Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14

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Lt 133, 1899

White, J. E.; White, Emma

Strathfield, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

September 10, 1899

Portions of this letter are published in PM 218; 10MR 98-99. +Note

Dear Children:

I am up early, writing by gas light. All the others are asleep. I am in Sydney, and am being entertained at the house of Brother John Wessels. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 1

I am much burdened in regard to some things urged upon my mind. I have written something in regard to the matter of picture making, especially for our books. The large investment of means for this purpose has been decidedly wrong. It is not pictures that we should feel a burden to present to the people; it is the truth, the subject matter, that they need. The work of illustrating is a constant temptation to tie up money. The very ones who need the books and would appreciate them cannot obtain them because of their high price. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 2

I have matter regarding this subject written out with all the particulars, and will send it in this mail if I can get it copied. I think I can, but fearing I cannot, I write to you by hand. Do not accept the temptations which will come to you with peculiar force to get out books which involve a large investment of money. The Lord is not in this matter. The thousands of dollars expended in illustrations could be invested in getting out books and selling them cheaply. As ministers attend tent meetings, they should have the privilege of taking these books with them, and selling them as cheaply as possible. With the money they receive above what the books have cost them, they should buy books to present to those of our people who cannot afford to purchase them, or to unbelievers, who may thus be brought to a knowledge of the truth. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 3

There is a rivalry coming into the work. One book is issued to supersede another book issued. The publishers and authors who enter this competition will lose the grace of God out of their hearts. This spirit is now strengthening, to the injury of the moral influence of souls. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 4

It is too late, altogether too late, to depend upon the expensive covers of a book, or its abundant illustrations, for its sale. It is enough, without any explanation, to say that God has not inspired this enthusiasm regarding illustrations. Had I The Desire of Ages to publish now, the showing would be entirely different. The books that the people need should be issued free from all display. The saving of the thousands of dollars expended in illustrations would make it possible for the books to be sold at a price that would enable many to obtain them. The Lord has not inspired this enthusiasm. It is a part of the work that has led away from the simplicity of the faith which should characterize Seventh-day Adventists as a chosen generation, a peculiar people zealous of good works. Canvassers and artists have had much influence in deciding this subject of illustrations. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 5

I have been surprised as the increased expense caused by illustrations has been laid before me. This expense is not essential. It is not after God’s order. The colored race need books made especially for them, printed in large type and furnished with pictures. Because of their ignorance and the cast of their minds, colored people can understand a subject better when illustrated by pictures. But this can be done in an inexpensive manner. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 6

The Lord is not pleased with the spirit that is coming into the publishing institutions. Economical, saving habits must be maintained in every line of the work. There is a world to be warned, and all that is not positively essential to make our books readable should be avoided. Souls are to be reached by the publications coming from the press. The illustrations will not and are not doing the great amount of good that it is represented they will do. There are some who would be attracted by a picture, but there are many who care naught for these things. The Lord calls upon His people to maintain their principles by issuing plain, inexpensive books, which contain the very choicest matter. Then the Lord will use His influence to place these books in the hands of those whom they will benefit. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 7

More liberality must be shown in giving our publications to those who would not otherwise obtain them. Now as never before we should humble our hearts before God and come into the closest relationship with Jesus Christ. We should move and work understandingly. Make no large investments in illustrations and in expensive covers. Unless we work upon correct principles, the human plans that now appear so flattering to human minds in their estimation of success will, when presented before them in the books of heaven, show results which will surprise those who are now striving for the superiority in the appearance of their literature. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 8

I have this to say: It is best to be as true as steel to pure, clean, holy principles, without thinking of the consequences as far as human calculations are concerned. The whole world is twisted and warped out of God’s order, and we must not consult the tastes, appetites, or the opinions of those who have not wisdom and judgment from on high, who cannot discern the binding claims of God’s holy law, who fail to see that it is for their present and eternal interest to honor God and keep His commandments. We must not shape our work to meet the extravagance existing in the outlay of means for multitudinous illustrations which do not add to the sale of the book, as artists and canvassers would represent. It should be kept before all our publishing houses that God does not sanction such expenditure of means. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 9

We want to present the truth in humble simplicity, letting it bear its own savor of life unto life. We are departing from the very principles which should have lived and strengthened in every publishing house from which our publications are issued. Now is the time for us to work. Now is the time for us to put all our forces into solid work in dark, diseased places, which have been neglected for want of funds to carry out the commission of the Lord: “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” [Luke 24:46, 47.] 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 10

“All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” [Matthew 28:18-20.] “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” [Mark 16:16-18.] 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 11

Let this passion for picture making be bound about. Let the divine Spirit work to produce the impression God would have made upon mind and heart. Christ is our efficiency. All the pictures of the greatest artist in the world can never, never do the work that needs to be done for the soul, the work of the Holy Spirit, which convinces of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. The Hebrew nation had before them the type of a Saviour, who was to be crucified for the sins of the world. Thus Christ was seen in figure as the great offering. But the need of this instruction ceased when type met antitype in the death of the Lamb slain for the sins of the world. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 12

Christ ascended on high, to take His position as our Advocate in the heavenly courts. Having reached His throne, He sent His Holy Spirit, as He had promised, in response to the prayers of His disciples. The right impressions made on the human heart are made by this Spirit. The expensive covers on a book, or the expensive illustrations in it, do not accomplish the work in the conversion of souls that we are inclined to think they do. We must depend upon the working of the Holy Spirit upon human minds. Pictures are supposed to do this work, but those who think thus will be disappointed. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 13

The Holy Spirit is to be prayed for, trusted in, believed in. Humble, fervent prayer will [do] more in behalf of the circulation of our books than all the expensive pictures in the world. More than this, God is dishonored by our putting trust in these things. The Lord would have His people come to their senses. The Holy Spirit will be poured upon the church in strong, heavenly currents if God’s people will believe, if they will turn their attention to that which is true, and living, and real. After Christ’s ascension, the disciples were gathered together of one accord in one place. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 14

As they made humble supplication to God their differences were swept away. They became of one mind. And after ten days of heart-searching and self-examination, each taking his own case in hand, for it had to be an individual work, the way was prepared for the Holy Spirit to enter the cleansed, consecrated soul-temples. Every heart was filled with the Spirit, which came with a copiousness and power, as though it had been held in restraint for ages, ready to be poured out upon the people who asked for it, as if God desired to show His people that it was His prerogative to bless them with the choicest of heaven’s blessings. What was the result? Thousands were converted in a day. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 15

The sword of the Spirit flashed right and left. It seemed newly edged with power, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow. The idolatry which had been mingled with the worship of the people was overthrown. New territory was added to the church of God. Places which had been barren and desolate sounded forth the praise of God. The church became a vitalizing power. Believers, themselves re-converted, born again, were a living power for God and for His kingdom. A new song was put into their mouth, even praise to our God. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 16

Every soul controlled by the Holy Spirit saw in their brethren and sisters the faces of angels. One interest prevailed, one subject of emulation swallowed up all others—to be like Christ, to do the works of Christ. The earnest zeal felt was expressed by kindly helpfulness, by kindly looks and brotherly love. All strove to see who could do the most for the enlargement of Christ’s kingdom. The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one mind. Every spiritual pulse beat in harmony. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 17

I have more to say, but, for want of time, I cannot say it all now. Let me say to you, my son, present the truth to all with whom you come in contact. Tell them of the great and measureless gift of the Holy Spirit. In it is contained all of heaven’s resources. It is not because of any restriction and narrow calculation on the part of God that the riches of His grace do not flow earthward to men. If all were willing to receive, all would become filled with His Spirit. God gave with a liberality that men do not appreciate, because they do not love to receive. Tell them how Godlike is His gift. Had men been consulted in regard to their choice of the gift to be bestowed, they would have asked for some inferior good. But the Lord Jesus took this matter into His own hands, and poured out His Spirit—a blessing, which if received, will satisfy every want. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 18

Christ’s great object in sending His Spirit was to convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment: “of sin,” He said, “because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” Standing as He was in the very shadow of the cross, He longed to say many things to His disciples, but He declared, “Ye cannot bear them now.” [John 16:9-12.] Thus it is at the present time. God has given warnings, but they have not been comprehended, and the evil predicted has come. And there are still many things to be unfolded, but “ye cannot bear them now.” I now speak because I dare not withhold my peace. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 19

Monday morning, September 11

I cannot sleep. I arise at eleven o’clock p.m. I begin to see how we have been departing from the principles of simplicity. As I write, the matter urges itself upon me in such a manner that I cannot forbear to speak. The design of Providence in all its divine operations is the accomplishment of the great work of redemption. This work is done by as few and simple means as possible. And such is the dependence of every part of God’s government on every other part, such is the entire harmony of the whole, that when the Lord touches chords invisible to human perception, the vibration is felt throughout every part of His dominion. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 20

God sees that the enemy needs to be unveiled in the matter of book making. Satan has insinuated himself into this work, so that in the production of books containing valuable truth, men have failed to count the cost. They have failed to find out whether the illustrations, provided under the representation of larger sales, were absorbing all the means, limiting the power to accomplish the work in other lines, work which needs to be done at once. Close examination should be made of the influence of this work upon the church and the world. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 21

The enemy is coming in to awaken the spirit of rivalry, thus increasing an evil which, unless purged from the temple of the soul, will bring the sure chastisement of God. The thousands of dollars expended in illustrations should not be thus invested. That money should be used to defray the necessary expenses of laborers sent to new fields. Thus more territory will be covered. Books sold should be handled by consecrated workers, whom the Holy Spirit can use as His instrumentalities. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 22

God has great and grand resources for man to lay hold of, and in the most simple manner will be developed the working of the divine agencies. External exhibitions, such as pictures which show the skill of the artist, have become a snare to entrap publishers and authors. To use the money, which is so scarce at this time, in trying to portray sacred things of heaven in figure does not do the work. “No,” said the Great Teacher, “my Spirit alone is competent to teach and convict of sin. Externals only make a temporary impression upon human minds.” The only power that will succeed in transforming the soul is contact with the Holy Spirit. The heart must be convicted of sin. As never before men are to be co-laborers with Jesus Christ. He has all claim on the human heart. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 23

Said the Advocate, In man’s behalf I will enforce truth on the conscience, and men shall be My witnesses, going into all the world, asserting My claims on his time, his money, his intellect. All these I purchased on the cross of Calvary. External representations, such as pictures, cannot do the work. Use My entrusted talents to proclaim the truth in its simplicity with pen and voice. Time has been occupied and the light has been hindered from coming to the world, in the effort to make the simple but grand truths of the gospel more impressive. That is not the work of human agencies, but the work of the divine power. You place hindrances in the way by your elaborate preparations. Means thus used should be invested in sending the gospel to all parts of the world, awakening burdened souls to inquire, “What shall I do to be saved?” 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 24

There is no force which can compel the freedom of the mind. And yet the Holy Spirit has a compelling power through the convincing arguments of truth. Wherever the truth shall be proclaimed in the spirit of meekness, souls will repent and be converted to salvation. The external advantages which should be secured are humble chapels, where the people can worship God in the beauty of holiness. The Lord calls for reforms. God’s wisdom is to be extolled, man’s wisdom laid in the dust. 14LtMs, Lt 133, 1899, par. 25