Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)

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Lt 12, 1887

Boyd, Brother [C.L.]

Stockholm, Sweden

June 25, 1887

Portions of this letter are published in TSA 14-20; CD 309; 6MR 308; 7MR 322-323. +Note

Broader Views of the Work Necessary

Dear Brother Boyd:

I sent by Brother Haskell some things that I felt it my duty to write, but there are some things I wish to address particularly to yourself and to your wife. You both need to be guarded; you both have strong wills and are not wanting in self-confidence. You may think your way is the right way and that all must see things and do things after your ideas. Your plans—your devising of them and execution of them—seem faultless in your eyes, and your judgment seems as the mind of God. But, my brother and sister, you have inherited and cultivated traits of character which have become as second nature to you and have been interwoven in the texture of your characters. These traits need to be guarded and modified. You can with profit closely examine and criticize yourselves, and made decided improvements in mind, in heart, and in character, which will bring you to resemble more closely the pattern Jesus Christ. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 1

In your association with others, there is danger of your both being overbearing and exacting. You will also be in danger of this in your own married life, unless you daily humble your hearts before God, and individually feel the great need of learning in the school of Christ the lessons of meekness, humility, and lowliness of heart. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 2

Your ways seem to be right in your own eyes, when they may be far from right. God would have you less self-confident, less self-sufficient. You are not, either of you, easy to be entreated. Brother Boyd, your ideas and plans should be closely and critically examined, for you are in danger of circumscribing the work, of placing your own mold upon it, and of using your narrow ideas and cheap plans, which generally prove to be the dearest in the end. You belittle the work by so doing. While it is well to exercise economy, let the work of God ever stand in its elevated, noble dignity. As you are to begin work in a new mission, be careful that your defects are not exalted as virtues, and thus retard the work of God. It is testing truths that we are bringing before the people, and in every movement these truths should be elevated to stand in moral beauty before those for whom we labor. Do not throw about the truth the peculiarities of your own character, or your own manner of labor. You must certainly reform in some things, if you remain connected with the work, or you will mar the precious cause of God and discourage souls, all because your own ways are woven into God’s work as God’s ways. Let not self appear; let not your set ways, your peculiar, determined traits of character, become a controlling power. Do not cheapen the work of God. Let it stand forth as from God. Let it bear no human impress, but the impress of the divine. Self is to be lost sight of in Jesus. It is not safe to allow your own ideas and judgment, your set ways, your peculiar traits of character, to be a controlling power. There is great need of breadth in your calculations in order to place the work high in all your plans, proportionate to its importance. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 3

Much has been lost through following the mistaken ideas of some of our good brethren. Their plans were narrow, and they lowered the work to their peculiar ways and ideas so that the higher classes were not reached. The appearance of the work impressed the minds of unbelievers as being of very little worth—some stray offshoot of religious theory entirely beneath their notice. Much also has been lost through want of wise methods of labor. Every effort should be made to give dignity and character to the work. Special efforts should be made to secure the good will of men in responsible positions, not by sacrificing even one principle of truth or righteousness, but by simply giving up our own ways and manner of approaching the people. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 4

Much more would be effected if more tact and discretion were used in the presentation of the truth. Through the neglect of this, many have a misconception of our faith and of our doctrine which they would not have if the very first impression made upon their minds had been more favorable. It is our duty to get as close to the people as we can. This kind of labor will not have an influence to exclude the poorer and lower classes, but both high and low will have an opportunity to be benefited by the truths of the Bible; both will have a chance to become acquainted with you and to understand that the religion of the Bible never degrades the receiver. They will perceive the duties and responsibilities resting upon them to be representatives of Jesus Christ upon the earth. The truth received in the heart is constantly elevating, refining, and ennobling the receiver. This is not a worldly wisdom, but a God-given wisdom, the ways and means of which the believers in the truth should study, so that the truth may reach those classes who can exert an influence in its favor, and who will sustain its advancement with their means. The duty we owe to our fellow men places us under moral obligation of putting out our talents to the exchangers so that we may double them by winning many souls to Jesus Christ—souls who have influence, whom God has seen fit to entrust with large capacity for doing good. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 5

The workers in this cause should not feel that the only way they can do is to go at the people pointedly, with all subjects of truth and doctrine as held by Seventh-day Adventists, for this would close their ears at the very onset. You will be inclined to do this, for it would please your inclination and be in harmony with your character. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 6

God would have you be as lambs among wolves, as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. You cannot do this and follow your own ideas and your own plans. You must modify your method of labor. You need not feel that all the truth is to be spoken to unbelievers on any and every occasion. You should plan carefully what to say and what to leave unsaid. This is not practicing deception; it is working as Paul worked. He says, “Being crafty, I caught you with guile.” 2 Corinthians 12:16. Your method of labor would not have that effect. You must vary your labor, and not think there is only one way which must be followed at all times and in all places. Your ways may seem to you a success, but if you had used more tact, more of the heavenly wisdom, you would have seen much more good results from your work. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 7

Paul’s manner was not to approach the Jews in a way to stir up their worst prejudice and run the risk of making them his enemies by telling them the first thing that they must believe in Jesus of Nazareth. But he dwelt upon the prophecies of the Old Testament Scriptures that testified of Christ, of His mission, and of His work. Thus he led them along step by step, showing them the importance of honoring the law of God. He gave due honor to the ceremonial law, showing that Christ was the One who instituted the whole Jewish economy in sacrificial service. And after dwelling upon these things and showing that he had a clear understanding of these matters, then he brought them down to the first advent of Christ and showed that in the crucified Jesus every specification had been fulfilled. This is the wisdom Paul exercised. He approached the Gentiles not by exalting the law, but by exalting Christ, and then showing the binding claims of the law. He plainly presented before them how the light reflected from the cross of Calvary gave significance and glory to the whole Jewish economy. Thus he varied his manner of labor, always shaping his message to the circumstances under which he was placed. He was, after patient labor, successful to a large degree, yet many would not be convinced. Some there are who will not be convinced by any method of presenting truth that may be pursued; but the laborer for God is to study carefully the best method, that he may not raise prejudice nor stir up combativeness. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 8

Here is where you have failed of reaching souls in the past. When you have followed your natural inclination, you have closed the door whereby you might, with a different method of labor, have found access to hearts, and through them to other hearts. The influence of our work through gaining one soul is far-reaching; the talent is put out to the exchangers and is constantly doubling. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 9

Now it will be well, my brother, for you to carefully consider these things; and when you labor in your new field, do not feel that as an honest man you must tell all that you do believe at the very outset, for Christ did not do that way. Christ said to His disciples, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” John 16:12. And there were many things He did not say to them because their education and ideas were of such a character that it would have confused their minds and raised questioning and unbelief that it would have been difficult to remove. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 10

God’s workmen must be many-sided men; that is, they must have breadth of character, not be one-idea men, stereotyped in one manner of working, getting into a groove, and being unable to see and sense that their words and their advocacy of truth must vary with the class of people they are among, and the circumstances they have to meet. All should be constantly seeking to develop their minds evenly and to overcome ill-balanced characteristics. This must be your constant study if you make a useful, successful laborer. God would have you, old as you are, continually improving and learning how you can better reach the people. Do not settle down with the thought that your ways are perfect, for as a servant of Jesus Christ I tell you plainly, with all respect to you, that your ways and methods and plans need to be greatly improved, and to bear more distinctly the divine mold. They now bear altogether too much of the defective mold of your own peculiar hereditary and cultivated traits of character. I cannot specify all these things in all their minutiae; but I tell you they exist, and this should keep you on your guard, that you do not consider your way the only perfect way and your method the criterion for others to follow. God help you that you may be melted over, and a more Christlike element be constantly woven with your labor, your thoughts, and your plans, that your work may bear the impress of the divine character. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 11

A great and solemn work is before us—to reach the people where they are. Do not feel it your bounden duty the first thing to tell the people, “We are Seventh-day Adventists; we believe the seventh day is the Sabbath; we believe in the nonimmortality of the soul,” and thus erect most formidable barriers between you and those you wish to reach. But speak to them, as you may have opportunity, upon points of doctrine wherein you can agree, and dwell on practical godliness. Give them evidence that you are a Christian, desiring peace, and that you love their souls. Let them see that you are conscientious. Thus you will gain their confidence, and then there will be time enough for the doctrines. Let the hard iron heart be subdued, the soil prepared, and then lead them along cautiously, presenting in love the truth as it is in Jesus Christ. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 12

It requires great wisdom to reach ministers and noblemen. Why should these be neglected or passed by, as they certainly have been by our people? These classes are responsible to God just in proportion to the capital or talents entrusted to them. Should there not be greater study and much more humble prayer for wisdom to reach these classes? Where much is given, much will be required. Then should there not be wisdom and tact used to gain these souls to Jesus Christ, who will be, if converted, polished instruments in the hands of the Lord to reach others? The Lord’s help we must have to know how to undertake His work in a skilful manner. Self must not become prominent. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 13

God has a work to be done that the workers have not yet fully comprehended. Their message is to go to ministers and to worldly, wise men, for these are to be tested with the light of truth. It is to be set forth before the learned ones of this world judiciously and in its native dignity. There must be most earnest seeking of God, most thorough study; for the mental powers will be taxed to the uttermost to lay plans, according to the Lord’s order, that shall place His work on the higher and more elevated platform where it should ever have stood. Men’s little ideas and narrow plans have bound about the work. You criticize the work of others and differ in little matters and sow discord in the place of exercising every power that God has given you that you may be one. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 14

May the Lord set these things home to your soul. After the most earnest efforts have been made to bring the truth before those whom God has entrusted with large responsibilities, be not discouraged if they reject it. They did the same in the days of Christ. Be sure to keep up the dignity of the work by well-ordered plans and a godly conversation. Do not think that you have elevated the standard too high. Let families who engage in this missionary work come close to hearts. Let the Spirit of Jesus pervade the soul of the workers. Let there be no self-delusion in this part of the work, for it is the pleasant, sympathetic words spoken in love to each other, the manifestations of disinterested love for their souls, that will break down the barriers of pride and selfishness, and make manifest to unbelievers that we have the love of Christ, and then the truth will find its way to their hearts. This is, at any rate, our work and the fulfilling of God’s plans. But the workers must divest themselves of selfishness and criticism. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 15

My brother, you need to be carefully guarded that those of inexperience who connect with you do not become molded to your ways, thinking they must do the work just as you do it. All coarseness and roughness must be put aside and separated from our labor, and great wisdom must be exercised in approaching those who are not of our faith. You need to cherish courtesy, refinement, and Christian politeness. There will be need for you to guard against being abrupt and blunt. Do not consider these peculiarities as virtues, because God does not regard them thus. You should seek in all things not to offend those who do not believe as we do by making prominent the most objectionable features of our faith when there is no call for it. You will only do injury by it. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 16

I speak to you plainly upon these things now because I know your danger on these points, and I am very desirous that those who connect with you in the work shall not copy you in these things, for it will not give the right mold to minds nor the right fashioning to character. You need more careful, thoughtful study, more painstaking effort not to offend, but to make the very best impression upon the minds and hearts of all with whom you shall labor. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 17

My brother, you need the softening, subduing influence of the Spirit of God in your heart. You must be transformed. You must unlearn many things and learn again. You need greater tenderness and love for your brother workers and for souls. You have not brought yourself into that position where you can assimilate in labor with others. Your ways seem right in your own eyes. If you can have your own way and carry out your ideas, then you have an interest in the work; but to labor in heart and soul with your brethren, to lift, to plan, to co-operate with them, accepting their ways in the place of yours, this you will have to learn in order to work to advantage. God would not have you labor alone in any general way, for your way and your plans should not be the controlling power in any conference. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 18

We want more, much more, of the Spirit of Christ; and less, much less, of self and the peculiarities of character which build up a wall, keeping you apart from your fellow laborers. We can do much to break down these barriers. We can do much by revealing the graces of Christ in our own lives. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 19

Jesus has been entrusting to His church His goods age after age. One generation after another for more than eighteen hundred years has been gathering up the hereditary trust, and these responsibilities, which have increased according to the light, have descended along the lines to our times. Do we feel our responsibilities? Do we feel that we are stewards of God’s grace? Do we feel that the lowliest, humblest service may be consecrated, if it is exercised with the high aim of doing not our own, but our Master’s will, to promote His glory? We want on the whole armor of righteousness, not our own garments. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 20

I have a special word to say to you both. The Lord has shown me that you have not had true ideas of what constitutes health reform. You have pursued a certain narrow course in the table provisions, which is not in all respects a good representation of health reform, and those who shall be educated to follow your example will surely be misled in some things, if they follow your ideas and plans. There is real common sense in health reform. Some cannot subsist upon the same articles of food prepared in the same way that others can, and which they enjoy. Sister Sisley did not move wisely in her economical preparations of the table in Chicago. The impression was that the greatest self-denial must be exercised in regard to diet, and rigid rules were made for all to live by. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 21

To care for the body by giving it that quality of food which is relishable and strengthening is one of the first duties in order to prepare the workers to do good sound work. Poor, half-decayed fruit and vegetables should never be placed upon the table because it is a saving of a few pennies. This kind of management is a loss, and the body that should be nourished as a temple of the Holy Ghost and be fitted to do the very best kind of work is neglected. Many speeches were made in regard to self-denial and self-sacrifice that were wholly inappropriate and uncalled for. Brother Sawyer was so reduced by poor food and by want of conveniences and proper, careful attention while absent from his family that he had no strength to withstand exposure and disease. He died a martyr to misconceived, crooked ideas of what constitutes health reform and self-denial. He always had little thought for his own convenience and was left too much to himself to care for himself. He was willing to do anything to save means. Such conscientious souls are the ones who are hurt by these overstrained ideas of what constitutes health reform. Sister Sisley’s family have been injured by the ideas she has entertained of health reform. Brother John has been a hard worker, and the food taken into this stomach has not nourished him; it has not supplied the wants of his system and has not made the best quality of blood. The weakness from which he is now suffering is caused by a poverty of the blood more than by any real disease. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 22

Why will not men and women to whom God has given reasoning powers exercise their reason? When they see their strength is failing, why do they not investigate their habits and their diet and change to a different diet to see its effect? The sufferings that have been brought about by a so-called health reform have militated greatly against true reforms. These narrow ideas and this overstraining in the diet question have done great injury to physical, mental, and moral strength. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 23

Our missions should be conducted in a merciful way. It never pays to cheat the stomach of healthful, wholesome food; for it is robbing the blood of nourishment, and in consequence the whole system is deranged, the whole mind diseased, and God has lame, inefficient service in place of healthy, sound labor. The prevailing idea with some is that gems and mush should compose the diet of health reformers. Many who recommend this diet are miserable in health, their digestive organs are enfeebled, and their own system requires a different class of food. Changes must be made. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 24

Brother and Sister Boyd, you are in danger on this subject. Brother and Sister Robinson have also been in danger on this diet question. There are sufferers on every hand because people do not think that the body needs special favors. You should not provide rich or greasy food; you can safely dispense with pies and cakes and sweetmeats; but prepare nice, good, thoroughly cooked food in such a way that the appetite can relish it. One person may be able to eat one kind of food which the stomach of another cannot bear at all; therefore great care should be taken not to have rigid rules with few changes for all to follow. In regard to tea, coffee, rich cakes, and [highly] seasoned dishes, all these are to be avoided. To let these things alone is the duty of all. Some can take care of a little meat occasionally better than a dish of mush, which the stomach cannot accept and digest. But meat is diseased and flesh meats not healthful. Nicely prepared vegetables and fruits in their season will be beneficial, if they are of the best quality and do not show the slightest sign of decay, but are sound and unaffected by any disease. More die from eating decayed fruit and vegetables, which ferment in the stomach and result in blood poisoning, than we have any idea of. Much harm has been done in overstraining the subject of health reform. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 25

Brother Boyd, be careful; do not be conscience for your wife, or for any one. Be careful how you make your ideas a power. Be careful not to be conscience for any one but yourself, and then be careful that your conscience is a good conscience, controlled by solid, healthy principles, and that no bigotry or forcing of mind comes into your habits of labor. You do not know yourself, and you need daily to be imbued with the Spirit of Jesus, else you will, in your dealing with your brethren and with unbelievers, become small, narrow, and penurious, and turn souls in disgust from the truth. If you cultivate these peculiar traits of character, you will give deformity to the work. You must grow out of this narrowness; you must have breadth; you must get out of this little dealing, for it belittles you in every way. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 26

I write these things to you because I dare not withhold them. I was not able to say them to you at Moss, Norway. Now as you enter a new field, elevate the work from the very commencement. Place it on a high level, and have all your efforts of such a character as to bring all who are interested in the truth to a noble, elevated platform, corresponding with the magnitude of the work, that they may have a proper education and be able to teach others. The truth is of heavenly origin, and it has been mercifully given to us in trust by Heaven. May the Lord strengthen and bless you both, that you may work out self and weave in Jesus into all your labors, and then the blessing of God will rest upon you. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 27

We feel, dear Brother and Sister Boyd, the tenderest sympathy for you both, and for your little ones, as you enter this new field. We feel deeply for you in your separation from friends and acquaintances, your brethren and sisters whom you love. But we know this message is a world-wide message, and we are and must continue to be laborers together with God. I know the Lord loves you and wants to bring you into more close relationship with Himself. Only seek for the mold of God to be upon you, and you will constantly improve in every way until your labors will bear the full approval of Heaven. But never for a moment entertain the idea that you have no improvements to make; for you have many. Your hearts will be swayed by influences that are not of God, unless you place your will and your way wholly on the side of God, under His complete control. Dear brother, you are not one who is constantly learning, improving, studying how to adjust yourself to circumstances. You have not adapted yourself to the situation of things, but have been inclined to take an independent course, to follow your own plans, in the place of blending with the workers. I fear greatly that it is a mistake in sending you to a field where you will have much to do in molding the work; for unless the mold of God is first upon you, you will not move in the very best way to secure success, and your work may have to be undone, and to be done over again. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 28

God will be with you if you will be with Him. Take care that you do not leave a wrong impression upon minds in reference to yourself, and be thought to be what you are not, and thus fail to do that good which you might, because you do not put the courtesy, the fragrance, and the concentrating of your ideas into the work when others plan and others devise, but when you lead then you have spirit and life. Look carefully at these things; study them. Do not cease your efforts to reform. God help you to be what He would have you to be. Our prejudices, our weaknesses, our self-deceptions, and our ignorance often prompt us to say and do things which ought not to be said or done, and the brother laborer whom God is moving upon to work is pricked at his way. If left to our own selves we would miss our way. We need the cloudy pillar to lead us constantly. We have the assurance of the presence of God; you have it—“Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20. God bless you. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 29

In love. 5LtMs, Lt 12, 1887, par. 30