Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 6 (1889-1890)


Lt 15, 1890

Irwin, Brother

Petoskey, Michigan

August 12, 1890

Portions of this letter are published in Ev 642-644; 8MR 338.

Dear Brother Irwin,

I thought that I might come to your camp meeting in Ohio, and risk enduring the hot weather; but I cannot feel free to do this, and therefore will write to you. 6LtMs, Lt 15, 1890, par. 1

There is one man in your conference (I know not his name) who should not be connected with the conference as a minister, for his influence on the minds of those seeking the truth is unfavorable. He was pointed out to me, and these words were spoken: “The cause of God in Ohio is in no need of unconverted jolly ministers. This man’s spirit is not at all in harmony with the solemn work in which we are engaged.” The truth we profess to believe needs no <trifling> men to present it. One man with such a light and jovial disposition will do more in leavening the churches with the same spirit than ten good men can do to remove the impression. 6LtMs, Lt 15, 1890, par. 2

I cannot express to you my burden and distress of mind as the true condition of the cause in Ohio was presented before me. There are men in the Ohio Conference, working in the capacity of teachers of the truth, who need to learn their first lessons in the school of Christ. The converting power of God must come upon the hearts of the ministers, or they should seek some other calling. If Christ’s ambassadors realize the solemnity of presenting the truth to the people, they will be sober, thoughtful men, workers together with God. If they have a true sense of the commission which Christ gave to His disciples, they will with reverence open the Word of God, and listen for instruction from the Lord, asking for wisdom from heaven, that as they stand between the living and the dead, they may realize that they must render an account to God for the work coming forth from their hands. 6LtMs, Lt 15, 1890, par. 3

What can the minister do without Jesus? Verily, nothing. Then if he is a frivolous, joking man, he is not prepared to perform the duty laid upon him by the Lord. “Without me,” says Christ, “ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] The flippant words that fall from his lips, the trifling anecdotes, the words spoken to create a laugh, are all condemned by the word of God; and are entirely out of place in the sacred desk. 6LtMs, Lt 15, 1890, par. 4

I tell you plainly, my brother, unless the ministers are converted <men>, your churches will be sickly and ready to die. God’s power alone can change the human heart, and imbue it with the love of Christ. God’s power alone can correct and subdue the passions and sanctify the affections. All who minister must humble their proud hearts, submit their will to the will of God, and hide their life with Christ in God. 6LtMs, Lt 15, 1890, par. 5

What is the object of the ministry? Is it to mix the comical with the religious? The theater is the place for such exhibitions. If Christ is formed within, if the truth with its sanctifying power is brought into the inner sanctuary of the soul, you will not have jolly men, neither will you have sour, cross, crabbed men to teach the precious lessons of Christ to perishing souls. 6LtMs, Lt 15, 1890, par. 6

If ever a conference needed to fast and pray, and to humble their hearts before God and become converted, it is the Ohio Conference. The ministers need a transformation of character. They should feel that if their works are not wrought in God, if they are left to their own imperfect efforts, they are of all men the most miserable. Christ will be with every minister, who, although he may not have attained to perfection of character, is seeking most earnestly to become Christlike. Such a minister will pray. He will weep between the porch and the altar, crying in soul anguish for the Lord’s presence to be with him, else he cannot stand before the people, with all heaven looking upon him, and the angel’s pen taking note of his words, his deportment, and his spirit. 6LtMs, Lt 15, 1890, par. 7

O that men would fear the Lord! O that they would love the Lord! O that the messengers of God would feel the burden of perishing souls! Then they would not merely speechify, but they would have the power of God vitalizing their souls, and their hearts would glow with the fire of God’s love. Out of weakness they would become strong; for they would be doers of the work. They would hear the voice of Jesus: “Lo! I am with you alway.” [Matthew 28:20.] Jesus would be their teacher, and the word they minister would be quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Just in proportion as the speaker appreciates the divine presence, and honors and trusts the power of God, is he acknowledged as a laborer together with God. Just in this proportion does he become mighty through God. 6LtMs, Lt 15, 1890, par. 8

There needs to be an elevating, uplifting power, a constant growth in knowledge of God and the truth, on the part of one who is seeking the salvation of souls. If the minister utters words drawn from the living oracles of God; if he believes in and expects the cooperation of Christ, whose servant he is; if he hides self and exalts Jesus, the world’s Redeemer, his words will reach the hearts of his hearers, and his work will bear the divine credentials. The Holy Spirit must be the living agency to convince of sin. The Divine Agent presents to the speaker the benefits of the sacrifice made upon the cross, and as the truth is brought in contact with the souls present, Christ wins them to himself, and works to transform their nature. He is ready to help our infirmities, to teach, to lead, to inspire us with ideas that are of heavenly birth. 6LtMs, Lt 15, 1890, par. 9

How little can men do in the work of saving souls, and yet how much through Christ, if they are imbued with His spirit! The human teacher cannot read the hearts of his hearers, but Jesus dispenses the grace that every soul needs. He understands the capabilities of man, his weakness and his strength. The Lord is working on the human heart, and a minister can be, to the souls who are listening to his words, a savor of death unto death, turning them away from Christ; or, if he is consecrated, devotional, distrustful of self, but looking unto Jesus, he may be a savor of life unto life to souls already under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, in whose hearts the Lord is preparing the way for the messages which He has given to the human agent. Thus the heart of the unbeliever is touched, and it responds to the message of truth. “Ye are laborers together with God.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] The convictions implanted in the heart and the enlightenment of the understanding by the entrance of the Word, work in perfect harmony. The truth brought before the mind, has power to arouse the dormant energies of the soul. The Spirit of God working in the heart cooperates with the working of God through His human instrumentalities. When ministers realize the necessity of thorough reformation in themselves, when they feel that they must reach a higher standard, their influence upon the churches will be uplifting and refining. 6LtMs, Lt 15, 1890, par. 10

There are sinners in the ministry. They are not agonizing to enter in at the strait gate. God does not work with them, for He cannot endure the presence of sin. It is the thing that His soul hates. Even the angels that stood about His throne, whom He loves but who kept not their first estate of loyalty, He cast out of heaven with their rebel leader. Holiness is the foundation of God’s throne; sin is the opposite of holiness. Sin crucified the Son of God. If men could see how hateful sin is, they would not tolerate it, nor educate themselves in it. They would reform in life and character. Secret faults would be overcome. If you are to be saints in heaven, you must first be saints upon the earth. 6LtMs, Lt 15, 1890, par. 11

There is great need that the brethren in Ohio overcome secret faults. The displeasure of God, like a dark cloud, hangs over that conference. The churches are weak. Selfishness, uncharitableness, covetousness, envy, evil-surmising, falsehood, theft, robbery, sensuality, licentiousness, and adultery stand registered against some who claim to believe the solemn, sacred truth for this time. How can these accursed things be cleansed out of the camp, when men who claim to be Christians are practicing them constantly? They are somewhat careful of their ways before men, but they are an offense to God. His pure eyes see, a Witness records, all their sins, both open and secret; and unless they repent, and confess their sins before God, unless they fall on the Rock and are broken, their sins will remain charged against them in the books of record. O! fearful histories will be opened to the world at the Judgment, histories of sins never confessed, of sins not blotted out. O, that these poor souls might see that they are heaping up wrath against the day of wrath. Then the actions, as well as the thoughts of the heart, will be revealed. I tell you, my brethren and sisters in Ohio, there is need of humbling your souls before God. “Cease to do evil,” but do not stop here: “learn to do well.” [Isaiah 1:16, 17.] You can glorify God only by bearing fruit to His glory. 6LtMs, Lt 15, 1890, par. 12

Ministers, for Christ’s sake begin the work for yourselves. By your unsanctified lives you have laid stumbling-blocks before your own children and before unbelievers. Some of you move by impulse, act from passion and prejudice, and bring impure, tainted offerings to God. For Christ’s sake cleanse the camp by beginning the personal work of purifying the soul, through the grace of Christ, from moral defilement. A jovial minister in the pulpit, or one who is stretching beyond his measure to win praise, is a spectacle that crucifies the Son of God afresh, and puts Him to open shame. There must be thorough repentance, faith in our Saviour Jesus Christ, vigilant watchfulness, unceasing prayer, and diligent searching of the Scriptures. 6LtMs, Lt 15, 1890, par. 13

God holds us responsible for all that we might be if we would improve our talents; and we shall be judged according to what we ought to have been but were not; what we might have done but did not accomplish, because we did not use our powers to glorify God. For all knowledge that we might have gained but did not, there will be an eternal loss, even if we do not lose our souls. All our influence belongs to God. All that we acquire is to be used to His glory. All the property that the Lord has intrusted to us is to be held on the altar of God, to be returned to Him again. We are working out our own destiny. May God help us all to be wise for eternity. 6LtMs, Lt 15, 1890, par. 14

I will write to Brother Saxby soon. Hoping that the Lord will work mightily in your camp meeting, I remain your sister in the faith and love of God. 6LtMs, Lt 15, 1890, par. 15