Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 9

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Ms 34, 1894

Testimony Regarding Brother Buster

Norfolk Villa, Prospect St., Granville, New South Wales, Australia

August 3, 1894

This manuscript is published in entirety in 1888 1268-1279. +Note

I have received a letter from Brother J. R. Buster, 2700 State Street, Chicago, Illinois. He has given me a short history of his conflicts and trials as a canvasser, and his inability to make a success of the business and sustain his family. He states that he has had deep convictions that it was his duty to labor for his people (colored), but he has incurred debts, and brethren whom he has consulted have advised him to keep at the canvassing work until he gets out of debt. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 1

This, no doubt, is very good advice if there is any probability that he will succeed in accomplishing this desirable end. But you must bear in mind that there have been times when our white brethren have had to receive substantial help, something more than the mere words, “Be ye warmed and be ye clothed.” [See James 2:16.] We have had to do more than bless them and send them on their way to struggle against poverty and distress. It was not always regarded as a mark of inefficiency when, through adverse circumstances, pinching want has made it necessary for a brother to incur debts, or suffer for food and clothing even though he was unable to lift these debts, struggle as hard as he might. A helping hand has been reached out to such ones, to place them on their feet, free from embarrassment, that they might do their work in the vineyard of the Lord, and not be oppressed with the thought that a cloud of debt was hanging over them. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 2

You know how my husband was interested in all such cases. If he found a brother willing to labor in the cause of God, he was always willing to help him. Now the question is, how much is being done at the present time for such cases? I have had the best reports of this brother in regard to his sincerity and his capability to do a good work. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 3

Let us consider the proposition presented at the Minneapolis meeting. Some who did not receive their counsel from God prepared a resolution, which was carried, that no one should labor as a minister unless he first made a success in the canvassing field. The spirit of the Lord did not indite that resolution. It was born of minds that were taking a narrow view of God’s vineyard and His workmen. It is not the work of any man to prescribe the work for any other man contrary to his own convictions of duty. He is to be advised and counseled, but he is to seek his directions from God, whose he is, and whom he serves. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 4

If one undertakes the canvassing work, and is not able to sustain himself and family, it is the duty of his brethren, so far as lies in their power, to help him out of his difficulty and disinterestedly open ways whereby this brother may labor according to his ability and obtain means honestly to sustain his family. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 5

When a man is struggling with honest endeavor to sustain himself and his family, and yet is unable to do this, so that they suffer for necessary food and clothing, the Lord will not pronounce our ministering brethren guiltless if they look on with indifference or prescribe conditions for this brother which are virtually impossible of fulfillment. Now I have had so many of these cases urged by the Lord upon my notice that I dare not pass them by and go over on the other side of the road, as did the priest and Levite, making no decided effort to change the condition of things. The instruction given by our Lord is essential for every Christian to practice as well as preach. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” [Leviticus 19:18.] We are to make the condition of the unfortunate brother our own. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 6

Any neglect on the part of those who claim to be followers of Christ, a failure to relieve the necessities of a brother or sister who is bearing the yoke of poverty and oppression, is registered in the books of heaven as shown to Christ in the person of His saints. What a reckoning the Lord will have with many, very many, who present the words of Christ to others but fail to manifest tender sympathy and regard for a brother in the faith who is less fortunate and successful than themselves. Many will allow a brother to struggle along unaided under adverse circumstances, and in thus doing they give to one precious soul the impression that they are thus representing Christ. It is no such thing; Jesus, who was rich, for our sake became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich. That He might save the sinner, He withheld not His own life. The heart of Christ is ever touched with human woe. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 7

Have you and your wife visited this family? Have you looked diligently into the matter? Have you conversed with the wife of this brother? Have you made their acquaintance except by letter? Have you made their case your very own? Have you taken counsel of Him whose heart is full of tender pity and unselfish love? 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 8

The true cause of God is very large and very liberal. In the lessons of Christ the poor are not left out. Our duty to the poor is included in the doing in the words of Christ. Should laborers in the cause of God exact from the poor that which they have not power to bestow, whether in service or money, the word of God comes to them, be they ministers or [lay] people, “I hate robbery for burnt offerings.” [Isaiah 61:8.] Whenever money is exacted for the cause by methods that cause suffering from hunger or for want of clothing, God will judge the one who does it and all who suffer this to be done come under the censure of the Lord. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 9

If you knew the circumstances of this brother, and did not make earnest efforts to relieve him and change his oppression to freedom, you are not working the works of Christ and are guilty before God. I write plainly, for, from the light given me of God, there is a class of work that is neglected. There may be great interest taken in the wholesale business of feeding the wretched class who are in poverty; all this I have no objection to; but <it is a misdirected zeal> if we pass by the cases of those who are of the household of faith, and let their cry of distress come up to God because of suffering which we might alleviate, and in thus doing represent Jesus Christ in sympathy and love, the Lord has a controversy with us for this neglect. He cannot say to any man or woman, “Well done,” unless they have done well in representing the attributes of Christ—goodness, compassion, and love—<to their fellow men.> 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 10

You and I want to hear from the Master, “I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison” (maybe for debt), “and ye came unto me.” To the question, “When saw we thee thus?” the answer is given, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” [Matthew 25:35-40.] Christ identifies His interest with that of suffering humanity. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 11

There is need of the tender sympathy of Christ in human hearts—love for human beings whom Christ has esteemed of such value that He gave His own life to save them from ruin. They are precious, more precious than any gold you can bring into the treasury. To turn every dollar and every penny into “the cause,” and rob the needy of the means whereby to give bread to their family, is not a kind of faithfulness that will meet the approval of God. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 12

Now, has God told you that this brother must keep at work in a certain line, as canvassing, until he is free from debt? Has He not rather enjoined it upon you as a minister of Christ, to see how you could help him out of his distress, and encourage others to relieve him from debt, and then let him receive his convictions from God in regard to the work He has given him ability to do? Has the Lord a work for this brother to do for his colored brethren? If the Lord would have him labor for his brethren, how dare any human agent put up the restrictions or bar his way? Brother [Buster] says that a sister offered to relieve him by paying his debts, but this was not allowed. How did you know but that the Lord was moving upon the mind and heart of that sister to do this very work? Let the oppressed go free. Jesus announced this to be His work; how do you know that it is not this sister’s work? It is best for us to cling to Jesus, to cultivate His attributes, and do as He would do, were He in our place. There is a great deal involved in being Christians, living Christ, representing Christ. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 13

Truth, precious truth, is sanctifying in its influence. The sanctification of the soul by the operation of the Holy Spirit is the implanting of Christ’s nature in humanity. It is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ revealed in character, and the graces of Christ brought into active exercise in good works. Thus the character is transformed more and more perfectly after the image of Christ, in righteousness and true holiness. There are broad requirements in divine truth stretching out <[and] interlacing> into one line after another of good works. The truths of the gospel are not unconnected; uniting, they form one string of heavenly jewels, as in the personal work of Christ, and like threads of gold they run through the whole of Christian work and experience. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 14

Christ is the complete system of truth. He says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” [John 14:6.] All true believers center in Christ, their character is irradiated by Christ, all meet in Christ, and circulate about Christ. Truth comes from heaven to purify and cleanse the human agent from every moral defilement. It leads to benevolent action, to kind, tender, thoughtful love toward the needy, the distressed, the suffering. This is practical obedience to the words of Christ. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 15

Every minister may exercise himself to bring large revenues and smaller rivulets into the treasury of God; it is his work to do this, but the question is, Does he do it by neglecting in any the necessities of the needy and distressed, overlooking the real wants of suffering humanity, being so particular as to paying tithes of mint and rue and anise and cummin, and neglecting the weightier matters of the law? These ought ye to have done: manifesting the love of Jesus in relieving the needy, the distressed, the suffering. Let it be printed on the mind that mercy and the love of God are to be expressed to the children of God. Search heaven and earth, and there is no truth revealed more powerful than that which is manifested in mercy to the very ones who need your sympathy and aid in breaking the yoke and setting free the distressed. Here the truth is lived, the truth is obeyed, the truth is taught as it is in Jesus. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 16

There is a great amount of truth professed, but truth practiced in relieving our fellow men is of great influence, reaching unto heaven, and compassing eternity. Every soul in our world is on trial; every man’s experience, the common life history, tells in unmistakable language whether he is a doer of Christ’s words and His works. There is constantly recurring a large array of little things that God alone sees; to act out in these things the principles of truth will bring a precious reward. The great and important things are recognized by nearly all, but the knitting of these things with the supposed smaller things of life and closely connecting them as one, is too rarely done by professed Christians. Religion is too much profession, and too little reality. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 17

Divine truth exercises little influence upon our fellow men, when it should exercise much influence through our practice. Truth, precious truth, is Jesus in the life, a living, active principle. “Love one another,” says Christ, “as I have loved you.” [John 13:34.] You cannot lay the vigilance of Christianity to rest by passing over the cases of your brethren who are in distressed circumstances. You may feel that you are doing God’s service while leaving the yoke of oppression upon their necks because it is in your power to do this, and pressing every dime possible into the great treasury. Your motives may be good, but it is a false theory that will permit distress and want in the effort to help the cause of God. The glory of heaven is in lifting up the fallen, speaking peace to aching, distressed hearts that are crying unto God for relief, while their fellow men who might relieve, priest and Levite, pass by on the other side. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 18

Great principles and minute practice cannot be disconnected in a symmetrical life. Such disconnection misrepresents the religion of Christ, and mars the character. The one class of work is made up of great things and regulated by the law of God, while in the other, made up of so-called little things, the law of God, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor” is ignored. [Leviticus 19:18.] This sphere of work is left to caprice, subject to variation of feeling, to natural and cultivated tendencies or inclinations; and let me say that these little things, left to impulse, often shamefully neglected, mean much to those who are really affected by the neglect. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 19

These neglects cut off a large portion of the life of God from the soul, because the human agent is not in co-operation with God, and thus a large revenue of praise and thanksgiving is prevented from going forth to God from human hearts and human lips. Thus God is robbed of the glory that belongs unto Him. Our religion will bless wherever it acts. Let the Christian religion act, and it will bless. Wherever it works, there is brightness. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 20

I feel sorry that poor souls, failing to find relief, appeal to Sister White. I want them to have confidence that the shepherds of the flock will care for the flock of God. Every minister of Christ who does not have the precious love of Jesus in the heart will reveal the fact. The Lord Jesus has given to every man precious lessons of instruction in His Holy Word. The Lord Jesus is our Pattern. The impress of the image of Christ will be manifest upon the entire character of those who yield themselves to Him. Then the mental and physical powers will be renewed day by day, for the true believer is daily eating of the flesh and drinking of the blood of the Son of God. Jesus says, “The flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” [John 6:63.] 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 21

Coldness and selfishness will take possession of the soul if we will give [them] any encouragement. We want not to exemplify the attributes of Satan in anything. We want to be partakers of the divine nature, refreshed in soul and spirit by drinking of the living water that makes glad the city of God. Talk it, pray it, act it—the love of Jesus for fallen humanity. Let every soul become imbued and radiant with the Word and Spirit and love of God and be a medium through which the light and blessing may be communicated to our world. Let this loveless, Pharisaical religion of forms and ceremonies be cleansed away from the heart and life of every Christian, and let the sweet influence of the Spirit of God have a controlling power upon every soul. Ye are the light of the world, to shine amid the moral darkness of the world. We must be imbued with the love of Jesus; all this selfish spirit toward brethren must be rooted out. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 22

Have an interest that every one be directed to his proper work and his hands will not grow weary and heavy. Let men unite themselves to their fellow men by the golden links of the chain of love. Let love be without dissimulation; abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good. I tell you of a truth there are great misconceptions as to what constitutes faithfulness in the cause of God. The duties devolving upon every minister to care for the flock of God are neglected. There are those who need special attention, who need tender words, kind consideration, tangible help; they need advice, that kind of counsel which will not extinguish the last spark of courage in the soul. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 23

Be careful, brethren, how you represent the character of Christ before the world. Help must be given to sustain the cause of God, but this is not all; there are other things to be considered. Not long since I spoke in Sydney upon 2 Corinthians 9:6-15. Read this carefully. The cause must be sustained, but we are not to encourage sinful actions toward our brethren, with the impression that one is justified in neglecting to give attention and help which is required to relieve suffering and break every yoke of oppression that comes under our notice. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 24

The zeal that some have for the cause, they make an excuse for their neglect of the pressing necessities of men and women, and these are brethren and sisters. Selfishness has been, and will be, indulged under a pretense of great anxiety for the cause of God; but the cause of God is the cause of the oppressed and the poor. The Lord expects His shepherds to look carefully after the sheep of His pasture and show a personal interest in the oppressed; they are to feed the hungry. If they neglect one case brought to their notice where there is real want of food and clothing, God will surely requite this; He pronounces no blessing upon those who neglect the personal labor for the poor. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 25

“But this I say, that he which soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” (See 2 Corinthians 9:6-15.) Here are the good works which cause love to God to deepen in the heart because of the kindness and love expressed in relieving the poor and the oppressed. Thanks and praise are awakened in the hearts of God’s needy ones, and flow back to God, and angels join the songs of praise coming from human lips which glorify God. “Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men.” [Verse 13.] 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 26

While there is need for every man and woman to be faithful in tithes and offerings to God, “that there may be meat in mine house, saith the Lord” [Malachi 3:10], yet this does not comprise all our duty. Those who are so zealous to gather everything possible into the treasury, let them draw upon those who are able, and not press men into service into the canvassing field or in any branch of the work where more is required of them than they are able to give. The prayers and tears of these oppressed ones enter into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth and He will answer their prayers, but His face will be turned away from the shepherds who did not answer their plea, who took from them the money that should have given bread to their hungry families. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 27

“I desired mercy and not sacrifice,” saith the Lord. [Hosea 6:6.] The oppression of one widow, the neglect of one father who makes his plea for consideration, will be charged against any one who will do this. God’s cause can afford to be just. We need to have eyes anointed with the heavenly eyesalve, that we may see things on all sides. We have not a one-sided religion, but full, complete, in Jesus Christ in everything. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 28

“Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” [Isaiah 1:16, 17.] This Word is for the managers in all our institutions, for all ministers who are over the flock, for all who have any connection whatever with the cause of God. Let them give heed unto it; then will the Lord sanctify, and cleanse, and bless, and prosperity shall attend the workers. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 29

There is a sin among my people, saith the Lord. It is the want of Christ’s love for the children of God who need sympathy and encouragement, who need the rich grace of Christ poured into the soul. God help us to care for the very ones it is our duty to care for and to bless. May the Lord help us individually to represent Christ in our world. 9LtMs, Ms 34, 1894, par. 30