Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7 (1891-1892)


Lt 8b, 1891

Evans, Brother and Sister [William]

Petoskey, Michigan

June 10, 1891

Portions of this letter are published in RY 178-180; 2BC 1039; CC 197.

Brother and Sister Evans,

More than one year ago I visited St. Louis and spoke several times to the people. While there, I had a very marked experience. I was in the house where the meetings were held, and was upon my knees in prayer, when there was spread out before me, as in a panoramic view, the spiritual condition of our people and of the workers in the cause of God in St. Louis and in different states. Scene after scene passed before me. An account of what was then shown me, I wrote out to send to you and failing to find it concluded that it had been sent. But as there has been no response, I will now write again, fearing that you have not received my former letter. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 1

Brother Evans, your course in the St. Louis Mission was not right. Your gallantry to young girls was entirely uncalled for and out of place. Things of this character were fashioning the work entirely contrary to the order of God. You are a married man and may give to your wife all the courtesy and attention you please; it is proper and right for you to do so; but let it go no farther. Keep your flattering speeches, your special courtesies and gallantry, between yourself and your wife. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 2

Associated with you as workers were young girls who knew not what it means to be converted. They had learned certain methods of conducting their work; they had a form of words to repeat, parrot-like, which had no real meaning to them only as far as the words were concerned. They had everything to learn and an experience to gain in what it means to be a child of God, a Christian. Your course with these inexperienced youth should have been free from all commonness, marked with dignity, yet with simplicity. There should have been no light, flippant remarks and officious attentions. But you have not abstained from all appearance of evil. You exerted a wrong influence upon the minds of these young workers, an influence which has worked harm to them as well as to yourself. Your course was an injury to the cause of God in St. Louis. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 3

You cannot keep yourself in the love of God without revealing an indwelling Saviour. You need the truth, sacred, holy truth, brought into the inner sanctuary of the soul; then you will show the fruits thereof. If God has given you large affections, let them flow to the proper objects. You cannot love God and your Saviour too much. But while you may be very effusive in your attentions to young girls or women, you do not have ardent zeal and overflowing love for Jesus, in whom all our hopes of eternal life are centered. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 4

The state of the moral affections reveals the condition of the heart. You are not to become cold, unsympathetic and unloving, but let your sympathies be directed into safe channels. This soft sentimentalism which you have woven into your experience in association with young girls and women should be discarded at once and forever, for it has done harm and only harm. Nothing of this character will appear in any man or woman who loves God with all the heart. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 5

All who profess to be Christians, be they men or women, young or old, married or single, should deport themselves modestly. They are not to be bold and familiar and talkative, jesting and joking. And how much more should those who stand as teachers be at all times modest and circumspect. Alas that some of our workers have not been of this character! We have been compelled to see some of our missions broken up, and why? Because of the associations in them of young men and young women who have not been converted, who did not keep themselves in the love of God. There is unbecoming familiarity, young men and young girls exchanging attentions, and even men and women showing great fondness for each other’s society. These show that they do not know what belongs to propriety or Christian character. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 6

Our missions, which should inspire to all that is pure and noble and true, become schools of courtship and marriage. Can the Holy Spirit of God be recognized and appreciated by such workers? No, the sacred and the common are placed on a level. They are satisfied with the sensual flow of their affections in the wrong channel. They are not drinking deep at the fountain of truth. They are not pressing forward to the prize of their high calling in Christ Jesus. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 7

If they had cherished virtue and purity and love for Jesus, the Lord could impress them with His Spirit; then the conscience would be tender; but they live an unreal life as sentimentalists. They have no depth of character. Like the waves of the sea they are tossed to and fro. Let temptation assail them, and there is a reckless surrender of the helm to passion. “And lust when it hath conceived bringeth forth sin, and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” [James 1:15.] 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 8

The life of Solomon is full of warning, not only to youth, but to those of mature years and to the aged, those who are descending the hill of life and facing the western sun. We see and hear of unsteadiness in youth, the young wavering between right and wrong and the current of evil passions proving too strong for them. But we do not look for unsteadiness and unfaithfulness in those of mature years; we expect the character to be established, the principles to be firmly rooted. In many cases this is so, but there are exceptions, as with Solomon. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” [1 Corinthians 10:12.] When Solomon should have been in character as a sturdy oak, he fell from his steadfastness under the power of temptation. When his strength should have been the firmest, he was found the weakest of men. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 9

From such examples as this, we should learn that watchfulness and prayer are the only safety for either young or old. Satan will so shape circumstances that unless we are kept by divine power they will almost imperceptibly weaken the fortifications of the soul. We need to inquire at every step, “Is this the way of the Lord?” As long as life shall last, there is need of guarding the affections and the passions with a firm purpose. There is inward corruption, there are outward temptations, and wherever the work of God shall be advanced, Satan plans so to arrange circumstances that temptation shall come with overpowering force upon the soul. Not one moment can we be secure only as we are relying upon God, the life hid with Christ in God. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 10

Notwithstanding the warnings in the word of God and in the testimonies of His Spirit, many have closed their eyes to danger and have gone on in their own way, infatuated, deluded by Satan until they fall under his temptations. Then they abandon themselves to despair. This was the history of Solomon. But even for him there was help. He truly repented of his course of sin, and found help. Let none venture into sin as he did, in the hope that they too may recover themselves. Sin can be indulged only at the peril of infinite loss. But none who have fallen need give themselves up to despair. Aged men, once honored of God, may have defiled their souls, sacrificing virtue on the altar of lust; but there is still hope for them if they repent, forsake sin, and turn to God. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 11

The misapplication of noble talents in Solomon’s case should be a warning to all. Goodness alone is true greatness. Every one will transmit a heritage of good or of evil. On the southern eminence of the mount of Olives were the memorial stones of Solomon’s apostasy. Huge idols, unshapely blocks of wood and stone, appeared above the groves of myrtle and olive. Josiah, the youthful reformer, in his religious zeal destroyed these images of Ashtoreth and Chemosh and Moleck, but the broken fragments and masses of ruins remained opposite Mt. Moriah, where stood the temple of God. As strangers in after generations asked, “What mean these ruins confronting the temple of the Lord?” they were answered, “There is Solomon’s mount of offense, where he built altars for idol worship to please his heathen wives.” 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 12

What a history of deterioration was Solomon’s! We see him as he entered upon his lifework pleading for wisdom from God, and it was given him. He is called Jedidiah, “The beloved of God.” [2 Samuel 12:25.] But instead of going forward and upward, from strength to strength, from glory to glory, from character to character, he went downward from transgression to transgression, from weakness to weakness. Through indulgence of sensual passions, he became the victim of Satan’s devices, and his soul was filled with darkness, with discontent and despair. His history stands as a beacon of warning that young and old may learn the sure result of departure from the ways of the Lord. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 13

Solomon acted in direct opposition to God’s will. God had made him the depositary of sacred truths, but he proved unfaithful to his holy trust. Evil communications corrupted good manners. He entered into political alliance with pagan kingdoms, especially with Egypt and Phoenicia. One wrong step led to another. Through his associations with these nations, their heathen practices became less abhorrent to him, and at last their sensual customs and their darkest worships were imported into Palestine. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 14

Solomon’s fine sensibilities were blunted, his conscience seared; he became weak and vacillating. The justice of his early reign gave place to tyranny. Once the guardian of his people, he became a despot. To support his extravagance and profligacy, he imposed a grinding taxation upon the poor. He who had said to his people at the dedication of the temple, “Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God” [1 Kings 8:61], became himself the offender. In heart and life he denied his own words. He mistook license for liberty. He tried, but at what cost, to unite light with darkness, Christ with Belial, purity with impurity, good with evil. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 15

Shall we give heed to the warning and shun the first approach to those sins which overcame him who was called the wisest of men? Shall we permit our institutions and missions to be imperiled through our unfaithfulness? We need the spirit of the great worker. We must have truth firmly planted in the soul; then we shall be able to stand, having on the whole armor of God, and having done all, to stand. The guile, the impurity, cherished in many hearts, will work with power to insinuate itself into the life and character of others. The watchmen upon the walls of Zion need to awake from their slumber; they themselves must buy of the heavenly Merchantman the gold tried in the fire, the white raiment, that they may be clothed, the eyesalve, that they may see. Spiritual discernment is greatly needed. It can be obtained only through connection with Christ. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 16

At St. Louis the state of our missions was revealed to me like a flash of lightning, making everything distinct that was in darkness. I was bearing a testimony, clear and cutting to men and women in responsible places. It is God who looks at the heart and reads its motives. The ruling sentiment of the mind and the heart reveals the true character of our religion. Unless the law of God is written upon our hearts, we are sure to wrong God and be found foolish virgins who have not the oil of grace in their hearts and who do not obey the words of Christ. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 17

The truth of God cannot benefit the soul while it is received by the understanding only. The fact is, the truth is assented to by scores who have not its firm principles in the soul. “With the heart men believe unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” [Romans 10:10.] How few obey the first four commandments of the law, which require us to love God with the whole soul, the whole heart, mind, and strength. This, and nothing less than this, is the religion of the Bible. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 18

If we do love God supremely, we shall obey the last precepts of the law, which are summed up in the command, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” [Leviticus 19:18.] Would to God we might see this love exemplified in the words spoken, the principles manifested, by those who claim to be commandment-keeping people of God. What kind of a light is reflected from them to the world? O, what will be the result of this cheap, surface religion and lax, loose work? 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 19

With the very Word of God open before them, many are drinking up iniquity like water. They read the divine solicitations, urging that the whole heart, the undivided affection, be freely given to Him who has given all for them. They read God’s Word in a perverted light and their footsteps are bending to certain ruin. They have not set their affections on things above, where Christ liveth. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 20

Unless our ministers have the purity and holiness of Christ deeply wrought in their lives and hearts, they will not see the hateful characteristics of sin and will continue to misrepresent Christ. The heart is the citadel of the whole man. Until the heart shall be wholly on the Lord’s side, Satan will find in man a strong agent, a medium through whom he can work, and no power on earth can dislodge him. Shall the knowledge of God which Christ came from heaven to impart remain in our possession throughout [our] whole life as a dead and useless thing? Shall we dare to trifle with eternal realities? Is a man honoring the truth while living in a state of estrangement from God? No matter how high the profession, if the fruit, in words and deeds is bad, it is because the heart is not given to God. Truth is not dwelling in the soul. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 21

Jesus said of Himself shortly before His death, “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” [John 14:30.] Not a thought or feeling responded to Satan’s temptations. Christ came to the world sinless, He lived for years in a world of sin, but His soul was like the sunbeam, it shone upon the moral darkness, but was uncontaminated. He ascended into heaven as pure and unspotted as when He left the bosom of His Father. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. Here was humanity and divinity combined, and provision has been made that man may become a partaker of the divine nature. Divinity and humanity combined will work out a character wholly like that of Christ and fit for heaven. 7LtMs, Lt 8b, 1891, par. 22