Testimonies for the Church Containing Letters to Physicians and Ministers Instruction to Seventh-Day Adventists


Chapter 4—The Berrien Springs Meeting

Washington, D. C.,

July 25, 1904.

Near the close of the Berrien Springs meeting, the Lord opened before me, in the night season, many scenes regarding the opportunities and experiences of that meeting. I was given a presentation of the meeting that has weighed me down almost to the earth. and nearly taken my life. I carried the load all the time that I was in Nashville, and I could not rid myself of it. At times I would try to rise above the things that burdened me, and then again they would come upon me with crushing force. SpTB02 25.1

A glorious victory might have been gained at the Berrien Springs meeting. Abundant grace was provided for all who felt their need. But at a critical time in the meeting unadvised moves were made, which confused minds and brought in controversy. The Lord was working upon minds. Angels of God were in the assembly, and had all heeded the message borne, very different results would have been seen. Had all freely confessed their own sins, laying aside all anxiety about the acknowledgments and confessions to be made by others; had all humbled their hearts before God, as on the day of atonement in the days of ancient Israel, the Lord would have come in, and great victories would have been gained. SpTB02 25.2

But in the scenes presented me, I saw men talking together between the meetings about the mistakes and faults of their brethren. In the place of searching their own hearts, and praying, and confessing their own mistakes, men seemed to be anxious that others should feel that they had acted unwisely. Angels from heaven, sent to minister wisdom and grace, were disappointed to see self pressing its way in, to make things appear in a wrong light. Men were talking and accusing, and conjectures were brought in that should have had no place in the meeting. SpTB02 25.3

In some of the business meetings unwise words were spoken, which manifested suspicion and distrust of men bearing responsibilities. This aroused wrong feelings. Trifling things, looked at through the enemy's magnifying glass, became larger and larger. A mote became a mountain. Words were spoken and thoughts cherished that grieved the Holy Spirit. SpTB02 26.1

Those who ought to have been seeking the Lord with subdued, contrite spirits, were bringing to the foundation material represented by wood, hay, and stubble. SpTB02 26.2

Brother Sutherland spoke words that were untimely. For him to present his resignation at a time when so much was at stake, at a meeting in which the ministers had assembled for prayer and confession, and especially to seek for unity of spirit, was an unfortunate move, and showed that a strange power had come in to influence his mind, and lead it away from the living fountain to the brackish streams of the lowlands. He said that to which he would not have given utterance had he not been talked with and wrought upon. He spoke at a time when silence would have been eloquence. SpTB02 26.3

Brother A. T. Jones acted unwisely. He acted in the light of another's mind. He introduced matters that he would not have touched had he been wholly worked by the Spirit of God. SpTB02 26.4

Brother Hiland Butler lost a great blessing when he sought to humble others in the place of humbling himself. Every heart must feel its own peril. In the place of trying to humble others, men are to humble their own hearts, confessing their own sins, and placing themselves, where God can bless them. But many take an attitude that is like putting a new patch on an old garment, making the rent worse. From work of this kind the Lord turns away. SpTB02 26.5

The course taken by some at the Berrien Springs meeting resulted in building up in self-confidence men to whom God had given solemn warnings. It confirmed Dr. Kellogg in his self-righteousness. Many are so blind that they do not yet discern the misleading character of some of the sentiments contained in the book “Living Temple.” Such ones, whether they be ministers, physicians, or teachers, would better go apart and study the Scriptures alone with God. SpTB02 27.1

O that men, instead of dwelling upon the faults and errors of their brethren, had talked with God concerning their own dangers and defects of character, leaving their fellow-workers with the Lord Jesus! O that those who had grievances had gone directly to those whom they supposed had wronged them, and said, “My brother, will you forgive me? I have had unchristian feelings toward you, because I thought that you were trying to hurt my influence. I know that God is working to make hearts one. If I have grieved you in any way, will you forgive me? Christ has forgiven my mistakes, and I will forgive everything that I have thought was an injury to me. Let us be one. Let us, right here and in unity, offer up our petitions to the Heavenly Father.” SpTB02 27.2

Had each one felt that he had done more to be forgiven by the Lord than he could express, a wonderful change would have come into the meeting. SpTB02 27.3

The representation given me of the Berrien Springs meeting is similar to the picture presented in the third chapter of Zechariah. “He showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.” Compare this picture with the experience at Berrien Springs, where so many words were spoken in vindication of self and in condemnation of others. SpTB02 27.4

“And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee; is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.” SpTB02 28.1

Every one may have this change of raiment. Every one may be cleansed, refined, ennobled, covered with the robe of Christ's righteousness. But at the Berrien Springs meeting those who most needed to place themselves where they could have been thus favored were standing as accusers of their brethren. Heavenly angels were in the midst of God's people, ready to give glorious victories, wrought out through prayer and the personal intercession of Christ. These victories would have been given had men been looking at their own defects, instead of pointing to the defects of others. SpTB02 28.2

By empowering His people to employ the argument of His name, Christ places the merits of His virtue within the reach of those who are meek and lowly. He will imbue them with His Holy Spirit, giving them power to plead for themselves, as well as to grasp His promises in their behalf. Thus man and God become united in one. Those who have gained this experience do not utter accusations against others. They are too earnestly engaged in making sure that they themselves shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit. SpTB02 28.3

Those who are invested with Christ's Spirit are virtually clothed with priestly garments, and are placed on vantage ground, commissioned to minister to others. Christ puts into their hands a censer filled with the incense of His righteousness. And He distinctly pledges Himself to answer their supplications. “Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name,” He says, “that will I do.” SpTB02 28.4

But if men occupy the time of the heavenly Guest in justifying themselves and finding fault with others, they lose the opportunity to be placed on vantage ground, and they encourage evil angels to abide with them, and to unite with them in warfare against God's people. Earnest pleading with God for the holy fragrance of the character of Christ is of value. But Christ is ashamed of those who exalt self, and bring accusations against others. To those who set themselves up as accusers of their brethren comes this reprimand from God, “Who art thou that sittest as a judge? Get down from the judgment seat, and on your knees, with humility and contrition, confess your sins.” If this course of humiliation and confession is followed, the sure result will come. Christ's intercession prevails with God, and at the same time is the almoner of infinite grace. SpTB02 29.1