Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)

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Lt 81, 1896

Olsen, O. A.

Sunnyside, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

May 31, 1896

This letter is published in entirety in 1888 1556-1573. +Note

Elder O. A. Olsen
Battle Creek, Michigan, U. S. A

My Dear Brother:

I have received your letter of April 24, and have just read it. I feel very deeply for you, my brother. I hardly know just what I ought to send to you. I have communications which have been written for one and two years, but I have thought that for your sake they ought to be withheld until some one could stand by your side who could clearly distinguish Bible principles from principles of human manufacture, who, with sharp discernment could separate the strangely perverted, human imaginations, which have been working for years, from things of divine origin. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 1

I am sorry you have not regarded the warnings and instructions which have been given you as of sufficient value to be heeded, but by disregarding them before men who care naught for them have made them a common matter, not worthy to have weight in your practice. Your practice has been contrary to these warnings, and this has weakened them in the eyes of men who needed correction, who in their life practice have separated from God, and who have manifested a selfishness and harshness which should have separated them from the work long ago. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 2

Brother Olsen, you have lost much from your experience that should have been brought into your character building by failing to stand firmly and faithfully for right, braving all the consequences. Had you done this, you might have had a very different showing from what you now have. The work of Christ is your work. He came not only as a consolation, but as a restorer and a reprover. Luke 4:16-27. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 3

The Lord intends that a great work shall be done by the institutions which have been established by His direction: and He is dishonored when human principles which find no sanction in the Word of God, are allowed to rule, when self and pride of opinion press to the front, giving the enemy room to intrude. Thus the enemy tries to hinder the work, but God calls upon His people to co-operate with Him. “Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment and do justice; for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it, that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. Neither let the son of the stranger that hath joined himself to the Lord, speak, saying, The Lord hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 4

“For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things the please me, and take hold of my covenant: even them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the stranger that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant: even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people. The Lord God, which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.” [Isaiah 56:1-8.] 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 5

In order that the work of the Lord may go forward, our institutions need discreet, pure-minded, righteous managers. But some in positions of trust have been confirmed in a wrong course of action by being tolerated for years, by being allowed to make decisions, to advocate methods, to carry out plans, which are not of the Lord’s devising. The enemy has been given an opportunity to control men, and to manage the work which God has shown should be kept pure and sacred, that it may be looked upon with reverence by all who claim to believe the truth. When men entrusted with responsibilities neglect to cherish that which is sacred, and use common fire in God’s service, God will despise their offering to Him. This has been and is still being done. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 6

For years a degree of Pharisaism has been springing up amongst us, which has separated some from the Bible standard. If the preconceived ideas of those actuated by this spirit are crossed, they immediately assume a controversial, combative attitude, as a man puts on armor when preparing for battle. Much pride and loftiness and a spirit which desires to rule has been manifested, but very little of the spirit which leads men to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn of Him, has been shown. Human inventions and human plans are eclipsing sacred things, and excluding divine instruction. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 7

Men are taking the place of God by seeking to assume authority over their fellow men. But they rule without a vestige of the authority of God, which alone can make their ruling a healthful element; and others are becoming leavened by this wrong influence. If the principles of truth had been enthroned in the hearts of these men, human passions and human affections would have been guided and controlled by the spirit of Christ. The atmosphere surrounding the soul would not be deleterious and poisonous, for self would be hid in Jesus. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 8

Let those who desire to rule their fellow men read God’s declaration on this subject. He says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; ... Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine one eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” [Matthew 7:1-5.] 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 9

“Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But for as much as he had not to pay, his Lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the Lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 10

“And his fellow-servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow-servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their Lord all that was done. Then his Lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desirest me: shouldest thou not also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee? And his Lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormenters, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses.” [Matthew 18:23-35.] 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 11

On one occasion the disciple John came to Jesus, saying, “Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us; and we forbade him because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not; for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part.” [Mark 9:38-40.] 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 12

The spirit that has been shown to others by some in positions of trust in our institutions does not harmonize with these words. The wrong spirit they have manifested has been caught by others, and if zeal and wisdom were shown in setting the heads of our institutions right, so many would not be turned out of the way. “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,” said Christ, guard against the influence which they exert. [Matthew 16:6.] 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 13

Christ’s life of humiliation should be a lesson to all who desire to exalt themselves above their fellow men. Though He had no taint of sin upon His character, yet He condescended to connect our fallen human nature with his divinity. By thus taking humanity, He honored humanity. Having taken our fallen nature, He showed what it might become by accepting the ample provision He has made for it, and by becoming [a] partaker of the divine nature. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 14

In humility Christ began His mighty work of lifting the fallen race from the degradation of sin, recovering them by His divine power, which He had linked with humanity. Passing by the grand cities, and the renowned places of learning and supposed wisdom, He made His home in the humble and obscure village of Nazareth. The greater part of His life was passed in this place, from which it was commonly believe that no good thing could come. In the path which the poor, the neglected, the suffering, and the sorrowing must tread, He walked while on earth, taking upon Him all the woes which the afflicted must bear. His home was among the poor. His family was not distinguished by learning, riches, or position. For many years He worked at His trade as a carpenter. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 15

The Jews had proudly boasted that Christ was to come as a king, to conquer His enemies, and tread down the heathen in His wrath. But the humble submissive life our Saviour led, which should have enshrined Him in the hearts of His people, and given them confidence in His mission, offended and disappointed the Jews, and we all know of the treatment He received from them. If the angels of God had not been round about Him to protect Him, the people He came to save would have killed Him. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 16

Christ did not exalt man by ministering to his pride. He humbled Himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross; and unless human pride is humbled and subdued, unless the stubborn heart is made tender by the Spirit of Christ, it is not possible for Him to impress His divine similitude upon us. He, the humble Nazarene, might have poured contempt upon the world’s pride, for He was Commander in the heavenly courts, but He came to our world in humility, in order to show that it is not riches, or position, or authority, or honorable titles, that the universe of heaven respects and honors, but those who will follow Christ, making any position of duty honorable by the virtue of their character, through the power of His grace. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 17

No human being is warranted to lift himself up in pride. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” [Isaiah 57:15.] 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 18

Council Meetings

Scenes that were a shame to Christians have been presented to me as taking place in the council meetings held after the Minneapolis meeting. The loud voice of dispute, the hot spirit, the harsh words, resembled a political meeting more than a place where Christians were met for prayer and counsel. These meetings should have been dismissed as an insult to heaven. The Lord was not revered as an honored guest by those assembled in council, and how could they expect divine light to shine upon them; how could they feel that the presence of Jesus was molding and fashioning their plans. The place of meeting was not held as sacred, but was looked upon as a common business place. Then how could those assembled receive an inspiration which would lead them to enthrone truth in their hearts, to speak words in the tender, loving spirit of the Master? 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 19

In your council meetings and committee meetings, decisions are made, plans devised and matured, which, when put into practice, will leave an impression on the work at large; and no vestige of spirit of harshness should appear. Loud, impatient words should never be heard. Remember that in all your council meetings there is a heavenly Watcher. Do not allow one word of vanity to be spoken, for you are legislating for God, and He says to you, “Be still, and know that I am God.” [Psalm 46:10.] 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 20

If your committee meetings and council meetings are not under the direct supervision of the Spirit of God, your conclusions will be earthborn, and worthy of no more consideration than are any man’s expressions. Christ says, “Without me ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] If he is not honored in your assemblies as chief counsellor, your planning comes from no higher source than the human mind. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 21

*****

Brother Olsen, you speak of my return to America. For three years I stood in Battle Creek as a witness for the truth. Those who then refused to receive the testimony given me by God for them, and rejected the evidences attending these testimonies, would not be benefitted should I return. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 22

I shall write to you; but should I return to Battle Creek and bear my testimony to those who love not the truth, the ever ready words would rise from unbelieving hearts, “Some body has told her.” Even now unbelief is expressed by the words, “Who has written these things to Sister White.” But I know of no one who knows them as they are, and no one could write that which he does not suppose has an existence. Some one has told me—He who does not falsify, misjudge, or exaggerate any case. <While at Minneapolis> He bade me follow Him from room to room, that I might hear what was spoken in the bed chamber. The enemy had things very much his own way. I heard no word of prayer, but I heard my name mentioned in a slurring, criticizing way. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 23

I shall never, I think, be called to stand under the direction of the Holy Spirit as I stood at Minneapolis. The presence of Jesus was with me. All assembled in that meeting had an opportunity to place themselves on the side of truth by receiving the Holy Spirit, which was sent by God in such a rich current of love and mercy. But in the rooms occupied by some of our people was heard ridicule, criticism, jeering, laughter. The manifestations of the Holy Spirit were attributed to fanaticism. Who searched the Holy Scriptures, as did the noble Bereans, to see if the things they heard were so? Who prayed for divine guidance? The scenes which took place at this meeting made the God of heaven ashamed to call those who took part in <these things> His brethren. All this the heavenly Watcher noticed, and it is written in the book of God’s remembrance. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 24

The Lord will blot out the transgression of those who, since that time, have repented with a sincere repentance; but every time the same spirit wakens in the soul, the deeds done on that occasion are endorsed, and the doers of them are made responsible to God and must answer for them at His judgment throne. The same spirit that actuated the rejecters of Christ rankles in their hearts, and had they lived in the days of Christ, they would have acted toward Him in a manner similar to that of the godless and unbelieving Jews. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 25

God’s servants have no tame testimony to bear at this time, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear. He who rejects the light and evidence God has been liberally bestowing upon us, rejects Christ; and for him there is no other Saviour. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 26

The Work at Battle Creek

The Spirit of the Lord has outlined the condition of things at the Review and Herald Office. Speaking through Isaiah God says, “I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth; for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.” [Isaiah 57:16, 17.] 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 27

This is precisely what has been done in the Office of publication at Battle Creek. Covetousness has been woven into nearly all the business transactions of the institution, and has been practiced by individuals. This influence has spread like the leprosy, until it has tainted and corrupted the whole. As the publishing house has become corrupted, the General Conference Association has stepped in and proposed to take the diseased child off its hands, and care for it. But it is a snare for the General Conference Association to take the publishing work on its shoulders. This puts no special sanctity upon the work, but upon the G.C.A. a burden which will weigh it down, cripple it, and weaken its efficiency, <unless men who have firm principle, mingled with love, shall conduct the financial business lines.> 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 28

In this step there has been a change of responsibility, but the wrong principles remain unchanged. The same work that has been done in the past will be carried forward under the guise of the General Conference Association. The sacred character of this association is fast disappearing. What will then be respected as pure, holy, and undefiled? Will there be any voice that God’s people can regard as a voice they can respect? There certainly is nothing now that bears the divine credentials. Sacred things are mixed and mingled with earthly business that has no connection with God. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 29

To a large degree the General Conference Association has lost its sacred character because some connected with it have not changed their sentiments in any particular since the conference held at Minneapolis. Some in responsible positions go on “frowardly” in the way of their own hearts. [Verse 17.] Some who came from South Africa and from other places to receive an education which would qualify them for the work have imbibed this spirit, carried it with them to their homes, and their work has not borne the right kind of fruit. The opinions of men, which were received by them, still cleave to them like the leprosy; and it is a very solemn question whether the souls who became imbued with the spiritual leprosy in Battle Creek will ever be able to distinguish the principles of heaven from the methods and plans of men. The influences and impressions received in Battle Creek have done much to retard the work in South Africa. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 30

As things now exist in Battle Creek, the work of God cannot be carried forward on a correct basis. How long will these things be? When will the perceptions of men be made clear and sharp by the ministration of the Holy Spirit? Some there do not detect the injurious effects of the plans which for years have been working in an underhanded manner. Some of the managers at the present time are walking in the light that they have received, and are doing the best they can, but their fellow workers are making things so oppressive for them that they can do but little. The enslaving of the souls of men by their fellow men is deepening the darkness which already envelopes them. Who can now feel sure that they are safe in respecting the voice of the General Conference Association? 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 31

If the people in our churches understood the management of the men who walk in the light of the sparks of their own kindling, would they respect their decisions? I answer, No, not for a moment. I have been shown that the people at large do not know that the heart of the work is being diseased and corrupted at Battle Creek. Many of the people are in a lethargic, listless, apathetic condition, and assent to plans which they do not understand. Where is the voice, from whence will it come, to whom the people may listen, knowing that it comes from the true shepherd? I am called upon by <the Spirit of> God to present these things before you, and they are correct to the life, according to the practice of the past few years. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 32

“I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace to him that is afar off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord, and I will heal him. But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” [Verses 18-21.] “Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness.” “Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldst deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.” [Isaiah 48:1, 8.] “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” [Exodus 19:5, 6.] 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 33

I speak this afternoon at three, and I must now go to the mill on the school ground, where our meeting is to be held. I wish we had a place of worship. At the time of the institute, a tent was pitched, and we have kept this up as long as possible, but on account of wet weather, it was taken down. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 34

Consolidation of the Publishing Work.

The Lord has presented matters before me that cause me to tremble for the institutions at Battle Creek. He has laid these things before me, and shall I be consistent if I do not seek to repress the spirit in Battle Creek which reaches out for more power, when for years there have not been sufficient men who were qualified to preside, with Christian faithfulness, over the charge they already have? 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 35

The scheme for consolidation is detrimental to the cause of present truth. Battle Creek has all the power she should have. Some in that place have advanced selfish plans, and if any branch of the work promised a measure of success, they have not exercised the spirit which lets well enough alone, but have made an effort to attach these interests to the great whole. They have striven to embrace altogether too much, and yet they are eager to get more. When they can show that they have made these plans under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then confidence in them may be restored. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 36

Twenty years ago, I was surprised at the cautions and warnings given me in reference to the publishing house on the Pacific Coast—that it was ever to remain independent of all other institutions; that it was to be controlled by no other institution, but was to do the Lord’s work under His guidance and protection. The Lord says, “All ye are brethren” [Matthew 23:8], and the Pacific Press is not to be envied and looked upon with jealousy and suspicion by the stronger publishing house at Battle Creek. It must maintain its own individuality, and be strictly guarded from any corruption. It must not be merged into any other institution. The hand of power and control at Battle Creek must not reach across the continent to manage it. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 37

At a later date, just prior to my husband’s death, the minds of some were agitated in regard to placing these institutions under one presiding power. Again the Holy Spirit brought to my mind what had been stated to me by the Lord. I told my husband to say, in answer to this proposition, that the Lord had not planned any such action. He who knows the end from the beginning understands these matters better than erring man. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 38

At a still later date the situation of the publishing house at Oakland was again presented to me. I was shown that a work was to be done by this institution which would be to the glory of God if the workers should keep His honor ever in view; but that an error was being committed by taking in a class of work which had a tendency to corrupt the institution. I was also shown that it must stand on its own independence, working out God’s plan under the control of none other but God. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 39

The Lord presented before me that branches of this work would be planted in other places, and carried on under the supervision of the Pacific Press, but that if this proved a success, jealousy, evil surmisings, and covetousness would arise. Efforts would be made to change the order of things and embrace the work among other interests at Battle Creek. Men are very zealous to change the order of things, but the Lord forbids such a <consolidation.> Every branch should be allowed to live and do its own work. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 40

Mistakes will occur in every institution, but if the managers will learn the lesson all must learn—to move guardedly—these errors will not be repeated, and God will preside over the work. Every worker in our institutions needs to make the Word of God His principle rule of action. Then the blessing of God will rest on him. He cannot with safety, dispense with the truth of God as his guide and monitor. If man can take one breath without being dependent upon God, then he may lay aside God’s pure, holy Word as guide book. The truth must take control of the conscience and the understanding in all the work that is done. The Holy Spirit must preside over thought and word and deed. It is to direct in all temporal and spiritual actions. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 41

It is well pleasing to God that we have praise and prayer and religious services, but Bible religion must be brought into all we do, and give sanctity to each daily duty. The Lord’s will must become man’s will in everything. The Holy One of Israel has given rules of guidance to all, and these rules of guidance are to be strictly followed, for they form the standard of character. No one can swerve from the first principles of righteousness without sinning. But our religion is misinterpreted and despised by believers, because so many who profess to hold the truth do not practice its principles in dealing with their fellow men. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 42

To my brethren at Battle Creek, I would say, You are not in any condition to consolidate. This means nothing less than placing upon the institutions at Battle Creek the management of all the work, far and near. God’s work cannot be carried forward successfully by men, who, by their resistance to light, have placed themselves where nothing will influence them to repent or change their course of action. There are men connected with the work in Battle Creek whose hearts are not sanctified and controlled by God. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 43

If those connected with the work of God will not hear His voice and do His will, they should separate entirely from the work. God does not need the influence of such men. I speak plainly, for it is time that things were called by their right name. Those who love and fear God with all their hearts are the only men that God can trust. But those who have separated their souls from God should themselves be separated from the work of God, which is so solemn and so important. 11LtMs, Lt 81, 1896, par. 44