Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 21 (1906)


Ms 120, 1906

The Long-Sufferance of God



Previously unpublished.

Just prior to the opening of the 1901 General Conference, I spoke in the Battle Creek College library to a large group of men in positions of responsibility. Among other things, I said: “I thank God that Dr. Kellogg has not sunk into despondency and infidelity. I have been afraid of it, and I have written some very straight things to him; and it may be, Dr. Kellogg (if he is here), that I have written too strongly; for I felt as if I must get hold of you and hold you by the power of all the might I had.” 21LtMs, Ms 120, 1906, par. 1

Some have since inquired what I meant by saying that “it may be ... I have written too strongly.” 21LtMs, Ms 120, 1906, par. 2

This question I will answer by quoting extracts from letters and manuscripts written during the past few years. July 10, 1902, I wrote: 21LtMs, Ms 120, 1906, par. 3

“There are times when I refrain from stating at first all that is presented to me. I do this in the hope that a partial statement will be sufficient to lead those who are reproved to see their danger. Then, when the heart is softened, and prepared to hear more, I can state the whole message. But when I see that things are being done that will imperil the cause, I state the whole matter, whatever the consequence may be. This may seem strange to you, but this is the way in which I have to do. 21LtMs, Ms 120, 1906, par. 4

“In presenting to Dr. Kellogg the message given to me again and again in regard to his relation to the truth for this time, I have endeavored to place the matter before him in the most carefully chosen language; for I was intensely anxious that he should not reject the message.” 21LtMs, Ms 120, 1906, par. 5

In an article appearing in the Review and Herald, February 26, 1895, is the following: 21LtMs, Ms 120, 1906, par. 6

“God is love, God is life. It is the prerogative of God to redeem, to reconstruct, and restore. ... The work of Christ is to redeem, to restore, to seek, and to save that which was lost. If we are connected with Christ, we also are partakers of the divine nature, and are to be laborers together with God. We are to bind up the bruised and wounded soul; and if a brother or sister has erred, we are not to join with the enemy in destroying and ruining, but to work with Christ to restore such a one in the spirit of meekness. ... 21LtMs, Ms 120, 1906, par. 7

“God is love, in Himself, in His very essence. He makes the very best of that which appears an injury, and gives Satan no occasion for triumphing by making the worst appear, or by exposing our weaknesses to our enemies.” 21LtMs, Ms 120, 1906, par. 8

In sending to Dr. Kellogg the instruction that God had given regarding his dangers, I sought to present the matter in a way that would reform, not destroy. Accompanying the reproofs were words of encouragement. The Lord had given Dr. Kellogg a talent of influence among our people, and He desired to rescue the Doctor from his perilous position spiritually, without lessening his influence. 21LtMs, Ms 120, 1906, par. 9

In a letter written October 14, 1903, I stated that “I did not desire to disparage him in any way before the people, if it could be avoided, while there was still opportunity for him to repent. And so I forbore. 21LtMs, Ms 120, 1906, par. 10

“I have feared to say to Dr. Kellogg the plain things given me for him, lest he should be led to take a course that should forever decide his case. Had I, when in Oakland, borne the message that I thought I should have to bear, it might have resulted in Dr. Kellogg’s taking his position fully with the powers of darkness. This he has been about to do again and again, but has not fully done it. ... 21LtMs, Ms 120, 1906, par. 11

“For many years I have tried to hold fast to Dr. Kellogg. But for some time he has been revealing what spirit has been controlling him. The Lord will take this matter in His own hands. I must bear the testimonies of warning that He gives me to bear, and then leave with Him the results. I must now present the matter in all its bearings; for the people of God must not be despoiled.” 21LtMs, Ms 120, 1906, par. 12

It is because our erring brother refused to respond to repeated invitations of mercy, and continued to walk in a way of his own choosing, that it has become necessary to warn our people regarding the wrong principles that have been introduced and cherished. In this effort to guard the work on every side so that it shall not become disproportionate, we must move cautiously, lest we stir up bitter feelings. But the truth must appear just as it is. 21LtMs, Ms 120, 1906, par. 13

When understood aright, the words I spoke just before the opening of the 1901 General Conference, “It may be ... I have written too strongly,” reveal the compassion and the long-sufferance of God toward the erring. He bears long with perversity. Patiently, lovingly, He points out errors and pleads with wrongdoers to return unto Him. But if they refuse to accept His invitations, He speaks more plainly and often sends His judgments to lead to repentance and the forsaking of sins. 21LtMs, Ms 120, 1906, par. 14

“The Lord is long-suffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression.” [Numbers 14:18.] He is “long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” [2 Peter 3:9.] “The Lord is slow to anger,” and yet “He will not at all acquit the wicked. ... Who can stand before His indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of His wrath?” [Nahum 1:3, 6.] 21LtMs, Ms 120, 1906, par. 15

“Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” “Repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.” [Revelation 2:5, 16.] 21LtMs, Ms 120, 1906, par. 16