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Manuscript Releases, vol. 15 [Nos. 1136-1185]

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    MR No. 1167—Counsel and Reproof

    (Written November 12, 1873, from Battle Creek, Michigan, to Elder and Mrs. D. M. Canright.)

    I have felt for some time that I ought to write you, but have not found the time. I have arisen at half past five o'clock in the morning, helped Lucinda wash dishes, have written until dark, then done necessary sewing, sitting up until near midnight; yet we have not gotten sick. I have done the washings for the family after my day's writing was done. I have frequently been so weary as to stagger like an intoxicated person, but, praise the Lord, I have been sustained.15MR 231.1

    Since I have come to Battle Creek, I have felt more strongly upon the matter of writing to you. As I reflect upon your visit with us, it is most painful to my feelings, and I feel it to be my duty to write to you. The testimony published in regard to your case is none too strong. I have read and re-read the testimony of reproof many times, and as I read I see that upon some points I have not presented your case as strongly as it was presented to me in vision. I fear that you do not see yourselves, and I fear that you will have to go over the ground again unless you search more closely and discern your failings, and decidedly reform.15MR 231.2

    If I have time I will write you in regard to some things in your letter of charges to my husband, which I read for the first time about three weeks since. As I read, and as I reflected upon your deportment with us, I felt that I must speak plainly to you. I would not, as I now view your case, suppress a single syllable of the truth.15MR 231.3

    Your letter written to us from Golden, while we were at Wallings Mills, with statements that you had not been situated so that you could cultivate domestic qualities, is not now before me. But your letter shows that you do not see the point. I saw that you did not love domestic duties, and both of you neglected to bear your share of these burdens in the different families where you made it your home. Your principal anxiety and interest was for yourselves, expecting others to be interested for you, others to care for you, while you care only for yourselves. While the families you visit fulfill the gospel requirement in adopting into their family the servants of Christ, and while the servants of Christ are entitled to their care and have a right to their tables and the privileges of their home, obligations are resting upon those who receive these privileges. The obligations are mutual upon both parties.15MR 232.1

    You have signally failed on your part. You have neglected to do your duty. You have considered yourselves, your convenience, and your interest, regardless of the inconvenience and interest of those whose hospitalities you share. You have manifested selfishness in this particular to a great extent, even to an extent which should cause you great sorrow as you review the past. Others have been burdened on your account while you have been studying your interest. They have done what they have in caring for you cheerfully, feeling that they were doing for Christ in the person of His servants. They would have cheerfully inconvenienced themselves to a much greater extent for your sakes, feeling that they were serving God and His cause in so doing.15MR 232.2

    And just to that degree that they have favored you, and cared for and waited on you for Christ's sake, God holds you as debtor to these friends. You have accepted all this as due you, without feeling your obligation to them, and while thus privileged you have selfishly looked out for your own interest and followed your inclination. God does not propose to do your neglected duty, or fill the claims others have upon you which you have through love of self neglected. You are responsible for very much that you have made others responsible for.15MR 233.1

    Why I feel so thoroughly upon this point now is, I want you to see the necessity of an entire change of your course in very many respects. You proposed in a letter to us to go out and labor upon your own hook. You proposed to be no longer dependent upon the conference, but to labor in preaching and let your labors sustain you, and in that way obtain the experience wherein you are deficient, in depending upon God and exercising faith in Him for a support.15MR 233.2

    Elder Canright, you cannot have the same experience that we had in the first rise of this cause, for the reason that circumstances have entirely changed. When we were obliged to live by faith, the numbers of believers were few, and they were looked upon as a despised, fanatical people, and the offscouring of the earth. There were but few who had means, and there were but few friends of the truth.15MR 233.3

    The truth was being dug out from amid error, through supplication, agony, and fasting. You now see and reap the advantages of this diligent search, earnest effort, and deep privation and suffering. Times now have entirely changed. Our position upon the truth is sustained by plain, clear, conclusive arguments. Young men now who embrace the truth have everything made ready at their hands. They know nothing of what trials, anguish, stretch of faith, close venturing, and critical risks were experienced by those who led out in this work.15MR 233.4

    Friends of the truth are now numerous. There is means in abundance everywhere, and there is no chance for you to venture anything by preaching the truth and trusting to the benevolence of the people. The people have been so long appealed to through the testimonies in regard to highly esteeming the servants of God, and have been led to see the sin of selfishness, that they are ready to do, whenever they see a chance to do.15MR 234.1

    With your selfish propensities, your care for your own interest, you would have not more chance to exercise faith and trust in God than you have had since you commenced to labor in this cause. Times have changed, but you who know nothing comparatively of hardships and privations should be the last ones to claim or plead consideration on account of your privations and labors, on that score. When you make appeals in this direction, when you tell what you have done and how you have labored, you give evidence that you esteem your labors as of more value than they will bear; certainly higher than God regards them as He has shown me the result of your labors.15MR 234.2

    The truth published and spoken by you, that others have prepared for you to use, has done something in convincing souls of their errors, and led them to receive the truth. But Elder Canright has taken much of the credit of this to himself. May God pity his weakness and assumption.15MR 234.3

    In a letter written to us from Golden, you stated that you were undecided what to do. The hall that you hired was expensive, you had no assurance that the General Conference would sustain your efforts in providing means to work, and you were not able to bear the expense yourself. There was a deep interest to hear, and some few would, without doubt, receive the truth; but you thought you should suspend your labors. Something like this you wrote. When I can get the letters which are now in California, I can quote your exact words.15MR 235.1

    Now here was Brother Canright who has signified in his letters that he desired to place himself in a position to go on his own hook, and have a chance to gain the experience he was deficient in. Here was a splendid opportunity to walk by faith and to sacrifice something for the truth's sake and for the salvation of souls. We have been placed in similar positions. Many times we have had to walk and work by faith, and have felt that we would gladly sacrifice means and our own lives in the effort to do all we could to get the truth before those who would hear. You had, in this instance, an opportunity to exercise faith, and to humbly work and wait, and trust in God under circumstances that were not very encouraging.15MR 235.2

    But you failed to improve the opportunity, and lost the experience it was your privilege to gain. In fact, you know but very little of practical faith. You have trusted more in the ability of D. M. Canright than in God's power and God's grace to work with your efforts. You have not seen the necessity of devotion and faith.15MR 235.3

    You have felt elevated when a large congregation was before you, but frequently discouraged and disheartened at small beginnings and small congregations. You need, my dear brother, to come down to where the living waters run. You need a fresh baptism from God, or you are unfit to labor anywhere for the conversion of souls. You both need a thorough work done for yourselves before you are fit to labor for others. You need to be transformed by the power of God, your thoughts and the exercise of your mind purified, elevated, and ennobled.15MR 235.4

    Upon another point I wish to speak in regard to your child. I tried kindly to point out the defect in your management, for the Lord had shown me much upon this subject. You regarded my counsels with silent indifference, perhaps with contempt that I should attempt to instruct you, its parents, as though I understood better than you. Nevertheless, I shall trace upon paper my settled convictions. When a minister has a child that is as peevish and fretful as yours, so frequently crying if crossed, and exhibiting passion, it is wrong to take the child around with him to be an annoyance to others. People will bear it because you are servants of Christ, but nevertheless you should have a sense of the impropriety of so doing.15MR 236.1

    I think from what I have observed, the child has been left to cry and to scream for attention when it pleased. Neither of you has felt it your duty to control it thoroughly and continuously, but [you] have let it cry and tease until the habit is formed. How much disturbance you make others you have not taken into account. It is ruinous to a child's disposition to let it fret and cry for attention. This I noticed you were both in the habit of doing, and seemed to be indifferent as to how much others might be disturbed with it.15MR 236.2

    Brother Canright would frequently sit reading, and make no effort to quiet the child. Sister Canright would hear her child fret and cry a passionate cry, and appear as indifferent as though she were chiseled out of marble. I have no hesitancy in saying this is wrong management and a wrong example to give to mothers. Ministers who have children that cannot be controlled, or that they do not choose to inconvenience themselves to train except spasmodically, should have a home and keep their children in it, and not annoy others and injure their own influence.15MR 237.1

    What kind of spirit and what kind of heart you had when you were with us in the mountains is still a mystery to me. I hope never to have the same unhappy experience to go over again. I only wonder that my husband bore as well as he did your deportment and your course.15MR 237.2

    I hope you will never in any place you go act over the same. I am distressed when I reflect upon it. Your lack of respect and reverence were painful. We deserved something better of you. We felt a great relief when you left, for the spirit you carried with you was oppressive. I have not the least fellowship or sympathy with that spirit, for I believe it to be the spirit of darkness. May the Lord help you to see that you had climbed above your calling and the simplicity of good, humble religion. You were both self-righteous and self-sufficient, exalted too high in your own opinion. You have a work to do in governing your child, which you have sinfully neglected.15MR 237.3

    Brother Canright, in your labors with others, you have been the man who was severe and overbearing. Where your gray-headed gospel father would be pitiful, discreet, and cautious, you have sometimes been provoking and insolent. It is your nature to be overbearing. You manifest this to your own wife frequently, and you make her life very unhappy. You put on a dignity wholly unbecoming a young minister of the gospel.15MR 237.4

    There are many things you need to learn that are highly essential and worth knowing. You need to consider that others have just as good a right to think and have an opinion of their own as you have; that if all were just like you, and did as you do, there would be a very sad state of things in a short time. At times you have been indifferent to the wants of your wife, and her wishes have been disregarded. Yourself has occupied your thoughts. God is displeased with your dictatorial manner toward your wife and toward those with whom you come in contact. In these things you need to reform.15MR 238.1

    Mrs. Hutchinson said she came to the Health Institute deeply prejudiced against all Adventist Sabbathkeepers, because of your severe, overbearing course at Hutchinson. She said you did not take a right course in regard to their meetinghouse, and that you treated her and others wrong. She says she did not take a right course, and that she has a confession to make to you, and you have a confession to make to her.15MR 238.2

    If you have a work to do in this matter, do it by all means at once. She is now in deep affliction because of the death of her son, Fred. If you, a young man, could talk to my husband, a gray-headed, sick man, your father in the gospel, with such disrespect and with so little sense of propriety, I am fearful that you have given cause of complaint to Mrs. Hutchinson, a woman of gray hairs, a woman of influence. Surely her age should have led you to a kindly consideration and a proper deference, whatever course she may have pursued toward you.15MR 238.3

    If you have laid one straw in her way, as she claims you have, take it out of the way at once. As one whom God has taught, I entreat of you not to let one soul in Hutchinson turn from the truth with bitterness of spirit because of your rash impetuosity. Right these things for your soul's sake, humble your heart before God, and make any concession, at any cost to yourself, without compromising the truth. Mrs. Hutchinson stated that her prejudice against the Seventh-day Adventists was all removed after her acquaintance with them at the Health Institute.15MR 239.1

    Rashness is natural to you. You need to restrain yourself. Unless you bridle and restrain your rash spirit, you will be hurried to make some move which will ruin your usefulness forever. You may expend energy sufficient for the highest success, yet you will fail of achieving good and permanent results unless you are willing to receive instruction and to learn wisdom by receiving counsel of others.15MR 239.2

    Successful energy and rashness are two different elements. The former is power while the latter, unrestrained and uncontrolled, leads to destruction. Calm, unhurried efforts will do more than rash, hurried movements. Do not confound rashness with energy. Your energy is too much controlled by impulse. It is spasmodic, affected by circumstances and surroundings.15MR 239.3

    You are either on the pinnacle or down in the low slough of despond. An accidental circumstance will arouse you and call out every power of your soul. For a season, you will be exhilarated, and come up upon the wave of excitement or popularity. You will excel yourself and astonish your friends. But you are in danger of spending your force and losing the exhilarating power which stimulated you to action, and sink down into despondency and discouragement. In these fitful efforts you lose more than you would gain by steady, earnest effort.15MR 239.4

    In the development of character, you do not show that you have cultivated a firm persevering, uniform, unyielding energy and faith. If you can preach upon subjects that are familiar to you, and which are your favorite subjects, you are at home, but get you off this marked line and you have but little force and but little courage, and you are not the man of opportunity fitted for any emergency. You need a deeper draught of salvation. Trust less in D. M. Canright, and more in the power of God's grace.15MR 240.1

    You need to surrender the soul to the claims of God, and renounce with loathing your smartness, your aptness, your sharpness, and melt into the work of God. Do your work from higher motives, having a living principle with you continually, which will bring the whole force of your intellect and affections into the highest state of sanctification to God and into healthy action.15MR 240.2

    It is not in the work of the ministry alone that you need the balance of firm principle and steady purpose and earnest energy. The Word of God demands the same principle to be carried out in the everyday duties of life. With earnest entreaty the wise man exhorts, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” It is by the exercise of perseverance, energy, and faithfulness in doing little duties in life that we acquire power to engage in greater duties, and can be entrusted with graver responsibilities.15MR 240.3

    The duties which lie directly before us that someone must do, we should take hold of, and not shirk or shrink from doing them because they are not agreeable to our inclinations. We may train the soul to put forth efforts, lifting the burdens and doing the duties that lie all around us, and become strong to conquer self in overcoming difficulties. Instead of being creatures of circumstances, we may be masters of circumstances, and may triumph in conquering obstacles. We need never be discouraged.15MR 240.4

    You both need a religion, to be imbued with the meek, self-sacrificing spirit of Christ, to be clothed with humility and stimulated by the power of God, to put forth efforts that will bear glorious results.15MR 241.1

    The lessons of self-denial, you have yet to learn. When you cultivate thoughts that nothing is too good for D. M. Canright, then it is time you ceased your work as a gospel minister. You are yet young and inexperienced. Deny yourself in little things as well as in great things, and avoid littleness as you would the leprosy. We can scarcely conceive of what contemptible meanness will grow upon a person if indulged. In all your plans of frugality, exclude meanness. Be ever watchful of the interest of those around you. You need to cultivate a tact of filling new positions, naturally adapting yourself to the new and opening providence of God. Make the most of your abilities in God, remembering that you must soon give an account of your stewardship.15MR 241.2

    Paul exhorts Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.”15MR 241.3

    You are defective in perfecting Christian character. The absence of one qualification may hinder the successful operation of all the rest. The excess of one may counteract the proper action of all the rest.15MR 241.4

    Christ says of you, “Yet lackest thou one thing.” He has given you a plain statement [of] what you lack. He has, through His humble servant, shown you that you lack devotion to the glory of God, that you lack moral excellence of character, which would lead you to have an unselfish interest for others. You may be, in the eyes of others, perfect, but in the sight of God you have a spotted character and have selfishness to overcome. These defects will corrupt all your virtue, unless they are overcome.15MR 242.1

    You should cultivate moral symmetry of character. You should be in earnest to see your defects now, and to correct them, that God may work with your efforts. You need your senses refined, elevated, purified. You need a work done for you which God alone is able to accomplish.15MR 242.2

    The third angel's message is most solemn, fearful, and important. To us God has entrusted it, and we are accountable for the way we handle this sacred, testing truth. If our defects of character betray us into sins which repulse souls and turn them from the truth, their blood will be upon our garments.15MR 242.3

    November 15—The Lord is at work in this place. My husband has borne a very plain testimony, accompanied by the Spirit of God. Brother _____ has made a full confession of his wrong course at [the] last conference. Brethren Andrews and Waggoner have taken their stand fully, and are of better courage than they have been for years. We hope to see the cause here placed upon a firmer basis than ever before.15MR 242.4

    I hear of many remarks made by you both that if this church was not hammered at so much, they would be in a more prosperous condition. I was upon the point at the conference last spring of plainly stating in the conference what had been shown me in regard to you, but I did not feel exactly clear. I had not had an intimation that you were not in perfect union with us, but I had heard remarks from several that Sister Canright neglected her child to do writing for you. Why do you require this? Does not the woman have burdens enough? But since I returned this time our best and most experienced brethren have for the first time stated their feelings in regard to your spirit at the conference without my calling out any expression from them.15MR 242.5

    They say that they were satisfied you were lifted up and had but little of the Spirit of God with you. Many observed your movements in taking the chairs and moving them from the stand, moving the table and making special preparations as if for an exhibition of D. M. Canright. Many said that your sermon had not the right ring. You raised your voice to a loud pitch, and it was painful to bear; and the absence of the Spirit of God was apparent to very many. It was regarded by some of your best friends as being an exhibition of D. M. Canright, or, in the very words used, “He preached D. M. Canright and not Jesus Christ.”15MR 243.1

    I write you this that you may understand how others viewed your labors at the conference.15MR 243.2

    I want you to see that the influence of such preaching is not unto salvation. I hope and pray that you may both see what your influence has been. And I hope you will realize that you have caused us intense anxiety by your course when you visited us.15MR 243.3

    You made the remark, Elder Canright, to my husband in my presence that you did not come there to be his servant and be ordered about like a boy, that you were a man and you had the feelings of a man. I felt these remarks keenly, and thought that if you were a man you had far less sense of propriety than many boys half your age would have had. I have no delicacy in speaking plainly to you as a mother would to her son, for I know that unless you lay aside this unreasonable, unbecoming dignity you will do no good in the gospel field.15MR 243.4

    In what did we make you a servant? Did we ask you to serve us in any way wherein yourself did not reap the benefit? Did my husband ask you to do anything that he thought was beneath him to do? Did we not both of us do the very thing we asked you to unite with us doing? Did you do anything that would injure your health? Did not I bring wood, wash dishes, sweep floors, and wash clothes? Did I try to excuse myself from engaging in the disagreeable duties? Did not my husband work to great weariness because there was something to do that someone must do?15MR 244.1

    We are the ones who should have been considered and favored, but you had not experience in this line. We were worn and prematurely gray from care, anxiety, and unnecessary burdens in this cause brought upon us by our brethren pursuing just such a course as you pursued. You were deceived by Satan, and I hope you will see this to its full extent.15MR 244.2

    When we tried to pray, and the Lord sanctioned our prayers by His Spirit, you braced yourself not to be moved, not to let the least mite of influence of our prayers, our counsel, and advice move you. We understand this spirit. We have not been engaged in this war, battling for the right for 26 years, and yet be in darkness as to what kind of spirit had control of you at our house. We call it by its right name—the spirit of Satan. I think you both took your position with an understanding to retain your own judgment and views at all events.15MR 244.3

    You have but little experience, either of you, in exercising faith in God. You lack devotion and good, humble religion. You need to be transformed and ennobled. You need the disinterested benevolence that characterized the life of Christ.15MR 245.1

    Consider me not an enemy because I tell you the truth. I long and pray that you may be found in your right mind sitting at the feet of Jesus and learning of Him. If you imitate Christ, you will be willing even to be a servant. He was the King of Glory, yet He was a servant of fallen man. I pray the Lord to help you to get rid of some of your lofty ideas of yourself, and come down in meekness, feeling your nothingness without Christ. Then will He be unto you a very present help in time of need. Then will He make your labors effectual, and souls will be converted from error to truth through your labors.15MR 245.2

    You have brought grave charges against us, in the letter to my husband. I felt that I would not notice them. But I will dwell a moment upon them. In regard to our diet, we have not placed butter on our table for ourselves for years, until we came to the Rocky Mountains. We felt that a little butter, in the absence of vegetables and fruit, was less detrimental to health than the use of much salt or sugar, sweet cake, and knickknacks. We do not use it now, and have not for many weeks.15MR 245.3

    In regard to our using spice, I plead not guilty. We have not had spice in our house for ten years, except a little ginger, which we have always used to some extent.15MR 245.4

    We have always used a little milk and some sugar. This we have never denounced, either in our writings or in our preaching. We believe cattle will become so much diseased that these things will yet be discarded, but the time has not yet come for sugar and milk to be wholly abolished from our tables.15MR 246.1

    In regard to cheese, I am now quite sure we have not purchased or placed on our table cheese for years. We never think of making cheese an article of diet, much less of buying it. I tell you, Lucretia, how your buying the cheese at our house looks to us—that you did it to tempt us just as _____ tempted my husband in his feebleness. You said you heard Brother White ask Mr. Walling for a taste of cheese. He had none. You bought a few pounds. You asked him one day if he wanted some cheese. He said “No.” You asked me. I said I did not eat it. The cheese lay in the cupboard untouched until Mr. Lasley and Walling came to dinner. It was then placed before them. We took a small bit of cheese, as we do sometimes when it is passed to us. But we do not, understand, buy cheese, or make a practice of eating it. My husband felt when he saw the bit of cheese that was in Walling's wagon that he would like merely a taste of it.15MR 246.2

    I have not had, to my knowledge, a particle of pepper in the house for ten years. When Lucinda went up to Mr. Walling's mills, I said to her, “Get me a little pinch of pepper, and I will try to eat some beans.” I thought the pepper would perhaps prevent them from causing me to have the colic. But I think so little of what I eat, it never entered my mind that there was any pepper. So much for pepper. I claim that we live very plain and economical. Lucretia, if you did not mean to tempt us in buying cheese, what did you mean? Did you buy that cheese merely because you wanted to gratify the wish of my husband? If so, you could have gratified his taste for fresh, dried black raspberries which you heard him often speaking of desiring. You had them but did not cook them. You heard him often express a wish for this, but you did not gratify it. He could not eat strawberries, but kept wishing for raspberries. If my husband had wanted cheese, he could have bought it, for he was at Black Hawk and Central as often as three times a week. What your motive was, you know and the Lord knows, but we do not.15MR 246.3

    In regard to corsets, there is nothing in my use of corsets contrary to what I have ever spoken or written against. I do not practice wearing them except when bloated with dropsy, to press down my abdomen and give me a chance to breathe.15MR 247.1

    In regard to steel springs, I have worn two in my skirts or cords always. Before coming to Colorado, I asked someone to buy me two steel springs to run in my skirt. In the place of doing this, they bought four steel springs fastened with tapes, skeleton fashion. I have worn it a few times, but it is not what I wanted and what I like. I do not wear it, though I consider there is no harm in this for anyone to wear. In my view of the wrong of hooped skirts, it was the deformity and the indecency of their appearance when they were worn so large, that was objectionable. There is nothing indecent or unbecoming in the small hoops or in the steel springs, two of them run into a skirt.15MR 247.2

    I cannot think of other charges, except breaking the Sabbath. What you mean, I know not. I have ever been particular in regard to the observance of the Sabbath in my conversation and actions. In regard to writing, I know my duty on that point. I am no more breaking the Sabbath in my writing than the priest who offered more sacrifices upon the Sabbath than upon any other days of the week.15MR 247.3

    I think that in watching and accusing us, you were both engaged in the same work as were the Pharisees in accusing Christ. They watched to catch Him in His words or to find something in His actions that they could use as an occasion against Him. As Christ said to them, I say to you, “Ye strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.” Set your poor, proud hearts right, and you will have so great a work to do you will feel that you have nothing to do in accusing your brethren and sisters. I do not think the best way to glorify God in observing the Sabbath is to go to bed and sleep away the sacred hours.15MR 248.1

    We feel sincere pity for your blindness. Such freaks [sudden causeless change or turn of the mind; to do freakish acts; diverging from what is natural or normal.—Webster.] as yours cost too much to us and to the cause of God. God is in earnest with us. He will not be trifled with. Be careful how you move. It costs too much to you and to the cause, for you to be pettish and jealous and to move rashly and independently and bring ruin upon yourselves.15MR 248.2

    I have spoken plainly but I assure you I have nothing but love and am earnest for you to come where God can use you to His glory.15MR 248.3

    I can write no more now. Please copy this if you wish, or read it and send me the original direct to Santa Rosa, California. We leave here for California this week. The work of God is progressing here. It is now November 24—Last Sabbath nearly the entire church came forward for prayers. Every seat in the body of the house was filled and some of the side pews. I never saw a more interesting sight or felt more solemn sense of the power of God.—Letter 1, 1873.15MR 248.4

    Ellen G. White Estate

    Washington, D.C.,

    November 7, 1985.

    Entire Letter.