Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 20 (1905)


Lt 201, 1905

Officers of the Southern Missionary Society

“Elmshaven,” St. Helena, California

July 17, 1905

Portions of this letter are published in 3MR 269-270.

The Morning Star

To the officers of the Southern Missionary Society

Dear Brethren,—

The steamer Morning Star has been a blessing in its past experience. This was the light given me when I was in Vicksburg. From a letter to Edson, dated September 9, 1902, I extract the following: 20LtMs, Lt 201, 1905, par. 1

“In answer to your question as to whether it would be well to fit up your steamer Morning Star to be used for the conveyance of missionary workers to places that otherwise they could not reach, I will say that I have been shown how, when you first went to the southern field, you used this boat as your home and as a place on which to receive those interested in the truth. The novelty of the idea excited curiosity, and many came to see and hear. I know that, through the agency of this boat, places have been reached where till then the light of truth had never shone—places represented to me as ‘the hedges.’ [Luke 14:23.] The Morning Star has been instrumental in sowing the seeds of truth in many hearts, and there are those who have first seen the light of truth while on this boat. On it angel feet have trodden. 20LtMs, Lt 201, 1905, par. 2

“Yet I would have you consider the dangers as well as the advantages of this line of work. The greatest caution will need to be exercised by all who enter the southern field. They must not trust to unchristian feelings or prejudices. The truth is to be proclaimed. Christ is to be uplifted as the Saviour of mankind. Unless men of extreme caution are chosen as leaders and burden-bearers, men who trust in the Lord, knowing that they will be kept by His power, the efforts of the workers will be in vain. The brethren are to consider these things and then move forward in faith. 20LtMs, Lt 201, 1905, par. 3

“One thing I urge upon you: the necessity of counseling with your brethren. There are those who will feel that anything you may have to do with boats is a snare; but, my son, if there is a class of people in out-of-the-way places who can be reached only by means of boats, talk the matter over with your brethren. Pray earnestly in regard to it, and the Spirit of God will point out the way. I see no reason why a boat should not be utilized in bringing to those in darkness the light of Him who is ‘the bright and morning Star.’ [Revelation 22:16.] 20LtMs, Lt 201, 1905, par. 4

“As a people we have so often been reproved for doing so little, that we should not hinder with discouragement any reasonable effort to extend the influence of the truth. Be careful that the enterprise you speak of does not cripple other lines of work. Follow the convictions of the Spirit of God in harmony with your brethren. Watch unto prayer, and then commit the keeping of your soul to God as unto a faithful Creator. He will keep that which is committed to His trust. Look to Jesus. The enemy will seek to spoil your life, but trust in the Lord. Draw nigh to Him, and He will draw nigh to you. 20LtMs, Lt 201, 1905, par. 5

“The Lord God of heaven is constantly at work for us. His angels minister to all who will receive their guardianship. Human impulse will try to make us believe that it is God who is guiding us, when we are following our own way. But if we watch carefully, and counsel with our brethren, we shall understand; for the promise is, ‘The meek will He guide in judgment; and the meek will He teach His way.’ [Psalm 25:9.] We must never allow human ideas and natural inclinations to gain the supremacy.” 20LtMs, Lt 201, 1905, par. 6

From the many remarkable and interesting experiences that Edson and his associates have had on The Morning Star and because of the part it has acted in an important and blessed work, Edson has regarded it as different from an ordinary piece of property, and so have I. 20LtMs, Lt 201, 1905, par. 7

I have hoped that the way would open for it to be used again in a similar work. This I have expressed to Edson several times. But never have I received instruction regarding it that would lead me to putting it into the work contrary to the judgment of those who know the field and who can see whether the use of the steamer would be a real help or, on account of the expense of maintenance, would become a burden. 20LtMs, Lt 201, 1905, par. 8

Many enterprises which promise good results have to wait when means is scarce. At such times we must choose those lines of work where small expenditures will accomplish much. 20LtMs, Lt 201, 1905, par. 9

And there are many enterprises which the Lord will open the way for, and especially bless, when the laborers counsel together and are of one heart and one mind, which cannot be thus blessed when there is not that unity. 20LtMs, Lt 201, 1905, par. 10

When in the work in the South there is such a shortage of means on every hand, and when money is so much needed to advance the work in many important lines in Nashville, I could not urge the use of the steamer, if it will cost more than other plans of effective labor. 20LtMs, Lt 201, 1905, par. 11

I am confident that Edson believes that a good work can be done in places along the river with the steamer. But he is not able to carry this work alone; and if those upon whom rests the burden of the work in that field do not see light in using the steamer, he should not try to force the matter upon them. 20LtMs, Lt 201, 1905, par. 12

If the steamer is to be a consumer and not a producer, if it is to be a constant bill of expense, it would better be sold. 20LtMs, Lt 201, 1905, par. 13

I spoke advisedly when I said that the Lord had made the Morning Star a means of bringing souls to the knowledge of the truth. From the light given me when I was at Vicksburg, I considered that the boat had been preserved of God to do a similar work in the future. I expected that the boat would do a similar work in other places, under the care of judicious workers. But it has done no such work for years. When it sank, I said, This is a lesson for our instruction. 20LtMs, Lt 201, 1905, par. 14

Edson is correct in saying that I encouraged him to think that the steamer might do a work similar to that which it had done in the past, in reaching with the truth people who could not otherwise be reached. I did really expect, not from any definite instruction given me, but from what I had seen of the work of the steamer in the past, that the Lord would still use it. I had respect for the boat; for I have traced the providence of God in the work done on it in the past. I knew that there were many places where the same work might be done. This presentation was given me when I was at Vicksburg. But time has passed, and no such work has been done, and the boat has proved to be only a bill of expense. Considering these conditions, it may be best to set it aside. This is a matter that the brethren must decide in council. 20LtMs, Lt 201, 1905, par. 15

Edson should not allow the steamer to continue to absorb his means, while he is by this forced to borrow money from those who dislike to refuse him. It would be much better for him to use his time and means and energy in getting out much-needed books and thus be freeing himself from debt. 20LtMs, Lt 201, 1905, par. 16

My brethren, counsel together. Study and pray, and work for unity, and the Lord will give you light. 20LtMs, Lt 201, 1905, par. 17