Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 1 (1844 - 1868)


Ms 7, 1868

Elder L. L. Howard—Testimony No. II



Previously unpublished.

I was shown, October 25th, 1868, the case of Brother Howard. I saw that he was very far from meeting the mind and will of God. Brother Howard, you indulge in spiritual sloth. There has been a deficiency in persevering energy and close application in temporal matters. In your business transactions there has been a decided failure. You have let those things devolving on you to be accomplished, be neglected and remain at loose ends because you loved your ease or because it was not agreeable to you. Make the most of your time and do the duties of the present without putting them off for another time, which leads frequently to neglecting them altogether. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 1

Your family have suffered in many ways from this fault of yours. You are head of a family. Your example and influence give shape to the character of your children. Your example will be followed by them in a greater or less degree. Your lack of thoroughness is setting a bad example for others. But where your deficiencies are more sensibly felt, with more weighty results, is in the cause and work of God. Your family may feel this deficiency. They have lacked many things which diligence, industry, and perseverance might have supplied. But this deficiency in you has been seen and felt in the cause and work of God in as much greater degree as the cause and work of God is of higher importance than the things pertaining to this life. Your influence in the cause of God has not been good in this direction. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 2

You have not set a good example of industry to the people, carefully guarding your moments. You spend minutes and hours in doing nothing. These minutes and hours, once passed into eternity with their record, can never be recalled. You are naturally an indolent man, which has made it difficult for you to make any enterprise you should undertake a success. This deficiency has been seen and felt through your religious experience. You alone are not the sufferer but others are made to suffer by this fault of yours. You have, at this late period, lessons to learn which you should have learned at an earlier period. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 3

You are not a close Bible student. You are disinclined to apply yourself diligently to the study of the Word of God. You have, in consequence of this neglect, labored at great disadvantage. You have not in your ministerial efforts accomplished one tenth part of the work you might have done. Had you seen the necessity of closely applying your mind to the study of the Word of God, and become familiar with the Scriptures and with Bible arguments, you might be fortified to meet opponents and so present the reasons of our faith as to make the truth triumph and silence their opposition. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 4

Those who minister in the Word must have as thorough a knowledge of that Word as it is possible for them to obtain. They must be continually searching, praying, and learning, or the people of God will advance in the knowledge of the Word and will of God and leave these professed teachers far behind. When the people are in advance of the minister who would instruct them, all his efforts will prove fruitless. The people need to teach him the Word of God more perfectly before he is capable of instructing others. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 5

You might now, Brother Howard, have been a thorough workman had you made a good use of your time, and felt that you would have to give an account to God for your misspent moments. You have displeased God because you have not been an industrious man. Self-gratification, self-love, a selfish love of ease, have kept you from good, kept you from obtaining a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, that you might be thoroughly furnished unto all good works. You have idled away in your bed much time which might have been spent by you in the study of your Bible. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 6

Some few subjects that you have dwelt upon the most you can speak upon to acceptance, but you have in a great degree rested the matter here. You have not felt altogether satisfied. You have realized your deficiencies at times, but have not been sufficiently awakened to the crime of your negligence in not becoming acquainted with the Word of God. When you profess to be a teacher of that Word, the people are deprived of the intelligence they might obtain from you, and which they expect to receive from a minister of Christ; but on account of your ignorance of the Word of God they do not receive it and are disappointed. By rising early and economizing your moments you can find time for a close investigation of the Scriptures. You must have a perseverance not to be thwarted in your object, but persistently to employ your time in a study of the Word, bringing to your aid the truths other minds have dug out for you and with persevering effort prepared to your hand. You should years ago have become familiar with the strong points of our position. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 7

I beg of you, have done with your idleness. It is a continual curse to you. God requires you to make every moment fruitful of some good to yourself or to others. “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” [Romans 12:11.] “He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.” [Proverbs 18:9.] 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 8

It is important for every minister of Jesus Christ to see the importance of self culture. This is necessary in order to adorn his profession and maintain a becoming dignity. Without mental training he will certainly fail in everything he may undertake. God is not pleased with the haphazard ways and manners and ideas of professed ministers. Their haphazard manner of quoting texts of Scripture is a disgrace to their profession. They profess to be teachers of the Word, and yet fail to repeat Scripture correctly. God requires thoroughness of all His servants. The religion of Jesus Christ will be exemplified by its possessor in the life, in the conversation, and in the works. Its strong principles will prove an anchor. Those who are teachers in the Word should be patterns of piety, ensamples to the flock. Their example should rebuke idleness, slothfulness, and lack of industry and economy. The principles of religion exact diligence, industry, economy, and honesty. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 9

“Give an account of thy stewardship” [Luke 16:2], will be soon heard by all. What account, Brother Howard, would you have to render if the Master should now appear? You are unready. You would as surely be reckoned with the slothful servant as that they exist. You have precious moments left you: redeem the time, I entreat of you. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 10

Paul exhorted Timothy: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” “But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strife. And the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient in meekness, instructing those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth, and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil who are taken captive by him at his will.” [2 Timothy 2:15, 23-26.] 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 11

In order to accomplish the work God requires of ministers, they need to be qualified for the position. The Apostle Paul, writing to the Colossians, in speaking of his ministry, says: “Whereof I am made a minister according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the Word of God, even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints, to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you the hope of glory. Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Whereunto I also labor, striving according to His working which worketh in me mightily.” [Colossians 1:25-29.] 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 12

No less devotion to a sacred appreciation of the work of the ministry does God require of His ministers who are living so near the end of all things. God will not accept of anything short of earnest, active, zealous heart labor. Vigor and fruitfulness in the work, He requires. Brother Howard, you lack self devotion and consecration to the work. Your heart is selfish. The deficiencies in you must be supplied or you will meet with a fatal disappointment ere long; you will lose heaven. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 13

God does not lightly regard a neglect of the faithful performance of the work He has left His servants to do. Enduring energy and a constant reliance upon God is lacking in those who are laboring in the ministry. The result of this lack brings upon those who possess these qualities great burdens, and they are necessitated to make up for the apparent deficiencies of those who might be able workmen if they would become so. There are a few who are working day and night, depriving themselves of rest and social enjoyment, taxing their brain to the utmost, performing the labor of three men, wearing away their valuable lives to do your work. You and other ministers like you are too lazy to perform your part, therefore those who feel and realize the sacredness of the work are doing extra labor, making superhuman efforts, using up their brain power to keep the work moving while scores of ministers are carefully preserving themselves and accomplishing next to nothing. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 14

Were the interest and devotion to the work equally divided, and were all who profess to be ministers diligent of their time, devoting their interest wholly to the work, not saving themselves, the few earnest, zealous, God-fearing workmen who are fast wearing out might be relieved of this high pressure upon them, and their strength might be preserved that when actually required it would tell with double power, and accomplish far greater results than can now be seen while under so great a pressure of burdens, overwhelming care, and anxiety. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 15

God is not pleased with this inequality. Men who profess to be called of God to minister in word and doctrine, do not feel, many of them, that they have no right to claim to be teachers unless they are thoroughly furnished by earnest, diligent study of the Word of God. Many of them misquote the Scriptures, and some by their apparent lack of being qualified for the work they are trying to do, injure the work of God and bring the truth into disrepute. These do not see the necessity of cultivating the intellect, of especially encouraging refinement without affectation, and seeking to attain to the true elevation of Christian character. The certain and effectual means of attaining this is the surrendering of the soul to God. He will direct the intellect and affections that they will center upon the divine and eternal, and then will they possess energy without rashness, for all the powers of the mind and the being are elevated, refined, and directed in the loftiest and holiest channel. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 16

From the lips of the heavenly Teacher was heard, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength.” [Luke 10:27.] When submission is made to God, true humility will grace every action, while at the same time those who are thus allied to God and His heavenly angels will possess a becoming dignity savoring of heaven. The Lord requires His servants to be energetic. It is not pleasing to Him to see His servants listless and indifferent. They profess to have the evidence that God has especially selected them to teach people the way to life, yet their conversation is not profitable, and they give every evidence that they have not the burden of the work upon them. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” [Ecclesiastes 9:10.] The soul must be trained to work earnestly and with untiring zeal for God, and pull souls out of the fire. Feel the power of the truth in your own soul, thrilling your own being, then can you possess a power which will affect hearts. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 17

Paul exhorted Timothy, “Let no one despise thy youth, but be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. ... Meditate upon these things, give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself and unto the doctrine, continue in them, for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.” [1 Timothy 4:12-16.] 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 18

What a weight of importance is here attached to the Christian life of the minister of God! What a necessity of their faithful study of the Word! 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 19

You shun hardship. You do not appreciate the sacred, exalted character of the work for this time. You have tried in a degree to heed the testimony given you for yourself and family, yet you can do more. I saw that you had not felt the burden of the work. Had you felt this, you would have gone forth weeping, bearing precious seed. As you present the important truths which are to test the professed people of God, you should do it with humbleness and lowliness of mind, with meekness instructing those who oppose the counsel of God against themselves. You have been an object calling forth much labor to fit you up to be sanctified through the truth. Much perseverance, patience, and long forbearance has been exercised toward you while you manifested but little special anxiety to learn, to search and see if these things were so. You have done much to make it hard for God’s servants to labor to bring up things and to establish them on a right basis in Maine. God was displeased with your making the work of God’s servants so hard. You have yet to realize this and sincerely repent of it. It is a terrible thing to stand in the way of the work of God. It is a fearful thing to stand back and not help the men whom God has sent to do a special work. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 20

But now you have become more reconciled to the plan of labor adopted by the Sabbathkeeping Adventists. You are not clear until you work earnestly to counteract your past labor which has been in opposition to the work which you now acknowledge to be of God. You have a class of brethren you could help. You have a duty to perform in setting the truth before them, and urging upon them its claims. You dread to approach opposers, but when you are sensible of the responsibilities and duties devolving upon the watchmen on the walls of Zion, you will work more earnestly and courageously. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 21

“But if the watchman see the sword coming and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. So thou, O son of man, I have set thee for a watchman unto the house of Israel. Therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth and give them warning from me.” [Ezekiel 33:6, 7.] 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 22

This is the business of the watchmen, to hear the words at the mouth of the Lord and warn the people. Ministers are mouthpieces for God. Yet some are too indolent to exercise zeal, earnestness, and fervor to bear the words of God to the people. This is no trifling work. It is a work that gives no time for ease or self-convenience, no release from watching and warning. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 23

You, Brother Howard, have not realized the exalted character of the work and the necessity of the faithful performance of your duty. You have sought for as easy a time as possible. Has God called you? If He has, it was to make you a workman. He has said: “Go labor in my vineyard.” [Matthew 21:28.] You cannot build up the church without an entire transformation. There are serious lacks in your education, your experience, and training. You leave things unfinished and lack thoroughness. You cannot obtain this leaning upon others. God has not set you to help the church. They are in advance of you. You are required to go forth into new fields. Lay hold of the truth. Rest not until you are imbued with the spirit and power of truth. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 24

You need to be aroused. You are asleep. You need to be energized by the vital influence of the spiritual power of the truth. You can do nothing by talking the truth merely, without being energized by its vital principles. You need a conversion to God. There is too much of L. L. Howard that lives. Self must die, and the spirit you possess must be such as dwelt in the bosom of Jesus Christ. There must be no separate interest aside from the work. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 25

Those who are consecrated to this work know no difference in States, in fields of labor, or in people. The cause is one, the work one, the States one. The dignity of none is to be cautiously guarded. The work, the cause of truth, is the great question which swallows up every selfish interest. Those most devoted to the work are all interested for the success of the truth without a question in regard to saving or honoring self. True watchmen are earnestly listening for words from God, watching to give the words to the people. God cannot bless ministers unless they are engaged in the labor heaven has appointed them. They should go forth to labor in hard fields, if necessary, and trust in God. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 26

Have faith, and venture something. Take hold on God, leaving all upon His promises; take hold of the power of God by faith, and then give God an opportunity to do something for you. Leave room for the Lord to make His strength perfect in your weakness. God wants you to do something or come down from the walls of Zion and be no longer a watchman. I saw that you do not begin to feel the burden of the work, and the necessity of putting forth earnest, persevering effort to save fallen men. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 27

Deceive not your own soul that you are doing the will of God while you can show scarcely anything for your labor. You need to devote hours to prayer and to the study of the Scriptures. You are not familiar with the Word of God. Apply yourself more diligently to the study of the Word of God. Ministers need a work done for them before they can see all things clearly and be where they can be a help to God’s people, and a help to those who sit in darkness. They need to become Bible students. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 28

You are better qualified in some Bible subjects than any of the ministers in Maine, yet you can accomplish nothing as you should until you feel a burden of the work. As you go forth to labor amidst discouragements and are called to manifest patience, zeal, faith, and wisdom, that others have manifested for you, you become discouraged. You have not the hold-on, in your labors. You let go because things look discouraging. Is there not a cause? Think you Satan will see you take souls from his ranks and place them in the ranks of Christ without making an effort to prevent this? He will oppose every effort you make. He will work through men and women, using them as instruments to make your work of none effect, and to drive you from the work by discouragement. Satan’s object is gained if you yield. Work faithfully. Your testimony will be a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 29

You are not thoroughly furnished unto all good works. You have a few subjects you can speak upon with diligence. You should have investigated and studied and prayed, then you could have become familiar with the reasons of our faith in every particular. The evidence of our position has been prepared at your hand, and it is inexcusable negligence in you that you cannot give the arguments of our position. You have a strong constitution that has not been shattered by excessive labor. You would have been in better health at the present time had you engaged more earnestly in physical labor. You are stupefied, and need arousing. You should be more active. Arouse your energies by activity. You easily become jealous, fearing the attention and interest of the people will be withdrawn from yourself. You need have no fears in that direction. If you will earn your reputation, work for it. Show humbleness of mind. Yield your stubborn will and make a full consecration of yourself to God. God calls for devoted men. He will accept you and help you if you do all you can on your part and then sincerely desire His aid. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 30

May the Lord help you to reform is my earnest wish and prayer. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 31

In love. 1LtMs, Ms 7, 1868, par. 32