Spalding and Magan Collection
Unity, Not Consolidation
Sept. 12, 1908.
Dear Brother Shireman,
In the night season I was conversing with you, and speaking words of encouragement. The Lord our God is merciful. When his servants make mistakes, he sends them reproof. When the messages of reproof are received and accepted by those who have made mistakes, and changes are made in the life, the brethren should recognize the reformation, and they should encourage and seek to place on vantage ground those struggling to do right. I rejoice this is the way you feel towards Brother Johnson. SpM 376.3
The Lord is now to be honored by the men who carry his work. Let there be a just recognition of the change in Brother Johnston. To neglect to do this, and to refuse to encourage and to build up the one who has been seeking to correct his course of action, is to refuse to carry out principles that Christ has clearly laid down in his word. SpM 376.4
I am instructed to say to you that mistakes were made on both sides of this question. Brother and Sister Shireman did not view everything in a correct light. While brother Johnston did not take a right course, it is also true that others connected with him did not discern that their own spirit and words were also wrong. SpM 376.5
Brother Johnston should now have encouragement. When a man of his temperament sees and acknowledges his wrong, and changes his course of action, there should be a disposition on the part of his brethren and sisters not only to forgive, but to do everything possible to restore confidence, and to strengthen his hands. The impression should never be left on a human mind, that the man who has done wrong, though he sees and corrects his wrong, should still be prevented from standing on vantage ground with his brethren. When such a course is pursued toward any erring soul, the Saviour is misrepresented. Those who recognize the reformation should show forgiveness, and treat the brother who has erred with confidence and special kindness. SpM 376.6
This instruction has been given me during the night, and now, at one O'clock in the morning, I am writing to you the message I have received. We need to encourage the erring to confess their wrongs; we should forgive them freely, recognizing the instruction God has given in His Word. SpM 377.1
We need to be very careful that we do not view in a wrong light matters connected with the work of God. We need to guard against the least injustice. Those who bear the burden of the work of winning souls to Christ are to be encouraged and helped. SpM 377.2
The Lord requires that unity exist in every church, but the policy of consolidation must be guarded against. The workers in our institutions are to preserve their individuality; each is to sense the responsibility resting upon him, while he works under the divine leadership of the Lord Jesus. The workers are to counsel together, and to seek to bring in ideas that are in harmony with the teachings of truth, but never, as long as time shall last, is an arbitrary man-ruling power to come in to take the place and authority of God. SpM 377.3
The Lord has been instructing us to move forward. Shall we go forward, or shall we stand still? Shall we not seek to increase in faith, that we may work and wait in assurance and confidence? The word of God is to be our guide under all circumstances... SpM 377.4
Ellen G. White.