Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 10 (1895)


Ms 22b, 1895 [Copy 2]

Interview Regarding the Religious Liberty Question

Armadale, Victoria, Australia

November 20, 1895 (Recopied August 1, 1896)

Three versions are on file. See copies 1 (Ms 22a, 1895) and 3 (Ms 22c, 1895), the latter of which is published in entirety in SpM 19-26. +Note

Elder W. C. White called a meeting this morning to consider some phases of the religious liberty question. Recent stands taken by some of the brethren seemed to indicate a necessity for a more thorough understanding of the principles involved in this subject. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 1

The following persons were present: Elders W. W. Prescott, W. C. White, A. G. Daniells, M. C. Israel, L. J. Rousseau, W. A. Colcord, M. G. Kellogg, and Sister White and Sister Burnham, and Salisbury, Smith, and Caldwell. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 2

Several letters were read from and to different parties, with reference to the points at issue; and then Sister White read a letter written to Elder A. T. Jones in May 1894, which had been unavoidably withheld until just lately. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 3

In this letter reference was made to the necessity of our speakers presenting the truth in such a simple manner that even the small children could comprehend the lessons which it was designed to teach. Remarking on this point, Sister White said, “According to the light which has been given me, when the heavenly intelligences see that men will no longer present the truth in simplicity, as did Jesus, the very children will be moved upon by the Spirit of God, and will go forth proclaiming the truth for this time.” 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 4

After the letters have been read, the brethren were invited to discuss the points treated in them, but all seeming most desirous of hearing from Sister White, she made the following remarks. Many of the points were brought out in answer to questions asked by different ones present. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 5

“There is a terrible crisis just ahead of us, and especially will it come at Battle Creek. My mind has been much troubled over the positions some of our brethren are taking in regard to the work to be done among the colored people in the Southern states, and there is one point that I wish to lay before those who work in the Southern field. They will have to labor in different lines from those followed in the Northern field, that is, among the colored people. They cannot go to there and encourage the colored people to work on Sunday, for the same spirit that held the colored in slavery is alive today. In the minds of many of the white people the same spirit of oppression is still working. In every possible way they will oppose that which has a tendency to lift up the colored race. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 6

“Understand these facts as they are: When the whites show the least inclination to help the colored people by educating them to help themselves, a certain class of the white people are terribly annoyed. Those do not want the colored people to earn their own living; they want them to work their plantations for them. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 7

“When the whites try to educate the colored people in the truth, jealousy is aroused. Ministers, colored and white, will oppose the truth. The colored ministers think they know how to preach to their own race better than the white minister can, and they think that the whites are taking the work out of their hands. By falsehood, they will create the most decided opposition, and those among the white people who are opposed to the truth will help them to make it exceedingly hard for the work to advance. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 8

“Just as soon as the truth is proclaimed in the South, if a marked difference is made in regard to Sunday, we might just as well leave the field entirely, for we shall have all the whites against us. They will not work openly, but in secret organizations, and will hinder our work in every possible way. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 9

“From the light that I have received, I see that if we would get the truth before the Southern people, we must not encourage them to work on Sunday. There must be some provision made in regard to this, and an understanding arrived at, but you need not publish it in the papers. You must teach these people as you would children. Not a word should be spoken to create prejudice in their minds, or in the minds of the whites, for if prejudice is created, the spirit of the enemy will work in the children of disobedience. The work will be hindered, and an opposition will be aroused which will endanger the lives of the workers, and of the believers. An effort must be made to teach them to work on Sunday. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 10

“You can see that this will cut off that which Bro. _____ has written. What he has said is not based on right principles. When the practices of the people do not come in conflict with the law of God, you must conform to them. If you do not do this, you will not only stop your own work, but will hinder those for whom you are laboring from accepting the truth. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 11

“Do you understand this? This is the way God has presented it to me. We cannot work so freely among those whose prejudices are so entirely different from those of white people. We must let the Holy Spirit work, for men and women cannot convince others of their wrong traits of character. When introducing the truth, we must as far as possible accommodate ourselves to the situation.” 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 12

(Question: Should not those in the Southern field work on Sunday?) 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 13

“If they do this, there is danger that the opposing elements will stir up one another, and to pick off those they hate. At present Sunday is not the mark of the beast in such a field as the Southern states. The time will come when this test will be made, but it is not now. The truth must come more fully before the people. This should not be understood to refer to our own people in that field who understand the truth. I have no light on that, and I cannot advise them. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 14

“Slavery will again be revived in the South, for the spirit of slavery still lives, and it will not do for the whites who labor for colored people to take their stand as firmly as boldly and openly as they would be free to do were they in other places. If they feel that they have the right, and the sanction of those who have brought them the truth, some of the colored people will take the opportunity to defy their oppressors. They will become presumptuous, but it will be to their sorrow. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 15

“A terrible condition of things is certainly opening before us. According to the light given me in regard to the Southern field, I see that the work must be done as wisely and carefully as possible, and in the lines in which Christ worked. The people will soon find out what you believe, for they will question you. Then you can teach them, but not in so prominent a manner as to attract attention to your work, thus cutting you off from other work.” 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 16

(Question: Should the same position be taken in other foreign fields, where the prejudice is so strong?) 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 17

“Yes; just the same. The light that I have is that God’s servants should go quietly to work, preaching the grand truths of the Bible—Christ and Him crucified—showing that the reason Christ died was because the law of God is eternal. The Spirit of the Lord will awaken those with whom you work, bringing the commandments of God to their remembrance. I can scarcely describe to you the way in which this has been presented to me. God says, ‘I have sent mine angel to the churches.’ [Revelation 22:16.] Have any of you seen this angel? The heavenly messenger is close beside those who stand in the desk, and who are God’s chosen messengers. In preaching the truth, it is not best to present those stirring points of truth that will arouse prejudice when such strong feeling exists as is felt in the South against the North. The Sabbath must be taught in a decided manner, but be cautious how you touch their idol Sunday. A word to the wise is sufficient.” 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 18

(Professor Prescott here related a case that once came to his notice: In a place where the truth was being presented, a man came to the meetings, hoping that he would hear about the Sabbath. He heard nothing but Christ preached, but still the truth was being constantly impressed on his mind, “The seventh day is the Sabbath.” In this way the Holy Spirit worked upon his mind and he decided for the truth.) 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 19

Resuming her talk, Sister White said, “The things that I have been presenting to you will need to be brought out with great care.” 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 20

In answer to another question, Sister White said, “I have given you the light which has been presented to me. If followed, it will change the course of many. Refraining from work on Sunday is not receiving the mark of the beast, and where it will advance the interests of the work, it should be done. We should not go out of our way to work on Sunday. We need not take our sawhorse, and set it out on the front side walk, and saw wood there in order to let our light shine, as one man living in a large city thought it his duty to do. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 21

“The time has not yet come to work as though there were no prejudice. Christ said, ‘Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves.’ [Matthew 10:16.] If you see that by doing certain things, which you have a perfect right to do, you hinder the work of the truth, refrain from doing these things. Do nothing that will close the minds of others against the truth. There is a world to save, and we gain nothing by cutting loose from those we are trying to help. All things may be lawful, but all things are not expedient. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 22

“We have no right to do anything that will obstruct the light which is shining from heaven; yet by a wrong course of action we may put ourselves where we will close the door which God has opened for the entrance of the truth. The final issue of the Sabbath question has not yet come, and by imprudent actions, we may bring on a crisis before the time. You may have all the truth, but you need not let it all flash at once upon minds, lest it become darkness to them. I have had to bear a testimony against Bro. _____ on this point. He would take his chart, go out, knock at a door, and say, ‘I have come to give you the third angel’s message, and to tell that the seventh day is the Sabbath.’ But even Christ said to His disciples, ‘I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.’ [John 16:12.] We must not go into a place, open our satchel, show all we have, and tell everything we know about the truth. We must work cautiously, presenting the truth by degrees. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 23

“The Waldensians entered the schools of the world as students. They made no pretensions; apparently they paid no attention to any one; but they lived out what they believed. They never sacrificed principle, and their principles soon became known. This was different from anything the other students had ever seen, and they began to ask themselves, What does all this mean? Why cannot these men be induced to swerve from their principles? While they were considering this, they heard them praying in their rooms, not to the Virgin Mary, but to the Saviour, whom they addressed as the only mediator between God and man. The worldly students were encouraged to make inquiries, and as the simple story of the truth as it is in Jesus was told, their minds grasped it. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 24

“These things I tried to present at Harbor Heights. Those who have the Spirit of God, who have the truth wrought into their very being, should be encouraged to enter colleges and live the truth, as Daniel and Paul did. Each one should study to see what is the best way to get the truth into the school, that the light may shine forth. Let them show that they respect all the rules and regulations of the school. The leaven will begin to work, for we can depend much more upon the power of God manifested in the lives of His children than upon any words that can be spoken. But they should also tell inquirers, in as simple language as they can, of the simple Bible doctrines. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 25

“There are those who, after becoming established, rooted and grounded in the truth, should enter these institutions of learning as students. They can keep the living principles of the truth, and observe the Sabbath, and yet they will have opportunity to work for the Master by dropping seeds of truth in minds and hearts. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, these seeds will spring up to bear fruit for the glory of God, and will result in the saving of souls. The students need not go to these institutions of learning in order to become enlightened upon theological subjects, for the teachers of the school need themselves to become Bible students. No open controversies should be started, yet opportunity will be given to ask questions upon Bible doctrines, and light will be flashed into many minds. A spirit of investigation will be aroused. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 26

“But I scarcely dare present this method of labor, for there is danger that those who have no connection with God will place themselves in these schools, and instead of correcting error and diffusing light, will themselves be led stray. But this work must be done, and it will be done by those who are led and taught of God. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 27

“Jesus was a teacher when He was but twelve years old. He went in before the rabbis and doctors as a learner, asking questions that surprised the learned doctors, and showing eagerness to obtain information. By every question, He poured light into their darkened minds. Had He led them to suspect that He was trying to teach them, they would have spurned Him. So it was all through His life. By His purity, His humility, His meekness, He rebuked sin. Those around Him could not find a single thing for which to blame Him, yet He was at work all the time. He worked in His own home until He had no home. His lot was no more pleasant than that of the young people who today are trying to walk in His footsteps. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 28

“If all our people would work in Christ’s way, what a blessing it would be. There are many ways in which to diffuse light, and a great work can be done in many lines that is not now done. ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’ [Matthew 5:16.] This spirit will inspire others to do the will of the Lord also. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 29

“This world is God’s. Wicked men are only permitted to live in it till they have filled up the cup of their iniquity. It was deeded to Abraham and his children, and ere long God’s people shall take possession of it. In our work for the saving of souls, we must not think that we can receive help from those around us; by a close connection with Jesus, we must be in that place where we can help them. Advance truth. Give those with whom you may come in contact an opportunity to learn what is truth, and to become converted. But do not think that your light gives you license to make a raid on those who are in error. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 30

“When we begin to work with parliaments, the enemy is roused to exert all his strength against us, and if he cannot make the work hard for us, who can? Do not let your work be known any more than is necessary. The best course to follow is that which will avoid all opposition. The least said about the foolish errors of others, the better. Satan and all his hosts are working to make of none effect the law of God, and when we begin to work on controversial lines, he will lead men to believe that we do not regard their laws or obey their decrees. Believing this, they will make it as hard as possible for all who will not worship their idol Sunday. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 31

“We are not to reveal all our purposes and plans to men. Satan will take advantage of any indiscretion shown on this point. He does not work openly and above board. He works in an underhanded manner, and will continue to do so. Before the people are prepared for it, he leads men to set a powerful movement on foot by working on their minds.” 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 32

(Question: Can we not get the truth before the minds of the members of parliament in a quiet way, by furnishing them with reading matter?) 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 33

“From the light that has been given me, I see that we should fear lest rulers take their position against our work. If they do this, they will act like the enemy of all good. Every opportunity to become acquainted with these men should be embraced; but we should do nothing that will produce anything like prejudice. It means a great deal to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. We have so much determination in us that often we do things unguardedly and rashly. We must appear before these men as trying to help others, working on the lines of the Christian help work. As they see the good work we do in these lines, their prejudice, in a measure, will be removed; their hearts will be opened to the truth. Do not abruptly present the Sabbath; present Christ. Should they begin to oppose you, saying, ‘O, he is a Seventh-day Adventist,’—lift up Christ, higher, and still higher.” 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 34

(Question: Would it not be as well for us to present principles, rather than to dwell upon what the governments will do?) 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 35

“We should have nothing to do with the actions of the government. Our duty is to obey God. When you are arrested, take no thought what you shall do. You are to follow Christ step by step. You need not commence weeks beforehand to examine the question, and lay plans as to what you will do when the powers shall do this or that, neither need you think what you are to say. Study the truth, and the Spirit of the Lord will bring to your remembrance what you shall say. Our minds should be a treasure house, filled with the Word of God. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 36

“When the enemy begins to work, we need not resort to strange fire. We need not become combative. By doing this, we may thus betray the cause at the very point where victory is ours. If we let go our hold of Jesus, and trust in ourselves, it may take months, or perhaps years to counteract that one wrong move. Unless we are converted, and become as little children, we shall never see the kingdom of God. These are the lessons we need to bring into our schools. The students do not need science as much as they need these principles. Teach them how to advance the truth as it is in Jesus. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 37

“The world is not to be condemned until after it has had the light. We must tell the people the simple story of the cross. They are to be pitied, and just as much as possible, we must soften the message we bring to them. This will soften their hearts so that the Spirit of the Lord can mold them. In the past they have been receiving false ideas. If we come close to them, and tell them of the love of Christ, we can do much for them.” 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 38

In answer to a question, Sister White stated that there was no harm in the brethren working out their fines. “Christ, the King of glory, carried the cross upon which He was about to be crucified. The people had not the slightest semblance of right to inflict this upon Him, but He did not refuse to submit. Christ suffered and died for us. Shall we refuse to be partakers of His sufferings? Let the servant pay tribute as the Master did, lest others be offended. 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 39

“When brought before courts, we are to give up our rights, unless by so doing we are brought in collision with God. We are not pleading for our right, but to God’s right to our service. Instead of resisting the penalties imposed unjustly upon us, it would be better to take heed to the Saviour’s words, ‘When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another, for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.’” [Matthew 10:23.] 10LtMs, Ms 22b, 1895, par. 40