Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 17 (1902)


Lt 119, 1902

Brethren bearing responsibilities in the Southern Union Conference

“Elmshaven,” St. Helena, California

June 28, 1902

Portions of this letter are published in 4MR 101. +Note

To my brethren bearing responsibilities in the Southern Union Conference,—

I have not slept since two o’clock. I have an intense interest in all that concerns the welfare of the Southern work. When a difficult field is presented before me as a field that must be worked, I understand that I must make this field my special burden until, before the earnest, continuous efforts put forth, the difficulties disappear, and the work is established. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 1

The Southern field, with its encouraging and discouraging features, has been kept before me for many years. The other day, as I was sitting in my office room, I seemed to lose all sense of where I was. A company was before me. It seemed to be a business meeting, and differences of opinion were expressed regarding the subjects under consideration. The matter of the treasurership of the Southern Publishing Association was being discussed. Elder Stone urged that if he were to bear the name of treasurer, he should be treasurer in fact and bear the responsibilities of the position. And this seemed reasonable. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 2

Instruction was then given by One who has authority. All that is now said regarding the Southern field is to be said with a full comprehension of the existing difficulties. No hasty movements are to be made in taking men out of a position and putting other men in their place. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 3

The principle that is to regulate the proceedings of the last great assize is contained in the words “justified by faith; judged by works.” This is our day of trust—a time of solemn privilege. Soon is to come our day of reckoning. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 4

God is the absolute owner and director of all people and in a special manner of His church. To every human being are entrusted gifts. There is no child of God, high or low, rich or poor, who is not the possessor of some sacred trust. We are stewards of the manifold grace given to every man to profit withal. All that we have we receive from Christ. Of ourselves we can do nothing. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 5

Some are filled with self-complacency. They think that were they entrusted with greater talents and larger responsibilities, they could do a work that would be of much advantage. Often such ones are self-deceived. Let every one beware. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 6

Some are filled with a restless desire for a higher place. With ourselves it is well to be discontented if this strengthens our efforts to do something better to reach a nobler good. But let none mourn that they cannot glorify God in the use of talents that He has not entrusted to their keeping. He holds us responsible only for the work He has placed in our hands. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 7

One thing all can do. They can avoid making the work of others unnecessarily hard by criticizing their efforts, putting stones in front of the wheels of the car they are trying to push uphill. If they are unwilling to help, to put their shoulder to the wheel, let them at least refrain from hindering those who are working. God calls for workers who will refuse to discourage their fellow workers. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 8

There is room for all to use their God-given talents. What are we doing with our gifts? Men are needed who can plan for the successful performance of the many duties waiting to be done. Who will fit himself for the position of sacred trust that God wishes him to occupy? Do the work for which you are adapted. Do not exhaust your mental and physical strength by complaining of what others are doing. No one has any excuse for murmuring about the work of his neighbor. Take hold somewhere, and prove yourselves a successful worker. Each office has a burden proportionate to its importance. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 9

The Southern work has been the subject of prejudice and evil surmising. The spirit of wicked opposition has been manifested by some who were more in need of correction than were those they criticized. This field, in its unsightly barrenness, has stood before heaven as a witness against the unfaithfulness of those who have had great light. When I think of this long-neglected field, and of the way in which it has been treated, there comes over me an intensity of feeling that words cannot express. I can only pray that the Lord will raise up workers to enter this field. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 10

As yet, there are only a few places in the South that have been worked. There are many, many cities in which nothing has been done. Why did not those who felt so free to criticize go to work in this needy field and do something as wise and just and righteous as that which they required from those whom they criticized? If men know so well what ought to be done, why do they not take hold of the work that for years has been urged upon them. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 11

The light given me is that no abrupt movements should be made in bringing about changes in the publishing house at Nashville. We are not to be as men beating the air. It is not the Lord’s purpose for Elder Stone to connect with the office at Nashville. He is not the best man to stand in that place as treasurer and financier. The Lord has not laid this burden upon him. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 12

Those who have not borne the burden of opening up the work among the colored people can know comparatively little of the trials, the prayers, and the wrestling of those who have been pioneers in this work. And those who have never borne the burdens connected with the successful building up of publishing enterprises can comprehend comparatively little of the perplexities and necessities of this work. Men are few who have the adaptability for this work that would make their efforts successful. The work needs men who are willing to begin small, yet who are broad and liberal in their plans; men who are willing to reach to the lowest sinner, and lead him upward to the light. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 13

In their determination to meet the people where they were, the pioneers of successful work among the colored people were obliged to teach old and young how to read. This was a laborious task. They had to provide food and clothing for the needy. They had to speak comforting words to the downcast. Those who, after a day’s work, walked miles to attend night school needed sympathy. The teachers had to adapt their instruction to many varied minds. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 14

Angels of God looked on with approval. The workers had God’s commendation. Many times the plans laid to drive them out of the field were frustrated by His providence. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 15

Some mistakes were made; for it was a difficult matter to know how to advance the various interests. The workers passed through an experience of disappointment and trial. But Christian love and patience won for them the victory. Reverses taught them caution. They learned much by what they suffered and gained a valuable experience. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 16

Let us remember that those who have been connected with a work from the beginning are thereby fitted to understand and appreciate its requirements. Let the men who have borne the burdens and carried the responsibilities be allowed to place matters on a firm basis. Let those who have taken no special part in the wrestling, pioneer work, who have not borne the burden of establishing new interests, remember that with reference to those matters in which they have not had experience, silence is their wisdom. The tongue can set in operation a great many reports that are wide of the truth. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 17

During Elder Butler’s visit, he told me that Elder Stone had been chosen to act as treasurer of the Southern Publishing Association, and I expressed some objections to his filling that position. Afterward, I read a letter from Elder Stone, which removed these objections from my mind; and I wrote to him, telling him that if his brethren had seen fit to elect him as treasurer, to accept the charge. I had no light regarding his qualifications for the work, but felt that my former objections, which had been removed by the letter, should not stand against his fulfilling the wishes of his brethren. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 18

Three weeks after this, one Friday, just before dinner, I was sitting in my office, when a scene passed before me, and I saw things clearly in reference to the Nashville publishing house and Elder Stone’s connection with it. I cannot now place on paper all the impressions made on my mind by that vision in the daytime. I saw plainly that it would not be wise to make the proposed changes in the publishing house. As a result, objectionable features would be brought into the work, and present conditions would not be bettered. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 19

Should action be taken to put W. O. Palmer or Edson White in an objectionable light, the enemy would gain a decided victory. Before changes are made, the matter must be given careful consideration. The Lord would not have changes made now; for they would be an injury to both parties. God gives the workers in the office time to adjust the matters that may to others appear objectionable. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 20

There were presented to me as a flash of lightening the true principles that will be worked out by those who are now in a position of responsibility in the office. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 21

True, there are debts to be lifted from the Nashville publishing house, but so there are from almost every institution established among us. The workers in Nashville have put forth desperate efforts to make bricks without straw. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 22

God’s servants, in their intense desire to place the work in which they are engaged on vantage ground, enter into plans which in some cases succeed. Then again, because of circumstances beyond their control, they suffer disappointment; their hopes are dashed to the ground. Sometimes they are removed from their position, and others coming in realize what the former workers fondly hoped to accomplish. Thus those who did not fight the hardest battles received the credit of the success of the work when it was not their due. This experience does much harm to those who are given credit for the work done by others. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 23

It has been presented to me that again and again this course has been followed. Again and again abrupt movements have been made, resulting in confusion and perplexity. Self-exaltation leads men to represent as failures those preceding them in the work, who, apparently, did not succeed. A heavy cloud of doubt is thrown upon them. This is an exhibition of selfishness that greatly dishonors God. The man who follows such a course of action will find that it will be to him a stone of stumbling. 17LtMs, Lt 119, 1902, par. 24