Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 6 (1889-1890)


Lt 29, 1890

Van Horn, Brother

Petoskey, Michigan

August 5, 1890

Portions of this letter are published in Ev 283, 441-442; 9MR 173.

Dear Brother Van Horn:

I have a burden on my mind in regard to the Michigan Conference. Do you remember my words in the church at Potterville? I said, “Brethren, you have chosen Elder Van Horn as president of your conference. He has the qualifications of a sermonizer, but is not qualified to minister. If there are persons of far-seeing discernment and good judgment who study from cause to effect and who are prompt to plan and execute, who will stand by his side to counsel with him, if Elder Van Horn will not become stereotyped in his own ideas and ways, then he can serve as your president; but he has serious defects of character; he can never bear successfully the responsibilities of this great conference unless others will come in to cooperate with him and to supply what he lacks. It is not an easy matter for him to make any material change in his habits, customs, or plans. He is too fixed in his habits.” 6LtMs, Lt 29, 1890, par. 1

Brother Van Horn, you do not see the necessity of calling together the old hands in the cause, and setting your plans before them and asking their counsel. You need men of other and varied talents to counsel and plan with you. But you do not talk over matters freely with your brethren. 6LtMs, Lt 29, 1890, par. 2

This I was taught my husband should do, and he obeyed the injunction of the Spirit of God. He called together his brethren, and urged them to express their mind as to the way in which the work should go, and not a move was made independently. Those experienced brethren felt that they shared the responsibility, and we carried the people with us in our efforts for the upbuilding of the work. Thus it should ever be. One man’s judgment may be deficient in many respects, but in a multitude of counselors there is safety. 6LtMs, Lt 29, 1890, par. 3

Elder Van Horn, you must come close to your brethren. There are men of responsibility whose advice will be valuable to you. Unless the influence of such men can be brought in to work a change in your management, the Michigan Conference will lose confidence in you as a manager, or they will lose courage, and fail to do their duty in sustaining the cause of God with their influence and their means, and pushing the work forward as God desires them to do. 6LtMs, Lt 29, 1890, par. 4

Michigan needs to have a work done in her churches that is left almost untouched. There must be greater efficiency in the laborers and in the men who have the oversight of the work, if spiritual prosperity is to be found in all her borders. Men are needed who will be prompt to see and execute. 6LtMs, Lt 29, 1890, par. 5

Those who go out as laborers under the sanction of the conference are to be judged not by their credentials, but by the fruit they bear. Do they preach from the Bible in the pulpit, and then show their disregard of the Bible by their practice out of the desk? Are they vain, light, and trifling, one in spirit with the unconsecrated, the unconverted? If this is all the burden they bear for souls perishing out of Christ, if this is their example before believers, then hands have been laid upon them suddenly. They deny Christ by their disorderly walk and unholy conversation. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” [Matthew 12:34.] Their freedom of speech upon common, earthly things, shows plainly that Jesus is not abiding in their hearts by faith, and they are far from growing in grace and the knowledge of Christ. Earthly things are placed before spiritual. 6LtMs, Lt 29, 1890, par. 6

It is not the work of Christ’s followers to cherish pride, to gratify ambition, or to indulge appetite, living for self, loving self, pleasing self, under a profession of Christianity. All this is a denial of Christ. Such a class Paul describes: “Many walk of whom I have told you before, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.” [Philippians 3:18.] They misrepresent Christ. 6LtMs, Lt 29, 1890, par. 7

Only he who has genuine faith is one with Christ. He will testify hourly by his circumspect course of conduct, “I am one with Christ, as Christ is one with the Father.” In his daily life he practices the principles of the Word of God. The Bible is the man of his counsel. He does not mind the things of the flesh, but the things of the Spirit. Such a man will not dishonor the truth and bring a reproach upon the cause of God. He will not do a dishonest act, and if he has departed from strict integrity, in any business deal, he will not rest until the wrong is righted. 6LtMs, Lt 29, 1890, par. 8

Brother Van Horn, it is not your duty at our camp meetings, to engage in manual labor. That belongs to the laymen. They should be educated to attend to the fitting up of the grounds. As president, you should apply yourself more thoroughly to plan for the spiritual interests of the meeting, consulting with your ministering brethren. Let your efficiency be seen in this direction. 6LtMs, Lt 29, 1890, par. 9

You love to preach, and should have a chance to preach wherever you go. You can do a good work in this line; but this is not all the work essential to be done—the people need to be taught, to be educated. Many of the sermons given would, if cut short one-half, be far more beneficial to the hearers. Take time to teach, to hold Bible readings. Get the points and texts fastened in the minds of the hearers. Let them ask questions, and answer them in the plainest, simplest manner possible, so that the mind can grasp the truths presented. 6LtMs, Lt 29, 1890, par. 10

It is very hard for you to get away from your preconceived opinions, your old stated discourses, and give the Spirit of the Lord a chance to impress and lead out your mind. You can and should sink the shaft deep in the mines of truth, and be ever finding the new, precious ore which lies hidden beneath the surface. Recover the buried treasure, the precious things of God’s Word, that you may impart to your hearers. You must become a learner if you would be a teacher, presenting things new and old. We may be continually discovering rich veins of precious truth, priceless treasure for God’s people. 6LtMs, Lt 29, 1890, par. 11

Teach as Christ taught. Study His example, His methods of teaching. He preached few sermons, but wherever He went, crowds gathered to listen to His instruction. The ministers must be educated to work more according to the Divine pattern. You have not yet taken up the work of educating. The people will listen to sermon after sermon, and they can retain but a few points in the discourse, and these lose their force upon the mind; other things come in to choke the seed of truth. Now the Lord’s way is the best way, to impress upon minds, point by point, the truths that are for their eternal interest to know. Let the soil of the heart be prepared and the seed be so planted that it will spring up and bear fruit. 6LtMs, Lt 29, 1890, par. 12

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convince the soul of its need of Christ. Many are convicted of sin, and feel their need of a sin-pardoning Saviour; but they are merely dissatisfied with their pursuits and aims, and if there is not [a] decided application of the truth to their hearts, if words are not spoken at the right moment, calling for decision from the weight of evidence, already presented, the convicted ones pass on without identifying themselves with Christ, the golden opportunity passes, and they have not yielded, and they go farther and farther away from the truth, farther away from Jesus and never taking their stand on the Lord’s side. Now the minister is not merely to present the Word of God in such a manner as to convince of sin in a general way, but he is to lift up Christ before his hearers. Christ’s claims upon them are to be made plain. The people should be urged to decide just now to be on the Lord’s side. Personal efforts should be made. 6LtMs, Lt 29, 1890, par. 13

Satan is working with all his hellish arts and the Lord’s human agents must work with as much determination. They must not fail nor be discouraged. They must win souls as seals and evidences of their ministry. There must be no halfway work in the Lord’s service. Where the Spirit of Christ is, there is spirituality, there are earnest appeals, there are activity and zeal in behalf of Christ. 6LtMs, Lt 29, 1890, par. 14