Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 17 (1902)


Lt 145, 1902

Burden, Brother and Sister [J. A.]

Los Angeles, California

September 21, 1902

Portions of this letter are published in 2MR 251; 8MR 397-398.

Dear Brother and Sister Burden,—

We are attending the Los Angeles camp-meeting, and I have just spoken to the people for the last time. I have spoken seven times during this meeting. The congregations on Sabbaths and Sundays have been large. The tent has been well filled, and on Sunday quite a number were standing on the outside. On Sabbath I felt so weak before starting for the meeting that I almost decided to excuse myself; but the Lord helped me, and I was strong from the first minute that I began speaking. I spoke for an hour and a quarter. Today, Sunday, I spoke on the subject of temperance. After I had finished speaking, I asked that a contribution be taken up for the work in foreign fields. About ninety dollars was raised. 17LtMs, Lt 145, 1902, par. 1

Oh, there has been so much to do at this meeting. I cannot take time to explain all about it. When our brethren begin to plan to do some large work, then it is that, unless they are on their guard, the enemy tempts them to become ambitious. 17LtMs, Lt 145, 1902, par. 2

It is now clear to me that our restaurants should not be opened on the Sabbath. Unless they are closed on the Lord’s day, the blessing of God will not rest upon this branch of the Lord’s work. Those who are engaged in our restaurants must have opportunity to rest on the Sabbath, else they will backslide. The Lord does not require them to furnish meals for the people on the Sabbath. If those who come to our restaurants choose to take away with them on Friday health foods sufficient to last over the Sabbath, let them do this. But our restaurant workers are not to be asked to work on the Sabbath. 17LtMs, Lt 145, 1902, par. 3

We have had a long controversy with some of our brethren in regard to establishing a large sanitarium at great expense right in the heart of the city of Los Angeles. They are conducting a large restaurant business and are anxious to move into a place where they can provide better accommodations for the helpers. They are now serving eight hundred meals a day. But unless the work is so conducted that the restaurant is made a means of communicating light, what advantage is gained? If none of those who come to the restaurant day after day for their meals are becoming interested in the truth, of what avail is the work done? 17LtMs, Lt 145, 1902, par. 4

This is the question that needs to be answered. Who is authorized to invest one hundred thousand dollars on the supposition of doing great good when as yet we have no evidence that the most good is being accomplished? I have not heard that one soul has been converted as the result of the restaurant work here. 17LtMs, Lt 145, 1902, par. 5

We need to count the cost of starting restaurants, and see if matters cannot be so arranged that the efforts put forth to conduct them will tell more decidedly for the saving of souls. Thus God will be better glorified. If the managers and helpers of these restaurants are so busily engaged that they have little time to commune with God themselves and little opportunity to bring the light of truth before the people they serve, let the restaurant work be given up, and let our people take up some other line of work that will do more to awaken an interest in present truth. The restaurant work will prove a snare if the helpers are kept so busy that they have no time to work for the saving of souls. 17LtMs, Lt 145, 1902, par. 6

There is danger that our restaurants will be conducted in such a way that the helpers will work very hard day after day and week after week, and yet not be able to point to any good accomplished. This matter needs to receive careful consideration. We have no right to bind our young people up in a work which yields no fruit to the glory of God. Let us remember the words, “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” [1 Corinthians 10:31.] 17LtMs, Lt 145, 1902, par. 7

There is danger that the restaurant work, though regarded as a wonderfully successful way of doing good, will be so conducted that it will promote merely the physical good of men and women. This matter needs careful attention. Those chosen to manage this work must be careful, consecrated men, lest investigation prove that the cause of God is not advanced by the efforts put forth. A work may apparently bear the features of supreme excellence, but it is not good in God’s sight unless it is performed with an earnest desire to do His will and fulfil His purpose. If God is not recognized as the Author and End of our actions, they are weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, and found wanting. 17LtMs, Lt 145, 1902, par. 8

Religious life must characterize our business transactions if we keep the breath of life in our souls. We have been instructed that pure, strong faith in a “Thus saith the Lord” must bear a signal part in all our business enterprises, else all who are connected with these enterprises, whatever they may be, will stand on losing ground. When God can accept us as laborers together with Him in seeking to save the souls ready to perish, He can co-operate with us in carrying forward the enterprises with which we are connected. And His co-operation places us where our efforts work out His plans. It unites us with Christ, and from Him we derive the nourishment that enables us to bear “much fruit.” [John 15:5.] 17LtMs, Lt 145, 1902, par. 9

“In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love.” [Galatians 5:6.] Let us walk humbly with God, seeking Him diligently and serving Him earnestly, lest we be found unprofitable servants. Our Lord loves to have us trust Him implicitly, recognizing the sacredness of His work and His power to carry it forward. We need not be in darkness and doubt. Christ is constantly inviting us, “Look unto me.” [Isaiah 45:22.] “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” [John 8:12.] No man can look to Christ without being strengthened and uplifted. By beholding Him, he is changed into the same image and cherishes the same spirit. All sullenness and gloom are gone. His experience is as clear as the sunlight. The consciousness that Jesus loves him fills him with joy and gladness, and he reflects the divine image. His constant question is, “What shall I render unto thee for thine infinite love and mercy to me? I am thy servant; for thou hast loosed my bonds.” 17LtMs, Lt 145, 1902, par. 10

My dear brother and sister, engaged in the same precious service as I, do not forget that worldly policy will surely creep into your work unless you are constantly walking in the light of the living God. It is not enough to give God nothing but cold and careless thoughts now and then. We are to meditate day and night upon His character. We are to walk in the way of all His commandments. Then we shall see His beauty and rejoice in His goodness. The heart will glow with a sense of His love. 17LtMs, Lt 145, 1902, par. 11

We are the Saviour’s little children. His name is Christ our Righteousness. What has wrought in the sinner the change that impels him to obey the Lord, to serve Him with devotion, gladness, self-denial? Faith, unselfish faith. It is faith that unbars the gates of the soul. How marvelous the transformation wrought in the life when faith opens the door of the heart to the Saviour. He who was once far from God realizes the meaning of the words, “I drew them by the cords of a man, with bands of love.” [Hosea 11:4.] 17LtMs, Lt 145, 1902, par. 12

My dear friends, let the truth of God abide in your hearts. Then, with sanctified lips, you will repeat the message of mercy. Faith grows by exercise, and as it grows, love for the Redeemer increases. “God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” [1 John 4:16.] 17LtMs, Lt 145, 1902, par. 13

I am so thankful to the Lord for giving me back my voice. I have been able to speak with freedom while at the camp-meeting. I can truly say, “I delight to do thy will, O my God.” [Psalm 40:8.] “Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.” [Psalm 119:6.] I am so grateful for the peace and comfort and love that every day I find in the Lord. But when I attend meetings such as this camp-meeting, and see how my words are misinterpreted and made to serve selfish purposes, I am withheld from entering into controversy. I speak the words of the Lord, with the authority that He gives me, and then I leave the matter in His hands, knowing that I have done my duty. This I must do, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear. But I am not to speak words of my own, lest I weaken the testimony God gives me. 17LtMs, Lt 145, 1902, par. 14