Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 21a, 1888

[Butler, G. I.]

[Minneapolis, Minnesota]

[October 15, 1888]

Drawn from Lt 21, 1888. This letter is published in entirety in 1888 107-116. +Note

General Interest of the Cause

Dear Brother [G. I. Butler]:

At half past two in the morning, while the house is locked in slumber, I commence penning these lines to you. I think of the large church at Battle Creek and of the important interests centered there, which make it a missionary field in the highest sense. People are coming from all parts of the world to the Sanitarium, and many youth from the different states are attending the College. That field requires the very best methods of labor, that the strongest religious influence may be constantly exerted upon all. God would have men cultivate their abilities, that they may have broader ideas in planning and executing His work. When this is done, the saving power of the grace of Christ will be manifested to those who believe present truth. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 1

As the work grows, if the workers will rely firmly upon the wisdom and power of God, their minds will expand to keep pace with His opening providence. Those who possess piety and ability should be encouraged to obtain the necessary education, that they may assist in the great work of spreading the light of truth. Progress will then be seen in the great closing message for these last days. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 2

God has different sets of workmen for the different branches of His cause. When those whom He has called to do a certain work have carried that work along as far as they can with the ability He has given them, the Lord in His providence will call and qualify other men to come in and work with them, still making advance moves that together they may carry it farther and lift the standard higher. He will never allow His work to diminish in strength or efficiency if those to whom He has given their work will act their part with unswerving fidelity. There must be no [belittling] the men who God has accepted as his workmen. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 3

This great and solemn work is not to be carried to its completion by a few men who have been selected as opportunity has offered to bear responsibility. There are some minds which do not grow with the work, but allow the work to grow far beyond them, and they find themselves tired and worn before they comprehend the circumstances. Then when those whom God is qualifying to assist in the work take hold of it in a little different way from that in which these responsible men have tried to do it, they should be very careful not to hinder these helpers or to circumscribe the work. Since they did not see the work in all its bearings and did not have the burden which God has specially laid upon others, why should they say just how that work should be done? Those who do not discern and adapt themselves to the increasing demands of the work should not stand blocking the wheels and thus hindering the advancement of others. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 4

The case of David is to the point. He made large provisions for building the temple for the Lord, but the Lord told him that he was not the one to do that work; it must devolve on Solomon, his son. He could advise, counsel, and encourage Solomon because of his large experience, but the younger man must do the work. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 5

The weary, worn minds of all the older brethren do not take in the greatness of the work in all its bearings and are not inclined to keep pace with the opening providences of God. Therefore, the responsibilities of the work should not rest wholly with them, as they would not bring into it all the elements essential for its advancement, and thus the work would be retarded. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 6

The work in Battle Creek and in the state of Michigan is far, far behind. For several years there has been on the part of the conference committee and the laborers, a want of wise planning and indiscreet management in regard to it. While the president of the General Conference was willing to do much work, he did not see the necessity of training the powers of mind and qualifying himself to plan to discern the talents of young men and set them to work, associating with himself those who could help him. It is well to see and understand the situation and the needs of foreign missions so as not to neglect them. We should also be able to comprehend the needs of the work at our very doors. Home missions should not be neglected. There has been an oversight in doing this. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 7

There is a sad neglect at Battle Creek in not using the many advantages right at hand to keep the heart of the work in a healthy condition. Vigorous heartbeats from the center should be felt in all parts of the body of believers. But if the heart is sickly and weak in its action, its inefficiency affects all branches of the work. A sound, healthy working power at the center of the work is positively essential in order that the truth may be carried to the world. It must be diffused through families and communities. This will require wise generalship in devising plans and educating others to assist in the work. Persons of talent must be sought out and encouraged to labor in various places according to the capabilities that God has given them. Let every instrumentality of God that is brought within the reach of those older in experience be encouraged by them to find a place in the work and to be educated with the advancing work. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 8

Much ability has been lost to the cause of God because many in responsible positions were so narrow in their ideas that they did not discern the increasing responsibilities. They did not have extended vision to see that the work was becoming altogether too large to be carried forward by the workers then engaged in it. The work had outgrown them. Much, very much, is now left undone which should have been done, because men have held things in their own finite hands instead of proportioning the work to a larger number of workers and trusting that God would help them. They have tried to take all branches of the work upon themselves, fearing others would not prove as efficient. Their wills have therefore controlled in everything, and through some unwise decisions, made because of their inability to grasp all the wants of the cause in its various parts, great losses have been sustained. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 9

The work has been bound about, not from design, but from not discerning the necessity of a different order of things to meet the demands for the time. This is largely due to the feeling of Elder Butler that position gave unlimited authority. Greater responsibilities were pressed upon him and accepted than one person could carry, and the consequence was the demoralized condition of affairs, notwithstanding he may have done the very best he himself could do under the circumstances. But the infinite God saw there were different kinds of qualifications needed to place a different mold on the work. On the part of his brethren, there was a fear that others desired Brother B’s place, which has caused suspicions and has resulted in keeping in the background those men whom God would have used could they have had sufficient encouragement and an opportunity to work. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 10

God has not wrought as He would because of surmisings and suspicion and because there was not discernment and planning to let every man do the work that God was fitting him to perform in an understanding, intelligent manner. The lesson must be learned that when God appoints means for a certain work, we are not to neglect these means, put them aside, and then pray and expect that He will work miracles to supply our neglect. To every man God has appointed his work, according to his capacities and capabilities. Wise planning is needed to place each one in his proper sphere in the work in order that he may obtain an experience which will fit him to bear increased responsibility. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 11

In God’s dealings, in temporal as well as spiritual things, blessings come to man through the use of means. If the husbandman neglects to till the ground, God works no miracle to make up for his neglect, and when the harvest time comes, he has no crops to gather. As in the natural world, so in the spiritual, God always honors the use of the means He has ordained to do His work. It is by practice that men must be qualified for any emergency that may arise. Men need to become better acquainted with themselves and be discerning in regard to their own weak points of character and then make every effort to strengthen these points, for God makes this their duty. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 12

No one should lean wholly upon another’s mind, but as God’s free agents, each should ask wisdom of Him. When the learner depends in a large degree upon another man’s thoughts and goes no further than to accept his plans, he sees only through that man’s eyes and is so far only an echo of the other. God will, by His own Spirit, work directly through the mind He has put in man, if the man will only give Him a chance to work and will recognize His dealings with him. God designs that men shall use their minds and consciences for themselves. He never designed that one man should become the shadow of another and utter only another’s sentiments. But this error has been coming in among us, that a very few are to be mind, conscience, and judgment for all God’s workers. The foundation of Christianity is “Christ our Righteousness.” Men are individually responsible to God and must act as God acts upon them, not as another human mind acts upon their minds, for if this method of indirect influence is kept up, souls cannot be impressed and directed by the great I AM. They will, on the other hand, have their experience blended with another’s and will be kept under a moral restraint, which allows no freedom of action or of choice. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 13

God deals with His creatures as with responsible beings. He has issued no command that the leaders of the Battle Creek church shall remain anchored until by some mighty miracle-working power the church is sent forward and upward to the harbor God has appointed. If we would be wise and use diligently, prayerfully, and thankfully the means whereby light and blessings are to come to His people, then no voice or power upon earth would have authority over us to say, “This shall not be.” 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 14

The Lord has presented before me that men in responsible positions are standing directly in the way of the workings of God upon His people because they think that the work must be done and the blessing must come in a certain way they have marked out, and they will not recognize that which comes in any other way. “We are laborers together with God.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] Copy the ways of the Lord Jesus. He was a perfect character. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 15

May the Lord place this matter before you as it is. God works, not as men plan or as men wish, but “in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.” Why treat God’s ways as worthless because they do not coincide with our private ideas? God has appointed channels of light, but these are not necessarily through the minds of any particular man or set of men. When all shall take their appointed places in God’s work and not allow others to mold them at will, then one great advance will have been made toward letting the light shine upon the world. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 16

The efforts made here to close every avenue to light and truth which is supposed to disagree with the opinions of some leading men are very unreasonable. Are these men infallible? Has God appointed them supreme judges of how light shall come to His people? I answer, No. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 17

During the conference at Battle Creek, when the question of the law in Galatians was being examined, I was taken to a number of houses and heard the unchristian remarks and criticisms made by the delegates. Then these words were spoken, “They must have the truth as it is in Jesus, else it will not be a saving truth to them.” “Without me,” says Christ, “ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] When finite men shall cease to put themselves in the way, to hinder, then God will work in our midst as never before. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 18

It was shown me that broader plans should be laid, but at the same time the work in each branch of the cause should be harmoniously united with that in every other branch, all making a perfect whole: but now, selfish ideas and principles are interwoven with the plans of the workers, which make the work defective. One man, who has the oversight of a certain line of work, magnifies his responsibilities until his one branch, in his mind, is above every other branch, when in reality all are equally important. When this narrow, selfish idea is received, all his energies are set to imbue the people with the same idea. This is human nature, but not after Christ’s order. Just in proportion as this policy is followed, Christ is pushed aside and self appears prominent. When the Saviour is allowed His part in the work, none will become entirely absorbed in any one branch of it, but all will have broad ideas and will attribute to all parts of the work their due importance. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 19

The Jews in Christ’s day, in the exercise of their own spirit of self-exaltation, brought in rigid rules and exactions and so took away all chance for God to work upon minds, until mercy and the love of God were entirely lost sight of in their work. It was this which caused rulers to lay upon the people the heavy burdens of which they justly complained, which our Saviour condemned. Do not follow in their track. Leave God a chance to do something for those who love Him, and do not impose upon them rules and regulations which, if followed, will leave them [as] destitute of the grace of God as were the hills of Gilboa, without dew or rain. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 20

Your very many resolutions need to be reduced to one-third their number, and great care should be taken as to what resolutions are framed. Ours is missionary ground, having many advantages. If wisely improved, a much larger number of workers would be fitted to go out into the field as pastors and evangelists, but shortness of vision and the narrowness of mind in some have circumscribed the work. There is need of having vigorous efforts put forth in the churches in every conference. A living message, showing the living features of our times, should be presented to them, not in a tame, lifeless style, but in the demonstrations of the Spirit and in the power of God. Responsibilities must be laid upon individual members of the church. A missionary spirit should be awakened, and wise workers appointed as they are needed, who will be active pastors, making personal efforts to bring the church up to that condition where spiritual death will not be seen in all her borders. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 21

There was much said to me in reference to other departments of the work which I will not at this time write. When I came to know where I was, I was sitting up in bed, weary, and my heart very, very sad. I arose and prayed and tried to write. The knowledge, Brother [Butler], communicated to me at that time and since then in regard to your positions and feelings has distressed me beyond measure. The positions and ideas also which are entertained by Elder [Smith] are of that character to lead you both to occupy incorrect positions, where it would be impossible for me to stand with you. If you maintain these positions, I shall be compelled, not only to differ with you in some things, but to withstand your ideas and your influence. I was never more conscious of this than during the experience I have had here at this meeting. I have not the least hesitancy in saying that a spirit has been brought into this meeting, not of seeking to obtain light, but to stand barricading the way, lest a ray should come into the hearts and minds of the people through some other channel than that which you had decided to be the proper one. 5LtMs, Lt 21a, 1888, par. 22