The Ellen G. White Letters and Manuscripts: Volume 1


Lt 28, 1859

[Circa June/July, 1859],1 Battle Creek, Michigan 1EGWLM 676.4

Letter to
John Byington.2
1EGWLM 676.5

Portions of this letter are published in Arthur L. White, Ellen G. White: Messenger to the Remnant, p. 110; idem, Ellen G. White: The Progressive Years, p. 98.

Admonition to John Byington, who was losing the spirit of sacrifice. The need for vigorous leadership that ventures all—“life, health, strength, time, everything.” 1EGWLM 676.6

Dear Brother Byington:

James did not let me see the letter you wrote. He meant to conceal it from me, but by accident he let drop a word which caused me to closely inquire into its meaning. To satisfy me he told me as well as he could remember what was in the letter. Brother Byington, I felt grieved. 1EGWLM 676.7

In my letter to you I felt deeply.3 I was very cautious that not a word I should say should wound, but that the facts should be related as simply as possible, and they cut. I knew if you realized the matter as it was shown me you would nearly despair, and with strong cries and humble repentance you would seek the forgiveness and favor of God. 1EGWLM 677.1

You speak of my publishing you. The only answer I can make is, If God should say, Hold up Brother Byington's case and warn others lest they fall into a like snare and through love of this world yield their sacred obligations to God and the truth, you might see your case then published; and I would lift up my voice as a trumpet and cry, “Beware, beware. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world, for if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”4 1EGWLM 677.2

God is no respecter of persons. He does not bow to man's pride or shape His course to fit man's convenience. He is high and lifted up, and man must bow and yield continually to His will, and shape his course in accordance with the will and mind of God. If any one stands in the way of the work of God, He will lift him out of the way in His own good time, and as He does this it will not be done to suit the pride of the individual, but to speak a loud and effectual warning to others. 1EGWLM 677.3

This world is in your heart, and to it you have sacrificed your noble calling which, if followed out, would elevate you above the world and fix your grasp upon immortal treasures. 1EGWLM 677.4

God forbid that I should dishonor Him by crying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace. We have not a temporal millennium in which to do this last closing work. May the Lord arouse me and breathe upon me His Spirit, and give me energy and zeal to do all in my power to save souls. 1EGWLM 678.1

I saw, Brother Byington, that the greatest cause or reason that has led you to doubt its being duty for you to leave New York was temporal things. You had an income there that you do not have where you are, and if you do for the cause, you have to sacrifice.5 As yet you have not known what it is to sacrifice. I was shown this: 1EGWLM 678.2

Who gave you what you have? Who gave you strength and judgment to acquire it, that with it you might do good, aid in His work, and advance His glory? I saw that the finger of God could quickly touch you, and like Job you [could] be stripped of everything. 1EGWLM 678.3

I saw that Satan was leading your mind to look upon the dark side, to encourage doubts and unbelief and to live under a cloud. In reality you have nothing existing around you to be the least excuse for your keeping your mind in gloom and unbelief. You have not a family of little children dependent upon you,6 and you are free from cares that many are perplexed with. God is displeased with you. If you were even brought down to be a common day laborer, having nothing upon which to depend, there would be no excuse for such sadness, such murmuring and gloom. You would not in that case have half the anxiety and trouble you do now, and you would be in no worse position than many of God's servants. 1EGWLM 678.4

God is not partial. His ways are equal. I wish the curtain could be lifted and you could see your condition as it is. I was shown that your feelings have been wrong towards James. Since that house was purchased for Brother Bates to live in, you have been sinking. You have given way to the enemy and looked with suspicion upon James’ motives concerning that matter. You ought to have been foremost in the matter, and cheerfully, gladly helped in getting a home for him, instead of having the least trial in the matter. God's ways are equal. He does not require one to sacrifice everything and another to make no sacrifice at all.7 1EGWLM 678.5

God's eye is upon all these things. He reads the motives of all, and it is written in the book. God suffered you to be tested to discover to you that selfishness existed in your heart. You have let this matter pass along with a bitter root springing up in your heart to trouble you. The enemy has managed to keep you in a constant hurry that you may have no time to devote to God. All the best of your energy and strength has been spent in your own service. 1EGWLM 679.1

I was then shown that God will reward those who will bear responsibility and with energy push His work forward and stand in the forefront of the battle. God will have those who will venture something in His work. But there are those who will not fill the place that God would be pleased to have them fill. 1EGWLM 679.2

I saw that God had chosen James to fill an important place, and has made him His agent to forward His work. I was pointed back to the commencement of the work and was shown that God thrust him out that he might obtain an experience to fill the place He designed for him to occupy as one to manage in His cause, to forward the work, to take responsibilities, and to risk something on the success of this message. God would be pleased if others would also feel the same interest and move with the same energy. But they will not venture. 1EGWLM 679.3

There are those who have excellent ability and judgment, and exercise it in the things of this world. The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. I saw that when the children of this world are adopted into the family and service of God, they do not generally turn their judgment and wisdom to a good account in spiritual matters. They exercise good judgment in temporal things but get the impression that God's cause will take care of itself. That judgment and wisdom lent them of God for a high and noble purpose is perverted, put to a wrong use. God is displeased that those who have so much energy and zeal in worldly matters have but little weight or responsibility of His work and manifest but little energy in His cause. They will not venture or risk much, for they lack strong and active faith in the success of this message. 1EGWLM 679.4

I was shown that Brother Byington, Brother Fletcher [John Fletcher Byington], and Brother Smith [Uriah Smith]8 have looked with suspicion and distrust upon James because he ventured out to do so much. They shook their heads doubtfully, thought he was going too far, moving too fast. I saw that if these should have their will and their way how the work should move, how it should progress, it would not move at all.9 Their fears and doubts and lack of energy would cause the work to stand still. The spirit with which they move in the work would be scattered through the body, and feeling would have much to do in governing the work. At times the pulse would beat quick and strong, and then again the feelings would change and the pulse beat slowly and feebly, so it could scarcely be perceived that they moved at all. I saw that those who are not willing to help bear the heavy burdens should not hinder and cast on their own weight to add additional burdens and to clog the work. 1EGWLM 679.5

I saw that it was a sacrifice for Fletcher and Martha [Martha Louisa Byington]10 to care kindly for Thomas11 as they did. They will not lose their reward, for he is precious in the sight of God, and every kind and generous act to that suffering disciple is remembered in heaven. It is written in the book, and the different ones whose interest, sympathy, and faith was aroused for him have not labored in vain. Every such golden privilege improved will prove for their own advantage in the end. 1EGWLM 680.1

I saw that there has been a watching to see if there was not a failure in the management of the work, and if it does not come out as expected, some take advantage of it and make as much of it as possible. God has been displeased with these things. 1EGWLM 680.2

I was pointed back to Moses and saw where God placed him. He occupied a prominent position. Aaron and Miriam murmured against Moses and talked with each other upon the matter. They were jealous of Moses, thought he took too much upon himself. God's anger was kindled against them. I saw that God was displeased with those who do not take the burden themselves and then stand ready to murmur at the one upon whom He lays the heavy burden. I saw that if others would come up and bear the burden he [James] has borne for years, and venture all—life, health, strength, time, everything—to push this work ahead, trusting alone to the success of this message, then God would release him from heavy responsibilities and burdens. But as yet God has made him His agent to stir up to zealous action, and I saw that His blessing has rested upon every essential move that has been made to advance His work, and steadily has the work progressed and one difficulty after another has been surmounted. It is because God's hand was in the work. 1EGWLM 681.1

I saw that some do not realize that selfishness is at the bottom of their murmuring. God's humble instrument moves too fast for their faith, and his venturing out as he has done has reproved their slow, unbelieving pace. And there has been satisfaction taken in watching and finding fault. Hints have been thrown out, doubts expressed, which have had their influence. They were at fault in this. Their faith was not strong enough to keep pace with him. Had they the strong faith and self denial that they should have, those who have the ability and means might do a great deal in stirring up the people of God, and if they would venture out and risk something it would inspire faith in the hearts of the remnant, and there would be activity and zeal in pushing forward this great work. I was shown that the work was not left in the hands of James or any other one upon earth.12 Angels of God have charge of the work; they counsel and direct the people through chosen agents, and thus the work moves forward. 1EGWLM 681.2

I was shown that God in His own wise providence raised James above dependence and want, that his testimony and influence might not be crippled by the galling sense of dependence.13 God wants to use him as His instrument to speak with freedom, independent of man, and in His Spirit raise his voice and with his example call upon the people of God to arouse and with energy to assist with their influence, ability, and judgment and substance in moving forward this great work. And any that wish to be convinced can be, that it is not selfishness or that he may be advantaged himself that he pursues the course he has, but that his object and aim is to advance the work of God which is dearer to him than life. I saw that God will have a voice to tell in the Office and in His cause. 1EGWLM 681.3

I saw that it is easier for those who look on to complain and find fault than to suggest and lead in a better course. It is very easy and cheap to suggest doubts and fears, but it is not so readily undertaken to tell what shall be done. I was pointed back and saw that amid all the hatred and devices of Satan God had spared the life of James, although Satan has pressed him sore to take away his life. God has wrenched him from the enemy's power and raised him up to still act for Him, to walk out on his faith, to be a succorer to the needy and to strengthen and uphold His servants that He has called into the field. I saw that God had stayed him on the right hand and on the left, that he should not go to extremes, and He has inspired confidence in the hearts of the remnant generally to confide in his integrity and judgment. This has not been the work of man, but the marks of God's hand are seen in it all. His work will go forward. God will choose simple instruments to carry forward this great work, but they only carry out the mind and will of the great Master at the head of the work. 1EGWLM 682.1