Lt 31, 1886

Lt 31, 1886

Bourdeau, Augustin

Basel, Switzerland

February 11, 1886

Portions of this letter are published in EGWE 174.

Bro. Augustin Bourdeau:

Your letter was about what I expected from you. You speak of openings in Italy and halls where you could labor. You have been there all winter, and with but very few exceptions you have nothing to show for your time. Now you could just as well, had you had the burden of the work upon you, had these openings months ago as at this late period. Any other man sent out to Italy as you were would have done something. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 1

I have need to speak plainly to you. You have but little burden for the work. You are content to see little matters about your home and let them absorb your time and whole mind. You do not make the cause of God first. When you went to Italy, you had in mind that you were to settle a house. Now this should have been with you as it has been with me a matter of secondary consideration. Every effort should have been made to do something to get the truth before others. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 2

Your mind has received such a mold that you will see reasons and excuses where your brethren see none and the Lord sees none. These excuses are just what every father could make and then wait for openings and favorable circumstances. How would the work be done if entrusted with such hands as yourself? If all the workers should do as you have done in regard to Italy, the cause would do better without them. If you do no more than you have done, you could be spared from Italy, for your example to the inexperienced workers has already had an influence upon them that is not such as we want the workers to receive. You are not a bold soldier for Jesus. Remember that co-laborers with Christ are to save souls. Our work is aggressive. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 3

The workers for God after the death and resurrection of Christ gave themselves to the Lord. They were doing the will of God. All selfishness was laid aside, and the salvation of souls for whom Christ died was the burden of their message. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 4

You state in your letter to me dated Jan. 10, “I know that Daniel and his family have desired that I should go and help in the work in Genève and Lausanne. But as we talked the matter over we could not see how I could leave the Valleys at present. It seemed to us that I should try for a while to counteract the efforts that have been made against us by M. Grant and Mallon. I know that it would be advisable that Daniel should have some preacher to assist him, and I have felt deeply upon this point. But you and Bro. Whitney can readily see just how things stand here now. We have succeeded to find a hall at Angrogue that we can occupy for three months, and another hall in Lucerne that we can occupy any length of time. Would not have to pay high rent for them. Bro. Geymet feels really bad that I am going away. He thinks it is our best time in this season to get a hearing, and hardly knows what to say to the proprietors of these halls, to whom we have spoken with encouragement about wanting the halls. He says that he dare not undertake to hold meetings in halls.” 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 5

What earnest, persevering effort did you put forth to obtain these halls at a much earlier date? You lost time in bemoaning your situation. Now my Brother, I have felt much distressed as I have considered in regard to what you have done in real efforts since the Conference at Basel. I might not have felt so keenly over this matter of seeing the time passing, you in the Valleys where labor was so essential, and yet your feeling so restful and unconcerned, and doing so little, had not these slow, sluggish movements been presented before me so distinctly at times in the past, and shown me to be one of the most serious errors of your life. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 6

Had you had the real burden of God’s cause you could not have pursued the course you have. Had you had the missionary spirit, you would have opened the way before you. You could not have rested day or night until the way was opened. You would have found halls and gone to work doing something. While I could not recommend your entering the stables, I believe you could have many openings had you felt the burden of the work. But you seemed to rely upon Brother Geymet to do about everything that was done. The very fact of your being in the Valleys and doing nothing, or but little more than many lay members who had no special calling from God would have done, had they been in your place, was against you. The position you occupied in the Valleys was much like the array of Quaker guns to hold a fort. Your very presence there with no burden to push your way was in my judgment far worse than had you not been there at all. Your example was bad for Bro. G. Almost all errands you wished to have done, instead of doing them yourself as you had nothing else to do, you would call upon Bro. G. to attend to. Had you been unable to speak French, then it would have appeared more consistent. Had you had life and zeal and thoroughness in you, you would have been able to have educated Bro. Geymet, and your example would have been a pattern of industry. How can we talk to him with such an example as this before him? You had ample time to do things; but hour after hour was frittered away upon unimportant matters, and next to nothing was done. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 7

You might have opened ways for me to have got into St. Johns, and to have gone to several places, had you done as most ministers would have done. But your taking things so easy was then and has been to me since a great marvel. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 8

Some years ago I was shown your need of energy and zeal, and your need of studying the subjects that you presented to the people. But you were troubled with mental laziness. You let your mind and brain rust from inaction. You did not every day make it a point to progress. You were content to take the production of others’ brains and arguments that other men had searched out while you were indolent yourself. These halls that were found, could they not have been found months before? As far as your presence in the Valleys is concerned, you might just as well have not gone there. But when you were sent to the Valleys, it was not for you to do nothing, but to feel the burden and work as a faithful servant of Jesus Christ. What did you do weeks before the Conference at Basel? What have you done since that meeting? 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 9

In your letter Jan. 27, you make many explanations, then state “While it is true that I would gladly labor with my might this winter to extend the work in these Valleys in view of our being located here etc., yet reason teaches me that I should help my brother, and I have felt a great drawing to labor in portions of France where there are fields needing workers. The Lord knows that while I am truly a lover of home, I do feel a willingness to sacrifice home comforts and the society of loved ones and labor for the Master.” 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 10

I am glad to read these words and shall rejoice to see them practiced. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 11

In regard to your boys’ coming to Europe, no one asked our advice. From a letter you read to us in this house, I think your daughter Sarah expressed great regret that Arthur could not remain with them. In regard to your training them and caring for them, you must see that if you are doing missionary work, you would not, could not be with your children but a small portion of the time, and you would effectually close the door to your wife’s being with you in your labors. You have but a very small experience in the training of children. Your wife had this burden principally upon her. You knew but little by experience of the care-taking and management of them. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 12

You say you will leave out of your account the time from Sept.-Jan., but my brother, this is the smallest part of the matter. The Lord had a right to expect better things of you than this. You were the Lord’s hired servant. In your letter dated Jan. 29, from Genève, you state, “I wish to say frankly and freely, that though I did not make a great noise, yet I felt an intense interest in seeing something accomplished in the Valleys, and had it at heart and felt determined to do what I could to push forward the work. I felt deeply because the way had been hedged up so long.” Now, I do not think that the way has been hedged up, as it has been thus presented to me, any more than in many places where the truth has been introduced. When the Lord sees that we have it at heart to make a determined effort, He works with our efforts. But when we wait and wait for a favorable opening in every respect to meet our convenience and our plans, the way will be hedged up till time closes. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 13

You may, my brother, have had thoughts and good intentions to do, but however good your intentions you certainly did not do in this case. There was no pushing at all, but a listless, do-nothing waiting. Just look over the time and see how it has been spent. Certainly not in doing the work you were expected to do. You see that as soon as you set to work to find a hall, you succeeded. Could not this have been done months before, had you carried out the intense interest you express that you had for those people in Italy? You say you meant to hold eleven meetings a week, and believed God would have helped you. Would He not have helped you in the months that have passed into eternity with their record of work to be done that was not done? 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 14

You say, “If an effort is not made this winter in these villages, we will not be likely to do much in halls before another winter.” Will you reckon and see how many months have passed with one excuse after another to keep you from the work? You are grieved with thought of being located in these Valleys and nothing being done. This is what grieves me. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 15

You say, “I ask myself the question, Was it in the order of God that I should move here as I did?” This matter none of us can determine. But there being nothing done I attribute to your manifest neglect of your duty. The Lord did not decree that you should make no effort. The Lord did not ordain that week after week pass away and nothing be accomplished. You were sent to the Valleys to do missionary work; and after engaging in the work to the best of your ability, then the moments aside from your work would be lawfully used in settling your house. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 16

You say, “You cannot blame me if I say that I feel very bad that no more has been accomplished in the Valleys since last Oct.” We do not blame you for feeling thus, it is natural and right that you should feel thus. I fear that the books in heaven will show that your talents and time have been misemployed, misdirected, and Satan came in and preoccupied the field while you were busy here and there serving tables. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 17

You remember Jesus in His parable of the tares says that while men slept, Satan sowed the tares among the wheat. You make a statement like this, “Daniel has had many more opportunities than I have to give lessons himself to his wife and children. My wife and boys say they learn much faster when I teach them than when any one else does.” Are you not deceiving yourself here? If you had made good use of your time, one extra hour could certainly have been employed in giving instruction to your children when I was with you; but I concluded when you were hunting up a teacher in Italy for them, it was because you had not a sufficiently thorough education in the French to teach them. You say you had not opportunities; please say you had not tact, skill, energy, and ability to seize opportunities within your reach. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 18

You say, “It would be very beneficial for me to spend an hour each day in teaching French and studying German.” As far as studying is concerned, you can do this if you closely apply yourself. But you will have to put your powers to task in a much more orderly and determined manner, and make the most of your moments in a greater degree than you have hitherto done since coming to Europe. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 19

What hindered your giving your children lessons every day since you have been in Italy? You could have had your rules and regulations and accomplished much both in teaching your children and studying yourself. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 20

My brother, I have tried to respond to your letter and will not hesitate to say that you need a work done for you that must be done in order to make your work acceptable to God. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 21

Do not, I beg of you, think that I have written this because I do not love and respect you. I do, and this is the reason I speak plainly to you, for no else will; and I dare not withhold from you the things which I know, for your future labors will be affected by the way you view matters. Now I want you to see and sense the situation as it is, and put away your childish petting and sympathizing with yourself, and be a man in every sense of the word. Lean not to your own understanding, but lean on God. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 22

If the way is opened in Italy, I wish to come there and give another trial. But if there is no opening, I do not desire to go there again. I respect you just enough not to allow you to be deceiving yourself to your own ruin. I was never a better friend to you than while writing to you these straight and pointed truths. You must reform. God help you to overcome all the defects in your character and win eternal life. 4LtMs, Lt 31, 1886, par. 23