Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 8 (1893)


Lt 47, 1893

Prescott, W. W.

Gisborne, New Zealand

October 25, 1893

Portions of this letter are published in 6BC 1094; 2MR 217-220; 6MR 127-128; 10MR 345-347.

Dear Brother,

Your letter was received yesterday and read with interest, and I have been considering its contents. From time to time I have been compelled to urge our case upon the attention of our brethren at home. We were sent to these colonies by the conference, and again and again I have presented our situation before you at Battle Creek. But in face of all this the policy has been pursued of enlarging the institutions in Battle Creek, adding building to building, in order to accommodate a larger influx. All this is eating up the funds. I know that perilous times are upon us, and pressure for means that we do not now discern. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 1

The course that has been pursued is directly contrary to the light which God has given me. It has been stated in distinct, positive language that God is not pleased with the centering of so many important interests in Battle Creek. The time is close upon us when the reason for this will be understood; it will be no longer a matter of faith, but of experience. Instead of centering everything in Battle Creek, it would be more in harmony with God’s order to let the work be scattered over a greater amount of territory. Battle Creek is not to be a Jerusalem whither all the world are to go up to worship. Too much of our strength is centered there already. In other localities there is need of facilities and means to build up the work. There may be apparent advantages to be derived by the enlargement of the school buildings, but the movement is not in the counsel of God. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 2

There is need of far more consecrated, God-fearing educators. O, how my heart has been pained to see that the precious light given in Battle Creek at the last General Conference was not so cherished that every lamp was kept trimmed and burning, because supplied with the oil of grace. All the revelations of God at the conference, I acknowledge as from Him. I dare not say that work was excitement, and unwarranted enthusiasm. No, no. God drew near to you, and His Holy Spirit revealed to you that He had a heaven full of blessings, even light to lighten the world. But the enemy was allowed to come in and lead minds, and he did just what he will continue to do, if permitted, till the close of time; he allured souls from their allegiance, and led them to turn from the precious light and deep movings of the Spirit of God. A reaction came, and in the minds of many there was left a feeling of contempt, an impression that they might have been deceived, that they were too ardent. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 3

Had the manifestation of the Holy Spirit been rightly appreciated, it would have accomplished for the receiver that which God designed it should—a good work in the perfecting of the character in the likeness of Christ. But there was a want of consecration to God, a lack of self-denial and humiliation, and through misapplication and misappropriation the work has given rise to doubt and unbelief. It is even questioned whether it was the work of God or a wave of fanaticism. And O, how Satan exults! 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 4

Truth-loving youth had a precious view of the Saviour and desired to become like Him. Was this deception? No; it is by daily, hourly, beholding the character of Christ that we become changed into His image. And in view of the crisis just before us, the close of this earth’s history so close upon us, there should have been, on the part of all, works corresponding to the light given, and then we might confidently have expected more light. Had all used the light and grace and power that God had given to them, had every conference walked in the light, worked in the light, maintained their consecration to God, what an advanced work would have been done in flashing heaven’s light upon the pathway of others. Not one, even the smallest, ray of light need to have been eclipsed by the hellish shadow of Satan. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 5

But minds were misdirected; amusements absorbed and perverted the mind. Among the youth the passion for football games and other kindred selfish gratifications have been misleading in their influence. Watchfulness and prayer and daily consecration to God have not been maintained. Converse, communion with God, is life to the soul. The light has been beclouded, and it was well-pleasing to Satan to have the impression go forth that notwithstanding the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit in behalf of our institutions of learning, and the office of publication and the church, they fell back to be overcome by temptation. Satan and evil workers cast reflection upon God, and His name has been dishonored. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 6

The work of the General Conference might have given character to the school at Battle Creek if all had been under the working of the Holy Spirit, making it as the school of the prophets. But Satan came in as an angel of light and managed the matter that there should be an altogether different history. And this is true not only with regard to students, but teachers. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 7

The instructors ought to have had wisdom to follow the indications of the Holy Spirit, and go on from grace to grace, leading the youth to make the most of the light and grace given. They should have taught the youth that the Holy Spirit, which was imparted in great measure, was to help them to use their time and ability to do the very highest service for the Master, showing forth the praises of Him who had called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. But instead of this, many went more eagerly in pursuit of pleasure. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 8

There were witnesses upon the pleasure-grounds, heavenly intelligences that made the records in the book of God of transactions that many will not care to meet in the day when every work shall be manifest. Not only were heavenly messengers present, but the synagogue of Satan were on the ground to exult that his ingenious methods had in a great measure thwarted the purpose for which God gave the Holy Spirit. God desired to carry the youth forward and upward that they might understand by experience the words of the inspired apostle, “Ye are laborers together with God, ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] Of how many who exhibited their qualifications in the games could this be said? 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 9

In the conflict with satanic agencies there are decisive moments that determine the victory either on the side of God or on the side of the prince of this world. If those engaged in the warfare are not wide awake, earnest, vigilant, praying for wisdom, watching unto prayer, weeping between the porch and the altar, crying, “Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach.” [Joel 2:17.] Satan comes off victor, when he might have been vanquished by the armies of the Lord, wearing Christ’s badge. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 10

God’s faithful sentinels are to give the evil powers no advantage. The arch enemy might have been baffled at every point of attack; but unfaithful stewards have let in the enemy, and the glorious light of the Sun of Righteousness grew dim. Truth should have gained a glorious victory in the time when the believers were a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. Then Satan would have lost the game he was playing for the souls for whom Christ gave His precious life. But Satan has been exalted; God has been manifestly dishonored before the world, before angels and men. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 11

Before the heavenly angels, Satan points with bitter irony to the outcome of the manifestation of the light and power of God. Burning with desire for revenge for the loss he had sustained, he used his power to the utmost in leading souls to forget God, that he might interpose himself where God should be. He worked to create distrust of God and to lead souls to misunderstand His divine workings. God designed that the manifestation of His power should place His people on vantage ground, giving them a realizing sense of His goodness, and enabling them, in a degree at least, to endure as seeing Him that is invisible. He designed that they should so use their knowledge and experience as to be successful laborers together with God. But through their passion for amusements, carrying the matter to extremes, as do the world, they turned aside God’s purpose. His name, His power, was not magnified. The words of Christ were unheeded, “Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.” [Matthew 26:41.] 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 12

None are safe, whether minister, teachers, pupils, or workers in any line, unless they make God their dependence every moment. In no case are you to allow the unbelieving, worldly element to mold and fashion the order of things in any one of our institutions. God’s power is to have honor and majesty and control and victory. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 13

What is the character of the work before us? Ephesians 5:10-18; 1 Peter 9 [2?]:12; 3:8-10. All who will consent to be laborers with God will work in Christ’s lines. Their mental endowments will be exercised to a purpose, in making those within the sphere of their influence wise and better, uplifting, strengthening the weak, making straight paths for the feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 14

Let none prostitute their powers to self-pleasing, selfish gratification. Money is of value, and none should feel at liberty to use one dime or one penny in selfish indulgence. Those who God has endowed with ability to acquire means are under obligation to Him to use that means, through heaven’s imparted wisdom, to His own name’s glory. Parents, if they are under the control of the Spirit of God, will consider that they are not to use their ability or their money capriciously, to gratify their unbelieving relatives or friends. There are souls perishing out of Christ to be labored for. Then let every responsible agent work intelligently. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 15

This is no time to foster pleasure-loving by providing the youth, as they enter upon their student’s life, with facilities for the playing of games which are a snare to all who engage in them. Use your God-intrusted capital of means to arm and equip men to enlist in the army of the Lord as soldiers of Jesus Christ. Teach them that it is not the indulgence of every whim which youth may suggest that will facilitate their growth in Christian experience. Selfish gratification is the snare and curse of our youth. Their abilities are misapplied. Through erroneous ideas, parents, friends, and guardians—whose money supports them in the school—seek to gratify their desires in order, as they suppose, to make them happy. This very course of action is blocking their way; it encourages selfish indulgence; it prevents them from entering the narrow, heavenward path. O, that the Lord may anoint the blind eyes, that they may see! 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 16

It is not impressed upon the minds of the young that self-denial, crossbearing for Christ’s sake, is to be a part of their religious experience. They think it all right for them to be sustained and educated, and to spend money to gratify their desires for selfish indulgence. There is danger that these poor souls will never understand what it means to follow Christ in self-denial and bearing the cross and to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. They will be like a reed in the wind. Let the youth consider that they are deciding their own destiny for eternity by the character they form in this life. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 17

The apostle, inspired by the Spirit of God, speaks on these points, and his words come down along the line to our time: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service; and be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.” [Romans 12:1-3.] 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 18

There is great danger that parents and guardians, both by words and actions, will encourage self-esteem and self-importance in the youth. They pursue a course of petting, gratifying every whim, and thus foster the desire for self-gratification so that the youth receive a mold of character that unfits them for the commonplace duties of practical life. When these students come to our schools, they do not appreciate their privileges; they do not consider that the purpose of education is to qualify them for usefulness in this life and for the future life in the kingdom of God. They act as if the school were a place where they were to perfect themselves in sports, as if this was an important branch of their education, and they come armed and equipped for this kind of training. This is all wrong, from beginning to end. It is not in any way appropriate for this time; it is not qualifying the youth to go forth as missionaries, to endure hardship and privation, and to use their powers for the glory of God. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 19

Amusement that serves as exercise and recreation is not to be discarded; nevertheless it must be kept strictly within bounds, else it leads to love of amusement for its own sake, and nourishes the desire for selfish gratification. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 20

Is the life of Christ our Pattern? If this be so, guardians, parents of children and youth, make wise use of your entrusted means, for God has lent it to you to be a blessing, not a curse, to your children. Let none open a door of temptation to the youth by supplying them with means to use freely in gratifying their love of display or amusement. The true sons and daughters of God will employ every faculty in scattering blessings upon others. Those who are working in Christ’s lines will make their position in society a means of great good, instead of a temptation to ruin their own souls through self-exaltation. You are made stewards of God, and because He has put into your hands money in trust, you are not to spend it recklessly. While you indulge habits of prodigality, you are neglecting to shield and bless the fatherless and defenseless. You are neglecting to help the needy and destitute. You are absorbing means that would help others to obtain terms of education in our school. The Lord calls upon every one of you who has reasoning powers to consider your responsibilities and accountability. The Lord is soon to come. The talents of money and influence are in your hands for use or abuse. What are you doing with these talents? 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 21

Let all learn to save, to economize. Every dollar wasted on frivolous things, or given to special friends who will spend it to indulge pride and selfishness, is robbing God’s treasury. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 22

The training and discipline you undergo in order to be successful in your games is not fitting you to become faithful soldiers of Jesus Christ, to fight His battles and gain spiritual victories. The money expended for garments to make a pleasing show in these match games is so much money that might have been used to advance the cause of God in new places, bringing the word of truth to souls in darkness of error. O, that God would give all the true sense of what it means to be a Christian! It is to be Christlike. He lived not to please Himself. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 23

The Lord has presented before me many things and impressed upon me the dangers to which our young men are exposed through erroneous ideas. They are not to be taken up and carried like babies, petted and coddled, and supplied with money as though there was an abundance where that came from. Do not let them feel that there is a bank they can draw upon to supply every supposed want. Money is to be regarded as a gift entrusted to us of God to do His work, to build, up His kingdom. The youth are not to receive the impression that it can be used to gratify their desires. They should learn to restrict their desires. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 24

Let not guardians or any whom God has entrusted with means act capriciously and injure our youth by leading them to feel they are to be assisted at every step in their scholastic life. They should not be relieved of all care and responsibility. They should learn to be self-reliant, self-sustaining. Let them find useful employment, humble though it may be, that will give their physical powers the exercise they need. Parents and guardians should give the youths a start and then let them understand that they must make the very best use of their own powers, improving their time in every way possible to help themselves; this will be as valuable an education as they can have. Useful physical labor in earning means to defray their own expenses as far as possible, will be greatly to their advantage. Their characters will possess far more real worth if they learn the lesson of self-denial in the school of poverty, as did Presidents Lincoln and Garfield. The best and greatest men, those who have stood boldly for the right, have been self-made men. They had not time to devote to idle amusement, no money to spend in equipping themselves for pugilistic performances. Among the most profitable lessons the youth can learn are those which teach them the value of money, and enable them to form habits of industry and economy. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 25

In the instruction and training of the young, let the divine pattern be kept prominent—the life of Christ in childhood and youth. Let those who are engrossed in self-pleasing remember the toilsome life of the Son of God. He was a diligent worker. “Ye are laborers together with God.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] The instructors should keep it before their students that their life is to be a life of practical usefulness, as was the life of our Saviour. He condescended to come to our world to live the life of humanity, that He might give children and youth an example showing how they should live, the character they should form. He was of poor parentage, and He had no money to spend on foolish, selfish embellishments for display. He lived in a peasants’ home, and aided His parents in bearing the burdens of their common, daily toil. From the temple at Jerusalem where He had reminded them of His sonship to the Eternal, “he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” [Luke 2:51, 52.] Who was this? The Majesty of heaven. The Son of the Infinite God condescended to take humanity upon Himself, that He might give a perfect pattern of humanity for infancy, childhood, and youth. Then let every parent study the example of Christ and treat his children with great carefulness, lest he shall fail of forming their characters according to the Pattern. Let the teachers in our schools inculcate such ideas that the youth will ever have before them a correct example. God will help them in this work of molding and fashioning the human character after the similitude of the divine. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 26

A great mistake has been made in following the world’s plans and ideas of recreation, in indulgence and pleasure-loving. This has resulted in loss every time. We need now to begin over again. It may be essential to lay the foundation of schools after the pattern of the schools of the prophets. It is so easy to drift into worldly plans and methods and customs and have no more thought of the time in which we live and the great work to be accomplished than had the people in Noah’s day. It is easy to be conformed to the world; but God bids us to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” [Romans 12:2.] The heavenly intelligences are waiting to cooperate with the human agent in reshaping his character according to the divine Model. Will the human agent do his God-given work, or will he bend all his efforts toward shaping the character after the worldly pattern? See 1 Corinthians 1:3-8. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 27

Never flatter the youth with ideas of the great things they can do, nor lead them to think that they have not been appreciated in their home life. Point them to the ladder, Peter’s ladder of eight rounds, and place their feet, not on the highest round, but on the lowest, and with earnest solicitation urge them to climb to the very top; step by step they may climb to the top of this ladder. See 2 Peter 1:2-11. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 28

In this Scripture is represented man’s cooperation with God in the plan of salvation. The apostle Paul presents it thus: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” [Philippians 2:12, 13.] God works in and through the human agents. They become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. They are to work upon the plan of addition as set forth by Peter. Not that one grace is to be added after another, but all are to be manifest in the Christian character. “For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall be neither barren nor unfruitful.” “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things (adding constantly to the graces here mentioned), ye shall never fall. For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” [2 Peter 1:8, 10, 11.] Here is a life-insurance policy in which there can be no failure, for it is from the God of heaven. It assures us eternal life through growth in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 29

The ladder is Christ, who connects earth with heaven. We are saved by climbing round after round of the ladder, looking to Christ, clinging to Christ, mounting step by step to the heights of Christ, so that He is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 30

It is no easy matter to gain the priceless treasure of eternal life. No one can do this and drift with the current of the world. He must come out from the world and be separate, and touch not the unclean. No one can act like worldlings without being carried down by the current of the world. No one will be borne upward without stern, persevering effort in the conflict. All must engage in this warfare for themselves; no one else can fight their battles. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:12.] We have unseen foes to meet, evil men are agents for the powers of darkness to work through, and without spiritual discernment the soul will be ignorant of Satan’s devices, and be ensnared and stumble and fall. He who would overcome must hold fast to Christ. He must not look back, but keep the eye ever upward. Mount up by the Mediator, keeping hold of the Mediator, reaching upward to one line of work after another, making no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof. There is no such thing as our entering into the heavenly portals through indulgence and folly, amusement, [and] selfishness, but only by constant watchfulness and unceasing prayer. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 31

Spiritual vigilance on our part individually is the price of safety. Swerve not to Satan’s side a single inch, lest he gain advantage over you. He is playing the game of life for your souls. We may enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus. We may lay hold of the hope set before us in the gospel. We may follow on to know the Lord, until we shall know that His goings forth are prepared as the morning. If we ever reach heaven, it will be by linking our souls to Christ, leaning incessantly upon Him, and cutting loose from the world, its follies and enchantments. There must be on our part a spiritual cooperation with the heavenly intelligences. We must believe and work and pray and watch and wait. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 32

I would address the pupils of the school: Do not wait for a high-wrought state of feeling, but calmly view the whole ground and candidly consider whether you will be sons and daughters of God. Decide now, without delay, and in doing this you will have manifest evidence of the companionship and protection of all the heavenly intelligences. Angels of God are ascending and descending the mystic ladder, and God is above, the light of His glory shining down its entire length, comforting, encouraging all who are climbing faithfully by painful yet cheerful steps. Not one will fail who will perseveringly climb this ladder. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 33

May the Lord guide you all, teachers and pupils and church members, to make diligent work for eternity. The end of all things is at hand. There is need now of men armed and equipped to battle for God. Please read Ezekiel 9. Who bear the sign, the mark of God in their foreheads? The men that sigh and cry for the abominations done in the midst of Jerusalem—among those that profess to be God’s people—not those who are engrossed in games for their selfish amusement. After the mark had been set upon this class—who are registered in the books of heaven as overcomers—by the angelic messenger of God, the command is given to the ministers of destruction: “Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children, and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” [Verses 5, 6.] God grant that these solemn predictions which are so speedily to be fulfilled, may be impressed upon the hearts of all! See Revelation 7:1-4, 12-17; Zechariah 3. 8LtMs, Lt 47, 1893, par. 34