The Ellen G. White Letters and Manuscripts: Volume 1
June 21, 1859, Battle Creek, Michigan 1EGWLM 672.1
John Byington.1 1EGWLM 672.2
Portions of this letter are published in Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, p. 290.
Admonition to John Byington, who was losing the spirit of sacrifice and drawing back from his calling as a preacher. 1EGWLM 672.3
Dear Brother Byington:
There were some things shown me in regard to you. I saw that the candle of the Lord does not shine about you. He is displeased with you. I was shown that your object in coming to Michigan3 was good. It was well for you to come. But you have failed in your purposes, and that which should be to you of the greatest importance has come in secondary. Your interest has come first, and the work of God, or things of eternal interest, secondary.4 I saw that in your vicinity there was an interest awakened; hearts could have been reached. But your energies were exhausted in your own interest, for your own advantage, and your labor spent in God's work was a lame sacrifice and unacceptable to Him. There was an opportunity for you to have made a sacrifice, to put into the hands of others to do what you have done, even if things had not exactly suited you, and been at considerable more cost. 1EGWLM 672.5
Your commission has not run out. Your time is not yours. God does not wait in His work for you to study your convenience or wait your time.5 Angels of God were prepared to trouble hearts, and through the instruments of God's choosing lay the truth before unbelievers. But the instrument was not ready to do his part, to throw his whole energies into the work, and be a mouthpiece for God. The angels in their work wait not for anyone's convenience, but pass on to do their work, fulfill their mission, and move on other hearts. 1EGWLM 673.1
Responsibilities are on you that you little realize, and your love of this world leads you astray from your duty. You study your interest, and how you can save a little means, when you should be studying what is your best course to save your fellow man. Satan takes advantage of your carefulness and caution and leads it to be exercised in the wrong way. Nothing exists, in reality, to cast gloom upon your soul; but you dwell upon the dark side, talk doubts and unbelief, which is death to your own soul and has a deadly influence upon others. You dishonor God. You grieve His angels by your unbelief. Your influence is not saving. 1EGWLM 673.2
There must be an entire change in you in these things. You love this world, and your heart is altogether too much wrapped up in the things you possess. Your commission is not a matter to be laid aside at your will. Your heavenly Father claims your time and obedience, without any murmuring or complaining or unwillingness on your part. 1EGWLM 673.3
I was pointed back to about one year ago. Your feelings then concerning the purchase of a house for Brother Bates [Joseph Bates]6 were prompted by the enemy. Selfishness lay at the bottom of it. And since then you have not been closely united to James.7 There has been a pulling off. You have felt wrong. I was shown that when you gave yourself up wholly to the work of God, then your love for this world was much weakened. 1EGWLM 673.4
I saw that God had been very merciful to you. God has heard the earnest prayers put up in Martha's [Martha Dormer Amadon (née Byington)]8 behalf, and spared her life when she was marked for the grave.9 And when your own life was in danger, God was merciful to you. Disease was upon you, but as you ventured out in the name of the Lord, angels were hovering around you and Satan was disappointed of his prey. God is angry with you. After He has given you such merciful tokens for good, you have murmured against God. You have not realized this, but it is so. 1EGWLM 674.1
If you had but a very little of this world's possessions it would be better for your eternal interest. That which you have is a great trouble to you. 1EGWLM 674.2
I saw that you are standing in your own light and in the way of the salvation of your children. God has given them a heart to love the people of God. They see the consistency that there is in the truth, and the work for them now is to identify themselves with God's people. Here is the cross. God cannot come into your dwelling and set things in order there. You stand right in the way of the work of God. 1EGWLM 674.3
Picture: John Byington and his wife, Caroline
Picture: Daughter, Martha, and son, John F. Courtesy of the Center for Adventist Research.