The Review and Herald


May 30, 1871

Address to Ministers


Ephesians 3:6, 7: “That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel; whereof I was made a minister according to the gift of the grace of God, given unto me by the effectual working of his power.” RH May 30, 1871, par. 1

“Whereof I am made a minister:” not merely to present the truth to the people, but to carry it out in your lives. RH May 30, 1871, par. 2

“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God.” Verse 9. It is not merely the words that roll off your tongue, it is not merely to be eloquent in speaking and praying, but it is to make known Christ, to have Christ in you, and make him known to those that hear. RH May 30, 1871, par. 3

“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom,” not novices, not in ignorance, “that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” Colossians 1:28, 29. It is the work of God, the grace from God, that is to be realized and felt, that is to grace the life and actions, which is to make a sensible impression upon those that hear. RH May 30, 1871, par. 4

But it is not this only. There are other things that are to be considered; in which some have been negligent, which are of consequence, in the light they have been presented before me. Impressions are made upon the people by the deportment of the speaker in the desk, by his attitude, and by his manner of speaking. If these things are as God would have them, the impression they make will be in favor of the truth, especially will that class be favorably impressed who have been listening to fables. It is important that your manner be modest and dignified, in keeping with the holy, elevating truth you teach, that a favorable impression may be made upon those who are not naturally inclined to religion. RH May 30, 1871, par. 5

Carefulness in dress is an important item. There has been a lack here with ministers who believe present truth. The dress of some has been allowed to be even untidy. Not only has there been a lack of taste, and a lack of order to arrange the dress in a becoming manner upon the person, and to have the color suitable and becoming for a minister of Christ, but the apparel has been with some, even slovenly and untidy. Some ministers wear a vest of a light color, while their pants are dark, or the vest dark and pants light, with no taste or orderly arrangement of the dress upon the person in coming before the people. These things are preaching to the people. They give them an example of order and set before them the propriety of neatness and taste in their apparel, or they give them lessons in lack of taste and slackness which they will be in danger of following. RH May 30, 1871, par. 6

I was pointed back to the children of Israel anciently, and was shown that God had given specific directions in regard to the material and manner of the dress those ministering before him should wear. The God of Heaven, whose arm moves the world, who sustains us, and gives us life and health, has given us evidence that he could be honored or dishonored by the apparel of those who officiated before him. He gave especial directions to Moses in regard to everything connected with his service. He gave instruction even in regard to the arrangements of their houses, and specified the dress those should wear who were to minister in his service. They were to maintain order in everything, and especially to practice cleanliness. Read the directions that were given to Moses to make known to the children of Israel, as God was about to come down upon the mount, to speak in their hearing his holy law. What did he command Moses to have the people do? To be ready against the third day; for on the third day, said he, the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people, upon the mount. They were to set bounds about the mount. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes.” RH May 30, 1871, par. 7

That great and mighty God who created the beautiful Eden, and everything lovely in it, is a God of order; and he wants order and cleanliness with his people. That mighty God spoke to Moses to tell the people to wash their clothes, lest there should be impurity in their clothing and about their persons, as they came up before the Lord. And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and they washed their clothes, according to the command of God. RH May 30, 1871, par. 8

And to show the carefulness they were to observe in regard to being cleanly, Moses was to put a laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, “and put water therein to wash withal.” And Moses and Aaron that ministered before the Lord, and Aaron's sons, were to wash their hands and their feet thereat when they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they went in before the Lord. RH May 30, 1871, par. 9

Here was the commandment of the great and mighty God. There was to be nothing slack and untidy about those who appeared before him, when they should come into his holy presence. And what was this for? What was the object of all this carefulness? Was it merely to recommend the people to God? Was it merely to gain his approbation? The reason that was given me was this: that a right impression might be made upon the people. If those who ministered in the sacred office should fail to manifest care and reverence for God in their apparel and their deportment, the people would lose their awe and reverence for God and his sacred service. If the priests showed great reverence for God, by being very careful and very particular as they came into his presence, it gave the people an exalted idea of God and his requirements. It showed them that God was holy, that his work was sacred, and that everything in connection with the work of God must be holy; that it must be free from everything like impurity and uncleanliness; and that all defilement must be put away from those that approach nigh to God. From the light that has been given me, there has been a carelessness in this respect. I might speak of it, as Paul presents it. It is carried out in will-worship and neglecting of the body. But this voluntary humility, this will-worship and neglecting of the body, is not the humility that savors of Heaven. That humility that savors of Heaven will be particular to have the person, and actions, and apparel, of all who preach the holy truth of God, right, and perfectly proper, so that every item connected with us will recommend our holy religion. The very dress will be a recommendation of the truth to unbelievers. It will be a sermon in itself. RH May 30, 1871, par. 10

But things that transpire in the sacred desk are often wrong. One minister conversing with another in the desk before the congregation, laughing and appearing to have no burden of the work, or lacking a solemn sense of their sacred calling, dishonors the truth, and brings the sacred down upon a low level with common things. The example is to remove the fear of God from the people, and to detract from the sacred dignity of the gospel Christ died to magnify. According to the light that has been given me, it would be pleasing to God for them to bow down as soon as they step into the pulpit, and solemnly ask help from God. What kind of an impression would that make? There would be a solemnity and awe upon the people. Why, their minister is communing with God. Their minister is committing himself to God before he dares to venture to stand before the people. Solemnity rests down upon the people, and angels of God are brought very near. Ministers should look to God the first thing as they come into the desk, thus saying to all, God is the source of my strength. A minister negligent of his apparel often wounds those of refined sensibilities and good taste. Those who are backward in this respect, should correct their errors and be more circumspect. The loss of some souls at last will be traced to the untidiness of the minister. The first appearance affected the people unfavorably because they could not link his appearance in any way with the truths he presented. His dress was against him; and the impression given, was, that they were a careless set anyhow; we see that they do not care anything about their dress, and we do not want anything to do with such a class of people. RH May 30, 1871, par. 11

Here, according to the light that has been given me, there has been a manifest neglect among our people. Ministers sometimes stand in the desk with their hair in disorder, and looking as if it had been untouched by comb and brush for a week. God is dishonored when they engage in his sacred service so neglectful of their appearance. Anciently the priests were required to have their garments in a particular style to do service in the holy place, and minister in the priest's office. They were to have garments in accordance with their work, and God distinctly specified what these should be. This laver was placed between the altar and the congregation, that before they came into the presence of God, in the sight of the congregation, they might wash their hands and their feet. What impression was this to make upon the people? It was to show them that every particle of dust must be put away before they could go into the presence of God; for he was so high and holy that unless they did comply with these conditions, death would follow. RH May 30, 1871, par. 12

But look at the manner and style of dress as worn by some of our ministers at the present day. Some who minister in sacred things so arrange their dress upon their persons that it destroys to some extent, to say the least, the influence of their labor. There is an apparent lack of taste in color and neatness of fit. What is the impression given by such a manner of dress? Why, it is, that the work in which they are engaged is considered no more sacred or elevated than common labor, as plowing in the field. The minister, by his example, brings down the sacred upon a level with common things. RH May 30, 1871, par. 13

The influence of such preachers upon the people is not pleasing to God. If any are brought out to receive the truth from their labors, they frequently imitate their preachers, and come down to the same low level with them. It will be more difficult to remodel and bring such into a right position, and teach them true order, and love for discipline, than to labor to convert to the truth, men and women out of the world who have never heard it. The Lord requires of his ministers to be pure and holy, and to rightly represent the principles of truth in their own lives, and by their example bring them up upon a high level. RH May 30, 1871, par. 14

God requires of all who profess to be his chosen people if they are not teachers of the truth, to be careful to preserve cleanliness and purity of their bodies, also cleanliness and order in their houses and upon their premises. We are examples to the world, living epistles known and read of all men. God requires of all who profess godliness, and especially those who teach the truth to others, to abstain from all appearance of evil. RH May 30, 1871, par. 15

Dark or black material is more becoming a minister in the desk, and will make a better impression upon the people than to have his apparel of two or three different colors. RH May 30, 1871, par. 16

From the light I have had, the ministry is a sacred and exalted office, and those who accept this position should have Christ in their hearts, and manifest an earnest desire to have him worthily represented before the people, in all their acts, in their dress, in their speaking, and even in their manner of speaking. RH May 30, 1871, par. 17

They should speak with reverence. Some destroy the solemn impression they may have made upon the people, by raising their voices to a very high pitch, and hallooing and screaming out the truth. Truth loses two-thirds or three-quarters of its sweetness, its force, and solemnity, by being presented in this manner. But if the voice is toned right, if it has in it solemnity, and is so modulated as to be even pathetic, it will have a much better impression. This was the tone in which Christ taught his disciples. He impressed them with solemnity. He spoke in a pathetic manner. But this loud hallooing—what does it do? It does not give them any more exalted views of the truth. It does not impress people any more deeply, but causes a disagreeable sensation to the hearers, and is only wearing out the vocal organs of the speaker. RH May 30, 1871, par. 18

The tones of the voice have much to do in affecting the hearts of those that hear. And many who might be useful men, are using up their vital forces, and destroying their lungs and vocal organs, by the manner of their speaking. Some ministers have acquired a habit of hurriedly rattling off what they have to say, as though they had a lesson to repeat and were hastening through it as fast as possible. This is not the best manner of speaking. Every minister can educate himself, by using proper care to speak distinctly and impressively, and not hurriedly crowd the words together without taking time to breathe. He should speak in a moderate manner that the people can get the ideas fastened in their minds as he passes along. But when the matter is rushed through so rapidly, the people cannot get the points in their minds, and they do not have time to get the impression that it is important for them to have; nor is there time for the truth to affect them, as it otherwise would. RH May 30, 1871, par. 19

Speaking from the throat, letting the words come out from the upper extremity of the vocal organs, all the time fretting and irritating them, is not the best way to preserve health or to increase the efficiency of those organs. You should take a full inspiration and let the action come from the abdominal muscles. Let the lungs be only the channel, but do not depend upon them to do the work. If you let your words come from deep down, exercising the abdominal muscles, you can speak to thousands with just as much ease as you can speak to ten. RH May 30, 1871, par. 20

Some of our preachers are killing themselves by long, tedious praying, and loudly exercising the voice, when a lower tone would make a better impression, and save their own strength. Now while you go on regardless of the laws of life and health, and follow the impulse of the moment, don't lay it to God if you break down. Many of you waste time and strength as you commence to speak in long preliminaries and excuses. You should commence your labor as though God had something for you to say to the people, instead of apologizing because you are about to address them. Some use up nearly half an hour in making apologies; and time is frittered away; and when they get to their subject where they are desirous to fasten the points of truth, the people are wearied out and cannot see their force or be impressed with them. You should make the essential points of present truth as distinct as mile-posts so that the people will understand them. They will then see the arguments you want to present, and the positions you want to sustain. RH May 30, 1871, par. 21

There is another class that address the people in a whining tone, not with hearts softened by the Spirit of God; but they think they must make an impression by the appearance of humility. Such a course does not exalt the gospel ministry. It brings it down and degrades it, instead of elevating and exalting it. Ministers should present the truth warm from glory. They should speak in such a manner as to rightly represent Christ, and preserve the dignity becoming his ministers. RH May 30, 1871, par. 22

The long prayers made by some ministers have been a great failure. Praying to great length, as some do, is all out of place. They injure the throat and vocal organs, and then talk of breaking down by their hard labor. They injure themselves when it is not called for. Many feel that praying injures their vocal organs more than talking. This is in consequence of the unnatural position of the body, and the manner they hold the head. You can stand and talk, and not feel injured. The position in praying should be a perfectly natural one. Long praying wearies, and is not in accordance with the gospel of Christ. Praying a half or a quarter of an hour is altogether too long. A few minutes’ time is long enough to bring your case before God, telling him what you want; and you can take the people with you, and not weary them out, and lessen their interest for devotion and prayer. They may be refreshed and strengthened, instead of exhausted. RH May 30, 1871, par. 23

There has been a mistake made by many in their religious exercises—in long praying, in long preaching, upon a high key, with a forced voice, in an unnatural strain and an unnatural tone. The minister has needlessly wearied himself, and really distressed the people, by the hard, labored exercise, which is all unnecessary. Ministers should speak in a manner to reach and impress the people. The teachings of Christ were impressive and solemn. His voice was melodious. And should not we, as well as Christ, study to have melody in our voices? He was a man that had a mighty influence—the Son of God. We are so far beneath him and so far deficient that, do the very best we can, our efforts will be poor. We cannot gain and possess the influence that Christ had; but then, I ask you why we should not educate ourselves and bring ourselves just as near to the Pattern as it is possible for us to do, that we may have the greatest possible influence upon the people. Our words, our actions, our deportment, our dress, everything, should preach. Not only with our words should we speak to the people, but everything pertaining to our person should be a sermon to them, that right impressions may be made upon them, and that the truth spoken may be taken by them to their homes; and thus our faith will stand in a better light before the community. RH May 30, 1871, par. 24

I never realized more than I do today, the exalted character of the work, its sacredness and holiness, and how important that we should be fit for the work. I see it in myself. I must have a new fitting up, a holy unction, or I cannot go any further to instruct others. I must know that I am walking with God. I must know that I understand the mystery of godliness. I must know that the grace of God is in my own heart; that my own life is in accordance with his will; that I am walking in his footsteps. Then my words will be true, my actions will be right. RH May 30, 1871, par. 25

But there is a word more I had almost forgotten. It is in regard to the influence the minister should exert in his preaching. It is not merely to stand in the desk. His work is but just begun there. It is to enter into the different families, and carry Christ there; to carry his sermons there; to carry them out in his actions and his words. As he visits a family, he should inquire into the condition of that family. Is he the shepherd of the flock? The work of a shepherd is not all done in the desk. He should talk with all the members of the flock; with the parents, to learn their standing; and with the children, to learn theirs. A minister should feed the flock over which God has made him overseer. It would be agreeable to go into the house and study. But if you do this, to the neglect of the work God has commissioned you to perform, you do wrong. Never enter a family without inviting them together, and bowing down and praying with them before you leave. Inquire into the health of their souls. What does a skillful physician do? He inquires into the particulars of the case, then seeks to administer remedies. Just so the physician of the soul should inquire into the spiritual maladies with which the members of his flock are afflicted, then go to work to administer the proper remedies, and ask the great Physician to come to his aid. But give them the help that they need. Such ministers will receive all that respect and honor which is due them, as ministers of Jesus Christ. And in doing this, their own souls will be kept alive. They must be drawing strength from God in order to impart strength to those they shall minister to. RH May 30, 1871, par. 26

May the Lord help us to seek him with all the heart. I want to know that I daily gather the divine rays from glory, that emanate from the throne of God, and shine from the face of Jesus Christ, and scatter them in the pathway around me, and be all light in the Lord. RH May 30, 1871, par. 27

E. G. W.