Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Lt 16, 1886

Gibbs, Dr.; Burke, Dr.

Basel, Switzerland

May 15, 1886

Portions of this letter are published in SD 82, 331; TDG 144.

Drs. Burke and Gibbs:

For a few days my mind has been impressed to write to you. I feel anxious for you both. Some hints have been expressed that there were fears you might not harmonize in your work. I hope this hint is not founded upon facts. I know Satan is very busy and that one of his snares is to weaken the workers by awakening distrust and suspicion of one another. But this need not be. 4LtMs, Lt 16, 1886, par. 1

The cause is one great whole, and we each have a part to act; and because we individually have a work to do, we would be weak and narrow in our ideas if we thought we could do it all. It would show anything but nobility of soul if we should press and crowd each other and try to undermine one another. Why should you not draw in even cords? Why should you not labor together as brethren? There is no need of either of you feeling that you must have the superiority, or that you must be considered one superior to the other. You have plenty of room to work, and work enough to do; but unless this work is done in love and unity, it will savor of self and selfishness and a foul plot, and the whole work will bear the mold of men, and not the impress of the living God. 4LtMs, Lt 16, 1886, par. 2

Christ inquired of His disciples upon one occasion, “What was it ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace; for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. And He sat down and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. And He took a child and set him in the midst of them, and when He had taken him in His arms, He said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in My name, receiveth Me, and whosoever shall receive Me, receiveth not Me, but Him that sent Me.” [Mark 9:33-37.] We have many precious lessons to learn of Jesus, which we are slow to commit to memory, and slow to receive the true sense of, lessons which He would have us learn by heart and carry out in our life. 4LtMs, Lt 16, 1886, par. 3

My brethren, you cannot weaken your own influence and standing more than in trying to weaken each other. Dr. Burke, I think, is the older in years and experience in the Christian life. While he has been considered a man of humility, I know he has not been thus, in the true sense of the word. He desires to have esteem and praise of men. I know he must learn of the Master in His school meekness and humbleness of mind, else his ways will not be such as God can approve. 4LtMs, Lt 16, 1886, par. 4

Now, Brother Burke, you will have to learn the important lesson of what it is to be a man in the sight of God. It is to be like Jesus, meek and lowly of heart, to guard the interests of others more sacredly than you would your own. Your long experience in the truth should be of advantage to you; it should be carried out in your daily life and practice, showing that you have not been playing truant or a dull scholar in the school of Christ. You are responsible for the influence and impressions you leave upon the minds of others in regard to yourself and others connected with you. You are responsible to God for the example in Christian deportment that you shall give to Dr. Gibbs, who has not had the opportunities and privileges to learn the truth and obtain an experience that you have had. We are none of us accountable for the light and privileges which we did not have. 4LtMs, Lt 16, 1886, par. 5

I met Dr. Gibbs for the first time in Syracuse, and I could not endure the thought of the institution’s being closed for one year. I knew we needed it, and I loaned the retreat $1,000 without interest to educate a man for the place. While this was being done, in the providence of God I was made acquainted with Dr. Gibbs. Several said he would not be the man for the place, being so young in experience in our faith, and being a physician that had used drugs in his practice; but I felt that God would have him take the place. When Brother Burke’s education was finished, and he had got his diploma, there would be abundant work for both to take hold of. 4LtMs, Lt 16, 1886, par. 6

Elder _____ and several others told me gravely that we would be disappointed in Dr. Gibbs. I said, I do not wish to dispute you, my elder in years, but let me say, I humbly trust that you will be disappointed in the man. All depends upon the confidence he has in the doctrines and faith and Christian integrity of Seventh-day Adventists. His moral and spiritual qualities need strengthening by seeing a correct example among those who believe the sacred, solemn truth we profess. If there is a failure here, then we will see a failure in his filling the bill in the sanitarium. As I am the one who has taken the responsibility, I shall watch with intense interest and see the proving of the man. But I will help him in every way I can, and I hope you will unite with me in my efforts; for I am just as confident he is the right man for the Rural Health Retreat as you and others are suspicious. He has much to learn to begin a practice in an hygienic institution, which has been first disgraced, then mismanaged. He can be helped or hindered. He can be criticized and made unhappy by jealousies and suspicions, and fail to endure the test and trial; or he can be made very happy by receiving encouragements and confidence of those whom he is desirous to please. 4LtMs, Lt 16, 1886, par. 7

This has been my position, and I have had very much burden in this matter; but I am convinced that God in His providence has placed Dr. Gibbs in the position he is in; and if he will walk humbly with God, he will grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. His ability as a physician is not questioned; but if anyone chooses, they may awaken distrust by a word, a look, or a gesture, and that suspicion may live and be communicated to others, and much harm may be done to Dr. Gibbs and the institution. I have been over this ground so many times that I understand it perfectly. 4LtMs, Lt 16, 1886, par. 8

Now, my brethren, I entreat of you both to be kind and courteous, and link together in your work. You have an important part to act. I believe both of you, if connected, as you may be, and as God would have you, will make a success of the institute. You will not work at cross purposes, but in perfect unity, cherishing love and confidence in each other. There is enough work for you both, but let not there be any clashing. Let neither think that his plans and ideas are perfect, while he will demerit the ideas of the other. If one has knowledge that he thinks the other has not, counsel together, open up all you can to each other, and never let one word or hint escape to your patients that the other is not reliable, or that you know better than he. This will destroy confidence in you both and will greatly displease God. You are not of the same stamp of character, and you may each consider your temperament preferable to the other’s; but make no such comparisons which are unworthy of Christians. Let each esteem the other better than himself, and love each other as brethren. Nothing would bring the displeasure of God upon you as to exalt yourselves and demerit the other. You both need the divine mold. You both need to copy the pattern and be more and more like Jesus. You are doing up work for time and eternity. All your works must be compared with the standard, God’s great moral law. Put self out of sight, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. Work together in love, in unity, and God will surely bless you, and you may be a great blessing to suffering humanity. 4LtMs, Lt 16, 1886, par. 9

I hope Dr. Gibbs will not become discouraged. His life has not been pleasant, but of that character to stir up the objectionable features of his character. The Lord knows it all and will help, and strengthen, and bless him; but he must continue to trust in God and never entertain a thought that he will leave the post of duty where God has placed him, until the Lord shall point out his duty elsewhere. 4LtMs, Lt 16, 1886, par. 10

The institution will prosper, if you work humbly in God. Satan has been at work to ruin it from the first, but God has honored you, my brethren, with a part to act in bringing it up where it shall stand elevated and honored in doing a work for suffering humanity. 4LtMs, Lt 16, 1886, par. 11

Let your hearts be strong in God and in the power of His might. Oh, how many are waiting for opportunity to do some great work of self-sacrifice and are overlooking the little daily test which God gives them to prove them. It is the little things of life that develop the spirit in men and women and determine the character. These trifles cannot be neglected and yet the man be prepared to endure the severe tests, when they are brought to bear upon him. My brethren, your character building is by no means finished. Every day a good or a bad brick is placed in the structure. You are either building crookedly or with exactness and correctness that will make a beautiful temple for God. Therefore look not for great opportunities, and neglect the present little opportunities of doing little acts of kindness. In words, in tones, in gestures, in looks, you can represent the Spirit of Jesus. 4LtMs, Lt 16, 1886, par. 12

He who neglects these little things, and yet flatters himself that he is ready to do wonderful things for the Master, will be in danger of failing altogether. Life is not made up of great sacrifices and wonderful achievements, but of little things. Kindness and love and courtesy are the marks of the Christian. Brethren, you need to cherish the precious qualities that existed in the character of Jesus. The churches who profess to believe the truth for this time are weak and sickly, because they neglect to weave Christ into the simplest acts of life. In our association with each other, let it ever be remembered that there are chapters in the experience of others that are sealed from mortal eyes; there are sad histories that are written in the books of heaven, but are sacredly guarded from prying eyes. There stand registered long, hard battles with trying circumstances, arising in the very homes, that day by day sap the courage, the faith, the confidence, until the very manhood seems to fall to ruins. But Jesus knows it all, and He never forgets. 4LtMs, Lt 16, 1886, par. 13

To such, words of kindness and of affection are welcome as the smile of angels; a strong, helpful grasp of the hand of a true friend is worth more than gold and silver. It helps him to regain the manhood of the man. 4LtMs, Lt 16, 1886, par. 14