Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 8

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Lt 50, 1893

Prescott, Brother and Sister

Napier, New Zealand

November 14, 1893

Portions of this letter are published in FE 277-284; 5MR 403-404.

Dear Brother and Sister Prescott,

I received your letter written to me when I was in Gisborne, and since coming to Napier received another letter from you which I will answer at once, fearing matters may come unexpectedly to engage my time and attention. 8LtMs, Lt 50, 1893, par. 1

After the exercises of my mind in reference to Battle Creek in the night season, when I had presented to me the dangers in the college, on a certain night, my mind was again deeply exercised in reference to students going to Ann Arbor. It was shown me that this ought not to be, unless it was deemed essential for their receiving medical completion of their education in that line. All cannot discern the dangers which will have to be met in Ann Arbor, the temptations that will surely come through association. 8LtMs, Lt 50, 1893, par. 2

I would advise no one to go there unless it is a positive necessity. These matters have been most clearly presented to me. There are many, very many dangers to all who shall obtain educational advantages in Ann Arbor. But as I have much more to come to you on this subject, presenting the different phases, I will not repeat [it] as it will reach [you] at the same time that this does. 8LtMs, Lt 50, 1893, par. 3

I consider it better for Brother Pomare to follow your advice, as you presented it to me. I am sure that the enemy has wrought to bring about a condition of things in our college at Battle Creek that shall carry an influence demeriting the school, and shall move the students to attend other schools conducted by those not of our faith, and thus deprive them of an opportunity to gain that experience and knowledge which they are privileged to have at Battle Creek. 8LtMs, Lt 50, 1893, par. 4

One thing I wish you to understand, I have not been in harmony with the expelling of students from the school unless human depravity and gross licentiousness make it necessary, that others shall not be corrupted. There has been an error in sending students from the school, as in the case of Cass of Connecticut, and other cases, which has been a great evil. Souls thus treated have opened before them a course of action that has secured them in the ranks of the enemy as armed and equipped enemies. 8LtMs, Lt 50, 1893, par. 5

Again, [as to] making public the errors of the students to the school, I have been brought in to see and hear some of these exposures, and then been shown the after influence. It has been harmful in every respect and has no beneficial influence upon the school. Had those who acted a part in these things had the spirit and wisdom of Christ, they would have seen a way to remedy the existing difficulties more after the likeness of Jesus Christ. It never helps a student to be humiliated before a whole school room. It creates a wound that mortifies. It heals nothing, cures nothing. 8LtMs, Lt 50, 1893, par. 6

There are students who are suspended from school. They are in this action thrust upon Satan’s battle ground to cope with principalities and powers without armor or defense, to become an easy prey to Satan’s devices. Let me speak a word to you in the name of the Lord. When there is a proper course taken in cases where students seem so easily led astray, there will be found no necessity for suspension or expulsion. There is a right way, and the Spirit of the Lord must move the human agent or else there will be grave mistakes made. It is the nicest work that was ever entered upon by the human agent, the dealing with human minds. 8LtMs, Lt 50, 1893, par. 7

Teachers are to consider that they are not dealing with angels, but human beings with like passions as they have. Characters are not formed in one mold. There is every phase of character received by children as an inheritance. The defects and the virtues in traits of character are thus revealed. Let every instructor take this into consideration. Hereditary and cultivated deformity of human character, as also beauty of character, will have to be met and much grace cultivated in the instructor to know how to deal with the erring for their present and eternal good. Impulse, impatience, pride, selfishness, and self-esteem if cherished will do a great amount of evil, which may thrust the soul upon Satan’s battleground without wisdom to navigate his bark. He will be in danger of being tossed about by the sport of Satan’s temptations until shipwrecked. 8LtMs, Lt 50, 1893, par. 8

Every teacher has his own peculiar traits of character to watch, lest Satan should use him as his agent to destroy souls by his own unconsecrated traits of character. The only safety for teachers is to learn daily in the school of Christ His meekness, His lowliness of heart; then self will be hid in Christ, and he will meekly wear the yoke of Christ and consider he is dealing with His heritage. I must state to you that I have been shown that the best methods have not always been practiced in dealing with the errors and mistakes of students, and the result has been that souls have been imperilled and some lost. Evil tempers in the teachers, unwise movements, self-dignity has done a bad work. There is no form of vice, worldliness, or drunkenness that will do a more baleful work upon the character, imbittering the soul and setting in train evils that overbear good, as human passions not under the control of the Spirit of God. Anger getting touched, stirred up, will never pay. How many prodigals are kept out of the kingdom of God by the slovenly character of those who claim to be Christians! Jealousy, envy, pride, and uncharitable feelings, self-righteousness, easily provoked, thinking evil, harshness, cold, unsympathetic, these are the attributes of Satan. Teachers will meet with these things in the students’ characters. It is a terrible thing to have these things to deal with; but in seeking to cast out these evils, the worker has in many instances developed similar attributes which have marred the soul of the one with whom he is dealing. 8LtMs, Lt 50, 1893, par. 9

There is really no place in heaven for these dispositions. A man with such a character will only make heaven miserable, because he, himself is miserable. “Except ye be born again,” said Christ, “Ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” [John 3:3, 5, 7.] To enter heaven, a man must have Christ formed within, the hope of glory, and take heaven with him. The Lord Jesus alone can fashion and change the character. For want of patience, kindness, forbearance, unselfishness, and love, the revealings of the traits flash forth involuntarily when off guard, and unchristian words, un-Christlikeness of character burst forth, sometimes to the ruin of a soul. “Rejoiceth not in iniquity.” [1 Corinthians 13:6.] Mark it. The Apostle meant [that] where there is a cultivation of genuine love for precious souls, it will be exhibited for those most in need of that patience which suffereth long and is kind, and will not be ready to magnify a small indiscretion or direct wrong into large, unpardonable offenses, and will not make capital of others’ misdoings. The love for souls for whom Christ died to save will not do that which has been [done] through misconceptions of that which was due to the erring—expose their errors and weakness before a whole school. How do you think Jesus has looked upon such transactions? Should He have been present, He would have said to those doing these things, “Ye know not the Scriptures or the power of God” [Mark 12:24], for in the Scriptures are plainly marked how to deal with the erring. Forbearance, kindly consideration, “Consider thyself lest thou also be tempted,” would meet the stubborn, obdurate heart. [Galatians 6:1.] Love of Jesus will cover a multitude of sins, that they shall not prey upon the offender, neither be exposed to create feelings of every stripe and character in the human breast of those to whom these things, errors, mistakes, are laid open, and to the one thus dealt with. He is too often driven to desperation. His mind is beyond healing. Now, the work is to have the grace of Christ in the soul which will never, never be guilty of exposings another’s wrongs, unless it is a positive necessity. Practice the line of Christ. The True Witness speaks in Revelation 2:1-5. Practice love. There is nothing in Christianity that is capricious. 8LtMs, Lt 50, 1893, par. 10

If a man will not exercise his arm, it becomes weak and deficient in muscular strength. Unless the Christian exercises his spiritual powers, he acquires no strength of character, no moral vigor. Love is a very precious plant and must be cultivated if it flourishes. The precious plant of love is to be treated tenderly, and it will become strong and vigorous and rich in fruit-bearing, giving expression to the whole character. A Christlike nature is not selfish, not unkind, will not hurt the souls of those who are struggling with Satan’s temptations. They will enter into the feelings [of those] that are tempted, that the trials and temptations shall be so managed as to bring out the gold and consume the dross. This is the practice which God appoints you. In this, Christ’s school, you may learn your lessons daily, and teachers and pupils are to be patient, humble, generous, noble. You will have to seek God most earnestly in prayer mingled with living faith, and the molding hand of God will bring out His own image in your character. Temptations will come, but [will] not overcome. Through grace found in opening the heart to the knock and voice of Jesus, Christian character and experience is growing more and more beautiful and heavenly. Let us bear in mind that we are dealing with souls that Christ has purchased with infinite cost to Himself. O, tell the erring, “God loves you, God died for you.” Weep over them, pray with them. Shed tears over them, but do not get angry with them. They are Christ’s purchased possession. Let every one seek a character that will express love in all their actions. “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” [Matthew 18:6.] It were better not to live than to exist day by day devoid of that love which Christ has revealed in His character and has enjoined upon His children, “Love one another as I have loved you.” [John 13:34.] 8LtMs, Lt 50, 1893, par. 11

We live in a hard, unfeeling, uncharitable world. Satan and his confederacy is plying his every art to seduce the souls for whom Christ has given His precious life. Every one who loves God in sincerity and truth will love the souls for whom Christ has died. If we wish to do good to souls, our success with these souls will be in proportion to their belief of our belief and appreciation of them. Respect shown to the struggling human soul is the sure means through Christ Jesus of the restoration of the self-respect the man has lost. Our advancing ideas of what he may become is a help we cannot ourselves fully appreciate. We have need of the rich grace of God every hour, then we will have a rich practical experience, for God is love. He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God. Give love to them that need it most, the most unfortunate, those who have the most disagreeable temperaments need our love, our tenderness, our compassion; those who try our patience most need love. We pass through the world only once; any good thing we can do, we should do most earnestly, untiringly, with the same spirit as is stated of Christ in His work. He will not fail nor be discouraged. The rough, stubborn, sullen dispositions are the ones who need help the most. How can they be helped? Only by that love practiced in dealing with them as Christ revealed to fallen man. Treat them, you say, as they deserve. What if Christ had treated us thus. He the undeserving was treated as we deserve. Still we are treated by Christ with grace and love as we did not deserve, but as He deserved. Treat some characters as they, you think, richly deserve, and you will cut off from them the last thread of hope, spoil your influence, and ruin the soul. Will it pay? Now I say, No, a hundred times no. Bind these souls who need all the help it is possible for you to give them close to a loving, sympathizing, pitying heart over-flowing with Christlike love, and you will save a soul from death and hide a multitude of sins. Had we not better try the love process? 8LtMs, Lt 50, 1893, par. 12

Be careful what you do in the line of suspending students. This is a solemn business. It should be a very grave fault which requires this discipline. Then there should be careful consideration of all the circumstances connected with the case. Students sent from home a short distance or a long distance, thousands and thousands of miles, are away from, and deprived of, the advantages of home, and if expelled are refused the privileges of school. All their expenses have to be met by some one who has had hope and confidence in these subjects that their money would not be invested in vain. The student enters into or falls into temptation, and he is to be disciplined for his wrong. He feels keenly that his record is marred, and he disappoints those who have trusted him to develop a character under the influence of his training in his scholastic life, which will pay all that has been invested in his behalf. But he is suspended for his foolish course of action. What will he do? Courage is at the lowest ebb, courage and even manliness is not cherished. He is an expense, and precious time is lost. Who is tender and kind, and feels the burden of these souls? What wonder that Satan takes advantage of the circumstances. They are thrust on Satan’s battleground and the very worst feelings of the human heart are called into exercise, and strengthened and become confirmed. 8LtMs, Lt 50, 1893, par. 13

I put the case as it has been presented to me. I wish all could view these things as it has, in all its bearings, been shown me. I think there would be radical changes made in many rules and methods of dealing with human minds. There would be more physicians to heal human souls, who understand how to deal with human minds. There would be far more forgiveness and sympathy and love practiced, and far less discouraging, tearing down influences exercised. 8LtMs, Lt 50, 1893, par. 14

Supposing Christ should deal with all His sons and daughters who learn of Him as the human agents, as teachers, deal with those under their charge, when the law of the Lord—His rules, His injunctions—have been disregarded by us, [and] the guilty are expelled or suspended, binding the erring away from His saving, uplifting, educating influences, [and] leaving him to pick and choose his own way and course of action without His divine assistance. What would become of our souls? His constant, forgiving love is binding up our souls’ interest with Himself. O, the mightiness of the love of Jesus overwhelms me as I consider it! The yoke of Christ is easy and His burden is light. When we enter more entirely into the love of Jesus by practice, we shall see far different results in our own (Christian) advancement, and in the molding of the character of those brought in relationship with us. The most difficult business for [an] individual is giving up that which one thinks is his right. Love seeketh not her own. Heavenborn love strikes deeper than the surface. Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Fortified with the grace of Christ, love doth not behave itself unseemly. He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, [for] God is love. We all need love, gentleness, tenderness, compassion, and forbearance. Expel from the soul every vestige of selfishness or human dignity. 8LtMs, Lt 50, 1893, par. 15

When all hope was excluded from Adam and Eve in consequence of transgression and sin, when justice demanded the death of the sinner, Christ gave Himself to be a sacrifice for the sin of the world. The world was under condemnation. Christ became substitute and surety for man. He would give His life for the world, which is represented as the one lost sheep that had strayed from the fold, whose guilt as well as helplessness was charged against them and stood in the way, hindering their return. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins.” [1 John 4:10.] “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” [Isaiah 53:6.] Every son and daughter of God, if they have an abiding Saviour, will act out Christ. Every soul that has not an abiding Saviour will reveal the same in un-Christlikeness in character. Love is not cherished and put in exercise. “Lift Him up, the risen Saviour,” in our words, in our conversation, in our dealing with the erring. 8LtMs, Lt 50, 1893, par. 16

I know, by the burden which is rolled upon me, that many who are officiating in our schools need themselves to learn in the school of Christ His meekness, His tender dealing with the erring, His compassion and love. Until they are melted over and the dross separated from the character, they will work at cross-purposes. I am deeply grieved in my heart, for serious results in unwise dealings have followed, more serious than many are willing to admit to their own conscience or to God. Self is so large in many, ever striving for the mastery. There are those who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ who have never died to self. They have never fallen on the Rock and been broken. Until this shall be, they will live unto self; and if they die as they are, it is forever too late for their wrongs to be righted. I love their souls. Jesus loves their souls, and He will do a good work for them if they will humble themselves under His mighty hand, repent and be converted, [and] surrender every day to God. It must be a constant, daily surrender. We must be minute men and women, ever on guard over self, and watching to improve every opportunity to do good and only good for the souls for whom Christ has given His life to make them His own. When the human agents deal with these souls in a hard spirit, they grieve the heart of Christ, and put Him to open shame, for they misrepresent in their own character, the character of Christ. Said one, “Thy gentleness hath made me great.” [Psalm 18:35.] I pray to our heavenly Father that all connected with our schools may be in Christ as the branch is united to the vine. 8LtMs, Lt 50, 1893, par. 17