Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3

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Lt 2a, 1878

Brethren in Switzerland

Ballardvale, Massachusetts

August 29, 1878

See Lt 2, 1878. This letter is published in entirety in 16MR 316-327.

[This copy includes a few corrections made by Ellen White’s hand.]

Dear Brethren in Switzerland:

For several weeks past I have felt anxious to address you by letter, and do not dare to delay longer. Although in the midst of interesting meetings, I feel so exercised that I am constrained to write you. The Lord was pleased to come very near me while I was in Oregon. I had a very marked experience. I was brought into a sacred nearness to God. He revealed to me many things. I was shown missionary fields, and that the angel of mercy was flying swiftly with the light of truth to these new fields in Europe. I was shown that many more in Switzerland might have been brought to believe the truth; but those who first accepted the Sabbath have themselves been hindrances to the onward movement of the truth among them. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 1

God has sent you two of His ministers Brn. Bourdeau and Andrews. These are men of marked experience and conscientiousness, especially is this the case with Bro. Andrews. But you have not co-operated with them as God would have you. You had your peculiar ideas, and because our American brethren did not meet your ideas in some particulars, you were jealous of them and have not assisted them in many instances when you might have done so. The more extensive experience of these men in the workings of the cause of God demanded your respect and a willingness on your part to be instructed by them. You are responsible for making their work very much harder than it would otherwise have been. Unfortunately Elder B. became unbalanced which greatly injured his influence. This has been felt by you. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 2

You have not been willing to be led. You have not comprehended the wants of the cause in all its bearings. Your views have been very limited. Many of you have been conceited and self-righteous, and your own course has hedged up the way for the advancement of the precious cause of present truth. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 3

God put it into the hearts of the American brethren to give of their means to spread the truth in Europe. Bro. Andrews left his aged mother, an only brother (his brother he will not meet again until he meets him around the great white throne), and many friends in America, to obey the call of God and enter this new missionary field. He came to you at quite a sacrifice. You have received him with distrust, with doubt, and jealousy; you have not taken him into your hearts as a true servant of Jesus Christ. In this you have grieved your Saviour. You have slighted Jesus in the person of His saints. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 4

I was shown that a very much greater work might have been done had you been humble and teachable, and had you heartily co-operated with those who have been sent to you. You have failed to do this ignorantly. Nevertheless, had you stood in the light, you would have recognized the voice of Jesus in His servants whom He has sent to you. This slight, and distrust, and withdrawal of sympathy have been as though manifested toward the Master Himself. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 5

Bro. Ademar Vuilleumier was cherished in America as one of the servants of Jesus Christ. But he has not responded to the efforts made in his behalf. He added to the difficulties of Bro. Andrews’ work by not correctly interpreting his words. He thus made Bro. A.’s remarks appear objectionable. Had Bro. V. possessed the true missionary spirit, he might have made Bro. A.’s work much easier. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 6

There are others whom I have never seen who have not co-operated with Bro. A., but have rather made the brethren afraid of him. This is a bad work which will stand against you in the day of God unless you repent of this great sin and put it away. You have spiritual pride. Your ideas are narrow, and you will always be a hindrance to the advancement of the cause of present truth unless you assume a different attitude. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 7

Jesus is our example in all things. His influence was broad and extended. No teacher ever placed such signal honor upon man as did our Lord and Master. He was known as a “friend of publicans and sinners.” [Matthew 11:19.] He mingled with all classes of society that all might partake of the blessings He came to bestow. He was found in the synagogues and in the market places. He shared the social life of His countrymen, gladdening with His presence the households of all who invited Him. But He never urged His way uninvited. He was active to relieve every species of human misery that was brought to Him in faith for relief; but He did not bestow healing power indiscriminately where there was manifested an independence and selfish exclusiveness that would give no expression to their sorrows nor ask for the help so much needed. All who came unto Him in faith He was ready and willing to relieve. Sorrow fled at His presence; injustice and oppression withered beneath His rebukes; and death and hell, the cruel spoilers of our sinful race, humbled themselves before Him and obeyed His commands. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 8

In every age of the world there have been some who professed Christ while they were pursuing an erroneous course of seclusion or of Pharisaical pre-eminence. But they have not blessed their fellow men. They have found no excuse in the life of Christ for this self-righteous bigotry; for His character was genial and beneficent. He would have been excluded from every monastic order on earth because of overstepping their prescribed rules. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 9

In every church and denomination are to be found erratics who would have blamed Him for His liberal mercies; they would have accused Him of worldly conformity in attending a wedding feast, and would have censured Him severely, and criticized His conduct unmercifully for permitting His friends to make a supper in honor of himself and His disciples. But on these very occasions, by His precious teachings and by His generous conduct, He was enshrining Himself in the hearts of those whom He honored with His presence. He was thus giving them an opportunity to become acquainted with Himself, so that they might have a knowledge of His character, and might see the marked contrast which His life and teachings presented to that of the Pharisees who were spies upon His track, condemning every move He made which was not in harmony with their bigoted, selfish ideas of salvation. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 10

While we may maintain a firm trust in God, receiving light and strength and power from Him, it is our duty to let the light reflected upon us shine forth to others, that the world may see this light in contrast with the darkness of error and superstition. My dear brethren in Switzerland, you have much to learn. There is an icy chilliness, a reserve, like that of the Pharisees, that must be broken down. You are not willing to become learners, but, like the Pharisees, desire to be dictators, teachers. God sent His Son to give the Pharisees a better understanding of His claims; a more perfect knowledge of the truth, and to show them the best manner in which to help their fellow men. But they refused the divine instruction. They thought Christ was too liberal. His ways did not agree with their ways; and instead of thinking the improvement must be made in their lives, to bring them into harmony with the life of Christ, they wanted to convert Christ to a unison with them. They thought His differing in manner from them would hurt their influence and disannul their teachings. They refused to co-operate with Christ, and thus cast their influence against Him, working out their own purposes, which placed them in irretrievable darkness. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 11

Those with whom God has entrusted His truth must so order their intercourse with the world as to secure to themselves a calm, hallowed peace, as well as a sacred and most thorough knowledge of how to meet men with their prejudices, where they are, and minister to them the light, comfort, and peace found in the acceptance of the truth of God. They should take for example the inspiring, authoritative, and social life of Christ. They must cultivate the same beneficent spirit which He possessed, and must cherish the same broad plans of action in meeting men where they are. They should have a kind, generous spirit toward the poor, and in a special sense feel that we are God’s stewards. They must hold all they have as not their own, but lent them in trust to advance the cause of Christ upon the earth. Like Christ, they should not shun the society of their fellow men, but encourage it, with the purpose of bestowing upon others the heavenly benefits God has given them. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 12

Our adorable Redeemer left the royal courts of heaven because He saw that men needed His presence upon the earth, and that they could not come to a correct knowledge of the truth without it. He brought divine power and infinite knowledge to man. But “wonder, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth!” Men refused to accept the light brought to them from heaven by Jesus Christ, choosing their own ways, their own defective knowledge. And when the Majesty of heaven came to the earth as a teacher, the Jews wanted to instruct Him, and were filled with envy, jealousy and madness because He would not accept their traditions and the manner of their teachings. Had they received the Messenger of heaven, what a vastly different history would now be recorded of them! They made their own history. The hearts of men are perverse. The life of Christ is a life well worthy of study. And the strong, noble characters of many who have followed His example are worthy of imitation. But of many of the race of mankind it may be said that their lives have been almost entirely useless. They have striven to have their own way, and carry out their own purposes. They have lived for self, and died without having laid up for them a jeweled crown. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 13

How many, even in Switzerland, have stood directly in the way of the work God sent His servants to perform! How much greater work might have been accomplished with their co-operation than without it! Those who have hindered the work are responsible for it. You may inquire, How have we hindered? By your envy, your jealousy, your distrust, your unwillingness to take hold and move when God was saying, Go forward. By your standing still and doing so little when you should have been the most earnest, interested workers with the servants whom God had sent you from America. Your American brethren have given liberally of their means to sustain the missionary work in Europe. God is grieved with you for your willingness to let them do this while you neglect to do what you might do were you consecrated to God and not wrapt up in your own selfish ideas and plans. Many of you have hindered the work of God in your own country, as the Pharisees hindered the advancement of the kingdom of Christ when He was in their midst. I saw God looking upon you with displeasure. There might have been an army of Sabbathkeepers in your own country, had you received God's messengers as you should and given them your sympathy, your confidence, and your love. You have not deserved their labors in your midst. You know but little of the discouragements, sadness, and grief you have brought to the hearts of Brn. Andrews and Bourdeau, but especially to that of Bro. Andrews, who was placed at a disadvantage because he did not understand your language. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 14

You sent Brother Ertzenberger to us as a child of God, to be qualified to enter the missionary field in Europe. We took him in, a stranger, and spared no means to educate him in the English language. We all tried to be his instructors. We took no advantage of his ignorance of our language and our customs. But we labored in our work for God to qualify him for his work. He was humble, hopeful, and God was with him. He returned to you, and there were those who felt jealous that he was bringing too much of American knowledge with him; you thought him lifted up. His testimony was not accepted, and he became very much discouraged. Satan finally succeeded in overcoming him with temptations, and he was lost to the cause of God for years. But the eye of infinite compassion was upon him; and God in mercy let him see the fearful position he was in, and said, “Return unto Me, and I will return unto thee, and heal all thy backslidings.” [Malachi 3:7; Jeremiah 3:22.] And yet this dear brother should walk carefully and tremblingly before God. Just so long as he will cling to the arm of infinite power he will be shielded; but if he trusts to himself, he will surely fall. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 15

Bro. Ademar Vuilleumier came to us, and we tried to do our duty to him. But when he returned to Switzerland, and when Eld. Andrews visited that country, he did not do by Eld. A. as we had done by him. He did not help Eld. A. as we had a right to expect he would. He created suspicion and jealousy of Eld. A. He did not give the correct translation of his teachings, but made some of his remarks to be regarded with disfavor because they were made stronger than Eld. A. designed to give them. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 16

If our brethren in Switzerland had received Eld. Andrews and cared for him as the American brethren had cared for those who came to us from Switzerland, Eld. A. need not have suffered one-twentieth part as much as he has in that new field. You have failed greatly in your duty. You have disregarded the counsel and advice he has given you because he loved you, and which, I have been shown, it was for your interest to follow; but refusing to do this, you have been the losers. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 17

Eld. Andrews is a conscientious servant of Jesus Christ, and your neglect of him was neglect of the Master who sent him. You might have instructed Eld. A. in some things, might have aided him with your sympathy, your love and co-operation; yet God did not send these men to be taught of you in regard to the best manner of managing His work. You should have been willing to be taught by Bro. A., as one having a more mature experience in the cause of God. But instead of this, he was allowed, by you, to be placed in the most unpleasant positions, a stranger in a foreign country. You failed greatly in your efforts to make his mission a success. You did not faithfully do all in your power to cause him to feel as little as possible the marked change from the habits and customs of American to European life. God looks upon all these things. He calls upon you in Switzerland to be as self-denying, as teachable and self-sacrificing, to sustain the work among you as the people of America have been to get the truth before you. Calls came to us from Europe for help. We sent you the ablest man in all our ranks; but you have not appreciated the sacrifice we made in thus doing. We needed Eld. Andrews here. But we thought his great caution, his experience, his God-fearing dignity in the desk, would be just what you needed. We hoped you would accept his counsel and aid him in every way possible while he was a stranger in a strange country. But he has had to make his way himself, while you have stood by to question and cast doubts in reference to his suggestions and plans, when you were unprepared to take hold yourselves and move the car of truth onward. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 18

Your means have been supplied by the American brethren; but it is not for your best good to let it remain thus. Many of you can do much if you have a willing mind. You are losing much by standing back and casting hindrances in the way of God’s servants. You manifest a spirit of independence to carry out your own way and follow your own plans. Many of us hold back the arm of infinite power when Jesus stands ready to help us in all our wants, because we are desirous of being helped in our own way rather than in God’s way. God chooses instruments to do His work of mercy in the salvation of man; but infinite mercy waits for the consent of human hearts, and the help of human hands, to make the work wholly beneficial to them. If those professing to be Christ’s followers will not exercise the power and ability God has given them, the work which might have been accomplished will remain undone. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 19

Jesus might have spoken the word at the grave of Lazarus, and the stone would have rolled away. He could bid the mountains depart and the hills remove, and they would obey His voice. But He stands before the sepulcher as one of the weakest of all that company, and says to His disciples, “Take ye away the stone.” [John 11:39.] He does not propose to exhibit His divine power unless the feeblest, the most helpless and afflicted, shall show their interest and faith by their works, and thus prepare the way. As the mighty Lifegiver is about to perform His crowning miracle, the faith of the afflicted ones fails them. Objections are urged and hindrances are presented. Their limited faith and short vision suggest impossibilities. They dread the revolting sight of decay which will meet their eyes. “Too late,” says unbelief. “He has been dead four days, and the body is corrupted.” The stone is not moved by feeble humanity, but still bars the way to Christ's work. A word from Christ could cast it into the depths of the sea; but He waits for man, finite man, to prepare His way. Jesus reasons with them, and again requests them to submit their wills to His will, and let Him help them in His own way. “Take ye away the stone,” is the requirement which Christ has made, and which must be obeyed before Christ shall work for them. The stone is finally rolled away. Now man has done all that was required of him, and the way is prepared for Christ to do His work. The Prince of life calls for the kingdom of death to give up its captive and permit this new subject to return to life. He commands, the dead obeys His voice, and Lazarus awakes to full consciousness. Now, again, human hands can do something. Jesus bids them loose the bands, unwind the sheet which is wrapt about Lazarus' body, and let the ransomed from the grave go. This request is quickly obeyed, and Lazarus is one among them again, free from every taint of disease. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 20

It is upon similar conditions that Jesus still performs His mighty works for man. There is much for human hands and human faith to do before those who are bound in deathlike slumber, in carnal security, shall be reached by the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear shall live. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 21

Jesus has stood in your midst in Switzerland, in assemblies and congregations, ready to speak the life-giving word and make the spiritually dead alive by His power; but He has been hindered in this work by your questionings and doubts. Your jealousies, your suggestions, have many of them been prompted by a disposition to have your own way and will. You entreated the Lord to send you help. He heard your cry and came to your relief by sending His servants. And He has been waiting for you to roll away the stone of unbelief from the door of your own hearts before He can do His work. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 22

Christ’s followers in Switzerland are far behind the providence of God. If they will only have faith in His providence, and in His power to save, He will work mightily in their behalf. In many cities, as of old, Jesus is waiting to carry forward His work of dispelling darkness by the light of truth. But His own professed followers stand in the way. Their unbelief and numerous plans and projects of their own hold back the arm of infinite power. If they would humble their own proud hearts, and submit their wills and ways to the will of God, they would see sinners converted and the believing strengthened by a more correct knowledge of the whole truth. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 23

It is not money alone, nor talent, nor learning, nor opportunities, which the church needs so much as simple, earnest, confiding faith. Possessing this, and working in faith and love wherever they can find anything to do, the followers of Christ may fulfil His great commission to speed the gospel to all nations. Neither the arguments of most able men who are wise in this world, the opposition of the skeptic, the bold revilings of the scoffer, nor the cold, carnal security of the world will be able to stand before the truth presented in meekness and in the power of Christ. The toil and sacrifice of a united, consecrated church, laboring in faith and love, will advance the truth and have a transforming power upon the world. 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 24

The cause in Switzerland might be self-sustaining today if all had moved wisely, making their temporal interest second to that of Christ’s kingdom. He was rich; yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. He now appeals to your hearts, “What hast thou done for Me?” 3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 25

“I gave My life for thee,
My precious blood I shed,
That thou might’st ransomed be,
And quickened from the dead.
I gave, I gave My life for thee;
What hast thou done for Me?”
3LtMs, Lt 2a, 1878, par. 26