Manuscript Releases, vol. 14 [Nos. 1081-1135]

24/75

MR No. 1102—Sowing the Gospel Seed, and Reaping the Harvest; Selfishness, the Root Cause of Evil

[Written from Crystal Springs, St. Helena, California, January 28, 1901, to J. H. Kellogg.]

I received your letter yesterday. Thank you for your advice and counsel. I have not been as well as before I was poisoned by the ill-ventilated meeting rooms for worship, because I have not had time to rest. I have had many letters to write to our people in Australia on matters that deserve immediate attention. In three days before the Australian mail my hand penned 75 pages of letter paper which were copied, and ten which were not copied. 14MR 139.1

I have kept closely to my room, and though I could walk downstairs I did not consider it advisable. I have thought, Where shall I go to obtain a genuine rest? I cannot go to any church; for then I must speak. How to manage the matter, I know not. When summer comes, I may go to Lake County, in response to an urgent invitation from a wealthy lady, Mrs. Hulburt by name. She is a Sabbathkeeper, and although her husband is not, yet all his sympathies are with her, though he has not made a public profession of religion. Mrs. Hulburt has taken orphan children to her home, with the full consent of her husband. Now, she informs me, she is building a larger house, which will accommodate more children. This house is to be opened in May, and I had promised to visit there then, for I had no thought but that I could do this. But this will have to wait. 14MR 139.2

Dr. Kellogg, there is a field that should be worked, but where are the workers? As locality after locality has been presented to me in different parts of the Lord's world vineyard, the words have been spoken, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor: other men labored, and ye are entered into their labors” [John 4:35-38]. 14MR 140.1

Say not ye when ye have committed your seed to the ground, There are yet four months—the usual time between seed-sowing and harvest—and then cometh harvest. Christ was referring to the Samaritans. The woman to whom He had been talking had left her waterpot and gone into the city to say to the people there, “Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” [Verse 29]. “Then they went out of the city, and came unto Him” [Verse 30]. 14MR 140.2

The coming of these people to Christ was an object lesson to the disciples, and it should teach important lessons to all who are interested in the salvation of souls. “Many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all things that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come unto Him, they besought Him that He would tarry with them: and He abode there two days. And many more believed because of His own word; and said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world” [Verses 39-42]. 14MR 140.3

This is the lesson the ministers must learn before they can accomplish the work of God has appointed them. God has not given those who know the truth the work of hovering over the churches when there are souls close by them who are perishing for lack of knowledge. 14MR 141.1

“He that soweth and he that reapeth.” Christ had been sowing the seeds of truth in the streets of the cities and in the synagogues. The truth had been presented to the people. The conditions of salvation had been outlined clearly and distinctly; for the truth never languished on the Saviour's lips. As the result of His words an interest had been created, and the disciples were to follow up the work of the greater Sower, that both Sower and reapers might unitedly rejoice. 14MR 141.2

“I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor.” These words were spoken in anticipation of the ordination and sending forth of the disciples. The earthly work of the great Leader and Teacher was soon to close, but He had prepared the way by sending holy men before Him, and the apostles were to follow after to perfect the work by reaping the harvest. 14MR 141.3

All parts of God's vineyard are to be worked. There is need of wise men and wise women who will labor unitedly to accomplish the work committed to them. God will use them as His instruments in the conversion of souls. They will reap the harvest of the seed sown by the great Teacher. Let those who go forth into the great harvest field, some to sow and some to reap, ever remember that they are not to take to themselves the glory of the result of their work. God's appointed agencies have been at work before them, preparing the way for the sowing of the seed and the reaping of the harvest. “I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor: other men labored, and ye are entered into their labors.” 14MR 141.4

Those who sow the seed, who present before large and small gatherings the testing truths for this time, at the cost of much labor, may not always gather the harvest. After they have done their work and rest from their labors, other men of God's appointment may go over the ground, and under their labors many souls may see the truth. Adversity, sorrow, loss of property, changes of God's providence, recall to their minds with vivid distinctness the words spoken by the faithful servants of God many years before. Thus the way is prepared for the finishing of the work of the sower, for the reaping of the harvest. There is much rejoicing as the precious fruit is gathered. 14MR 142.1

Let every laborer do his very best to improve his talents. That he may be a successful sower as well as a successful reaper of the harvest which other men of God's appointment have sown. 14MR 142.2

Read these verses carefully. Take in their meaning; for in them the plan of God is revealed. “He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” Often God's workers are opposed in the place where they labor, and thus their usefulness is hindered. They may have done their best in all wisdom. They have sown good and precious seed. But the opposing elements become fiercer and more discouraging, and it may be wise for them to go to another place, for even though some are convinced of the truth, they are intimidated by the opposition. They have not the courage to acknowledge that their reason is convinced. 14MR 142.3

Let the messengers of truth pass on to another field. Here there may be a more favorable class of people, and may successfully accomplish the work of sowing and reaping. The report of their success will find its way to the place where God's work was apparently unsuccessful, and the next messenger of truth who goes there will be more favorably received. The seed sown in trial and discouragement will be seen to have life and vitality. First will appear the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. 14MR 142.4

The rejection of the truth of the gospel by some prepares the way for its reception by others, who can see the weakness and inconsistency of the arguments used to make the truth of none effect. Thus those who oppose the counsel of God are by their inconsistency advancing the truth rather than hindering it. One thing we must be prepared to encounter: the enemy's determined resistance. He works through human agencies whom he can use to hold the people in ignorance of the word of the Lord. 14MR 143.1

In some places where the opposition is very pronounced, the lives of God's messengers may be endangered. It is then their privilege to follow the example of their Master and go to another place. “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel,” Christ said, “till the Son of man be come.” 14MR 143.2

As food to the hungry and water to the thirsty, so is the doing of God's work to those who obey His will because they love Him. Those who are engaged in the work of the ministry are to give evidence that God has a message for them to bear and a work for them to do. They are to labor in the spirit of meekness, showing that they have learned in the school of Christ His lowliness of heart. Those who are ever humble and contrite carry with them the evidence that they have been with Jesus and learned of Him. “Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” [Isaiah 57:15]. “The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool: where is the house that ye build unto Me? and where is the place of My rest? For all those things hath Mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word” [Isaiah 66:1, 2]. God knows how to distinguish between the righteous and the wicked in His church. To those who do righteously He will give peace and comfort and a good hope in this life, because they are partakers of the divine nature and are striving to overcome the corruption that is in the world through lust. 14MR 143.3

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” [2 Peter 1:5-11]. 14MR 144.1

Let us strive with persevering energy for the life to come. The shame and guilt of selfishness and covetousness belongs to man alone. The glory of his repentance belongs to God alone. The best religious culture and the highest advantages have no power to sanctify or to preserve nations or individuals from degeneracy. By uncontrollable fits of passion, man at times gives evidence that he cannot be trusted, that he would sell his Lord, as did Judas, for thirty pieces of silver. The sinfulness of the members of God's church is not chargeable to any neglect on the part of God. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The Lord of heaven has bestowed abundant labor upon the human race. The Holy Spirit operates upon the man as the leaven operates upon the meal. It is man's part to submit to be operated upon, to allow his will to be brought into conformity to the will of God. 14MR 144.2

Man cannot change one attribute of his diseased character. Man aspired to be as God, and from that fatal moment the originator of evil began to alienate him from God. Satan is the author of all envy, all jealousy, all deception, and all strife. He erected the traitor's ensign of revolt upon this earth. He manifested his apostasy by his insane effort to create an empire governed by himself. He is the author of every sin which has cursed the earth. 14MR 145.1

God has shown His great and marvelous love by providing, in His only begotten Son, a remedy for sin. Christ came to bear the sin of the whole world, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 14MR 145.2

There is a power in the association of man with man, and Satan uses this power for the carrying out of his principles. He strives to lead men to strive, as he did, for the supremacy, for preeminence, for recognition and power. Those who yield to these temptations will go over the same ground that he did. He has cut himself away from God. He acts as though he were God to himself. He is his own king, his own ruler, his own sufficiency. Thus it will be with those who choose, as he did, to have their own way. 14MR 145.3

Those who are under Satan's rules and laws suppose themselves to be independent atoms. Each follows his own human passions. It is Satan's principles which have placed men in collision with their fellow men. They lead men to draw apart from one another in suspicion, jealousy, and evil-surmising. Under the power of these principles, violence, crime, and every species of iniquity are steadily increasing. 14MR 146.1

Should not these things be object lessons to those who claim to be Christians, leading them to avoid the first step that will open the way for the entrance of these principles into the church? Why are those who claim to be the people of God so deceived? 14MR 146.2

Love to God and love for one another are the two great principles which are to bind us in union with one another and the whole in oneness with Christ in God. The world is discarding these principles. It is catching the sophistries of the great deceiver. If these sophistries are introduced into the church, they will bring discouragement and spiritual ill-health. Those in the world, having lost their connection with God, are making desperate, insane efforts to make centers of themselves. This causes distrust of one another, which is followed by crime. The kingdoms of the world will be divided against themselves. Fewer and fewer will become the sympathetic cords which bind man in brotherhood to his fellow man. The natural egotism of the human heart will be worked upon by Satan. He will use the uncontrolled wills and violent passions which were never brought under the control of God's will. 14MR 146.3

This man wants his own way; the next man wants his own way. Every man's hand will be against his fellow man. Brother will rise against brother, sister against sister, parents against children, and children against parents. All will be in confusion. Relatives will betray one another. There will be secret plotting to destroy life. Destruction, misery, and death will be seen on every hand. Men will follow the unrestrained bent of their hereditary and cultivated tendency to evil. 14MR 147.1

What is any stage or feature of prodigality but selfishness? The world is full of it. It leads to the decoration of the graves of the dead with monuments, and to thousands and tens of thousands of selfish indulgences. While widows and orphans and so many are suffering for food to satisfy hunger, [the money spent for] these memorials created over the dead might be used to relieve the living sufferer. Why cannot people act reasonably, and expend means for the living sufferers? This would be more sensible. [It] will show honor to God to lessen the suffering [of the] living with the Lord's goods. It [i.e., selfishness] leads man to sacrifice to himself as a God. Man is worshiping the reflection of his own image. He is setting his own practices and the peculiar tendencies of his nature where God's law should be. This is the world picture. What is the representation in the church? 14MR 147.2

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” [2 Timothy 3:1-5]. 14MR 147.3

These are the things which we must see and understand and turn away from. We are to work entirely contrary to them. God has a storehouse of retributive judgments, which He permits to fall upon those who have continued in sin in the face of great light. I have seen the most costly structures in buildings erected and supposed to be fireproof. And just as Sodom perished in the flames of God's vengeance, so will these proud structures become ashes. I have seen vessels which cost immense sums of money wrestling with the mighty waters, seeking to breast the angry billows. But with all their treasures of gold and silver, and with their human freight, they sink into a watery grave. Man's pride will be buried with the treasures he has accumulated by fraud. God will avenge the widows and orphans who in hunger and nakedness have cried to Him for help from oppression and abuse. And the Lord keeps a record of every action of good or evil. 14MR 148.1

The time is right upon us when there will be sorrow in the world that no human balm can heal. The flattering monuments of men's greatness will be crumbled in the dust, even before the last great destruction comes upon the world. 14MR 148.2

The words of Revelation 18 will be fulfilled. Is not this description enough to cause all who read it to fear and tremble? But those who do not love the light, who will not come to the light lest their deeds shall be reproved, will not follow on to know the Lord. By their attitude they say, I want not Thy way, Lord; I want my own way. 14MR 148.3

God has given His object lesson. If the world will not heed, will not the people of God take heed? In the twenty-first chapter of Luke, Christ foretold what was to come upon Jerusalem; with it He connected the scenes which were to take place in the history of this world just prior to the coming of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Mark the words: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” [Verses 34-36]. 14MR 149.1

This is a warning to those who claim to be Christians. Those who have had light upon the important, testing truths for this time, and yet are not making ready for the coming of the Son of man, are not taking heed. “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” There is no period of time when spiritual slothfulness is excusable. 14MR 149.2

Only by being clothed with the robe of Christ's righteousness can we escape the judgments that are coming upon the earth. Let all remember that these words were among the last that Christ gave His disciples. If this instruction were often repeated in our papers and publications, and less space were taken for matter which is not one-hundredth part so important, it would be more appropriate. In these sacred, solemn warnings the danger signal is lifted. It is this instruction that church members and the people of the world need; for it is present truth.—Letter 20, 1901. 14MR 149.3

Ellen G. White Estate

Washington, D. C.,

November 8, 1984.

Entire Letter.