Dear Brother B: I was shown that you move much from feeling instead of from firm principle. You lack a deep and thorough experience in the things of God. You need to be wholly converted to the truth. When a man's heart is fully converted, all that he possesses is consecrated to the Lord. This consecration you have not yet experienced. You love the truth in word, but do not manifest that love in your deeds and by your fruits. Your acts, your deeds, are evidences of the sincerity of your love, or of your indifference to God, His cause, and your fellow men.
How did Christ manifest His love for poor mortals? By the sacrifice of His own glory, His own riches, and even His most precious life. Christ consented to a life of humiliation and great suffering. He submitted to the cruel mockings of an infuriated, murderous multitude, and to the most agonizing death upon the cross. Said Christ: "This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for
his friends. Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." We give evidence of being the friends of Christ when we manifest implicit obedience to His will. It is no evidence to say, and do not; but in doing, in obeying, is the evidence. Who are obeying the commandment to love one another as Christ has loved them? Brother B, you must have a firmer, deeper, and more unselfish love than you have ever yet possessed, if you obey the commandment of Christ.
You lack benevolence. You labor to save yourself from care, trouble, or expense for the cause of God. You have invested but little in the cause. The enterprise which man values the most will be seen by his investments. If he places a higher estimate upon eternal things than upon temporal things, he will show this by his works; he will invest the most, and venture the most, in that which he values the highest and which in the end brings him the greatest profit.
Men who profess the truth will engage in worldly enterprises, and invest much, and run great risks. If they lose nearly all they possess, they are deeply aggrieved, because they feel the inconvenience of the losses they have sustained; yet they do not feel that their unwise course has deprived the cause of God of means, and that as His stewards they must render an account for this squandering of the Lord's money. Should they be required to venture something for the cause of God, to invest a quarter even of that which they have lost by their investment in earthly things, they would feel that heaven costs too much.
Eternal things are not appreciated. You are not a rich man, yet your heart may be just as much placed upon the little you have, and you may cling to it just as closely as the millionaire to his treasures. Small, very small, will be the profits realized by you in your investments in worldly enterprises; while, on the other hand, if you invest in the cause of God, make that cause a part of you, and love it as you love
yourself, and are willing to sacrifice for its advancement, showing your confidence and faith in its ultimate triumph, you will reap a precious harvest, if not in this life, in the better life than this. You will reap an eternal reward which is of as much higher value than any common, earthly gains as the immortal is higher than the perishable.
Brother B, you seemed anxious to find out what had been said in regard to your position in the church and what was our mind in regard to it. It was just this that I have written. I feared for you because of what I have been shown of your peculiarities. You moved by impulse. You would pray if you felt like it, and speak if you felt like it. You would go to meeting if so disposed, or stay at home if not. You greatly lacked the spirit of self-sacrifice. You have consulted your own wishes and ease, and pleased yourself, instead of feeling that you should please God. Duty, duty! at your post every time. Have you enlisted as a soldier of the cross of Christ? If so, your feelings do not excuse you from duty. You must be willing to endure hardness as a good soldier. Go without the camp, bearing the reproach; for thus did the Captain of your salvation. The qualifications of a bishop, or of an elder or deacon, are, to be "blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."
Paul enumerates the precious gifts to be desired, and exhorts the brethren: "He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit;
serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality." "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." Here is a wise and perfectly safe investment; good works are here specified and recommended for our practice, for your practice. Here are profits that are valuable. There will be no danger of a failure here. A treasure may be secured in heaven, a constant accumulation which will give to the investor a title to eternal life. And when his life here shall close, and probation end, he may lay hold on eternal life.
Brother B, you are not a lover of hospitality, you shun burdens. You feel that it is a task to feed the saints and look after their wants, and that all you do in this direction is lost. Please read the above scriptures, and may God give you understanding and discernment, is my earnest prayer. As a family you need to cultivate liberality and to be less self-caring. Love to invite God's people to your house, and, as occasion may require, share with them cheerfully, gladly, that of which the Lord has made you stewards. Do not give grudgingly these little favors. As you do these things to Christ's disciples, you do it unto Him; just so, as you grudge the saints of God your hospitality, you grudge Jesus the same.
The health reform is essential for you both. Sister B has been backward in this good work and has suffered opposition to arise when she knew not what she was opposing. She has resisted the counsel of God against her own soul. Intemperate appetite has brought debility and disease, weakening the moral powers, and unfitting her to appreciate the sacred truth,
the value of the atonement, which is essential to salvation. Sister B loves this world. She has not separated, in her affections, from the world, and given herself unreservedly to God, as He requires. He will not accept half a sacrifice. All, all, all, is God's, and we are required to render perfect service. Says Paul: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living [not dying] sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." What a privilege is thus allowed us, to prove for ourselves, experimentally, the mind of the Lord and His will toward us. Praise His dear name for this precious gift! I have been shown that Sister B's grasp must be broken from this world before she can have a true, safe hold of the better world.
Brother B, you should move carefully and keep self under; be patient, meek, and lowly. A meek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God of great price. You should cherish that which God esteems of worth. A work must be accomplished for you both before you can meet the measurement of God. Work while the day lasts, for the night cometh in which no man can work. Stand in the clear light yourselves, then can you let your light so shine that others by seeing your good works will be led to glorify your heavenly Father.
Greenville, Michigan, Jan. 23, 1868.