Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2


Chapter 15—Caution to Ministers

In the vision given me June 12, 1868, I was deeply impressed with the great work to be accomplished to prepare a people for the coming of the Son of man. I saw that the harvest is great, but the laborers are few. Many who are at the present time in the field, laboring to save souls, are feeble. They have borne heavy burdens, which have tried and worn them. Yet, I was shown that with some of our ministers there has been too great an expenditure of strength which was not actually required. Some pray too long and too loud, which greatly exhausts their feeble strength and needlessly expends their vitality; others frequently make their discourses one third or one half longer than they should. In so doing they become excessively weary, the interest of the people decreases before the discourse closes, and much is lost to them, for they cannot retain it. One half that was said would have been better than more. Although all the matter may be important, the success would be much greater were the praying and talking less lengthy. The result would be reached without so great weariness. They are needlessly using up their strength and vitality, which, for the good of the cause, it is so necessary to retain. It is the long-protracted effort, after laboring to the point of weariness, which wears and breaks. 2T 116.2

I saw that it was this extra labor, when the system was exhausted, that consumed the life of dear Brother Sperry and brought him prematurely to the grave. Had he worked with reference to health he might have lived to labor until the present time. It was, also, this extra labor that exhausted the life force of our dear Brother Cranson and caused his life of usefulness to be extinguished. 2T 117.1

Much singing, as well as protracted praying and talking, is extremely wearing. In most cases our ministers should not continue their efforts longer than one hour. They should leave preliminaries and come to the subject at once, and should study to close the discourse while the interest is the greatest. They should not continue the effort until their hearers desire them to cease speaking. Much of this extra labor is lost upon the people, who are often too weary to be benefited by what they may hear; and who can tell how great is the loss sustained by the ministers who thus labor? In the end nothing is gained by this draft upon the vitality. 2T 117.2

Frequently the strength is exhausted at the commencement of a protracted effort. And at the very time when there is much to be gained or lost, the devoted minister of Christ, who has an interest, a will to labor, cannot command the strength. He has used it up in singing, in lengthy prayers and protracted preaching, and the victory is lost for want of earnest, well-directed labor at the right time. The golden moment is lost. The impressions made were not followed up. It would have been better had no interest been awakened; for when convictions have been once resisted and overcome, it is very difficult to impress the mind again with the truth. 2T 117.3

I was shown that if our ministers would exercise care to preserve their strength, instead of needlessly expending it, their judicious, well-directed labor would accomplish more in a year than could be accomplished by long talking, praying, and singing, which are so wearisome and exhausting. In the latter case, the people are frequently deprived of labor which they much need at the right time, for the laborer is in need of rest and will endanger his health and life if he continues his effort. 2T 118.1

Our dear Brethren Matteson and D. T. Bourdeau have made a mistake here, and should reform in their manner of labor. They should speak short and pray short. They should come to the point at once and stop short of exhaustion in their labors. They can both accomplish more good by doing this, and at the same time preserve strength to continue the labors which they love, without breaking down entirely. 2T 118.2