Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Ms 14, 1888

How Can Institutions Be Made A Success?


February 1, 1888

Portions of this manuscript are published in AH 53-54; TSB 115-117; 7MR 128-130.

How can institutions be made a success, that good work may be accomplished in them that will stand the test and proving of God? The inspired Word plainly declares that every work is to be brought into judgment of what sort it is. We have plainly revealed at times that the iniquity that is bound up in human hearts stands directly in the way of the prosperity of our institutions for health. If selfishness has been cherished, that will develop itself. If high opinion of self has been cultivated, this element will be cropping out. If appetite has been indulged, then this will appear and be woven into the life-experience and come in as an important part of the treatment by those who have a controlling influence in the institution. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 1

That which should be conscientiously questioned whether advisable to be brought into the diet of well persons has been made a part of even the prescriptions for sick people, who would do much better without these things. True, their appetite craves them, because they have educated themselves to the use of them, and the disuse of these things will be felt strongly. But the only right course that can be pursued in these cases is to educate the consciences, to lay before them the effect of these things, and guide the mind to right principles. If the minds of the patients are left to their own natural bias, they will choose to indulge appetite at the expense of health and life; and if the physicians enjoy animal food themselves, they will prescribe it for others, and yet they will all the time plead a conscientiousness on the point. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 2

Now there are two kinds of consciences—there is a good conscience and a bad conscience. When one takes a course that is in harmony with his own indulgence of appetite or with his own practices, the question is, Shall his claims to conscientiousness [be] as correct even for himself to follow? This course of action may be such that it is not best to lead others to pursue [line missing here]. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 3

The animal passions, cherished and indulged, become very strong in this age, and untold evils in the marriage life are the sure results. In the place of the mind being developed and having the controlling power, the animal propensities rule over the higher and nobler powers until they are brought into subjection to the animal propensities. What is the result? Women’s delicate organs are worn out and become diseased; childbearing is no more safe; sexual privileges are abused. Men are corrupting their own bodies, and the wife has become a bed-servant to their inordinate, base lusts until there is no fear of God before their eyes. To indulge impulse that degrades both body and soul is the order of the marriage life, and what is the sure result? The most terrible, painful diseases are brought upon women, and the curse of God rests upon men and women in loathsome diseases that need not be at all, if a righteous course was pursued in eating and drinking. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 4

Then what is the special work in all of our institutions for health? In the place of educating the appetite to indulgence, which is the great cause of disease, knowledge must be imparted in regard to self-denial and self-control. The knowledge of salvation, the knowledge of sin and redemption from its fearful woes, its bondage and its defilement, must be plainly stated to all, both high and low, in carefully prepared lectures. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 5

Passion grows with indulgences. Evil thoughts and evil practices are in the ascendancy, and the heart and mind become polluted. Are these things to go on and the victim be unwarned? [Are the] youth to be unchecked by any message of enlightenment from heaven? Are there to be no faithful ones who will present before all who are brought into these institutions the righteous habits in contrast with the defiling practices of this age? Are lessons to be untaught to the very ones who need them? Those who are intelligent in regard to these evils should be the ones to fill important positions at our health institutions. All who have knowledge in these things, who know the perils of this time, should feel a burden for the souls and bodies for whom Christ has died, and they should carry the burden day and night. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 6

Nothing but the truth of God can either make man savingly wise or keep him so. If there is an immortal life to be obtained, if a pure and holy character must be developed in order to gain entrance to the presence of the Lord God and the society of heavenly angels, then why do not teachers, physicians, and preachers act this in their example and by their teaching? Why are they not more zealous for the Master? Why do they not have burning love for souls for whom Christ died? If man is to become immortal, his mind must be in harmony with God’s mind. The true disciple in the school of Christ whose mind is in harmony with the mind of God will be not only constantly learning, but teaching as well as learning, constantly reflecting light, teaching upward and away from the common, prevailing errors of this perverse and adulterous generation. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 7

Any man, physician, or superintendent, anyone in any office and any helper who shall neglect their solemn obligations in this matter to follow their own plans and ideas in precept and example, are false teachers, like a guide-board pointing in the wrong direction. Their wisdom is earthly and sensual, yet it is put superior to God’s wisdom. They are blind and unconscious, but certainly leading away from God, evading God’s truth in giving consent to errors in appetite [and] errors in conduct which will end in perfect misery of souls and bodies for whom Christ died. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 8

All who establish schools and health institutions should first set their own hearts in order and see that every practice of their own, their eating and drinking, their dressing, their advice, their counsels, their prescriptions, their example of nobility and true elevation of character is in accordance with the holy precepts of God’s Word, showing to all a living representation of “the way of the Lord.” Those who occupy responsible positions and do not walk in the way of the Lord themselves, cannot guide the feet of others in this way. If they do not feel the constraining influence of the Spirit of God to enter upon the royal path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in, they will not be able to feel the sense of obligation to lead others who are associated with them in “the way of the Lord.” 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 9

This is the secret of godless families and demoralized institutions that are in serious danger of becoming nurseries of folly and such ungodliness that the Lord cannot bless them. The fountain that should send forth sweet water is poisoned. The tree is known by its fruits. The vine which should yield precious grapes produces wild grapes, showing that it has no attachment to the true and living Vine. A condition of things exists which reveals a secretive wisdom from beneath, earthly, sensual, and devilish. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 10

Religion means more than many interpret it to mean. It means purity of heart, purity of life, a departure from all iniquity. There is a love for souls. There is a diligent searching after “the way of the Lord,” and walking in it with firm, unwavering steps, making straight paths for their feet and rejoicing in “the way of the Lord.” 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 11

We can see that innumerable difficulties meet us at every step. The iniquity that is cherished by young as well as old, the unwise, unsanctified courtship and marriages cannot fail to result in bickerings, in strife, in alienations, in indulgence of unbridled passions, in unfaithfulness of husbands and wives, [in] unwillingness to restrain the self-willed, inordinate desires, and in indifference to the things of eternal interest. God is dishonored and despised; His commandments are trampled upon; and verily there is need of great sobriety of conduct, with firmness as well as courtesy on the part of all who would have our God lift up a standard for us against the enemy, saying, “Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther.” 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 12

The Word of God is our counselor, our only rule of life. To yield to another guide, to lean to our own understanding, to be controlled by our own unsanctified will, is to make self supreme and divorce the soul from God. The holiness of the oracles of God is not loved by very many who claim to be Bible Christians. They show by their free, loose conduct that they prefer a wider scope. They do not want their selfish indulgences limited. They walk in the sparks of their own kindling, and the injunctions and requirements of God are irksome to them. Their souls are trained in ungodliness; and souls who should have from them a pure and holy example are lead astray from the right path. Sin is presented in such a light that it is not regarded as exceedingly sinful. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 13

Who has been guilty in these things? Those who claim to be shepherds of the flock to watch for souls as they that must give an account and other men in responsible positions of trust. “The way of the Lord” is not made their way. A Christian is to be constantly watching the Pattern and imitating the holy example of Jesus. Then a right spirit will be infused into the life and character of others. If God was daily sought in earnest [in] humble prayer for light and for guidance, there would be a sure detecting in the individual course of action; unholy practices and many unholy plans would be repressed, and Jesus would be made the rule of life. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 14

I have tried to present before you what kind of an influence should be exerted in our institutions for the benefit of sick and suffering humanity. You who seem to think that it would be a wonderfully grand and easy matter to bring into existence an institution for invalids or guests, will you consider this matter from a religious bearing, from a Christian standpoint? Where are your missionary workers who will put self out and make God supreme? Where are self-denying, self-sacrificing men and women who see and sense what such an institution demands, and in accordance with the light God has given me, go to work on right principles? Who will seek the way of the Lord, who will be entreated, who will be corrected, who will not build up self at the expense of demeriting others? And who will make Christ first and best in everything? An institution started or conducted on any other principles will prove a curse rather than a blessing in these perilous times. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 15

In our recent experience in the health institution we have seen how difficult a matter it is to place God’s own mold upon characters and minds. We have had demonstrated how difficult it is for those who think themselves very conscientious to yield their own will and their own way to God’s will and God’s way. They have no experience in this direction. They make a standard for themselves, and they follow that standard. They move after their own ideas, their own inclination, their own judgment. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 16

The sanitarium at Battle Creek has been built up under a pressure of difficulties. There have had to be measures taken, contracts signed by those whom they engage as helpers that they will remain a certain number of years. This has been a position necessity. After help has been secured, and after considerable painstaking effort [they] have become efficient workers, wealthy patients have held out inducements of better wages to secure them as nurses for their own special benefit and have taken them to their homes. And these helpers would leave the sanitarium and go with them without taking at all into consideration the labor that has been put forth to qualify them for efficient workers. This has not been the case in one or two instances, but in many cases. Then people have come as patrons from other institutions that are not conducted on religious principles and in a most artful manner have toiled away the help by promising to give them higher wages. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 17

Physicians have apostatized from the faith and from the institution and have left because they should not have their own way in everything. Some have been discharged and, after obtaining the sympathy of some of the helpers and those employed in the institution and some of the patients, have toiled them away; and, after being at great expense and trying their own ways and methods to the best of their ability, they have made a failure, closed up, [and] incurred debts that they could not meet. This has been tried again and again. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 18

Justice and righteousness have had no part in their movements. “The way of the Lord” has not been chosen, but their own way. They beguiled the unwary and made an easy conquest of those who love change. They are too much blinded to consider the right and wrong of this course and too reckless to care. It has been necessary in the sanitarium at Battle Creek to make contracts binding those who connect with them as helpers so that if they educate and train them as nurses, as bath-hands, and even advance money to some special ones that they may obtain a medical education, they may have some use of them afterwards. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 19

Dr. Kellogg has placed hopes upon some of these that they would relieve him of responsibilities that have rested most heavily upon him. Some have become uneasy and dissatisfied because some who have started institutions in other parts of the country have tried to flatter and induce them to come to their sanitarium and they would do much better by them. In this way they have made the workers—some of them, at least—uneasy, unsettled, self-sufficient, and unreliable, even if they did not disconnect from the sanitarium, because they felt there were openings for them elsewhere. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 20

Now we wish all to look at this matter from a Christian standpoint. These tests reveal the true material that makes up character. There is in the Decalogue a commandment that says, “Thou shalt not steal.” [Exodus 20:15.] This commandment covers just such acts as these. They simply steal the help that others have had the burden of bringing up and training for their respective work. This scheme of in any secret way, or by bringing our influence to bear upon them to try to secure help that others have engaged and trained, is nothing less than downright stealing. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 21

There is another commandment that says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” [Verse 16.] In this kind of business, [in] tampering with the help that has been secured and depended upon to do a certain kind of labor, efforts are made to demerit the plans and find fault with the management of those who are conducting the institution. They question the course that has been pursued against those that they want to secure for themselves. They flatter their vanity. They tell them they are not advanced as rapidly as they should be; they ought to be in more responsible positions. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 22

The very gravest difficulty that physicians and managers of our institutions have to meet is that men and women who have been led up step by step, educated and trained to be qualified to fill positions of trust, become self-inflated, self-sufficient, and place altogether too high and estimate upon their own capabilities. If they have been entrusted with two talents, they feel perfectly capable of handling five. If they had wisely and judiciously used the two talents, coming up with faithfulness in the little things entrusted to them, thorough in everything they undertook, then they would be qualified to handle larger responsibilities. If they climb every step of the ladder, round after round, faithfully performing their smaller duties, showing faithfulness in that which is least, then they will evidence that they are fitted to bear heavier burdens and will be faithful in much. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 23

But many want to skim the surface. They do not think deep and become masters of their duties. They feel ready to grasp the highest round of the ladder without the trouble of climbing up step after step. We are pained at heart as we compare the work coming from their hands with the work that God can accept. There is a painful defect, a remissness, a superficial gloss, but wanting in solidity and in intelligent knowledge and carefulness concerning which God will pronounce, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.” [Matthew 25:23.] 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 24

Men must get hold conscientiously of God. They must have the truth in the heart to correct all the sophistries and delusions of Satan that would throw them off the right track, so that they should not choose the way of the Lord, but follow the impulses of their own undisciplined characters. If the heart is sanctified and guided by the Holy Spirit, they will run no risks, they will be firm in all they undertake to do good work for Jesus; and, in doing their work righteously, they are standing securely in this life with a fast hold from above and will be guided into every good and holy way. They will be consistent to principles. They will do their work, not to secure a great name, not for the purpose of weaving self into all their works and be ambitious to appear to be somebody in the world, but to be right in everything in the sight of God; not half as anxious to do a big work as to do whatever they have to do with an eye single to the glory of God. Such men are great in the sight of God. Such names are registered in the Lamb’s book of life as the faithful servants of the Most High God. These are the men who are more precious in the sight of God than fine gold, even the golden wedge of Ophir. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 25

Oh, if all who claim to be Seventh-day Adventists were Bible Christians, what a world of trouble would be saved! But they are not all Christians. They do not keep the commandments of God. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 26

They do not love the Lord with undivided affections. They serve God a little and their own selfish interest more. The ungodly are sharp and critical, and they take advantage of every inconsistency of the professed followers of Jesus Christ and speak with contempt of their faith, and these inconsistencies are charged upon all of like faith. As the result, the work of God is denounced as erroneous and false doctrines; truth is degraded, and Satan triumphs. A single rash act, a rash word, may prove the utter ruin of some soul. A blemish upon the character that is lightly regarded by a professed follower of Jesus Christ will prove a stumbling block to them that they turn away from the truth. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 27

If we would be Christians at all, we must be so in heart and in character, at all times and in all places. We must love God with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our strength, and our neighbors as ourselves. This is the only condition whereby we may obtain eternal life. In doing this we are safe. With what pleasure all heaven looks down upon those who profess Christ and whose lives are hid with Christ in God! They have stood fast under the pressure of temptation. They have through watchfulness and earnest prayer resisted the tide of iniquity which has beat against them. God’s light went before them in their humblest works as their front guard, and His glory was their rearward. 5LtMs, Ms 14, 1888, par. 28