Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3


Chapter 44—Leadership

Brother A, your experience in reference to leadership two years ago was for your own benefit and was highly essential to you. You had very marked, decided views in regard to individual independence and right to private judgment. These views you carry to extremes. You reason that you must have light and evidence for yourself in reference to your duty. 3T 492.1

I have been shown that no man's judgment should be surrendered to the judgment of any one man. But when the judgment of the General Conference, which is the highest authority that God has upon the earth, is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be maintained, but be surrendered. Your error was in persistently maintaining your private judgment of your duty against the voice of the highest authority the Lord has upon the earth. After you had taken your own time, and after the work had been much hindered by your delay, you came to Battle Creek in answer to the repeated and urgent calls of the General Conference. You firmly maintained that you had done right in following your own convictions of duty. You considered it a virtue in you to persistently maintain your position of independence. You did not seem to have a true sense of the power that God has given to His church in the voice of the General Conference. You thought that in responding to the call made to you by the General Conference you were submitting to the judgment and mind of one man. You accordingly manifested an independence, a set, willful spirit, which was all wrong. 3T 492.2

God gave you a precious experience at that time which was of value to you, and which has greatly increased your success as a minister of Christ. Your proud, unyielding will was subdued. You had a genuine conversion. This led to reflection and to your position upon leadership. Your principles in regard to leadership are right, but you do not make the right application of them. If you should let the power in the church, the voice and judgment of the General Conference, stand in the place you have given my husband, there could then be no fault found with your position. But you greatly err in giving to one man's mind and judgment that authority and influence which God has invested in His church in the judgment and voice of the General Conference. 3T 493.1

When this power which God has placed in the church is accredited to one man, and he is invested with the authority to be judgment for other minds, then the true Bible order is changed. Satan's efforts upon such a man's mind will be most subtle and sometimes overpowering, because through this mind he thinks he can affect many others. Your position on leadership is correct, if you give to the highest organized authority in the church what you have given to one man. God never designed that His work should bear the stamp of one man's mind and one man's judgment. 3T 493.2

The great reason why Brethren B and C are at this time deficient in the experience they should now have is because they have not been self-reliant. They have shunned responsibilities because in assuming them their deficiencies would be brought to the light. They have been too willing to have my husband lead out and bear responsibilities, and have allowed him to be mind and judgment for them. These brethren are weak where they should be strong. They have not dared to follow their own independent judgment, lest they should make mistakes and be blamed for it, while they have stood ready to be tempted and to make my husband responsible if they thought they could see mistakes in his course. They have not lifted the burdens with him. They have referred continually to my husband, making him bear the responsibilities which they should have shared with him, until they are weak in those qualifications wherein they should be strong. They are weak in moral power when they might be giants, qualified to stand as pillars in the cause of God. 3T 493.3

These brethren have not self-reliance, or confidence that God will indeed lead them if they follow the light He has given them. God never intended that strong, independent men of superior intellect should cling to others for support as the ivy clings to the oak. All the difficulties, the backsets, the hardships, and the disappointments which God's servants will meet in active labor will only strengthen them in the formation of correct characters. By putting their own energies of mind to use, the obstacles they meet will prove to them positive blessings. They will gain mental and spiritual muscle to be used upon important occasions with the very best results. They will learn self-reliance and will gain confidence in their own experience that God is really leading and guiding them. And as they meet peril and have real anguish of spirit they are obliged to meditate and are made to feel the necessity of prayer in their effort to move understandingly and work to advantage in the cause of God; they find that conflict and perplexity call for the exercise of faith and trust in God, and for that firmness which develops power. Necessities are constantly arising for new ways and means to meet emergencies. Faculties are called into use that would lie dormant were it not for these pressing necessities in the work of God. This gives a varied experience so that there will be no use for men of one idea and those who are only half developed. 3T 494.1

Men of might and power in this cause, whom God will use to His glory, are those who have been opposed, baffled, and thwarted in their plans. Brethren B and C might have turned their own failures into important victories; but, instead of this, they have shunned the responsibilities which would make liability to mistakes possible. These precious brethren have failed to gain that education which is strengthened by experience and which reading and study and all the advantages otherwise gained will never give them. 3T 494.2

You, Brother A, have had strength to bear some responsibilities. God has accepted your energetic labors and blessed your efforts. You have made some mistakes, but because of some failures you should in nowise misjudge your capabilities nor distrust the strength that you may find in God. You have not been willing and ready to assume responsibilities. You are naturally inclined to shun them and to choose an easier position, to write and exercise the mind where no special, vital interests are involved. You make a mistake in relying upon my husband to tell you what to do. This is not the work God has given my husband. You should search out what is to be done and lift the disagreeable burdens yourself. God will bless you in so doing. You must bear burdens in connection with the work of God according to your best judgment. But you must be guarded, lest your judgment shall be influenced by the opinions of others. If it is apparent that you have made mistakes, it is your privilege to turn these failures into victories by avoiding the same in the future. By being told what to do you will never gain the experience necessary for any important position. 3T 495.1

The same is applicable to all who are standing in the different positions of trust in the various offices at Battle Creek. They are not to be coaxed and petted and helped at every turn, for this will not make men competent for important positions. It is obstacles that make men strong. It is not helps, but difficulties, conflicts, rebuffs, that make men of moral sinew. Too much ease and avoiding responsibility have made weaklings and dwarfs of those who ought to be responsible men of moral power and strong spiritual muscle. 3T 495.2

Men who ought to be as true in every emergency as the needle to the pole, have become inefficient by their efforts to shield themselves from censure and by evading responsibilities for fear of failure. Men of giant intellect are babes in discipline because they are cowardly in regard to taking and bearing the burdens they should. They are neglecting to become efficient. They have too long trusted one man to plan for them and to do the thinking which they are highly capable of doing themselves in the interest of the cause of God. Mental deficiencies meet us at every point. Men who are content to let others plan and do their thinking for them are not fully developed. If they were left to plan for themselves they would be found judicious, close-calculating men. But when brought into connection with God's cause, it is entirely another thing to them; they lose this faculty almost altogether. They are content to remain as incompetent and inefficient as though others must do the planning and much of the thinking for them. Some men appear to be utterly unable to hew out a path for themselves. Must they ever rely upon others to do their planning and their studying, and to be mind and judgment for them? God is ashamed of such soldiers. He is not honored by their having any part to act in His work while they are mere machines. 3T 495.3

Independent men of earnest endeavor are needed, not men as impressible as putty. Those who want their work made ready to their hand, who desire a fixed amount to do and a fixed salary, and who wish to prove an exact fit without the trouble of adaptation or training, are not the men whom God calls to work in His cause. A man who cannot adapt his abilities to almost any place if necessity requires is not the man for this time. Men whom God will connect with His work are not limp and fiberless, without muscle or moral force of character. It is only by continued and persevering labor that men can be disciplined to bear a part in the work of God. These men should not become discouraged if circumstances and surroundings are the most unfavorable. They should not give up their purpose as a complete failure until they are convinced beyond a doubt that they cannot do much for the honor of God and the good of souls. 3T 496.1

There are men who flatter themselves that they might do something great and good if they were only circumstanced differently, while they make no use of the faculties they already have by working in the positions where Providence has placed them. Man can make his circumstances, but circumstances should never make the man. Man should seize circumstances as his instruments with which to work. He should master circumstances, but should never allow circumstances to master him. Individual independence and individual power are the qualities now needed. Individual character need not be sacrificed, but it should be modulated, refined, elevated. 3T 496.2

I have been shown that it is my husband's duty to lay off the responsibilities which others would be glad to have him bear because it excuses them from many difficulties. My husband's ready judgment and clear discernment, which have been gained through training and exercise, have led him to take on many burdens which others should have borne. 3T 497.1

Brother A, you are too slow. You should cultivate opposite qualities. The cause of God demands men who can see quickly and act instantaneously at the right time and with power. If you wait to measure every difficulty and balance every perplexity you meet you will do but little. You will have obstacles and difficulties to encounter at every turn, and you must with firm purpose decide to conquer them, or they will conquer you. 3T 497.2

Sometimes various ways and purposes, different modes of operation in connection with the work of God, are about evenly balanced in the mind; but it is at this very point that the nicest discrimination is necessary. And if anything is accomplished to the purpose it must be done at the golden moment. The slightest inclination of the weight in the balance should be seen and should determine the matter at once. Long delays tire the angels. It is even more excusable to make a wrong decision sometimes than to be continually in a wavering position, to be hesitating, sometimes inclined in one direction, then in another. More perplexity and wretchedness result from thus hesitating and doubting than from sometimes moving too hastily. 3T 497.3

I have been shown that the most signal victories and the most fearful defeats have been on the turn of minutes. God requires promptness of action. Delays, doubtings, hesitation, and indecision frequently give the enemy every advantage. My brother, you need to reform. The timing of things may tell much in favor of truth. Victories are frequently lost through delays. There will be crises in this cause. Prompt and decisive action at the right time will gain glorious triumphs, while delay and neglect will result in great failures and positive dishonor to God. Rapid movements at the critical moment often disarm the enemy, and he is disappointed and vanquished, for he had expected time to lay plans and work by artifice. 3T 497.4

God wants men connected with His work in Battle Creek whose judgment is at hand, whose minds, when it is necessary, will act like the lightnings. The greatest promptness is positively necessary in the hour of peril and danger. Every plan may be well laid to accomplish certain results, and yet a delay of a very short time may leave things to assume an entirely different shape, and the great objects which might have been gained are lost through lack of quick foresight and prompt dispatch. Much may be done in training the mind to overcome indolence. There are times when caution and great deliberation are necessary; rashness would be folly. But even here, much has been lost by too great hesitancy. Caution, up to a certain point, is required; but hesitancy and policy on particular occasions have been more disastrous than would have been a failure through rashness. 3T 498.1

My brother, you need to cultivate promptness. Away with your hesitating manner. You are slow and neglect to seize the work and accomplish it. You must get out of this narrow manner of labor, for it is of the wrong order. When unbelief takes hold of your soul, your labor is of such a hesitating, halting, balancing kind that you accomplish nothing yourself and hinder others from doing. You have just enough interest to see difficulties and start doubts, but have not the interest or courage to overcome the difficulties or dispel the doubts. At such times you need to surrender to God. You need force of character and less stubbornness and set willfulness. This slowness, this sluggishness of action, is one of the greatest defects in your character and stands in the way of your usefulness. 3T 498.2

Your slowness of decision in connection with the cause and work of God is sometimes painful. It is not at all necessary. Prompt and decisive action may accomplish great results. You are generally willing to work when you feel just like it, ready to do when you can see clearly what is to be done; but you fail to be that benefit to the cause that you might be if you were prompt and decisive at the critical moment, and would overcome the habit of hesitation and delay which has marked your character and which has greatly retarded the work of God. This defect, unless overcome, will prove, in instances of great crises, disastrous to the cause and fatal to your own soul. Punctuality and decisive action at the right time must be acquired, for you have not these qualities. In the warfare and battles of nations there is often more gained by good management in prompt action than in earnest, dead encounter with the enemy. 3T 499.1

The ability to do business with dispatch, and yet do it thoroughly, is a great acquisition. My brother, you have really felt that your cautious, hesitating course was commendable, rather a virtue than a wrong. But from what the Lord has shown me in this matter, these sluggish movements on your part have greatly hindered the work of God and caused many things to be left undone which in justice ought to have been done with promptness. It will be difficult now for you to make the changes in your character which God requires you to make, because it was difficult for you to be punctual and prompt of action in youth. When the character is formed, the habits fixed, and the mental and moral faculties have become firm, it is most difficult to unlearn wrong habits, to be prompt in action. You should realize the value of time. You are not excusable for leaving the most important, though unpleasant work, hoping to get rid of doing it altogether, or thinking that it will become less unpleasant, while you occupy your time upon pleasant matters not really taxing. You should first do the work which must be done and which involves the vital interests of the cause, and only take up the less important matters after the more essential are accomplished. Punctuality and decision in the work and cause of God are highly essential. Delays are virtually defeats. Minutes are golden and should be improved to the very best account. Earthly relations and personal interests should ever be secondary. Never should the cause of God be left to suffer, in a single particular, because of our earthly friends or dearest relatives. 3T 499.2

“And He said to another, Follow Me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow Thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” 3T 500.1

No earthly ties, no earthly considerations, should weigh one moment in the scale against duty to the cause and work of God. Jesus severed His connection from everything to save a lost world, and He requires of us a full and entire consecration. There are sacrifices to be made for the interests of God's cause. The sacrifice of feeling is the most keen that is required of us; yet after all it is a small sacrifice. You have plenty of friends, and if the feelings are only sanctified, you need not feel that you are making a very great sacrifice. You do not leave your wife among heathen. You are not called to tread the burning African desert or to face prisons and encounter trial at every step. Be careful how you appeal to your sympathies and let human feelings and personal considerations mingle with your efforts and labors for the cause of God. He demands unselfish and willing service. You can render this and yet do all your duties to your family; but hold this as a secondary matter. 3T 500.2

My husband and myself have made mistakes in consenting to take responsibilities that others should carry. In the commencement of this work a man was needed to propose, to execute with determination, and to lead out battling with error and surmounting obstacles. My husband bore the heaviest burden and met the most determined opposition. But when we became a fully organized body, and several men were chosen to act in responsible positions, then it was the proper time for my husband to cease to act longer as one man to stand under the responsibilities and carry the heavy burdens. This labor devolved on more than one. Here is where the mistake has been made by his brethren in urging him, and by himself in consenting, to stand under the burdens and responsibilities that he had borne alone for years. He should have laid down these burdens years ago, and they should have been divided with other men chosen to act in behalf of the people. Satan would be pleased to have one man's mind and one man's judgment control the minds and judgment of those who believe the present truth. 3T 500.3

My husband has frequently been left almost alone to see and feel the wants of the cause of God and to act promptly. His leading brethren were not deficient in intellect, but they lacked a willing mind to stand in the position which my husband has occupied. They have inconsistently allowed a paralytic to bear the burdens and responsibilities of this work, which no one of them alone could endure with their strong nerves and firm muscles. He has sometimes used apparent severity and has spoken so as to give offense. When he has seen others who might have shared his burdens avoiding responsibilities, it has grieved him to the heart, and he has spoken impulsively. He has not been placed in this unreasonable position by the Lord, but by his brethren. His life has been but little better than a species of slavery. The constant trial, the harassing care, the exhausting brainwork, have not been valued by his brethren. He has led an unenjoyable life, and he has increased his unhappiness by complaining of his brother ministers who neglected to do what they might have done. Nature has been outraged time and again. While his brethren have found fault with him for doing so much, they have not come up to take their share of the responsibility, but have been too willing to make him responsible for everything. You came nobly up to bear responsibilities when there were no others who would lift them. If his brethren in the ministry had cultivated a willingness to lift the burdens they should have borne, my husband would not have seen and done so much work which needed to be done and which he thought must not be neglected. 3T 501.1

God has not suffered the life of my husband to end ingloriously. He has sustained him. But the man who performs double labor, who crowds the work of two years into one, is burning his candle at both ends. There is yet a work for my husband to do which he should have done years ago. He should now have less of the strife, perplexity, and responsibility of life, and be ripening, softening, and elevating for his last change. He should now husband his strength. He should not allow the responsibilities of the cause to rest upon him so heavily, but should stand free, where the prejudices and suspicions of his brethren will not disturb his peace. 3T 502.1

God has permitted the precious light of truth to shine upon His word and illuminate the mind of my husband. He may reflect the rays of light from the presence of Jesus upon others by his preaching and writing. But while serving tables, doing business in connection with the cause, he has been deprived, to a great degree, of the privilege of using his pen and of preaching to the people. 3T 502.2

He has felt that he was called of God to stand in defense of the truth, and to reprove, sometimes severely, those who were not doing justice to the work. The pressure of care and the affliction of disease have often thrown him into discouragement, and he has sometimes viewed matters in an exaggerated light. His brethren have taken advantage of his words, and of his prompt manners, which have been in marked contrast with their tardy labor and narrow plans of operation. They have accredited to my husband motives and feelings which were not his due. The wide contrast between themselves and him seemed like a gulf; but this might easily have been bridged, had these men of intellect put their undivided interests and whole hearts into the work of building up and advancing the precious cause of God. 3T 502.3

We might exert a constant influence in this place, at the head of the work, which would advance the prosperity of our institutions. But the course of others who do not do what they might, who are subject to temptation, and who, if their track is crossed, would reflect upon our most earnest efforts for the prosperity of God's cause, compels us to seek an asylum elsewhere where we may work to better advantage with less danger of being crushed under burdens. God has given us great freedom and power with His people at Battle Creek. When we came to this place last summer, our work commenced in earnest, and it has continued ever since. One perplexity and difficulty has followed closely upon another, calling forth taxing labor to set things right. 3T 503.1

When the Lord showed that Brother D might be the man for the place, if he remained humble and relied upon His strength, He did not make a blunder and select the wrong man. For a time Brother D had a true interest and acted as a father at the Health Institute. But he became self-exalted, self-sufficient. He pursued a wrong course. He yielded to temptation. The excuses which the directors have made for their neglect of duty are all wrong. Their shifting responsibilities upon Brother and Sister White is marked against them. They simply neglected their duty because it was unpleasant. 3T 503.2

I saw that help was needed upon the Pacific Coast. But God would not have us take the responsibilities or bear the perplexities which belong to others. We may stand as counselors and help them with our influence and our judgment. We may do much if we will not be induced to get under the load and bear the weight which others should bear, and which it is important for them to bear in order to gain a necessary experience. We have important matter to write out which the people greatly need. We have precious light on Bible truth which we should speak to the people. 3T 503.3

I was shown that God did not design that my husband should bear the burdens he has borne for the last five months. The working part in connection with the cause has been left to fall upon him. This has brought perplexity, weariness, and nervous debility, which have resulted in discouragement and depression. From the commencement of the cause there has been a lack of harmonious action on the part of his brethren. His brethren in the ministry have loved freedom. They have not borne the responsibilities which they might, and have failed to gain the experience which they might have had to enable them to stand in the most responsible positions relative to the vital interests of the cause of God at the present time. They have excused their neglect to bear responsibilities on the ground that they feared being reflected upon afterward. 3T 503.4

The religion we profess is colored by our natural dispositions and temperaments; therefore it is of the highest importance that the weak points in our character be strengthened by exercise and that the strong, unfavorable points be weakened by working in an opposite direction and by strengthening opposite qualities. But some brethren have not done what they might and should have done, and which would have given my husband sufficient encouragement and help to continue to bear some responsibilities at the head of the work. His fellow laborers did not move independently, looking to God for light and for duty for themselves; they did not follow in His opening providence and consult together upon plans of operation and unite in their plans and manner of labor. 3T 504.1

Since coming to Michigan last summer, the Lord has especially blessed the labors of my husband. He has been sustained in a most remarkable manner to do work that so much needed to be done. Had those associated with him been awake to see and understand the wants of the cause of God at our last Michigan camp meeting, the many things not done might have been accomplished. There was a failure to meet the wants of the occasion. Had Brother A stood cheerful in God, walking in the light, ready to see what was to be done, and executing the work with dispatch, we should now be months advanced in our work, and we might long ago have been working to establish the press upon the Pacific Coast. God cannot be glorified by our falling into singular gloom and then remaining under the cloud. The light does shine, although we may not realize its blessing; but if we make all diligence to press to the light, and if we move ahead just as though the light did shine, we shall soon pass out of the darkness and find light all around us. 3T 504.2

At our last camp meeting the angels of God in a special manner came with their power to lighten, to heal, and to bless both my husband and Brother Waggoner. A precious victory was there gained which should never lose its influence. I have been shown that God had in a most marked manner given my husband tokens of His love and care, and also of His sustaining grace. He has regarded his zeal and devotion to His cause and work. This should ever lead to humility and gratitude on the part of my husband. 3T 505.1

God wants minutemen. He will have men who, when important decisions are to be made, are as true as the needle to the pole; men whose special and personal interests are swallowed up, as were our Saviour's, in the one great general interest for the salvation of souls. Satan plays upon the human mind wherever a chance has been left for him to do so; and he seizes upon the very time and place where he can do the most service to himself and the greatest injury to the cause of God. A neglect to do what we might do, and what God requires us to do in His cause, is a sin which cannot be palliated with excuses of circumstances or conditions, for Jesus has made provision for all in every emergency. 3T 505.2

My brother, in doing the work of God you will be placed in a variety of circumstances which will require self-possession and self-control, but which will qualify you to adapt yourself to circumstances and the peculiarities of the situation. Then you can act yourself unembarrassed. You should not place too low an estimate upon your ability to act your part in the various callings of practical life. Where you are aware of deficiencies, go to work at once to remedy those defects. Do not trust to others to supply your deficiencies, while you go on indifferently, as though it were a matter of course that your peculiar organization must ever remain so. Apply yourself earnestly to cure these defects, that you may be perfect in Christ Jesus, wanting in nothing. 3T 505.3

If you form too high an opinion of yourself, you will think that your labors are of more real consequence than they are, and you will plead individual independence which borders on arrogance. If you go to the other extreme and form too low an opinion of yourself, you will feel inferior and will leave an impression of inferiority which will greatly limit the influence that you might have for good. You should avoid either extreme. Feeling should not control you; circumstances should not affect you. You may form a correct estimate of yourself, one which will prove a safeguard from both extremes. You may be dignified without vain self-confidence; you may be condescending and yielding without sacrificing self-respect or individual independence, and your life may be of great influence with those in the higher as well as the lower walks of life. 3T 506.1

Brother A, your danger now is of being affected by reports. Your labors are decidedly practical, close, and cutting. You rein up the people to very close tests and requirements. This is necessary at times; but your labors are getting to be too much of this character, and will lose their force unless mingled with more of the softening, encouraging grace of the Spirit of God. You allow the words of your relatives and special friends to influence your propositions and affect your decisions. You credit them too readily and incorporate their views into your own ideas and are too often led astray. You need to be guarded. The families in ----- which are so closely related have had an influence. Your judgment, your feelings, your views, influence them, and, in turn, they influence you; and a strong current will be set flowing in a wrong direction unless you are all humble and thoroughly consecrated to God. All the elements of these family connections are naturally independent and conscientious, and, unless especially balanced and controlled by the Spirit of God, are inclined to extremes. 3T 506.2

Never, never be influenced by reports. Never let your conduct be influenced by your dearest relatives. The time has come when the greatest wisdom needs to be exercised in reference to the cause and work of God. Judgment is needed to know when to speak and when to keep silent. Hunger for sympathy frequently leads to imprudence of a grave character in opening the feelings to others. Your appearance frequently claims sympathy when it would be better for you if you did not receive it. It is an important duty for all to become familiar with the tenor of their conduct from day to day and the motives which prompt their actions. They need to become acquainted with the particular motives which prompt particular actions. Every action of their lives is judged, not by the external appearance, but from the motive which dictated the action. 3T 506.3

All should guard the senses, lest Satan gain victory over them; for these are the avenues to the soul. We may be as severe as we like in disciplining ourselves, but we must be very cautious not to push souls to desperation. Some feel that Brother White is altogether too severe in speaking in a decided manner to individuals, in reproving what he thinks is wrong in them. He may be in danger of not being so careful in his manner of reproving as to give no occasion for reflection; but some of those who complain of his manner of reproving use the most cutting, reproving, condemnatory language, too indiscriminating to be spoken to a congregation, and they feel that they have relieved their souls and done a good work. But the angels of God do not always approve such labor. If Brother White makes one individual feel that he is not doing right, if he is too severe toward that one and needs to be taught to modify his manners, to soften his spirit, how much more necessary for his ministering brethren to feel the inconsistency of making a large congregation suffer from cutting reproofs and strong denunciations, when the really innocent must suffer with the guilty. 3T 507.1

It is worse, far worse, to give expression to the feelings in a large gathering, firing at anyone and everyone, than to go to the individuals who may have done wrong and personally reprove them. The offensiveness of this severe, overbearing, denunciatory talk in a large gathering is of as much more grave a character in the sight of God than giving personal, individual reproof as the numbers are greater and the censure more general. It is ever easier to give expression to the feelings before a congregation, because there are many present, than to go to the erring and, face to face with them, openly, frankly, plainly state their wrong course. But bringing into the house of God strong feelings against individuals, and making all the innocent as well as the guilty suffer, is a manner of labor which God does not sanction and which does harm rather than good. It has too often been the case that criticizing and denunciatory discourses have been given before a congregation. These do not encourage a spirit of love in the brethren. They do not tend to make them spiritually minded and lead them to holiness and heaven, but a spirit of bitterness is aroused in hearts. These very strong sermons that cut a man all to pieces are sometimes positively necessary to arouse, alarm, and convict. But unless they bear the especial marks of being dictated by the Spirit of God they do far more injury than they can do good. 3T 507.2

I was shown that my husband's course has not been perfect. He has erred sometimes in murmuring and in giving too severe reproof. But from what I have seen, he has not been so greatly at fault in this respect as many have supposed and as I have sometimes feared. Job was not understood by his friends. He flings back upon them their reproaches. He shows them that if they are defending God by avowing their faith in Him and their consciousness of sin, he has a more deep and thorough knowledge of it than they ever had. “Miserable comforters are ye all,” is the answer he makes to their criticisms and censures. “I also,” says Job, “could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul's stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you.” But he declares that he would not do this. “I,” he says, “would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should assuage your grief.” 3T 508.1

Brethren and sisters who are well meaning, but who have narrow conceptions and look only at externals, may attempt to help matters of which they have no real knowledge. Their limited experience cannot fathom the feelings of a soul who has been urged out by the Spirit of God, who has felt to the depths that earnest and inexpressible love and interest for the cause of God and for souls that they have never experienced, and who has borne burdens in the cause of God that they have never lifted. 3T 509.1

Some shortsighted, short-experienced friends cannot, with their narrow vision, appreciate the feelings of one who has been in close harmony with the soul of Christ in connection with the salvation of others. His motives are misunderstood and his actions misconstrued by those who would be his friends, until, like Job, he sends forth the earnest prayer: Save me from my friends. God takes the case of Job in hand Himself. His patience has been severely taxed; but when God speaks, all his pettish feelings are changed. The self-justification which he felt was necessary to withstand the condemnation of his friends is not necessary toward God. He never misjudges; He never errs. Says the Lord to Job, “Gird up now thy loins like a man;” and Job no sooner hears the divine voice than his soul is bowed down with a sense of his sinfulness, and he says before God, “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” 3T 509.2

When God has spoken, my husband has hearkened to His voice; but to bear the condemnation and reflection of his friends who do not seem to discriminate has been a great trial. When his brethren shall have stood under the same circumstances, and borne the responsibilities that he has borne with as little encouragement and help as he has had, then they may be able to understand how to sustain, how to comfort, how to bless, without torturing his feelings by reflections and censures which he in no way deserves. 3T 509.3