Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7 (1891-1892)


Lt 2b, 1892

Brethren and Sisters

Preston, Australia

August 3, 1892

Portions of this letter are published in TM 177-181.

My dear Brethren and Sisters,

My mind has been very much exercised for several nights, sleeping and waking, in regard to the work to be done in this country. In this wide missionary field there is a great deal to be done in advancing the cause and work of the Master, and with the great want of means and of workers we know not how it can be done. We must humble our hearts before God, and offer up sincere, fervent prayer that the Lord, who is rich in resources, will open our way. “The gold and silver is mine,” saith the Lord, “and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” [Haggai 2:8; Psalm 50:10.] 7LtMs, Lt 2b, 1892, par. 1

The life of Christ, the Lord of glory, is our example. He came from heaven, where all was riches and splendor; but He laid aside His royal crown, His royal robe, and clothed His divinity with humanity. Why? That He might meet men where they were. He did not rank Himself with the wealthy, the lordly, of earth. The mission of Christ was to reach the very poor of the earth. He Himself worked from His earliest years as the son of a carpenter. Self-denial—did He not know its meaning? The riches and glory of heaven was His own, but for our sake He became poor that we, through His poverty, might become rich. The very foundation of His mission was self-denial, self-sacrifice. The world was His; He made it; yet in a world of His own creating the Son of man had not where to lay His head. He said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.” [Matthew 8:20.] 7LtMs, Lt 2b, 1892, par. 2

Now, in the establishment and broadening of the work in this country, means will be essential, that we may do a large work in a short time. And the only way we can do is, in every movement, to keep the eye single to the glory of God so that it may not be said of us, “They began to build, and were not able to finish.” [Luke 14:30.] In leading out to do a broader work we need, at the very beginning, to put pride and worldly ambition clean out of our hearts. Having before us the example of Christ, the greatest Teacher the world ever knew, we need not make a mistake. “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” [John 8:12.] “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” [Luke 9:23.] We must study the Pattern and inquire at every step, “Is this the way of the Lord?” We shall certainly make grave mistakes if we do not keep self-denial and self-sacrifice prominent before the people in every movement. 7LtMs, Lt 2b, 1892, par. 3

In purchasing goods and furniture, let the amount to be invested be estimated as accurately as possible. We must count the cost, whether we shall be able to finish. Much means may be expended in the very beginning, which will necessitate retrenchment where it would be more keenly felt. We must have our eyes wide open now and be sharp, clear-sighted, keeping it ever in view that the object of our mission is the salvation of souls. We must teach all the believers to be self-denying and to work and live within their means. Every dollar should be expended with this in view. We want no introduction of the pride and extravagance that have characterized some of our American people in the outlay of means. 7LtMs, Lt 2b, 1892, par. 4

The Lord opened to me that should our Australian youth, and even persons of mature age, go to America to obtain their education, the habits of self-indulgence and conforming to the fashion which they would witness would be detrimental to them. Unless they were constantly looking to and learning of Jesus, they would bring back a mold of character that would be a hindrance, instead of a help and blessing to their countrymen. 7LtMs, Lt 2b, 1892, par. 5

I was shown that it would be much better for teachers who were consecrated to God and His work, who had been diligent learners in the school of Christ, to be sent to this country from America. They could meet the people where they are and educate them, not in pride, but in character building. They could ennoble them, teaching them by example how Christ worked and denied Himself, that they might know how to work in His lines. The ignorant, the sinful, must learn from Christ the simple lessons of self-denial and self-sacrifice. To be missionaries for God means very much—light-bearers to the world by pen, by voice, by distribution of leaflets and tracts, by earnest, humble prayer, by earnest appeals and warnings, as well as by a Christlike example. Thus did Christ work to reclaim the perishing. 7LtMs, Lt 2b, 1892, par. 6

The work in this missionary field is yet in its infancy. The believers have made only a beginning in the Christian life; and the reason why we have felt so great a burden for this people is that henceforth they may learn greater things. It doth not yet appear what we shall be through a practical belief in the truth and the sanctification of the entire being by the truth. The words and example of our Redeemer, in His life of humility and self-denial, will be the light and strength of His people if they follow Jesus fully, trusting in Him at every step. Let it be the language of our hearts, “Be Thou my pattern.” “He that willeth to do His will shall know of the doctrine.” [John 7:17.] Nothing is so desirable as to live as Christ lived, to deny self as Christ denied Himself, and to labor with Him in seeking to save that which was lost. 7LtMs, Lt 2b, 1892, par. 7

In regard to the outlay of means, I repeat: Do not blindly copy what you have seen in America, but work in a way appropriate for this country. Do not seek to purchase the most expensive articles because they will look nice and make a display. For your bedding and table linen purchase fabrics that are plain and durable, that will bear the wear and rough usage of school students. That which you provide will be far better than that which many of the students have been accustomed to. The finest material would be entirely out of place. We are not now by any means at the top round of the ladder; we are at the lowest round and must climb painfully step by step. Let all who shall visit the Bible school see that we follow the teachings of Christ in regard to simplicity. We want nothing for display. We must begin in great simplicity, with as little expenditure of means as possible, if we make a success of establishing the work in this country. 7LtMs, Lt 2b, 1892, par. 8

In the line of furniture, do not purchase one article merely to make a show. Get things that will be useful and that will bear handling. Educate the people to practice self-denial. Let it be considered that every dollar may represent a soul, for some one might be brought to a knowledge of the gospel through the use of that dollar in the missionary work. We may have very nice taste, and enjoy that which is beautiful and artistic, but had not Christ the very finest, purest, holiest taste? His home was heaven, yet He denied Himself; humiliation marked all His life, from the manger to Calvary. In the beginning of the work here we must not reproduce the very things the Lord has not approved in America, the needless, extravagant expenditure of money to gratify pride and love of display. Let everything of this order be scrupulously shunned. 7LtMs, Lt 2b, 1892, par. 9

In eating, dressing, and in the furnishing of our school-building, we want to preserve the simplicity of true godliness. Many will deny themselves and sacrifice much in order to contribute toward making the missionary work a success, and should they see this means expended upon the finest linen and the more expensive furniture or articles for the table, it would have a most unfortunate influence upon these brethren and sisters. Nothing could militate more decidedly against our present and future usefulness in this country. 7LtMs, Lt 2b, 1892, par. 10

The very first lesson to teach the students is self-denial. Let their eyes, their senses, take in the lesson; let all the appointments of the school convey practical instruction in this line, that the work here in Australia can be carried forward only by a constant sacrifice. Let none, as they look at your table furnishing, have occasion to say to themselves or to others, “The managers of the school must have plenty of means or they would not provide such things as these. We have never had such things at home.” 7LtMs, Lt 2b, 1892, par. 11

In every movement let us follow closely the example of our Saviour. I feel deeply over these things. I should blush with shame to stand in the pulpit and proclaim the self-denial and self-sacrifice to be made at every step, and then have the arrangements at our Bible School contradict our teaching. I am writing to Africa, pleading for means to help us, in this emergency, even to make a beginning. Brethren, let us do some most earnest thinking, and most earnest praying. 7LtMs, Lt 2b, 1892, par. 12

We must consider in what lines to work in order to secure success; we must come to the work with our hearts imbued with the Spirit of Christ. Then we shall realize that our work must be carried forward in a humble way. Our ministers and their wives should be an example in plainness of dress; and they should dress neatly, comfortable, wearing good material, but avoiding everything like extravagance and trimmings, even if not expensive, for these things tell to our disadvantage. We should educate the youth to simplicity of dress, plainness with neatness. Let the extra trimmings be left out, even though the cost be but a trifle. 7LtMs, Lt 2b, 1892, par. 13

Some have had a burden in regard to the wearing of a marriage ring, feeling that the wives of our ministers should conform to this custom. All this is unnecessary. Let the ministers’ wives have the golden link which binds their souls to Jesus Christ, a pure and holy character, the true love and meekness and godliness that are the fruit borne upon the Christian tree, and their influence will be secure anywhere. The fact that a disregard of the custom occasions remark is no good reason for adopting it. 7LtMs, Lt 2b, 1892, par. 14

Americans can make their position understood by plainly stating that we have not such custom in our country. We need not wear the sign, for we are not untrue to our marriage vow, and the wearing of a ring would be no evidence that we were true. I feel deeply over this leavening process which seems to be going on among us, in the conformity to custom and fashion. Not one penny should be spent for a circlet of gold to testify that we are married. 7LtMs, Lt 2b, 1892, par. 15

In countries where the custom is imperative, we have no burden to condemn those who have their marriage ring; let them wear it if they can do so conscientiously; but let not our missionaries feel that the wearing of the ring will increase their influence one jot or tittle. If they are Christians, it will be manifest in their Christlikeness of character, in their words, in their works, in the home, in association with others; it will be evinced by their patience and long-suffering and kindliness. They will manifest the Spirit of the Master, they will possess His beauty of character, loveliness of disposition, a sympathetic heart. 7LtMs, Lt 2b, 1892, par. 16