Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 17 (1902)


Lt 215, 1902

Jones, A. T.

“Elmshaven,” St. Helena, California

May 7, 1902

This letter is published in entirety in 11MR 208-210.

Elder A. T. Jones

Dear Brother,—

I did not feel free to bring into the testimony I read while I was in Oakland all that had been shown me concerning your work. But I must tell you plainly that your views in regard to church discipline are not in harmony with the Word of God. You are wide of the mark. God calls upon you, my brother, to weigh your words carefully before you speak them to the congregation. 17LtMs, Lt 215, 1902, par. 1

You have been given great light upon the Bible. God has helped you to make truth appear in its true bearing before the people, but this is no excuse for you to speak words that have no foundation in the word of God, words that, if carried out, would bring our churches to the place where they would need the reproof, “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.” [Matthew 21:13.] 17LtMs, Lt 215, 1902, par. 2

The names of those who sin and refuse to repent should not be retained on the church books, lest the saints be held accountable for their evil deeds. Those who pursue a course of transgression should be visited and labored with, and if they then refuse to repent, they should be separated from church fellowship, in accordance with the rules laid down in the Word of God. 17LtMs, Lt 215, 1902, par. 3

“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” [Matthew 5:23, 24.] 17LtMs, Lt 215, 1902, par. 4

“If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.” [Matthew 18:15-17.] 17LtMs, Lt 215, 1902, par. 5

“I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators; yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.” [1 Corinthians 5:9, 10.] 17LtMs, Lt 215, 1902, par. 6

“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” [Romans 1:16-18.] 17LtMs, Lt 215, 1902, par. 7

“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” [2 John 9-11.] 17LtMs, Lt 215, 1902, par. 8

Brother Jones, instruction has been given to me to the effect that you are careless in your speech, and that your words must be more carefully chosen. You must remember that you are certainly dishonoring God when you use His entrusted talent of speech, which should be consecrated and holy, in such a way that it is a stumbling block to our people. Those who refuse to hear the admonitions and warnings given by God’s faithful messengers are not to be retained in the church. They are to be disfellowshipped; for they will be as Achan in the camp of Israel—deceived and deceiving. 17LtMs, Lt 215, 1902, par. 9

Who, after reading the record of Achan’s sin and punishment, can think it according to the will of God that those who do wickedly, refusing to repent, are to be retained in the church? To retain them would be an insult to the God of heaven. 17LtMs, Lt 215, 1902, par. 10

Elder Jones, I am much pained by your incautious statements. You speak rashly. You are not sanctified by the truth you handle. Your spirit needs to be refined. Then Christlike words will flow from a heart imbued with the Holy Spirit. You are too self-confident, too sure that everything you say possesses a power which will obtain assent to it from those who hear. 17LtMs, Lt 215, 1902, par. 11

Unless you are converted, your unguarded statements will destroy the force of the most powerful sermons you can preach; for they reveal that you are not speaking under the influence of the Holy Spirit, but that “another spirit” has taken possession of you. [2 Corinthians 11:4.] All in your words and actions that is coarse and rough, all that savors of a reckless self-confidence, greatly injures the force of the truth that you proclaim. Unless you change, your careless speech will make fruitless the most precious truths. 17LtMs, Lt 215, 1902, par. 12

Speak guardedly. When your words are weighted with the Holy Spirit, when you stand where you should as a man who is proclaiming the sacred truths of the Word of God, your unsuspected weaknesses of character will not be developed as something worthy of imitation. If you keep humble before God, self will not appear. It will be unmistakably seen that Christ is abiding in the heart, sanctifying the life. Show by your careful, holy profession that you are receiving into your soul the water of life, to send it forth to others in sweet, living currents. The religion of Calvary and the gospel is a triumphant argument to the transforming power of the grace of Christ. Unless your spirit is decidedly changed, your course will greatly detract from your influence. God does not want the ways and words of A. T. Jones to be woven into your discourses. You must come to the feet of Jesus. “Learn of Me,” says the divine Teacher; “for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:29, 30.] 17LtMs, Lt 215, 1902, par. 13

Cover yourself with the righteousness of Christ. Let not unadvised words and actions injure your influence. Do not think that your course of action is perfect, and that no one should question it. Our people will certainly question your course unless they see that you are moving under the influence of the Holy Spirit, in all meekness and lowliness of heart. The sharp way in which you sometimes bear down on others will tell upon you. You need to be melted over by the Spirit of God. You need to cherish the gentleness of Christ. 17LtMs, Lt 215, 1902, par. 14