Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7 (1891-1892)


Lt 8, 1892

Health Retreat Officers

North Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia

March 14, 1892

Previously unpublished.

I address this letter to the superintendent of the Health Retreat, to the Board, and to those who are specially interested in the institution. I understand that Dr. Burke has remarked that the testimonies could not be true because Sister White has said that she has been shown that Dr. Gibbs is the man for the place. I do not remember saying that I had been shown this; but I may have done so. 7LtMs, Lt 8, 1892, par. 1

But now Dr. Burke says, Why was Dr. Gibbs disconnected from the Health Retreat? The reason Dr. Gibbs himself gave at the time of his leaving was that he wished to visit hospitals and fit himself to do better work. He himself made the arrangement, and as I understood that the patients were not entirely satisfied because he did not give them the prompt attention that he should, which I knew was true, I did not oppose his leaving, but felt distressed in regard to the matter. Otherwise than this there was no reason for his leaving that I know of. 7LtMs, Lt 8, 1892, par. 2

Then Dr. Burke began his work there, as he stated, to redeem the past. He proposed to go back into the institution, and seek to lift and help it to the extent of which he had hurt it. I had no voice or influence in making the change. I was not so sure that Dr. Burke was one in whom we could put all the confidence we ought to put in a man in this position. The board well knew my position, for I told them plainly I had no light in making this change. After Dr. Burke had confessed before quite a large number that he accepted the testimonies and all that had been given in relation to his case, I thought the man was in earnest. I thought he stated his true feelings and that, as in many other similar cases, the Lord would bring him over the ground again and test him to see whether he would again prove a traitor to the cause. 7LtMs, Lt 8, 1892, par. 3

In the matter of Dr. Gibbs leaving the institution, it was presented to me that Dr. Gibbs had decided to leave anyhow in order to have some months of practice in hospitals. I reasoned that the Lord was working on the heart and conscience of Dr. Burke, and, in the providence of God, he would have another trial, be tested and proved on the points where he had failed in the past. Although I have borne testimonies of reproof to Dr. Gibbs, I have never lost confidence in him, for I have had clear light that he was a child of God, and earnestly desired to do God’s will. 7LtMs, Lt 8, 1892, par. 4

The history of Dr. Burke is before you. For a time he seemed to do well; his purposes, I believe, were sincere. His act in making restitution was fruit meet for repentance; but the course which Brother H’s family and several others of the St. Helena church have pursued towards him has not been in accordance with the specified directions of the Word of God. They have addressed to him words of adulation, they have exalted finite man, lifting him up as a god. In this they have revealed great weakness, and I have but little confidence in their spiritual discernment, and less confidence that their influence is of a Christlike order. I have been shown that unless they are converted and possess a different spirit they would be only an annoyance and a stumbling block to those who should seek to build up the institution at Crystal Springs. If they, and several others were located many miles from the Health Retreat, it would be better for the institution. They do not intend to do wrong; but they are in the dark. Their eyesight is blinded, and they need the heavenly anointing. Unless they have a deep and thorough work done for them, some of the delusions of these last days will bring them into captivity to the powers of darkness, and they will never know at what they stumble. They have not stood in the light, they have exalted Dr. Burke, although his past course in some things was about as bad as it could be in regard to the Health Retreat. 7LtMs, Lt 8, 1892, par. 5

When will the church of God learn wisdom? When will they learn to cease praising and exalting man? Elder [E. P.] Daniels might have recovered from the snare of the devil if the brethren had acted wisely; but they showed that they were depending on the man, Daniels, to do a work for them in Fresno. And the Lord let them see their folly, for He removed His wisdom from him and left him to his own weakness, that those who trusted in him might see they were leaning on a broken reed. 7LtMs, Lt 8, 1892, par. 6

“Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” [Jeremiah 9:23, 24.] “But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” [2 Corinthians 10:17, 18.] 7LtMs, Lt 8, 1892, par. 7

Is it not time for us individually to walk circumspectly, and not as fools? Is it not time that we should be more cautious in regard to placing too much confidence in man, praising and extolling and glorifying the human? While we should treat all courteously, we should not make idols or gods of erring, finite man. 7LtMs, Lt 8, 1892, par. 8

Letters have come to me from different ones, asking me what I thought concerning Dr. Gibbs taking his position again in the Health Retreat. I would answer to the best of my ability. They say they do not know why he was not retained and think that there may have been something connected with his separation from the Retreat of which they are not aware. I will say as far as the light given me of the Lord would indicate, that there has not been a man in the institution, acting in the capacity of physician and surgeon, who possesses the ability and skill in the surgical line that Dr. Gibbs possesses. Dr. Gibbs has his weak points of character; but Dr. Burke’s defects are far more marked, subtle, and dangerous. Dr. Maxson has his weak points of character, and is far from being a perfect physician, for he has not depth of knowledge, or thoroughness and skill in practice. Deficient men may be, but if they will keep humble and not boast of themselves, but trust in God, the great Physician will educate and train them and fit them as under-physicians for high service in His cause. 7LtMs, Lt 8, 1892, par. 9

When men are ready to tear down institutions, to depreciate others in order to build up themselves, always be afraid of them, for they have separated themselves from God, are walking in the sparks of their own kindling, and will lie down in sorrow. Self is altogether too prominent, and selfishness will be exhibited in many ways. A great reformation must take place in those who manifest this spirit or they will never see the kingdom of heaven. Things which they cherish, as zeal for the truth, is zeal for their own way; and they set themselves as stubbornly as did Saul to carry out their own ideas. 7LtMs, Lt 8, 1892, par. 10

It is a time now when character is being developed and tested. Angels of God are not weighing men according to the opinions which they have of themselves, but measuring them by their real moral worth as God estimates them. Now is the time of probation of all the just, and the spirit which prompts to action in the daily, practical life will determine the goodness, the faithfulness, and provide for promotion in the future, immortal life. 7LtMs, Lt 8, 1892, par. 11

Self-confidence is an offence to God. The members of the family above will not be independent, they will not think their ideas are infallible and think every other man’s opinion inferior to their own. All those who cherish this spirit will have to be converted before they can become members of the royal family, for their egotism, their depreciation of others, who are far more worthy in the sight of God than they are themselves, would create disturbance in heaven. Among the children of God, there must be perfect unity, heart blending with heart. All pomposity, all narrow selfishness, must be uprooted from the soul; self must be crucified in order that Jesus may mold and fashion the character. 7LtMs, Lt 8, 1892, par. 12

I am thoroughly in earnest and terribly disgusted with the exhibitions of self-confidence and self-sufficiency which are cropping out everywhere. Character is being weighed in the golden balances of the sanctuary. Saith the Lord, “I know thy works.” [Revelation 3:15.] We may know that God is acquainted with every thought, every action; and we shall be judged according to God’s ideas, and not according to our estimate of ourselves. 7LtMs, Lt 8, 1892, par. 13

In regard to Dr. Burke, I am greatly relieved that he is to be separated from the Health Retreat. I hope the Lord God will direct in all things, so that the Health Retreat shall be managed from a high, holy standpoint and that corruption shall not come into it. Dr. Burke’s praise of himself, his boasting of his much knowledge, was simply boasting, for in many respects he is not a skilled physician. If the Lord’s power converts him, transforms him, he can learn of one who knows more than he does; but unless he is converted, no one under heaven can instruct or counsel him. I have been shown that in many cases he has either been entirely ignorant of the nature of the disease upon the patients or he has deceived them, telling them they would recover, when death revealed the true state of the case rapidly. 7LtMs, Lt 8, 1892, par. 14

I have now presented before you the facts as they are. If Dr. Maxson and wife will walk humbly with God and bear the test and proving when brought over the ground where they have failed, the Lord will bless them. If they take a similar course to that which they did when connected with the institution before, it would be better that they should be separated from it. 7LtMs, Lt 8, 1892, par. 15

Give Dr. Gibbs standing place, for the man is as worthy of it as is Dr. Maxson. Get no new Dr. Hare, or any other new physician, and drop out Dr. Gibbs. If there should be physicians in the Health Retreat who could work there, and also find time to minister to the sick in places around the institution, it would be well; and it should have always have been thus. I think I have no more to say on this subject. I have given you the light God has given me. 7LtMs, Lt 8, 1892, par. 16