Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 6

134/333

Lt 1c, 1890

Atwood, Brother; Pratt, Brother

Crystal Springs, California

May 28, 1890

Portions of this letter are published in 6MR 55-56; 15MR 153-157.

Dear Brethren Atwood and Pratt:

I have a few words to say to you, my brethren, in reference to the subject we were recently conversing about. I have had no conversation with Brother Rogers; for I have felt that it is best for those who are at variance to follow the Bible directions. The Saviour has said, “If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” [Matthew 5:23, 24.] “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” Matthew 18:15. This kind of work requires the grace of Christ in the heart. There is alienation and division where none should exist—among those who profess to be the children of God; and the reason for this is that men are hearers, readers of the words of Christ, but not doers. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 1

How much suffering might be prevented if those who claim to know and believe the truth would practice its precepts. In living out the lessons of Jesus, we make it manifest that we are not careless, inattentive, unfruitful hearers of the word. If those who claim to be followers of Christ were only obedient to the truth, the door that is now open, where Satan enters to wound and bruise the soul, would be closed. How careful we should be not to offend one of the little ones that belong to God! The Saviour said, “It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:14. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 2

Let every member of the church try to save the souls of others, and not seek to discourage or destroy them through criticism or evil reports. How many and how great evils would be extinguished in the church if men would follow Christ’s rule of dealing with the erring instead of following the impulses and passions of their unsanctified hearts. If matters of difficulty between brethren are not laid open to others, but frankly spoken of between themselves in the spirit of Christian love, the difficulty would in nearly every case be healed and the offending brother won. Misunderstandings have arisen that have been thus explained, in Christian tenderness, and the breach has been healed. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 3

When brethren come together in harmony with the directions of Christ, Jesus Himself is a witness to the scene, and the whole universe looks with intense interest upon those who not only believe, but do the words of Christ. The Spirit of God will move upon the heart of him who has erred, when Christ’s words are carried out, and the one at fault will be convicted of his error. But if he is too proud, too self-sufficient, to confess his mistake and heal the wrong, other steps are to be taken in order to follow out the complete directions of the Word. “But if he will not hear thee, (in that private interview) then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” Matthew 18:16. The matter of difficulty is to be confined to as small a number as possible. But two or three are to labor with the one who is in error. They should not only talk with him, but bow in prayer, and with humble hearts seek the Lord. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 4

“And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church, but if he neglect to hear the church,”—if he persists in his unreasonable course and will not be corrected, then there is only one more step to be taken and that is a very sorrowful one—“Let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” Matthew 18:17. “Verily I say unto you, whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 18:18. When every specification which Christ has given has been carried out in the true Christian spirit, then and then only, Heaven ratifies the decision of the church, because its members have the mind of Christ, and do as He would do were He upon the earth. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 5

Brethren, it must be made manifest that we are not only Bible readers but also doers of the words of Christ. Those who fully trust in the Lord Jesus will be obedient children and will have guidance from above. The mind and will of God are made plain in the Living Oracles. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 6

In our churches we should not act as though we were groping our way in the dark. Clear light has been given us; the Lord has spoken to everyone in His Word, and that Word is luminous with light and weighted with the precious ore of truth. In the Bible we have a perfect rule of conduct, and we are safe in humbly following it. With reverent hearts we should bow to God’s expressed will. We are not left in uncertainty: for in all the varied circumstances of life we may walk according to the instructions of God, which are based upon golden principles of truth and revealed in the precepts of His law. In the Bible there are rules to meet every case. A complete system of faith has been revealed, and correct rules for practice in our daily lives have been made known. Those who turn from the path marked out in God’s Word, because it suits their feelings better to do so than to walk according to the commandment, leave the light and are enshrouded in darkness. Peace of mind, happiness, and heaven are sacrificed for the sake of maintaining human pride and indulging stubbornness of will. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 7

We are not to place our dependence upon man nor expect homage from our fellowmen. Jesus says, “Be ye not called Rabbi; for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” Matthew 23:8, 9. We should remember that the best and most intelligent of men have only a limited ability, and we should pray for discernment to understand what is each man’s true place. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 8

We are not to be blind; we may see the prejudices which are cherished by those with whom we associate, we may see the errors that hinder their religious growth, we may discern their instability of opinion, their partiality of action; but because we see this, we should not feel that we are superior to them, measuring ourselves among ourselves, and leaning to our own understanding. As we see the deficiencies of others, it should lead us to be less self-confident, to be jealous of our own spirit and action. No living man should come in to take the place of God in our mind. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 9

“Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” Matthew 23:9-12. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 10

These words of Christ are not only to be read, but are to be obeyed to the letter. Those who meekly and humbly pursue their course of duty, not to be praised, petted, and honored of men, but to glorify God, will receive as their reward glory, honor, and eternal life. But many are so lifted up in spiritual pride that they act as though it were not enjoined upon them to live in harmony with the instructions of Christ. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 11

We are to walk in humility before God, and we can do this as the clear light of heaven reveals the perfection of Christ’s character, and we see in contrast the weakness and imperfection of our own. Those who have a view of Christ, in contrast with self, will not feel like boasting. They will not lift up self, but will appreciate the value of souls for whom Christ has died. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 12

You will see, brethren, by the writing dated October 24, 1887, that I have called your attention to certain rules which the Lord requires us to observe. I have great sorrow of heart that these rules have been so strangely neglected by those who profess to be followers of Christ. Merely reading the Bible, believing the Bible, will not save any of us, for it is only the doers of the Word that shall be justified. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 13

I know of nothing more injurious to the soul than this habit of talking of one another’s errors, of reporting every unfavorable tale that is brought to your ears, and of magnifying the mistakes of a brother. When a brother’s fault comes to your notice how much better it would be to go to him with it, following out the Bible rule that has been given by Him who owns the souls of all men. An infinite price has been paid to ransom the souls of men from the power of the enemy, and how terrible it is for one who professes to love God to set forth the mistakes and errors of his brethren in high colors. He is doing a wicked work against Jesus in the person of His saints. The rebuke of God is upon all who engage in such work; they are doing the work of Satan. The Lord has declared, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 14

When Christians accuse and condemn their brethren, they show themselves to be in the service of the accuser of the brethren. When they talk of the faults and failings of others, they plant roots of bitterness, whereby many will be defiled. It is through this kind of work that brother becomes suspicious of brother. Confidence is unsettled, and variance arises in the church. Love cannot exist where the conversation is largely upon the errors and mistakes of others. The words of Christ are thus treated with indifference and contempt as though frail, erring man had found some other way to heaven than that appointed by the Lord—the path of obedience to His commandments. We all hope to reach the same home in heaven, but if Christ is not formed within, if you have not the mind of Christ and do not practice the words of Christ, if you are fully satisfied with your own peculiar ways so that you feel justified in complaining of your brethren, you will never reach heaven. If you cannot live in harmony upon the earth, how could you live throughout eternity in love and peace? Kindness, love, courtesy and delicate regard must be manifested toward one another even here and now. To practice the principle of love will not prevent us from dealing plainly with our brethren, in kindness pointing out wrongs and shortcomings when it is necessary to do so. But we must do this in harmony with the directions of Christ. When you are yourself connected with God you may speak plainly to those who by their crooked steps are turning the lame out of the path. The apostle directs, “If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 15

Satan designs to keep the church in a state of wrangling, of envy, jealously and evil surmising, so that brethren cannot pray or work in harmony. While thus at variance, they fail to bring the saving power of the truth to bear upon the hearts of unbelievers; people become disgusted with religion when they witness the way in which a brother treats an offending brother. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 16

It is the duty of every true follower of Christ to reflect light to the world. God has laid upon us a responsibility for the souls of those who are unsaved. As an ambassador of Christ I would tell you, brethren, that if you talked more of the merits of Christ, if you engaged more frequently in humble prayer, and said less to your brethren of the weaknesses of others, you would advance in spirituality and be far ahead of where you now are. You must give the precious plant of love some chance to grow. Jesus has said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 17

He told His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they should be endued with power from on high. “Without me,” He said again, “ye can do nothing.” John 15:5. But Paul declares, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 18

We should be often in prayer. The outpouring of the Spirit of God came in answer to earnest prayer. But mark this fact concerning the disciples; the record says, “They were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:1-4. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 19

They were not assembled to relate tidbits of scandal, they were not seeking to expose every stain they could find upon a brother’s character. They felt their spiritual need and cried to the Lord for the holy unction to help them in overcoming their own infirmities and to fit them for the work of saving others. They prayed with intense earnestness that the love of Christ might be shed abroad in their hearts. This is our great need today in every church in the land. For, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. That which was objectionable in the character is purified from the soul by the love of Jesus. All selfishness is expelled. All envy, all evil-speaking are rooted out and a radical transformation is wrought in the heart. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 20

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22, 23. “The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” James 3:18. Paul says that as touching the law—as far as outward acts were concerned—he was blameless [Philippians 3:6]; but when the spiritual character of the law was discerned, when he looked into the holy mirror, he saw himself a sinner. Judged by a human standard he had abstained from sin; but when he looked into the depths of God’s law and saw himself as God saw him, he bowed in humiliation and confessed his guilt. He did not go away from the mirror and forget what manner of man he was, but he exercised genuine repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. He was washed, he was cleansed. He says, “I had not known lust, except the law had said, ‘Thou shalt not covet.’ But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive with the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” Romans 7:7-9. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 21

Sin then appeared in its true hideousness and his self-esteem was gone; he became humble. He no longer ascribed goodness and merit to himself. He ceased to think more highly of himself than he ought to think and ascribed all the glory to God. He was no longer ambitious for greatness. He ceased to want to avenge himself, and was no longer sensitive to reproach, neglect, or contempt. He no longer sought earthly alliance, station, or honor. He did not pull others down to uplift himself. He became gentle, condescending, meek and lowly of heart, because he had learned his lesson in the school of Christ. He talked of Jesus and His matchless love, and grew more and more into His image. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 22

He bent his whole energy to win souls to Christ. When trial came upon him because of his unselfish labor for souls, he bowed in prayer and his love for them increased. His life was hid with Christ in God, and he loved Jesus with all the ardor of his nature. Every church was dear to him; every church member was a person of interest to him; for he looked upon every soul as the purchase of the blood of Christ. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 23

This should be the experience of every member of our churches. We are to bear the precious fruits of the Spirit of God to His glory, even rich clusters of good fruit that will make us more precious than the golden wedge of Ophir. Brethren, you need to humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God and He will lift you up. If a fountain that is rank and bitter loses its corrupt qualities, those who drink of it will recognize the change. The water will be pure and sweet and the streams that flow from it, wholesome and refreshing. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 24

The members of the church at St. Helena need a deeper work of grace wrought in their souls, or they will be found wanting in the day of God. We must be found faithful stewards of the grace of God, or we shall be represented by the parable of the foolish virgins, who took their lamps, but had no oil with which to fill them. We must have the oil of grace in our vessels, our lamps must be trimmed and burning, and be ready to go forth and meet the Bridegroom. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 25

In the past the Lord has signified that Brother Rogers should connect with the Health Retreat at Crystal Springs. This brother has made mistakes; he has been critical and has not always encouraged those who have been connected in the work with him. He has had experience and knowledge in treating the sick which is of value and which he might have used to the glory of God. He might have been far advanced in practical knowledge, so as to be a helper in the institution, if he had but gone forward and upward since his connection with the work. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 26

But I saw that the rebuke of God was upon him, because he has not stood at his appointed place of duty until he was honorably released. When trouble arose, he should have gone directly to Brethren Fulton, Baker, and Loughborough, and laid his case and all the circumstances connected with it before them, and let them know the true situation. But instead of doing this, he disconnected himself from the work, and some felt a sense of relief that he had done so; but I can see no other way than for Brother Rogers to see his mistake and so far as possible, correct it. He has been at fault in criticizing others, and he should confess this, humble himself before God, and take any position that he can fill to serve the cause of God, by devotion and faithfulness endeavoring to redeem the failings of the past. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 27

If he has been falsely accused, he must take it as a Christian should and by his life prove the accusations to have been false. He must not feel that his dignity has been wounded and take himself away from his appointed work. If he had but stood faithfully in his place, he would have won precious victories, but he has need to humble himself as a little child before God, and in no way dishonor his Redeemer. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 28

Brethren, God would work for us if He could do it safely; He wants to do great things for His people, but the strife of tongues has dishonored God, weakened the hands of His professed children, and brought dearth and feebleness into the church. Is it not time to arise, to open the heart to receive the rays of light that are shining forth from the living oracles? Is it not time that the love of God should be permitted to make its impress upon the soul, that Jesus may be glorified among those who claim to be His followers? 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 29

Brother Rogers, if you see the way open and are willing to do what you can at the institution in the meekness of Christ, the Lord will accept the efforts that you put forth for His cause. But self must be hid in Jesus. The Lord wants every soul in the church at St. Helena and at Crystal Springs to obey His Word, to learn His will, to give heed to His requirements. There must be a decided change in the church; in place of gossip and censure, there must be a spirit of sympathy, a willingness and desire to strengthen the hands that hang down and to confirm the feeble knees. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 30

You are to be constantly seeking for precious pearls of truth. There must be a dying to the world, no cowardice, no compromise. There must be a seeking for that wisdom that is from above. The apostle asks, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” James 3:13-18. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 31

May the Lord give you wisdom that you may heed the words I now present to you in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 6LtMs, Lt 1c, 1890, par. 32