Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 15 (1900)

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Lt 150, 1900

Irwin, G. A.

St. Helena, California

October 26, 1900

Portions of this letter are published in 6BC 1062, 1086; CTr 309.

Dear Brother Irwin:

After reading Dr. Kress’ letter, I wrote something with reference to my making the journey to Battle Creek to attend the [General] Conference [session]. This morning I must write still further. During the night season my mind has undergone some change. I will now say that if the Spirit of the Lord shall impress me that He will be with me in meeting in person those who shall assemble in conference, I shall not let anything come in which would give the enemy occasion to point to me as inconsistent in my course of action. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 1

I dread to meet in conference with the many I necessarily must meet, who are acquainted with me and the work God has given me to do, and yet are full of questioning doubt. A crowd of people, however large, who do not know the truth, is no dread to me. It is easy for me to meet and address them. But it is not the easiest or the most desirable thing for me to meet those who have had all the evidence that will ever be given them that God has given me a work to do. Whether they believe or disbelieve, it is not my work to strive constantly to produce every evidence possible to make them believe. This is not my work, though many suppose that it is. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 2

I wish to say that if after considering the matter, the brethren still think it the best thing to have the conference at Battle Creek, and that it is best for me to meet the people in conference, I will consent to attend, even if the conference is held at Battle Creek. Dr. Kress has written very decidedly in regard to this matter. He thinks that the conference should be held near Battle Creek, if not in Battle Creek. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 3

It must be evident to all that there is no place east of the Rocky Mountains except Battle Creek where the conference could be convened. On account of the climate, Oakland, California, would be my decided preference, but this I shall not urge. It shall not in the future be said that the conference was held in Oakland to accommodate Sister White, and thus the impression be left on minds that Sister White said that the conference must be held in Oakland, and all must do as she said. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 4

I wish to say that I had sufficient reason for not wishing the conference to be held in Battle Creek at the coldest season of the year. For nine years I have lived in a mild climate, where my windows were open day and night, and where I only had a fire in my room in the mornings and evening during the winter. To travel from here to Battle Creek in the depth of winter would be a most expensive business for me. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 5

I cannot myself see the reason for having the General Conference held at a season of the year when rooms must be heated artificially to be warm enough to sit in. For a large number of people to assemble in rooms which, to be sufficiently comfortable, have to be heated by stoves or steam or electricity, is not conducive to a healthy action of the brain; and it is most painful for my heart and head. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 6

While I was visiting in Healdsburg the nights and morning were cold, and at the different places where I stayed, a fire was kept in the stove. This invariably brought depression to me, an uncomfortable letting down of the whole system. Will not those who attend meetings in overheated rooms feel the same exhaustion, more or less? And after sitting in such rooms, are they not greatly exposed when they go out into the air? I cannot but think that it is a mistake to bring together in midwinter a large number of people to a place which to be comfortable must be artificially heated. Atmosphere heated in this way has a tendency to lessen vitality. And many, after attending a long session of meetings in heated rooms, suffer greatly from exposure as they go to their lodgings, to sleep, perhaps, in a cold bed. They pass the night in a chilly condition, uncomfortable and miserable. I have had in the past a most painful experience in this respect. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 7

It has been presented to me many times that in consequence of attending these large gatherings in a cold climate, sitting in heated rooms and then sleeping in cold beds, people have contracted colds from the effects of which they have never recovered. The Lord desires His people to be wiser in many respects concerning the preservation of physical health and spiritual vitality. They are to make diligent efforts to keep their digestive organs in a healthy condition. Those who attend meeting should eat lightly, because then they are not using their physical power in proportion with their brain power. And they should always eat simple food, which will not hinder the process of digestion and thus clog the brain—God’s most important instrument in the dethronement of Satan, who is always seeking for recognition. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 8

There is much to be considered in regard to council and board meetings. Some sit for hours in committee meetings when they are greatly in need of rest in sleep. As a result, propositions are made and resolutions presented which should never have been formed. There is criticism and faultfinding on account of dyspepsia brought on by improper eating. The worst of all is that many things which the Lord desires His people to receive and sanction are not carried through because of the objections brought forward by men with congested brains. Propositions are viewed in a wrong light because the brain is benumbed and the mind is unable to appreciate the subject. Because of sick digestive organs, propositions which should be accepted as very essential are made to appear as objectionable and really dangerous. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 9

Carpenters and all who engage in labor requiring tools are careful to have instruments prepared to do the very best work. We are God’s instruments, and He desires us to prepare ourselves to do the very best work, keeping eternal realities in view. But how can we do good work while we have long night sittings, the brain wearied and the system half asleep, and while we give our digestive organs too heavy a load to dispose of? And disturbance in the stomach affects the brain. Because of indigestion, meetings are sometimes very unlike what meetings conducted by Christians should be. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 10

God calls upon His servants to do His work intelligently, in goodness and love and sweetness of disposition, because they are controlled by the Holy Spirit. But frequently we are intemperate in eating, and often the quality of the food is not the best. In many sessions of the conference the Lord has not been glorified. Those present have done their best, but it has been a defective best, owing to their unwise treatment of the stomach. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 11

Those to whom the Lord has entrusted much are to trade intelligently on their Lord’s goods, that out of the treasury of the heart they may bring forth good things. In order to do this they must treat the stomach carefully, for if the stomach is a cesspool, the brain is congested and the temper is unpleasant. God has made known the conditions of salvation: “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” [Mark 8:34.] The Word declares what this involves—the surrender of all the capabilities to Christ, to be sanctified through His grace and employed in His service. There is to be no wasting, no embezzling of the Lord’s goods; for this is robbery toward God. It is a perilous matter for us to use inconsiderately the powers entrusted to us. It is our duty to give God a pure, unpolluted service. “Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” [1 Corinthians 6:19, 20.] 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 12

Let those who take a part in board and committee meetings be sure that their feet are warm and clothed with clean, warm socks. Let them see that the brain is not congested. Let them make it their business to prepare themselves, physically and spiritually, to be used as God’s instruments in doing a clean, pure, unselfish, holy work. Then their decisions will produce the very best results for God’s work. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 13

God’s work must be done with a deep sense of what it involves. Often those who assemble in council meetings do not properly prepare themselves for the work. They do not cleanse themselves from that which sets in operation a train of circumstances resulting in weakening the hands of the workers and destroying the effect of good words of courage, hope, and joy. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 14

Much of God’s work has been done in a haphazard manner. The time should never come when unsanctified words or exhibitions of temper are heard or seen in our working force. But the assemblies of God’s people have been treated with a commonness which has robbed the work of its holiness and purity. The doors have been opened to admit cheap, coarse, harsh words when the accounts were being audited. Many who do this work do not stop to think that they are acting as God’s stewards. In their work unconsecrated self has figured largely. They forgot that they were working under God’s inspection. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 15

A change must come. Men who do not feel any special reverence in officiating in the various lines of the work should be dismissed much more decidedly than a man who does bungling work in temporal business. God’s work must be done with sanctified judgment and clear discernment. It must be done with exactitude by those who have qualified themselves to be agents for Him. The organs of speech are to be properly cultivated and properly used. There is not to be one coarse, unthankful remark, not one loud-toned threat, not one irritating word; for these stir up in the heart the worst feelings of resentment and revenge. Too often in board and council meetings Satan thus gains just what he wants. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 16

Remember that the Lord is present in every meeting. He who sees not as man sees is watching the work done in the meetings held in the interests of His work. Those who attend meetings to consider plans with reference to the service of God should not come in with untidy dress or a careless manner. Their raiment should be appropriate to the occasion, and they should seek earnestly for the heavenly adornment, the meek and quiet spirit which is in the sight of God of great price. Disrespectful words spoken by those present to one another are an insult to God, and are thus registered in His book. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 17

Let those who seek to divert the work into wrong channels remember that there is a ladder of shining brightness reaching from heaven to earth, and that angels are always ascending and descending this ladder, while God is over all. Many forget this. Thus it has been with regard to the work in Battle Creek. Those who should have felt the necessity of obtaining heavenly wisdom have felt themselves fully efficient. They have entered council and committee meetings clothed with their own righteousness. They would not be instructed, and like Jehu, they drove furiously to force and compel and lord it over men who had an unselfish interest in the work of God. But there were those whose thoughts were inspired by God, who refused to sanction injustice, fraud, and dishonest dealing. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 18

In His book God records every decision and the circumstances which brought about each decision. If men will not be self-confident and stubborn, He will work out His will through them. But of many it can be said as of Israel after they had departed from God and refused to be educated by the great Teacher sent from heaven: “Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not; Make the heart of this people fat, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes and hear with the ears and understand with their heart, and be converted and be healed.” [Isaiah 6:9, 10.] They did not wish to be changed in character or practice. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 19

God is greatly dishonored by the way in which men have lifted up themselves, putting forth the finger and speaking vanity. Look at the work devised and the plans laid, which have imperilled the cause of God. The call is made for a change, a more decided change than has yet been made. Some have refused to obey God, and therefore God has refused to accept their work. Because of the unsanctified, preposterous propositions made by men, God could not work by His Holy Spirit. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 20

“Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and healed.” [Verses 9, 10.] This is the result of refusing to obey God. Hardness of heart and disaffection will as surely follow a rejection of God’s message as cause follows effect. The grace of God cannot cooperate with iniquity. God’s Spirit can only enlighten the understanding of those who are willing to be enlightened. We read that God opened the ears of Lydia, so that she attended to the message spoken by Paul. To declare the whole counsel of God and all that was essential for Lydia to receive—this was the part Paul was to act in her conversion, and then the God of all grace exercised His power, leading the soul in the right way. God and the human agent cooperated, and the work was wholly successful. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 21

The Lord desires us to distinguish between the means and the instrument. “Who then is Paul,” the apostle asks, “And who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” [1 Corinthians 3:5, 6.] The human agent is only the instrument; it is to the Lord he owes his efficiency. He must cooperate with divine power. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 22

“Whosoever is born of God overcometh the world, and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith.” [1 John 5:4.] The pleasures and policies of the world cannot hinder or deceive the true child of God, who relies by faith on his Saviour. He has faith in the keeping power of God, and he marches on in the strength of One who is infinite. By the power of God his soul is kept through faith unto salvation. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 23

As the physical life is sustained by the food that is eaten, so the spiritual life must be sustained by the bread of life. Body and spirit must have the food that is necessary for the sustenance of each. We must breathe the atmosphere of heaven. We must earnestly desire the sincere milk of the Word, that we may grow thereby. The Christian prays and watches and works. God says of him, “Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me, and he shall make peace with me.” [Isaiah 27:5.] 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 24

Those selected for the work of God should be men who are faithful and true, men whom God can instruct, who will impart what they receive, proclaiming without reserve the will of God, pointing out the better way to all with whom they come in contact. The new man in Christ is born to conflict, toil, and labor, born to engage in the good fight of faith. There is ever within his reach a power by which he may obtain the victory at every onset, power which will enable him to be more than conqueror over the difficulties he meets. The warfare in which he is engaged is a hand-to-hand struggle, and requires all his energy. He must march steadfastly on in the path of duty, determined that he will not fail nor be discouraged. 15LtMs, Lt 150, 1900, par. 25