Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 18 (1903)


Ms 73, 1903

The Color Line


July 27, 1903 [typed]

This manuscript is compiled from earlier manuscripts.

Testimony dated March 20, 1891:

It will always be a difficult matter to deal with the prejudices of the white people in the South and do missionary work for the colored race. But the way this matter has been treated by some is an offense to God. We need not expect that all will be accomplished in the South that God would do until in our missionary efforts we place this question on the ground of principle, and let those who accept the truth be educated to be Bible Christians, working according to Christ’s order. You have no license from God to exclude the colored people from your places of worship. Treat them as Christ’s property, which they are, just as much as yourselves. They should hold membership in the church with the white brethren. Every effort should be made to wipe out the terrible wrong which has been done them. At the same time we must not carry things to extremes and run into fanaticism on this question. Some would think it right to throw down every partition wall and intermarry with the colored people, but this is not the right thing to teach or practice. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 1


There are able colored ministers who have embraced the truth. Some of these feel unwilling to devote themselves to work for their own race; they wish to preach to the white people. These men are making a great mistake. They should seek most earnestly to save their own race, and they will not by any means be excluded from the gatherings of the white people. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 2


From Review and Herald, December 17, 1895:

Walls of separation have been built up between the whites and the blacks. These walls of prejudice will tumble down of themselves, as did the walls of Jericho, when Christians obey the word of God, which enjoins on them supreme love to their Maker and impartial love to their neighbors. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 3


From letter dated June 5, 1899:

As you say, there is no more fruitful field than the South. It is the prejudice of the white against the black race that makes this field hard, very hard. ... The field is one that needs to be worked with the greatest discretion. Any mingling of the white people with the colored people, as sleeping in their houses, or showing them friendship as would be shown by the whites to those of their own color, is exasperating to the white people of the South. ... The relation of the two races has been a matter hard to deal with, and I fear that it will ever remain a most perplexing problem. ... As far as possible, everything that will stir up the race prejudice of the white people should be avoided. There is danger of closing the door so that our white laborers will not be able to work in some places in the South. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 4


From letter, July 2, 1899:

In the South there are some places where work can be done. But the neglect of our people to respond to the light God has given has closed some openings which it will now be very difficult for them to enter. I inquire, What do our people mean by this neglect to work the Southern field? True, it is not a desirable field; and unless the Lord shall inspire with His love the hearts of His people, they will not succeed. They are not to begin by publishing the great and wonderful things they are going to do. Cannot they see that if they do this the gate will be closed against them? That which might have been done years ago in the South cannot now be done. ... The plans and efforts that could have been made years ago will not now succeed in some places. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 5


From Ms. dated November 20, 1895:

The time has not yet come for us to work as though there were no prejudice. Christ said, “Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” [Matthew 10:16.] If you see that by doing certain things which you have a perfect right to do, you hinder the work of the truth, refrain from doing these things. (Sunday labor spoken of before this paragraph.) Do nothing that will close the minds of others against the truth. There is a world to save, and we gain nothing by cutting loose from those we are trying to help. All things are lawful, but all things are not expedient. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 6


From letter dated April 27, 1899:

If the greatest caution is not exercised, bitterness and hatred will be aroused in the white people in the South who are yearning for power to oppress the colored race as they have in the past. ... Common association with the blacks is not a wise course to pursue. To lodge with them in their homes may stir up feelings in the minds of the whites which will imperil the lives of the workers. ... The way in which some of the teachers have managed the work in the South has not been right, and yet many have looked with great enthusiasm on the work of those who through incorrect methods have given a wrong mold to the work. Should these methods be encouraged?—No; for the material worked upon is not being in the least qualified to help the Southern people. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 7

The breaking down of distinctions between the white and the colored races unfits the blacks to work for their own class and exerts a wrong influence upon the whites. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 8

Again I place this matter before you. Will you act upon the light given? 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 9


From letter, June 21, 1899:

There is need of level-headed men and women who love the Lord Jesus, and who will love the colored people for Christ’s sake, who have the deepest pity for them. But the methods of ________ are not the methods that will be wise to practice. They cannot be petted and treated just as if they were on a level with the whites without ruining them for all missionary work in the Southern field. There is a difference among the blacks, as there is among the whites. Some possess keen and superior talents, that if the possessor is not made too much of, and is treated from a Bible standpoint, as humble men to do a Christlike missionary work, not exalting them, but teaching them religious love, and Christlike love for the souls of their own colored race, and keep before them that they are not called into the field to labor for the whites, but to learn to labor in the love of God to restore the moral image of God in those of their own race, then a good work can be done. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 10

There is a work to be done in opening schools to teach the colored people alone, unmixed with whites, and there will be a successful work done in this way. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 11


From letter dated July 16, 1901, sent to the Denver Church.

You ask in regard to the wisdom of placing a colored brother as superintendent of your Sabbath school. There are reasons why this would not be advisable. For the spiritual good of the brother this should not be done. And if continued it would prove a detriment to the Sabbath school. In many minds there is a strong prejudice against the colored people, and as a result of such a move constant difficulties would arise, which would hinder the growth and advancement of the school. From the light that has been given me for years in the past, I know that all would not show to a colored man the respect which for the good of a Sabbath school should be shown to the superintendent. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 12

There is a large class of colored people in Denver. Let special efforts be made for them, both by the white and the colored members of the church. Let the missionary spirit be awakened. Let earnest work be done for those who know not the truth. Let the white workers learn to labor for the colored people. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 13

Colored men are inclined to think that they are fitted to work for white people, when they should devote themselves to doing missionary work among the colored people. There is plenty of room for intelligent colored men to labor for their own people. Let those colored men who are fitted for the position of superintendent in a Sabbath school remember that they may do a much-needed work by establishing Sunday schools and Sabbath schools among the colored people. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 14

The field is opening in the Southern States, and wise, Christian colored men will be called to the work. But for several reasons, white men must be chosen as leaders. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 15

Could not a school be established in Denver where the colored youth could be taught by teachers whose hearts are filled with love for souls? The most decided efforts should be made to train and educate colored workers to labor as missionaries in the Southern States. Christian colored students should be prepared to give the truth to their own race. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 16

There is much work to be done in the Southern field. Special efforts are to be made in the large cities of the South. White laborers are needed who will enter the Southern field and work so wisely that many, not only of the colored people, but of the white people also, will be converted. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 17


From letter dated February 15, 1900, written to Elder Hyatt, in regard to color line in South Africa.

In regard to the question of caste and color, nothing would be gained by making a decided distinction, but the Spirit of God would be grieved. We are all supposed to be preparing for the same heaven. We have the same heavenly Father and the same Redeemer, who loved us and gave Himself for us all, without any distinction. We are nearing the close of this earth’s history, and it does not become any child of God to have a proud, haughty heart and turn from any soul who loves God, or to cease to labor for any soul for whom Christ has died. When the love of Christ is cherished in the heart as it should be, when the sweet, subduing spirit of the love of God fills the soul temple, there will be no caste, no pride of nationality; no difference will be made because of the color of the skin. Each one will help the one who needs tender regard and consolation of whatever nationality he may be. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 18

Ask yourselves if Christ would make any difference. In assembling His people would He say, “Here brother,” or “Here sister, your nationality is not Jewish; you are of a different class.” Would He say, “Those who are dark-skinned may file into the back seats; those of a lighter skin may come up to the front seats”? 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 19

In one place the proposition was made that a curtain be drawn between the colored people and the white people. I asked, Would Jesus do that? This grieves the heart of Christ. The color of the skin is no criterion as to the value of the soul. By the mighty cleaver of truth we have all been quarried out from the world. God has taken us, all classes, all nationalities, and brought us into His worship, to be prepared for His temple. ... Remember that with God there is no caste or nationality, no divisions or parties. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 20


From letter dated January 8, 1901:

There are some teachers who have taught that no distinction should be made between the white and the colored people. Were their teachings followed, the way for missionary work in the South would be hedged up. Some have flattered and petted the colored people, greatly harming those who with proper treatment and proper education would have made workers in the good cause of educating others. ... You try to make others believe that what has been written with reference to the color line means only those in the South. But it means those in the North as well as the South. 18LtMs, Ms 73, 1903, par. 21