I was shown that self-exaltation has caused Brother R to stumble. He has exercised a certain dignity, savoring of severity, in his family and toward his wife. This has shut her from him. She felt that she could not approach him, and has been in her married life, more like a child fearing a stern, dignified father, than like a wife. She has loved, respected, and idolized her husband notwithstanding his lack of encouraging her confidence. My brother, you should pursue a course that would encourage your timid, shrinking wife to lean upon your large affections, and this would give you a chance, in a delicate, affectionate manner, to correct the errors existing in her, as far as you are capable of so doing, and to inspire her with confidence in herself.
I was shown that you had not possessed that love for your wife that you should. Satan has taken advantage of her defects and your errors, to work for the destruction of your family. You have suffered shame of your wife to come into your heart, and your respect has grown less and less for her whom you vowed to love and cherish until death should part you.
Danger of Confiding Family Troubles
October 25, 1868, your case was again presented before me. I was shown that evil thoughts and unlawful desires have led to improper acts and to a violation of the commandments of God. You have dishonored yourself, your wife, and the cause of God. You could have exerted an influence for good in the cause of God. But the pursuance of a wrong course in matters that you thought were of little consequence has led to greater evils.
Brother R, you are now in danger of making total shipwreck of your faith. You have sinned greatly. But your sin in seeking to cover up, and blind the eyes of those who have suspected you of wrong, has been tenfold greater. All have not acted as prudently and with as much love and care as the Lord would have been pleased to have them, in order to redeem you. But when you tried to put on an air of injured innocence, did you think that God could not see your wrong course? Did you think that He who made man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, could not discern the intents and purposes of the heart? You have thought that if you should confess your sin you would lose your honor—your life, as it were. You thought that your brethren would have no confidence in you. You have not viewed matters in the right light. It is a shame to sin, but always an honor to confess sin.
Angels of God have kept a faithful record of every act, however secret you may have thought you were in its committal. God discerns the purposes of man and all his works. Every man will be rewarded according as his works have been, whether good or evil. That which a man sows will he also reap. There will be no failure in the crop. The harvest is sure and plentiful. You have tried to blind your brethren in regard to your course. How could you do so, when you knew that you were guilty in the sight of God? If you value your soul’s salvation, make thorough work for eternity.
You will have to make a clean track behind you by thorough confession. You need a thorough conversion—a transformation of self by the renewing of your mind. Your self-esteem must be overcome. You must learn to esteem others better than yourself. Your exalted opinion of your own acquirements must be given up, and you must obtain a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
You have possessed a spirit which has led you from the path of rectitude, and now you are troubled. Doubts, and fears, and despair seize you. There is but one way out, and that is by the way of confession. Your only hope is in falling on the Rock and being broken to pieces; if you do not, it will surely fall upon you and grind you to powder. You can now right your wrongs; you can now redeem the past. By a life of goodness and true humility you can yet walk with acceptance before God in your family. May the Lord help you, in view of the judgment, to work as for your life. Dear brother, I feel deeply interested for you. You have been walking in darkness for some time. You have not arrived at your present state of darkness all at once. You have been leaving the light gradually. You first became exalted, and then, as you felt sufficient in your own strength, the Lord removed His strength from you.
You have been interested in music. This has given incautious, unwise women opportunity, and they have confided their troubles to you. This has gratified your pride, but it has been a snare to you. It has opened a door for the suggestions of Satan. You have not done as you should. You had no right to hear in families that which has been spoken to you. These communications have corrupted your mind, increased your self-esteem, and led to evil thoughts. You have permitted yourself to be a confessor to some sentimental women who desired sympathy and wished to lean upon others. Had they possessed sound judgment and stood self-reliant, having an aim in life, loving to do others good, they would not have been in a condition where they needed to come to anyone for sympathy.
You know not the deceptions of the human heart. You know not the devices of Satan. Some who have drawn largely upon your sympathy have a sickly, diseased imagination, are lovesick, sentimental, ever eager to create a sensation and make a great ado. Some are dissatisfied with their married life. There is not enough romance in it. Novel reading has perverted all the good sense they ever had. They live in an imaginary world. Their imagination creates a husband for themselves such as exists only in romances found in novels. They talk of unrequited love. They are never contented or happy, because their imagination pictures to them a life that is unreal. When they face the reality, come down to the simplicity of real life, and take up life’s burdens in their families, as is woman’s lot, then they will find contentment and happiness.
You have cherished thoughts that were not right. These thoughts have borne fruit. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Your words are not always chaste, pure, and elevated. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth.” Guile is too often found in your mouth—low expressions that proceed from a heart cherishing corrupt thoughts and evil desires.
For some time your feet have been turned from the path of rectitude and purity. You know that your course has been displeasing to God, that you are transgressing His holy law; you know that these things cannot be hid. God will not permit His people to be deceived in your case. Your great sin is in enlisting the sympathies of those who do not understand your crooked course, and by thus doing dividing the judgment of the people who profess the truth. We pity you. My heart aches for you. I see nothing before you but perdition, nothing but utter shipwreck of faith.
Will you cover your sins and brave the matter out? God says you shall not prosper. But he that confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall find mercy. Will you choose death? Will you shut the kingdom of heaven against yourself because you will not yield your wicked pride? Your only hope is in confessing your backslidings. God has let light shine upon your pathway. Will you choose your own course of corruption? Will you cast the truth behind you because it will not sustain you in a course of iniquity? Oh, be entreated to “rend your heart, and not your garments.” Make thorough work for eternity. God will be merciful to you. He will be entreated in your behalf. He will not despise a broken and contrite spirit. Will you turn? Will you live? Your soul is worth saving; it is precious. We wish to help you.
I saw that you are not happy. You are not at rest. You feel distressed, and yet you refuse to take the only course that will bring you relief and hope. He that confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall find mercy. Your condition is deplorable, and you are greatly injuring the cause of God. Your influence will destroy others besides yourself.
If you refuse to come to God and confess your backslidings that He may heal you, there is nothing to be hoped for you or your poor family in the future. Misery will follow upon the steps of sin. God’s hand will be against you, and He will leave you to be controlled by Satan, to be led captive by him at his will. You know not to what lengths you may go. You will be like a man at sea without an anchor. The truth of God is an anchor. You are breaking away from that anchor. Your eternal interests are being sacrificed to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. You are on the point of breaking the bonds which would save you from utter destruction. In seeking to save your life by concealing your wrongs, you are losing it. If you now humble yourself before God, confess your wrongs, and return to Him with full purpose of heart, yours can yet be a happy family. If you will not do this, but choose your own way, your happiness is at an end.
You have a great work to do. You have been too slack in your deportment. Your words have not been elevated, chaste, and pure. You have been separating from the divine, and cultivating the baser passions. The intellectual and noble powers of your mind have been brought into subjection to the animal passions. You have not pursued a right course for some time. You have not abstained from every appearance of evil. It is not safe for you to pursue this course any longer.
You have not loved your wife as you should. She is a good woman. She has seen, in a small measure, your danger. But you have closed your ears to her cautions. You have thought her jealous, but this is not her nature. She loves you, and will bear with you, and forgive and love you, notwithstanding the deep wrong you have done her, if you will only press to the light and make clean work of the past. You must have a thorough conversion. Unless you do, all your past efforts to obey the truth will not save you nor cover up your past wrongs. Jesus requires of you a thorough reformation; then He will help, and bless, and love you, and blot out your sins with His own most precious blood. You can redeem the past. You can correct your ways and yet be an honor to the cause of God. You can do good when you take hold of the strength of God and in His name work—work for your own salvation and for the good of others.
Yours can yet be a happy family. Your wife needs your help. She is like a clinging vine; she wants to lean upon your strength. You can help her and lead her along. You should never censure her. Never reprove her if her efforts are not what you think they should be. Rather encourage her by words of tenderness and love. You can help your wife to preserve her dignity and self-respect. Never praise the work or acts of others before her to make her feel her deficiencies. You have been harsh and unfeeling in this respect. You have shown greater courtesy to your hired help than to her and have placed them ahead of her in the house.
God loves your wife. She has suffered, but He has noticed all, marked all, and will not hold you guiltless for the wounds you have caused. It is neither wealth nor intellect that gives happiness. It is moral worth. True goodness is accounted of Heaven as true greatness. The condition of the moral affections determines the worth of the man. A person may have property and intellect, and yet be valueless, because the glowing fire of goodness has never burned upon the altar of his heart, because his conscience has been seared, blackened, and crisped with selfishness and sin. When the lust of the flesh controls the man, and the evil passions of the carnal nature are permitted to rule, skepticism in regard to the realities of the Christian religion is encouraged, and doubts are expressed as though it were a special virtue to doubt.
The life of Solomon might have been remarkable until its close if virtue had been preserved. But he surrendered this special grace to lustful passion. In his youth he looked to God for guidance and trusted in Him, and God chose for him and gave him wisdom that astonished the world. His power and wisdom were extolled throughout the land. But his love of women was his sin. This passion he did not control in his manhood, and it proved a snare to him. His wives led him into idolatry, and when he began to descend the declivity of life, the wisdom that God had given him was removed; he lost his firmness of character and became more like the giddy youth, wavering between right and wrong. Yielding his principles, he placed himself in the current of evil, and thus separated himself from God, the foundation and source of his strength. He had moved from principle. Wisdom had been more precious to him than the gold of Ophir. But, alas! lustful passions gained the victory. He was deceived and ruined by women. What a lesson for watchfulness! What a testimony to the need of strength from God to the very last!
In the battle with inward corruptions and outward temptations, even the wise and powerful Solomon was vanquished. It is not safe to permit the least departure from the strictest integrity. “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” When a woman relates her family troubles, or complains of her husband, to another man, she violates her marriage vows; she dishonors her husband and breaks down the wall erected to preserve the sanctity of the marriage relation; she throws wide open the door and invites Satan to enter with his insidious temptations. This is just as Satan would have it. If a woman comes to a Christian brother with a tale of her woes, her disappointments and trials, he should ever advise her, if she must confide her troubles to someone, to select sisters for her confidants, and then there will be no appearance of evil whereby the cause of God may suffer reproach.
Remember Solomon. Among many nations there was no king like him, beloved of his God. But he fell. He was led from God and became corrupt through the indulgence of lustful passions. This is the prevailing sin of this age, and its progress is fearful. Professed Sabbathkeepers are not clean. There are those who profess to believe the truth who are corrupt at heart. God will prove them, and their folly and sin shall be made manifest. None but the pure and lowly can dwell in His presence. “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” “Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoreth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.”
Chapter 43—Letter to an Orphan Boy
In the last vision given me, I saw that you had faults to correct. It is necessary for you to see these before you will make the required effort to correct them. You have much to learn before you can form a good, Christian character which God can approve. From your childhood you have been a wayward boy, disposed to have your own way and to follow your own mind. You have not loved to yield your wishes and will to those who have had the care of you. This is the experience you must obtain.
Your danger is increased by the spirit of independence and self-confidence—connected, as of course it must be, with inexperience—which young men of your age are apt to assume when they have not their own dear parents to watch over them and stir the tender chords of affection in the soul. You feel that it is time for you to think and act for yourself. “I am a young man, and no longer a child. I am capable of discriminating between right and wrong. I have rights, and I will stand for them. I am capable of forming my own plans of action. Who has authority to interfere with me?” These have been some of your thoughts, and you are encouraged in them by youth who are about your age.
You feel that you may assert your liberty and act like a man. These feelings and thoughts lead to wrong action. You have not a submissive spirit. Wise is that young man and highly blest who feels it to be his duty, if he has parents, to look up to them, and if he has not, who regards his guardian, or those with whom he lives, as counselors, as comforters, and in some respects as his rulers, and who allows the restraints of his home to abide upon him. Independence of one kind is praiseworthy. To desire to bear your own weight, and not to eat the bread of dependence, is right. It is a noble, generous ambition that dictates the wish to be self-supporting. Industrious habits and frugality are necessary.
You have been placed in unfavorable circumstances for the development of a good Christian character; but you are now placed where you may build up a reputation, or blast it. The latter we do not believe you will do. But you are not secure from temptation. In one single hour you may take a course which will afterward cost you bitter tears of repentance. By yielding to temptation, you may estrange hearts from you, lose the respect and esteem you have been acquiring from those around you, and also stain your Christian character. You have the lesson of submission to learn. You consider it beneath you to do duties about the house—chores and little errands. You have a positive dislike for these little requirements; but you should cultivate a love for these very things to which you are so averse. Until you do this, you will not be acceptable help anywhere. When engaged in these necessary small things, you are doing more real service than when engaged in large business and in laborious work.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 299-308