Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 17 (1902)


Lt 132, 1902

Irwin, G. A.

“Elmshaven,” St. Helena, California

August 17, 1902

Portions of this letter are published in 9T 232-236; Ev 60-61; 7MR 251. +Note

Dear brother Irwin,—

Your long letter was gladly received. Thank you for it. You need never fear that any letters from Australia will be too long. 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 1

I will try to answer your question as to what you should do in the case of Sunday laws being enforced. 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 2

The light given me by the Lord at a time when we were expecting just such a crisis as you seem to be approaching was that, when people were moved by a power from beneath to enforce Sunday observance, Seventh-day Adventists were to show their wisdom by refraining from work on that day, devoting it to missionary effort. 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 3

To defy the Sunday laws will but strengthen in their persecution the religious zealots who are seeking to enforce them. Give them no occasion to call you lawbreakers. If they are left to rein up men who fear neither God nor man, the reining up will soon lose its novelty for them, and they will see that it is not consistent nor convenient for them to be strict in regard to the observance of Sunday. Keep right on with your work, with your Bibles in your hands, and the enemy will see that he has worsted his own cause. One does not receive the mark of the beast because he shows that he realizes the wisdom of keeping the peace by refraining from work that gives offense, doing at the same time a work of the highest importance. 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 4

When we devote Sunday to missionary work, the whip will be taken out of the hands of the arbitrary zealots who would be well pleased to humiliate Seventh-day Adventists. When they see that we employ ourselves on Sunday in visiting the people and opening the Scriptures to them, they will know that it is useless for them to try to hinder our work by making Sunday laws. 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 5

When a man, white or black, is arrested for Sundaybreaking, he is placed at a great disadvantage. He is humiliated. And it is well nigh hopeless for him to obtain a fair trial. Often when Sabbathkeepers in the Southern states are arrested for working on Sunday, they are sent to the chain gang where they are forced to work on the Sabbath. The Lord does not counsel them to place themselves where they are obliged to dishonor His holy rest day. 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 6

Our churches should understand the methods to be used in avoiding this difficulty. Sunday can be used for carrying forward various lines of work that will accomplish much for the Lord. On this day open-air meetings and cottage meetings can be held. House-to-house work can be done. Those who write can devote this day to writing their articles. Whenever it is possible, let religious services be held on Sunday. Make these meetings intensely interesting. Sing genuine revival hymns, and speak with power and assurance of the Saviour’s love. Speak on temperance and on true religious experience. You will thus learn much about how to work and will reach many souls. 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 7

Let the teachers in our schools devote Sunday to missionary effort. I was instructed that they would thus be able to defeat the purposes of the enemy. Let the teachers take the students with them to hold meetings for those who know not the truth. Thus they will accomplish much more than they could in any other way. 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 8

God has given us plain directions regarding our work. We are to proclaim the truth in regard to the Sabbath of the Lord, to make up the breach that has been made in His law. We are to do all that we can to enlighten those in ignorance; but we are never to confederate with men of the world in order to receive financial assistance. 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 9

Of the children of Israel we read: “Therefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness. And I gave them my statutes, and showed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my wrath upon them in the wilderness, to consume them. But I wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, in whose sight I brought them out. Yet also I lifted up my hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands; because they despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but polluted my sabbaths; for their heart went after their idols. Nevertheless mine eye spared from destroying them, neither did I make an end of them in the wilderness. But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols. I am the Lord your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” [Ezekiel 20:10, 11, 13-20.] 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 10

The Sabbath is the Lord’s test, and no man, be he king, priest, or ruler, is authorized to come between God and man. Those who seek to be conscience for their fellow men place themselves above God. Those who are under the influence of a false religion, who observe a spurious rest day, will set aside the most positive evidence in regard to the true Sabbath. They will try to compel men to obey the laws of their own creating, laws that are directly opposed to the law of God. Upon those who continue in this course, the wrath of God will fall. Unless they change, they cannot escape the penalty. 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 11

The law for the observance of the first day of the week is the production of an apostate Christendom. Sunday is a child of the papacy, exalted by the Christian world above the sacred day of God’s rest. In no case are God’s people to pay it homage. But I wish them to understand that they are not doing God’s will by braving opposition when He wishes them to avoid it. Thus they create prejudice so bitter that it is impossible for the truth to be proclaimed. Make no demonstrations on Sunday in defiance of law. If this is done in one place, and you are humiliated, the same thing will be done in another place. We can use Sunday as a day on which to carry forward work that will tell on the side of Christ. We are to do our best, working with all meekness and lowliness. 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 12

Christ warned His disciples in regard to what they would meet in their work as evangelists. He knew what their sufferings would be, what trials and hardships they would be called upon to bear. He would not hide from them the knowledge of what they would have to encounter, lest trouble, coming unexpectedly, should shake their faith. “I have told you before it come to pass,” He said, “that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.” [John 14:29.] Their faith was to be strengthened, rather than weakened by the coming of trial. They would say to one another, “He told us that this would come, and what we must do to meet it.” 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 13

“Behold,” Christ said, “I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake; but he that shall endure to the end shall be saved.” [Matthew 10:16, 22.] They hated Christ without a cause. Is it any marvel that they hate those who bear His sign, who do His service? They are counted as the off-scouring of the earth. 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 14

“But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another.” It is not the will of God that your lives shall be carelessly sacrificed. “Verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” [Verse 23.] 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 15

The people must be given the truth, straightforward, positive truth. But this truth is to be presented in the Spirit of Christ. We are to be as sheep in the midst of wolves. Those who will not, for Christ’s sake, observe the cautions He has given, who will not exercise patience and self-control, will lose precious opportunities of working for the Master. The Lord has not given His people the work of making a tirade against those who are transgressing His law. In no case are we to make a raid on the other churches. Let us remember that as a people entrusted with sacred truth, we have been neglectful and positively unfaithful. The work has been confined to a few centers, until the people in them have become gospel-hardened. It is difficult to make an impression on those who have heard so much truth, and yet have rejected it. In a few places too much has been expended, while many, many cities have been left unwarned and unworked. 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 16

All this is against us now. Had we put forth earnest efforts to reach those who if converted would give a true representation of what present truth would do for human beings, how much further advanced our work would now be. It is not right that a few places should have all the advantages, while other places are neglected. 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 17


Our ministers of experience should instruct the young men who are desirous of entering the ministry, doing all they can to lead them forward in successful evangelistic work. They should take them with them to the places they visit, showing them how to win souls to Christ. But work in the canvassing field will do more than almost anything else to prepare young men for the ministry, after they have had opportunity to become Bible students. 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 18


“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are a savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistles, written in our hearts, known and read of all men; forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in the fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward; not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.” [2 Corinthians 2:14-17; 3:1-5.] 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 19

We are handling great and sacred truths which concern our present happiness and our eternal welfare. We need to remember that the Lord, He is God. He will advance His work in His own way. All who do His will shall know of the doctrine. 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 20

Christ requires every one who believes in Him to reveal in his life the fulfilment of the promise, “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” [John 1:12.] They are bound by a most solemn obligation to show that their faith is to them a reality, that power is given them to become the sons of God. They must give evidence, by their words and actions, that they possess this power. They are to adorn the doctrine of Christ their Saviour. They are to be frank, sincere, kind, amiable, sober-minded yet cheerful, showing by example the elevating character and sanctifying influence of their faith. Thus believers and unbelievers will take knowledge of them that they are laborers together with God. The mark of Christ is upon them, because they have learned of Him. 17LtMs, Lt 132, 1902, par. 21