Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Ms 1b, 1874

Methods of Labor


April 1, 1874

Cf. Ms 1, 1874, SpTA #7 2-19. Part in Lt 3, 1913. Previously unpublished.

Dear Son Edson,

I dreamed that several of the brethren in California were in counsel considering the best plan of labor this season. Brethren Loughborough and Canright (for I do believe that Elder Canright is coming again out of darkness into the light) thought that the best plan was in entering small places and shunning the large cities. They reasoned that in the large cities the congregation is changing. You cannot get the same hearers and therefore much of the object in giving a course of lectures was lost. Again, they reasoned it was difficult to build up a church in a large city where the population was changing by moving, some going and others coming. Your father was earnestly urging them to make broader plans and more extended efforts which would better compare with the character of our message. Brother Canright related incidents of his experience which he had failed in large places but had much better success in small places. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 1

I thought a young man whom I had frequently seen in my dreams came into our council meetings, stood in our midst, and seemed to be intensely interested, listening to every word we were saying. He spoke with deliberation and with authority and confidence. He said to Elder Canright, The cities and villages constitute a part of the Lord's vineyard. They must hear the message of warning. The enemy of truth is making earnest and desperate efforts to turn the people from the truth of God to believe falsehood. The angels of God are working with the efforts of the humble and believing preachers of truth. The message of solemn warning must convict and save the hearers. They [must] receive and believe the truth or the truth will condemn them, leaving them without excuse. The message of warning must be given to the nations, kindreds, tongues, and people as a witness that all may have an opportunity to receive the truth if they will, or reject it to their condemnation. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 2

Christ in His labors took His position by the lakeside, by the great thoroughfares of travel from all parts of the world. He was giving the true interpretation of Scripture, sowing the gospel seed, and He illustrated [His] teachings by the sower casting the seed, which fell upon all kinds of soil. Some fell upon good soil and brought forth fruit, some thirty, some sixty, and some even an hundredfold. As in the parable Christ gave His hearers, some seed will fall upon poor soil and will bring forth no fruit. Jesus in this parable illustrates His work and the ministry of all His servants in sowing the gospel truth. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 3

This noble, dignified messenger said, The message you bear is a worldwide message. It is to be given to all cities and to all nations to whom you can gain access. You are to sow beside all waters. It may be you will not at once see the result of your labor, but this should not discourage you. You should take Christ as your example. He had many hearers but few followers. Noah preached one hundred and twenty years to the people before the flood and yet there were out of that large population [only] the small number of eight [who were] saved in the ark. Noah condemned the world in giving them the light, the very warnings that God had given him. Their rejection of the light was their condemnation. Our message is to the world a savor of life to them if they will accept it and condemnation to death if they reject it. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 4

The messenger turned to Elder Loughborough and said, You are entertaining too limited ideas of the work for this time and planning the work so that you can more easily embrace it in your arms. Your light must not be put under a bushel or under a bed, but on a candlestick, that it may give light unto all that are in the house. Your house is the world. You must take broader views of the work. The messengers whom God sends should not become very sensitive of blame or censure that may come to them. You have tried too hard to pursue a course that people will have no chance to find fault, neglecting other work combined with preaching, and in so doing have not manifested wisdom [but] have discouraged and dwarfed your own soul. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 5

The solemn message of warning to the world is of an elevated, sanctifying character. The ministers who preach the truth must be sanctified by the truth they preach. But when they try hard to [accommodate] men's ideas, and [the] peculiar feelings of those around them, and are hurt by criticism, they do injustice to their mission, injustice to themselves, and injustice to their accusers. They can and should improve their methods of labor. You have permitted the murmurers and faultfinders to weaken your hands and discourage your hopes. You have done injustice to your family in your very efforts to keep (as you thought) humble, to be self-denying, to study economy and practice benevolence so that no one should have a chance to complain. If you do not respect the truth and yourself as its advocate by placing yourself in a position of proper dignity before the world, they judge the doctrines you teach very much in accordance with the position you place yourself in. In your efforts with the tent you should make the most of the elevated, important truths we hold, but do not give the people too large a portion at one time, for it will be lost upon them. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 6

The First-day Adventists have the truth upon some points, but in some points of doctrine [they do] not have a true foundation for their faith. We have the most important message ever given to man, of such importance it must be presented carefully. Preach short and pray much. Keep a reserve of power—physical and mental. We must exalt the truth—not self—but the truth we bear, clothed with dignity, and let the world see that we know we are handling weighty arguments that cannot be controverted, [that we know] the truth to be everything precious and valuable and ennobling. Truth must be calmly presented. Eternal interests are at stake. Time is short. Work while the day lasts, for the night cometh. The First-day Adventists exalt themselves. They call the attention of the people to themselves. They seize hold of every means to place discredit upon those who observe the seventh-day Sabbath. The verity and truth of the binding claims of the fourth commandment must be presented in clear lines before the people. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 7

“Ye are my witnesses.” [Isaiah 43:10.] The message will go in power to all parts of the world, to Oregon, to Europe, to Australia, to the islands of the sea, to all nations, tongues, and people. Preserve the dignity of the truth. It will grow to large proportions. Many countries are waiting for the advanced light the Lord has for them and your faith is limited. It is very small, and your conception of the work needs to be greatly enlarged. Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Woodland, and the large cities in the United States must hear the message of truth. Go forward. God will work with great power if you will walk in all humility of mind before Him. It is not faith to talk of impossibilities. Nothing is impossible with God. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 8

The light of the binding claims of the law of God is to test and prove the world. They will decide their own destiny. Many reasons will always be found ([that] mean so much to those who resist light and evidence) to venture to pursue a wrong course, thinking to avoid responsibilities. Every teacher of the truth will pass through sifting, searching, trying times, when faith and patience will be severely tested. Are you prepared, notwithstanding, with the grace of Christ, to go forward, notwithstanding apparent impossibilities obstruct your way, not questioning the length nor the obstacles of the way? The Lord has ways and means for every emergency. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 9

Read and carefully consider 2 Kings, third chapter. You will be tested and tempted in a similar manner as is represented in this chapter. All who will believe and put their trust not in what they can do but [in] what God can do for them cannot lay out in clear lines how God will work, but He will work in ways least expected. It is not your strength. None of you [are] to limit the Holy One whose power is of old, whose ways are past finding out. If you mark out ways whereby God will work you will be disappointed. “The kingdom of heaven cometh not with observation.” [Luke 17:20.] 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 10

You have small faith; you walk by sight. God has a work to be done and it is a very solemn, sacred work. It is not wisdom to follow your own finite plans. Some who now bear the banner of truth will let it trail in the dust and then trample it under their feet, while those now in the darkness of error will hear the truth, be converted, and lift aloft the banner that has fallen from the hands of those who now hold it. Some will be rescued [?] and others will be true. All who rely wholly upon God, day by day, will follow the leadings of God. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 11

All through California meeting houses will be built to convene those who shall have moral courage to embrace the truth. Jesus prayed, “Father, keep them in Thy name” [John 17:11], but we must act in faith and cooperate with God. If any become careless and reckless in regard to keeping themselves in the love of God, the wily foe will take possession of them. You may now suppose you will never be moved. What would make you change your faith—alter your affections—toward God and your brethren? Who shall make a separation between me and my God? I know in whom I have believed. Satan is planning to sift every soul as wheat is sifted, and through humility of mind, through humble faith, through much prayer, you can walk securely. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 12

Be guarded and treat the Scriptures with the reverence that [it] is due. Wonderful truth is to be revered. You think you understand it all, but light—precious light—is to open upon us. The Word is to be made exceedingly precious. Whatever God hath written is for the learning of all. Only practice the words of Christ and you are safe. That which God saw it essential to inspire holy men to write is for your edification. You are to study critically and prayerfully that you may understand what the great saving, vital truths are concerning the salvation of the soul. Truth must be brought into practical life. Self-confidence and [self]-assumption will prove your ruin. Some are not digging deep and making their salvation sure. Unless you shall humble your hearts before God, the vital truths, special truths appropriate for this time, will lose their power. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 13

Truth must be kept before the people, and dependence and faith in Christ Jesus must be the woof and warp of every sermon, the very sum and substance of every discourse, woven into every appeal, the substance of every prayer, and thus you will reveal Him in whom your hopes of eternal life are centered. You need to pray more for divine enlightenment upon the Scriptures, for the Word is spirit and life, the leaves of the tree for the healing of the nations, [and] the fruit shall be the bread of life. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 14

The people need something besides theories and doctrinal subjects. [They need the] bread of life. Tell them what they must do to be saved in plain, simple Bible language. In God is your refuge. Make known God's hidden, unsearchable riches of the grace of Jesus Christ. Preach not yourself, but preach Christ. Dig for the hidden treasures, precious knowledge that you have not. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 15

There will be striving for the supremacy. The Lord did not set Peter before you and say, “Be as Peter; he is superior.” But He took a little child and set him in the midst of them and said, “Seest thou this little child? Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted and become as little children ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whosoever shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whosoever shall offend one of these little ones which believes in me it were better for him that a millstone was hanged about his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe unto the world. It must be that offences come but woe unto the man by whom the offence cometh.” [See Matthew 18:2-7.] 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 16

Elder Van Horn and his wife are to stand as God's messengers. Both must be united in God's order, for one alone will not make an efficient worker. One will show decided lack. United in their labor they will be a power for God for the truth. A few Christian characters united will accomplish a good work in a new field. It would not answer for Elder Van Horn to go forth to Oregon without his wife. She is needed in the work. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 17

San Francisco, Sacramento, and Oakland, California, must have decided efforts made. In God is your efficiency. As soon as you labor in your [own] methods you will fail of success. There must be a publishing house established in California. There will be meeting houses built, but the beginning will be small. Give character to the work in all [of] the great field. Churches will be built. God will go before you if you walk humbly. But [you] must be consecrated. Let your light shine in every word of your teaching, but give short lessons. Preach short sermons. There is a great work to be done and after three quarters of an hour's talk—and more frequently—half an hour, change the exercise. Let some other voice be heard. Educate in Bible lessons as you would a class in school. Every talent God has given to men is to [be] wisely employed and through exercise to become more and more effectual. You must consider the very best methods to interest [the people] and to inculcate ideas that shall impress the minds. You are constantly crowding in too much matter in one lesson. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 18

You have also to consider in these long sermons that you are taxing your vocal organs, using one set of muscles that must be carefully considered. Loud-voiced, high-keyed talking is never required, and God wants His speakers to preserve the pathos and melody of their voice, for the human voice possesses a musical power that, if cultivated, will fall upon the ear and stir and impress the soul. But these God-given powers are strangely abused to the injury of the speaker and the discomfort of the hearer. The Lord demands of every human agent—[especially] young men fitting for the ministry—to educate and train the voice. Speak slowly. Never in a single instance allow impulse and feeling to obtain control. The voices of every human being who will allow God to work them will be cultivated to make the very best impression. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 19

The Lord demands an unreserved surrender of body, soul, and spirit to His divine touch of all your energy and capabilities throughout your entire service to Him. Your influence is to be far-reaching and if your power of speech is allowed to run wild with passion and impulse the modulation of the voice is lost. You strain organs that God has given for the highest use and not to be abused. All the services which man can give to God He claims and the human instrumentality He claims. He will [bless] any organ if men will keep His glory in view by His own divine grace. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 20

The Lord gives special endowments, and every faculty is to be used as God's property, to be cultivated, refined, to do highest service to God, and to be preserved in a healthful condition. Every talent is confided to the human agent to be cherished, appreciated, used, and improved in using in accordance with the will and design of the great Giver. Days, months, years will life be prolonged. The laborers in the harvest field do not cherish their God-given abilities as a precious endowment to treat with care. They are God's appointed channels through whom He communicates, and when they make an improvident use of their powers they use that fund which is needed to be drawn upon in an emergency. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 21

God's workers today constitute the link of connection between the former workers—the church of history—and the present workers. The tide of spiritual life is to flow through appointed channels in the history of the past. God's light has been flowing down for ages upon the church militant and God has and is continuing to impart light—precious light—and all who receive light are made the depositories of sacred, precious light to diffuse to others. All the excellencies that have come through the belief of the truth are to be treated with the uttermost respect, that they shall not deteriorate in our keeping but improve by the imperfections that have been developed in others, because the influence [of their failings] is seen and its unholy history revealed. The workers of today, in all their habits and in all their sentiments and aspirations, [are] to be more pure as they see the failure of others. They are to be constantly learning and improving in the path of purity and the best methods of working because they know better the ways and works of God and will see the necessity of holy characters to be true witnesses for God. They will be living epistles known and read of all men. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 22

Let not one man consider that with his gift he is capable of carrying through a series of meetings and can, just with his own effort, give perfection to the work. Their own methods may be a great blessing, yet varied gifts are essential that one man's mind shall not mold and fashion the work after his special ideas. In order for the work to be built up strong and proportional there is a need of the employment of a variety of gifts and different kind of agencies to make the work complete under the Lord's direction. Cooperation is essential and should be harmonious, each worker doing his God-given work, filling his appropriate position in the work, and each supplying the deficiency of the workman who may, if left alone, entertain the idea he is a complete whole. [There is a need for] those of careful thought who will check exaggerated action. There will [be] men so slow and so moderate in coming to conclusions that much precious time is lost and the delays [will] prove a great loss in many ways. The brethren in the church are to be encouraged to work and educated to bear responsibilities. Sharing the responsibilities with the church will lift many [burdens] from the ministers, and years will be added to the life of the worker who cooperates with God. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 23

There should be careful attention given to the education and training of the gift of speech. The vocal organs are strengthened by use and will not become enfeebled if used properly. Long exercises of these organs at one time are taxing to the whole human machinery. The harp of a thousand strings gets out of repair, becomes worn and unduly exercised, and not for edifying or promoting the well-being of others for building up the kingdom of God and making manifest his glory. The lengthened-out speeches distract from the efficacy of the discourse. The hearers have poured into their minds a mass of matter which they cannot possibly digest. There needs [to be] short speeches that will not be counteracted by their length. High ends are to be attained and extensive work is to be done and if the human agents do that work in efficiency and power he must stop before he maims himself and the people. Human exertion in speaking may be carried to a certain length. Beyond this the physical and intellectual resources are ever taxed and wearing. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 24

Let the power, the glow of the sense of the subject, find expression in appropriate words, bringing all the joy, the gratitude, that wells up in the heart because you see of the travail of your soul in the conversion of sinners. But stop in season, cut short your services, weary not yourself in speechifyings, for there is a class of work requiring your tact and ability which will be a potent agency for good, a pleasant incense ever rising to God. [The] exercise that God requires of every teacher [is] to become acquainted with individuals listening [to him]. Speak a word in season. Prayers need to be offered in their behalf. This personal effort must not be neglected for your own soul's benefit and for the salvation of souls. The nature of your religious experience will be determined by your increased acquaintance with divine things. Habitual communion with God is essential to [maintain] the even tenor of your ways and the right use of your words, that you will not use common or strange fire in the place of the sacred. God has made provisions that all should be living epistles known and read of all men. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 25

But Elder Canright and Elder Van Horn and Elder Loughborough ([and] Elder White)—you will be used up in a religious effort for the salvation of souls so you cannot bind off your work properly. You fail at the very time of the gathering in of the harvest. It need not be thus. One half of the time you spent in sermonizing should have been devoted to varied kinds of methods to bring the souls to the deciding point. Come close to the souls who will be tempted, who will have need of timely words in season and out of season. The energies of those called and chosen of God are not to be exhausted in this sermonizing part of the work. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 26

There must be a reserve power to meet every emergency that may arise. Keep your heart and mind in peace, uplifted [and] not depressed through uncalled-for strain upon your efforts. [Your talks] would prove of far more value if you would cut them short and keep a freshness of thought and not exhaust yourself by long speeches wearying many of the people. That last half or quarter of an hour in extending your discourse has wearied the speaker when it was not necessary and wearied the hearers that their intellect could not grasp the matter presented, confusing the first part of the discourse in their wearied minds. God is not pleased with this plan of labor. The speaker is tired and feels the overstrain and then he is inclined to sympathize with and pity himself because he has worked so hard. The sweet, fragrant influence which should be in greater force at the close of his labors than at the beginning is lost. Frequently he feels impatient, speaks impatiently, and loses faith in himself. Circumstances will arise in connection with his brethren and with those who are [his] hearers who are being convicted that counteract his influence and leave an unfavorable impression of his Christianity. This is not at all as it should be. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 27

God asks, Who has required this at your hands? You have had grace that I have given, but your overwork I did not require. The people would have been far better educated with a variety of talent brought into use. You have embraced too much in your discourses and then felt disappointment that continuing such excessive labor did not accomplish more. God would have you economize your strength. Keep fresh and short in His grace. Draw nigh to God that God may draw nigh to you. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 28

In my last vision I was shown that we should have a part to act in California in extending and confirming the work already commenced. I was shown that missionary labor must be put forth in California, Australia, Oregon, and other territories far more extensive by far than our people have imagined or even contemplated and planned. I was shown that we do not, at the present time, move as fast as the opening providence of God leads the way. I was shown that the present truth might be a power in California if the believers in the message would give no place to the enemy in unbelief and selfishness and would concentrate their efforts to one object—the upbuilding of the cause of present truth. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 29

I saw that there would be a paper published upon the Pacific Coast. There would be a Health Institute established there and a publishing house erected. Time is short and all who believe this message should feel a solemn obligation resting upon them to be disinterested workers, exerting their influence on the right side, and never by word or action be found arrayed against those who are seeking to advance the interest of God's cause. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 30

The ideas of our brethren are altogether too narrow. They expect but little. Their faith is small. A paper published upon the Pacific Coast would give strength and importance to the message. The light God has given us is not worth much to the world unless it can be seen by being presented before them. I declare to you our vision must be extended. We see things nigh but not afar off. Satan will have plenty of difficulties to be presented in obstructing our advance but as the children of Israel came up to the Red Sea and were still led and directed to “Go Forward,” the rod of God in the hands of Moses by the direction of God parted the waters. [Exodus 14:15, 16, 21.] Said Christ, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” [John 6:63.] There must be constant learning, constant advance. There can be none to stand in one place. There is no such thing as making a groove for you to move in. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 31

Elder Loughborough, you have yet lessons to learn that you cannot embrace the truth in your arms and dictate by your influence and voice how everyone shall move. You must receive help or die. God wants you to live, and to give to others the benefits of your experience in failures as well as of success. You must teach others how to work and take them side by side with you. Your much reading of different authors is frequently an injury to you. You deprive yourself of exercise and come to the meetings to speak with a tired brain and then you are not clear in your conceptions. You speak sharp and dictatorial, cutting yourself away from the people whom you should carry with you. Those who close the door of their heart to those who need words and sympathy are in danger of losing the love of God out of the heart. 2LtMs, Ms 1b, 1874, par. 32