Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Ms 159, 1898

“Speak Evil of No Man.”


December 8, 1898

Portions of this manuscript are published in TDG 351; ChL 60; HFM 42-43. +Note

Human nature is so frail, so ignorant, so liable to misconception, that each one should be careful of the estimate he places upon another. His ways may not be the ways of his fellow man. It is well that all are not alike; that the Lord has placed a variety of gifts in His church. 13LtMs, Ms 159, 1898, par. 1

Obstinacy is a bad trait of character, and if not overcome, is the means of doing a great deal of harm. He who is obstinate will not yield, whatever sentiments he may entertain. Narrowness of mind is the cause of obstinacy. There are men of intellectual capacity who have allowed obstinacy to develop in their character, and they refuse to believe things that are right, because they themselves did not originate them. 13LtMs, Ms 159, 1898, par. 2

Obstinacy is a barrier to all improvement. An obstinate man will not be readily convinced of anything which his sight cannot take in. He does not know what it means to walk by faith. He adheres to his own plans and opinions, be they right or wrong, because he has already adopted this line of thought. He may have abundant reason to see that he is wrong; his brethren may raise their voices against his opinions and his methods for making a success of the work, but he cherishes an almost immovable bar against conviction. 13LtMs, Ms 159, 1898, par. 3

Such a man unless converted to God should not be placed on boards or committees. He is constitutionally unfitted to make important decisions. He is determined not to be convinced. He will not yield to men of experience, and therefore he will be a hindrance, instead of a help. He will suggest sentiments that are unsanctioned by the experience or judgment of men who are fully as intelligent and as wise as he is. He will make assertions as though he had all the aftersight, and will uphold his ideas as all-sufficient. Self has for so long been the ruling element that the unfortunate man considers it a virtue to have, as he thinks, a mind of his own. If his way is not followed, he will raise objections on every occasion, in small matters and in large. He will hold to his words, whether they are true, or entirely false. This practice, often repeated, grows into confirmed habit, and becomes character. 13LtMs, Ms 159, 1898, par. 4

What discouragement this brings to others! How it weakens the hands of those God has appointed to carry forward His work! When they are linked up with men of this temperament, the burden is made tenfold heavier, for if these men have a voice in any matters, they consume time and weary their brethren by their propensity to hold back. They are not willing to walk by faith, and because the aftersight, the result of the proposition, is not spread out before them, they refuse to go forward. It makes no difference to them that they have the benefit of the experience of those who have been working on these lines for years. They have planted themselves in a certain place, and there they mean to stay. All that may be said, all that others may suggest, hope for, and endeavor to gain, meets with criticism. The objections that lie in the pathway, and the difficulties that are to follow, are enumerated. 13LtMs, Ms 159, 1898, par. 5

At times the one who has a measure of responsibility laid upon him takes such a hold-back position that the work that needs to be done without delay is blocked. If those whom he regards as subordinates make propositions that do not please him, he abruptly brings forward the difficulties that exist, and hedges up the way, although the thing suggested is the very work that needs to be done, and which must be done. The other workers know that if they decide to go ahead on their own judgment, their work will be dealt with in a spirit of ingenious faultfinding. They see that they cannot yoke up with the head man, for whatever efforts are made, whatever lines of action presented, he will utter unpleasant criticisms and bring forward objections, using his talent of speech to invent difficulties. 13LtMs, Ms 159, 1898, par. 6

Obstinacy is the most discouraging feature of a man’s character. By two or three who have made criticism their science, who take a position in opposition to nearly everything, the very best business may be dragged down to a low level. They can plant more seeds of doubt than they would wish to see ripen into harvest. Every idea which they do not present has to them some objectionable features. In the place of seeing the good in the propositions which the Lord impresses others to present, they see the disadvantages, and thus, in a most ingenious, roundabout way the fresh, new idea is made to appear objectionable. 13LtMs, Ms 159, 1898, par. 7

Upon the improvements or ideas which [do] not originate with them, they heap such a mass of their own suppositions that the board or committee assent, although they cannot understand. They think it is beyond them, wisdom too deep for their comprehension. The objectors present their suppositions in such a light that that which is perfectly right appears distorted. They hold up crooked glasses, through which things right and just looked crooked. 13LtMs, Ms 159, 1898, par. 8

Often those in a Board meeting might have come to a unanimous decision for the right had not men yielded to the temptation which Satan presented to Adam to throw discredit and accusation upon God. This is the way in which many council meetings have been held. Plans good and right have been picked to pieces and distrusted. But this kind of work has had its day. The Lord is not pleased to have this spirit hindering and marring His work. He calls for men who will carry out His will, men who will be controlled by His Holy Spirit. 13LtMs, Ms 159, 1898, par. 9

We have set forth the advantages of the school land in Cooranbong. We have shown that the Bible was our guide and teacher in establishing the school here. The latest design is to have a health food manufacturing business here. This means grave responsibilities. It calls for men who fear God, who recognize Him as present in all their transactions, men who are true, who are respectful [and] are courteous in every position, who are amiable, who are fitted to guide and direct others. They are to be polite Christian gentlemen. Christ is to be their strength and their righteousness. The youth who connect with them are to see in them characters that are fragrant with good works. They are to hear from their lips peaceable words, which do not stir up strife. They are to see in them men who look upon all human beings as the purchase of the blood of the Son of God, who will speak to them with affection, tenderness, and love. 13LtMs, Ms 159, 1898, par. 10

To those who occupy a position as director, I would say, As stewards of Christ, you are to act as shepherds of those whom you direct. Speak gently. Let not one authoritative word escape your lips. Lord it not over God’s heritage. Make the work of those you direct pleasant and cheerful. Set them an example of how to teach others to respect their pupils. As you do this, God will abundantly bless. 13LtMs, Ms 159, 1898, par. 11

If the youth feel that they have the companionship of those who direct them, they will give them their confidence and love. There should be no harsh dictation. It is a part of the education given in the school to teach good manners. All young men and young women have their temptations and trials. Unadvised dictatorship, words that show that he who ought to be a servant of Christ cherishes an accusing spirit, causes the leaven of evil to begin its work. The spirit of strife, harshness, and contention comes in, and Christ is dishonored. His name is not magnified. 13LtMs, Ms 159, 1898, par. 12

Nothing can avail to keep the soul steadfast under the strife of sharp, stinging, faultfinding words, but cherishing a continual reverence for the Word of God. Search the Bible earnestly, and when you think your brethren have not treated you as Christians should treat a fellow man, sing to the Lord, instead of answering back. Let us not be ashamed to invent means to stop the flow of angry words. “See then, that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves to one another in the fear of God.” [Ephesians 5:15-21.] 13LtMs, Ms 159, 1898, par. 13

Men who are placed as overseers must learn that they are not masters. I beg of you who have been long on this ground to be circumspect. Remember that the angels of God are continually recording your words. Bring your keenest thoughts to your aid to fence your mind about with, “It is written.” Bring no railing accusation against anyone. 13LtMs, Ms 159, 1898, par. 14

You will all be tried. Satan is working with every conceivable temptation to win you to his side. Will you resist at the devil? Will you look to Jesus in faith, trusting in Him to preserve your spirit untarnished? Search your own hearts as with a lighted candle. Become intelligent in regard to the principles that are plainly revealed in God’s Word. Do not be ever learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Life is altogether too short to be reckless and disobedient, not a whit better than the ungodly. 13LtMs, Ms 159, 1898, par. 15

Those who fear God will watch for souls as they that must give an account. Let all see how precious an influence they can exert over those with whom they are connected. If you see one who you think is not faithful, kindly admonish him. Pray with him and for him, and souls may be given you as your reward. Those who are faithful stewards will make it their rule to strive to win souls under all circumstances. I ask you, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, to live the Word of God. When you are doers of this Word, the power of God will flow in rich currents of grace into your hearts, enabling you to sing to the glory of God. 13LtMs, Ms 159, 1898, par. 16