Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7 (1891-1892)


Lt 40, 1891

Burke, Dr.

Healdsburg, California

October 8, 1891

Previously unpublished.

Dear Brother:

You have thought that it was best that you should bear the responsibility of hiring and discharging help, as it might seem advisable to you, and this privilege has been conceded you. The Board has not interfered with any of your plans. You have had plans that you thought were essential for the success of the work, but if these plans were not in harmony with the plans of God, their fulfillment would bring only disappointment and disaster. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 1

Since having that brief talk with you at Healdsburg, the matter which you mentioned has been presented to me in a different light than that in which you look upon it. You said that you knew who were offensive or annoying to the patients and who were qualified to be with the sick, and for that reason you could best judge who should be retained and who dismissed. But when a helper is to be discharged, instead of ordering his or her dismissal at the hands of others, counsel with Brother Fulton concerning the one you think in fault, and state your reasons clearly, and let him share with you the responsibility of the decision. Follow the Scripture rule in the case of the erring, and you may be able to retain them. The Lord reproves His children because He loves them and would save them. A Christian course of conduct should be pursued in all these matters, for the Lord cannot look upon you as blameless if you fail to be a doer of His Word. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 2

If the judgment of men is to have no weight with you in regard to those you think at fault, if no human voice is to be heeded, shall not the voice of God be respected? Will you not take the Bible as an authoritative guide? Or will you set it aside as having no influence in the guiding of conduct? If the Board is to have nothing to say in regard to the hiring or discharging of helpers, shall the Lord’s counsel also be set at naught? Do you feel no need of counsel? Are you not fallible? Have you not been warned by the Lord that you should not be influenced by those who should have the least influence over you, even by those who do not make God’s Word as the man of their counsel, whose master is not Christ but Satan? Here is where your danger has been and will be in time to come, unless your eyes are anointed and you are able to see things more as God sees them, and not in a perverted light. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 3

Unless Jesus abides in your heart, unless you become more firmly established in the truth, and your ideas change materially in some matters, it will not be safe for you to have the entire charge of this matter of hiring and discharging helpers. It is not wise for you to make movements without consulting with Brother Fulton. Your plans are not always above criticism, but should be carefully examined and prayerfully considered. You should take time to pray together. This would be the right way and would cement your hearts together more. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 4

God can do more for you than it is possible for you to do for yourselves. Elder Fulton is the proper person with whom to talk concerning the acceptance or dismissal of helpers. Your judgment alone is not sufficient, for you are likely to make mistakes, because you are influenced by reports that investigation might prove groundless. Following your impulse without stopping to carry out the Bible directions in the case of the erring, you discharge one that you think an offender and may thus make a serious blunder and offend one of Christ’s little ones. But instead of coming to the one you wish dismissed, you lay this duty upon others, bidding them perform the task of discharging the undesired one from the place of service. Thus injury is done to others, while you do not appear as an actor in the affair. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 5

You are not open in your course of action and in your dealings with those under your charge. Elder Fulton, who is connected with you in the work, is a man who loves and fears God, and he has an experience in the things of God. He has little self-confidence, and this is not against him, but in his favor, and you should respect him and seek his counsel. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 6

You have thought that Brother Baker was just the man to help you and to act in the capacity of superintendent at the Retreat. Brother Baker has told me many times that he could influence Dr. Burke as no other man could. But the Lord presented the case of this brother before me, and I know that he is unfit for the position, both as regards business qualifications and spiritual attainments. I knew it would not be safe to place him by your side where he would have an opportunity to exert any more influence over you than he did at that time, for his influence was not calculated to do you good. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 7

Brother Baker belongs to a class of men who are capable of extolling and praising themselves, while they can bring out another’s demerits, all his imperfections. Such men are to be feared rather than courted. Your confidence should be given to men who love and fear God. You should seek to discover their merits and feel frankly with them, and you will find that they will do you good. Your best friends are not those who flatter and praise you. Jesus says, Whom I love I rebuke and chasten. [Revelation 3:19.] The voice of the Holy Spirit will come to you as a reprover. Flatterers are the agents of the enemy whom he uses to lay a snare for your soul, and God would have you to be on your guard with those who have not chosen Christ as their leader. No undue confidence should be given those who are the enemies of our faith. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 8

There are matters which should be kept secret by you, which you should not open even to your brethren, much less to unbelievers. To talk to those not of our faith concerning things which you do not wish even our brethren should know, is manifestly not after God’s order, and you cannot be sustained by your brethren in so doing. You have spoken words to your patients which should not have been spoken, for they are not pleasing to God. The Lord is an ever present witness to all our words and actions. Not only are our words and actions manifested to Him, but our motives are chronicled faithfully in the books of heaven. Many things that are said and done with satisfaction now will not appear as justifiable in the great day of reckoning, but will be viewed with shame and grief. This may not be your experience, Dr. Burke, for pardon may be written against the names of all who are cleansed and purified by the blood of the Lamb. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 9

The Lord would have you sever the ties that bind you to those who do not believe the truth, who are not God’s living, working agents, seeking for the advancement of His glory. He would have you see and appreciate the difference between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not. You need the heavenly anointing, that your spiritual perception may be clear, and then I shall have less burden of soul for you than I now carry. You are not as open and frank with your brethren as you should be, and you will not meet the mind of the Lord unless this order of things is changed. The enemies of our faith should know far less of your mind than those who love the truth. This reticence on matters where secrecy is not required, where concealment is altogether inappropriate, should be discontinued, for you should unite in close connection with those who respect the things of God. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 10

You stand in need of counsel as much as does any responsible man in any institution, and in the place you occupy you must have counsellors after the right order. Again and again, both as regards yourself and others, I have been shown the necessity of having counsel; you do not realize that this is essential to your success at the Retreat, but it is an essential matter. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 11

Through a long process of artful seduction on the part of the enemy through your association with worldlings, a snare has been devised for your soul. You put too much confidence in those who are carrying out the purposes of the enemy, and you do not discern the worth of those who are led by the Spirit of God. You do not see that any harm would result from introducing those who are of a worldly character into the institution, but the Lord looks at the matter in a different light. It is impossible to maintain proper discipline when those who have positions of influence in the institution do not fear God, do not follow in the footsteps of the Master, for their influence is one that tends to leaven those with whom they are associated. They do not hold the Sabbath as a sacred day, and their spirit and example tear down that which God would have built up, that which His servants are laboring to establish as a right precedent at the Retreat. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 12

There is danger that the Health Retreat will go into captivity to the world. Those in charge may not discern the danger, for the enemies of God come in disguise, and unsanctified, unholy agents are permitted to control the machinery and influence the whole institution. The enemy blinds the eyes of those who should see clearly, till darkness is called light and light darkness. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 13

The Lord would have you cut the cords that bind you to worldlings, that you may unite with Christ and your brethren, and you will be an altogether different man in Christ Jesus. Jesus has said, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” [Matthew 6:24.] The follower of Jesus must know what it is to have heart fellowship with his Saviour. Christ’s servants are to deny self and follow their Lord. Christ will accept no half-hearted service. We must be thorough disciples or nothing. In His work while upon earth, He sifted His disciples, and from the multitudes that followed Him, eleven men and a few faithful women were found to lay the foundation of the Christian church. It is better to have a few humble, devoted Christians who will stand faithfully at their post of duty, engaged together in the work for man’s salvation, than to have many men of brilliant talent and with great knowledge of the mechanical workings of an institution, who have no connection with the God of wisdom. Christ has said, “He that is not with me is against me.” [Matthew 12:30.] 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 14

Those who work counter to the plans of God are not the workers for the Health Retreat, for in a hidden manner they will work against the principles for which the institution was established. The connection with unsanctified workers makes the burden two-fold heavier than it would be were they dismissed from the institution, or converted from the error of their ways. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 15

Those who are but half-hearted, half converted, make a half work of serving God. Their boughs hang over on the profession side of the Christian life, while their roots are planted firmly in the world. But no half work will be available as a preparation for eternity. All half-heartedness is an abomination to God. He who serves God with simpleness of purpose, even if of moderate ability, will wield a decided influence for the right. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 16

When a man is connected with God, a heavenly power works with his efforts, for the angels that excel in strength will be by his side. He who lives for God’s glory, though counted as ignorant, will become a man of ability and wisdom, for he follows the light of the world. He may not be exalted because of his brilliant talents, but his power is that of one who is sincere at heart, and his influence draws men with him, for he knows God and is known of Him. He shuns no duty because it is disagreeable, but he is a doer of the words of Christ. He loves to do his duty, even that which requires self-denial and involves bearing of the cross; for by faith he beholds the land afar off, and he is ready daily to march toward the heavenly Canaan. He wears the whole armor that he may successfully contend for the Lord. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 17

The Health Retreat needs more piety within its walls. The workers in all positions must have an eye single to the glory of God. Calebs must now come to the front. God calls for men who will speak for His honor. It is perilous to stand in the position of the spies who bore a false report, and were ready to encourage the people to stone those who manifested faith in the promises of God. But God honored the faith of His servant. The Lord said, “But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.” Numbers 14:24. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 18

Dr. Burke, you need a more heavenly mold put upon your experience. You need the heavenly inscription put upon your work, not the worldly, and it is your privilege to have it. You may have your heart, your purposes, your will all in harmony with God’s mind. This has been presented to me. But no one will hold you at the Retreat against your will. If you do not desire to remain, say so in plain words. If your heart is elsewhere, then the Lord will not give you charge there. If you have purposed to disconnect with the institution, let the Board understand it and not be in uncertainty as regards your desires and movements. No one wishes you to leave. All will be glad to have you remain to work harmoniously with those who, in the providence of God, shall be called to work with you. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 19

The Lord has signified what His will is concerning you, both for your good and the good of others. You may wear the yoke of Christ and work with those who are laboring together with Him. If you move independently, you will be more likely to make mistakes than if you connect with others. Unless you are daily imbued with the Spirit of Christ, you cannot do the work God would have you do. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 20

It is not wisdom to crowd so many responsibilities upon one man when he is not able to bear them. It will not answer for the one in charge at the Retreat to have his likes and dislikes, and to deal harshly with the helpers, to become self-sufficient and self-important. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 21

Dr. Burke, your best friends are not those who second all you say or do; but your truest friends are those who are steadfast to principle, standing for the right because it is right. It is not wisdom to exalt man, to praise and flatter him and lift him up. God alone is worthy of exaltation and honor. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 22

At times you have been strongly influenced by the Spirit of God, and then you have resolved that you would stand faithfully at your post of duty; but again you have desired supreme control, and have determined that if you could not have this, you would leave the Retreat. When this resolve is held up by you, you make it manifest that the spirit that led you to disconnect from the work in the past is again working upon you, but if the record you then made has been open to you as it has been to me, with its causes and effects, you cannot desire to repeat the experience. You cannot afford to make similar movements a second time. I entreat you to come to Christ with contrition of soul, to learn lessons in the divine school which will make you wise unto salvation. Let Christ bind you to Himself. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 23

You should not allow the patients to influence your judgment with their complaints. People of varied minds, of varied education, with unsanctified, uncontrolled impulses come to the Institution, and they are likely to see things in a distorted, sickly light. If the helpers and others do not exactly meet their minds, they make the conduct of those they find fault with appear as it looks to them. They know that they can influence you to look upon matters in the light in which they view them and lead you to condemn those of whom they complain without investigating the case to see if the reports are well founded. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 24

But you should remember that sick people are likely to have fretful dispositions, to imagine that they are badly treated upon very slight grounds, and many come educated in this very line of complaining and faultfinding. Now is it wise for you to give your whole sympathy to their side of the question? Is it not best to make them forget their grievances by diverting their minds, and turning their attention to something else of a more cheerful nature? Those who complain of others will complain of you just as bitterly when they have no just reason to, and it would be as unjust of others to believe them of you, as for you to believe reports of others. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 25

It is proper to preserve discipline in the Institution, but the erring are ever to be dealt with in the Spirit of Christ, and after the direction of the Bible. Justice and mercy must go hand in hand. In the cross of Calvary, mercy and truth, not injustice and falsehood, met together; righteousness and peace kissed each other. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 26

There are in the Institution unbelievers who are a burden to you, and an expense to the Retreat. Expenditures of this character should be carefully looked into, for we cannot afford to favor cases of this kind. My brother, your liberal impulses lead you to be generous to those whom the Institution cannot afford to favor. In hope of doing them good you have taken them in, but the financial state of the Health Retreat cannot justify this expenditure. Losses will occur which cannot be avoided, but they will be far more frequent if the management of affairs is left solely in your hands. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 27

I wish to speak of Sister Ings and her position. No one has yet filled the position with perfect acceptance. The complaint against one was that she did not have a controlling influence over the family in keeping up a proper standard; another was too cold and unsympathetic. Another was dictatorial, although this was due more to the influence she was under than to her natural disposition and habits. But no one has filled the position so well as has Sister Ings, although she has not been beyond criticism; and yet the ones who find fault with her would do no better were they in her place. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 28

October 21, 1891

St. Helena, California

Since writing the above, I have had a talk with Sister Gates, and I am astonished at the nature of her complaint against Sister Ings. During the first part of our interview Sister Ings was present and urged Sister Gates to tell her wherein she had been unkind to the patients in word or deed. Sister Gates said that Mrs. Kerr had complained of Sister Ings treating her unkindly. Sister Ings said, “I was right in the house where you could have spoken to me in regard to the matter, and you said nothing. At the very time I could have told you that there was not a word of truth in the complaint, and could have set the matter right immediately, but no word was mentioned to me.” 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 29

We tried to have Sister Gates tell us of other things reported against Sister Ings, but she refused to make other complaints, or to tell us who had reported to her the injuries that had been done by Sister Ings to the patients. She still repeated her statements that both believers and unbelievers were complaining against Sister Ings, and yet she is kept in darkness as to what they are so dissatisfied with, and cannot know who are her accusers that she may answer their charges. If the complaints against her are so widespread as they are made to appear, this is the very place to bring these matters before you, that those who will, may make it manifest that they are faithful Christians, and true to each others’ interests. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 30

Those who occupy important positions in our institutions have their lessons to learn, but although they are not perfect, the work is greatly hindered when one depreciates the work of another. May God help us to be doers of the words of Christ. It would be well to ask ourselves the question, What is the difference between a Christian and an unbeliever? The difference is in the fact that one does the will of God and the other does it not. In heaven all are doers of the will of God. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 31

The question now to be decided is, Shall the will of Christ be done in this institution, or the will of finite, fallible man be supreme? Each one has personal work to do in overcoming his faults of character and in helping others to overcome, following the directions of the Bible. This is the right kind of missionary work. Some have faults of one character, some have faults of another character, for we are not all alike. Some carry their faults with them from childhood to manhood, from manhood to old age; some never even see the grievous nature of their defects of spirit and character. They reveal the same spirit in old age which they had in youth, and are proud, passionate and sensual. Others are ambitious and desire the esteem of men, wishing to be regarded as of great importance, that they may receive the praise of men. Of this class the Lord says, “Verily, they have their reward.” [Matthew 6:2.] All the praise they will ever hear will be given them by men, unless they humble themselves, and become in true genuine simplicity as little children. No one can enter heaven with hardness of heart. Some are selfish, full of errors, and yet they are ever seeking to make the errors of others prominent as though themselves were guiltless. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 32

Oh, that all would set their faces toward the Sun of Righteousness and look upon the perfection of the character of Jesus until they become changed into His image, from glory to glory, which is from character to purer, higher character, as by the Spirit of the Lord. The whole soul must be turned toward God, toward the self-denying, self-sacrificing Jesus, and by beholding Him become self-denying and faithful to God and man. Individually we should know the attractive power of the cross. As we concentrate our powers in contemplation of the wondrous sacrifice, our affections will be changed, our hearts will kindle into warm, earnest love for Christ and for one another. We shall not then turn aside from God’s Word in the treatment of those who err, and make friendship with the world, believing the words of those who do not love God nor our brethren, allying ourselves with those who would help the enemy in his work of destruction. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 33

There is a plotting of the enemy in the camp. He is seeking to employ every agent he can command to unite with him in the soul-destroying work, and he has found help in those who do not seem to know of what manner of spirit they are. Those who labor at the Health Retreat should be wise in a perfect way, not wise to suggest or indulge evil thoughts and to stir up the minds of the sick and make them feel that they are not treated as they deserve to be treated. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 34

Read the history of Absalom. There is a right way and a wrong way; Absalom took the wrong way. Those who visit the invalids in their rooms should understand what is the character of the minds they are to deal with and seek to make the conditions as favorable as possible towards sowing cheerfulness and content. They should not create an atmosphere that will aid the leaven of discontent and dissatisfaction. Anyone who visits the sick may do much harm by suggesting matters of dissatisfaction, or by injudiciously sympathizing with the supposed grievances of the patients. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 35

If a patient has not a sunny room, let it be remembered that every patient cannot be on the sunny side of the house or have the first choice of rooms. The visitor will not aid the health of the patient or further the interests of the institution by suggesting matters to criticize in the furniture or in the conduct of some one in charge of the apartments in which the patient is located, allowing reflection to rest upon the matron for things which it is out of her power to help. If words of complaint are uttered by a patient, do not seek to deepen the impression that they are neglected and deprived of that which is justly their due, for in this seed is sown that which will bear a harvest of discontent. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 36

It requires a living connection with God in order to know how to deal with human minds. And how difficult is the task of dealing with those who are feeble of body and diseased of mind. How difficult it is to make everything move in perfect harmony when those for whom you would labor are worldlings of all classes and conditions of mind. It requires patience, long-suffering, and Christlike gentleness to keep a moderate degree of harmony; and even with the best endeavors, it cannot be made complete. Then how perilous a thing is it to encourage a spirit of complaining and make subjects for dissatisfaction in the heart of those who have not the grace of Christ. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 37

It would be better to close the institution than have it become the instrument of evil rather than of righteousness. But if the principles acted upon in the past are to be the principles to be acted upon in the future, it will become an instrumentality of iniquity. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 38

Those who have been so anxious that the patients should be treated with great sympathy and kindness and given every attention are guilty of neglecting duties which Christ has pointed out should be performed toward their own brothers and sisters in the church. They are walking contrary to the words of Christ, and pursuing a course marked out by themselves. They have entertained suspicions of those who care nothing for the truth and have carried the accusations of the enemies of our faith, accusing those who are united to Christ. They condemn others without giving them a chance to explain their conduct. They do not go to the one they think in error and tell him his faults, but in a secret manner they spread the suspicion and report the complaint, but make no effort to obey the injunctions of the Bible. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 39

“Brethren, 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.] Oh that we should remember that Jesus identifies Himself with His people. He is afflicted with His people and suffers in the person of His saints. In pursuing a course of suspicion and condemnation of others, you will find plenty to do, in this line, and will reap only confusion and destruction. You will continually have occasion for gathering up the words of complaint from the lips of the patients. This will never end. But is this from above? “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 3:17, 18.] 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 40

It would not be a surprising thing if one in the position of matron should not on every occasion express sympathy to the sick, if she should not always modulate her voice to the most approved gentleness of tone, but should you who have seen this fault go to others, complaining of her deficiency? No. In the spirit of meekness and love, not in the spirit of accusation, you should go to her and tell her of her fault. The Bible says, “Ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1. If this direction were followed out, would not the door of temptation be closed against the enemy, and division would be a thing of the past, for under such treatment, hearts would be drawn together in the bonds of Christian love. 7LtMs, Lt 40, 1891, par. 41