Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 91, 1899

Words of Counsel Regarding the Management of the Work of God


June 19, 1899

This manuscript is published in entirety in 13MR 179-191. +Note

There are many things which need to be said. May the Lord help me to say with my pen the very words that should be said. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 1

God’s people should stand as a distinct, holy people, separate from the world. But the Lord has been greatly dishonored because they have consulted lawyers in regard to church matters. They have lost their spiritual discernment, and in the place of using the sacred fire of God’s own kindling, they have used the common fire. Some act like men who are destitute of the Spirit of God, and under the control of Satan. God’s people should be working in different lines. There is earnest, solemn work to be done in all our institutions. These institutions have not been guarded as they should have been. Too little dependence is placed upon God, and altogether too much upon unsanctified men. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 2

The subject I wish now to bring before our people is that of the special management of the general interests of the cause of God at the present time. For years light has been given me that the one selected to preside over the General Conference should not be left to bear all the burdens alone. He is to be a man of clear discernment, who will not swerve from right principles, and he is to have as his counselors staunch men who will not sway or be swayed in wrong directions, who are as firm as a rock to principle. He is not to be left to follow his own inclinations in the choice of his counselors. This has been done for years, to the detriment of the work. His associates are to be chosen men, who have the confidence of the people; God-fearing men upon whom he can rely. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 3

The president of the General Conference should not select his son to be a counselor or a judge, for if such a relative is connected with him, there is danger that correct principles will not be carried out. The very fact that the counselor is a relative will be a source of temptation to those who have been swayed from truth and righteousness to carry things in their own way, the son thinking he has no right to question his father’s decisions or work. The president of the conference should choose as his counselors “able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.” [Exodus 18:21.] 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 4

Sometimes the men chosen to preside over the state conferences are not the best and most trustworthy men. Some cannot reason correctly, because they have lost their spiritual eyesight. “Spiritual things are spiritually discerned.” [See 1 Corinthians 2:13, 14.] Much careful consideration should be given to the matter of appointing state conference presidents. Much prayer should be offered to God. He should be sought most earnestly, that the presidents of the state conferences may show themselves to be men of ability in spiritual understanding. The Lord requires this of all who come near to Him. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 5

In the eighteenth chapter of Exodus we are shown what kind of men are to be chosen to share the burdens and responsibilities of the work of God. Moses had a great charge, and it was necessary that others should bear the burdens with him. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 6

“It came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening. And when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? Why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning until even? And Moses said unto his father-in-law, Because the people come unto me to inquire of God: when they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws. And Moses’ father-in-law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. Thou wilt surely wear away, both you, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou are not able to perform it thyself alone. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 7

“Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to Godward, that thou mayest bring the causes of unto God: And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: and let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge, so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.” [Verses 13-22.] This is the kind of men who should be chosen to carry forward the work of God. Lessons from God’s Word should be learned by those who are carrying heavy responsibilities. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 8

“Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people.” [Verse 25.] Speaking to the congregation afterward, he said, “I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.” [Deuteronomy 1:16.] 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 9

God’s directions have not always been followed. Men have been selected to fill places on the Foreign Mission Board who had not sufficient experience for the work. They needed to lift up their eyes and behold the field white unto the harvest. The decisions which have been made in various lines have shown that some of the men chosen were not men of consecrated ability, men who were of value because of their experience in living connection with God. They became self-important, wise in their own conceit. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 10

Men have been given the work of judging whether or not a book was of value, who were not sufficiently intelligent in regard to the matter to be entrusted with this work. They needed to realize their ignorance, to become educated. They needed to wear Christ’s yoke, and learn of Him who is meek and lowly in heart. They needed to heed the injunction, “Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in to possess the land whither ye go to possess it.” “Lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” [Deuteronomy 11:8, 18, 19.] 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 11

Eternal vigilance is the price of safety. Had these requirements, which are even more essential at this time when everything is ripening for the great day of God than they were in the time of the children of Israel, been heeded, a different condition would now be seen. The most decided strength of purpose should have been shown lest Satan should beguile through his specious devices. The people should have been taken into the counsels, and interested in the work. Matters should have been laid out before them that they might have known how the means which they had invested were being handled. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 12

The president of the General Conference has altogether too many burdens for one man to carry. For years this has been presented to me. My husband fell under the heavy draughts made upon him. Elder Butler was counseled by the Lord to share his burdens with men who could counsel with him. They were to be given a portion of the load. But this counsel was unheeded. Elder Butler linked with him his own son, who could only be a worker under his father. Thus the relief which it was pointed out Elder Butler should have, he did not have, because he did not manage wisely. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 13

Elder Olsen was advised to share his burdens with men who could help him. The work of the General Conference should never have rested on one man. At first one man could carry it, but as believers multiplied, the man must suffer as well as the work, which needed careful thought and the utmost firmness, in order that right principles might be maintained. The Lord did not give Elder Olsen the work of engaging in the publishing business. The publishing institutions were established to carry forward important interests. But men who were not under the divine guidance were given management in them. At the very heart of the work erroneous principles were pressing for recognition. All matters should have been laid before the people. The Lord should have been sought in humble prayer. Then the Holy Spirit would have been their teacher. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 14

But the conferences at large were not enlightened in regard to what was being done. Men were linked up with Elder Olsen who led him and imbued him with their spirit. Unrebuked, corruption was going on at the heart of the work. The cause of God in our institutions was being perverted. Men were exalted, regardless of the advice God was giving. Covetousness held sway. Judas-practices were contaminating the workers. No language can be framed to describe the result of placing unfaithful, unconverted men in holy places. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 15

Some have been trying to struggle to the light, but there are secret things which have not come to light. Many poor souls will not be able to enter in at the strait gate; for it is altogether too narrow to admit any of Satan’s intrigue and deceptions. When the Holy Spirit breaks away the barriers, the lawyers will no longer be called upon to adjust difficulties for God’s people. God will take the matter in hand and bring to light every hidden thing. He will bring men into places where they will speak, and things which are now involved in mystery will be revealed, and their bearing on His cause will be seen. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 16

Lessons From Israel

The Jewish nation had a history of a most remarkable character. The Christ of the New Testament was the Christ of the Old. The Lord did indeed hedge His vineyard about to guard it. He guarded it with His law. In Eden the marriage law and the Sabbath law were plainly and distinctly defined, that there might be no ignorance or misunderstanding on the part of the people. When God had finished the work of creation, He rested on the seventh day. He blessed the day of His rest, while the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 17

The Lord spoke to Abraham when he was living in a nation of idolaters. He desired to make him a chosen instrument, by giving him the light of the laws of His kingdom. But first Abraham must break his connection with his father’s family, separating from their influence that he might be taught by God. Jehovah was to be the object of his worship. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 18

Abraham obeyed God. He left his father’s house, and went into a strange land. There the Lord educated him. He spoke to him, saying, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” [Genesis 15:1.] Again, when Abraham was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him, and said, “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.” [Genesis 17:1-4.] 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 19

Abraham was called the father of the faithful. His connection with God showed that he was determined to walk in the fear of the Lord in his home life. “I know him,” said the Searcher of hearts—He who blesses the habitation of the faithful—“that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.” [Genesis 18:19.] He will keep the law instituted in Eden as the standard of character. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 20

The Lord made Abraham His husbandry, His building. He was material upon which God could work. In the fear of the Lord he cultivated home religion, and the love of God circulated through his entire household. He had a church in his home. He was the instructor of the many souls connected with him. He began and carried forward a grand work. He and his family were subjects of God’s kingdom. By the combined influence of authority and love, he ruled his house. He walked in his home in perfect, trusting obedience to a “Thus saith the Lord.” 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 21

The Hebrew nation went down to Egypt, and for four hundred years they were kept in Egyptian servitude. After Joseph’s death the worship of the Egyptians made such an impression on their minds that the sight of their eyes and the hearing of their ears were corrupted. They lost the true knowledge of God. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 22

According to His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God delivered the Israelites from slavery, desolating the fertile land of Egypt to rescue His people. In awful grandeur He delivered them from the Egyptian host who pursued them. Not one of those who entered the Red Sea in pursuit of the people the Lord had chosen as His own, was saved. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 23

One equal with God, His only-begotten Son, Christ carried out His Father’s mind in the deliverance of the Israelites. God had promised Moses, “My presence shall go with thee” [Exodus 33:14], and He fulfilled this promise by giving Christ to be the invisible Leader of His people, while Moses was chosen to be their visible general. Christ guided them in their travels through the wilderness, indicating where they should encamp. Through Moses He communicated His will and purpose to more than a million people. Through forty years of wilderness-wandering He was their Instructor. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 24

They had reached the river Jordan, and spies were sent to view the land of Canaan. Under the working of the wily foe, ten of these brought back an evil report, and when the people heard it, “they murmured against Moses and against Aaron and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? Were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.” [Numbers 14:2-4.] For this rebellion and perversity the Lord declared that for 40 years they were to wander in the wilderness. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 25

God designs that His glory shall appear in the working out of His will. His wonderful deliverance of the children of Israel was ever to be repeated by the people. By what He had done they were to know that He would accomplish what He had undertaken. All man’s resistance would only make the victory more signal and triumphant. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 26

The camp of Israel was not easily managed. Murmurers, complainers, and faultfinders were constantly met with, and the management of the camp was a serious undertaking for Moses. But patiently the Lord cared for and worked with His vineyard. He had selected His people, not from the rich and powerful of the world, but because they were the smallest of all people. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 27

From Sinai the Lord spoke His law, making a wonderful display of His glory. There He made a covenant with all who promised to be obedient to His law. Obedience to the Sabbath was to be a sign between Him and His people, “that ye may know,” He said, “that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. ... Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever.” [Exodus 31:13, 16, 17.] 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 28

The wonderful deliverance of the Jewish church reveals God’s great care and love. He designed that through the channel of this people His blessings should flow to the whole world. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 29

Lessons From the History of the Early Christian Church

“And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.” [Acts 6:1, 2.] 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 30

This matter was not decided by one man. Had it been, many things would have been neglected. “The twelve called the multitude of the disciples” together. They did not call a lawyer who had no personal interest in the prosperity of the church. They called the multitude of the believers, and said to them, “It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.” [Verse 2.] 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 31

More was said regarding the matter than is given in this record. But the conclusion is stated: “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude.” They chose seven men, “whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” [Verses 3-7.] 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 32

The Lord here gives us an example of the care that should be exercised when choosing men for His service. In this case, one man was not made the only burden-bearer of great responsibilities. Seven men were chosen, and they were to be closely united in their work. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 33

Those chosen were not to be like Ananias, who had appropriated to his own use certain sums of money, representing at the same time that he had given the whole amount to the cause of God. At that time, we read, that “as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the price of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet.” [Acts 4:34, 35.] This was an occasion of temptation to the selfish and covetous, notwithstanding the fact that the Holy Spirit was working among the people. Hereditary and cultivated traits of character developed, showing that all were not cleansed from their evil tendencies, but dared to practice lying and fraud. None of them were compelled to give up their possessions. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 34

Ananias and Sapphira wished to be regarded as giving all, and yet keep part. In order to do this, they falsified. Both of them agreed to practice deception, but they did it at the cost of their lives. God struck them both with death. Thus He passed judgment on those who, while His grace and light and power were working, dared to commit sin against the Holy Spirit. This God did to warn the believers against fraud and deception and every species of dishonesty. He knew that doors of temptation would open before those who were bringing in of their means to sustain His cause. He knew that those not under the control of His Spirit would be tempted to work as they had done before they were brought under gospel principles. Some would think that they were not paid sufficient for their work, and would appropriate money or goods to supply this fancied deficiency. This would bring in untold evil. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 35

For this reason the Lord directed Peter to deal as he did with the first departure from truthful dealing. A severe warning must be given at the very first instance of dishonesty. Thus it was shown that all unjust, selfish actions are known to God, and will be searched out. Every hidden evil, however secret, will be punished. God will be glorified in those who serve Him. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 36

As with Ananias and Sapphira, so it was with Judas. His covetousness led him to steal from the Lord’s treasury. He carried the bag containing the gifts made by Christ’s followers to sustain the work, and he appropriated sums of money which he never allowed to appear on the account. He reasoned that his labors were not sufficiently appreciated, and therefore that it was right for him to pay himself in accordance with his own ideas. This principle, acted upon, perverted his conscience. Had he allowed himself to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, he would have retained righteousness and preserved integrity. He would not have accused Mary of extravagance in anointing Christ with precious ointment. But from the very first act of dishonesty, his character began to deteriorate. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 37

This history is given that corruption may not be brought into the church by men who sell themselves to Satan to carry out his suggestions. Such men not only take themselves from under God’s protection, and lose peace and happiness, but they will betray the cause of God into the hands of sinners. All their work is against God. Their talents of usefulness are used to forward the work of the great deceiver. They will lose eternal life. Their misappropriation of the Lord’s goods, their robbery of His treasury, may ever be kept secret, but it is at the loss of their souls. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 38

This is one reason why Brother Ballenger’s proposed enterprise of establishing a settlement in the South would not be a safe one. There are those who are supposed to be excellent men, but they have some flaw in their character which, under special temptation, becomes as a dead fly in the ointment. The whole character will be perverted by one unconfessed sin. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 39

Then let all plans to establish a community in the Southern field be abandoned. Let not one or two men devise methods of work which according to foresight promise to be a success, but which aftersight will reveal to be a mistake, involving the work of God in difficulty. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 40

The workers in God’s service need to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. This kind of talent is especially needed in the work in the South. There are men who if they choose can make it very hard for those who take hold of the work in any part of the field, because their hearts are not linked with the heart of the great Worker. They need to be controlled by the Spirit of God, else they will make great blunders, which will imperil their own souls and the souls of their fellow men. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 41

God calls for a living, straightforward testimony to be borne. Testimonies have been borne, but a new impulse must be given to the work. Jesus Christ is the Captain of the Lord’s host. He must be recognized as the Leader. All who heed the words, “Follow me,” will reveal the fruit of obedience. The ground upon which we are to stand unitedly in doing God’s service is that the Bible is the true guide, and not the idle sophistry of men. The Bible is our Counselor, and is to be obeyed. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 42

Justification by faith is the article of our true standing in the sight of God. Sanctification through the Holy Spirit binds up man’s will and purpose with the will and purpose of God. If we have not these features in our experience, the church will be sickly and feeble. The safety of God’s people is in coming to His living Word. When no human authority is put before this Word, then will men unite in gospel harmony, for the doing of the Word binds heart to heart, causing the workers to blend as one in Christ Jesus. The living Oracles are fresh and beautiful. To study them is to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 43

Greater care should be taken in regard to the spirit circulating through the institutions at the heart of the work. All should bear the signature of God. All the workers are to humble their hearts before the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty. All are to work in humility of mind, as servants of Christ, yoked up with Him. All are to live lives of self-denial and self-sacrifice. They are to learn Christ’s meekness and lowliness. No vestige of an overbearing spirit will then be seen. 14LtMs, Ms 91, 1899, par. 44