeling their own folly and their inability to overcome. They mourn their folly and thoughtlessness. Such ones should have nothing surrounding them which will encourage a continuance of thoughts and feelings that made them what they are. These need to breathe in the atmosphere of purity, of light, of high, noble, sanctified thoughts. They need to be connected with God, the source of their strength. He can and will help the weak, struggling souls. The mark must be made high in lectures, in talks, in prayers, in association with one another. Not one vestige of commonness should be seen. But they should be educated by precept and example to look with contempt upon low and vicious practices, which are sapping their nerve-brainpower, and preparing them for lifelong invalids. Weakened nerves and loss of moral strength must surely be their reward. They are little less than imbeciles. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1887, par. 10

If you felt all of you, Dr. Gibbs, Eld. Rice, as I have felt, as these things have been opened before me, you would never have given occasion for those who are weak and demoralized to quote your practices to shield them. Now we are where Satan has the vantage ground, for we have had and shall have to meet those who surmise evil, those who naturally possess suspicious characters. It is in them. And how hard it now is made for those who will have to counteract these evils, who will be circumspect, who do fear to offend God, who have high and holy aims, who have valuable attainments and correct habits! But the wrong works that have been done create a suspicion against all who may do, in the fear of God, good work. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1887, par. 11

The Health Retreat has been regarded by many as on trial for its high moral standing. What is the showing? Please look in the fear of God, look and decide. Those connected with the institution in responsible positions were not ignorant of the past difficulties, and mars, and blots upon it. For want of vigilance and spirituality, the institution had become demoralized. And with the knowledge of its past history, and past struggles for existence and solid foundation, how could you do as you have done, notwithstanding continual warnings and advice, reproofs, and counsel through your unworthy servant? Through your want of divine wisdom you have not only permitted, but have been actors in the matter, to bring in a state of things worse than has ever come upon it before of a demoralizing character. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1887, par. 12

This seems as though it would break my heart. What courage can we now have to try to elevate the institution to stand before our people as one of God’s special instrumentalities? What can we do? My mouth is closed. What can I say? To whom can I look and say, You may trust them? People will say, You told us so before, but you were mistaken, and may be again. What evil may be said, we cannot say, There is no truth in it. We can only bow our faces in the dust and cry, Give not thine heritage to reproach. Let not the heathen say, Where is their God? We cannot untangle the difficulties as they exist. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1887, par. 13

It is looked upon by you and some others, I fear, as unnecessary to have so much to say about this matter. Achan thought the same, but the Lord was of a different mind. He said to Joshua, Why liest thou thus upon thy face? Up, search the camp, Israel hath sinned, stolen and dissembled. Neither will I be with you any more, unless you put the accursed thing from among you. [Joshua 7:10-12.] How have the efforts been regarded that have been made to set things in order? Oh, that God would teach us just what to do! I do not feel at liberty to judge your motives, brethren, in acting so unchristlike, so directly in opposition to the Word of God, while you have professed great attachments to the institution for the sick. You have in some respects a very poor way of showing it. When the appeals have come to you from far off Europe, presenting every motive possible for high, holy, concerted action, you have done in almost everything exactly what the warnings told you was dangerous for you to do. Elder Rice, you have been active enough, you have worked hard enough, but you have not had that wisdom that is from above, that in your position you could do efficient service. You have not lifted the standard high and aimed to reach it. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1887, par. 14

I have some sense how Jesus felt, when He was giving lessons continually to those whom He came to save, and He was laying down righteous principles. How He must have been disappointed and grieved and brokenhearted to see them do exactly opposite to the light He was permitting to shine upon them! I have felt almost brokenhearted to see, while God was speaking to you through His humble instrument, talking to you in messages of warning, entreaties, reproof, and discouragement, you were walking away from the light, doing exactly contrary to the way the Lord was trying to lead you. The entire future of the institution was depending upon the wise management of those who had it in charge; it could have risen to the most dignified position. I have endeavored to set this before you over and over again, when separated from you by the broad waters of the Atlantic. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1887, par. 15

Brother Rice, you have moved in self-confidence, you have had too high opinion of your own ability, your own wisdom, your own plans. Self-willed, you have moved where God could not be with you, where He was telling you you must not go. You have done many things without counsel, as though your mind and judgment were supreme and infallible. There has not been concerted action. With you there was great need of less of self and more of Jesus. You have taken the bit in your own mouth, and pulled forward in your own way. He is a poor soldier who has not learned the lesson to lay aside his own wishes and plans and be in harmony with his brethren. You have not counselled at every step; there has been with you independent action. Every one in any army must work harmoniously. Union is strength. You have moved on your own individual responsibility. Why there are associated together individuals of different stamp of character is that one man’s ideas and plans shall not be a controlling power, but that every plan may be criticized; that if a man like yourself who is self-confident in his own opinions and ideas, and fails to understand the requirements in all things for such an institution, others may have a voice and regulate the matters. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1887, par. 16

Unless men in positions of trust understand the wants for the time, although their intentions may be ever so good, they will do some very bungling work that it will be hard to undo. The attacks of Satan have been made, but you have been so long in discovering his wiles. Much is lost in every way for want of ready foresight and prompt action. It is a painful sight to see acute and wily foes come in and destroy and hurt. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1887, par. 17

We must have men who are quick to discern and prompt to act. The workers in the institution must move in harmony, else confusion will be the result. God signified that the Health Retreat should be an instrumentality for great good. But if those employed are permitted to work in their own way, what confusion would be the result! All must cultivate far-seeing judgment. There must be no sluggish movements, giving the enemy every advantage to take the field. There must be keen appreciation of the means to be used, and the end gained. Every one in responsible positions must practice piety and be living representatives of Jesus Christ. 5LtMs, Lt 51, 1887, par. 18