Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 18 (1903)


Lt 114, 1903

Leaders in Our Work

“Elmshaven,” St. Helena, California

May 23, 1903

This letter is published in entirety in 7MR 62-70. +Note

To the leaders in our work

Dear Brethren,—

I have a message for you. The Lord is in earnest with His people. I expected that great humiliation of heart would follow the manifestation of the Lord’s displeasure in the destruction of the principal buildings of our two largest institutions. But how little influence this has had to bring humiliation and repentance. God’s people have dishonored Him, and their hearts have become so unimpressible that even when He speaks in judgment, they make no decided change. 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 1

Evil entered the heavenly courts through the angel who, next to Christ, occupied the most exalted position. Lucifer was the first of the covering cherubs, holy and undefiled. Of him it is said, “Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering. ... Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so. Thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.” [Ezekiel 28:12-15.] 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 2

But though honored above the heavenly host, Lucifer was not content with his position. He ventured to covet the homage due alone to the Creator. He cherished feelings of envy, and these feelings he communicated to the other angels. It was his endeavor to secure to himself their service and loyalty. In so deceptive a way did he work that the sentiments that he inculcated could not be dealt with until they had developed in the minds of those who received them. 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 3

The influence of mind on mind, so strong a power for good when sanctified, is equally strong for evil in the hands of those opposed to God. This power Satan used in his work of instilling evil into the minds of the angels, and he made it appear that he was seeking the good of the universe. As the anointed cherub, Lucifer had been highly exalted; he was greatly loved by the heavenly beings, and his influence over them was strong. Many of them listened to his suggestions and believed his words. “And there was war in heaven; Michael and His angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought, and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.” [Revelation 12:7, 8.] 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 4

Cast out of heaven, Satan set up his kingdom in this world, and ever since, he has been untiringly striving to seduce human beings from their allegiance to God. He uses the same power that he used in heaven—the influence of mind on mind. Men become tempters of their fellow men. The strong, corrupting sentiments of Satan are cherished, and they exert a masterly compelling power. Under the influence of these sentiments, men bind up with one another in confederacies, in trade unions, and in secret societies. There [are] at work in the world agencies that God will not much longer tolerate. In a milder form the same evil and the same spirit has been introduced into our institutions. The Lord opened the matter to me, showing me that the wrong was of the same character as that introduced into heaven. It was Satan who was working to bring in certain influences to bind different interests under one control. This was not in harmony with God’s will, and He declared that He would not sanction anything of the kind. 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 5

This work was first started in the Review and Herald office. Things were swayed first in one way and then in another. It was the enemy of our work who prompted the call for the consolidation of the publishing work under one controlling power in Battle Creek. 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 6

Then the idea gained favor that the medical missionary work would be greatly advanced if all our medical institutions and other medical missionary interests were bound up under the control of the medical association at Battle Creek. 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 7

I was told that I must lift up my voice in warning against this. We were not to be under the control of men who could not control themselves and who were not willing to be amenable to God. We were not to be guided by men who want their word to be the controlling power. The development of the desire to control has been very marked, and God sent warning after warning, forbidding confederacies and consolidation. He warned us against binding ourselves to fulfil certain agreements that would be presented by men laboring to control the movements of their brethren. 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 8

Light has been given me that there are papers that have been drawn up by lawyers that are blinding the eyes of the simple people of God. Men have means that they are willing to lend at interest, and these papers, signed by those to whom the money is lent, are given as security. But if those receiving the money should change leaders, if they should turn away from straightforward principles, they could, because of the wording of the papers, take advantage of those whose money they have received and bring in oppression. We are to guard against the things that tempt men to hurt their fellow men. We are to guard against the acceptance of documents framed in language that is confusing to minds. We have no need of such documents. They are a snare, and our people are warned to beware of them. 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 9

Warnings against these things were given me in Australia. The word of the Lord came to me, Say to My people, Put not your trust in writings drawn up by lawyers, filled with technicalities and conditions and restrictions, which blind the minds of those who have to do with them. God wants those who believe the truth to take their stand against everything of the kind. 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 10

We are church members, believers in the Bible, and we are not to make the Lord Jesus ashamed to call us brethren, because we have no confidence in one another. We are to be afraid of those who have little confidence in their fellow workers and who demand that they should be bound about by agreements and restrictions,which can be misinterpreted and used to do harm. Should they in the future be turned from their integrity, they would take advantage of some wording that those who signed the documents did not at the time comprehend. 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 11

The Result of Exalting Self

I am instructed to call the attention of our people to the second dream given to Nebuchadnezzar and to the experience that came to him as the result of his failure to heed the warning. Nebuchadnezzar was troubled by the dream; and unable to obtain from his wise men an interpretation of it, he called in Daniel and told him the dream. 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 12

“I saw,” he said, “and, behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. The tree grew and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the width thereof unto the end of all the earth; the leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all; the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowl of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it. I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven, and he cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit; let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches; nevertheless, leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth; and let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him ... This dream I Nebuchadnezzar have seen. Now, thou, O Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation thereof, forasmuch as all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known unto me the interpretation; but thou art able: for the spirit of the holy gods is in thee.” [Daniel 4:10-16, 18.] 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 13

The dream and its meaning filled Daniel with astonishment, and “his thoughts troubled him.” [Verse 19.] But he faithfully told the king that the fate of the tree was emblematic of his own downfall; that he would lose his reason and, forsaking the abodes of men, would find a home with the beasts of the field; and that he would remain in this condition for seven years. He urged the proud monarch to repent and turn to God and by good works avert the threatened calamity. “Wherefore, O king,” he said, “let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility.” [Verse 27.] 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 14

Had the king heeded this counsel, the threatened evil might have been turned aside. But he went on in proud superiority. For a time he was impressed by the warning given him. But his heart was not changed, and the heart that is not wholly transformed by the grace of God soon loses the impression made by the Holy Spirit. Nebuchadnezzar felt that he was rooted in the hearts of his subjects, and his prosperity tempted him to do unjust things. His rule, which in the past had to a great extent been just and merciful, now became harsh and oppressive. The reason that God had given him was used for self-glorification. 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 15

About a year after the king received the warning, he was walking in his palace, thinking of his power as the ruler of earth’s greatest kingdom. And the king spake, and said, “Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of my kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” [Verse 30.] 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 16

The God of heaven read the heart of the king and heard it whisperings of self-gratulation. “While the word was yet in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken, The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field; they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will.” [Verses 31, 32.] 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 17

“The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar.” In a moment his reason was taken away, and he became as a beast. “And he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.” [Verse 33.] For seven years he was thus degraded. For seven years he was an astonishment to his subjects. At the end of this time his reason was restored to him, and looking up in humility to the God of heaven, he recognized the divine hand in his chastisement. The transformation had come. The mighty monarch had become the humble child of God, obedient to His will. The despot had been changed into the wise, compassionate ruler. 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 18

In a public proclamation Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged his guilt and the great mercy of God in his restoration. The record says: 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 19

“At the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored Him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom from generation to generation; and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of earth, and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou? At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom mine honor and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment; and those that walk in pride He is able to abase.” [Verses 34-37.] 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 20

The lesson that the Lord would have all humanity learn from the experience of the king of Babylon is that all who walk in pride He is able to abase. By stern discipline Nebuchadnezzar had to learn the lesson that God, not man, is Ruler, that His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. So men today must learn that God is supreme. When men gain success in the work of the Lord, it is because God has given them this success, not for their own glory, but for God’s glory. He who seeks to steal a ray of light from the glory of the Lord will find that he will be punished for his presumption. 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 21

David declares, “I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not; yea, I sought him, and he could not be found.” [Psalm 37:35, 36.] 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 22

Let a people boast themselves in their own wisdom, let them exalt self and indulge pride, and the result will surely follow. As surely as the sun shines by day, so surely does pride go before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Let a church become proud and boastful, and that church will be laid low. Let those in charge of any institution become presumptuous, taking to themselves the credit for the success that has come to them in certain lines, let them glory in their wisdom and their efficiency, and they will certainly be brought to humiliation. 18LtMs, Lt 114, 1903, par. 23