Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7

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Lt 18, 1891

Irwin, Brother and Sister

Petoskey, Michigan

June 29, 1891

Portions of this letter are published in 1MCP 237; 8MR 244.

Brother and Sister Irwin:

On my return from the camp meeting at Sherman, Michigan, I found your letter requesting an interview with me. I do not think this is essential. It would take time and money, and I am so pressed with writing and many cares that it would be painful to me. You must excuse me from this additional responsibility. State plainly by letter what you wish to state. 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 1

I have addressed you both, including Sister Irwin’s name, because she is connected with you and should have seen the danger, the appearance of evil, in your having the least talk upon common subjects with any other woman. It is no virtue in her to be so wrapped up in any woman that she cannot see that her husband is not treading in safe paths in giving that woman undue attention. Warnings have been given again and again, but notwithstanding this there has been too great familiarity in your association with Sister Swift. 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 2

Sister Swift should have heeded the warnings. You should have guarded yourself at every point. And if you did not abstain from the appearance of evil, your wife should have had discernment enough to warn you both. She might regard it as a virtue to be so free from jealousy and evil surmising that she would not see any danger; but it is her duty, if she loves her husband, to guard his reputation sacredly, to be watchful, and to speak words of caution. This she should have done to Sister Swift. 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 3

Sister Swift has lacked discernment in that she did not keep herself perfectly clear in her widowhood, standing in piety, in reserve, in modesty, not giving the semblance of a chance to evil or encouraging you to indulge in the least familiarity with her. 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 4

Has not enough been written in regard to this matter? Do you feel that you are an exception, that your mountain stands sure, that no exceptions will be taken to your undue attentions, your uncalled-for interest in, and association with, another woman than your wife? Satan has put a blind before your eyes. This matter has been presented before me in the light in which the Lord regards all such things. The trouble is with the soul. The heart is not right with God. You need Christ abiding in you. Then there would be no evil thing to say of you. You would walk circumspectly. You would be holy in all manner of conversation. You would give no occasion for your good to be evil spoken of. As a married man in a mission, where everything should be conducted in a manner that would be above suspicion, you would be pure in all your words and actions. All appearance of evil would be strictly avoided. 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 5

Elder Rice should have told you his history—how Satan led him on step by step, little by little, until when the warning came from me to him, he said, “I have done no moral wrong.” What idea could he have had of what constitutes moral wrong? If he has presented his own case, his dangers, his sin before you, and warned you not to do as he did, not to be led on by the deceiving power of the enemy, and yet you heeded not, but placed yourself on the enemy’s ground, you are without excuse. That you have not committed open sin does not leave you guiltless, by any means. 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 6

Eternal vigilance is the price of safety, especially in this age of the world, when its inhabitants are like the inhabitants of Sodom. What more can be said than has been said, what more can be done than has been done, to warn, to guard the workers in our missions and in our institutions, I am at a loss to determine. What is the reason for this careless inattention to warnings? Is it because the heart is not right with God, is not keeping “the way of the Lord” [Genesis 18:19], but is left to drift in any way Satan may choose? 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 7

Everything connected with our missions should be above reproach. Everyone who has any part to act in them should be an example to the flock. There is need that many moments be spent in secret prayer, in close communion, not with human beings, but with God. Then only can noble victories be won. Every arrangement of the mission household should be such as to garrison the soul, that it may not be led into temptation. The life and character must be kept from every stain of evil. Every unholy passion must be kept under the control of sanctified reason, through the grace abundantly bestowed of God in every emergency. But let no arrangement be made to create an emergency, let there be no voluntary act to place one where he will be assailed with temptation, or give the least occasion for others to think him guilty of indiscretion. “The Lord seeth not as man seeth.” [1 Samuel 16:7.] 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 8

I have been shown that those who are trying to purify their souls through obedience to the truth, yet who have had no opportunity of making special efforts and sacrifices for Christ and His cause, should find consolation in the thought that it is not necessarily the self-surrender of the martyr that is the most acceptable to God; it may not be the missionary whose life has been one of trial and endurance that stands highest in heaven’s record, but that of the Christian who is such in his private life, in his daily struggle with himself, in the control of his passions, in cleanness of purpose, in purity of thought, in patience, meekness, and longsuffering under the test of provocation, in piety, in devotion, in his holy faith and trust in God, in his faithfulness in little things, in the management of his family, who keeps the mark of the prize of his high calling ever before him, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of his faith, keeping it ever in view that he is living for the future, immortal life, and in his home life representing the character of Jesus—that such a one may be more precious in the sight of God than the man who goes as a missionary to heathen lands, or ascends the scaffold to die for his faith. 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 9

Oh, how different are the standards by which God and man measure character! God sees many temptations resisted of which the world, and even near friends, never know—temptations in the home, in the heart—He sees the soul’s humility in view of its own weakness, the sincere repentance over even a thought that is evil. He sees the whole heart’s devotion to the upbuilding of the cause of God, without one tinge of selfishness; He has noted those hours of hard battle with self, battles that won the victory—all this God and angels know. 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 10

Oh, that men would live as in the sight of a holy God! Then how careful would they be not to offend God, how careful as to what standard they adopt in estimating sins! The Word of God is the rule of life, but how few are doers of the Word! Human opinions are regarded as of value, but God looks at the heart. Many will be lost who think themselves Christians, and many will be in heaven whose neighbors supposed they would never get there. God judgeth not as man judgeth. Man judgeth from appearance, but God judgeth from the heart. The Lord knows the strength of the temptations that He permits. He sees the inward conflict, the severe struggles of him who gives up the visible on the strength of God’s promise that presents before him the invisible. 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 11

As never before Satan is busy in the Christian world, and among us as a people, weaving a spell with which to enchain the soul, and those who yield to it are in close intercourse with fallen angels, learning from them their deceptive arts—how to deceive themselves and others. “Who,” inquires the apostle, “hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth?” [Galatians 3:1.] They seduce others into sin, and by their own course of action confirm them in their attachment to the world, and in their transgression against God. 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 12

Shall not the people to whom the Lord has entrusted great responsibilities, sacred, holy trusts, have, and manifest, a righteous indignation against those practices and pursuits which defile the mind, soul, and body—practices that are the fruit of misplaced, perverted affections? We are living in the very atmosphere of Satanic witchery. Satan will weave a spell of licentiousness around every soul that is not barricaded by the grace of Christ. Those who do nothing to encourage temptation will have strength to withstand it when it comes; but those who keep themselves in an atmosphere of evil, of Satanic witchery, will have only themselves to blame if they are overcome and fall from steadfastness. 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 13

We are to learn that self-denial must be practiced, the cross must be borne, at every step, for our own good, for the good of others, and for the glory of God. Those who profess to believe the truth are far behind in practicing its principles, and that is why they have so little spiritual strength. They are lax and loose in the Christian life. Strict integrity toward God is a rare thing. There are many professors of religion, but few who do not deny Christ daily in their practical life. They are dishonest toward God. Everything has been done that God could do to make Christians such not only in name, but in practice. We must lie low at the foot of the cross, cultivating faith by exercising faith, cultivating fervor, humility, meekness, and lowliness of mind. Then we shall glorify God in all we say or do. 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 14

“Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord?” [Jeremiah 23:23, 24.] The Lord is looking upon every individual; He is omnipresent. His eye reads the heart. When Eliab, the son of Jesse, passed before Samuel, the prophet said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him. But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” [1 Samuel 16:6, 7.] 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 15

This lesson had a powerful influence on the mind of David. As he was about to die, he charged his son Solomon, saying, “Thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve Him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek Him, He will be found of thee; but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off forever.” [1 Chronicles 28:9.] “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth.” [2 Chronicles 16:9.] “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” [Jeremiah 17:9, 10.] 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 16

The Lord searches all hearts, and knows what is hidden in every mind. “The Lord looketh from heaven; He beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of His habitation He looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.” [Psalm 33:13, 14.] “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” [Hebrews 4:13.] Oh, why do we not love and fear God? Why should not the language of the heart be, “Thy gentleness hath made me great”? [Psalm 18:35.] 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 17

Let us not betray sacred trusts by a course of action that will be a temptation to souls. We need not go all our days with broken bones, sinning and repenting. When the truth is received in simplicity, when Christ is grasped as a perfect Saviour, able to save to the uttermost all who come unto Him, the song of victory will be in our hearts and on our lips. 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 18

My brother, turn your feet into the path of holiness, and make straight paths for your feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way. Be not discouraged, but walk circumspectly. God will pardon every error, every transgression, if you will only come to Him with contrition of soul. Obey the Word of God to the letter, and you are safe. 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 19

In haste. 7LtMs, Lt 18, 1891, par. 20