The Henri Frey Letter

Ellen G. White

Introduction

This is perhaps the most important letter that I am acquainted with on the subject of the will. Written to an individual who worked with the believers in Basel in some capacity,  Henri Frey was apparently disciplined for some significant failures. Responding to his complaints of unkindness and desiring to point him in a better direction, Ellen White wrote this letter that shares so much about the will and how to use the will to overcome the challenges in our lives. Portions of this letter appear in the fifth volume of the Testimonies, Steps to Christ, Messages to Young People, etc.—Dan

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Henri Fry Letter

Lt 49, 1887

Grimsby, England

July 21, 1887

Frey, Henri

Portions of this letter are published in 5T.

Bro. Frey:

I designed to have a talk with Sr. Green before writing you again, but have not been able to do so. My prayers are ascending to God for you, and my love for your soul leads me to write you again. I feel deeply grieved over your case, not that I look upon you as persecuted, as you say in your letter, but as a deceived, misguided man, who has not Christ’s likeness in his soul, and who is deceiving himself to his certain ruin. {Lt49-1887}  

I cannot talk with Sr. Green, her health is poor; she returned from Hull night before last and went into a terrible spasm or fit. The doctor was called and did for her what he could. She has been in great trial over your case when it need not have been so at all. If you had the cause of God at heart, you would see that your brethren had done only their duty in their action toward you. You speak of going to Battle Creek and showing that you could be a man. All that the responsible ones at the office ask of you is that you show yourself a man just where you are, that you shall not degrade yourself by associating with sinners, and shall not be yourself a sinner with them, and by your words and your example lead others into sin. Just look away for a moment from sympathizing with yourself, and consider the world’s Redeemer. Consider the infinite sacrifice He has made in behalf of man, and then His disappointment, that, after paying such a price, making such a sacrifice in behalf of man, that man should perish, should choose to perish, ally himself with those who hate Christ and righteousness, and become one in them in the indulgence of perverted appetite. {Lt49-1887}  

"I advise you to humble your heart, confess your wrong.... Let no one flatter you to wrongdoing: it is a disgrace to sin, but it is no disgrace to confess your sins; but rather an honor. I write to you as I would to my own sons. I want you to have true individuality, and true manly dignity, but pride, self-conceit, and false dignity can only be maintained at the most terrible consequences to yourself."

But you have heard me talk all these things. You have read all these things, and yet they have not been brought into your heart and life. You have set your heart against good and opened it to evil. You have invited the temptations of the devil, placed yourself, where you have been tempted, and have had no hold upon God to enable you to resist temptation. Suppose you do break away from all connection with Basel through a revengeful spirit because your brethren have told you the truth; whom will it injure, yourself or them? You will grieve them by so doing, but the work will go on just the same. God has workers that He is raising up on every hand, and He is not dependent on you or any man to do His work. If your heart is not pure, if your hands are not clean in His sight, He cannot work with you. He wants truth in the heart, truth in the life, interwoven in the character. {Lt49-1887}  

I would advise you what to do; I am a mother of boys. I advise you to humble your heart, confess your wrong, and consider the solemn charge David gave to Solomon on his dying bed, which was, “Be a man.” “Be thou strong, and shew thyself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, and His commandments, and His judgments and His testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself.” Take this charge to your own heart, Henri. Let no one flatter you to wrongdoing: it is a disgrace to sin, but it is no disgrace to confess your sins; but rather an honor. I write to you as I would to my own sons. I want you to have true individuality, and true manly dignity, but pride, self-conceit, and false dignity can only be maintained at the most terrible consequences to yourself. {Lt49-1887}  

It is not the boisterous song, the merry company, the mugs and beer and wine, that can make you a man in the sight of God, or cheer your heart in sickness and sorrow. True religion alone can be to you a solace, a comforter in trouble. There has not been pursued toward you at the office at Basel any more close and severe discipline that God’s Word has imposed upon you. Will you call God unjust, will you tell Him to His face that He is arbitrary, because He tells the wrongdoer that he shall be separated from His presence? How severely is the picture drawn in the Word of God of His dealing with the man who accepted his invitation to the wedding, but who did not put on the wedding garment which had been purchased for him, which was the robe of Christ’s righteousness. He thought his own defiled garments good enough to come into the presence of Christ, and he was cast out as one who had insulted his Lord and abused His gracious benevolence. Now, my brother, your righteousness will not do. You must put on the robes of Christ’s righteousness. You must be like Jesus. Consider the long fast that Christ endured in the wilderness of temptation on the point of appetite; how He fought Satan; how He was emaciated by that long, lingering fast on your account and on mine, that He might place man on vantage ground, bringing to him divine strength and divine power to conquer appetite and every unholy passion. Consider Jesus, treading the winepress alone, that He might break the power of Satan upon man. I ask you to look at this matter as it is. When you unite with the despisers of God in drinking beer or wine or stronger drink, imagine Jesus before you, pale and suffering the keenest pangs of hunger, that He might break the power of Satan, and hold him under control, and make it possible for man to conquer on his own account, and in his own behalf. {Lt49-1887}  

"You will stand guilty, condemned, and hopeless, unless you put on Christ’s robe of righteousness, putting away your sins, and making diligent work of repentance."

Think of these things, my brother, and then think, when, with the godless who refuse the truth, who refuse salvation, you are lifting the mug of foaming beer to your lips, that Jesus is there, looking on; Jesus, He whom you claim as your Saviour, He in whom your hopes of eternal life are centered. O Henri, how can you, how can you be so weak in moral perception that you cannot see the influence of these things upon yourself and upon others? You violate the most solemn pledge and then talk of being persecuted. How can you stand before those who feel compelled to do something to break up the power of Satan that is obtaining control of our youth, while they in sorrow tell you that if you do not change your habits, they cannot retain you in connection with the work of God as a translator. How can you, I say, stand before them as they do this painful duty, defiant, and without any evidence of sorrow on your own account? How does Jesus look upon such actions? How does that Saviour who gave His life for you regard your attitude? And you entertain the idea that you are persecuted! {Lt49-1887}  

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” When you shall stand before this grand and awful tribunal, from which there will be no appeal, where there will be no misinterpretation, no misconception, before this awful tribunal, you will be silent. You will not have one word to say in vindication of your own course. You will stand guilty, condemned, and hopeless, unless you put on Christ’s robe of righteousness, putting away your sins, and making diligent work of repentance. {Lt49-1887}  

I cannot see what other course they could take toward you than they have done at Basel. I feel the tenderest feeling of pity, and of love for your soul; but false words of sympathy to sustain you in rebellion and defiance of those whom God has placed in responsible positions in His work shall never be traced by my pen. I have too much regard for your soul than to tell you as some surely will do, that it shall be well with you when you are taking such a course dishonoring your manhood, defacing the moral image of God in your soul, deceiving your own heart, dishonoring the God who has bought you with the price of His own blood. God has said, “To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with Me on My throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with My Father on His throne.” Now are you overcoming, or are you being overcome by your own lusts and appetites and passions? I feel deeply for your soul. {Lt49-1887}  

If you are worthy to be entrusted with the translation of our most important works, ought not you, who are handling sacred things, to have the fullest connection with and consecration to God? Ought you not to be where you can have the holy angels to minister to you, to inspire you to give the correct ideas, to give to you wisdom and knowledge as God gave to Daniel in order that you may do the work of translation correctly? If you choose to open your heart to Satan’s suggestions, if you choose the society of those who are the enemies of Christ, do you expect God to work a miracle to keep you from yielding to Satan’s suggestions? Evil angels are gathering about your soul and are your invited guests. They suggest—you accept their propositions. Until you have resolution to obey God’s will, you will not have God’s guidance. Now Jesus looks to all who claim to be His soldiers to do service to Him. He expects you to recognize the enemy and to resist him, not invite him to your confidence, and in so doing betray sacred trusts. The Lord has placed you in a position where you may be elevated and ennobled, and may be constantly becoming fitted to do His work. If you do not obtain these qualifications, it is because you alone are to blame. {Lt49-1887}  

There are three ways in which the Lord reveals His will to us to guide us and to fit us to guide others. How shall we be able to know His voice from that of the stranger? How shall we distinguish His voice from that of the false shepherd? God reveals His will to us in His Word; His voice addresses us in the Scriptures. It is to be recognized in His providential workings and will be thus recognized if we do not separate our souls from Him by walking in our own ways, doing our own wills, and following the promptings of an unsanctified heart. The sense becomes confused so that eternal things are not discerned, and the voice of Satan is so disguised that it is accepted as the voice of God. {Lt49-1887}  

"Pure religion has to do with the will. The will is the governing power in the nature of man. If the will is set right, all the rest of the man will come under its sway. The will is not the taste or the inclination, but it is the choice, the deciding power; the kingly power which works in the children of men unto obedience to God or to disobedience."

Another way in which God’s voice is heard is through the appeals of His Holy Spirit, making impressions upon the heart, and working out in the character in daily actions. If you are in doubt upon any subject, you must first consult the Scriptures. If you have begun the life of faith, you have given yourself to the Lord to be wholly His. He has taken you to do the work of molding and fashioning you according to His purpose, to make you a vessel unto honor. Your one most earnest desire is to be pliable in His hands and to follow Him whithersoever He may lead you, not indulging in following inclination, but following His guidance. You are trusting Him to work out His own design, to will and to do of His own good pleasure, while you at the same time co-operate with God in the work by working out your own salvation with fear and trembling. You, my brother, will find difficulty here, because you have not yet learned to know by experience the voice of the Good Shepherd, and this places you in doubt and peril. You ought to be able to distinguish His voice. {Lt49-1887}  

Pure religion has to do with the will. The will is the governing power in the nature of man. If the will is set right, all the rest of the man will come under its sway. The will is not the taste or the inclination, but it is the choice, the deciding power; the kingly power which works in the children of men unto obedience to God or to disobedience. Now you are a young man of intelligence; you are seeking to make your life such as will give you heaven at last. You are often discouraged at finding yourself weak in moral power, controlled by habits and customs of your old life in sin, to find yourself in slavery to doubt, and inefficient. You find your emotional nature untrue to your best resolutions, untrue to your most solemn pledges. Nothing seems real. Your own inefficiencies lead you to doubt the sincerity of those who would do you good. The more you struggle in doubt, the more unreal everything looks to you, until it seems that there is no solid ground for you anywhere. Your promises are nothing, they are like ropes of sand, and you regard the words and works of those whom you should trust in the same unreal light. You will be in constant peril until you understand the true force of the will. You may believe and promise all things, but I would not give a straw for your promises or your faith until you put your will over on the believing and doing side. If you will fight the fight of faith with your will power, in the work, I have not the least doubt that you will conquer. Your feelings, your impressions, your emotions are not at all to be trusted, for they are not reliable, especially with your perverted ideas and the knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges. {Lt49-1887}  

"I tell you that you need not despair. You must choose to believe, although nothing seems true and real to you."

But I tell you that you need not despair. You must choose to believe, although nothing seems true and real to you. I need not tell you it is yourself that has brought you into this unenviable position; but you must win back your confidence in God and in your brethren. Your part is to put your will over on the side of Christ in the matter of faith. Just as you yield up your will to the will of Jesus Christ, God immediately takes possession of that will, and works in you to will and to do of His good pleasure; and all of your nature is brought under the control of the spirit of Christ, even your thoughts are subject to Him. You cannot control your impulses, your emotions, as you may desire, but you can control the will, and you can make an entire change in your life. Your life, by yielding up your will to Christ, is hid with Christ in God and allied to the power which is above all principalities and powers. You have a strength from God that holds you fast to His strength, and a new life, even the life of living faith, is possible to you. But your will must co-operate with God’s will, not with the will of associates through whom Satan is constantly working to ensnare and destroy you. I do not give you up, Henri. I remember my own oldest son Henry who died in the triumphs of faith a little past sixteen years old. I write to you as I have often written to my own sons and adopted daughters. {Lt49-1887}  

"Will you now without delay place yourself in right relations with God? Will you say, “I will give my will to Jesus, and I do it now”? From that moment, be wholly on the Lord’s side. Disregard the pitiful clamoring of appetite, of custom, of passion. Give Satan no chance to say, You are a wretched hypocrite. Close the door so that Satan shall not thus accuse you and dishearten you. Say, “I will believe, I do believe that God is my helper,” and you will find that you will be triumphant in God. Every emotion will, by steadfastly keeping the will on the Lord’s side, be brought into captivity to the will of Jesus."

Will you now without delay place yourself in right relations with God? Will you say, “I will give my will to Jesus, and I do it now”? From that moment, be wholly on the Lord’s side. Disregard the pitiful clamoring of appetite, of custom, of passion. Give Satan no chance to say, You are a wretched hypocrite. Close the door so that Satan shall not thus accuse you and dishearten you. Say, “I will believe, I do believe that God is my helper,” and you will find that you will be triumphant in God. Every emotion will, by steadfastly keeping the will on the Lord’s side, be brought into captivity to the will of Jesus. You will then find your feet on solid rock. It will take, you will find, at times, every particle of will power which you possess, but it is God that is working for you, and you will come forth from the molding process a vessel unto honor. Talk faith. “I will believe, I will believe that God can and will give me, Henri Frey, the victory.” Keep on God’s side of the line. Set not your foot once on the enemy’s side, and the Lord will be your helper, He will do for you that which it is not possible for you to do for yourself. The result will be that you will become a grand cedar of Lebanon. Your life will be noble, your works will be wrought in God, there will be in you a directness, a power, an earnestness and simplicity that will make you a polished instrument in the hands of God. I am not speaking to you idle tales, but words of truth and verity. Try it and see. {Lt49-1887}  

"Now God made an infinite sacrifice in giving Jesus, His beloved Son, to become a sacrifice for sin, that God may now say, without violating one principle of His government, “Yield yourself up to Me, give Me that will, take it from the control of Satan, and I will take possession of it, I will work in you to will and to do My good pleasure.” Then He gives you the mind of Christ, the will becomes transformed and the character formed after Christ’s character."

You need to drink daily at the fountain of truth, that you may understand the secret of pleasure and joy in the Lord. But you need to understand that your will is the spring of all your actions. This will of man that is of so great consequence was at the fall given into the control of Satan, and he has been working in man to will and to do of his own good pleasure, but to the utter ruin and misery of man. Now God made an infinite sacrifice in giving Jesus, His beloved Son, to become a sacrifice for sin, that God may now say, without violating one principle of His government, “Yield yourself up to Me, give Me that will, take it from the control of Satan, and I will take possession of it, I will work in you to will and to do My good pleasure.” Then He gives you the mind of Christ, the will becomes transformed and the character formed after Christ’s character. Does your will choose to do God’s will? Does your will choose to obey the Scriptures? “He that will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me; so shall he be My disciple.” {Lt49-1887}  

There is no such thing as following Christ unless you deny your inclination daily and will to obey God. It is not your feelings, your emotions that make you a child of God, but the doing of God’s will. A life of usefulness is before you, if your will becomes God’s will. Then you may stand in your God-given manhood an example of good works. You will then help to preserve rules instead of helping to break them down. You will help to maintain order in the office, in the mission, instead of despising order and inciting to irregularities of life by your own course of action. I tell you in the fear of God, I know what you may be, if your will is placed on the side of God. “Ye are laborers together with God.” You may be doing your work for time and eternity in such a manner that it will stand the test of the judgment. Will you try, Henri, will you now change square about? You are the object of Christ’s love and intercession. Will you now surrender to God and help those who are placed by the Lord as sentinels in the mission at Basel? Will you help them instead of causing them grief and discouragement? I believe you will. May God help you is my prayer. {Lt49-1887}

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