Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)

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Lt 8, 1881

Butler, G. I.; Haskell, S. N.

Neenah, Wisconsin

June 20, 1881

Portions of this letter are published in 3Bio 161; 6MR 117.

Dear Brethren Butler and Haskell:

I am feeling this morning very poorly indeed. Was sick through the night, but this is not the reason why at the present time I write you, now that I have decided not to come to Minnesota. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 1

The difference in your views and my husband’s upon important points is a great burden to me. I feel sad beyond expression. My sole purpose in coming to these camp meetings was to bear the light given me of God in testimony for the benefit of His people. I believed that, could you three men come together, there would be harmony in views and action, but I am disappointed, sadly disappointed. I believe that, were you two men feeling as ministers of Christ should feel under all and every circumstance, you would have been willing and anxious to have talked matters over and to have come to a better understanding. But I see that spirit in you that prefers the present state of disunion, rather than harmony. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 2

I see the result of this state of things; you do not. If you saw and understood what I do, you would not stand in the attitude you do at the present time. While I have, in order to come to a right understanding, expressed freely to you some things I could not sustain in my husband, I shall be no less free to state to you the things I cannot sustain in you. I tell you freely, God’s Word will not bear you out in your present attitude. Whatever may have been done or said by my husband to lead to this position, I am satisfied that, had you softened your spirit and not stood up so stiffly and unfeelingly, a union might have been effected. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 3

I had told you both [that], unless there could be union, I should withdraw myself from the field of labor. It has been hard enough under the pressure of infirmities to labor at all, but with this additional discouragement of the want of harmony existing among leading men in this work, it seems that it will kill me. And yet you have not made the least effort to harmonize, but rather held yourselves off to repulse rather than to harmonize. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 4

I see and know the result of this course on my husband’s mind, and I know the influence will be detrimental to him healthwise and to the cause of God. I do not think he was ever in, or ever will be in, a more favorable condition to harmonize with you both, than now. But the Lord knows all about it. I know, and you know, that he has given evidence that the cause of God lies very near his heart; and his life is in this work; and he has been making great changes in his spirit and feelings. I want to see everything favorable. I appreciate every effort toward improvement, and it is your duty to come just as closely in harmony with him as possible, even if you have to sacrifice your own feelings and ideas. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 5

In regard to the matters of difference, I have a few things to say. There have been mistakes made on both sides. My husband has not felt right nor viewed his brethren in altogether the right light, and [he] has not acted toward them in letter or conversation as becometh [a] Christian. That he has not had occasion to feel deeply over some things in your course of action, I must admit. Letters have come to him from different sources presenting before him the fact that while the tract and missionary work was in a prospering condition, spirituality and devotion were waning. This I know was the truth. As we have held meetings in different places in Michigan, the state of the churches was similar to the condition of things represented by letters in different states. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 6

While the testimonies have sanctioned vigilant missionary labor and the tract and missionary work, I have not sanctioned, to my certain knowledge, all the machinery attached to the work to make it a complicated care and lording enterprise upon the people. Its simplicity is worked out, and it has become complicated. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 7

Several ministers have told me that, in obtaining names for our periodicals, these names must be sent through one or two hands before they reach the office of publication. [This] necessitated a delay of weeks, which occasioned many complaints with the subscribers. In every case I advised the ministers to send directly to the office, for I knew this was as it should be. The tract and missionary work as it was, when we aroused the interest of the people in it, and as it is now, are not the same. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 8

I was shown that this good work, managed as it is, would react. It could never be run long as you have been running it. The strain is too great. The machinery required too great work, too much expense, too much time and [it] will affect less in reality than before it was worked up to such a fine point. Order and system are essential, but [this] has been carried to great extremes, and were there no check put on it, [it] would burden itself to death with its elaborate workings. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 9

I speak as one who knows. Notwithstanding, this child may be dear to those who have given so much thought and invention to make it live. It will become a taxing burden unless simplified and rearranged so that it shall not absorb and swallow up every other interest. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 10

Our publications are a power and will do great good, but, in some respects, less is being done with them as a whole, and fewer profits [are] realized than before the tract and missionary work became a power to monopolize, to the extent it has, every other interest. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 11

I was shown that our meeting was waning in spirituality and that Elder [B. L.] Whitney was dwarfing spiritually while educating the people to become systematic tract and missionary workers. He was becoming sharp, critical, overbearing to our young ministers, [and] close in dealing with them, and the influence of this management was closing the doors to our ministers while the world was opening ways and means to take our ministers [and] our canvassers where they could have a better chance for a living with less hard labor and less perplexity. It is presented to them that great sacrifices must be made by our ministers to cause the Tract and Missionary Societies to prosper. All other interests were made secondary to this. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 12

Here is the danger of men placed in responsible positions, of not having an ambition to make whatever they shall undertake a success, overshadowing every other branch. God means His workers shall be many-sided men, and that they should not devote their powers to one thing to the exclusion of other interests fully as important in the composing of the great whole. Here is where Elder Haskell has failed. He has concentrated his powers to one matter, the tract and missionary work. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 13

God designed that my husband should take such a course as to preserve his influence among his brethren that his quick discernment, his far-seeing judgment to plan and execute, should be a great help to his brethren. Satan worked to have this influence of no account because he viewed some things in an exaggerated light. He has been for years bending under the weight of infirmities and closing the door of influence with his brethren because he claimed too much, [expecting] that his judgment and voice and opinions must be received without allowing his brethren the privilege of thoroughly discussing every point to be sure that every point would stand the test of investigation. Now his brethren are in danger of shutting away from [themselves] his advice and counsel, which they ought to receive. Thus Satan’s object is gained. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 14

Elder Haskell, Willie and others have laid their plans and presented that which was important before my husband for his consideration, but he would be hurried and put off for a future time that business which would suffer unless attended to at once. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 15

I was shown that my husband gathered his arms about so many burdens which others could do, and ought to do, and gain a valuable experience in doing. In dividing his thoughts among so many things, he could not give proper consideration to [the] important matters that he claimed the privilege of doing himself. [He] refused to trust others to do [that] which had never been done, which left a neglect upon the work. Or if [the work was] done, [it] was not done thoroughly and efficiently. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 16

I was shown it was not according to God’s order that so many things in reference to the workings of the cause should be brought directly before my husband’s mind, for it was already burdened with many things. Elder Haskell and Willie have acted in accordance with the light given. But they have carried this matter too far. Some important matters should have been presented before him which were not, and thus the matter has been going until it has reached its present standing. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 17

My husband has a work to do to preserve the control of his own spirit under provocation. And God calls upon both [of] you younger men who are in health to exercise the same self-control. He also has a duty to treat his ministering brethren, with deference and respect, showing that he esteems them exactly in the manner he thinks he should be treated, guarding sacredly their influence and their reputation before the people, [and] covering their defects, if he thinks they exist, as he would have them bear with and cover his defects. This course will stand the test of the judgment. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 18

But I must leave many things unwritten, for I cannot bring out all I desire with pen and ink at this time. Matters have grown into differences between ministers of Jesus Christ, and these things grieve the Spirit of God. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 19

Now in regard to the missionary work, it will not do to idolize anything in the world, even if it be the Tract and Missionary Society. Whatever we cherish with idolatry, we shall be greatly discomposed if we are crossed in it. You have been filling your mind and heart with the tract and missionary work as the principal thing. You have exalted it above every other consideration. It is your principal concern, your matter of special thought and anxiety, and any word which touches these things of special interest to you pierces you to the quick and inflames the soul, because it is as though touching the apple of the eye. In this you will become transformed [and] lose your spirituality and forbearance unless your interest and labor are more equally divided. There are mistakes in your plans and you do not see them. My husband does see them. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 20

It is not wise management to require ministers or people, if they obtain a subscriber, to have them send the name or order to the librarian, and [then] they send [it] to [the] district secretary, and then it must go to [the] state secretary, [and] then to [the] office. If any of these are absent, as often occurs, delays must occur for weeks. [There is] “too much machinery” since the system of bookkeeping has been introduced by Elder Whitney. Many devoted, earnest workers in tract and missionary work have given up their work in despair. They have home cares, and to be obliged to understand all this fine machinery—the science of bookkeeping—they cannot work, and they let it all drop. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 21

The little interest that has been manifested to see eye to eye by the leaders terrifies me. If God can sanction this lack of harmony, then He has never spoken by me. There are many things I want to say, but cannot. As there has been no change, as I can see, in the working of the Tract and Missionary Societies, I have no burden of testimony on the matter. The question is asked, Has not the Lord shown the importance of the tract and missionary work? He has, but not the absorbing of every other branch of the work. And when it stands in its proper position, then I can heartily endorse it. Until then, I have nothing to say. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 22

The Jews exalted the law. It was right they should, but they began to load it down making it an exacting, absorbing power, until it became a yoke of bondage which led the enemies of God’s law to conclude that the law cannot be obligatory upon man, for no man can keep it. Similar results will certainly follow the plans you are forming, creating labor and expense. Had you given due attention to other branches of the work and not appeared to concentrate your thoughts and exercise your minds in the one direction, your efforts would be better understood. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 23

When you showed the least hesitancy in putting the resolution in the Signs, recommending the brethren to take this paper, which they all need, it was a poor course to pursue. [You have] made every inducement to take the Signs by presenting premiums, but, from what has been shown me, [this] is not the best way and will surely involve the office in the end. Just so about the Review. These papers both stand at a low price, and to attach anything further to make it less is a mistake. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 24

The plan to place the books at a low price has done great harm to the offices of publication. If one-half the time that has been devoted to talking and working up the tract and missionary work to its present state was spent in devising plans for the circulation of all our tracts and publications on present truth, more good would be done and more light shed abroad. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 25

The Signs is a good paper, never to be exalted as superior to our church paper among our people or to take the place of the church paper. This paper was first in the field, and when there is a spirit of competition manifested, it is all wrong and displeasing to God. The Signs is our pioneer paper to serve a want in the cause at the time of its establishment, to give character to the work on the Pacific Coast. But when I see so much made of this paper to the exclusion of the church paper, the Review and Herald, I have said they are beating on the wrong track. They do not work as intelligently as they suppose. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 26

Since I have been expressing and writing out the light given me, I cannot see as it has made any difference. I expected that our ministers would, as far as possible, get together, talk over the matter, and all have a voice in the devising and execution of plans to place and keep this branch of the work—tract and missionary work—on the proper basis. One man’s mind, one or two men’s judgment, is not to have a controlling power in the work and cause of God. Counsel together has been the word of the Lord. Has this been done? I shall plead for a strict adherence to the light God has given. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 27

But there have been feelings that Elder [James] White controlled the Review, and you would not make special efforts in its behalf. Is this right? I see you, my brethren, are two, composing the Board of Directors for the sanitarium. Have you made special efforts to exert an influence upon the Health Institute to bring it into a condition where God can approve? The whole concern is managed by one man’s mind and one man’s judgment and that man refusing to accept the light and act upon that which God has given him. Dr. Kellogg takes it for granted he is sustained by you both. Consistency is a jewel. When we see that he is moving in accordance with the will of God, then there is safety, and not till then. It had better be closed than to be swayed off from the principles for which it was established. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 28

Here is a matter to demand attention: that men who have created a fund should sit in counsel and come to some understanding how institutions should be managed to make a success, [and yet] all [their] time and anxiety and thought are given to the working up of the machinery for the tract and missionary work, [while] other matters are sadly suffering. Give some of your strength to this important branch of the work. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 29

I cannot call means from our brethren to the sanitarium until it is placed on a different basis. I have been sick and disgusted with the way it has been conducted for the two past years, in particular. I will not bear any responsibility in it, or give influence to it, till a reformation is wrought in it. Dr. Kellogg has talked some truth and some untruth to you. His scheming, his policy plans he is trying to bring in, God will not approve. Oh, my soul is weighted down with these things. I fear you are not seeing all things clearly. If my husband is wrong twice, it will not make one error right and of value on your part. Your errors in judgment will be [as] wrong as his errors in judgment. Move with great caution, Elder Haskell. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 30

Let us make haste slowly now [that] things are in a critical condition. I want you both to stand strong in God, and this is the reason I write you. Pray more and plan less. But, Brother Haskell, your mistake has been in crowding down prices. You have talked your plans to Willie and he has accepted them and acted upon them. You are ardent. You talk so firmly and so earnestly and with such confidence [that] you will make others view the matters in your light and accept plans that may not be the best and result the best for the cause of God. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 31

I never expected to write out this matter so definitely. I was shown our ministers have not had a fair chance. They have been crowded into uncomfortable positions that the Tract and Missionary Societies should show marked success. This, God does not approve. The Review and Herald has been robbed of its proper strength and prosperity because the powers of action have been concentrated upon the broad circulation of the Signs and the tract and missionary work. Meetings have been held in the tract and missionary interest that ought to have been given to instructing the people in the fitting of their own souls for Christ’s coming and [in] letting the light shine forth to those who have not the knowledge of the truth. The sheep are starving for the Bread of Life. They must be fed. Vital piety and practical godliness must be made a specialty, or the people will backslide from God. 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 32

Now, when I know there have been extreme movements in some things, when I know that your dangers are of committing errors by concentrating your mind upon some points to the neglect of important matters, I am surprised that you should manifest so little interest to secure harmony of action. Do you think holding yourself in this position will reform my husband? I have evidence that God has not left him; that He does give him access to the people and [remainder missing] 3LtMs, Lt 8, 1881, par. 33