Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7 (1891-1892)


Lt 32, 1892

Brethren of the General Conference

Melbourne, Australia

December 19, 1892

See variant Lt 32a, 1892. This letter is published in entirety in GCDB 01/29/1893. See also TM 24-32.

Dear Brethren of the General Conference:

I learn that it is proposed by some of our brethren to do away with the organization of some, at least, of the branches of our work. No doubt what has led them to propose this step is that in some of our organizations the machinery has been made so complicated as really to hinder the work. This, however, is not an argument against organization, but against the perversion of it. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 1

It is nearly forty years since organization was introduced among us as a people. I was one of the number who had an experience in establishing it from the first. I know the difficulties that had to be met, the evils which it was designed to correct, and I have watched its influence in connection with the growth of the cause. At an early stage in the work, God gave us special light upon this point; and this light, together with the lessons that experience has taught us, should be carefully considered. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 2

From the first our work was aggressive. Our numbers were few, and mostly from the poorer class. Our views were almost unknown to the world. We had no houses of worship, but few publications, and very limited facilities for carrying forward our work. The sheep were scattered in the highways and byways, in cities, in towns, in forests. The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus was our message. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 3

“Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise: and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world, and the things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and redemption that, according as it is written, He that glorifieth, let him glory in the Lord.” [1 Corinthians 1:26-31.] 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 4

Our members gradually increased. The seed sown was watered of God and He gave the increase. At first we assembled for worship, and presented the truth to those who would come to hear, in private houses, in large kitchens, in barns, in groves, and in school houses; but it was not long before we were able to build humble houses of worship. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 5

As our numbers increased, it was evident that without some form of organization there would be great confusion, and the work could not be carried forward successfully. To provide for the support of the ministry, for carrying the work in new fields, for protecting both the churches and the ministry from unworthy members, for holding church property, for the publication of the truth through the press, and for many other objects, organization was indispensable. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 6

Yet there was a strong feeling against it among our people. The First Day Adventists were opposed to organization, and most of the Seventh-day Adventists entertained the same ideas. We sought the Lord with earnest prayer that we might understand His will, and light was given to us by His Spirit, that there must be order and thorough discipline in the church—that organization was essential. System and order are manifest in all the works of God throughout the universe. Order is the law of heaven, and it should be the law among God’s people on the earth. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 7

In a Testimony first published in 1859 in regard to systematic benevolence are these words: 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 8

“There is order in heaven, and God is pleased with the efforts of His people in trying to move with system and order in His work on earth. I saw that there should be order in the church of God, and that system is needed in carrying forward successfully the last great message of mercy to the world.” [Testimonies for the Church 1:191.] 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 9

Again I quote from Testimony 6, on another point: 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 10

“As we near the close of time, Satan comes down with great power, knowing that his time is short. Especially will his power be exercised upon the remnant. He will war against them and seek to divide and scatter them, that they may grow weak and be overthrown. The people of God should move understandingly, and should be united in their efforts. They should be of the same mind, of the same judgment; then their efforts will not be scattered, but will tell forcibly in the upbuilding of the cause of the present truth. Order must be observed, and there must be union in maintaining order, or Satan will take the advantage. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 11

“I saw that the enemy would come in every way possible to dishearten the people of God and perplex and trouble them, and that they should move understandingly and prepare themselves for the attacks of Satan. Matters pertaining to the church should not be left in an unsettled condition. Steps should be taken to secure church property for the cause of God, that the work may not be retarded in its progress, and that the means which persons wish to dedicate to God’s cause may not slip into the enemy’s ranks. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 12

“I saw that God’s people should act wisely, and leave nothing undone on their part to place the business of the church in a secure state. Then after all is done that they can do, they should trust the Lord to overrule these things for them, that Satan take no advantage of God’s remnant people. It is Satan’s time to work. A stormy future is before us; and the church should be awake to make an advance move that they may stand securely against his plans. It is time that something was done. God is not pleased to have His people leave the matters of the church at loose ends, and suffer the enemy to have the whole advantage and control affairs as best pleases him.” [Testimonies for the Church 1:210, 211.] 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 13

The following were published from 1862 to 1868: 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 14

“Unless the churches are so organized that they can carry out and enforce order, they have nothing to hope for in the future: they must scatter into fragments. Previous teachings have nourished the elements of disunion. A spirit has been cherished to watch and accuse, rather than to build up. If ministers of God would unitedly take their position, and maintain it with decision, there would be a uniting influence among the flock of God. Separating bars would be broken to fragments. Hearts would flow together and unite like drops of water. Then there would be a power and strength in the ranks of Sabbath-keepers far exceeding anything we have yet witnessed. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 15

“The hearts of God’s servants are made sad, as they journey from church to church, by meeting the opposing influence of other ministering brethren. There are those who have stood ready to oppose every advance step that God’s people have taken. The hearts of those who have dared to venture out are saddened and distressed by the lack of union of action on the part of their fellow laborers. We are living in a solemn time. Satan and evil angels are working with mighty power with the world on their side to help them. And professed Sabbathkeepers who profess to believe solemn, important truth, unite their forces with the combined influence of the powers of darkness to distract and tear down that which God designs to build up. The influence of such is recorded as of those who retard the advance of reform among God’s people.” [Testimonies for the Church 1:270, 271.] 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 16

“There are many restless spirits who will not submit to discipline, system, and order. They think that their liberties would be abridged were they to lay aside their own judgment and submit to the judgment of those of experience. The work of God will not progress unless there is a disposition to submit to order and expel the reckless, disorderly spirit of fanaticism from their meetings.” [Testimonies for the Church 1:413.] 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 17

“Ministers should love order and should discipline themselves, and then they can successfully discipline the church of God and teach them to work harmoniously like a well-drilled company of soldiers. If discipline and order are necessary for successful action on the battlefield, the same are as much more needful in the warfare in which we are engaged as the object to be gained is of greater value and more elevated in character than those for which opposing forces contend on the field of battle. In the conflict in which we are engaged, eternal interests are at stake.” 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 18

“Angels work harmoniously. Perfect order characterizes all their movements. The more closely we imitate the harmony and order of the angelic host, the more successful will be the efforts of these heavenly agents in our behalf. If we see no necessity for harmonious action, and are disorderly, undisciplined, and disorganized in our course of action, angels, who are thoroughly organized and move in perfect order, can not work for us successfully. They turn away in grief, for they are not authorized to bless confusion, distraction, and disorganization. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 19

“All who desire the co-operation of the heavenly messengers must work in unison with them. Those who have the unction from on high will in all their efforts encourage order, discipline, and union of action, and then the angels of God can co-operate with them. But never, never will these heavenly messengers place their endorsement upon irregularity, disorganization, and disorder. All these evils are the result of Satan’s efforts to weaken our forces, to destroy courage, and prevent successful action. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 20

“Satan well knows that success can only attend order and harmonious action. He well knows that everything connected with heaven is in perfect order, that subjection and thorough discipline mark the movements of the angelic host. It is his studied effort to lead professed Christians just as far from heaven’s arrangement as he can; therefore he deceives even the professed people of God and makes them believe that order and discipline are enemies to spirituality, that the only safety for them is to let each pursue his own course, and to remain especially distinct from bodies of Christians who are united, and are laboring to establish discipline and harmony of action. All the efforts made to establish this are considered dangerous, a restriction of rightful liberty, and hence are feared as popery. These deceived souls consider it a virtue to boast of their freedom to think and act independently. They will not take any man’s say-so. They are amenable to no man. It was and now is Satan’s special work to lead men to feel that it is God’s order to strike out for themselves and choose their own order, independent of their brethren. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 21

“I was pointed back to the children of Israel. Very soon after leaving Egypt they were organized and most thoroughly disciplined. God had in His special providence qualified Moses to stand at the head of the armies of Israel. He had been a mighty warrior to lead the armies of the Egyptians, and in generalship he could surpass any man. The Lord did not leave His holy tabernacle to be borne indiscriminately by any tribe that might choose. He was so particular as to specify the order He would have observed in bearing the sacred ark and to designate a special family of the tribe of the Levites to bear it. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 22

“When it was for the good of the people and to the glory of God that they should pitch their tents in a certain place, God signified His will to them by causing the pillar of cloud to rest directly over the tabernacle, where it remained until He would have them journey again. In all their journeying they were required to observe perfect order. Each tribe had a standard with the sign of their father’s tribe, and each was required to pitch under its own standard. When the ark moved, the armies journeyed, the different tribes marching in order, under their own standards. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 23

“The Levites were designated by the Lord as the tribe in the midst of whom the sacred ark was to be borne, Moses and Aaron marching just in front of the ark, and the sons of Aaron following near them, each bearing trumpets. They were to receive directions from Moses, which they were to signify to the people by speaking through the trumpets. These trumpets gave special sounds which the people knew and understood and directed their movements accordingly. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 24

“A special signal was first given by the trumpeters to call the attention of the people; then all were to be attentive and obey the certain sounds of the trumpets. There was no confusion of sound in the voices of the trumpets, therefore there was no excuse for confusion in movements. The head officer of each company gave definite directions in regard to the movements they were required to make, and none who gave attention were left in ignorance of what they were to do. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 25

“If any failed to comply with the requirements given by the Lord to Moses, and by Moses to the people, they were punished with death. It would be no excuse to plead that they knew not the nature of these requirements, for they would only prove themselves willingly ignorant, and would receive the just punishment for their transgression. If they did not know the will of God concerning them, it was their own fault. They had the same opportunities to obtain the knowledge imparted as others of the people had, therefore their sin of not knowing, not understanding, was as great in the sight of God as if they had heard and then transgressed. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 26

“The Lord designated a special family of the tribe of Levi to bear the ark; and others of the Levites were specially appointed of God to bear the tabernacle and all its furniture, and to perform the work of setting up and taking down the tabernacle. And if any man from curiosity or from lack of order got out of his place and touched any part of the sanctuary or furniture, or even came near any of the workmen, he was to be put to death. God did not leave His holy tabernacle to be borne, erected, and taken down, indiscriminately, by any tribe who might choose the office; but persons were chosen who could appreciate the sacredness of the work in which they were engaged. ... 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 27

“Has God changed from a God of order? No; He is the same in the present dispensation as in the former. Paul says, ‘God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.’ [1 Corinthians 14:33.] He is as particular now as then. And He designs that we should learn lessons of order and organization from the perfect order instituted in the days of Moses for the benefit of the children of Israel.”—Testimonies for the Church 1:649-653. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 28

The Lord has continued to give light from time to time in regard to the importance of maintaining order. Reproofs and warnings have been given to those who started out to labor according to their own judgment, feeling that they were not amenable to any one and having no regard for the general interest of the cause of God. Physicians who practiced among the churches have been reproved for their course in establishing themselves wherever they pleased and working according to their own judgment from a selfish standpoint. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 29

I have been shown that physicians who practice in our churches should come under the supervision of the church as fully as the minister. If they do not maintain strict integrity, it is the duty of the church to labor with them according to the instruction of the law of God. And the direction that Christ has given in (Matthew 18) concerning our duty to those who fall into error and sin reveals the fact that there is to be thorough organization in the church. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 30

We had a hard struggle in establishing organization. Notwithstanding that the Lord gave testimony after testimony upon this point, the opposition was strong, and it had to be met again and again. But we knew that the Lord God of Israel was leading us, and guiding by His providence. We engaged in the work of organization, and marked prosperity attended the advance movement. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 31

As the development of the work called us to engage in new enterprises, we were prepared to enter upon them. The Lord directed our minds to the importance of the educational work. We saw the need of schools, that our children might receive instruction free from the errors of false philosophy, that their training might be in harmony with the principles of the Word of God. The need of a health institution had been urged upon us, both for the help and instruction of our own people and as a means of blessing and enlightenment to others. This enterprise also was carried forward. All this was missionary work of the highest order. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 32

Our work was not sustained by large gifts or legacies, for we have few wealthy men among us. What is the secret of our prosperity? We have moved under the orders of the Captain of our salvation. God has blessed our united efforts. The truth has spread and flourished. Institutions have multiplied. The mustard seed has grown to a great tree. The system of organization has proved a grand success. Systematic benevolence was entered into according to Bible plans. The body has been “compacted by that which every joint supplieth.” [Ephesians 4:16.] As we have advanced, our system of organization has still proved effectual. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 33

In some parts of the work, it is true, the machinery has been made too complicated; especially has this been the case in the tract and missionary work; the multiplication of rules and regulations made is needlessly burdensome. An effort should be made to simplify the work so as to avoid all needless labor and perplexity. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 34

The business of our conference sessions has sometimes been burdened down with propositions and resolutions that were not at all essential, and that would never have been presented if the sons and daughters of God had been walking carefully and prayerfully before Him. The fewer rules and regulations that we can have, the better will be the effect in the end. When they are made, let them be carefully considered, and, if wise, let it be seen that they mean something, and are not to become a dead letter. Do not, however, encumber any branch of the work with unnecessary, burdensome restrictions and inventions of men. In this period of the world’s history, with the vast work that is before us, we need to observe the greatest simplicity, and the work will be the stronger for its simplicity. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 35

Let none entertain the thought, however, that we can dispense with organization. It has cost us much study and many prayers for wisdom that we know God has answered, to erect this structure. It has been built up by His direction, through much sacrifice and conflict. Let none of our brethren be so deceived as to attempt to tear it down, for you will thus bring in a condition of things that you do not dream of. In the name of the Lord I declare to you that it is to stand, strengthened, established, and settled. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 36

At God’s command, “Go forward,” we advanced when the difficulties to be surmounted made the advance seem impossible. We know how much it has cost to work out God’s plans in the past, which have made us as a people what we are. Then let every one be exceedingly careful not to unsettle minds in regard to those things that God has ordained for our prosperity and success in advancing His cause. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 37

The work is soon to close. The members of the church militant who have proved faithful will become the church triumphant. In reviewing our past history, having travelled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what the Lord has wrought, I am filled with astonishment and with confidence in Christ our leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history. We are now a strong people, if we will put our trust in the Lord; for we are handling the mighty truths of the Word of God. We have everything to be thankful for. If we walk in the light as it shines upon us from the living oracles of God, we shall have large responsibilities, corresponding to the great light given us of God. We have many duties to perform because we have been made the depositories of sacred truth to be given to the world in all its beauty and glory. We are debtors to God to use every advantage He has entrusted to us to beautify the truth by holiness of character, and to send the messages of warning, and of comfort, of hope and love, to those who are in darkness of error and sin. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 38

Thank God for what has already been done in providing for our youth facilities for religious and intellectual training. Many have been educated to act a part in the various branches of the work, not only in America, but in foreign lands. The press has furnished literature that has spread far and wide the knowledge of the truth. Let all the gifts that like rivulets have swelled the stream of benevolence be recognized as a cause of thanksgiving to God. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 39

We have an army of youth today who can do much if they are properly directed and encouraged. We want our children to believe the truth. We want them to be blessed of God. We want them to act a part in well organized plans for helping other youth. Let all be so trained that they may rightly represent the truth, giving the reason of the hope that is within them, and honoring God in any branch of the work where they are qualified to labor. 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 40

We are still free to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience. As the disciples of Christ it is our duty to diffuse light which we know that the world has not. Let the people of God “be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” [1 Timothy 6:18, 19.] 7LtMs, Lt 32, 1892, par. 41