Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7 (1891-1892)


Lt 16a, 1891

Irwin, Brother and Sister

Petoskey, Michigan

June 9, 1891

Variant of Lt 16, 1891. Previously unpublished. +Note

<Dr. Kellogg: Please read and then place in Elder Olsen’s hands or proper persons who will not neglect to give it due attention. I take it for granted you have more than you ought to carry now. E.G.W.> 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 1

Dear Brother and Sister Irwin:

Some things have been presented to me in regard to the mission in Cleveland. I have felt great interest in that mission, for the Lord has presented before me that He had many precious souls in that city. I was shown that a house of worship should have been erected there years ago. A much larger work would have been done, had the leading men stood where they should, in piety, in devotion, and spiritual discernment. Time is passing, and the lack of personal piety and earnest, sanctified energy is felt all through the conference. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 2

The Lord did not lay upon Bro. Underwood, or any of the brethren who were associated with him, the burden of establishing a health institution at Mt. Vernon. In this work they had not an eye single to the glory of God. All the energy and tact and labor that was bestowed on this institution should have been given to more specific work in making the Ohio Conference what it ought to be, but what it is not now. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 3

Had the energies been directed to the building of a church in Cleveland, and the establishing of a mission, properly planned and managed, the movement would have been well-pleasing to God; it would have given character to the cause of present truth in that city, and very many souls would have been added to the church, of such as should be saved. Satan says, “I will defeat that; there shall be no triumph of the truth in this city.” So through unsanctified ambition and attention, the energies, and the means were directed to the establishing of an institution at Mt. Vernon. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 4

An effort has been made to have all the means available turned into this one channel. Men have been urged to moves that their own good judgment told them were not best. Brethren are disappointed, and some are discouraged as they see that their money is invested where they receive no benefit from it themselves, and where it is doing no real good in the cause. And yet there has been a bitterness of spirit with some of the responsible men in this enterprise because they could not make all see the matter as they did and act according to their judgment. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 5

An undue pressure has been brought to bear upon the people, flattering prospects of future prosperity for the institution have been presented; but in all this work, self has been largely interwoven, and the eyes of many have been blinded, so that they do not discern spiritual things. Thus some souls have become disaffected. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 6

Great effort has indeed been put forth to make the Mt. Vernon institution a success. But is it a success? What if it should become self-sustaining? At what a cost! The important work that ought to have been done to bring prosperity to the cause of God is not done; advance moves which should have been made in other branches of the work have not been made; angels of God have waited for the human agencies to co-operate with them, but they have met with a feeble response. The missionary spirit, diverted from the proper object, has been waning, and dissension, disunion, and discouragement have been leavening the conference. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 7

Had the same energy, zeal, and devotion been given to the real, living issues concerning the cause of God in the Ohio Conference, and especially in the city of Cleveland, many souls would now be rejoicing in the truth. But the Lord’s cause has been betrayed by worldly, ambitious projects—projects that will prove an injury to those who devised them, hurting their influence by shaking the confidence of the people in these leading men. The work of God, that ought to have been increasing in power and efficiency, is left to struggle along as best it can, while every string is drawn to secure means that the Mt. Vernon institution may not prove a failure. I wish that every one that has been misled in this matter might see the bearing of this enterprise upon the Ohio Conference. In time they will know something of this, but they cannot know the full extent of its influence. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 8

Bro. Gilmore is not a man through whom the Lord can work; he has not an eye single to the glory of God. Selfishness has been woven into his life-experience. The advancement of the truth that God may be honored and souls saved to Christ has not been his chief ambition. Self stands first. If he can serve self, and yet see the cause of God advancing, he is pleased. But he must be thoroughly transformed in character, he must become Christlike in spirit and in works, or he will fail of securing that life which measures with the life of God. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 9

The Lord’s work, the Lord’s cause, must stand first in all our aims and purposes. Jesus came to our world to save the fallen race by bringing eternity within the range of their vision. If eternal things once attract the mind, the present world will appear as it is, a mere atom. The infinite treasures of the eternal life will reveal, in comparison, the littleness of the temporal. Eternal interests will become all-absorbing. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 10

Jesus did not come to destroy our interest in the duties which lie in our pathway here, but to break the spell of infatuation that the world’s business casts upon the human mind. He lifts His voice in earnest, solemn warning, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” [Mark 8:36, 37.] He brings to view the nobler world, placing before men the eternal realities which they had lost sight of. Pointing to the glories of the future life, He warns them of the danger of fixing their affections upon this world. He deposes it from the highest place, assigning to it a subordinate, not a controlling, power. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 11

Bro. Gilmore loves the world. This is characteristic of the unrenewed man as presented in the Scriptures—an inordinate love for worldly possessions. Unless the love of God, with its subduing, controlling power, takes possession of the heart, the things of this world will surely engross the thoughts and absorb the affections. The spiritual vision is distorted, and earthly advantages are so magnified as to eclipse the heavenly attractions. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 12

I have much to write on this subject if I can find time. Ohio is years behind her appointed work and sacred responsibilities. The various endowments of the members of the church are so many entrusted talents which the Lord expects us to increase by constant use. He has made men almoners of His providence, to supply the necessities of the poor, who are always with us. There should be no swerving from duty in this line, and no robbery toward God in withholding the tithes and offerings from His treasury. In this matter I appeal to the believers in Ohio to take correct observation of their bearings. What has the Lord signified that you should do to advance His work in your state? 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 13

When Jonah was commanded to bear God’s message to Nineveh, he fled to Joppa, but the journey was not a prosperous one. His experience has a lesson for us. If the Lord had a work to be done in Cleveland, if a house was to be erected for His name’s glory, a place prepared to gather in souls who embraced the truth, and all the interest, the energy, and money were turned into another channel, making it impossible to do what ought to have been done, can you be surprised that the work has been hindered, that God has been dishonored, and that selfish projects have not succeeded? No man can serve two masters. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 14

All the devotion that has been given to the Mt. Vernon Sanitarium was called for in another direction. If Jesus were on the ground, He would repeat to you the words spoken eighteen hundred years ago, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” [John 4:35.] “Why stand ye here all the day idle?” [Matthew 20:6.] “The night cometh, when no man can work.” [John 9:4.] 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 15

Several times your mission has been presented to me as not managed properly. Young men and young women were associated together in too great familiarity. They were receiving impressions that would demoralize their character and open the door to sensual practices. The frown of God was upon the mission. Some one was remiss in duty, and I saw that the Lord would visit for these things. Again I have been shown that there was danger, that clouds and darkness were gathering about the mission because your example, Bro. and Sister Irwin, was not correct. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 16

Nothing of commonness or familiarity should exist in the mission. Already the temptations of Satan have enclosed you; you are not safe where you are. The spell of infatuation is upon you. You have had light in warnings which the Lord has given to others similarly situated. In the warnings which I gave in your hearing directly after my return from Europe, did not the Lord speak to you? Were not those enough? 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 17

I did not call you by name, but when you were introduced to me I knew that your case had been presented to me at the time when that of Bro. Stone was urged upon my notice. I thought that the testimonies I there bore would indeed show that the rebuke of God is upon all this lovesick sentimentalism and familiarity of married men with women. This was the ruin of Oviatt, and I fear that it will prove the ruin of many souls. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 18

I have heard of some things that have been taking place in the Ohio mission, just what have been presented before me as having brought the frown of God upon that mission and others in different states. Where there is an approach to unbecoming familiarity between married men and widows or young girls, how can you expect God to work in the mission? After the oft-repeated warnings that have been given, how can any venture upon this dangerous ground? Why does the president of the Ohio Conference show so great weakness? Why open the door to temptation? Why converse with another woman on a subject which should be mentioned to your own wife only? 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 19

It becomes leaders to make straight paths for their feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way. If there is an approach to this freedom of association on the part of the workers, let them find no place in the mission, for all connected with it should work circumspectly and show that the grace of Christ is abiding in their hearts. I have felt strongly of late that matters were wrong in Ohio, that men of experience were needed to direct the work in that conference. There is great need of divine enlightenment. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 20

Many who fall under temptation and reveal great weakness of character, excuse their wrong course because of their circumstances or surroundings; if it had not been for this or that, they would have been all right. It is true that when everything goes smoothly, we may appear very well, but that is no evidence that we are Christians. If Christ is in the heart, controlling the life, we shall manifest His spirit. The formation of Christian character goes on day by day. We must live to glorify God, instead of living to please ourselves; then there will be restfulness and calmness. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 21

Those who are in positions of trust, bearing responsibilities in the work of God have no safety unless they are constantly watching unto prayer. He who ceases to watch and pray will be overcome. Temptations will come, and the only way to resist them is to abide in Christ. Be Christians at home; live as in the sight of a holy God, not seeking to do any great thing, but just day by day living a life full of fragrance; by kindly words and deeds cheering and helping all around you. Do not confine your attention to a few favorites, but for Christ’s sake show kindness to all, without partiality, without hypocrisy. A circumspect, holy life is a light to the world. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 22

The influence of an un-Christlike life on the part of a professed Christian has been presented to me in this manner: A man entrusted with the care of a garden has neglected his work. The vines are trailing upon the ground, stumps and unsightly rubbish obstruct the paths, and the garden beds are choked with thistles. Yet this slothful servant goes to his neighbor and says, “I have come to help you set your garden in order. I know how to make great improvement in it and am pained to see it neglected.” The neighbor is not blind; he looks over to the speaker’s own plot of ground and thinks, “He might better attend to his own neglected work.” 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 23

How many are neglecting the garden of the soul, who are unlovely in word and action, not circumspect in their home life, and yet trying to set others right. If all could hear the careless words and witness the unchristian deportment of those who are laborers among them, how much success would these workers have in saving souls from death and hiding a multitude of sins? O, what a farce is the religious life of many who profess to believe the truth! 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 24

Let every professed Christian be just what he professes to be—Christlike. This will be considered by many a long, hard hill to climb. It will be, if they consent to make it so. But an earnest, determined effort to overcome in the name of Jesus, a will surrendered to Christ, a heart so closely united to Christ that His grace will flow into it, will make the Christian life easy. We must elevate the standard and begin just now to glorify God. As Christ’s ambassadors, we need the divine toning up. We want the fresh breezes from heaven to give vigor to our stagnant spirituality. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 25

I might point out in your life acts entirely unworthy of a Christian; but that would only be like picking the leaves off a living tree; they would put forth again as strong and full of life as ever. The work must be done for the heart. Then there will be a vivid sense of Christian courtesy and propriety; there will be high-toned morality, because the soul is beholding Jesus and becoming changed into His likeness. Then you will manifest carefulness in all the little things, taking up the duties nearest which have been neglected while you were ready to teach and admonish others. The only life which is worth living is one whose influence tends to elevate and ennoble other lives. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 26

We need to maintain a close connection with God, for at almost every moment there will be demands upon us for thoughtfulness, for moral courage, for honest decisions. Those who have no real connection with God will acquiesce in things as they exist, drift with the tide, yielding to wrong influences instead of resisting evil and inspiring others with higher, holier purposes. These persons are hindrances to the advancement of the work. When they meet the record of their life, they will be compelled to see that it has been a failure, and to hear the just sentence, “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” [Daniel 5:27.] 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 27

Only that life and character which will stand the test both for time and for eternity can be called a success. A practical application of the truth to the soul will bring the life and character up to the divine standard. The workers in this cause may be true, they may live a noble life, and make life worth the living. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 28

Special light has been given to the conference in Ohio, but many do not heed the warnings; they do not attend to what the Lord would teach them. The danger signal has been lifted, and it is the duty of all to take heed. 7LtMs, Lt 16a, 1891, par. 29