Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 17 (1902)


Ms 120, 1902

Report of a Ministers’ Meeting

Fresno, California

October 6, 1902

Portions of this manuscript are published in Ev 282. +Note

Report of a Ministers’ Meeting, held on the S.D.A. Camp-Ground, Fresno, California, 6 a.m., October 6, 1902.

Sister White, after reading a manuscript (Ms 117, 1902) on the need of receiving the Holy Spirit, spoke as follows: 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 1

Brethren, I have something to say to you. I will come right to the point, because I know we have not much time. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 2

You have been considering the question, Whom shall we choose as president of the Northern California Conference? This matter has been laid open before me. For president of our Conference, we need a man strong in capability, strong in a knowledge of the Scriptures and of Jesus Christ, strong in experience. We need just such a man as Brother A. T. Jones is in these respects. I have been instructed that he has the qualifications necessary, so far as physical strength and a well-balanced mind are concerned; but that in order to maintain his spirituality, he must be constantly receiving grace from Christ and constantly imparting it to others. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 3

It is the pleasure of God that Brother A. T. Jones should serve this Conference another year as president. It is His pleasure that A. T. Jones should put away all appearance of a magisterial, domineering, authoritative manner. He is not to think that by virtue of his position as president of a Conference, he has arbitrary authority. True, he is to have authority, but it is to be just such an authority as Jesus had, an authority that is hid in the meekness and lowliness of Christ. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 4

In the past, the work of Brother Jones has been represented to me in figures. It has seemed as if he was holding out to the people a vessel filled with most beautiful fruit, but that while offering this fruit to them, his attitude and manner were such that no one wanted any. Thus it has too often been with the spiritual truths that he offers to the people. In his presentation of these truths, a spirit sometimes crops out that is not heaven-born. Words are sometimes spoken, reproofs given, with a drive, a vim, that causes the people to turn away from the beautiful truths that he has for them. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 5

I have seen Brother Jones when the melting Spirit of God was upon him. His love for the truth was genuine, and not something that he merely claimed to possess. He had cultivated and cherished this love, and it is still within his heart. But our brother has a very poor way of manifesting the compassion, the tenderness, the lovable spirit of Christ. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 6

After my heavenly Instructor had repeated these words to me, He said: “There are some who see this defect of Brother A. T. Jones. Brooding over the matter, they have become disaffected and feel that they could hardly consent to his serving longer as president of the Conference. But,” continued the One of authority, “can you select one who has no defect in his ministry, in his manner of speech, in his praying?” One name and then another was suggested by those assembled. “Can you say,” asked the One of authority, “that there are no imperfections in these whom you have named?” “No,” they answered, “we cannot say that either of these men is perfect.” The same question was asked of every one in the company, and no one was found without some defect. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 7

The Speaker then turned to Brother A. T. Jones, and said: “You are a man who, with your physical strength and mental clearness, should know how to balance yourself so as to present in the best possible manner the precious truth that is to decide the destiny of souls.” 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 8

Addressing the brethren assembled, our Instructor repeated the names of some of the different ones who were mentioned as being able to carry the responsibilities of the presidency of the California Conference, and said: “Can you not see that if the burden of a conference were laid upon a man of limited capability and of feeble physical strength, he would not be able to represent the truth aright? But while Brother Jones has the physical and the mental powers, he is in need of the holy oil that is poured out of the golden pipes into the hearts of men. This oil is to fill his heart, and when he receives it, the Spirit of God will be upon him.” 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 9

When I returned to America, I found among the workers in this Conference a spirit of measuring their fellow workers. I have no sympathy whatever with such a spirit. Do not condemn your brethren because their minds do not run in the same channel as your own. You may not agree with them, it is true; but perhaps they would not agree with you any more than you would with them. You might just as well be told to cease your ministry on account of your defects as they. Such measurement is of a very cheap order. God does not measure in this way. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 10

Soon after our arrival in America, we attended a local camp-meeting at Napa. Several of the Conference laborers were present; but where was Brother Corliss, a man who has an understanding of the Scriptures, a man who should be respected? God has respect for Brother Corliss. He does not desire any of us to take the position that because our brother may sometimes fail, he is unworthy of our respect and confidence. Although Brother Corliss has faults and makes mistakes, yet he is no more defective than those who thought he was hardly worthy to attend the Napa camp-meeting as a public speaker. They needed to repent just as much as he did. It could well have been said to them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.” [John 8:7.] 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 11

God was displeased with such measurement as this. Our Instructor declared to us that such an attitude was an evidence of narrow-mindedness and bigotry; an evidence that the souls of those who thought this brother unworthy needed to be enlightened and vivified by the converting power of God. Today some may regard the words, the acts, the sentiments, of Brother A. T. Jones as a sufficient cause for passing him by. But the light that I have had is that Brother A. T. Jones is going to be reconverted. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 12

It is not surprising that a man who has passed through the experiences that Elder Jones passed through in Battle Creek should sometimes err. He has had to arm himself and keep on the armor constantly, fighting the various evils that were continually creeping in. He has kept himself braced for so long that he must now make an effort to unlearn many things. He must be reconverted. In his manner of presenting the principles of truth he must reform. God has great love for Brother Jones, as well as for every other poor mortal who in some respects fails of reaching the standard placed before him. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 13

The Lord, by His Holy Spirit, is going to strengthen Brother Jones, enabling him to endure the inconveniences and taxation of travel from place to place. He desires our brother to heed the messages that He has taken pains to send to him. He desires him to weave into the fabric of his character the threads of patience and kindness, that in heaven it can be said of him, He is complete in Christ Jesus. God desires every minister of the gospel to strive to attain to this perfection. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 14

I do not single out Brother Jones as an exception. The whole ministry needs the reformation of the Spirit of God. The hearts of the Lord’s messengers of truth are to be drawn out in earnest prayer for more grace and power. But the president of the Conference should be foremost in setting a right example. God will help him to do this. I am presenting this matter to you in the way in which it has been presented to me. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 15

Every one of us needs to come under the softening, subduing influence of the Spirit of God. Especially does Brother A. T. Jones need to submit to this influence, because he is a strong man, and because God has given him an insight into the Scriptures. Elder Corliss also is familiar with the Bible, and he too needs to be molded by the Holy Spirit, in order to use this knowledge aright. These men are not to draw apart from each other because they do not perfectly agree on every point. It is best to try to blend, brethren; it is best to blend in Christian unity. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 16

God has kept His shield over Brother Corliss, and He will keep it over him. Through the Lord’s blessing, he has done a noble work in San Francisco. For a long time he carried this work almost alone. As others come in to join him, he is in danger of criticizing what he supposes to be their defects. But he himself does not desire to be criticized. Criticism hurts him terribly. He must be careful not to criticize his brethren. God desires him to come into harmony with his brethren. He has an extensive knowledge of the truth and a wide experience in the work; and if he refrains from criticism, and cherishes the tenderness of Christ, he can be a great blessing and a wonderful help to the younger laborers. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 17

I thank God with heart and soul and voice that He has spared Brother Corliss to us. I thank God, Brother Corliss, that you are still in the world. Although at times I have felt that your course was not just right, my brother, yet you have never heard me speak in a manner that you could question, have you? (J. O. Corliss: No.) I do not think you have, because I have felt just as tender toward you as if you were my own son. And I want this tenderness ever to remain in my heart. I know that Brother Corliss may sometimes be hasty and may make mistakes; but in Christ he can find One who is able to keep him from falling. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 18

Brethren, let us all refrain from criticism. He who criticizes his brethren takes his position on the enemy’s ground. Satan is an accuser of the brethren. Day and night he is accusing those who profess to follow Christ. Too often we think we could do better than those who are doing their best to carry on the work in right lines. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 19

When you think your brother is pursuing a wrong course, go to him in kindness, telling him his fault “between thee and him alone.” [Matthew 18:15.] Ask him if he is sure that he is right in doing as he does. Invite him to compare notes with you. Often when you treat him in this way, light and blessing come to both of you. Not infrequently the supposed fault is found to be a virtue. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 20

Let us learn to follow the Bible rule for dealing with the erring. Let us do our part to answer Christ’s prayer for unity among His people. During the coming year let us obey the new commandment that Christ gave to His disciples in every age, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” [John 13:34.] For our soul’s sake let us serve Him with more zeal and earnestness than we have ever served Him before. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 21

Brethren, shall we not cease criticizing one another? Shall we not blend? Shall we not be determined so to unite that we shall be one strong whole? Shall we not bind heart to heart? Shall we not seek to subdue our hasty spirit, and learn to be as meek and lowly as the little children of whom Christ said to His disciples, “Except ye be converted, and become as this little child, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven”? [Matthew 18:3.] 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 22

We have the privilege of being loyal members of the Lord’s family, children of the heavenly King. Shall we not act like brethren and sisters, treating one another kindly, tenderly, affectionately? “By this,” Christ declares, “shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.” [John 13:35.] Let us remember these words. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 23

Brethren, let us learn to wear the yoke of Christ. “Take My yoke upon you,” He says, “and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” [Matthew 11:29.] This is the rest we all so much need. God wants every one of us to sit in humility at His feet, learning of Him. We must watch every word and act; for we cannot afford to destroy the confidence that our brethren have in us. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 24

I have endeavored to place before you the situation as the Lord views it. I desire to see you growing upward, ever upward. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 25

God desires His servants to stand with the whole armor on, in His might overcoming the powers of darkness, to His honor and glory. Let us begin this work today. “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” [Romans 10:10.] Let us bring into our daily life, into all our words and works, belief unto righteousness, and confession unto salvation, in order that we may glorify the God of heaven. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 26


W. T. Knox (Chairman): I think, brethren, with the instruction that has been placed before us, we all see our duty plainly now in this matter. The work of this Conference in the selection of its officers will be but the beginning of the work that has been outlined before us. What is wanted is not merely the selection of a president, but the hearty support and co-operation of all the brethren associated with him, and also a close application of the truth of God to every heart. I am sure that we are all satisfied that if what has been given us is carried out, the Northern California Conference has the best year before her that she has ever had in her history. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 27

Although the time has come to separate, if any one else has anything to say, there is opportunity to speak now. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 28

A. T. Jones: In the nature of things, I should have something to say. I shall be brief; I shall be very brief; for you have been told it all, and it is all so. I thank God for the one great promise—that I am to be converted. That is the good, cheering thing—that I am to be converted; and I know it. I am glad that you know it, and so many of you; for I can have your help in making that thing effective. And, brethren, that is what I do want. You know that is what I asked for a year ago, at the beginning of my work in this Conference; and I ask it still. So I just simply commit myself to God and to His Word and to His work, as has been described, and I ask your co-operation, your fellowship, and we shall go on together; and so let us pray: 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 29

(Praying) “Heavenly Father, we bow before Thee. Lord, we have heard Thy word. We submit all to Thee. O Lord, Thou hast called me by name, and hast told my failings and my sore need. Lord, I confess it all to Thee. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 30

“O God, I thank Thee for Thy gracious word, Thy blessed, Thy special promise, that I, Lord, shall be converted unto Thee. And so, Lord, I put myself into Thy hands this moment, to be converted, to be molded and fashioned according to Thine own mind and by Thy Holy Spirit. O Lord, I pray that Thy divine wish may be met, that I shall ever be a channel for the flowing of that holy oil which Thou hast mentioned, and which Thou dost long to pour upon bereaved and sore and mourning hearts. And Lord, I pray Thee that Thou wilt now convert me through and through. Make me, Lord, altogether like Jesus, only like Jesus, that I shall be kind and courteous, gentle and careful, toward all my brethren and all to whom Thou dost send me. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 31

“O Lord, Thou knowest all about it. I need not tell Thee anything. But Lord, I will confess all that Thou hast spoken. Take me, O Lord; Thou hast bought me; I am Thine. So I give myself to Thee, Lord, this morning, body, soul, and spirit, to be devoted to Thee, to be consecrated to Thee, to be upheld by Thee, to be purified by Thee, to be cleansed by Thee, to be molded and shaped by Thee, conformed to the image of Thy dear Son, that I may walk worthy of Thee, dear Lord, and glorify Thee on earth, and finish the work which Thou hast given me to do. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 32

“Lord, I pray Thee that the hearts of my brethren may not be pained any more by anything that I may do or say, but that they may be bound to Thee, Lord, and helped on the way. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 33

“And so now, Lord, we have committed all to Thee. We thank Thee that Thou dost accept every one; and so, Lord, use us. Make us one, we pray Thee, O Lord, help to make us one. Whomsoever Thou shalt choose as the band of men that shall go with me, make our hearts one, our minds one, that we shall be workers together to unify the great work which Thou hast committed to us, to make Thy work prosperous, and carry it nobly and strongly, as Thou hast a care. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 34

“And so, Lord, I pray for this. I know, Lord, that Thou dost hear the prayer; and so answer, we pray Thee, in the multitude of Thy mercies, Lord, answer, that California may rise once more to the place that belongs to this conference in Thy great work, that Thou mayest be glorified. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 35

“Lord, I thank Thee for Thy word; for Thy Spirit; for Thy promise. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 36

J. O. Corliss: I feel that it is due me to say a word. The prayer offered by Brother Jones has been my prayer, as he prayed, in my own behalf. I would that I had control of myself just now, so that I could tell you how I feel. I accept every word that has been said concerning myself this morning as from the Lord. Brethren, I have not been unconscious of these faults. They have been so strongly upon my mind at times, and I have been so disheartened at times over the repetition of these things, that I have even contemplated going away somewhere in privacy, where I could live before God alone. The only thing that has surprised me is that my brethren have borne with me as they have. I have known all these things, and I have had greater struggles over them than over anything else in all my life. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 37

It is nothing new to me to have the Lord speak in this way; and I expected this morning that the Lord would say even more to me than He has; for I know that there has not been said one half of what might have been said about my faults and my failings. But God has been wonderfully good to me, and I want to say to my brethren, If you will only have patience with me, I will try to reunite with you in getting near to God. The very longing of my soul is that I may be fitted to labor with you, to be directed by God in the way of everlasting life. If I had control of my emotions just now, I should like to say more; but I have said enough to let you know how I feel about these things. I am not worthy of any place among you; I know that. There is nothing of me. All there is, God has made it, and I praise Him this morning for what He has done. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 38

M. H. Brown: I wish to say a word, brethren and sisters, this morning. I rejoice in this message that has come from the Lord, and accept it heartily, and can say to Brother Jones that he will have my hearty and loyal support in connection with the work. Whatever humble place I may have, he may be assured that I will do all that I can to stay up his hands and do everything I can in carrying forward the Lord’s work. My heart responds joyfully and cheerfully to this message this morning; for I am sure that I can say that when I came to this camp-ground, I had no idea, I had no thought, I had no imagination, of any such thing as has been proposed since we met here upon the ground. I am so glad that matters have turned as they have, and that the proposition that was made concerning the relation that I should sustain to the work will not be carried out; for it lifts from my mind a great burden, and I rejoice in the message that has come to us that relieves the situation. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 39


Mrs. E. G. White: I desire to mention another point: Do not load down the president of the Conference with details of business. For years our people have been instructed to choose trained businessmen to attend to this part of the work. God does not desire His ministers—men strong in a knowledge of the Scriptures, men able to endure the taxation of going from place to place to do the work of an evangelist—to be hindered in their regular work by having to give attention to business matters. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 40

Some have misunderstood the meaning of my instruction to Brethren A. T. Jones and Corliss to take an interest in the youth who are being trained in the Pacific Press. Some have thought that the Lord desired these brethren to share largely the spiritual burden of those who are in the publishing house. But by stating that they should have a care for the youth there, I meant that they should take an interest in their welfare; that whenever they pass through the Office and meet the young men and young women in training, they should give them a friendly handshake and speak kindly to them. They are to speak to them of the great privileges they enjoy by being connected with one of the Lord’s institutions. They are to strive to show them the opportunities they have of learning to be useful workers in the Lord’s service. Such words will bind their hearts with the hearts of the workers in Christian love. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 41

Brethren Jones and Corliss, you have a work to do in public ministry. O that I could describe to you the great work yet to be done by our messengers in giving to the world the last warning message of mercy! God wants our Conference presidents to be clean in spirit, in word, in act. Let the business of our Conferences be looked after by businessmen. Give the ministers opportunity to do their appointed work. Give them time to cultivate spirituality. May the Lord bless you, my ministering brethren. 17LtMs, Ms 120, 1902, par. 42