Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Lt 115, 1886

Butler, G. I.

Basel, Switzerland

November 24, 1886

Portions of this letter are published in 3Bio 358.

Dear Brother Butler:

After about ten weeks’ absence from my home in Basel, I returned to it last evening quite ill with acute rheumatism. I could not move my right arm without great difficulty and much pain and could not take a full inspiration of air without acute pain in the right lung. I was intending to remain over another Sabbath and hold meetings in Chaux-de-Fonds and Tramelan. But Elder Ings remained to attend meetings in both these places, with Brother Fry as interpreter, while Sister Ings accompanied me home. I came unexpectedly to all, and how glad I was to get home where I could get treatment at once. 4LtMs, Lt 115, 1886, par. 1

I have for weeks been exposed to fogs and rains and bad air in halls. I have talked in halls where it was sometimes very hot and the air was impure and then have gone out into a sharp, cutting air from the lakes and have taken cold again and again. But I did so hope at this time to visit all the churches. I spoke once in Bienne, but as I could not sit up the next day, we left on the evening train with Sister Ings for Basel. 4LtMs, Lt 115, 1886, par. 2

In two days, the twenty-sixth of this month, I shall be fifty-nine years old. I thank my heavenly Father for the strength that He has given me to do more work than I ever expected to do. I thank the Lord with heart and soul and voice. I am thinking we may not feel obliged to remain here in Europe much longer, if additional help shall come, which is greatly needed. I hope that our brethren there will have the missionary spirit, and that those who want to do good will devote themselves soul and body to the work, feeling that it is so little that they can do for Jesus who has done so much for them. 4LtMs, Lt 115, 1886, par. 3

Jesus left the heavenly courts and came to our world. The Just gave His life for the unjust, and what are we willing to do for Him? What spirit will we manifest for those who need help? Will there not be those who will go without the camp, bearing reproach for Jesus? Are there not men and women of earnest faith who can endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, who will be laborers together with God, who will labor unselfishly for the Master? Who will take up this work of denying self, to seek and save that which was lost? What are our brethren and sisters doing at this time? God help them to awake, for Christ is coming with power and great glory. Who will hear the commendation, “Thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord”? [Matthew 25:21.] 4LtMs, Lt 115, 1886, par. 4

But there is one point which I fear that our brethren in America do not fully comprehend, and that is that our publishing houses all need efficient workers, especially in the line of thorough bookkeepers. The offices in England and in Basel are very lame in this respect. This branch of the work has been neglected shamefully and altogether too long. It is a sin to allow a work of such magnitude, God’s own work, to be done in a defective, bungling manner. There must be efficient bookkeepers in these important missions. God wants as perfect work as it is possible for human beings to do. To do the Lord’s work in a cheap, uncertain, imperfect style is a dishonor to the sacred truth and its Author. We have as a people failed seriously here. We might have selected men and women long ago and educated them instead of setting them to work in a cheap, unprepared way. We should feel that it is necessary for those who are to connect with the work to receive an education for it, then they can do the work with one-half the worry and wear and with far greater exactitude. We have in the past too often accepted unprepared, uneducated men and women to do a work that they knew but little about and, as the result, at great disadvantage and with discredit to themselves, and many have been an injury to the cause they really wished to serve. 4LtMs, Lt 115, 1886, par. 5

There are those connected with our institutions who think it is not necessary to employ men of thorough intelligence and education, who will do honor to the cause of God. These men, they say, are not humble, they will not take hold of any kind of work. While some in Battle Creek talk of humility and urge that these men who are calculated for a higher order of work should engage in any kind of employment, they really have less humility themselves than the ones they would accuse. 4LtMs, Lt 115, 1886, par. 6

While there is nothing in any kind of work calculated to degrade the man, yet the Bible itself teaches that God has entrusted talents to every man according to his capacity. To every man is given his work. There are a few men who seem to be fitted for all kinds of labor. But they are not many. Some men have more mental capacity than others and are fitted both by nature and cultivation to do intellectual work with thoroughness and ability. Everything connected with the work of God should bear the stamp of perfection if it is possible for finite power to cause it to bear that stamp. But narrow minds will fail to see the necessity of intelligent, cultivated talent being brought into our publishing houses, in every department of the work, especially in the keeping of accounts. Some men are slow and stupid with the mind, but when doing a work which requires physical strength, they are more than a match for the men of educated intellect. 4LtMs, Lt 115, 1886, par. 7

Change the position of the two; set the man qualified for manual labor to casting up accounts or writing for papers and books, and he would be a complete failure, for he has not trained his mind for any such work; while the man who has devoted time and money to obtaining an education in certain intellectual branches, if put to hard physical labor, would be able to accomplish but little. We need men for the place, men adapted to the various branches of the work. 4LtMs, Lt 115, 1886, par. 8

Bookkeeping is and ever will be an important part of our work, and those who have become intelligent in it are greatly needed, both in our institutions and elsewhere. Shall we have them, or shall we continue to cripple along as we have done, imperfection marking the best efforts of many who do not know how to do the work and yet have been set at it, perhaps against their own will, and who are dissatisfied continually with their own deficient manner of doing the work? Shall we wake up, brethren, to this matter? Shall we continue to place in positions so important as keeping the books for our institutions those who have a deficient knowledge of this line of business? Shall we have qualified men and women or ignorant men and women? In our tract and missionary societies there should be more than one or two who are educated to the systematic way of doing business. They should devote time to studying the science so that they can do the work intelligently. In every church there should be men and women who are fitting themselves to do perfect work, for it is God’s work, and the Lord is not pleased with deficiency in any branch of His work. 4LtMs, Lt 115, 1886, par. 9

I call your attention to this matter that you may impress upon those who shall connect with the work the idea that they must all be diligent students to acquire a knowledge possible to fit them for their work. If they are not disposed to do this, they are not the ones to engage in the work. 4LtMs, Lt 115, 1886, par. 10

Someone who is efficient in bookkeeping should give lessons in America to those connected with the different missions and to those who have charge of our tract and missionary societies, that they may learn how to do business in a businesslike manner so that God can approve their work. I hope you will take in the situation here in Europe and send the help that is so much needed, especially in keeping books, for unless you do there is great danger that the accounts will be found so tangled that nothing accurate can be learned from them. 4LtMs, Lt 115, 1886, par. 11

Years ago I was shown that we are far from reaching the standard that God would have us [reach] in these things. May the Lord help us to see this matter as it is. You may look upon it as a piece of extravagance to send able workers here, but it will be economy in the end. The work can then be placed upon a correct basis and others can be taught to do the work with thoroughness, and we shall soon have not one but several to depend upon. 4LtMs, Lt 115, 1886, par. 12

What we want now is men who feel that they cannot afford to be commonplace workmen. Not men who are incompetent and who are willing to remain in ignorance, but men who will put forth effort to reach the highest standard and who will teach others to do the work of the Lord with thoroughness an exactitude. 4LtMs, Lt 115, 1886, par. 13