Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 41a, 1888

Brethren and Sisters at Fresno

Burrough Valley, California

July 7, 1888

See also Lt 41, 1888. Portions of this letter are published in 10MR 71.

My dear Brethren and Sisters at Fresno:

I feel deeply anxious on your account. If the Lord would have you engaged in the business of speculation in land property, then every trade you make will be done with an eye single to the glory of God. Then the truth will lose none of its power upon the soul to sanctify the life and character. There will exist among the brethren a Christlike unity, an increased love and confidence one in another. There will be a continuous daily growth in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 1

A feverish haste to become rich will find no manifestation in the words or in the works of Christ’s followers. When the soul is sanctified by the truth, all elements of selfishness are banished. Ingratitude, with its evil tendencies and results, will not live in the heart that loves the truth. Policy and truth will never pull together or be at agreement. Policy implies cunning, false pretenses, artful management, an eagerness for selfish, personal aggrandizement without regard to strict integrity in the ways and means used. Honesty and strict equity are in perfect harmony with all the principles of truth, in perfect harmony with God’s holy law. Our every act should bear a reliable testimony to the validity of truth. Yet those who live on this plan will have a cross to bear. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 2

Many who have moved into Fresno have eagerly drunk of the spirit of speculation in order to obtain money fast. Worldly business tries the character and puts it to the test. It brings out the real, valuable virtues of the man and develops an upright, youthful training, or else it brings out natural, objectionable, hereditary tendencies and exposes him to sharp thrusts of the enemy. God will not work a miracle to preserve any one of you on the enemy’s battleground where He has never indicated that it was your duty to go. He has followed you with warnings and reproofs to keep you away from dangerous ground where your soul would be imperiled. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 3

If you do not ask interestedly, “Is this the way of the Lord?” but in following impulse place yourselves in the way of temptation and thus invite the enemy to tempt you, you will not come forth from the ordeal unharmed and with your character unsullied. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 4

Should a minister of the flock engage in worldly speculation? I wish you to closely examine yourselves to see whether you are on the gaining or losing side in spiritual and moral power. When in your business of selling property, in your eagerness to make a sale do you not sometimes keep back some things that are unfavorable, and do you not exaggerate in praise of the property in order to place the matter in a favorable light? When this is done, the conscience is violated, and the tongue utters guile. There is need that the conscience shall be kept pure and undimmed in every transaction that you make, or there will be so much glitter and attraction placed upon property that you are handling, that the purchaser is deceived. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 5

God wants men in His service, under His banner, to be strictly honest, unimpeachable in character, that their tongues shall not utter a semblance of untruth. The tongue must be true; the eyes must be true; the actions wholly and entirely such as God can commend. We are living in the sight of a holy God who solemnly declares, “I know thy works.” [Revelation 3:15.] The divine eye is ever upon us. We cannot cover one act of unjust deal from God. The witness of God to our every action is a truth which but few realize. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 6

Are we Bible Christians? Warnings are given us in the Word of God and stern injunctions to do unto others as we would have them do unto us were we in like position as they are. Yet some seem to think that there can be no harm in taking advantage of occasions and circumstances to make money, even though in order to do this they set forth in a strong light the benefits of that which they wish to sell. Often it is asserted that a property will rise or even double in value in a few months or years. This may or may not be so. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 7

Let us remember what the Lord says about honesty: “Divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord.” Proverbs 20:23. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 8

“Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him; the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.” Leviticus 19:13. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 9

“Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.” [Verse 11.] This is done in nearly all transactions of real estate buying and selling, and many who are engaged in this business need to cut loose from it before they can be considered as healthful branches of the church. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 10

“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure. Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt. Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:35-37. See also Deuteronomy 25:13-16. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 11

It is a dangerous business to rob God when we know that every purpose of the heart is open to His all-seeing eye. God cannot be deceived or cheated by human device. The question is asked, “Will a man rob God?” And the startling answer comes back, which makes us tremble, “Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” Malachi 3:8. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 12

While there are not a few who conscientiously give of their annual increase of substance and business prosperity to God in tithes and offerings to pass into the Lord’s treasury for the support of the gospel and for missionary work in different parts of the land, it is a lamentable fact that so large a number deliberately rob God by withholding the portion which God claims. We must all be tested in God’s balances whereby He weighs character. Then decide to be honest, whatever may be your circumstances, and let no temptation of Satan force you to be dishonest with your fellow men or to be dishonest with God. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 13

Let the wife stand by the side of her husband and help him in the conscientious discharge of his duty. Let her realize that she is of value, because she is the purchase of the blood of Jesus Christ. It is essential that honesty be practiced in all the details of the woman’s life, and it is important in the training of children to teach the youthful girls as well as boys never to prevaricate or to deceive in the least particular. Women are not to be satisfied to be toys to be played with as a toy, and caressed and flattered, to be light and trifling, to laugh and gossip and play on [as] an instrument of music. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 14

Woman should have a staunch, noble independence of character, reliable and true as steel. [A] woman who has good sense, who is connected with God, will not prove to be a temptation to her husband to live beyond his earnings, to supply her with money to obtain changeable suits of apparel, to please her whims, to gratify her desire for change and sightseeing. She must have a just appreciation and accurate conception of her position as a wife and mother, and her demands should be such as not [to] bring weariness and care and perplexity upon her husband because of her thoughtless extravagance in procuring dainties for the appetite and in fine dressing. This consumes the means far beyond the income. The wife can be a comfort, a blessing, standing by the side of her husband as his safe counselor, her influence keeping him to the right, to honesty and purity and godliness. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 15

I charge you who compose the Fresno church to take heed to the warnings I give you in the name of Jesus Christ. We all are living in the last days of this earth’s history. We are dealing with solemn realities. Will you allow your minds to be embittered one toward another? Shall all unjust dealing be put away? No, some will not heed this warning. They will act as if bewitched by Satan’s representations. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 16

My soul is in great travail that each now make diligent work for time and for eternity. “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” Ephesians 5:14. Remember to confess your sins, repentance you must have toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, you need not be despairing, but go on from light to a greater light, from faith to a greater faith, obtaining a rich and deep experience in the things of God. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 17

Every secret, unconfessed sin will be laid bare in the great day of judgment. Bring all the faculties that have been used for selfish purpose into God’s service; repent and forsake sin. Let the work of the inner man of the heart be carried on. Let the plowshare of truth go deep and thorough. God has a work for you to do. God forbid that the truth should have no power over your daily life and character. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 18

There have been and still will be glowing inducements presented that will call into action [a] desire in our brethren and sisters to make earnest efforts to obtain money to invest. Many have conscientiously loaned their money to our institutions that they may use the same to do a good work for the Master. But Satan sets schemes in operation that will produce in [the] minds of our brethren a great desire to try their fortunes—as in a lottery—and one and still another is flattered by strong pictures portrayed of financial gain if they will only invest their money in lands, and take it out of our institutions to bury it in the earth where the Lord’s cause is not benefited with it. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 19

If one does succeed, then he is so elated [that] he has gained a few hundred dollars [that] he decides to keep on getting money if he can, and investing in real estate and mines, and the devil’s device is successful. In the place of increased means flowing into the treasury, there is a withdrawing of their means from our institutions that they may try their fortunes in land speculations and the naturally penurious man begrudges every dollar that is called for to be used in the advancing of the cause of God in the spread of the truth. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 20

Do not let the enemy of God and man control your thoughts, your words, and actions. The message from the lips of Christ is, “Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not.” [Luke 12:33.] There is to be a great failing in banks and in all speculations in mines and real estate. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 21

Now, if in the very time when men should be selling their possessions, Satan can deceive and use those who should be using their influence to encourage men to sell their property and sustain the cause of God [so] that much of the available means is invested in land and in speculations, they [will] bind away from the cause of God means which he invested in the treasury to be used to advance the cause of God. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 22

Now, when Jesus speaks and tells us to sell, He does not mean our principal burden should be in buying possessions. If Satan can get us entangled in worldly possessions [so] that we have no means to put into the Lord’s treasury, then he is leading us to do the very things Jesus, the world’s Redeemer, told us not to do. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasurers in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. ... 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 23

“No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:19-24. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 24

The world is a hard master to serve and is Satan’s agent to unite with him in his work to captivate souls. There is a power moving from above to work with willing and obedient watchmen who are praying and gratefully accepting the breezes from heaven and communicating the heavenly atmosphere in good works to others. 5LtMs, Lt 41a, 1888, par. 25