An Appeal to the Working Men and Women in the Ranks of Seventh-day Adventists

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GRATUITIES AND WILLS

It is a remarkable fact, that, in many respects, the religion of Jesus Christ seems to stand upon the same footing with the numerous false systems with which it is compelled to contend. Like them, its success is largely dependent upon the energy and industry of its adherents. The commission of the Master ran thus: “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel unto every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned.” The execution of this command involved infinite labor and sacrifice. Before it could be carried out, it was, of course, necessary that thousands should devote themselves wholly to the work of the ministry, and that, having qualified themselves for the task, leaving home and friends, they should cross seas and continents, and penetrate to every quarter of the globe where men, however fierce and barbarous, still lingered, who had not heard the good news of a crucified and risen Lord. Nor was it sufficient that individuals should give themselves to this stupendous labor. Without the necessary appliances of a written or printed gospel, their efforts would have proved abortive. This necessity, therefore, called into action another class of persons who, while they were not by nature qualified to expound, nevertheless possessed the equally indispensable mechanical skill and scholarly ability by which they were enabled to multiply, indefinitely, copies of the word of God. AWMW 143.4

But these, again, would have been utterly powerless without support; hence, it has become necessary that those who could perform neither of the duties in question, should furnish of their substance the required means for the maintenance of those thus employed, and for the furnishing to their hands of the required resources. As a consequence, the millions who have lived and died within the pale of the church, have, in their respective ages, been called upon, in the providence of God, to contribute largely for the advancement of his truth. As it was in the days of our Saviour, so it has been since; from the widow with her two mites, to the wealthy citizen of Arimathea; from the fishermen of Galilee who deserted their nets and their boats, to the multitudes who sold their possessions and laid the proceeds at the apostles’ feet, in order that it might be employed in the service of the Master - rich and poor, learned and unlearned, have always been required to do as much in the proclamation of the word as the condition of things in their time seemed to demand. AWMW 144.1

Why it is that God has adopted this plan, might be difficult to ascertain. It cannot be for want of other resources on his part, for he to whom belong the cattle on a thousand hills, and the untold riches hid away in the dark recesses of the earth, cannot be dependent for the pecuniary aid upon the paltry treasures of his people, the majority of whom have always been straitened in their finances. Nor can it be true that the Father of lights is dependent upon the feeble lamp of human wisdom with which to illuminate the pathway of those who are walking in darkness. Had he seen fit to employ them, myriads of angels are at his right hand, ready to do his bidding, who might easily have been commissioned to exonerate men from the labors and privations and dangers of a missionary life, by themselves speeding with the rapidity of lightning to the remotest bounds of the earth, while acting as instructors and teachers in the way of life. It must be, therefore, that the considerations which moved him to the course pursued, were those of advantage to the creatures whom he has thus employed. Doubtless, eternity will exhibit the fact that the very toils and hardships which have been endured, the contributions which have been required at our hands, and the continuous anxiety which we have felt for the cause in which we have been employed, have been the very things which have secured to us the good which we needed. In fact, it is manifest from the teachings of Christ that for every dollar thus invested, and for every effort put forth, there is to be reward in the future life. AWMW 145.1

Such is, unquestionably, the whole drift of the parable of the unjust steward which contains these remarkable words: “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” Such, also, is the obvious import of the following utterance given on another occasion: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” Who shall say, therefore, in view of such declarations, that the reward of the Christian in his future home will not be in the exact ratio of the sacrifices of ease and property which he has made in this life? AWMW 146.1

Why is it not reasonable to suppose that, inasmuch as we enter into the joy of our Lord, and as that joy is to consist in the contemplation of the happiness of the creatures whom he has saved, our individual felicity will largely consist in the satisfaction which will spring from the thought that while in this life we have co-operated with the Master, according to our limited ability, in the accomplishment of the grand result? To our mind it seems highly probable that this will be the case; and, for this reason, we believe that as it has been heretofore, so will it be hereafter. In other words, as God has ever granted as much of his Spirit as was necessary for the guidance of his people, and then left them to work out the desired results, so it will be true, for the time to come, that everything will be left for its accomplishment to human energy and intellect, which it shall be possible for them to perform. This being the case, it will be true in the future, as it has been in the past, that as “faith without works is dead,” the only way for a man to “show his faith” will be “by his works;” or, otherwise expressed, our willingness to do and sacrifice in the service of Christ will furnish the exact measure of our faith in the gospel which we are called upon to proclaim. This being so, how important it becomes that we examine well into our surroundings, in order that we may decide, conscientiously, just how far we have carried the work of individual consecration. AWMW 146.2

How is it with us who profess to believe in the extreme brevity of all things? Are we really established in the conviction that the closing work of Judgment has already been entered upon,and that we have reached the very verge of that generation which is to witness the glorious coming of our Lord in the clouds of heaven, and the utter destruction of the things of this world? If it be so, then nothing is more manifest than that, in all the relations of life, we shall furnish proof of this conviction. How insane, then, would be the action of an individual who, believing this to be true, should shape his temporal matters just as would one who looked forward to a long, peaceful, and prosperous future! That man who plans for coming time so as to be able to divide among his infant children, when grown up, possessions which shall be ample for their support, may be an Adventist in name, but he cannot be in fact. To say nothing of the close scrutiny of One who is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, even a common observer will unhesitatingly declare that such an one, instead of having a living faith in what he professes, is simply fearful that it may be true; i.e., in case the Lord should make his appearance, he is anxious to meet him in peace; nevertheless, he at heart believes that this is not about to take place, and he therefore shapes his matters accordingly. And that such a decision would be correct, becomes evident at a glance when we remember that incessant labor and painstaking are not naturally agreeable, and are always avoided when the circumstances of the case will render it possible; and, consequently, no man who is really confident that the burning day is just before us can consistently accumulate and hoard property which very soon must furnish food for the devouring flame. AWMW 147.1

We do not wish to be understood that a thorough-going Adventist could, under any circumstances, be an indolent man; on the contrary, we believe that the nature of his faith is such that he would unavoidably and persistently seek for activity. With each recurring day, energized by the thought that the night in which no man can work for the benefit of his race is at hand, he would press into the service of his Master as never before. His motive, however, would be entirely different from that of the one who, professing the same faith, should seek to accumulate merely. Instead of earning for the purpose of increase and future use, he would be prompted in his efforts by the pressing necessity of means for immediate employment in the cause of God. If our faith be correct, then every consideration demands that what we do should be done quickly. This is so, AWMW 148.1

1. Because there never will be a time when we can accomplish more with a given amount than at the present. A dollar invested now, will go further in the accomplishment of good than would a thousand which should be withheld, and invested only at the very close of the dispensation, since its influence is cumulative, and will gather with each recurring month. AWMW 149.1

2. Because the infancy of any cause is the period when it needs help if at all. The critical moment when its supporters should rally to its rescue is not when it has won its victories, and is ready to bestow its rewards, but when the battle goes hard, and its friends are straining every nerve to bring its great truths before the people in as rapid and complete a manner as possible. AWMW 149.2

3. Because God, in his providence, is calling loudly upon us for immediate action by opening the field of labor in every direction, and by furnishing us with a system of publication at once so rapid and so economical as to afford even the individual of limited resources with an opportunity to do more, by the judicious investment of his money in books and tracts, which ought to be scattered like the leaves of autumn, than a man of giant intellect, unaided by these resources, could have accomplished in the past. AWMW 149.3

4. Because there is no certainty that if we do not donate now, we shall have it in our power to do so when the time which we have fixed upon in the future for such action shall be reached. The Scriptures represent worldly goods by a thing of life which may take to itself wings and fly away. And God, as if anxious, in these last days, to impress upon us more fully the instability of all earthly affairs and the importance of using our substance for his glory while we have it, has illustrated this fact before our eyes by the utter destruction, in a single night of Chicago, one of the proudest and most promising cities of modern times; thus presenting before us the sad spectacle of men, in many cases half clad, and in others bereft of reason, who, twenty-four hours before this, were worth their millions. AWMW 149.4

5. Because, should we withhold our charities when God says, Give, as he is manifestly doing at the present, we shall not only fail of obtaining the spiritual benefit which we so much need, but we shall find, as the result of such a course, that we shall steadily backslide, and our affection for a cause which we refuse to succor will grow less and less, until, at last, we may be, perhaps, separated from it altogether. AWMW 150.1

Finally, brethren, while we see the evidences of the correctness of our position multiplying on every hand, and with every month, let us not fail to respond cheerfully, in every particular, to the financial demands of God’s great plan for the propagation of his precious truth. It is cheerful giving which is pleasing in the sight of the Lord; and for this reason, aside from the liberalities which we have discussed above, he has provided, not a compulsory, but a benevolent, system of tithing. It works admirably, neither distressing the poor, nor exempting the rich from bearing their share of the expenses incident to the carrying on of the message. Let us enter into this, also, heartily and conscientiously. AWMW 150.2

Again, there is another matter which demands our immediate attention. Many of our people, believing as they do in the speedy advent of the Son of Man, have their minds fixed upon that event, and are rather hoping for deliverance through translation, when that shall occur, than preparing for the contingency of death, which is, nevertheless, liable to surprise and overtake us individually, at any moment. It not unfrequently occurs that brethren and sisters drop away suddenly, without making that disposition of their pecuniary affairs which they ought to have done, and which was necessary to prove that they were “good and faithful” stewards of their Lord’s money and without which they entertain but a vain hope of meeting him with joy in the clouds of heaven. As the result of this unlooked for close of their lives, the cause of truth loses very largely, and much of the means which it would have afforded them the highest pleasure to devote to the interest of the Health Institute, the Publishing Association, or some other department of the message, is scattered in directions where it can accomplish but very little if anything for the glory of God. AWMW 151.1

Such a condition of things is lamentable indeed. What a misfortune that they could not have previously arranged their matters so that, when they shall come up in the first resurrection, they might find that their treasure had gone before them, and was safely laid up for their benefit in bags which wax not old within the vaults of the heavenly bank! For this evil there is one, and only one, remedy. Every person possessed of property, respecting the final disposition of which, in the event of his death, he has a choice, should not fail while in health, to have his will properly made out and deposited in some safe and accessible place, as a duty which is at once imperative and demanding immediate action. AWMW 151.2

Perhaps, while we are considering this point, we cannot do better, by way of impressing its importance upon the mind of the reader, and instructing him as to the best course to be pursued in this matter, than to extract somewhat at length from an article contributed to the columns of the Christian Union of Dec. 6, 1871, by one reputed to be a lawyer of long experience in the city of New York. It is as follows:- AWMW 152.1

“Reader, if you have any property, as there is a fair presumption in a country like this that you have, it is undoubtedly a question of interest to you what shall be done with it when you are gone. You must go at some time, and may go very suddenly. At any rate, you probably will not live nearly as long as you expect to. If you die without a will, the law will do the best it can in making a just disposition of your property among your relatives. Perhaps you are satisfied to let the law do this for you; if so, very well. But it is altogether probable that you have some preference as to the disposition of your property. AWMW 152.2

“You may wish to bestow some of it in charity; this the law will not do for you. You must see to it for yourself, or else let it go undone; and, in letting it go undone, you may be letting a very clear duty go undone. You may have some child that is feeble in body or mind, or that has had special misfortune, and needs special consideration. It is for you alone to consider this child. The law knows nothing about its special wants, and cannot provide for them. You may have no children, and may have a choice which among your nephews and nieces shall take your property. If so, you must see to it. The law will not select for you. The rich and the poor, the deserving and the undeserving, will all take alike. You may have an adopted daughter whom you have accustomed to comforts and perhaps luxuries, who will be left penniless unless you provide for her. You must remember her, and not trust to the law to do it. AWMW 152.3

“And you may, with a rare sense of justice, recognize the right of your good wife to a more ample allowance for her comfort than the law would give her; if so, it is for you to think of her and provide for her. The law does not know what a remarkably good wife she is, and what a special claim she has upon you, and gives her only her fixed and too limited portion, dividing the rest, if you have no children, among collateral relatives, some of whom, perhaps, you never saw. Consider well, then, whether it is not a clear duty to those whom you love, or to some good objects which you might aid, for you to make a will. AWMW 153.1

“And now, in the second place, if you have made up your mind that you ought to make a will, let me say to you most emphatically, MAKE IT NOW. You don’t know how soon you may die. Your only sure way is to attend to the matter at once. If you put it off from day to day, you will probably never make one. The fact that so many wills are made by men on their death-bed, shows how often persons who intended to make a will, and would be sorry to die without one, neglect it till they find themselves just about to die. Now let me give you three reasons against postponing the making of your will till you are fatally sick, either of which is reason enough of itself:- AWMW 153.2

“1. You may never have any such sickness. You may drop down dead, or be killed in a railroad accident, or be burned up, or be blown up, or drowned. AWMW 154.1

“2. If you have a leisurely death-bed time of it, your mind will be enfeebled; things which you could easily have settled by a little thought when you were well, will trouble and perplex you, and you will, very likely, decide them unwisely and wrongly. AWMW 154.2

“3. Your will, thus made, may be contested, and will really invite parties adversely interested to contest it, on the ground of your feeble condition, of which evidence can be easily obtained; and, as a result, your will is either set aside, and all your plans defeated, or, if it is sustained, half your property may be spent in litigation and a lifelong family quarrel engendered. AWMW 154.3

“And now, in the third place, if you are so thoughtful and prudent as to have made a will,another most important matter is to be considered. Do you keep your will revised and adapted to new circumstances? Has your property doubled since the will was made? Then, probably, you want to give more to your wife, more to A, more to B, more to the Lord. Consider this: Have you given to one of your children a piece of real estate as his fair share of your property, and have you since sold that real estate so that child will get nothing unless your will is changed? Look well to this. The writer who has had long experience as a lawyer, can recall many cases where most unfortunate results have followed from the neglect to keep the will in order. Everybody has heard of the Washburn will case. After the will was made, by which Mr. W. had made ample provision for a cherished wife, in certain valuable stock, the stock was so changed in form as not to answer the description of the will, and a long and still pending controversy has grown out of it. AWMW 154.4

“And while I am talking about wives, I wish to remind them that if they have property of their own, it is as important that they make wills as that their husbands do so. Where a wife has property, it generally comes to her by inheritance; and it may be presumed that her brothers and sisters have property also. If she has no children, she would naturally prefer that it should go to her husband. To accomplish this, she must make a will. AWMW 155.1

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * AWMW 155.2

“And now let me say to you lastly, though the matter is not last in importance, do not attempt to make or revise your own will, but go to a good lawyer. The writer gives this advice against the interest of his profession. Nothing is more fruitful of litigation and lawyers’ fees than badly drawn wills. The learning pertaining to wills is recondite and complicated, and no man who is not a lawyer can hope to understand it. A good fee paid for a well-drawn will is the best of economy. AWMW 155.3

“Let me sum up the whole matter in a few words:- AWMW 155.4

“1. Consider well whether you will make a will or die without one. AWMW 155.5

“2. If you think it best to make one, attend to the matter at once. AWMW 155.6

“3. If you have already made a will, see that it is kept in repair. AWMW 155.7

“4. See that your wife is made sure of all she needs if there is property enough. AWMW 156.1

“5. And go to a good lawyer to have your will drawn.” AWMW 156.2

Such are the suggestions of one who is evidently master of the subject upon which he treats. What he has said is at once so just and so ample that further comment would seem to be uncalled for. Believing as we do that the recommendation to employ a good attorney in the drawing up of wills, as given above, is a wise one, and that such a course is every way preferable to that of attempting this work ourselves, in order to avoid the necessary investment of means for that purpose, we shall not furnish a particular blank form of will as one which should be generally employed. We leave the subject with you, therefore, after presenting the following resume of the points which we have endeavored to impress upon your mind:- AWMW 156.3

1. As God has seen fit to grant us the privilege of laboring for, and contributing to, the propagation of his truth; let us obtain the full benefit which he designed to confer, by manifesting a liberality fully equal to that which our circumstances will admit of, and the exigencies of the case demand. AWMW 156.4

2. That which we have proposed to do in the indefinite future, let us perform in the living present, since the demands of the cause will probably never be greater than now, and since it is better to give during our lifetime that which we design to donate, as in this way we shall be able to see to it ourselves that it is properly appropriated, thus preventing the possibility, both of trouble to those who shall attempt to administer upon our estates, and that of our utter misapplication of our bequests. AWMW 156.5

3. If our circumstances at present are such that we cannot do as much for the Lord as we could wish that we had in case we were called upon to lie down in death, then let us see to it immediately that our wills are carefully and legally drawn, and, in every respect perfected, so that, in case our demise should be a sudden one, our wills, when opened, shall specify in a manner not to be mistaken, the exact amounts which we wish to bequeath, and the legal names of such persons and institutions as we wish to bestow them upon. AWMW 157.1

The foregoing General Conference Address is from the highest earthly authority with our people, and is a candid and able statement of the general principles in the subject. The address should be read attentively, in the fear of God, with an earnest desire to learn duty, and a resolute will to perform. AWMW 157.2

But that which should be especially impressed upon the minds of the working men and women in the ranks of Seventh-day Adventists, is the consistency, and the real need, of acting the part of faithful stewards while they live, and while the cause of God can be benefited by the means in their hands. We are doubtless fast reaching the point of time when friends, many of them wealthy and liberal, shall be so numerous, and when there shall be so lively an interest throughout the ranks, that the treasuries of our different institutions and societies will overflow with means. In all probability, at the very close of our message to the world, hundreds of thousands of dollars will be urged upon the treasuries, for which there will be no room. This evidently will be the case, if we be allowed to reason from the past relative to the rise and progress of the work thus far. AWMW 157.3

Twenty years ago, the friends of the cause were very few, and most of these were poor. To start the work then, under such circumstances, demanded great exertion and sacrifice. A few noble men felt called upon to sell their only earthly homes, and use a considerable portion of their value to advance the infant cause. Among these we might mention the names of Hastings of New Hampshire, Edson of New York, and Smith, Lyon, and Kellogg, of Michigan. Others sacrificed, and donated to the cause liberally. Then, one dollar was worth as much to the cause, and told as much on the final result of its advancement and growth, and will tell as much in the reward in Heaven, as ten dollars put into the treasury ten years later, at the time the Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association was incorporated. All sensible men and women, who have real faith in the cause they profess, will approve the liberal course of those who sacrificed so much for the cause twenty years ago. In fact, it was absolutely necessary that somebody should do as these men did, or the cause could not have started by those instrumentalities, such as God has ever seen fit to employ. God showed himself able to set a table for the Israelites in the wilderness, and he may do the same for his people under like circumstances, but it has ever been his plan to draw upon the means in the hands of his servants when it was needed to advance his cause. AWMW 158.1

And God has had an especial care for those who sacrificed liberally at an early period in the history of the cause. Most of them have much more of this world’s goods than they had before they sacrificed to the cause. Some of them have fivefold, and some tenfold, more. But the reward that awaits them in Heaven is above all computation. AWMW 158.2

Others in our feeble ranks, twenty years since, might have done as these trusting ones did, and could have received the same reward in this, and in the world to come, who drew back, and most of them are not with us. Had they “come up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty,” and used a portion of their means when it was so much needed, much more could have been done during the past twenty years to spread the truth, the influence of which would have increased in far greater proportion than compound interest, adding to their joy here as they see the cause advance, and increasing their reward in Heaven. But the golden opportunity is forever past. We do not say that God will not accept of their offerings, even now, if they repent of past neglect; but we do say that hundreds of dollars from their abundance now, cannot, from the very nature of the case, tell more on the cause on earth, and the reward in Heaven, than single dollars would have told had they been put into the scanty treasury twenty years since. AWMW 159.1

We come down to the time when our Publishing Association was formed, in 1861. Then, friends were comparatively few, yet fifteen thousand dollars were raised for the Office building, printing material, and stock, besides sustaining the cause in other departments. One hundred dollars appropriated to the cause, then, would tell as much upon the cause, in its final results, as one thousand dollars did ten years later, in 1871. Those who, from lack of faith in our message, or from covetousness, withheld means from the cause ten years since, let the golden opportunity pass, never to return. God may accept their free will offerings even now; but ten dollars will not tell more in the cause in 1872, than one dollar, ten years since. AWMW 159.2

And in this proportion will the free-will offerings of God’s people decrease in real value, until there shall be no room for them in the treasury, and they will be disposed of by those who withhold them until that time as expressed by the prophet, “They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed. [Margin, for a separation, or uncleanness.] Their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord.” Ezekiel 7:19. That will be a fearful day for those who have let the cause of God languish for want of the very means they might have given without experiencing the least want; but which they covetously withheld. AWMW 160.1

In view of the foregoing facts, we appeal to the friends of the Lord and his cause to do their duty, and to do present duty now. Whether you make your will, or do not make a will, in either case it is your duty to open your hands wide to the wants of the cause now, when your means can accomplish good. Hundreds of our people, who have had an indistinct idea that at some future time the words of Christ, “Sell that ye have, and give alms,” would be obeyed by all believers, have withheld from the treasury needed means, which they have used in making improvements, that their property might bring more money in the “selling time,” as it has been termed. This has been simply a delusion of the devil imposed upon them, in harmony with their feelings of covetousness. The “selling time,” so far as the extreme wants of the cause are concerned, and the great reward to be gained by so doing, is evidently in the past. AWMW 160.2

That those who profess the truth will sell, and many sell rashly, and for small considerations, and that the rapid increase and wide extension of the work will call for much means, we doubt not. But no one who will candidly consider the foregoing will fail to see that it is simply preposterous to neglect present duty in view of some future selling and giving time, when the cause cannot be advanced by their hoarded means. Then he who professes to believe that the last message of mercy is being given, and has a double, or triple competency, or even more, and withholds his hand from the cause, while he exerts himself to obtain still more for the fires of the last day, is simply insane. He is blinded by Satan, and is going directly from, and not in the way to, eternal life. And what makes the case appear most painful is the fact that blindness and stupor, resulting from neglect of present duty, come over these so that in all probability they will be aroused to the terrible mistake they are making only when it will be too late to make acceptable offerings to the Lord. AWMW 161.1

We cannot see that it is necessary for our people to sell their only homes at the present time, as some did twenty years ago. Should those in our ranks, who have more than a liberal competency, bring their surplus means to the treasury, a fiftieth part of it could not be used. Or, should all our people put into the treasury a tithe of their yearly increase there would be abundance. Instead of a tenth of their increase, the Seventh-day Adventists do not put into the treasury more than a fiftieth part of their annual increase. Let us see. AWMW 161.2

Probably the New England Conference comes up to the plan adopted by our people nearer than any other. That Conference averages on Systematic Benevolence alone, see page 13, ten dollars to a member. And, probably, the Michigan Conference comes up to the figures as near as our other Conferences generally, and much better than some. Michigan has a membership of 1800, and pays only $6000 S. B., or three dollars to a member. Now suppose that the members of the New England Conference come up to the figures, and no more, and that the members of the Michigan Conference are worth as much as the members of the New England Conference, and no more, then the annual S. B. of the Michigan Conference should be the handsome sum of $18,000. But from actual knowledge of the facts in the case to quite an extent, we are satisfied that the average wealth of the members of the Michigan Conference is at least one-half more than that of the New England Conference, so that, should Michigan come up to her own adopted figures, the S. B. of our State Conference would not be less than $27,000. If the foregoing is fairly stated, we have the humiliating fact that our Conference, whose S. B. is only about $6000 annually, comes up not one-fourth to her own adopted plan. AWMW 162.1

But let us look still more faithfully into this important subject. A tithe of our increase is a tenth part of the annual increase of our entire property. This is not reached by the man who puts down his property at $10,000, and pays only $100 during the year that his property increases to $12,000. His actual increase was $2000. A tithe of this increase is $200. He paid $100 only, and robbed the Lord of just $100. “Will a man rob God?” “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of Heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Malachi 3:8-10. AWMW 162.2

We cannot expect the blessing of God upon our people, and that the cause of his down trodden truth in our hands will prosper gloriously until we obey his voice in reference to tithes and offerings. And right here is one of the most important departments of the work of the officers of our Tract and Missionary Societies. It becomes their duty, according to the constitution, see page 15 of this work, “to bring about, as far as possible, equality among our people in the payment of Systematic Benevolence, in accordance with the plan adopted.” We solemnly believe that the S. B. of the Seventh-day Adventists scattered throughout the United States is not one-fiftieth of the actual annual increase of their property, or, on the whole, one-fifth of what it should be. Here is work to be done. To bring our people up to their own adopted figures will require patience, brotherly kindness, love, and energy. The power of moral suasion is the only earthly force that can be employed in harmony with the name, AWMW 163.1

Systematic Benevolence. But men who have not the moral courage, and the faithfulness, to investigate, and leave no proper means untried to bring all our people up to the figures, are not worthy of offices in our Tract and Missionary Societies, or to go about from church to church as teachers of the people. There are but two departments of work for our ministers. One is to enter new fields and call out disciples. The other is to labor with our church, to bring them up to correct positions, Systematic Benevolence not excepted. Those ministers who cannot do either, have no just claims on the treasury, and should turn to some other calling. We suggest that the duty of God’s people relative to securing to the cause what God requires of them in point of means at this time may be summed up in the following order: AWMW 164.1

1. That they all come up to the figures on Systematic Benevolence adopted by our people. Let every man and woman assess his or her property at the figures they would ask for it in case they wished to sell. Then, acting upon the adopted plan, that the increase of property is equal to ten per cent interest, a tithe of our increase would be one per cent annually on all our property. Hence the man whose property is worth only one thousand dollars pays annually only the small sum of ten dollars, or about twenty cents each week, while the man who has ten thousand pays one hundred dollars annually, or about two dollars each week. And while the aged, and infirm, and widows, who are in limited circumstances, may be excused from coming up to the adopted plan, if they chose, the deficiency on their account should be made up tenfold by those young members of our churches whose wealth still remains in their strength to labor, and their ability to accumulate. AWMW 164.2

2. That those who know that their actual increase is more than one per cent annually on their property, pay into the treasury cheerfully a tithe of all their increase, whatever it may be. With many it would be from two to five or more per cent of all they possessed at the end of the years. AWMW 165.1

3. That those who have robbed God in tithes and in offerings in past time immediately bring to the treasury their trespass offerings. The amount is stated in Leviticus 5:15, 16. AWMW 165.2

4. That those who have received at the hand of the Lord great spiritual blessings on themselves, or on their families; or have been especially blest in the good things of this life, bring unto the Lord thank-offerings liberally, in the spirit of rejoicing and gladness of heart. AWMW 165.3

5. That all those who have more than a competency, whether they make a will or not, use their surplus means liberally, as the rapidly increasing cause, with its corresponding wants, demands. He who withholds his surplus means from the cause, and puts it into his will for the benefit of the cause by-and-by, after his decease, when perhaps it will not be worth to the cause of God a tithe what it is in 1872, and then to be handled by an administrator whom he would now hardly trust to transact business for him to the amount of twenty-five dollars, is, to say the least, making a great mistake. Why not appropriate your surplus means now, when it will tell the most for the cause of God, and while you live, and can see to its appropriation yourself? Why not! Oh, why not! AWMW 165.4

A brother in Oakland Co., Michigan, known to us only by name and the sensible manner (though not in all respects the most legal form) in which he is discharging his stewardship, sent to the Review and Herald Office for a form of a will. He was informed that the specifications of wills were so various that, probably, no form had ever been printed, and that we could not fill his order. In a short time, however, a hundred dollars was received from the good brother, with the statement that it was a part of the amount he had willed to the Publishing Association. And in a short time he forwarded one hundred dollars more with the same statement. Sensible! He could not wait till he should be dead before the means in his hands designed for the advancement of the cause should be appropriated, and doing good. Certainly not; for now it is most needed, and will do the most good. And who could so well appropriate it as himself? Adopting the judicious maxim of Dr. Franklin, that “if you wish to have a thing half done, employ a hand; but if you would have it done, then do it yourself,” this brother was the very man to appropriate his surplus means while he was alive, and could attend to it himself. AWMW 166.1

6. That there are persons who should make their will, and thus secure to the cause of God that portion of their property they wish to be thus appropriated. These are of the following classes: (1) The wealthy who have more property in their hands than they wish to leave to children, or to more distant relatives. They should immediately decide upon a division of their property, as they would like to have it divided in case of their decease, then make their will legally, and then appropriate to the cause of their surplus means as the wants of the cause demand. If necessary, at any time, they can make another will, disannulling all former ones. A case comes to mind where a devoted sister lost her infidel husband, he leaving one hundred thousand dollars at least. Soon the sister died, leaving this amount of property to two or three inexperienced children. The influence of this amount of property upon those children could scarcely fail to ruin them, both for this life, and the life to come. We have no doubt but if the real wishes of this godly mother had been carried out, at least twenty-five thousand dollars of this property would now be in the treasury of the Lord. She should have made her will immediately on the death of her husband. She delayed a little too long, and her portion of that large estate fell to her children, whose portion was already too large for their safety. (2) Persons who have but a few thousand dollars, and have no children, and no near relatives they wish to share their property. These may be aged, or infirm, very liable to die suddenly. These should make their will. While they live, they should reserve enough to warrant them a support. When they die, their property can be used as they had designed. AWMW 166.2

It will be seen by referring to pages 73 and 92 of this work that the amount of legacies for the benefit of our institutions is very small. At least three-fourths have been lost by imperfect wills, and considerable by unfaithfulness of administrators. If all those who have died in the faith the past ten years had made their wills, and had made them strictly legally, disposing of their property in the fear of God, in accordance with their own free choice, the legacies represented in this book would be twenty-fold what they now are. AWMW 167.1

Judging from those wills already administered, which secured legacies to our institutions, not one in ten of the wills, now on deposit by their living framers, excepting those drawn under competent legal advice, would stand the close test of law. We close by saying to all those persons who feel that in case of sudden decease their will should be made, be sure that it is not only made in season, and to your mind; but in strict conformity to the law of the State, kingdom, or province, where you reside. And to all, whether you do, or do not, make a will, we would say, the living, interesting, important present demands your serious and prayerful consideration relative to the immediate appropriation of a liberal portion of your surplus means. While it may be the will of God that the very poor should cast the two mites into the treasury to test their love, and that all should take some part in the work of cheerful sacrifice to the Lord, it seems most in harmony with reason and the word of God that those who have a double or triple competency should at once commence to liberally cast into the treasury of their surplus means. AWMW 168.1