The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials


Chapter 26—To R. A. Underwood


See variant Lt 22, 1889 above.

Healdsburg, Calif.

January 18, 1889

Elder R. A Underwood:

Dear Brother,—

At the General Conference in Oakland some things were forcibly brought to my mind, which I must now write out. I have considered your words to me in regard to Brother Gilmore, that he would not give his money to the cause of God but would invest it in a sanitarium, which he could control to a large extent. Is this the right position for any one of us to take? God is willing to bless us, but we are to be perfectly passive in His hands. We should seek earnestly to know His will, and then to do it. Had you, my brother, been where you could give Brother Gilmore wise counsel, what a different use might have been made of his means, his time and labor. He has capabilities that might be employed in well directed efforts in the work of God. At the time when I wrote to our brethren asking help for the European field, our missions there were in great need. Brother Gilmore might have helped in more ways than one if he had with unselfish, disinterested motives sought earnestly to know the will of God. I wrote to him, but he answered that his means were invested or tied up in the health institution, and he was unable to aid the missionary work in Europe. I did not get one dollar from any of the men to whom I wrote, except Brother Smouse of Iowa who gave one hundred dollars. I would not cast censure on Brother Gilmore. He was young in the truth, and he believed you, my brother, to be a man of discernment, a wise counselor who would not advise him to any course that was not for the best. Now he will have trials, and will be disappointed. May the Lord preserve him from taking any wrong course, but may he look to God in faith and trust. 1888 243.1

I am very sorry that you have taken a leading, active part in establishing the health institution in Ohio, for I cannot think that the Lord is moving you in this matter. If Sabbathkeepers are raised up in Cleveland, which I know is an important field, you will see the need of building a house of worship there in order to facilitate the work, but where is the means to do this? Who will now come to the front, and invest where means is really essential? My brother, you have taken upon yourself burdens that the Lord has not required you to take. The Mount Vernon Sanitarium was a private enterprise, and I cannot see why you should now call means from the churches in Ohio to sustain it. Nor can I see the justice of attempting to shift the burden of this institution on the General Conference, which has so many and such heavy burdens in providing for the foreign missions and for other branches of the work. 1888 244.1

All the new enterprises that require a large outlay of means require also careful thought and well-disciplined forces to run them. In establishing a health institution it is not the greatest part of the work to erect a building in which to treat the sick. The heaviest part of the burden comes after this, in securing competent managers and in providing the facilities that the institution may be fully equipped. We know how difficult a matter this has been, in our experience with the health institutions at Battle Creek and at St. Helena. It takes years to fully equip an institution and place it in running order, and it is a heavy responsibility for someone to carry forward such an institution and to make it a success. We have not a Dr. Kellogg to manage all our sanitariums. If a health institution is not wisely managed it will work against the truth. 1888 244.2

We must also consider the great demand there is for means to be invested in the vital interests of the cause of God in the new fields opening in every direction. Not only are there calls for labor in different parts of our own country, and especially in our large cities, but from Europe the Macedonian cry is heard, “Come over and help us.” It is wise then to create new burdens for God's servants to carry? Should the Mount Vernon sanitarium be allowed to cripple other branches of the work? Is God pleased with your inventions? Is it in His order to have this institution brought into existence to consume means, to require time and perplexing thought, when there is already an institution accessible, and when there is so much work pressing upon us that has more direct reference to the salvation of souls? 1888 244.3

I hope that none will be discouraged because of the failure of plans and of ardent hopes. The blessing of the Lord is always promised on conditions. He will bless us in harmony with His own laws. There may seem to be something lacking that will insure success, but in time we may see that our success is not always the greatest when we get what we wish. You may be tried like gold, and if you bear the trial rightly, your soul may be more benefited than it would be by great prosperity. My brother, keep humble, keep meek and lowly. You want to be a bold, successful soldier of Christ; you want to be a valiant overcomer. God grant that you may win the crown of life. 1888 245.1

Brother Underwood, you had all the responsibilities you could carry before you became interested in this Mount Vernon matter. This additional care will not help you to take a course calculated to win the confidence of your brethren. It will not help you to keep calm nerves and an even temper to do the work the Lord has for you to do. If you are a disappointed man, you will be a very unhappy man. In order to be highly useful, you need more of the love of Christ to subdue your own will. You do not feel under sound obligation to God to be patient and kind and respectful toward your ministering brethren and toward every member of the church. They lose confidence in you and then your influence is crippled. You need the kindness, courtesy, meekness, and lowliness of Christ. You have many valuable qualifications that can be perfected for highest service if sanctified to God. You should feel the necessity of approaching your brethren with kindness and courtesy, not with harshness and severity. You do not realize the harm you do by your sharp, domineering spirit toward them. The ministers in your conference become disheartened, losing the courage they might have if you would give them respect, kindness, confidence, and love. By your manner of dealing you have separated the hearts of your brethren from you, so that your counsel has not had much influence over them for good. This is not as the Lord would have it. He is not pleased with your attitude toward your brethren. 1888 245.2

If you live by faith in Christ, your will will be controlled by the will of God; you will have Christ abiding in the soul. Your happiness does not consist in that which you possess, nor in that which you are in yourself, or can be; it consists in the oneness of your will with the will of God. The happiness and glory of the inhabitants of the spiritual world is perfect because the will of God is their will, their supreme delight. 1888 246.1

The work of grace will be carried forward in your own heart if you do not voluntarily refuse to be acted upon in harmony with the truth which you believe. The truth must sanctify the soul of the believer, else it is of no benefit to him. You need to learn daily in the school of Christ. The apostle said, “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” The apostle spoke of himself as “always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” In all your labors you are to manifest the spirit of Christ. The sufficiency of the apostle was not in himself, but in the presence and agency of the Holy Spirit, whose gracious influence filled his heart, bringing every thought into subjection to Christ. 1888 246.2

Brother Underwood, you have erred in encouraging persons to connect with the work of God when you should discern that they were unworthy. Although their works and their influence are an injury to the cause of God, you flatter them by continuing them in the position. Thus you say to the sinner, “It is well with you.” 1888 247.1

I have much to say to you, for I love your soul; but will it do you any real good for me to say it? Will you receive it simply as Sister White's opinion? This is the position that some have taken in regard to my work. It was the position taken after the conference at Oakland by some of the erring ones in regard to my testimony, and it had a strong influence in weakening the influence of the testimony. I repeat to you the apostolic injunction, “examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” Inquire into the character of your motives, purposes, thoughts, words, and deeds. Will you see whether you are guided by the wisdom of God? 1888 247.2

My brother, if you do not searchingly examine your own heart, you will become careless, and will not see your great need. You must be meek as a little child. Our life may seem disfigured and marked by failures and blots, but if we are only willing to see our true condition, something better may be put in the place of these objectional features. God's wisdom must be exalted, man's wisdom must be laid in the dust. I hope you will discern your deficiencies in the light of truth. If self-love is indulged it will prompt to a much better opinion of yourself than is correct or safe. It needs a deep insight into your own heart to reveal to you your great needs, above all your constant need of the compassion, the infinite mercy of our divine Redeemer. Should the Lord treat you as you sometimes treat your brethren and fellow laborers who you think need to be corrected, you would be in a sad state. 1888 247.3

You need sanctifying grace, I tell you, my brother, you need to reach a higher standard. Your position and work require you to be a guide and example to others in patience, longsuffering, kindness, and compassion. You need to be closely connected with God. In order to bear your responsibilities aright, you must be an ever growing Christian; Your faith must be strong, your consecration complete, your love perfect, your zeal ardent; you must make steady advancement in the knowledge and the love of Christ that you may witness in those under your charge the precious fruits of the Spirit. You need spiritual discernment. Keep the eye single to the glory of God, that your profiting may appear unto all. Do not gather to yourself too many burdens, to worry and perplex you. Grasp the promises of God. Press close to the bleeding side of Jesus. Encourage tenderness and compassion. Improve every means of grace, that your love may abound more and more, that you may have wisdom from above, that you “may approve things that are excellent, ...being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” Your present and future usefulness depend on your living connection with God. 1888 248.1

Your position grants you no liberty to be severe, critical, or overbearing. Peter exhorted the elders, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind. Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 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 to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” 1888 249.1

The church upon the earth is not perfect. The church militant is not the church triumphant. Earth is not heaven. The church is composed of erring men and women who will need patient, painstaking effort, that they may be educated, trained, and disciplined by precept and example, to do their work with acceptance here in this life, and to be crowned with glory and immortality in the future life. 1888 249.2

Unless you who are placed in important positions in the church shall cultivate tact far more than you have done in dealing with human minds, there will be great loss to yourselves and to the church. There is work for one in your position to do as he shall meet with alienation, bitterness, envies, jealousies. There is need of wise, well directed, Christlike labor, that things may be set in order. “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” I entreat you to make diligent work for eternity. We have but little time in this life, and we want to be Christlike. Never stir up strife by a domineering spirit. Put away everything like rough dealing, and do seek for a closer walk with God. You used to be more meek and humble than you now are. You need the refining grace of God, the meekness of Christ. There is a work allotted you that no one can do for you in “holding forth the word of life,” practically setting forth a Christian example. “Do all things without murmurings and disputings; that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life, that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.” 1888 249.3

From the light God has been pleased to give me, I know that men whom He has placed in responsible positions come to feel after standing in the office for years, that they are to exercise more authority than their position requires. God will sanction no tyranny, no sharp dictation, for this naturally repels, and often it stirs up the worst passions of the human heart. But if men in responsible positions will exercise the patience and kindness of Jesus, it will be more effective than authority or exhortation or strong arguments. The silent influence of a Christian character will fall upon men like a sunbeam. May God help you to do right because it is right. 1888 250.1

(Signed) Ellen G. White

Recopied December 31, 1962