Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7 (1891-1892)


Lt 41, 1891

Burke, Dr.

St. Helena, California

October 24, 1891

Portions of this letter are published in 1MCP 23-24; 2MCP 421.

Dr. Burke,

I have a few words to say to you before I shall leave this morning. You have refused to have any conversation with me, have pursued the same course toward me that you have done in the cases of others whom you decided in your judgment were in error. You did not converse with them, and plainly stated your reasons for cutting them loose from the sanitarium, which was the duty of any man in your position to do if he is a doer of the words of Christ. I did not desire to see you to condemn you, but as Christians that we should talk and counsel together. 7LtMs, Lt 41, 1891, par. 1

In all my experience the last forty-five years this is the first instance that any one has refused to see me or talk with me. I had matters of the deepest interest to you and those connected with you in the institution and laborers to present before you, things which the Lord of heaven has presented before me, which would be to your interest to understand. But you refuse to see me or talk with me. Is this the right way to do? You asked me to come to St. Helena, for you wanted my help in making some important changes in removing the matron and putting one in her place. You told me that I was to talk to Sr. Gates, who would tell me in regard to the reasons, that complaints had been made that she was not kind to the patients. I told you that I was surprised at this, as she was the last person I should expect would be unkind and unaccommodating to the patients. But said I, who will replace her, and have you any evidence that a new, inexperienced one would improve the condition of things? Would they not be liable to err in the same way or in other directions more decidedly than Sr. Ings? 7LtMs, Lt 41, 1891, par. 2

It is not best to change the matron unless you have sufficient reason for so doing. You stated that you yourself had no complaint to make, you yourself had not seen or heard anything objectionable in Sr. Ings. I said, She is a neat and orderly woman, will carry out your directions if you give them to her, toward your patients. She has been a member of my family for years and I would be only too glad, were I to remain in America, to have her connect with my family again. Dr. Kellogg would only be too glad to receive her and have her stand side by side with Sr. Hall. Her ability, her diligence, her neatness and order are rare qualities, and her cheerful, healthy looking countenance is a recommendation to the institution. If she has failed in some things, she can be corrected by proper persons. 7LtMs, Lt 41, 1891, par. 3

You stated that she was a great help to you in the line of hygiene in the diet question. And some other things you stated in her favor. I told you, Dr. Burke, we are human, none of us are perfect, where one may fail in one point, another may fail in other points. You assented to this that all were liable to make mistakes. I said, The church militant is not the church triumphant. We parted with perfect friendship. 7LtMs, Lt 41, 1891, par. 4

I talked with Sr. Gates and learned from her lips that it was herself that was to take Sr. Ings’ place. I asked her if she had ever stood as matron in any institution, she said she had not. I said, Then you are wholly unacquainted with the duties and responsibilities of one occupying that position. That where she thought Sr. Ings failed, she might when in her position not do as well as she. It was a trying position for one to occupy, sick patients with all kinds of dispositions and temperaments to deal with. It would be nothing strange to hear complaints from them, and even when Sr. Ings was doing all in her power to do for them; and some things, which they might require, were simply impossible to grant, and I cannot think that you would be qualified for the position. I afterward wrote her to that effect, which letter I think you have seen. 7LtMs, Lt 41, 1891, par. 5

Now, my brother, your refusing to hear anything I have to say does not hurt me, although you have not shown me the respect I might expect from you and which has ever been accorded to me in the sanitarium at Battle Creek by Dr. Kellogg at all times, but this does not hurt me; but this course of action is hurting your own soul. You have been brought over the ground the second time to be tested and tried where you once failed. You are repeating the same experience to your soul’s peril. I am deeply grieved on your account. Three times you promised to see me, but did not keep your word. Is this keeping the way of the Lord? I feel a deep interest that you should not be overcome by the enemy and your feet stumble as Elder Canright’s have done. Everything is to be shaken that can be shaken. I will entreat you to closely examine yourself whether you be in the faith. For these words were repeated to me by the One who gave me words of warning for you. If you fall out by the way, it will be through your love of praise and flattery and human ambition for the supremacy. 7LtMs, Lt 41, 1891, par. 6

I have been shown that in none of our institutions one man, be it Dr. Kellogg, Dr. Burke, or any other one could have a sole controlling power. One man’s mind and one man’s judgment was not to be trusted, for too great interests were at stake, and it was not free from human frailties and human errors. I have been shown in your case, in Dr. Kellogg’s case and Elder Butler’s, also my husband’s, that in their positions of trust they should not make any decided move without consulting together. 7LtMs, Lt 41, 1891, par. 7

In the Health Retreat there should be every day a period of time devoted to the responsible workers counseling together that all may freely talk over matters that are essential for the prosperity of the institution, and for the purpose of considering whether more help is needed, or whether there is anything to be corrected in the course of action of any of the helpers, that the mind of all may be known and all move in union of action in regard to helpers hired and helpers discharged. There is not any one man’s mind so perfect that there is no danger of his moving from wrong motives, viewing things from a wrong standpoint. If things move as God would have them in the Health Retreat, prosperity and union will be the sure result. If you discard and reject the Lord’s counsel there will be variance and discord. The Bible directions must be followed. 7LtMs, Lt 41, 1891, par. 8

It is not safe for you to discard the way of the Lord and imagine your way is the best way. There is a right way and a wrong way of doing the work in the Sanitarium. Seek for the right way. I have no disposition to condemn you. I only want to talk with you for your own good, that you shall not walk in the sparks of your own kindling and lie down in sorrow. When you want to know the light God has given me, will you please to tell me, and I will cheerfully give you all the light I can. You are now acting like a perverse, self-willed, stubborn child, who despises counsel and reproof. I am more sorry for you than I can express. Your entire future will be influenced for good or for evil by the path you now choose. My prayer shall be, Lord, open his eyes that he may see, not as the world sees, but all things clearly. 7LtMs, Lt 41, 1891, par. 9

The pitying love of Jesus is still toward you, notwithstanding you have rejected the words of caution He has given you. The Lord is not dependent upon Dr. Burke to do His work, but Dr. Burke is dependent upon the Lord for His mercy, His favor, His pardoning grace, and His final salvation. I have no hardness of heart toward you, nothing in my heart but the tenderest feeling of pity and longing of soul that Jesus shall by His grace save you from yourself. You can do, under the divine guidance, a work worthy of your calling; you can come off conqueror and receive the crown of life; you can despise the mercy and goodness of God, follow your own imaginations, be a disappointed man every way, and lose heaven at last. “Those whom I love I rebuke and chasten, be zealous therefore, and repent.” [Revelation 3:19.] 7LtMs, Lt 41, 1891, par. 10

[P.S.] I may never meet you again until I meet you around the great white throne when every one will be rewarded as his works have been. I shall hope then to greet you as one who has overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony. 7LtMs, Lt 41, 1891, par. 11