Manuscripts and Memories of Minneapolis



[The following is a report of an evening meeting held with a large congregation, in connection with the General Conference at Minneapolis, Minn., Tuesday evening, Oct. 23, 1888, in the interests of the tract and missionary work. And as the principles presented by Bro. Geo. B. Starr, representing a committee, and spoken to so earnestly by Sister E. G. White, Eld. Haskell, and others, were afterward indorsed by the International Society, and recommended to be carried out in all our churches,-we thought our brethren would appreciate having before them a report in full, to assist them to a clearer understanding of the matter. MMM 405.18

Bro. Starr, after reading the words of Jesus in Revelation 22:16, 17 (“I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let them that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst, come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.”), said:-] MMM 405.19

Jesus puts into the heart of every newly converted soul the spirit of these precious words, so that they feel an earnest desire to say to those about them, “Come and take the waters of life which I have found so satisfying;” and we believe that Jesus would have this spirit cultivated and cherished, as he says, “in the churches;” and we believe that plans should be laid and executed that will result in the cultivation and steady growth of this spirit. MMM 405.20

We are met to-night to have a general old-time tract society meeting, and thus give the influence of this Conference to the revival and encouragement of the work in all our churches and among our brethren everywhere. We believe that kind of labor which first characterized the tract society in its work, and in which the large body of our people can and ought to engage, should receive our attention and encouragement. We-think there has been a tendency with us as a people, to push forward new methods, which we see to be good, with so much zeal, and to give our whole attention so undividedly to them, as to apparently neglect and slight the older methods, in which the majority can engage; and thus many have seemed to feel relieved from work at all. MMM 405.21

Now we think all this ought to be changed, and that it should be clearly understood that the work of these who engage in visiting the people, talking with and praying for them, distributing and mailing publications and tracts, and writing letters, is just as important as that of others, who devote their time to the Bible work, canvassing, and the ministry; and we suggest that this work be taken hold of as never before, all through our ranks; and that weekly meetings be held, even where only a few can assemble together. In these small meetings the missionary meeting and the prayer-meeting might be united, and a variety of exercises be introduced, from week to week, so that they would become intensely interesting. MMM 405.22

For example, one week have a regular missionary meeting, consisting of the relation of personal experiences, the reading of letters, etc.; and to add interest to meetings of this nature, we recommend an exchange of correspondence between local societies, through their State officers; and also that entire letters or valuable extracts from letters, from other States, or from leading laborers, be furnished the local societies for their use. Another week all the members might write a Bible reading of eight or ten questions in length, and come together and have two or three persons called upon to give their readings. Others could compare theirs, and make changes and improvements, and thus all be learning the Bible reasons for their hope, and the best ways of presenting them to others. Then these readings might be given in a quiet, humble way to some neighbor, in connection with other missionary work for the person. Another evening could be devoted to the examination of a tract or pamphlet, which should be given out for all to study, a week or two in advance. Its main points might be placed upon the blackboard, or drawn off on paper, in answer to questions by the leader. MMM 405.23

It is recommended that officers be elected to assist the librarian in this work. Some elect a president, vice-president, secretary, and assistant secretary. Others, a leader and secretaries. It is suggested that these officers take the responsibility of praying and planning for these meetings in advance, so that they may be conducted in an intelligent and lively manner; and that these persons and others should pray and council together for light from God, to help them to see the work their society ought to do, and help them to plan for it. If this in done, we believe God will lead hundreds to see and engage in work that they do not see at present; and they will thus gain a precious experience, and be laying up eternal riches. We also think that God would be pleased to have us take up systematic and constant work for the poor and the sick around us; and that in doing so, Jesus would link himself with all our work, and bring the softening, refining influences of heaven into our hearts and lives. MMM 405.24

It is the design of the International Society to render valuable assistance also, by furnishing a series of instructions by mail, that the whole company may study together. It will be understood, of course, that it is not the design to organize a new society, but to select officers to work in the regular local society, having its meetings weekly, and thus put life and soul into the societies already organized. New members received into the local society by the payment of one dollar, become life members of the State Society. MMM 405.25

[Sister White then spoke in reference to these plans and the missionary work in general, as follows:-] MMM 405.26

Our Saviour has given to every one his work, and no one can plead any excuse to God why he has not done the very work which God has given him to do. God does not require of the man to whom he has intrusted two talents, the use of five; but he expects us to do our very best, according to the capability and power he has given us. The varied trusts are proportioned to our varied capabilities. Though we may have but one talent, if we use that well, God will accept it; but our improvement of it will be according to the measure of the gift of Christ. MMM 405.27

The plans which have been suggested by our brother, I believe to be sound; and if we practice something in this line in the several churches with which we are connected, we shall find that those churches that carry out a system of labor, educating and training all to do something for the Master, will be living churches; for a working church is a living church. But here it may be urged that there should be ability to educate properly, and to teach bow the different members shall do their part in the work. The one who is appointed as leader in the church, or the minister who has charge in the district, should consider it a part of his work to be overseer of the flock of God. Now, how is it possible for the servants of God to neglect this part of the work, when Paul describes his work in the ministry as “warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; whereunto I also labor, striving according to his workings which worketh in me mightily? “Now that same order of work is devolving upon every man who becomes a minister. It is to educate, educate, educate, not only by precept, but by example; and if the one who thus teaches, can bring a church into working order, showing them how to work in this very line, he will have a special interest in the prosperity and success of the church. Such will say, “I have acted a part in that work, and was much blessed in attempting to do something; and I have an interest to do more and better work.” MMM 405.28

Just according to the measure of the ability which God has committed to them, can they work intelligently, and work in Christ. Here is the great and essential point,-for these workers to be sure that they have the spirit of Christ. And if they are filled with the love of God, which should be in the heart of every worker; and if they seek wisdom from above, they will seek to be more and more intelligent in regard to their work, and will become efficient and useful workers. They should never be satisfied with their present condition, but should continually increase in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. The first thing necessary is to have our hearts and minds touched with that love for souls which Christ manifested, that our ways and manners will not offend. We should be such excellent representatives of the missionary cause that it shall stand high and elevated, pure and holy. MMM 405.29

It is essential that we begin at the first round of the ladder, and climb step by step. It is not best for those uneducated and undisciplined to grasp at the top round of the ladder, and think they can do the work of another who is more experienced; but if they will be humble, they may gain the very best kind of experience. They can gain an aptitude for the work, if they will put their ingenuity to work as to the best methods and means of making everything they undertake full of earnest interest. Their work will then become a living work, not a dead form. MMM 405.30

I want to know why we as Christians who profess to believe the most solemn truths that God ever gave to mortals, should not have works to correspond to our faith. Christ has said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” It in of great consequence to ourselves and others, in what manner we let our light shine in the work in which we engage; and if we seek to glorify Christ, God will help us by letting his light so shine through us, that the glory shall redound to him. We should be the very best and most intelligent workers in the Matter’s vineyard. We may legitimately seek to excel in copying our Pattern, Christ Jesus. MMM 405.31

We see many of our sisters who know how to crochet fine articles for their dress; but this kind of work is represented as hay, wood, and stubble. God has earnest work for all to do; and if our sisters would spend their God-given time in earnest prayer to God, and the study of his word, he would impart to them heavenly wisdom, that they might know how to labor through the grace given them of God, to save the souls of those around them. Our sisters might begin with missionary work in their own households; then they would know how to work intelligently for their neighbors. If they would become interested in this kind of work, they might be sowing the seeds of truth. We must sow beside all waters, though we know not which will prosper, this or that. This kind of work pays; for its results are as lasting as eternity. It is represented as bringing to the foundation, gold, silver, and precious stones,-materials which are not consumable and perishable, but as enduring as eternity. The first work for us individually is a personal consecration to God. MMM 405.32

I have seen ladies in England riding in their carriages with their lap-dogs, covered with their little blankets, in their arms. How I longed to place some poor homeless child in the place of that dog! I saw houses beautifully and expensively built, like palaces, and on inquiring in regard to them, was told that they were built by wealthy men for their hounds and dogs. But you could see little children and women in the streets, miserable and poor, and destitute of clothing. Now what reason is there in this? Will that work be as far-reaching as eternity? We do not want to misuse any of God’s creatures, but we should give our first attention to those souls for whom Christ died; and we should not allow our means to flow out in these foolish channels for our own selfish gratification. We should use all of God’s gifts in gaining an experience that will help us to benefit our fellow-creatures, and advance the missionary work; for in doing this, we are laying up for ourselves treasure in heaven. Every self-sacrificing work and effort that shall be made for the sake of Christ, to reflect back glory to God, in educating and training ourselves for this kind of labor, will meet the approval of Heaven; and God himself will connect with these efforts, and put his seal upon them. This work may appear to us very feeble, and we may never in this life understand the results of such labor; but God knows all about it, and we must sow continually beside all waters, not knowing which will prosper, this or that. MMM 406.1

We find by interested inquiry that there are churches in different places that are ready to die. If they were ready to die to self and sin; if covetousness and love of pleasure were let die, it would not be so bad; if they were ready to die in this sense, they would be led to bring all their powers into exercise for the Master; but it is a spiritual death that pervades our churches. Are there not those who feel the importance of teaching the members of the church, and trying to get workers for the cause of God? Who will see the importance of putting to the stretch every power and talent that God has given them? Our sisters can work for the women at their homes, and thus do a good work for the Master. Our brethren can reach the men. If those who have a little time, will give courteous attention and well-directed effort, they can help men to become elevated, and in the place of smoking the cigar and enjoying themselves at the saloon, they may be led to Christ, who has died for all. MMM 406.2

I remember when the converting power of God came upon me in my childhood. I wanted every one else to have the blessing that I enjoyed, and I could not rest till I had told them of the love I had for Jesus. I visited my young companions at their homes, and told them my experience,-how precious the Saviour was to me, and how I wanted to serve him, and that I wanted them to love Jesus and serve him also. I would talk of the preciousness of Christ, and ask them if they would kneel down and pray with me. Some would kneel, and some would continue to sit in their chairs; but before we arose, all would be on their knees, and we would often continue in prayer for hours, till the last one would say, “I believe that Jesus has forgiven my sins.” Sometimes the sun would begin to make its appearance in the heavens before I would give up the struggle. There is great power in presenting the love of Jesus. MMM 406.3

When we go into a house to visit families, we should not begin to talk of frivolous things, but come right to the paint, and say, “I want you to love Jesus, for he has first loved you.” You can talk of the Christian’s hope, and the reward that is presented to the obedient; and as has been suggested, I make it a part of your work to take with you publications, and ask the people to read. When they see that you are sincere, they will not despise your efforts. It is possible to reach the hardest heart. It is the simplicity, sincerity, and humility that you manifest which will help you to reach the souls for whom Christ has died; therefore let us not be negligent in this work. MMM 406.4

The plan now under consideration, I believe to be one that God will be pleased with. The churches that are weak and ready to die, need some one who has the ability to set things in operation, and to help devise means and lay proper plans for putting life into their work. But who will do this work? There are many who have ability, and who want to be Christians, who should be set to work in the meetings and out of the meetings. First one should be called upon and then another, to give Bible readings, to pray, or speak, and the Spirit of God will work with your efforts; and as strangers come into your gatherings, they will be impressed, and you can reach the people-not by your own ability, but by the Spirit of God working with your efforts, though of course we want all the ability and power that God has given us, brought into use. We should not be novices forever, but should study how to conduct ourselves properly at all times and in all places. We should carry Christian politeness with us in all our work. We must be hewn and squared and fitted, that we may do the work of God in humility, and that the sharp corners which may be in our characters may not be prominent. MMM 406.5

Much depends upon the manner in which you meet those with whom you visit. We should have a cheerfulness in our work. You can take hold of the hand is such a way as at once to gain the confidence, or in a cold, unimpressive manner, as though you were an iceberg, and had no interest in the person. Such a manner will repulse them, and you will find no warmth of feeling. We should not act as though it were a condescension to come in contact with the poor. They are as good by nature as we, and we must talk to them as though we considered them so. The joy which comes into the homes of the poor is often very limited, and why not carry rays of light to shine in upon them and fill their hearts? What we need is the tender sympathy of Jesus Christ; then we can win our way into the hardest heart. We should clothe ourselves in plain, simple attire, so that none will feel that they are net our equals, and that we do not consider them worth saving. MMM 406.6

The minister should not feel that it is his duty to do all the talking and all the laboring and all the praying; but he should make it a part of his work to educate workers in every church. Let different ones take turns in leading the meetings, and in giving Bible readings, and in so doing you will be calling into use the talents which God has given you, and at the same time educating workers. I read of a man who had a company of workmen over whom he placed an overseer, whose duty it was to see that the work was done to the best advantage. One day he came along to where his overseer, in charge of twelve men, was digging a trench. He found the overseer down in the trench digging away, with the sweat dropping from his brow; but the twelve men were above, watching him in his labor. The overseer was called up and asked what he was doing there. “I ordered you,” said the man, “to keep twelve men at work; why have you not done this? There you are, doing the work of one man, while twelve are idle. Here are your wages.” MMM 406.7

Now God has made some of us overseers of the flock, and he does not want us to do all the work ourselves, but he wants us to educate others in different branches of the work, that all the talents may be discerned and appropriated. Our ministers often do the labor instead of educating others to share the responsibility in the cause. The work of the minister should be the work of a teacher. This part of the work has been sadly neglected, and the result is that much is left undone that might have been accomplished, if talents had been wisely brought into the work. Some, through inexperience, will make mistakes, but should kindly be shown how they can do their work better. And thus you can be educating, until you have men and women of experience in the cause of God, who can carry responsibilities, and who will be prepared for the good work that is suffering so much for the want of laborers. We need men who can bear responsibility, and the best way for them to gain the experience they need, is to engage with heart and mind in the work. MMM 406.8

If we work for others, an experience will be gained about which we can talk when we assemble together. We shall not have a dark, gloomy testimony, but we shall speak of life and joy and courage; and instead of talking about our brethren and thinking of our trials, we shall be thinking of the love of Christ, and studying how to become more efficient workers for him. If this branch of the work could be taken up in every church in our Conferences, we should see in the year to come an advancement, an elevation, a healthfulness, an altogether different atmosphere among our people; and there would not be so much time for gossiping and talking about our neighbors. The time spent in idle tales would witness the conversion of many souls to Christ. Why should we not feel an interest for those around us, when Christ has given us such an evidence of his love? Brethren and Sisters, God will not leave us; he will let his converting, sanctifying grace be upon us, if we will move If right forward in faith. MMM 406.9

Brethren and sisters, we want to do more than we have been doing to set things in working order for God. We want to do the work that has been given us to do, in saving souls, that at last we may be welcomed into the joy of our Lord; that we may not only give praises to God and the Lamb for our own salvation, but also that we have been the means of saving some soul through Jesus Christ; and in this way we must work, if we expect to enter into that joy. We cannot know here what the effect of our work has been, but eternity will reveal what we have done for the Master. Shall we not lay plans and devise means to carry forward these principles, to the letter? Then the blessing of the Lord will attend all our labors. MMM 406.10

[Bro. Haskell expressed himself as being much in favor of the plans suggested. He thought that the exchange of correspondence would be a means of instilling the spirit of missionary labor into the hearts of many. He said that if only two or three in a church or company have the burden of the work, and are intent upon doing what they can, the same spirit will extend to others. Even she children will be anxious to do something, and God will bless their efforts. He referred to two children in London, eleven and thirteen years of age, who became so much interested in the work that they desired to go out and sell the Present Truth. This they are still doing, and they have nearly as large a list of subscribers as the best canvassers. They manifest remarkable skill in presenting the paper to strangers, often securing subscriptions by their simplicity and earnestness. MMM 406.11

There are those all through our churches whom God would have bear responsibilities in his cause, We cannot tell who they are; but if our churches become working churches, these persons will be developed, and God will enable them to do a work of which we have very little idea at present. There will then be persons to enter our foreign missions, and to fill important positions at home, the want of whom is a great detriment to the progress of present truth at the present time. Our churches were compared to the fountain springs giving rise to the rivulets which unite to form the broad rivers, gathering force and volume as they flow onward to the ocean. As these mighty bodies of water receive supplies, and are maintained by the small springs and streams, so the cause of present truth must be supplied with workers and means by the small churches and companies of our people scattered in different parts of the world. MMM 406.12

Our success does not depend upon the greatness of the work we perform, but upon the spirit which actuates us. Hence no one should feel excused because he is not prepared at once to do some prominent work. Oftentimes, could we see back of the outward agent in the accomplishment of an important work, we should see that it was due to the efforts and prayers of persons whose connection with the work is unknown. God uses means in answering prayers put up to him in secret; and we often attribute the results to the outward means, rather than to those whose faith and unseen efforts have won the victory. Bro. Haskell alluded to the success of the cause in Australia and New Zealand, remarking that it is largely attributable to the prayers and efforts of persons not known to be especially connected with the work there. Other illustrations were used to set forth the same principles.] MMM 406.13

The Review and Herald

“Sanctify them through Thy Truth Thy Word is Truth.”
Battle Creek, Mich., November 6, 1888.
L. A. SMITH, Assistant Editor.
S. N. HASKELL. Corresponding Editors