Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Lt 94, 1899

Brethren in Responsible Positions

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

June 16, 1899

Portions of this letter are published in 3BC 1132; 1MR 277. +Note

To My Brethren in Responsible Positions:

Some things have been presented to me during the past night which I must write out. May the Lord help me, is my earnest prayer. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 1

A company was assembled, and all in it were earnestly proposing methods by which the General Conference might be freed from its indebtedness. But there seemed to be a failure to arrive at right conclusions. Words to this effect were spoken by several: “We might discuss the reason of this great debt, but that is not the subject before us now.” 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 2

One came into our midst, and with great dignity, as one having authority, said many things. He said that a course had been pursued in the General Conference and the Review & Herald office which had increased the wages of the workers. For years the principles of self-denial and self-sacrifice have not been maintained. Those in positions of responsibility can act their part in reducing the debt. Ministers, editors, presidents of conferences, should now make sacrifices and take smaller wages instead of higher. None will be compelled to do this, but thus they could set a right example before the people. The large sum paid out for wages could be greatly lessened, and will be if all hearts are enlisted in the work. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 3

Some have received wages disproportionate to the wages received by others who were doing hard and trying work. They say that they have received these wages because of their talents. Who gave them their talents, their supposed ability? 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 4

A terrible debt is hanging over the Office and the Conference, and God is testing the men connected with His institutions. Let each reduce the wages he has been receiving. This, however, does not apply to the common workers who receive much less than others and cannot be expected to detract from their wages. They have little enough. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 5

Since the increase of wages, there has been a steady increase of the spirit of covetousness, which is idolatry. Some have coveted higher and still higher wages. The Lord desires that the souls of those who have indulged this spirit be purified from this plague. Look at the world’s Redeemer, the King of glory. He did in this earth a work so large and so broad that it embraced the world. His was the ministry of love, yet He said, “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” [Luke 9:58.] 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 6

God’s servants have great need of being baptized with the ministry of love. The reward of whole-souled liberality is the leading of mind and heart to a closer fellowship with the Spirit. There is then a willingness to ask smaller wages from the conference, which has been drawn upon too heavily, so that it has not been able to plant the standard of truth in new places as it should have done. Those connected with the work of God who have been receiving high wages should now come forward with a liberal spirit and say, We will do as much work for smaller wages. We will practice economy in all lines. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 7

Covetousness is idolatry, and the sooner this is purged from those who claim to be God’s chosen people, the sooner will they clearly discern the great grace and amazing love of God. Every root and branch of covetousness must be cut away. Not only must the tops be cut off, but the roots must be dug out. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 8

Since those in connection with our institutions and the ministry have been receiving large wages, the central power has been looked upon as a common thing. The people say, “We pay our tithe to support the ministers. It is difficult for us to obtain money. But those at the heart of the work receive large wages. They talk to us of self-denial and self-sacrifice, but what sacrifice do they make? Those who audit the accounts know something in regard to this matter.” 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 9

Thus unbelief has leavened the minds of the people. The ministry of the men who are connected with the heart of the work must reveal the saving, transforming change which has taken place in their own hearts. Self-sacrifice and self-denial must begin where the evil began. The reform must begin at the heart of the cause, and work outwardly. All true religious reform will leaven the people. The Week of Prayer, instead of being shortened, should be added to. God requires those who occupy positions of trust as religious educators, to teach the people by precept and example lessons from the living oracles of God, that the best fruit may appear of the precious trees of the Lord’s planting. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 10

The word of the Lord came to David, to be repeated to his son Solomon. David was about to die, and God declared that he would be Solomon’s father. “He shall build my house and my courts,” God said, “for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. Moreover I will establish his kingdom forever.” Now follows the condition: “If he be constant to do my commandments and my judgments, as at this day. Now therefore in the sight of all Israel, the congregation of the Lord, and in the audience of our God, keep and seek for all the commandments of the Lord your God: that ye may possess this good land, and leave it for an inheritance for your children after you forever. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 11

“And now, Solomon, my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off forever. Take heed now; for the Lord hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong and do it.” [1 Chronicles 28:6-10.] 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 12

Those whom the Lord has chosen as teachers or leaders in any lines of His work are to be wholly consecrated to Him. They must open the Word of the Lord to the people, and diligently practice it in their lives. But the leaders of our conferences, the ministers, those who teach the people, do not feel the solemn weight of this as they should. Read the history of Solomon. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 13

Those connected with the Word of God are to study the history of Bible characters, that appetite may not take the helm and control the mind. It is a sin to reject the light God has given upon the denial of appetite, to eat and drink as one pleases. The result of this is that the perception is perverted. The sacred fire is not appreciated above the common. The character is cheapened by common thoughts and lustful practices. Such men and women work evil in the sight of a holy God. They use common fire, thinking it makes no difference. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 14

Individual influence is a power when the sacred fire of God’s own kindling is brought into the service. The responsibility of a man’s influence is proportionate to the trust given him. The influence of mind upon mind is in accordance with the position occupied. A holy influence should exert its power in the family, in the school, and in the church. The practical benevolence, the self-denial and self-sacrifice, which marks the life of any person, has an influence upon those who associate with him. Those who feel the responsibility of giving themselves without reserve to God will not in connection with His cause put common fire upon their censors, as did Nadab and Abihu. God would have every one in His service honor Him. Those who desire to appropriate the money that should flow into His treasury commit an offense against God, and this offense is measured by the position of trust which they occupy. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 15

The Lord would have His chosen workers like their Pattern who came to reveal God by living His law. Those who follow Christ in self-denial will bear the fruit the Saviour bore, and even when their life shall close, the seed scattered by the trees of the Lord’s planting will be multiplied to the praise and glory of His name. Men and women who will live the faith in its purity, and consecrate their powers for the development of Christian character, will be a power for good, for the true goodness of unselfish deeds will be reflected in their lives. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 16

God calls upon those who have talents to act their part in preparing a people to stand in the great day of the Lord. His workers are to stand clad in all the armor of God. Those who bear the vessels of the Lord are to be clean, their characters untainted, their influence uncorrupted, their names registered in the book of life as men and women who are recognized in the heavenly courts as laborers together with God. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 17

In the case of Manasseh the Lord gives us an instance of the way in which He works. We read, “Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel. And the Lord spake to Manasseh and to his people: but they would not hearken. Wherefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the host of the kings of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto him: and he was entreated of him, and he learned his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God.” [2 Chronicles 33:9-13.] 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 18

The Lord has often spoken to His people in warning and reproof. He has revealed Himself in mercy, love, and kindness. He has not left His backsliding people to the will of the enemy, but has borne long with them, even during obdurate apostasy. But after appeals have been made in vain, He prepares the rod for punishment. What compassionate love has been exercised toward the people of God! The Lord might have cut down in their sins those who were working at cross purposes with Him, but He has not done this. His hand is stretched out still. We have reason to offer thanksgiving to God that He has not taken His Spirit from those who have refused to walk in His way. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 19

If men had retained the simplicity of true godliness, if they had put their confidence in God instead of man, their wages would not [have] been placed as high as they have been, and the covetousness which has resulted would not now exist. At this time, when the whole world should be aroused to renounce the sins which brought upon the inhabitants of the antediluvian world the denunciation of God, the work is being hindered for lack of means and consecrated men who will not grasp at the highest wages in order to gratify their own desires. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 20

Some things which I have already written I wish to repeat. The General Conference is the heart and soul of the work. If the heart is sick, the whole body will be enfeebled. How then should this great center be regarded? 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 21

I read in the Bulletin of the appeals made to the General Conference and the Review & Herald, asking that the debt which has been accumulating on the college for sometime be forgiven—a debt which need never have existed had the men at the head of this enterprise heeded the word of the Lord. From the light which the Lord has given me I now say that the General Conference has no moral power to forgive any debt until its own obligations are cancelled. No person or institution has the right to make such an appeal to the General Conference, and it must not take on another load of indebtedness to detract from its influence as the heart of the body of believers. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 22

The draughts which have been made upon the General Conference for schools, sanitariums, and other buildings in America have not been made under the direction of God. The means which the General Conference has in hand is not its own, and if men would be faithful in their stewardship, they cannot take this step. We need at the heart of the work men who will be as true as steel, men who commune with the Lord God of Israel. God has no use for men who like Manasseh hear His Word and do not heed it. Let this not be said of those who are now connected with the work. Principles of righteousness and integrity must be maintained at any cost, for we are a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 23

The General Conference has been presented to me as weighed down beneath heavy debt, and I have been shown that were this institution freed from this encumbrance, it would not lose its moral health and power of action by repeating the experience of the past. The General Conference should not be called upon to limit its resources by placing itself in the bondage of still greater indebtedness. The center of the work has been presented to me as a fountain which is to supply the great dearth of gospel teachers in places where the standard of truth has never been lifted. Then let no voice be heard appealing for means to establish expensive buildings. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 24

And let none think that such a large outlay of means will bring in a proportionate revenue. This has been done again and again, and it has resulted in the loss of means to sustain the work of God; the grace of God, which should flow to all the parched places of earth, has been hindered. When once these large investments are made, there must be a continual outlay of means to maintain these institutions. These heavy draughts are sapping our supplies, and when God’s voice has spoken saying, “Go forward, and lift the standard in new fields,” there has not been sufficient facilities with which to commence the work. Thus the enemy has worked to weaken the heart and head of the cause. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 25

The Lord now calls upon His people to work on different principles. When the publishing house and the General Conference proposed a confederacy, and took over the sanitarium in St. Helena and the school in Healdsburg, they had no right to do this. And by the mismanagement of those who were in high places pressing burdens were laid upon the General Conference. Those who stood in responsible positions inaugurated new principles, and high wages were paid to the leading men connected with the institutions. No investigation was made as to why the wages should reach such large proportions. What right had any such principles to see the light of day? Did those men make themselves responsible to keep the work free from embarrassment, that the cause of God might not be crippled in doing the work assigned it? 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 26

Were these institutions under the leadership of these men gaining facilities for the accomplishment of the work? No; Satan was managing matters, and he sought to cut off the strength of the General Conference, and leave it a crippled wreck, that it might not do its appointed work. Under the management of men who have grasped every advantage they could obtain to benefit themselves, the very heart-life of the work has gone, and the conference has become almost bankrupt. Shall still further draughts be made upon this institution? Shall it be called upon to maintain other enterprises which cannot be self-sustaining. The Lord would have the General Conference and the publishing institution make an altogether different showing. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 27

We had enough buildings for the school in Battle Creek. It was not necessary that another be added. Let those who are so anxious to have buildings create the funds. But never again lay upon the conference the burden of debt. Let those who wish to make improvements call upon students and parents to help provide them. But do not divert the Lord’s means to a work for which the Lord does not purpose it. Our work now is to face right about and consider this matter. The great heart of the work is to be preserved, and every soul is to act his part to keep the treasury of the Lord supplied by giving a faithful tithe and presenting gifts and offerings. But the General Conference must stand in moral and financial independence. Never repeat the past by bringing the General Conference into bondage and disrepute. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 28

Testimonies have been given that there should be more ministers in the field, and the question has been asked, How can this be done? I will answer: Present a faithful message to every church, calling upon each to bring their tithe into the storehouse, that there may be meat in the Lord’s house. Let those ministers who have taken all the wages appointed them give to the churches an example of self-denial and self-sacrifice. Take less from the Lord’s treasury. Then some other soul who feels a burden to minister can share your wages. The Lord is moving upon the hearts of young men to go to the waste places of the earth, telling men the old, old story of the love of Jesus. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 29

My brethren, do not bury your means in houses and lands, that you may enrich yourselves, but study the self-denial of Christ. With the conference now under a load of debt, what better thing can ministers and churches do than to heed the words of Christ, “Sell that ye have, and give alms, provide yourself bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens, that faileth not.” [Luke 12:33.] Do not talk about your meager wages. Do not cultivate a taste for expensive articles of dress. Let the work advance as it began, in simple self-denial and faith. Let a different order of things come in. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 30

No true minister can be a rich man. Christ says, “He that will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” [Luke 9:23.] The man who will commence at the lowest round of the ladder, and ascend, keeping heaven always in view, will become rich in heaven’s treasure. God’s Word is to him a mine of wealth. All who will bring earnestness and self-denial into their ministry are making provision for an eternal reward. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 31

When a school is seen to be running into debt, the tuition fee should be raised, and the institution run on more economical lines. Let the school managers try for one year to see what can be done to lessen this debt. Let everything be done with regard to the strictest economy. Each student should deny himself in the expenditure of means and help to lessen the debt on the school. At every step money should be saved, that the school may pay its indebtedness. If this plan is followed, the principles of self-denial can be brought back into the work. The world’s Redeemer understood what poverty meant, and He wants to see His followers working together in sympathy and love to wipe out this debt, that He may say to them, “Ye are laborers together with God.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] May the Lord help those who have departed from the principles of sacrifice to come back to the simplicity of the gospel of Christ. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 32

The people in Battle Creek have a great work to do. Parents have not brought up their children according to the Word of the Lord, and therefore Satan has been educating them instead. These children and youth will prove a great trial in the school at Battle Creek, leading others into sin. Parents in the place of acknowledging their neglect will charge their children’s perversity to the teachers in the school. The Lord now calls upon parents and teachers to make a covenant with God by sacrifice, and come to Him with full purpose of heart. This is the only way by which they can clear their souls from the mist and clouds of darkness and open the door of the heart to Jesus, that He may come in and sanctify it by His presence. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 33

I address those in responsible positions: What will you do to counteract the work you have done in lowering the standard of righteousness? Strange principles have been brought into the work of God. Covetousness, which is idolatry, has been cherished by His people. Very many have lost their knowledge of God and are in need of the saving grace of Christ. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 34

If these souls do not gain a knowledge of the true God, they will soon know Him by experience as a God of judgment. Those who now in the pride of their hearts think that they are right, will then have no other revelation of God than that of a condemning conscience. May the Lord help all to seek Him with the whole heart, while yet there is time for the wrong to be righted. May the Holy Spirit search every heart and convict every soul, until soul, body, and spirit are cleansed and the work of God revived. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 35

The people of God have strayed into false paths. They have not studied how they could prevent humiliation from coming to the cause of God. Instead of doing thorough work, they have sought to cover up the evil, and this has brought degradation upon the cause. Were the business of Seventh-day Adventists opened up to view, it would be seen that God has been dishonored, for the advice of worldly men has been followed rather than the Word of the living God. God’s professed people have discarded the Christian standard, and have placed in its stead human laws and wisdom. Leaving the counsel of God for that of men, they have placed themselves under the leadership of the enemy. The Lord cannot heal the wound of His people until they seek Him in humility of heart. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 36

The apostle Paul exhorts us, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings, that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.” [Philippians 2:14-16.] Unless those who claim to believe the truth in our institutions realize their obligations as followers of Christ, unless they understand the high principles which should be brought into the work, they will have no light to shine amid the moral darkness of the world. The true Christian will realize his obligations to rise to the highest achievements. He will live in unity with his fellow men, and will be a convincing argument to the world in favor of the grace of Christ. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 37

Wake up, my brethren and sisters. Arouse your energies to act their part. Deny self and take upon you Christ’s yoke, and then the Lord will greatly bless you. The judgments of God are in the land. He is visiting His judgments upon men by land and by sea. While time still lasts, cease from cherishing pride and self-indulgence. Seek the Lord while He may be found; call ye upon Him while He is near. Humble the heart before God, and pray that He will reveal Himself to you. 14LtMs, Lt 94, 1899, par. 38