Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 22 (1907)

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Ms 29, 1907

Individual Responsibility and Christian Unity

St. Helena, California

January 16, 1907

Portions of this manuscript are published in TM 485-505. +Note

We are living in a time when every true Christian must maintain a living connection with God. The world is flooded with sophistries of the enemy, and we are safe only as we learn lessons of truth from the great Teacher. The great work in which we are engaged demands of us a strong, united effort under divine leadership. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 1

The Lord desires His workers to counsel together, not to move independently. Those who are set as ministers and guides to the people should pray much when they meet together. This will give wonderful help and courage, binding heart to heart and soul to soul, leading every man to unity and peace and strength in his endeavors. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 2

Our strength lies in taking our burdens to the great Burden-bearer. God confers honor on those who come to Him and ask Him for help, in faith believing that they will receive. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 3

Human help is feeble. But we may unite in seeking help and favor from Him who has said: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” [Matthew 7:7.] Divine power is infallible. Then let us come to God, pleading for the guidance of His Holy Spirit. Let our united prayers ascend to the throne of grace. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 4

Let our requests be mingled with praise and thanksgiving. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 5

Individual Accountability

Christ, our Advocate with the Father, knows how to sympathize with every soul. To those who receive Him as their Saviour, He gives power to become sons and daughters of God. His life of perfect freedom from sin has prepared the way for us; through Him the entrance into the Holiest of all is made manifest. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 6

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “He that hath received His testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” [John 3:16, 33-36.] 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 7

A religious education is greatly needed by all who act a part in the work of Jesus Christ. They are to be laborers together with God, engaged in a sacred, solemn work. Each is to have an individual experience in being taught by the great Teacher, an individual communion with God. There is to be imparted a new life, and that life is to be nourished by the Holy Spirit. When there is a spiritual union with the Lord Jesus, He will move and impress the heart. He will lead, and in the life there will be a growth of fellowship with Christ. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 8

Christ is our only hope. We may look to Him, for He is our Saviour. We may take Him at His word and make Him our dependence. He knows just the help we need, and we can safely put our trust in Him. If we depend on human wisdom to guide us, we shall find ourselves on the losing side. But we may come direct to the Lord Jesus; for He has said, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” [Matthew 11:28, 29.] It is our privilege to be taught of Him who said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.” [John 6:53.] 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 9

We have a divine audience to which to present our requests. Then let nothing prevent us from offering our petitions in the name of Jesus, believing with unwavering faith that God hears us and that He will answer us. Let us carry our difficulties to God, humbling ourselves before Him. There is a great work to be done, and while it is our privilege to counsel together, we must be very sure to counsel with God; for He will never mislead us. We are not to make flesh our arm. If we do, depending upon human help, human guidance, unbelief will steal in, and our faith will die. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 10

Frequently I receive letters from individuals, telling me of their troubles and perplexities and asking me to inquire of God what is their duty. I reply to them, I have not been appointed by God to do such a work as you ask. The Lord Jesus has invited you to bring your troubles to One who understands every circumstance of your life. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 11

“What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” [Mark 11:24-26.] 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 12

I shall not dishonor my Lord by encouraging people to come to me for counsel when they have a standing invitation to go to the One who is able to carry them and all their burdens. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 13

“It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me. ... I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” [John 6:45, 51.] 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 14

God deals with men as individuals, giving to every one his work. All are to be taught of God. Through the grace of Christ, every soul must work out his own righteousness, maintaining a living connection with the Father and the Son. This is a genuine experience that is of value. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 15

Necessity of Harmonious Action

While it is true that the Lord guides individuals, it is also true that He is leading out a people, not a few separate individuals, here and there, one believing this thing, another that. Angels of God are doing the work committed to their trust. The third angel is leading out and purifying a people, and they should move with him unitedly. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 16

Those who were in our work at the beginning are passing away. Only a few of the pioneers of the cause now remain among us. Many of the heavy burdens formerly borne by men of long experience are now falling upon younger men. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 17

This transfer of responsibilities to laborers whose experience is more or less limited is attended with some dangers against which we need to guard. The world is filled with strife for the supremacy. The spirit of pulling away from our fellow laborers, the spirit of disorganization, is in the very air we breathe. By some, all efforts to establish order are regarded as dangerous—as a restriction of personal liberty, and hence to be feared as popery. They declare that they will not take any man’s say-so, that they are amenable to no man. I have been instructed that it is Satan’s special effort to lead men to feel that God is pleased to have them choose their own course, independent of the counsel of their brethren. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 18

Herein lies a grave danger to the prosperity of our work. We must move discreetly, sensibly, in harmony with the judgment of God-fearing counselors; for in this course alone lies our safety and strength. Otherwise God cannot work with us and by us and for us. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 19

O how Satan would rejoice if he could succeed in his efforts to get in among this people and disorganize the work at a time when thorough organization is essential, and will be the greatest power to keep our spurious uprisings, and to refute claims not endorsed by the Word of God. We want to hold the lines evenly, that there shall be no breaking down of the system of organization and order that has been built up by wise, careful labor. License must not be given to disorderly elements that desire to control the work at this time. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 20

Unity of Effort

Some have advanced the thought that as we near the close of time, every child of God will act independently of any religious organization. But I have been instructed by the Lord that in this work there is no such thing as every man’s being independent. The stars of heaven are all under law, each influencing the other to do the will of God, yielding their common obedience to the law that controls their action. And, in order that the Lord’s work may advance healthfully and solidly, His people must draw together. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 21

The spasmodic, fitful movements of some who claim to be Christians is well represented by the work of strong but untrained horses. When one pulls forward, another pulls back; and at the voice of their master, one plunges ahead, and the other stands immovable. If men will not move in concert in the great and grand work for this time, there will be confusion. It is not a good sign when men refuse to unite with their brethren and prefer to act alone. Instead of isolating themselves, let them draw in harmony with their fellow laborers. Unless they do this, their activity will work at the wrong time and in the wrong way. They will often work counter to that which God would have done, and thus their labor is worse than wasted. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 22

Men to be Counselors, not Rulers

“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart.” [Psalm 27:14.] Let us each wait on the Lord, and He will teach us how to work. He will reveal to us what work we are best adapted to perform. This will not lead men to start out in an independent spirit, to promulgate new theories. The workers should be in harmony with the truth, and with their brethren. There should be counsel and co-operation. But men are not to feel that at every step they must wait to ask some higher officer if they may do this or that. They may look to the God of Israel for guidance. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 23

Among all God’s workers there should be a spirit of unity and harmony. The Lord has especially blessed some with experience that has fitted them to be wise counselors. In our several callings there is to be a mutual dependence on one another for assistance. Of this Peter says: 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 24

“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace unto the humble.” [1 Peter 5:5.] 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 25

But this does not authorize any to undertake the work of ordering his brethren to do as he thinks advisable, irrespective of their own personal convictions. Any man who is placed in a position where he is regarded by others as an authority, as one to whom they must go for permission to do what they feel is right, is in a dangerous position. He is likely to become exulted; for he is but human. The Lord has not appointed to any one such a work. We are to look to Christ to direct His workers. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 26

One man is not to act as mind and judgment for another man whom the Lord is using in His work. No one is to lay down manmade rules and regulations to govern his fellow laborers who have a living experience in the truth. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 27

Let every one be amenable to the great Teacher. His words are spirit and life. He does not sanction any plan by which men who have been entrusted with the guardianship of souls are placed under another man and compelled to do as he shall decide. Those whom God is leading by His Holy Spirit need not always, before they make any move, first ask permission of some one else. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 28

The Lord Jesus is the one to whom men must go for wisdom. The gifts of grace will increase by wise use, but there must be no self-exaltation. No precise lines are to be laid down. Let the Holy Spirit direct the workers. They are to keep looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 29

To my brethren in the ministry, I wrote in 1896 as follows: 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 30

“I must speak to my brethren nigh and afar off. I cannot hold my peace. They are not working on correct principles. Those who stand in responsible positions must not feel that their position of importance makes them men of infallible judgment. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 31

“All the works of men are under the Lord’s jurisdiction. It will be altogether safe to consider that there is knowledge with the Most High. Those who trust in God and His wisdom, and not in their own, are walking in safe paths. They will never feel that they are authorized to muzzle even the ox that treads out the grain; and how offensive it is for men to control the human agent who is in partnership with God, and whom the Lord Jesus has invited, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.’ [Matthew 11:28-30.] ‘We are laborers together with God; ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.’ [1 Corinthians 3:9.] 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 32

“The Lord has not placed any one of his human agencies under the dictation and control of those who are themselves but erring mortals. He has not placed upon men the power to say, You shall do this, and you shall not do that. ... 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 33

“No man is a proper judge of another man’s duty. Man is responsible to God; and as finite, erring men take into their hands the jurisdiction of their fellow men, as if the Lord commissioned them to lift up and cast down, all heaven is filled with indignation. There are strange principles being established in regard to the control of the minds and works of men, by human judges, as though these finite men were gods. ... 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 34

“Organizations, institutions, unless kept by the power of God, will work under Satan’s dictation to bring men under the control of men; and fraud and guile will bear the semblance of zeal and truth, and for the advancement of the kingdom of God. ... 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 35

“God will not vindicate any device whereby man shall in the slightest degree rule or oppress his fellow men. The only hope for fallen man is to look to Jesus and receive Him as the only Saviour. As soon as a man begins to make an iron rule for other men, as soon as he begins to harness up and drive men according to his own mind, he dishonors God and imperils his own soul and the souls of his brethren. Sinful man can find hope and righteousness only in God; and no human being is righteous any longer than he has faith in God and maintains a vital connection with Him. A flower of the field must have its roots in the soil; it must have air, dew, showers, and sunshine. It will flourish only as it receives these advantages, and all are from God. So with men. We receive from God that which ministers to the life of the soul. We are warned not to trust in man, not to make flesh our arm.” 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 36

The foregoing was printed in Special Testimonies for Ministers and Workers, No. 9. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 37

In 1903, I wrote to the president of a conference: 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 38

“By means of one agency, Christ Jesus, God has mysteriously linked all men together. To every man He has assigned some special line of service; and we should be quick to comprehend that we are to guard against leaving the work given us in order that we may interfere with other human agencies who are doing a work not precisely the same as our own. To no man has been assigned the work of interfering with the work of one of his fellow laborers, trying to take it in hand himself; for he would so handle it that he would spoil it. To one, God gives a work different from the work that He gives another. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 39

“Let us all remember that we are not dealing with ideal men, but with real men of God’s appointment, men precisely like ourselves, men who fall into the same errors that we do, men of like ambitions and infirmities. No man has been made a master, to rule the mind and conscience of a fellow being. Let us be very careful how we deal with God’s blood-bought heritage. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 40

“To no man has been appointed the work of being a ruler over his fellow men. Every man is to bear his own burden. He may speak words of encouragement, faith, and hope to his fellow workers; he may help them to bear their special burdens by suggesting to them improved methods of labor; but in no case is he to discourage and enfeeble them, lest the enemy shall obtain an advantage over their minds, an advantage that in time would react upon himself. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 41

“By the cords of tender love and sympathy the Lord linked all men to Himself. Of us He says, Ye ‘are laborers together with God. Ye are God’s husbandry; ye are God’s building.’ [1 Corinthians 3:9.] This relationship we should recognize. If we are bound up with Christ, we shall constantly manifest Christlike sympathy and forbearance toward those who are striving with all their God-given ability to bear their burdens, even as we endeavor to bear our appointed burdens. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 42

“In our several callings there is to be a mutual dependence on one another for assistance. A spirit of authority is not to be exercised, even by the president of a conference; for position does not change a man into a creature that cannot err. Every laborer entrusted with the management of a conference is to work as Christ worked, wearing His yoke and learning of Him His meekness and lowliness. A conference president’s spirit and demeanor, in word and in deed, reveal whether he realizes his weakness and places his dependence on God, or whether he thinks that his position of influence has given him superior wisdom. If he loves and fears God, if he realizes the value of souls, if he appreciates every jot of the help that the Lord has qualified a brother-worker to render, he will be able to bind heart to heart by the love that Christ revealed during His ministry. He will speak words of comfort to the sick and the sorrowing. If he does not cultivate a masterly manner, but bears in mind always that One is his Master, even Christ, he can counsel the inexperienced, encouraging them to be God’s helping hand. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 43

“The feeble hands are not to be deterred from doing something for the Master. Those whose knees are weak are not to be caused to stumble. God desires us to encourage those whose hands are weak to grasp more firmly the hand of Christ and to work hopefully. Every hand should be outstretched to help the hand that is doing something for the Master. The time may come when the hands that have upheld the feeble hands of another may, in turn, be upheld by the hands to whom they ministered. God has so ordered matters that no man is absolutely independent of his fellow men.” 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 44

Counsel to Men in Official Position

Among God’s people are some who have had long experience in His work, men who have not departed from the faith. Notwithstanding the great trials through which they have passed, they have remained faithful. These men should be regarded as tried and chosen counselors. They should be respected, and their judgment should be honored by those who are younger or who have had less experience, even though these younger men may be in official positions. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 45

We are engaged in a great work, and there are many opportunities for service in various lines. Let all pray earnestly that God may guide them into the right channels of service. God’s workmen should not neglect any opportunity to help others in every possible way. If they seek God unselfishly for counsel, His Word, which bringeth salvation, will lead them. They will engage in labor on the right hand and on the left, doing their best to remove from the minds of others every doubt and every difficulty in understanding the truth. The Spirit of God will make their labors effectual. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 46

The Lord calls for minutemen, men who will be prepared to speak words in season and out of season, that will arrest the attention and convict the heart. The kingdom of God consisteth not in outward show. Light will not be received by following selfish plans, but by looking unto Jesus, following Christ’s leadings, not the suppositions of men. The kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 47

It often happens that circumstances arise which demand prompt action. And sometimes precious opportunities have been lost because of delay. The one who should have acted promptly felt that he must first consult with some one who was far away and who was unacquainted with the true conditions. Much time has thus been lost in asking advice and counsel from men who were not in a position to give wise counsel. Let all God’s workers be guided by the Word of truth which points out their duty, following implicitly the directions Christ has given. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 48

In 1883, I said to our brethren assembled in General Conference: 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 49

“Satan exults when men look to and trust in man. The one who is the object of this undue confidence is exposed to strong temptations. Satan will, if possible, lead him to self-confidence, in order that human defects may mar the work. He will be in danger of encouraging his brethren in their dependence upon him, and feeling that all things that pertain to the movements of the cause must be brought to his notice. Thus the work will bear the impress of man instead of the impress of God. But if all will learn to depend upon God for themselves, many dangers that assail the one who stands at the head of the work will be averted. If he errs, if he permits human influence to sway his judgment, or yields to temptation, he can be corrected and helped by his brethren. And those who learn to go to God for themselves for help and counsel are learning lessons that will be of the highest value to them. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 50

“But if the officers of a conference bear successfully the burdens laid upon them, they must pray, they must believe, they must trust God to use them as His agents in keeping the churches of the conference in good working order. This is their part of the vineyard to cultivate. There must be far more personal responsibility, far more thinking and planning, far more mental power brought into the labor put forth for the Master. This would enlarge the capacity of the mind and give keener perceptions as to what to do and how. Brethren, you will have to wrestle with difficulties, carry burdens, give advice, plan and execute, constantly looking to God for help. Pray and labor, labor and pray; as pupils in the school of Christ, learn of Jesus. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 51

“The Lord has given us the promise, ‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.’ [James 1:5.] It is in the order of God that those who bear responsibilities should often meet together to counsel with one another, and to pray earnestly for that wisdom which He alone can impart. Unitedly make known your troubles to God. Talk less; much precious time is lost in talk that brings no light. Let brethren unite in fasting and prayer for the wisdom that God has promised to supply liberally. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 52

“Go to God and tell Him as did Moses, ‘I cannot lead this people unless Thy presence shall go with me.’ [Exodus 33:15.] And then ask still more; pray with Moses, ‘Show me Thy glory.’ [Verse 18.] What is this glory?—The character of God. This is what He proclaimed to Moses. Let the soul, in living faith, fasten upon God. Let the tongue speak His praise. When you associate together, let the mind be reverently turned to the contemplation of eternal realities. Thus you will be helping one another to be spiritually minded. When your will is in harmony with the divine will, you will be in harmony with one another; you will have Christ by your side as a counselor.”—Gospel Workers, 235-237 [1892 ed.] 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 53

Unsanctified Independence

The Lord has not qualified any one of us to bear the burden of the work alone. He has associated together men of different minds, that they may counsel with and assist one another. In this way the deficiency in the experience and abilities of one is supplied by the experience and abilities of another. We should all study carefully the instruction given in Corinthians and Ephesians regarding our relation to one another as members of the body of Christ. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 54

In our work we must consider the relation that each worker sustains to the other worker connected with the cause of God. We must remember that others as well as ourselves have a work to do in connection with this cause. We must not bar the mind against counsel. In our plans for the carrying forward of the work, our mind must blend with other minds. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 55

Let us cherish a spirit of confidence in the wisdom of our brethren. We must be willing to take advice and caution from our fellow laborers. Connected with the service of God, we must individually realize that we are parts of a great whole. We must seek wisdom from God, learning what it means to have a waiting, watching spirit, and to go to our Saviour when tired and depressed. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 56

It is a mistake to withdraw from those who do not agree with our ideas. This will not inspire our brethren with confidence in our judgment. It is our duty to counsel with our brethren and to heed their advice. We are to seek their counsel; and when they give it, we are not to cast it away, as though they were our enemies. Unless we humble our hearts before God, we shall not know His will. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 57

Let us be determined to be in unity with our brethren. This duty God has placed upon us. We shall make their hearts glad by following their counsel, and make ourselves strong through the influence that this will give us. Moreover if we feel that we do not need the counsel of our brethren, we close the door of our usefulness as a counselor to them. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 58

To every church I would bear the message that man is not to exalt his own judgment. Meekness and lowliness of heart will lead men to desire counsel at every step. And the Lord will say, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me.” [Matthew 11:29.] It is our privilege to learn of Jesus. But when men, full of self-confidence, think that it is their place to give counsel, instead of desiring to be counseled by their experienced brethren, they will listen to voices that will lead them in strange paths. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 59

The angels of God are in our world, and satanic agencies are here also. I am permitted to see the inclination of certain ones to follow their own strong traits of character. If they refuse to yoke up with others who have had a long experience in the work, they will become blinded by self-confidence, not discerning between the false and the true. It is not safe that such ones should stand in the position of leaders, to follow their own judgment and plans. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 60

It is those who accept the warnings and cautions given them who will walk in safe paths. Let not men yield to the burning desire to become great leaders, or to the desire independently to devise and lay plans for themselves and for the work of God. It is easy for the enemy to work through some who, having themselves need of counsel at every step, undertake the guardianship of souls without having learned the lowliness of Christ. These need counsel from the One who says, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden.” [Verse 28.] 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 61

Our ministers and leaders need to realize the necessity of counseling with their brethren who have been long in the work, and who have gained a deep experience in the ways of the Lord. The disposition of some to shut themselves up to themselves, and to feel competent to plan and execute, according to their own judgment and preferences, brings them into strait places. Such an independent way of working is not right and should not be followed. The ministers and teachers in our Conferences are to work unitedly with their brethren of experience, asking them for their counsel and paying heed to their advice. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 62

I am free to say to our brethren who with humility of heart are following the counsel of the Lord: If you know that God would have you engage in any work, go forward. Those who have the light and consciousness that God is leading need not be told by any human agent what is their work. They are to follow the counsel of the highest authority. Safety and peace and calm assurance are to be found only by following the counsel of the greatest Teacher that ever lived in our world. Let us not turn away from His unerring counsel. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 63

But our impressions are not always a safe guide to duty. 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: the meek will He teach His way.” [Psalm 25:9.] We must not allow human ideas and natural inclinations to gain the supremacy. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 64

An Appeal for Unity

Our work is to strive for unity. We are the children of the same family and have one heavenly Father. Let us not put on garments of heaviness and mistrust and lack of confidence in our brethren. We should not hurt our souls by gathering the thistles and the thorns, but instead gather the roses and the lilies and the pinks, and express their fragrance in our words and acts. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 65

The following is part of a talk given to the ministers assembled at the General Conference in 1883: 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 66

“‘Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.’ [Philippians 4:8.] 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 67

“The dealings of God with His people often appear mysterious. His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts. Many times His way of dealing is so contrary to our plans and expectations that we are amazed and confounded. We do not understand our perverse natures; and often when we are gratifying self, following our own inclinations, we flatter ourselves that we are carrying out the mind of God. And so we need to search the Scriptures, and be much in prayer, that, according to His promise, the Lord may give us wisdom. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 68

“Though we have an individual work and an individual responsibility before God, we are not to follow our own judgment, regardless of the opinions and feelings of our brethren; for this course would lead to disorder in the church. It is the duty of minsters to respect the judgment of their brethren; but their relations to one another, as well as the doctrines they teach, should be brought to the test of the law and the testimony; then, if hearts are teachable, there will be no division among us. Some are inclined to be disorderly and are drifting away from the great landmarks of the faith; but God is moving upon His ministers to be one in doctrine and in spirit. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 69

“Brethren sometimes associate together for years and think they can trust those they know so well, just as they would trust members of their own family. There is a freedom and confidence in this association which could not exist among those not of the same faith. This is very pleasant while brotherly love continues; but let the ‘accuser of the brethren’ [Revelation 12:10] gain admittance to the heart of one of these men, controlling the mind and the imagination, and jealousies are created, suspicion and envy are harbored; and he who supposed himself secure in the love and friendship of his brother finds himself mistrusted and his motives misjudged. The false brother forgets his own human frailties, forgets his obligation to think and speak no evil, lest he dishonor God and wound Christ in the person of His saints; and every defect that can be thought of or imagined is commented upon unmercifully, and the character of a brother is represented as dark and questionable. ... 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 70

“If Satan can employ professed believers to act as accusers of the brethren, he is justly pleased; for those who do this are just as truly serving him as was Judas when he betrayed Christ, although they may be doing it ignorantly. Satan is no less active now than in Christ’s day, and those who lend themselves to do his work will manifest his spirit. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 71

“Floating rumors are often the destroyers of unity among brethren. There are some who watch with open mind and ears to catch flying scandal. They gather up little incidents which may be trifling in themselves, but which are repeated and exaggerated until a man is made an offender for a word. Their motto seems to be, ‘Report, and we will report it.’ [Jeremiah 20:10.] These tale-bearers are doing Satan’s work with surprising fidelity, little knowing how offensive their course is to God. ... The door of the mind should be closed against, ‘They say’ or ‘I have heard.’ Why should we not, instead of allowing jealousy or evil surmising to come into our hearts, go to our brethren and, after frankly but kindly setting before them the things we have heard detrimental to their character and influence, pray with and for them? While we cannot fellowship with those who are the bitter enemies of Christ, we should cultivate that spirit of meekness and love that characterized our Master—a love that thinketh no evil, and is not easily provoked. ... 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 72

“Let us diligently cultivate the pure principles of the gospel of Christ—the religion, not of self-esteem but of love, meekness, and lowliness of heart. Then we shall love our brethren and esteem them better than ourselves. Our minds will not dwell on scandal and flying reports. But ‘whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise,’ we shall ‘think on these things.’” [Philippians 4:8.]—Gospel Workers, 443-447 [1892 ed.]. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 73

As a people we have been reproved by God for doing so little. How important then that we guard carefully against everything that might dishearten or weaken the influence of one soul who is doing a work that God would have done. There are victories to be gained if we present a united front and individually seek the Lord for strength and guidance. 22LtMs, Ms 29, 1907, par. 74