Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Lt 5, 1885

Butler, G. I.

Christiania, Norway

October 31, 1885

This letter is published in entirety in TM 297-300.

Dear Brother Butler:

I was more sorry than I can express to learn that under your instruction Brethren Farnsworth and Burrill sought to restrict the work at the New York camp meeting. You could not have advised them to do a worse thing, and you should not have put a work into their hands that they were not fitted to do in a wise manner. Be careful how you repress advancing work in any locality. There is little enough being done in any place, and it certainly is not proper to seek to curtail operations in missionary lines. 4LtMs, Lt 5, 1885, par. 1

After looking matters over carefully and prayerfully, I wrote as I did in my notes of travel. I wanted to leave the matter in such a shape as not to discourage the laborers in New York in their efforts to do something, although I desired to give them caution, so that they would not make any extreme moves in their plans. The workers were doing well and ought to have been encouraged and advised to go on with their work. There are men in New York who should have helped them by making needed donations to invest in the cause. They will have to give to the work before they will grow in grace and the knowledge of the truth. 4LtMs, Lt 5, 1885, par. 2

You and your workers should have looked at this matter from different points of view than you did. You should have investigated the work thoroughly and asked yourselves if five thousand dollars was too large a debt to incur in the important work in which these workers were engaged. Your influence should have been exerted in such a way as to cause the people to see the importance of the work and to realize that it was their duty to rise to the emergency. You should have done as I have tried to in my notes of travel. But if our brethren feel at liberty to stop the work when they cannot see where money is coming from to sustain it, then the work will not only be contracted in Michigan and New York, but in every other state in the Union. If our workers are going forward in any place, do not put up the bars, and say, “Thus far shalt thou go and no further.” I feel sad that you have closed up the school at Rome, N.Y. I see that the brethren sent to look after this enterprise have not taken measures to advance the work by soliciting donations from men who could give. There are rich men in the conference who have made complaints about the debt that has been incurred who ought to have sustained these workers. While reproach and discouragement have been cast upon the workers, the impression has been made upon those who have means that they have a perfect right to question every enterprise that calls for money. 4LtMs, Lt 5, 1885, par. 3

God does not require you to take such a course, that the workers in New York or anywhere else shall not feel at liberty to make advance movements unless they can consult you and ask what your judgment of the matter is before they advance. I cannot sanction the idea that you must have a personal oversight of all the details of the work. If I did, the result would be that no worker would dare to exercise his own judgment in anything. The workers would have to rely upon one man’s brain and one man’s judgment, and the result would be that men would be left in inefficiency because of their inactivity. There are altogether too many of this class now, and they amount to next to nothing. I write this because I feel deeply on this point. We are not doing one half that we ought to do. 4LtMs, Lt 5, 1885, par. 4

It is true that the South Lancaster school must be sustained, but this need not hinder us from sustaining other schools. We should have primary schools in different localities to prepare the youth for our higher schools. It may seem to you that it is wise to close up the school in Rome, N.Y., but I fail to see the wisdom of it. To close up this school will seem to reflect discredit upon all that the people have done and will discourage them from making further advancement. I cannot see that you have gained anything in making the move that you have, nor can I feel that it is in accordance with God’s order. It will work nothing but injury, not only to those that have complained about the debt, but also to the workers. Men who have property, and could have helped this enterprise, will breathe more freely. These moneyed men will be encouraged not to do more for the cause than they have done, but to do less. They will feel at liberty to complain concerning anything that calls for an outlay of means. O that the Lord might guide you. You should never in a single instance allow hearsay to move you to action, and yet you have sometimes done this. Never take action to narrow and circumscribe the work unless you know that you are moved to do so by the Spirit of the Lord. Our people are doing work for foreign missions, but there are home missions that need their help just as much as these foreign missions. We should make efforts to show our people the wants of the cause of God and to open before them the need of using means that God has entrusted to them to advance the work of the Master both at home and abroad. Unless those who can help in New York are roused to a sense of their duty, they will not recognize the work of God when the loud cry of the third angel shall be heard. When light goes forth to lighten the earth, instead of coming up to the help of the Lord, they will want to bind about His work to meet their narrow ideas. Let me tell you that the Lord will work in this last work in a manner very much out of the common order of things, and in a way that will be contrary to any human planning. There will be those among us who will always want to control the work of God, to dictate even what movements shall be made when the work goes forward under the direction of the angel who joins the third angel in the message to be given to the world. God will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reins in His own hands. The workers will be surprised by the simple means that God will use to bring about and perfect His work of righteousness. Those who are accounted good workers will need to draw nigh to God. They will need the divine touch. They will need to drink more deeply and continuously at the fountain of living water in order that they may discern God’s work at every point. Workers may make mistakes, but you should give them a chance to correct their errors, give them an opportunity to learn caution by leaving the work in their hands. 4LtMs, Lt 5, 1885, par. 5