HISTORY and TIMES of THE KINGDOM
What follows is a letter from Mrs. William Hastings to John Sandford, circa 1937. Mrs. Hastings grew up at Shiloh, and as a young lady was one of the "forty" students who came under Mr. Sandford's tutelage immediately after his release from the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in 1918. Her diary from 1919 to 1926 is found elsewhere on this website. The diary displays many instances depicting her relationship with John and his wife Theodora, and it clearly shows the deep friendship that was cultivated among peers growing up in that somewhat bizarre environment . We are able to reproduce her letter only through the generosity of the Hastings family archive. Mr Floyd Hastings explained that his mother maintained the habit of duplicating, by hand, most all her written correspondence.
While I do not see how you can help me any, yet you seem to be willing to listen to what bothers me, I think I will write out some things. I can write intermittently, as I have the chance and perhaps can express myself better that way then in talking and can take less of your time and mine. I fear it will sound as though my idea was to criticize and I want to make it clear that it is not, and yet also perhaps it is too, in a sense, but this is the idea; Of course your father is the founder and originator and leader so he is the one I speak of but as far as he is personally concerned, I have not the faintest desire to criticize him or anything of the kind. I would not concern myself as to whether he gets everything right or not, if it was not that it concerns others including my own family. It is what he has led and is leading others into, including my family which makes it my concern. If it were not for that, if he lived his life just to himself and let other people follow the dictates of their consciences I would not have a word to say. I am not deciding either, that he is wrong in anything he is teaching, but there are some things which seem wrong to me but I would leave them right alone except for their effect on myself and others. It will perhaps seem to you as though I was taking it upon myself to say that the leadings of God were wrong. But if I could believe that they were the leadings of God I would not even attempt to express even the way it seems to me but simply say it is right because it is God.
For one thing, I do not see how it could have possibly been right for us to have suffered the deprivations we did at Shiloh all those years with children and animals suffering for food, etc. There does not seem to be anything in the Bible to uphold it. Jesus taught us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." That seems to indicate that He intended for us to have food every day. We were made to understand that if we went out and worked to get necessities for ourselves and families that we would be breaking with God and lose our souls, and yet in I Thessalonians 4:11&12 it says to "work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing."
How can we say that we lived the Bible when we absolutely did not practice that verse and were not even allowed to unless we broke away. And in I Timothy 5:8 "If any man provide not for his own, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel".
How can we possibly say that the men provided for their own there at Shiloh when children went to school without any breakfast etc. How can Shiloh talk so loudly about living the Bible from cover to cover when it is plain that these verses were not practiced.
I heard a minister at Shiloh say that "God did not repeat Himself". Why then should we have been made to understand that we had to sell our possessions and give in the money and have all things in common as the apostles did, and if that was the leadings of God, why didn't it work, as it did in the apostles time, of whom it says, "Neither lacked they anything"? Some offer the fact that, "Things are different now", as a good reason for people who are out of line getting back in. Some things are different, but it is the same regime. How could things have been wrong then, but right now? Someone who lives in Shiloh now also made a similar statement to that a few weeks ago, that things may have been wrong in the past but they were right now. We were given to understand that the only way to escape eternal punishment was to follow in absolute obedience then. How can we be expected to believe they are right now if they were wrong then? Perhaps that did not come from headquarters. But anyway, I was told by someone that David Sandford told them his father had made many mistakes and he recognized that he had, and that he was not infallible, but a "man of like passions". It seems to me that if he is not infallible, we should have not been taught such absolute obedience, such careful following of everything he said. Doesn't a man need to be infallible in his leadings if he is going to command such following as he did? And if he recognizes he made mistakes in the past, however do we know but what he has made other mistakes which he has not recognized or realized? And how do we know but what he is making mistakes in the things he is leading people to do now and the ways they are expected to live, and yet we are expected to accept his views about everything and go by his directions, just as fully as though he never did and never could make a mistake. I heard him say myself just a few years ago that we would be judged by every word he ever uttered on that hilltop. There has been many a thing we have been called upon to do which was not in the Bible. There was supposed to be absolute obedience, and obedience to some of them cost us extremities of sufferings. If some of these things were mistakes, think of what his mistakes cost us, and yet we are to heed his words now just as much as though he never made a mistake, no matter what it costs us now. Should we be supposed to render such unquestioning obedience to a man who makes mistakes and recognizes them or some of them later on, after we have gone through seven hells in following his leadings and have been strained up to the highest pitch, to be so sure we walked exactly as taught, no matter what it cost us?
I do not know why Shiloh should lay such stress on paying tithes, or even hold that custom at all. They read that verse in Malachi and tell us we are robbing God if we do not. That plan for paying tithes was given under the law when there were a lot of priests to attend to offerings and that was a provision made for the priests living. I think the only time Christ spoke of tithes was to the Pharisees who were still under the law. He did not teach paying tithes. I think the only place where Paul spoke of tithes was in Hebrews 7 where he was telling of how they did pay tithes under the law, as the priests who had to give their time to offerings would have them for their inheritance, and in the twelfth verse he said, "the priesthood being changed there is made of necessity a change also of the law." Paul told them to give as they were able and it is quite evident there was no paying of tithes in Paul's time. And if it is the thing to pay tithes, why shouldn't they be used as was directed when the idea was instigated in the Old Testament times? It does not say that the Levites food, fuel and dwelling should be provided out of tithes and they should get their clothes by faith. They were to have the tithes for their own, to live on. If tithes are to be paid now, shouldn't they be used for the entire maintenance of those who give their time to spiritual work? But to save my life I cannot see that the Bible directs the paying of tithes now that we are not under the law. I noticed too that we did not receive the blessings from paying tithes that Malachi tells about. My husband made the statement awhile ago, when I was talking the tithe question with him, that he believed the reason the Lord was blessing us was because of his attitude toward the tithes. John, how can we swallow such ideas as these? Through some of the years when we both had the "right" attitude toward the tithes we had a much harder time than we are now. Would God wait until my attitude was wrong and then bless us because his was right? Wouldn't he mutually bless us more when we both had the right attitude if that was what he was going by?
I cannot see that there is anything in the Bible that bars out insurance on cars, but it is barred out by Mr. Sandford, and that without the slightest regard for the trouble it would cause some to forgo the use of their cars because of compulsory insurance.
I cannot see why girls or women should be deprived of the right to wear pajamas to bed if they wish to. What in the Bible can uphold that idea? How is it any different to wear bloomers? And why isn't it wrong for men to wear nightshirts, if it is wrong for women to wear pajamas? What is the difference? And who has the right to tell girls and women not to wear their dresses even a little bit low at the neck as Miss Dart did, and not to wear their sleeves above the elbows? The Bible teaches to dress in modest apparel, but who is to decide for others what modest apparel is?
I do not know of one thing in the Bible to uphold Mr. Sandford in his way of getting money. Shiloh made so much of the fact that they do not pass a collection box, but they pray for money and it is plainly understood that people are to give money and give to the extent of bringing in all they are praying for or they will "fail God". It has been very noticeable how money battles have been put through since a lot of people have been working, whereas we used to fail on them sometimes when we were living together a life of faith. And when we did succeed, we had a longer harder time at it, and people had to give in money which they sorely needed for things for themselves. It seemed as though there never was an intermission in money battles long enough for the Lord to give us some money in between and give us time to spend it. When Mr. Sandford was around, he would damn people up hill and down with the most terrific curses in prayer and rebukes to make it as no one would dare hold back a cent.
Shiloh held on to those two immense expensive houses in Boston paying out hundreds of dollars a year in interest and taxes while people, children and animals suffered in the extreme for food. Then there was the terrific battle to pay off the mortgage on them. And then we were prodded up to give and pray and those Hachileh buildings were bought and still people were going meal after meal without food.
It seems to me that Shiloh lives the Bible just about the way the Catholics do. They have the most ideas they go by which are not the living of the Bible but ideas of their own get up. Some things in the Bible they are very strong about. Other things they pay no attention to at all. The Pope is supposed to get directions from God, and they are to go by them. Some of the Catholics believe in the Pope and in the Catholic religion just as absolutely as Shiloh people do in Mr. Sandford and Shiloh. They are not supposed to open an ear or a thought to reasoning about it, any more than we are supposed to over Mr. Sandford and Shiloh. They teach them that when they reason the devil gets in and they are supposed to confess it, if they let themselves think things over. The girl working with me in the mill went to a Catholic school taught by the nuns. She told me of how a nun was laying the case down about girls wearing pants. One girl said that Jesus Christ wore dresses. She made that one stay after school and she gave her to understand there was to be no reasoning or questioning about anything they were taught. And there are other religious sects who have their own ideas and think their way of understanding and living the Bible is the right one and try to convince others of it. Some of them consider that they are the ones to preach the "Gospel of the Kingdom" and are very strict in adhering to the teachings of the Bible, but in the way they understand its meaning. As I understand it, Shiloh believes that all these different sects have false doctrine in them, but they are just exactly as sincere in living their understanding of the Bible as Shiloh is. Shiloh seems to take it that anything that deviates from Mr. Sandford's understanding of the Bible is false doctrine. All down through the centuries there have been multitudes of ideas about the Bible and religion and people have been true to their convictions to the extent of persecution and martyrdom and enduring great hardships.
Since it is apparent that Shiloh does not go by the Bible except in part, and that Mr. Sandford has led into our doing many many things which are not in the Bible at all (I do not mean that they went against Bible teachings although some do that) of course the big question is why has Mr. Sandford made himself a leader? What right has he, or has he any right to require people's obedience to his leadings and acceptance of his views with the understanding we will be lost if we do not agree with and follow him. You believe that after all these years God spoke to you, but that doesn't mean one thing to me, because people have been so sure they heard the voice of God when it proved out plainly that they were mistaken. And I do not understand how you can feel as you do about being glad you believed before God spoke to you because there are so many who think we should believe that their interpretations of the Bible are the ones to believe and go by. And as to that verse, "By their fruits ye shall know them", I do not know of any fruits that show he is Elijah. In the verse where it tells about sending Elijah, it says he shall turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, etc. Mr. Sandford has certainly been the cause of a good many more families being separated than brought together. And I can't believe it was right for him to treat his wife as he did, always rebuking her before others and even slapping her face, and that before a lot of young people. I don't care if he is Elijah 10 times, I don't see how it could make that right. And if he isn't absolutely led by God some other things are very horrible. And why is it , John, that it is such a puzzling affair? My father was at Shiloh all those years and he never was able to get anything about his being Elijah or to really believe that he was. He accepted it when there. If he knew he was Elijah, he would be with him heart and soul but no amount of seeking God about it brings any light that he is makes it seem as though he were not. My father is just as sincere as he can be in his attitude, not feeling clear to go on with Shiloh ideas and yet Shiloh people keep separate from him because he does not continue with Shiloh. Why should they? However can he do anything different? Mr. Dustin went out to see him once. He tried to get him to take his word! for the fact that he is Elijah. How could he rightly do such a thing? There are many others wanting people to do that about what they believe. The Christian Science Church have a book by Mary Baker Eddy. They think she had the right idea of the meaning of the Bible, and they class her book right in with the Bible. They tell people they can help them if they drop all preconceived ideas and simply accept what they tell them. In times like these when there are so many different versions of the scripture and all thinking they have the right of it, how can anyone believe and accept anybody's versions of it especially in anything as radical as Mr. Sandford is, and yet it is required of us.
I had, awhile ago, that one person who had been with Shiloh for years, and could not fully believe that Mr. Sandford was Elijah. They had recently come to the conclusion that he was, and the reason he gave was because of the supernatural in his life. I would surely like to know where they see it. If he had the supernatural, why couldn't he see that necessary food was provided for the people when we were living together? It is not supernatural to put little battles through to a finish now, when so many are earning money. Mr. Sandford is naturally a very smart man, above the average, and has ability that many do not have, but his way of getting money and of getting people to do as he thinks they should is just as horrible as it can be unless he is entirely controlled by God. And unless he is in the right about being a prophet sent by God and led by Him, he has no right whatever to control people as he does, inflicting his views of the meaning of the Bible on them, in the way that he does, making them feel that they will be damned if they do not fall in line and render obedience, not to God only, but to him.
As to his being persecuted, perhaps it is persecution, but if anyone had done some of the things he has done in his leadership they would have received as bad or worse persecution, or whatever it is, if they had no religion whatever. That trip north when the people were short of proper food and developed scurvy and some died, that was a federal offense, and he was put in the federal penitentiary as anyone would be who had done a similar thing. And I do not see how it could have been right even in God's sight, because the Bible says to obey the powers that be. There is a great plenty of cause for people to have feelings against him because of his carryings on if there was no religion to it, so it would not be persecution. The nightmare of horrors that I and others went through there at Shiloh for years is vividly with me today, seeing children, and mothers with large families, suffer as they did, mothers not even having enough to eat at times to provide nourishment for their nursing babies, and mothers in such need of food they could hardly drag through with the care of their families and their children all, almost constantly telling of being hungry and she also still carrying others and suffering for food while in that state, as well as having all her children in crying need of food and clothes. Oh John, how could it have been right? It makes me about sick when I think of it. There is a girl who was born at Shiloh, was in a large family and lived there until she was sixteen, when the scattering took place. She has children of her own now. She was talking with me a few months ago about how Shiloh feels that all who ever belonged should come back in the church, and she said she felt she would be a hypocrite if she went into it as it is now, because if they were living together and suffering hunger etc. as they used to she would go to hell before she would take her children there, if hell it meant.
I noticed in the sermon you gave me the matter of working seven days in a week was spoken of as being wrong, and I have heard of people giving up their jobs because they had to work part of Sunday sometimes. I have heard working Sundays talked strongly against in the chapel and yet in Col. 2:16 it says, "Let no man judge you in meat or in drink or in respect of an holy day or of the New Moon. or of the Sabbath days". And in Romans 14:5, "One man esteemeth one day above another. Another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind". These verses give people liberty to do just as they feel to do themselves. Paul didn't even say to be sure they got light from the Lord about it. Aren't those verses just as good as "Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work and the seventh day thou shalt rest"? It seems as though Shiloh, in trying so hard to live the Bible, fail to do so. They put so much stress on some verses and leave others alone, and more than that, actually do not allow people to live some verses, and yet talk so much about living the Bible from cover to cover. And if they are going to be so emphatic about some of the verses given way back under the law, why don't they include them all? Why don't they have men marrying their brother's wives to raise up seed unto them, and if they refuse, have their brother's wife, "take their show off and spit in their face". And why don't we greet each other with a kiss and wash each others feet, and lots of other things, which, thank God, somebody has had sense enough to bar out. But why is it all right to leave out some things in the Bible and at the same time be so strong about others? Why not leave people to their own judgment or convictions as Paul did instead of telling them so emphatically what they should or what they should not do. They stand just as good a chance of getting it right as you do, exactly, or Mr. Sandford.
In one of those times when we were supposed to practice, "Let all thy males appear before Jehovah", on the first day, I think it was, some of the people did not arrive until evening. They were having a big battle on that day to get a truck. Mr. Sandford got all wrought up because the men were not all there to fight the battle, and he pronounced a curse on all who did not get there at the first and stay all through. Miss Dart was telling some of the women about it, and we were to help the men get there and they were all haired up over that curse that had been pronounced. That is Mr. Sandford's method every time. He frightens people into doing as he wants them to or as he thinks they should. It seems so unreasonable that people should have to go to such limits to get there and stay there, in the conditions people are in now, working for others, in mills, etc. and when that verse does not apply to us now anyway. They were to do that when they came into the land He had promised them. We read of nothing like it in the New Testament teachings.
Another thing I can't see to be right is Mr. Sandford's attitude toward those who have pulled out of Shiloh whom he calls quitters. Some have maintained their faith in God and Christian living but one and all come under the head of "quitters" and the verses of Paul's about those who walked not with them etc. and the separation required is applied to all who have gone out from Shiloh. Paul certainly was not speaking of those who had left Shiloh, because there wasn't any Shiloh then. Oh what sufferings are inflicted upon people in the name of religion and even in all sincerity. It is terrible to think of what all the nuns are made to believe and what they go through. Those who enter some of the convents, "say good bye forever to parents, friends and home." They never go into the world again. They cannot ever have even their folks come to see them. They never are heard from again. They cannot even write to them. Theirs is supposed to be a life of utter self denial. And even in the nuns who are out who teach in the Catholic schools and are nurses in the Catholic hospitals have to take quite a dose of that too. They are not supposed to have any desires of their own or fulfill any. Just a few weeks ago someone who had been going to the Catholic hospital in Lewiston for treatments told of one of the nuns who had been transferred from that hospital to one in Canada and a nun who had been a very close friend in the hospital was not even allowed to write to her, even though she was a nun and in perfect standing. See how they carry that to extreme about fulfilling their own desires. If something could only be done to put a stop to such a dreadful "belief". But even in Shiloh we have that which separates children from their parents and brothers and sisters from one another, etc. with no more reason than just that they do not belong to Shiloh. And the sufferings we endured at Shiloh, unless it was God's doings how terrific it was and how could it have been God's leadings is a puzzle to me as the Bible does not even seem to uphold it. I suppose the whole question is whether Mr. Sandford is Elijah or not but even if he is, is there anything in the Bible that shows he has the right to tell people what to do? I know of only one verse that would make us think that, and that one, while some have thought it applied to Mr. Sandford plainly and clearly is applied to Jesus, in Acts 3:20-24. My husband tells me that Mr. Sandford never gives out anything except what he gets from "God". If that were so, then we would do well to go by what He says, but how can we believe that is so without good ground for it? (Our belief is worth only as much as our reason for believing) If that was so, would he have made mistakes? And would he have made statements which did not come to pass like his saying he would have the whole State of Maine in 7 or 10 years, and he would be a popular man in the State of Maine in that time and it has been about 20 years since. Just 12 years ago he said the sixth seal would take place that year, and he got right after someone who did not feel as though they could come right out and say it would take pace that year. When a man gets things as wrong as that how can we possibly believe that he gets everything from "God" or that his words are anything to heed or believe? In things like that where we have a chance to see for ourselves that he gets things wrong, he has gotten them wrong. In most of his leadings there is no way of knowing whether he gets them right or not, because it is just a matter of his expressing what some scripture means or telling us something we are to do. Why should we accept those things as correct when in things where it is possible to know, we can see plainly for ourselves that he gets them wrong. Is it right to be teaching people that he is Elijah if he isn't or even to be teaching them from his ideas if they are not all from God? And is it right to be teaching people that this is the Kingdom if it isn't? Making them feel that whatever ideas Shiloh teaches is the thing to go by no matter what it costs them to do so? If Mr. Sandford dies a natural death instead of being killed in Jerusalem as Bible says of the witnesses, will that not be a shock to the people who have been led to believe he was Elijah and he had the right things.
One person who believes in him told me the other day there would be nothing more to religion for them if he died a natural death. It seems that that person's faith in Christ and the Bible is all bound up in their faith in Mr. Sandford. You told me a few years ago that you believed if your father should die you would go right on. I have thought of that a great deal since and wondered what you would go on with and just what you meant. If your father's ideas failed up so completely that he even dies a natural death then he, of course, could not have been one of the witnesses or Elijah and his ideas were no more to go by than anyone's ideas and his interpretations of the scripture no more to go by than our own or anyone else's. Could you possibly find some way around it to believe that his teachings and leadings were the thing to go by just the same?! My husband when I asked him that if Mr. Sandford should die a natural death wouldn't that show that he was not Elijah, said, there might be such a thing as one personality merging into another! I said "Do you mean to tell me that Mr. Sandford can be Elijah now and he die and then David or John or somebody be Elijah?" Later, when I spoke of his saying that, he asked what made him say that? I said, "Don't ask me, ask yourself. You are the one who said it!" He didn't understand himself, what made him say such a thing, but I understood. He was so dead braced about any doubts about Mr. Sandford and so determined to stand up for his beliefs that it seemed as though he would say almost anything in his favor, whether there was any sense or reason in it or not. Talk about reasoning! He surely reasoned as much as I did only his reasonings were for Mr. Sandford. He would not listen to a word I had to say, in any spirit of considering whether there was any truth in anything I had to say or not, and that is something we have always been taught, to not listen to anything that was not in favor of Mr. Sandford and Shiloh. It would be a certain thing that that came from the devil and they might get poisoned if they gave any consideration to it.
Is it any little matter to be converting young people and others to Mr. Sandford's beliefs and then things not come out as you are teaching and expecting? It will be no little matter to them to find they have been mistaken about Mr. Sandford. I do not want my children taught as they are being, that Mr. Sandford is the "shepherd" and all that, until there is some way of knowing that he really is. Did you ever notice that Jesus did not condemn Thomas even though he flatly refused to believe without positive "proof", and He satisfied his desire for proof. He did say, "Blessed are those who having not seen have believed", but he did not rebuke him for wanting to make certain. And He was speaking of Himself, the Christ, not of anyone who came along and said they were this or that.
It seems understandable to me that my children will hear things that will give them the idea that my father (their grandfather) and Aunts and Uncles are on their way to sure perdition and are not right, because they are not going on with Shiloh and for them to get the ideas about separation from them, etc. and finally get the idea that I must be all off the track and turn their backs on me, after all I have suffered and endured for them.
I heard you say some months ago that you were heart sick because there had been so few converts that week or that month. And I thought, "...and I am heart sick because there are any converts to that belief. Why don't they leave people alone? Why teach them something they may get all mixed up about later on, and can't possibly go on with", (as was my experience) "... and have hanging over them the idea that there may be a dreadful hell for them if they don't, when if they had not been taught all that, 'they would be accepted accordingly to the light they had'." And also, if things do not turn out as expected, what a shock it will be to them. I do not see why people have to be taught that Mr. Sandford is Elijah, and Shiloh the Kingdom. Why not let that point rest and all his ideas until there is some way of knowing. You told me the other night that it was going to be harder to live a Christian life after Christ had been here and taken those with Him who were ready, but I think it will be much, much easier because we will know something then. We will know who it was that were found ready to go and who were not and we will have something to go by. Even God himself did not tell us that the way to know about such things was to get light or the voice of God about them. In Deut. 18:18-22 the people asked, "How shall we know?" He said, "When a prophet speaketh in the name of Jehovah, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which Jehovah hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously. Thou shalt not be afraid of him." It seemed to me for a time that since Mr. Sandford seemed to have God, that he must be right in everything and so there was nothing to do but swallow things that were not understandable (not true, actually) and go on. But I came to the place where it was impossible and I do not see that the fact that he has God shows that he gets everything right, even when they seem wrong and are wrong. He gives his time to seeking God and God meets him as he does any honest soul that asks him. And the fact that God has allowed him to lead as he has, which has meant great suffering to so many, does not show anything, because we see all through the years that God does allow such things until people put a stop to it, like the terrible heathen practices of human sacrificing to appease the wrath of the gods and such things which went on for years and still goes on in some places where people have not yet succeeded in stopping it.
In spite of all that has been said to the contrary, it seems to me that Mr. Sandford makes too much of himself. I know he says there is only one real man and that is Jesus Christ. I heard him talk that way about six years ago but after he had talked that way he went right on to talk about himself as the shepherd and then gave people a chance to talk and because they did not give inspirational testimonies about him as "the shepherd" he gave them a terrible going over and likened them to salt that had lost its savor, and I remember how he didn't like it because he wasn't greeted with enthusiasm when he came home from Atlanta. And he was always rebuking people right and left even though they had done all they knew to be led by the Spirit. It seemed that almost nobody could ever get things right but him, unless they were very careful to get his ideas and follow them. All through the years we had to obey ministers whom he had put there to lead although they almost never received his approval.
I believe that Shiloh has the wrong idea about "reasoning" and the carnal mind. They seem to take it that anything that is not in line with their ideas is "reasoning" and the carnal mind. These scriptures may not apply to our thoughts about Shiloh at all. They seem to take it that anything that is not in line with their ideas is "reasoning" and the carnal mind. Those scriptures may not apply to our thoughts about Shiloh at all. That is the way the Catholics are taught, and they just accept what they are taught from childhood up. If they just simply use their heads a little they could see there is no reason at all for them to accept and practice the Catholic religion, but they are not suppose to "reason". If you had heard all I have in recent years about different beliefs you wouldn't wonder that I think as I do.
Another thing stakes it that a person like me, for instance, who is not going on with Shiloh cannot possibly get the right idea of things and therefore is no one to listen to, but as long as we are going on with Shiloh we can't get a broad view of things because of putting back all thought continually of things not being as they should be. I doubt if you would be believing in him as you do now if you had been left to yourself and I do not believe it was the power of the devil over you either when you did not agree in everything, you simply thought things out in a sensible way. Of course it put you in misery because of the way you had been taught about it and because it put you out of adjustment with others, including most of your own family. And naturally, having been taught that God talked to us through sickness and trouble you felt that God was dealing with you. And when Miss Dart comes along with the strong intense faith she has in Mr. Sandford, and with her personality and ability to explain things in favor of him and his belief, it was much easier for you to swing into line with her and your father's views and go into it all over and get their approval and feel that you had God's than to hold out against their strength of persuasion and feel that you had their disapproval and probably God's. A person has to have a positive conviction in their own hearts to be able to hold out against them, when in their presence. To me, you have seemed very strained and unnatural since you have been trying so hard to get converts. It has seemed as though you were trying to work in Saul's armour, that is, as though you were throwing yourself right into carrying on in the way and to the extent that someone else has expressed and directed instead of just being yourself. And people were all keyed up about getting converts. One person from Shiloh tried to get someone at Lisbon Falls converted, and they told me about it. It was someone whom they knew a very little. They asked the person if they had confidence in them and when they said they did not know what they meant by that, they asked the very same question again without any explanation, and the person said they believed they were a good Christian. The one they were talking to had lost someone very dear to them a short time before, and they asked them if they didn't want to see them again and of course they did and they tried on that [point] to get them converted to Shiloh religion, but they did not have faith in Shiloh so did not fall for them. But I couldn't get over the way that person went at it, just like a salesman, using the most persuasive point. What right had they to infer that that loved one had gone to heaven? And also if they had reached heaven without Shiloh religion and without believing in Mr. Sandford. Why wasn't there just as good a chance of their doing so? Why should they have to take entirely different tactics from what the other one had if they had landed safely in heaven as the person from Shiloh gave them to understand? That person was not an amateur or someone whom we would not expect would know how to talk to people either.
I am writing in very much of a ramble, as things came to my mind that have bothered me. I am emptying them out, hit or miss.
It seems to me that a lot of Mr. Sandford's doings are not so much "leadings" as they are his natural make up and that it his way to carry things to extreme and to be determined to succeed one way or another. It appears to me that he "lays burdens on people that are too heavy to bear". And there is more I could say but probably this is enough for this time. Truthfully John, I feel just as desirous of, I was going to say, converting you, as you do of converting me but not that, but I do wish that you might see that you should not be teaching others what may prove to be false doctrine about your father and the Kingdom, without any surer ground than you have for your "belief".
Mrs. Hastings added to the bottom of the letter, years later . . .
Mr. Sandford did die a natural death here in this country in March 1948. Frank Murray admits that at the time of his death, "many went through deep and wrenching perplexity". He writes in The Standard:
Is something "unexpected" an answer to prayer? If prayer is answered, don't we get what we pray for?
Is it "judgment on our Creator" to admit to truth, to accept the proof that the man we were taught to believe in was mistaken? It wasn't the "Creator" who got it wrong. It was a man.
I don't know how it is that I have this. Could I possibly have copied it or did I ever send it to him?