Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 17 (1902)


Ms 144, 1902

The Results of Following Human Wisdom

“Elmshaven,” St. Helena, California

November 9, 1902 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in CS 281-282; 5Bio 198-199. +Note

In a vision of the night a short time ago, I was in council meetings. At these meetings words were spoken that savored of the human more than of the divine. The medical work in Great Britain was under consideration. Plans were proposed which, unless modified, would bind about the work and fail of relieving the situation. The General Conference was asked to pledge itself to raise a sum no less than twenty thousand dollars, or to become responsible for that amount, to establish a sanitarium in Great Britain. Because Elder Daniells refused to consent to place this additional obligation upon the General Conference, he was severely reflected upon by some. But, under the existing circumstances, he felt that he was forbidden by the Lord to lay this burden upon the Conference. 17LtMs, Ms 144, 1902, par. 1

I honor Elder Daniells’ judgment on this question. He kept before him Elder Olsen’s experience. To Elder Olsen was given plainly stated instruction as to how the Lord regarded such matters, but he had not the courage to say, “I cannot betray sacred trusts.” Instead, he linked himself with wrongdoers and thus made himself equally guilty with them. When one of God’s appointed stewards is unfaithful in his stewardship, in the little as well as in the large responsibilities committed to him, he must heartily repent of his shortcomings, else he will never see the kingdom of God. Even now Elder Olsen has to be closely guarded by his brethren, lest at times the minds of his sons shall have too large an influence over his own mature, experienced judgment. We thank the Lord that his sons are seeking to do valiant service for God. Let them sit humbly at the feet of Jesus and learn of Him His meekness and lowliness. “Learn of Me,” He says; “for I am meek and lowly in heart.” [Matthew 11:29.] 17LtMs, Ms 144, 1902, par. 2

But to return to the council meeting: Once more the One who has long been our Counsellor, was present, to give us the word of the Lord. He said: “The Lord would not be glorified by your placing a yoke of debt upon the General Conference. In a special manner He has wrought to break from the necks of His people the binding yokes of debt which they have worn so long. The Conference must not again tread the same path that they have trodden. 17LtMs, Ms 144, 1902, par. 3

“The accumulated debts caused by the erection of the Boulder Sanitarium were the result of man’s devising. The establishing of this institution was not timely. The Lord did not lay any such burden on Dr. Kellogg. From beginning to end, the plans connected with the erection of those buildings bore not the signature of heaven. They were of human devising. No institution should be established as that one was. The whole movement was premature. But now that the Boulder Sanitarium is in operation, after great cost, those who are connected with it should seek to make it what it should be, employing every faculty to the glory of God, in order that He may co-operate with them, and so work that His name shall not be dishonored. 17LtMs, Ms 144, 1902, par. 4

“When plans are proposed for establishing similar institutions in other places, let there be decided evidences that such a movement is after the mind of God and that the plans are in accordance with His directions. Let there be seasons of intercessory prayer, in which the brethren in positions of responsibility will plead with God for divine wisdom. 17LtMs, Ms 144, 1902, par. 5

“The people were not ready for the large buildings erected at College View and at Walla Walla. Because man’s supposed wisdom was followed, financial embarrassment has resulted in connection with the schools at these places. Such evidences of the evil of following human wisdom instead of seeking for divine wisdom should make all afraid of rushing ahead of their Leader. 17LtMs, Ms 144, 1902, par. 6

“God in His great mercy has not treated individual cases according to their works. Those who have made mistakes in connection with new enterprises have not seemed to realize that God, and not man, is to lead in every advance movement. The movements made in various places where large institutions have been established at great cost show that if God’s people place themselves under the power of men, they must suffer the consequences. The Lord says, ‘Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein shall he be accounted of?’” [Isaiah 2:22.] 17LtMs, Ms 144, 1902, par. 7

Because of the unwise moves that have been made in Battle Creek and in many other places where God’s means have been invested in enterprises that have consumed means, without producing more means in return, we have had to suffer distress and affliction. In seeking to establish the work in new fields, a representation has been made that is not pleasing to the Lord. His people need not have been in such perplexity, if they had chosen to be led and guided by the great Medical Missionary. The mistakes of the past were caused by men’s following human wisdom. These mistakes must not be repeated at any time or in any place. Let no hand subscribe to binding documents that men have formulated. God forbids anything of this order. As brethren, show faith and confidence in one another. This will beget faith and confidence in return. It is because human minds have ruled in so marked a way that so many perplexities have come upon the Lord’s people. Had they made God their Counsellor, and heeded the warnings He has given, the distressing pressure now felt would not exist. 17LtMs, Ms 144, 1902, par. 8

Some have not yet learned the lesson that Christ taught in regard to building a tower. “Which of you,” He inquired, “intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.” [Luke 14:28-30.] This warning has been disregarded. 17LtMs, Ms 144, 1902, par. 9

When men in positions of responsibility are in such a hurry to establish some new institution that is untimely, the showing made is not only against the interests of the Lord’s cause, but against the interests of the men who in human wisdom have tried to advance too rapidly. God is not glorified by those who attempt to go faster than He leads. Perplexity, embarrassment, and distress are the result. The Lord does not desire His representatives to repeat these mistakes; for the past record of such movements does not glorify Him. 17LtMs, Ms 144, 1902, par. 10

There are now in existence a few overgrown institutions the cost of which eternity alone will reveal. These have been expensive to the cause not only with respect to the amount of money actually expended in their erection and maintenance, but also with respect to the evils that have resulted in consequence of their establishment. Who can estimate the alienation, the strife, the heartburnings, the recriminations, that are directly traceable to the effort to establish some of our larger institutions? Many of these difficulties have never been healed. 17LtMs, Ms 144, 1902, par. 11

God’s way is always the right and the prudent way. It always brings honor to His name. Man’s only security against rash, ambitious movements is to keep the heart in harmony with Christ Jesus. Man’s wisdom is untrustworthy. Man is fickle, filled with self-esteem, pride, and selfishness. Let the workers doing God’s service trust wholly in the Lord. Then the leaders will reveal that they are willing to be led, not by human wisdom, which is as useless to lean upon as is a broken reed, but by the wisdom of the Lord, who has said, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.” [James 1:5, 6.] 17LtMs, Ms 144, 1902, par. 12


The messages of reproof given to those who have not appreciated the labors of Dr. Kellogg in upholding and advocating for thirty years the principles of health reform have necessitated my speaking words in favor of the Doctor’s work. He has faithfully borne a clear testimony on the principles of healthful living. God’s approval of his zeal in this direction has led many to suppose that his course of action in every other respect is vindicated. But not so. Throughout his life of service testimonies of reproof have been borne to him in regard to mistakes that he has made; for the Lord chose him as His helping hand to do medical missionary work Kellogg respected the light that the Lord sent him. I did not place these things before his brethren, for the reason that they would have taken advantage of their knowledge of his failings by criticizing him; and also because they would not only have used every word that had been spoken to correct a wrong course, as a whip to scourge him, but would have excused themselves for disregarding the light on health reform. They dishonored God by failing to appreciate the value of the work that Dr. Kellogg was trying to do. They were working directly contrary to the Testimonies, through which light was being given in regard to medical missionary work. 17LtMs, Ms 144, 1902, par. 13