Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)



Ms 1, 1874

Methods of Labor


April 1, 1874

This manuscript is published in entirety in SpTA #7 2-19. +Note

Work in the Cities

I dreamed that several of our brethren were in council, considering plans of labor for this season. They thought it best not to enter the large cities, but to begin work in small places, remote from the cities; here they would not meet so great opposition from the clergy and would avoid large expense. They reasoned that since our ministers are so few, they could not be spared to instruct and care for those who might accept the truth in the cities, and who, because of the greater opposition, would need more help than the churches would in small country places. Thus the fruit of giving a course of lectures in the city would in a great measure be lost. Again it was urged that with the little means we have, it would be difficult to conduct the work in such a way as to build up a church that would be a strength to the cause in a large city, where so many changes from moving might be expected. My husband was urging the brethren to make broader plans without delay and put forth in our large cities extended and thorough effort, which would better correspond to the character of our message. Brother _____ related incidents of his experience in the cities, showing that the work was nearly a failure, but said he could testify to better success in the small places. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 1

A dignified-looking personage, who had been repeatedly presented to me in my dreams as making one in our council meetings, and who seemed to have authority, was listening with the deepest interest to every word. He spoke with deliberation and with perfect assurance. The whole world, he said, is God’s great vineyard. The cities and villages constitute a part of that vineyard. These must be worked, and not passed by. Satan will try to interpose himself, so as to discourage the workers, and prevent them from giving the message of light and warning in the more important as well as in the more secluded places. Desperate efforts will be made to turn the people from the truth of God to falsehood. Angels of heaven are commissioned to work with the efforts of God’s appointed messengers. The preachers of the truth must encourage faith and hope, as did Christ, your living head. Keep humble and contrite in heart before God. Maintain an unwavering faith in the promises of God. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 2

God designs that His precious Word, with its messages of warning and encouragement, shall come to those that are in darkness and ignorant of our faith. Do not feel that the responsibility rests upon you to convict and convert the hearers. It is the power of God alone that can soften the hearts of the people. His heavenly intelligences co-operate with your efforts in presenting the words of life and salvation to those who are ready to perish. The message of warning is to be given to all and will be to them a witness, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear. You are to hold forth the Word of life, that all may have an opportunity of receiving the truth if they will. If they turn from the truth of heavenly origin, it will be their condemnation. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 3

We must not try to hide the truth in the corners of the earth. It must be made known, it must shine in our large cities. Christ in His labors took His position with His disciples, by the lakeside, and by the great thoroughfares of travel, where people were to be met from all parts of the world. He was giving the true light; He was sowing the gospel seed; He was rescuing truth from the companionship of error and presenting it in clear, bright rays, so that men could comprehend it. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 4

The heavenly messenger who was with us said, Never lose sight of the fact that the message you are bearing is a worldwide message. It is to be given to all cities, to all villages; it is to be proclaimed in the highways and the byways. You are not to localize your message. In the parable of the sower, Christ presented an illustration of His own work and that of His servants. The seed fell upon all kinds of soil. That which was sown upon good ground brought forth fruit, some thirty, some sixty, and some even a hundredfold. But some seed fell upon poor soil and yielded no fruit unto eternal life. Yet the sower did not therefore cease his work. You are to sow the seeds of truth in every place. Whenever you can gain access, hold forth the Word of God. Sow beside all waters. You may not at once see the result of your labors, but be not discouraged because of this. Speak the words that Christ gives you, work in Christ’s lines, go forth everywhere as He has given you an example. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 5

The world’s Redeemer had many hearers, but few followers. Noah preached one hundred and twenty years to the people before the flood, and yet there were few who appreciated this precious, probationary time. Save Noah and his family, not one was numbered with the believers and entered into the ark. Out of all the population of the earth, only eight souls received the message; but that message condemned the world. The light was given that they might believe; their rejection of the light proved their ruin. Our message to the world will be a savor of life unto life to all who accept it and of condemnation to those who reject it. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 6

The messenger turned to Elder _____ and said, You have altogether too limited ideas of the work for this time. You are laying plans so that you can the more easily embrace the whole work in your arms. Your light must not be confined to a small compass, put under a bushel, or under a bed, but on a candlestick, that it may give light to all that are in the house. The house is the world. You must take broader views of the work than you have taken. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 7

Meeting Criticism

Clothe yourselves with the whole armor of God, move steadily forward, and be not greatly influenced by criticism, reproach, or censure. Bear in mind that the messengers whom God sends must go without the camp and bear reproach for Christ’s sake. Whatever may come to you, remember that Christ has borne all this and more for you. Whatever course of action you may pursue, there will be some one to criticize and censure you. Move forward in the fear and love of God, strengthening yourselves by faith, having courage in the Lord, and be always cheerful. The truth is solemn, elevating, and ennobling in its influence. The message of warning given to the world is to call attention from earthly things to matters of eternal interest. The truth will ever sanctify the receiver; those who preach the truth must be sanctified through it. But when they make special efforts to accommodate themselves to the peculiar ideas and feelings of their hearers, in order to avoid criticism, they will weaken their own testimony and fail of the object they wish to secure. They will do injustice to their mission, injustice to themselves, and also to those who criticize them. All who are working for the Master can and should improve in their methods of labor, but they can do this only as they shall study diligently the life of Christ and practice His virtues. Do not permit murmuring and faultfinding to weaken your hands and dim your hopes. “Sanctify the Lord of Hosts Himself, and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.” [Isaiah 8:13.] 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 8

Short Sermons; Bible Classes

Present the truth to the people in its true importance and sacredness, and be careful not to give them too large a portion in one discourse. It will be lost upon them if you do. Lengthy speeches detract from the efficiency of your labors. To those who are ignorant of the truth, your teaching is new and strange, and they do not readily apprehend it. There is danger of pouring into their minds a mass of matter which they cannot possibly digest. “But the Word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” [Isaiah 28:13.] We need to study His method of teaching. We have the most important and decided testimony for the world, and we must give the people short discourses, in plain and simple language. Do not think, because you have gone over a subject once, that you can pass right on to other points and the hearers retain all that has been presented. There is danger of passing too rapidly from point to point. Give short lessons, and often. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 9

Your work is not only to preach, but to minister. Personal effort for families and individuals should comprise a large share of your labors. After you have opened to the people the precious mines of truth, there is yet a great work to be done for those who have become interested in the subjects presented. After a short discourse, change the order of the exercises, and give opportunity for all who desire it to remain for an afterinterview, or Bible class, where they can ask questions upon subjects that trouble them. You will find great success in coming close to the people in these Bible lessons. The workers who labor in connection with the minister should make special efforts patiently and kindly to lead inquirers to an understanding of the truth. If you have not more than one to instruct, that one, thoroughly convinced, will communicate the light to others. These testing truths are of so great importance that they may be presented again and again, and impressed upon the minds of the hearers. The decisions men reach in regard to these things mean everything to them. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 10

Every talent God has given to men is to be wisely employed, and through exercise it becomes more and more efficient. Look to Jesus for His counsel, and learn of Him the very best methods of interesting the people and inculcating ideas that shall impress the mind. Exalt the spirit and power of God, and pray much for His guidance. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 11

Never use up all your vitality in a discourse so long and wearisome that you have not a reserve of physical and mental power to meet the inquiring mind, and patiently seek to remove their doubts and to establish their faith. Make it manifest that we are handling weighty arguments, which you know cannot be controverted. Teach by precept and example that the truth is precious, that it brings light to your understanding and courage to your heart. Keep a cheerful countenance. You will do this if you present the truth in love. Ever bear in mind that eternal interests are at stake, and be prepared to engage in personal labor for those who desire help. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 12

The people must have something besides theories; they must have the living bread from heaven. In plain, simple language, tell every soul what he must do to be saved. God is your helper; He calls upon you to make known the hidden, unsearchable riches of the grace of Christ. Preach not your fancies, but preach Christ. Let the light of His righteousness shine into your hearts and be revealed in your teaching. Living faith in Christ must be the warp and woof of every sermon, the very sum and substance of every discourse; it must be woven into every appeal and every prayer. Then you will reveal Him in whom your hopes of eternal life are centered. You need to pray for divine enlightenment upon the Scriptures, for the Word of God is spirit and life—the leaves of the tree of life for the healing of the nations. Search for hidden treasures in the Scriptures of truth. Precious knowledge that you have not you will surely obtain. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 13

Use of the Vocal Organs

Careful attention and training should be given to the vocal organs. They are strengthened by right use, but become enfeebled if used improperly. Their excessive use, as in preaching long sermons, will, if often repeated, not only injure the organs of speech, but will bring an undue strain upon the whole nervous system. The delicate harp of a thousand strings becomes worn, gets out of repair, and produces discord instead of melody. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 14

It is important for every speaker so to train the vocal organs as to keep them in a healthful condition, that he may hold forth the words of life to the people. Every one should become intelligent as to the most effective manner of using his God-given ability and should practice what he learns. It is not necessary to talk in a loud voice or upon a high key, and it does great injury to the speaker. Rapid talking destroys much of the effect of a discourse; for the words cannot be made so plain and distinct as if spoken more deliberately, giving the hearers time to take in the meaning of every word. The human voice is a precious gift of God; it is a power for good, and the Lord wants His servants to preserve its pathos and melody. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 15

The voice should be cultivated so as to promote its musical quality, that it may fall pleasantly upon the ear and impress the heart. But the vocal organs are strangely abused greatly to the injury of the speaker and the discomfort of the hearers. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 16

The Lord requires the human agent not to move by impulse in speaking, but to move calmly, speak slowly, and let the Holy Spirit give efficiency to the truth. Never think that in working yourselves up to a passion of delivery, speaking by impulse, and suffering your feelings to raise your voice to an unnaturally high key, that you are giving evidence of the great power of God upon you. All who learn in Christ’s school, allowing God to work them, will cultivate the voice so as to make the very best impression and to honor the truth which they present to the people. The Lord demands an unreserved surrender of the body, soul, and spirit, that the divine power may work through all your energies and capabilities during the entire period of your service for Him. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 17

Your influence is to be far-reaching, and your powers of speech should be under the control of reason. When you strain the organs of speech, the modulation of the voice is lost. The tendency to rapid speaking should be decidedly overcome. God claims of the human instrumentality all the service that man can give. All the talents entrusted to the human agent are to be cherished and appreciated, and used as a precious endowment of heaven. The laborers in the harvest field are God’s appointed agents, channels through which He can communicate light from heaven. The careless, improvident use of any of their God-given powers lessens their efficiency, so that in an emergency, when the greatest good might be done, they are so weak and sickly and crippled that they can accomplish but little. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 18

God’s workers today constitute the connecting link between the former workers, the church of history, and the church that is to be called out from the world and prepared to meet their Lord. The tide of spiritual life is to flow through the appointed channels, as in the history of the past. From age to age the light which God has for the world has been imparted to the church militant, and God is continuing to impart precious light. All who receive light are to diffuse it to those who sit in darkness. All the excellencies that have come through the belief of the truth from past ages to the present time are to be treated with the utmost respect. Let not the truth entrusted to our keeping lose its force and power through our careless misuse of body or mind. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 19

The present laborers should be stirred to make improvement as they see how former workers have weakened their powers so that their services have been lost to the cause of God. Let the history and experience of those who have made mistakes be a warning to others. God desires His servants to live, not to die before their work is done. All should be constantly seeking to learn the best methods of working and should be improving their physical, mental, and moral powers. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 20

Many a time those who feel the importance of truth, and have a burning desire to hold forth the Word of life, find themselves cut off from labor because of their lack of physical strength. Important ends are to be attained, an extensive work is to be done; and if the human agents are to be used by the Holy Spirit to do that work with power, they must work intelligently and keep themselves in the very best condition for success. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 21

Let the power and glow of the truth find expression in appropriate words. Express the joy and gratitude that well up from the heart as you see of the travail of your soul in the conversion of sinners. But in speaking to the people, remember to stop in season. Do not weary yourself so that you become nervous and debilitated, for the work you will need to do in addition to the preaching requires tact and ability. It will be a potent agency for good, as pleasant incense rising to God. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 22

The Lord requires every teacher to become acquainted with the individuals who listen to his discourses and become interested in the truth. Speak a word in season, and pray for those who are in need of help and light. This personal effort must not be neglected. Your own souls will be benefited by it, and those for whom you labor will be blessed. The nature of your religious experience will be determined by your increasing acquaintance with divine things. Habitual communion with God is positively essential that you may maintain the even tenor of your way. Growth in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ will give you increased power for good. You will have wisdom from above. You will not manifest your own spirit and by cheap words mingle the common fire with the sacred. God has made provision that His workers should be living epistles, known and read of all men. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 23

Unity Among Laborers

Now, as in Christ’s day, His servants will be tempted to strive for the supremacy. Beware of indulging this self-seeking spirit; for it will be a great hindrance to your spirituality. The Lord has not set Peter and John before you, and told you that they are your superiors, and you are to be like them. When Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of His disciples, He said, “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 whoso shall receive one such little child in My name, receiveth Me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea.” [Matthew 18:3-6.] 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 24

Jesus prayed for His disciples, “Father, keep them in Thy name;” [John 17:11] but you are required to act your part in faith and co-operate with God. If any become careless and reckless, failing to keep themselves in the love of God under every circumstance, the wily foe will surely take possession of them. You may now suppose that your feet stand secure, that they will never be moved. You may ask with surprise, What would make me change my faith? What would lessen my affection toward God and my brethren? I know in whom I believe. I shall never yield the truth. But Satan is planning to take advantage of your cultivated and hereditary traits of character, and blind your eyes to your own necessities and defects, that he may sift you as wheat. Only through humble faith, through cherishing a constant sense of your own weakness, making earnest prayer to God, and watching unto prayer, can you walk securely. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 25

Be guarded, and search the Scriptures with all reverence; for they contain wonderful truth. Through the truth you are to be renewed, reshaped in character, that you may bear the imprint of the divine. There is light, precious light, for all whose hearts are softened and subdued by the Spirit of God. They will receive joyfully the bright beams of the Sun of righteousness. Whatever God has written is for the instruction of all. That which He saw essential to inspire holy men to write is for your edification. Only practice the words of truth, and you are safe; you will be God’s light-bearers to the world. Study the Word of God, critically and prayerfully, that you may understand the great vital truths concerning the salvation of the soul. Self-confidence and self-assumption will never prove a saving power to you. In humility, diligently seeking the grace of God, dig deep; know what is truth and that your foundation is sure. The truth must be kept before the people; and you need constantly to realize your dependence upon God. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 26

Let not one man feel that his gift alone is sufficient for the work of God, that he alone can carry through a series of meetings and give perfection to the work. His methods may be good, and yet varied gifts are essential; one man’s mind is not to mold and fashion the work according to his special ideas. In order for the work to be built up strong and symmetrical, there is need of varied gifts and different agencies, all under the Lord’s direction; He will instruct the workers according to their several ability. Co-operation and unity are essential to a harmonious whole, each laborer doing his God-given work, filling his appropriate position, and supplying the deficiency of another. One worker left to labor alone is in danger of thinking that his talent is sufficient to make a complete whole. Where there is a union of workers, there is opportunity for them to consult together, to pray together, to co-operate in labor. None should feel that they cannot link up with their brethren because they do not work in exactly the same line as they themselves do. Those who entertain such thoughts show that they need the converting power of God upon their own hearts and characters, that their peculiarities may not become a hindrance to the work for the salvation of their fellow men. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 27

Among the workers there will be some who are active and energetic; there will be some who are slow. They are so long in arriving at conclusions that if their way is followed, much precious time is lost, and often the delay proves dangerous. The slow worker should be constantly learning of the diligent, quick worker. “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” [Romans 12:11.] Everyone who enters the service of Christ should constantly feel that he is a laborer and should improve in his habits and his manner of work. He is to blend with his brethren, not flattering himself that his methods of work are the very best. Let him learn in the school of Christ the lessons of meekness and lowliness. All who do learn of Christ will work in Christ’s lines; then we shall surely harmonize. He who is inclined to criticize and depreciate his brother will find that the Spirit of God is not with him. He does not obey the injunction to esteem others better than himself; but like the self-righteous Pharisee he draws comparisons between his brother’s work and his own. Co-operating with God, every laborer will work as Christ worked. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 28

You must be constantly learning, constantly advancing. No one can stand in our place and do our individual work. There is no such thing as making a groove for certain brethren to move in; no minister can embrace the work in his finite arms and dictate how every other one shall labor. You must receive help through any channel by which God may send it. You who have had more experience must teach those of less experience how to work. Take them by your side, educate them, bear patiently with them. Never close the door of their hearts by sharp words and unkind criticism. Let the love of God rule in your own hearts, and be communicated to your associate workers. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 29

A Worldwide Work

In my last vision I was shown that we would have a part to act in California in extending and confirming the work already begun; and that missionary labor must be extended. I was shown also that a paper would be published on the Pacific Coast, and that not far in the future a publishing house must be established there. This will be a strength to the work. The bright rays which God has given us will go forth from it to all parts of our world. A health institution also will be established in California, and meetinghouses will be built in various places. The beginning will be small, but the work will advance and extend. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 30

Time is short, and all who believe this message should feel that a solemn obligation rests upon them to be wholehearted, disinterested workers, ever exerting an influence on the right side, and never, by word or action, arraying themselves against those who are seeking to build up and advance the work. The ideas of our brethren are altogether too narrow; they expect but little, their faith is too feeble. Genuine faith is the substance of things hoped, the evidence of things unseen. If the few who now believe the message will give no place to the enemy, and will unselfishly concentrate their efforts on the one object of building up the cause of God, the present truth will become a power in California. But your conceptions of the work need to be greatly enlarged. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 31

Our message is to go forth in power to all parts of the world—to Oregon, England, Australia, to the islands of the sea, to all nations, tongues, and peoples. Many countries are waiting for the advanced light the Lord has for them, and your faith must grow, that you may meet the demands for this time. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 32

Go forward and upward; God will work in accordance with your faith and devotedness to the advancement of His cause. But if you exalt self and do not walk in humility before Him, He cannot entrust you with the endowment of His Holy Spirit; for it will exalt you, to your ruin. You will meet with opposition and discouragement, but God will go before you if you will walk humbly and prayerfully, constantly considering that Christ in His work will not fail nor be discouraged. Bear in mind that it is not faith to talk of impossibilities. Nothing is impossible with God. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 33

The light concerning the binding claims of the law of God is to be presented everywhere. This is to be a deciding question. It will test and prove the world. Men will find many apparent reasons to excuse their resistance of light and evidence; they venture to pursue a course of disobedience, thinking to avoid responsibility and reproach. Every teacher of the truth, every laborer together with God, will pass through searching, trying hours, when faith and patience will be severely tested. You are to be prepared by the grace of Christ to go forward, although apparent impossibilities obstruct the way. You have a present help in every time of emergency. The Lord allows you to meet obstacles, that you may seek unto Him who is your strength [and] sufficiency. Pray most earnestly for the wisdom that comes from God; He will open ways before you and will give you precious victories if you will walk humbly before Him. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 34

You are not to limit the Holy One of Israel whose power is of old and whose ways are past finding out. If you mark out ways whereby you expect God to work, you will be disappointed. The kingdom of heaven cometh not with observation. You are to leave God to work in His own way, and you must walk, not by sight, but by faith. God has a work to be done, and it is a very solemn, sacred work. It is not wise to follow plans of your own devising. Some who now bear the message of truth will let the banner fall from their hands and trail in the dust and will then trample it under their feet. Some who are now in the darkness of error will receive the truth, and be converted, and will lift aloft the banner from the hands of those who now hold it. Your only hope is in firm reliance upon God. Watch unto prayer; move forward in hope, expressing gratitude, revealing the victory of faith in your own soul, and others will be influenced to follow the leadings of God. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 35

The light which God has given, He desires us to let shine to the world. It will be of no value unless it can be seen. I declare to you, You must stand on the mount, your vision must be extended, to see not only the things that are nigh, but those that are afar off. Satan will have plenty of difficulties to hinder our advancement. But when Israel came up to the Red Sea, God directed Moses to bid them go forward; and at the touch of the rod which God had given to Moses, the waters parted and left a plain path for Israel to travel. So it will be in our work. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 36

Read and carefully consider the third chapter of 2 Kings. You will have tests of faith similar to that presented in this chapter. All who will put their trust, not in what they themselves can do, but in what God can do for and through them, will certainly realize His power in their work. God will work in ways least expected. It is not your own strength that will turn the battle against the enemy, but the strength of the mighty General of armies, who works for His own name’s glory. 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 37

“Ye are my witnesses,” saith the Lord. [Isaiah 43:10.] “Work while the day lasts, for the night cometh, in which no man can work.” [John 9:4.] 2LtMs, Ms 1, 1874, par. 38