Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 6 (1889-1890)


Lt 24, 1890

Saxby, Brother

Petoskey, Michigan

August 13, 1890

Portions of this letter are published in 1MCP 228; 4MR 450; 9MR 160.

Dear Brother Saxby:

Those who have charge of our missions should be habitually kind and courteous. They should manifest nothing like a sharp, critical, domineering spirit toward <those> who are working, or are being educated to work, for the Master; for that would be educating them in the ways that are not the ways of the Lord, and leading their feet in wrong paths. You are not always kind, sympathetic, and considerate. In the formation of your character, habits have been established which greatly injure your influence. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 1

Character-making is a gradual work, an advancing process, either in Christ’s ways or in the ways of the enemy of all righteousness. One step is succeeded by another. A habit is formed by the repetition of the same act, either mental or physical. No one settles down suddenly into established habits. Men may cherish a kind, tender, courteous spirit to all connected with them, or they may exhibit a cold, hard, unfeeling, unappreciative spirit, which makes them uncongenial and overbearing. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 2

It takes time for a person to establish a character. It is not the occasional doing of either good or bad deeds that constitutes character or forms habits. You should look well to your spirit and course of action, for they are not altogether right. You have formed habits which you need to watch carefully against, and to unlearn as fast as you possibly can by working in an opposite direction. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 3

When you are placed in charge of a mission, you become an educator of those connected with that mission; and as your views of yourself and of your ability are not humble, you will be inclined to magnify your responsibilities, to dictate, and exercise authority which does not become you. You are in great need of the meekness of Christ. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 4

You need to cultivate respect for those connected with you in the work. You should remember that they are not to receive your mold of character, not to see things through your eyes, not to merge their identity in you, not to be dictated to as children. You and they are a part of the great web of humanity, in which each one is to fill his allotted place. You need to have Christ’s spirit engrafted upon your character, to be habitually kind, courteous, considerate, tender, and thoughtful of others, always maintaining self-control. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 5

Cultivate deference and respect for others, patience, [and] kindness. These virtues are reached only by taxing effort, by simple, earnest prayer, and by keeping your tongue as with a bridle, never uttering unkind, fault-finding words or requiring others to do what really belongs to you to do. It is more natural for you to be a dictator, a commanding officer, than an educator. But you are to be a teacher, if you have any part to act in the missions. You were never placed in this position to be a commander, to give your orders and make rules that would be oppressive and arbitrary. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 6

You have a work to do, and the very first work is to “know thyself.” Words are spoken by you that are unkind, that wound the heart. This is not your work. You do not like to put your own shoulder under the heavy burdens, but you are ready enough to lay them on the shoulders of others. You suggest duties for your wife to perform, and she has tried to meet your expectations until health and strength have failed. So it will be with all who are connected with you, unless you see the necessity of putting yourself into the work and requiring less of others. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 7

Those who do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, are never domineering, egotistical, or filled with a high opinion of their own ways so that their own habits appear faultless. You need a transformation of character. You need the softening, subduing influence of the Spirit of Christ in your own heart, as well as to teach the truth, else the lessons you give to others will have but little effect on their life and character. You discourage more than you encourage. You censure too much; you criticize others when you need to criticize yourself. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 8

Model your ways after the divine Pattern. Present in your example the fruits of righteousness. True religion, the religion of the Bible, consists in being under the guidance of Jesus Christ, the True Shepherd, following the Lamb whithersoever He goeth, in thoughts, in words, and in deeds being like Jesus. This you are to do, and you can never find a path more pleasant than the one Jesus has pointed out and where He leads the way. You cannot, my brother, set up a better standard, a better rule, a better aim, than that which Jesus, the Way, the Truth, the Life, has provided. Then seek, yourself, to attain to that standard. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 9

While you err in one direction, there are others who err in the opposite direction. Some of the men and women connected with our missions have neglected to do their duty. They have not set things in order. They are slack and disorderly at home, and the same ways have been carried into the work of God. They have let things go at loose ends, because it was easier than to try in the fear of God to right them. Their ideas and plans are not elevated and refined. They need to read the directions given by God to the children of Israel in regard to cleanliness and order. They should educate themselves to reach the Bible standard, to become thorough in all their undertakings, knowing that God will not accept of careless, disorderly work. They should never give up the effort to become thorough workmen. “In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works.” [Titus 2:7.] “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” [1 Timothy 4:12.] 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 10

God requires His ministers to be constantly improving, becoming intelligent, conscientious workers together with Him. He has been dishonored by their lax, untidy habits. They have the Word of God, and should make His ways their ways that they may rightly represent the truth. They have never looked at these things in their true light. They go on in their own ways, leaving their disorderly, half-done work to be a reproach to the precious cause of God. They do not realize that their deficiencies are seen and lamented by all heaven, as well as by the true workers on earth. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 11

These servants have no excuse for their careless work. God will not excuse them. The way is plainly marked out for them in the directions given to Moses for those who were connected with the service of the sanctuary. Any neglect on the part of those ancient priests was punishable with death. Is this no lesson for us? Has God changed? Is He not just as particular now as He was then? These things were written for our admonition and instruction, upon whom the ends of the world are come, that we may not offend God by our untidiness or our unfaithful work. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 12

There is earnest work to be done in all our religious service, and someone must do it. The servants of God are to be minute men and should keep their ideas up in harmony with the will of God. Men must do the work of God with strictest fidelity, whatever has been their education, whatever character they have formed. This work is not to be molded according to their lax, loose habits; but their habits are to be brought into harmony with the sacred, pure, holy work of God. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 13

The principles of order, of exactness, of thorough discipline, are set forth in God’s Word; and this should be carefully studied, that His work may be done in accordance with His will. He, who does not thus learn the will of God and do it, will have no excuse to offer for his neglect. God is jealous for His honor and His glory. Let those who are inclined to be remiss, thoughtless, careless, remember that there is One at their right hand saying, “I am the way.” [John 14:6.] <All workers should> study the Word of God. <They should see the force of> the particular direction given by Christ from the cloudy pillar in the wilderness. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 14

<The Lord requires all who are connected with His sacred work to study that they may> bring to remembrance His directions in every particular, and mold their ideas in accordance with them. Christ prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” [John 17:17.] Truth must mold the heart and character; then it is a power to convict of sin. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 15

Those who profess to believe the truth should be imbued with the spirit of truth. They should follow the Lord fully. Then they would think and act intelligently, and not in a haphazard manner. Then thousands, who are not now impressed by the truth, as they saw the good works of those who are indeed the light of the world, would take knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus; and they would be convicted, and would be induced to set their feet in the path of truth and holiness, that leads to the gates of the city of God. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 16

The minds of all believers need to be continually stirred up to remembrance, that they may not forget the directions given by Christ to Moses in the wilderness. And we must also observe that no disorder or mistake that related to the service and worship of God was allowed to be passed over as a light matter. These directions were given in order that the children of Israel might be prepared to take possession of the goodly land of Canaan, having been educated and trained to do honor to God who brought them by His own wonderful power into the land. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 17

The principles given to the Israel of God are to be respected and obeyed by modern Israel. We are under obligation to obey them, both in principle and in specifications appropriate to this time. If we would have health, we must look to the sanitary condition of our surroundings, as Jesus, the Creator of the world and of man, has enjoined upon us. The directions given by God were authoritative. He was their divine guide, their teacher. Let us heed His words. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 18

Let those who are naturally inclined to be untidy and uncouth and to do their work slothfully, bear in mind that “he that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.” [Luke 16:10.] We have more than a royal road to heaven, we have a divine road. All who are truly converted to the truth will reveal its sanctifying, refining, elevating influence in their life and character. This is the injunction of the Lord God of Israel, in every age, at all times, and in all places. God has told us what to do in our lifework and how to form characters for the future, immortal life. If we pay heed to the instructions given, we shall be doers of the Word. His words are not permits, not suggestions, but the decisions of an infallible Judge. They are divine maxims, the very specified laws, which will judge us in the last days. No man is excusable for acting as though he were at liberty to cancel the decisions of God, to disregard His directions and injunctions, to review them, criticize them, reverse them, as he sees fit. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 19

The words of God are righteousness and truth, but they are strangely unheeded. If men cannot shape His sayings to their liking, they depart from His directions and break His commandments. But thank God we have the living oracles, the lamp of life, and he only is wise who walks in the light. God cannot change the Word that has gone out of His lips. Man cannot depart from God’s plans, except at the peril of his soul. He cannot sit safely in judgment upon the Word of God; for that Word is to judge him when he shall stand before the great white throne. Let all bear in mind that the judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened, and every one shall be judged according to his works. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 20

The religion of every man must be in harmony with the Bible. No man can disregard one word of God, or walk contrary to His expressed will, receiving or rejecting it as he pleases, and be guiltless in the Judgment. He will be brought face to face with the record, and will have to answer to the charge against him. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 21

Our God would have His people stand high before the world, not in pretentious boasting, not in self-uplifting, but as His faithful, obedient children. If they love God and keep His commandments, they cannot retain coarse, slack, disorderly habits; neither will they be so blinded that they will tolerate sinful actions, nor praise and exalt those who are corrupt. Everything which is demoralizing in its influence will be quickly reproved, and if not corrected, the offender will be cut off from having any connection with the work of God. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 22

For the Lord’s work is holy, and unclean hands and defiled hearts would exert an influence that would destroy its sanctity in the minds of unbelievers; many would be confirmed in their prejudice and misconception of the truth. These unwise workers, these unholy men and women, profess to believe the truth, but by their conduct they are lying against it. They are corrupted in heart. Their thoughts and works are evil. They demoralize those who are connected with them, especially the young. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 23

The rebuke of God is upon presidents of conferences, and ministers in sacred office, who make light of these gross evils and pass them by as matters undeserving attention. In the future there will be more, instead of fewer, missions established to do God’s work, to hold the standard high; and those who are placed at the head of these missions should be persons of pure, elevated, noble character, persons who will study the Scriptures to some purpose, that they may know the way of the Lord and keep it; who will take that holy word as the director of their course of action, the light of the soul. If they do thus accept the Bible as their counselor and guide, they will walk under the direction of the Father of Lights, “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” [James 1:17.] 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 24

There is but little true searching of the Scriptures, but little earnest, zealous effort in this direction. Those who claim to be ambassadors for Christ have not used their time and capabilities as they might have done, to store up a treasure of knowledge. Instruction is given us to explore the sacred word as the miner searches the earth for its golden treasure. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 25

Lovesick sentimentalism should be kept out of our institutions; they are not the place to show special preferences for young ladies, no place for improper advances on the part of young ladies toward young men. Our institutions are to stand much higher than they have ever yet stood. There are those who fancy that their strength is firm, that their mountain standeth sure and cannot be moved. Such are in constant peril, for they are careless. They give occasion, by their familiarity, for their good to be evil spoken of. They do not heed the words of warning, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” [1 Thessalonians 5:22.] And when they are cautioned and warned, they are impatient, and refuse the warnings given. They are in danger from themselves, and do not know it. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 26

Satan’s constant temptations are designed to weaken man’s government over his own heart, to undermine his power of self-control. He leads man to break the bands which connect him in holy, happy union with his Maker. Then, <when he is> disconnected from God, passion obtains control over reason, and impulse over principle, and he becomes sinful in thought and action. His judgment is perverted, his reason seems to be enfeebled, and he needs to be restored to himself by being restored to God by a correct view of himself in the light of God’s Word. He needs to be converted; then with anointed eyes he will see the sinfulness of sin; he will feel how foolish and wicked he has been in allowing temptation to overcome him, and in contending against God’s will and ways. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 27

God wants all men and women to feel deeply their sinfulness. When they dishonor their Maker, His mercy and love are trampled under their feet. They cherish thoughts and do works entirely opposed to the expressed will of God. But the Lord will pardon the soul that repents and comes to Him in contrition. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 28

I will say, to conclude this subject, We must be careful to keep our institutions and our missions pure, free from all sensual practices, from all coarseness, free from all those who have no true sense of what a mission should be, or what principles should prevail in it. The education given should be of a character to elevate, ennoble, refine. Frivolous, boisterous characters should not be encouraged. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 29

I now return to consider the dangers <against which you need to guard> in dealing with <others> in connection with the work of God. Be sure that you do not err in making rigid rules for others. <Even> treat your wife with tenderness <and thoughtful consideration;> do not let her receive the impression that you expect more of her than she is able to do. Be sure that you manifest the sanctifying influence of the truth in a religion that is expressive of love, not of bigotry. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 30

“Let your light so shine before men.” [Matthew 5:16.] That so means much for you. Be sure that your light comes from the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, for then only is it the true light. Through mistaking the light, many pursue a course that ruins souls instead of saving them. They misapprehend the Christian character and thus turn souls away from the true path. Their light does not proceed from the Sun of Righteousness, but from sparks of their own kindling. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 31

May the Lord help you to see that you need to improve in many ways. You are not to be dry and formal and spiritless in your labors. But be kind, always. The elements you have been bringing into your character are very objectionable. You do not draw souls nor win your workers; but you have a spirit to drive them, exercising authority that does not belong to you, or to any living man. Shall this training of yourself, this kind of an education, continue? Or will you feel the need of humbling your heart before God, and becoming as a little child? Will you see that God does not design for you to strengthen this exacting spirit? There is need of discipline, but it must be exercised in altogether a different way. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 32

P. S. Aug. 26

My brother, it is painful to me to see that a spirit has come into our churches, which is becoming more and more unlike that of Christ. There is a harshness, a want of tender sympathy for one another, a spirit of criticism. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 33

I have been shown that this Scripture is applicable to the church at this time: “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write: These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks: I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast labored, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works: or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” [Revelation 2:1-5.] 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 34

“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write: These things saith he that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy. He that overcometh shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” [Revelation 3:1-5.] 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 35

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 36

“As many as I love I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne. He that hath an ear [to hear], let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” [Verses 15-22.] 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 37

May the love of Jesus so pervade the soul that believers and unbelievers shall see that those who believe this most sacred truth of God’s Word for this time have not hearts of cast iron, that they are not chiseled from the granite rock, but that they have hearts of flesh, human hearts, quick to perceive the needs of other souls. The religion of Christ never makes any man unfeeling. The disposition that counts it an evidence of superiority to press the tender sensibilities, to become stoical, is Satan’s stamp of character. The grace of Christ, His peace in the heart, will make men tender, kind, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 38

May you enjoy the peace of Christ. I know that He is able and willing to give peace that passeth understanding to all who see their real need, and ask of God in faith, who do not look to self, but to Jesus. With the peace of Christ in the heart, you will make peace, you will be kind and courteous. God grant you this peace. 6LtMs, Lt 24, 1890, par. 39