Manuscript Releases, vol. 19 [Nos. 1360-1419]


MR No. 1373—Christians to Reflect Christ, Remaining Calm Under Provocation; Value the Souls for Whom Christ Died

(Written October 17, 1892, from Adelaide, South Australia, to Dr. J. H. Kellogg.)

Since writing the letter enclosed in the envelope with this, I shall now write further. 19MR 88.1

Your letter came, and I have read it carefully. I am surprised that Miss Sanderson should do as she has done. I have no recollection of ever meeting Miss Sanderson, and as I have not the slightest recollection of her nor of any interview I may have had with her, of course I cannot speak of what I have said to her. I only remember that I have been consulted by several in regard to the five-years course, and in every case they presented facts of circumstances, of duties at home to parents, or some sensible objection. 19MR 88.2

I told them to lay the matter plainly before Dr. Kellogg and he would not urge the five-years course against reasonable objections such as duties to father or mother. If they were free from these objections, I had nothing to say. It was not the five-years course I advised them not to take; but as they presented weighty reasons why they could not conscientiously bind themselves because of other parental claims upon them, I told them they must follow the condition of duty and lay everything before you just as they had done to me. I told them that I know Dr. Kellogg well enough and that he would take in the situation and deal justly. 19MR 88.3

I am indeed sorry for the much perplexity you are having, and I suppose you will have, to the end of the chapter. It is a very delicate matter to deal with human minds, and in every case much wisdom from heaven is needed, and a strict guard put on self. As we see the inconsistencies of individuals, we are sometimes stirred to speak and act as we feel, and yet it may not always be in wisdom. I sympathize with you, my brother, and do not wonder that you are sometimes put to your wits’ end to know how to act when confronted with the unreasonable course of those who look on only one side of the question—the side that will please and profit them; but we are ever to bear in mind that their education and hereditary tendencies color their opinions and bias their judgment. 19MR 89.1

You well know Dr. Maxson has not a great amount of self-denial. I look upon him as figuring largely for himself, and feeling that he is sufficient for all things, while at the same time he will appear to feel his defects. I have my settled conviction that Dr. Maxson and Mattie will not be content to long remain at the Health Retreat. The experience they had at Fresno, the success in his supposed field of action, did him harm—more harm, I fear, than he will ever know. 19MR 89.2

Tuesday, October 17, 10:30 A. M.—Well, I am sitting in the phaeton before the botanical gardens, while Elder Daniells, Emily Campbell, and May Walling are enjoying the privilege of going in and viewing that which is to be seen. As I cannot walk or stand on my feet much, I am sitting here. I have no wheelchair, nor one to wheel it and wait on me, as I had in Philadelphia. I must be content to sit and wait patiently until their sightseeing is ended. This is a beautiful day and we are thankful to our heavenly Father for the glad sunshine. 19MR 89.3

I have been thinking about the Mt. Vernon institute, and I have little faith in it. I dislike to have Dr. Gibbs mixed up with it, lest it go down entirely and he bear the censure of its failure. He is not a financier, and when placed in any of our institutions he should have a managing financier. I wish you had before you all that I have written about the Mt. Vernon institution; then you would better understand the light that has been, in clear lines, presented before Elder Underwood and Brother Irwin, and you would better understand the decided position I felt compelled to take in the council meetings in the Review office. If the conference or the sanitarium decide to shoulder the institution, I am clear in the matter. 19MR 90.1

I must confess that I have little confidence in Dr. Maxson's remaining contented long at the Health Retreat. He loves to be making money. He has tried it and considers it a grand success, and should he for some excuse step out, who would go in his place? I think Dr. Gibbs should be, in some way, connected with the institution. This might be arranged in such a way so that he could spend some time in Healdsburg, Oakland, and some surrounding towns; and if Dr. Maxson and Hattie should step out, which I fear they will, then you would have Dr. Gibbs. I know of no one I would rather trust than Dr. Gibbs, if he has a faithful superintendent. 19MR 90.2

I cannot feel as though our trials in reference to that institution are over with. Far from it. Dr. Burke will perhaps be able to flourish in his apostasy for a time; but poor man, he will get to the length of his chain ere long. His happy days are almost over. I pity every apostate. I wish not to increase their miserableness, for they have enough to bear. Those who take the side of the great rebel will have the wages of sin, which is death. But those who take the side of Christ will have the gift of God, which is eternal life. Give me the wages which the Lord gives. 19MR 90.3

I greatly desire to see you and converse with you. One year has passed since we left California for Australia, and another year may pass before we shall set our feet upon American soil. May the Lord spare your life, and give you physical soundness, is my prayer. Your wife, whom I highly respect in the Lord for her devotion to the general good of others, may her health be preserved, her spiritual strength increased day by day, and as she imparts she will still receive to impart more. 19MR 91.1

The character of Christianity is intensely practical. It adapts itself to every circumstance of actual life, and fits in with everyday trials in sympathy, and carries with it the divine credentials. Great truths are brought into immediate contact with that which are regarded by finite man as “little things.” On one side is supplied the motive for purity and holiness, while on the other is furnished the grand, noble, principles for the regulation of the conduct and the well balanced character of a Christian. 19MR 91.2

It was a whole sacrifice that was made for us, and it is a full salvation we may receive as the result. Christ is our living Center. Divine truth, which is shining upon us in its bright, clear, distinct rays, is not detached atoms of doctrines, loose and disconnected, but they form one string of precious pearls. Christ's mission and work are threads of gold binding all together and constituting a complete whole. 19MR 91.3

Living in Christ and having that faith that works by love and purifies the soul, reveals the love of Jesus. Search heaven above and the earth beneath, and it is not possible to find among any nation, tongue, or people truths so pure, so distinct and luminous, as are entrusted to God's people who are obedient to His commandments in these last days. These grand, elevating truths, originating in heaven and compassing eternity, are running as threads of gold through all the great things and little things of life. Many are the opportunities to impart that which we receive, the little occasions afforded us in our conversation, our manner of intercourse, and the rules we adopt for the guidance of our conduct. The attitude we assume, the state of our feelings and temper under irritation, all the individual peculiarities of our disposition and personal manners and habits, are determining our destiny. 19MR 91.4

What does the term Christian signify? What is it to be Christ-like? The truth is to be brought into the inner sanctuary of the soul, and not to be kept in the outer court. Many, we are sorry to say, act in the common concerns of life just as they would if they had never heard the truth. The same self-love, the same selfishness, and self uplifting, the same indulgence of self-will, the same hastiness of temper, the same sensitive pride and insubordination, are daily manifested by many. 19MR 92.1

And Dr. Kellogg, such traits have molded the characters of many physicians who claim to believe the truth; and unless they as well as many who are studying for the medical practice see things in an entirely different light, they shall never be numbered with the family above, for they are developing a spirit which can never find a standing place in heaven. This amazing disregard of Christian obligation, in the practicing physicians, is so apparent that they misrepresent the great Physician in every way. The outward appearance and profession is regarded as involving certain properties; but few even maintain this. 19MR 92.2

Selfishness is the root of all evil, making men bold, hardhearted, and inconsistent, and as if the religion of Jesus Christ has naught to do with the details of business life. A religion whose nature has not the influence to soften and subdue the words and the spirit, and bring into captivity even the thoughts to Jesus Christ, cannot have power to form the character, and therefore would not sanctify the soul. We must all consider, yea do much considering. “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” [2 Corinthians 13:5]. 19MR 93.1

It is the positive duty of all Christians professing to believe the truth, to reveal its principles at all times and in all places. They are enjoined to fight the good fight of faith. Satan is walking about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour; he works with his angels to put every soul off his guard in little things. Those who with becoming fortitude recognize great tests and bereavements and calamities in life as ordered or permitted of God, and rely upon God for grace according to the day, are upset and lose self-control over some petty vexation or some words spoken. And the enemy, walking about, watching his chance and seeking whom he may devour, is full of exultation, for he can work with his satanic cunning to separate very friends. He [who] would repay the deepest injury with kindness, is irritated and loses his self-control by an act of discourtesy or an act of scorn. The man who feels at times sincerely, and would willingly give his life to save a soul from death, will fail to conquer a spirit and habit, and will by wrong words and unwise actions imperil a soul and throw him on Satan's battleground where he cannot be rescued. 19MR 93.2

Now, my brother, you will meet with trials in little things, but hold fast your integrity. I know whereof I speak. “Having done all to stand.” Never show anything but a noble spirit, for all the universe of heaven is watching the result of the battle. Satan is watching to see you off guard, to see you stirred up to act impetuously, that he may obtain the advantage to sift you as wheat. I know that severe trials have come upon you. I know, for I have been shown occasions where you acted in words and spirit to please the enemy and to grieve heavenly angels. Provocation was given you, but I have been shown that you are to fight the battles of the Lord manfully, which means to do just as Christ would do were He in your place. There must be no inconsistency in your faith and practice. 19MR 94.1

As a representative man it makes the matter more serious, for such things would injure the religious tone of your character. You who can stand as it were between the living and the dead, having a grim nerve and clear, discriminating eye in critical operations which decide the destiny of human life, must not in any way, at any time, lose your Christlike dignity and self-control. You are worn, and now you need as never before to place your hand in the hand of Christ, and by an experimental knowledge, that you can stay your soul upon God. 19MR 94.2

Believe me when I tell you that it is your privilege and duty to possess your soul in patience under insult and provocation. You can do this only through Christ Jesus. Why? He is your staff, your wisdom, your sanctification, and your righteousness. Your character cannot be divided into parts, one made of great and noble things and regulated by the law of God; and the other made of little things and subjected to nervous irritations, to variations, and caprices of natural traits of character that obtain the ascendancy. Such a course would cut off a large part of your service for the Master. The want of self-control, a calm spirit, robs God of His proper right to reveal His perfection of character in you, and produces new difficulties for you. However anyone may deserve chastisement, withhold your words, for that which you reflect upon others will in a ten-fold degree be reflected upon you. 19MR 94.3

Your work is most difficult and trying, and you must have Jesus close beside you every moment, as a counselor, as a refuge wherein you may run and be safe. Do not allow your thoughts to get wrought up over any of the vexatious troubles that are constantly arising. Keep calm and think of Jesus, who is close by your side, and what you can do to please Him on this occasion. Aim to represent Christ, and then you can act manfully, nobly; and the grace of Christ, the Holy Spirit, which is God's gift for you to grasp, will strengthen you with all might in the inner man. Then your nerves will not be worn threadbare; but you will ever educate your thoughts to look to Jesus to right every wrong and to build you up in the faith, to stand with you in your critical work with suffering humanity, and give you a continual increase of faith and trust and assurance that you will never be confounded. 19MR 95.1

Religion can bless only where it influences. If we at any time exclude its influence, we exclude its blessing. I almost see you a boy again, and want to say, John, my son, for Christ's sake put on the whole armor of righteousness; open the windows of the mind, the door of the heart, and let heaven's blessed sunshine flood both mind and soul temple; then joy in Christ will be a permanent state of the heart. “These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” I have seen you, in reviewing the past, full of keen remorse and inexpressible sorrow. Have you confessed all to God? Have you asked Him to pardon your transgressions? I know you have, and do you believe that He will pardon your transgressions? Then act on the promise. You have the pledged word of God. You may be free in Christ Jesus, and He will remember your sins no more. How many times I have longed to say to you, Look! Oh, look and live! I know just what I am writing about. 19MR 95.2

You are so situated in your responsible position that you must necessarily meet all classes of people with all kinds of characters. It is any wonder that you shall very often meet professed Christians who are inconsistent in practice? The force of a corrupt nature, allowed full liberty over the little things, shall, when brought to the point of decision against inclination, disdain all restraint, and claim entire independence. 19MR 96.1

A course of consistency becomes doubly difficult when it is made to contradict not only natural inclination but also acquired habits of a lifetime. When you battle against the elements manifested by those who have no Bible religion but only a profession, do not forget that you are a Christian. You greatly lower your influence and mar your own Christian experience when you lose your self-control and give them the least occasion to think that you have ill-treated them. Leave not this impression upon their minds, if you can possibly avoid it. In this probationary time we are forming our characters for the future immortal life, but that is not all, for in this very process of character building we need to be extremely cautious how we build, for others will build after the pattern we give them. 19MR 96.2

We may never know until the judgment the influence of a kind, considerate course of action to the inconsistent, the unreasonable, and unworthy. If, after a course of provocation and injustice on their part, you treat them as you would an innocent person—you even take pains to show them special acts of kindnesses—then you have acted the part of a Christian, and they become surprised and ashamed and see their course of action and meanness more clearly than if you plainly stated their aggravated acts to rebuke them. 19MR 96.3

If you had laid their wrong course of action before them, they would have braced themselves in stubbornness and defiance; but to be treated in tenderness and consideration they feel more deeply their own course of action and contrast it with yours. Then you have the staff in your own hands; you occupy vantage ground, and when you show a solicitation for their souls, they know that you are no hypocrite, but that you mean every word you say. I have been shown that a few words spoken in a hasty manner, under provocation, and which seemed but a little thing—just what they deserved—cut the cords of influence that should have bound the soul to your soul. The very idea of their being in darkness, under the temptation of Satan and blinded by his bewitching power, should make you feel deep sympathy for them, the same that you would feel for a diseased, sick patient who suffers, but, on account of his disease, is not aware of his danger. 19MR 97.1

Souls who have cost the life of God's only begotten Son must be estimated in value by the immense ransom paid for them; and rich or poor, black or white, must be treated in respect to the value Christ has placed upon the human soul. These thoughts are worthy of solemn consideration. Any neglect on our part, any exaltation of self, any hasty, passionate exultations may set a soul on the paths of destruction where he will never find the narrow path of holiness that leads heavenward. 19MR 97.2

I tell you, dear brother, there are grave mistakes made in dealing with unbalanced, diseased minds. They are sick. They need a physician, not to cut them off as a diseased limb, but to heal them. Jesus’ course of management is given in the parable of the lost sheep. Should Jesus deal with us as we deal with one another, not one of us could be saved. Oh, how many will be lost because the words that should have been spoken in tender forbearance were left unsaid. 19MR 98.1

Much money is expended in every way to bring the light of truth to bear on human minds, and then the ones who are building with one hand are pulling down with the other. The influence of good is cut off by unwise words and actions. On, for the blessedness of Christian meekness to weave in all our experiences. It is Christ that takes the sins of the guilty upon His divine soul, and imputes to the guilty His own righteousness. Shall we not work in these lines when we come in contact with sins, with presumptuous, high-headed, and hard-hearted souls who irritate and provoke with their ways and manners? 19MR 98.2

Shall we remember [that] all this offends Jesus, whose property they are? Yet He does nothing to cut them off, but bears long with them. He wept in agony of tears over Jerusalem. All was distinctly before Him, the history of ages, centuries filled with incidents of grace resisted, privileges abused, opportunities slighted, the warnings and reproofs of prophets unheeded. Jesus scanned the events of ages of ingratitude, formalism, hypocritical insincerity, Pharisaic pride, and national apostasy. His prophets were put to death, His servants abused, His vineyard trodden under foot. For a thousand years the cloud of vengeance had been loading, and as He saw it about to burst He wept in agony. Well might the Lord Jesus say, “What more could I do for My vineyard than I have done?” 19MR 98.3

We want in our experience to value the souls for whom Christ died. When we meet with ingratitude and betrayal of sacred trusts, we are stirred to retaliate and show how we despise such a course; and this the guilty expect to meet, and they are prepared for it, for it suits their mean course of action. But Christians should disappoint their expectations by showing a calmness under injuries, and give kindness in return for abuse. Such a righteous course will surprise them, and it places their own wrong course in contrast, and makes them ashamed. The Lord Jesus has imputed to us His righteousness. When undeserving He took our guilt, and the Innocent suffered for the guilty, else we should have perished. 19MR 99.1

For the sake of the souls for whom Christ has died, let us act wisely. For the sake of the peace which Christ is waiting to bestow upon us in acting out His life and character, let us not be easily provoked. 19MR 99.2

You, my brother, have much to bear, and I want you to see that much grace is provided if you bear them loyally. You will be the gainer healthwise, and little things that disturb your peace will lose their agency to affect you. You may have a calm trust in God. And if you cling to Jesus He will be at your right hand to help you. In your hurry and in the pressure of cares, there is danger of mistakes occurring of judging harshly, your words wounding deeply, and your own soul's peace broken up, and your becoming agitated and unbalanced. If you will guard your words, and be more mild and thoughtful in treating the erring, your influence will be increased fifty- fold. God wants you to be a strong man in self-control, strong because you have the meekness and lowliness of Christ. If you would impress upon the wax a clear and vivid impression of the seal, you would not dash the seal upon it in hasty, violent action; but you would carefully place the seal on the plastic wax, and quietly and steadily press it down, until it has hardened in the mold. In like manner deal with human souls. The continuity of Christian influence upon minds trains the soul after Christ and puts through human instrumentalities the new life implanted by the Spirit of God after His own divine likeness.—Letter 20, 1892. 19MR 99.3

Ellen G. White Estate

Washington, D. C.

May 12, 1988.

Entire Letter.