Christ will succor those who flee to Him for wisdom and strength. If they meet duty and trial with humility of soul, depending upon Jesus, His mighty angel will be round about them, and He whom they have trusted will prove an all-sufficient helper in every emergency. Those who occupy responsible positions should daily become more intimately acquainted with the excellency, the faithfulness, and the love of Christ. They should be able to exclaim with assurance: “I know whom I have believed.” These men should work as brethren, without one feeling of strife. Each should do his duty, knowing that the eye of God is searching motives and purposes, and reading the inmost feelings of the soul. The work is one. And if leading men do not let their own mind and their own feelings and ideas come in to rule and change the Lord’s design, there will be the most perfect harmony between these two branches of the same work.
Our people should make greater efforts to extend the circulation of the Review. If our brethren and sisters would only manifest greater earnestness and put forth more persevering efforts to accomplish this, it would be done. Every family should have this paper. And if they would deny themselves their darling luxuries, tea and coffee, many who do not now have its weekly visits might pay for the messenger of light to come into their household. Almost every family takes one or more secular papers, and these frequently contain love stories and exciting tales of villainy and murder which injure the minds of all who read them. Those who consent to do without the Review and Herald lose much. Through its pages Christ may speak to them in warnings, in reproofs and counsel, which would change the current of their thoughts and be to them as the bread of life.
Our papers should not be filled with long discussions or long doctrinal arguments, which would weary the reader; but they should contain short and interesting doctrinal and practical articles. The price of our papers should not be made so low that no margin is left to work upon. The same interest which has been manifested to circulate the Signs of the Times should be shown in extending the circulation of the Review. If this is done, success will attend the effort.
We are upon the enchanted ground, and Satan is continually at work to rock our people to sleep in the cradle of carnal security. There is an indifference, a lack of zeal, that paralyzes all our efforts. Jesus was a zealous worker; and when His followers shall lean on Him, and work as He worked, they will see and realize corresponding results. An effort must be made to place a proper value on our publications and bring them back gradually to a proper basis. We should not be affected by the cry of speculation, money-making! We should press steadily forward, unmoved by censure, uncorrupted by applause. It will be a greater task to work back upon a proper basis than many suppose, but it must be done in order to save our institutions from embarrassment.
Our brethren should be guarded lest they become stereo-typed in their plans and labors. They may spend time and money in preparing an exact channel, that the work must be done in just such a way or it is not done right. There is danger of being too particular. There should be greater care to avoid expense in transporting books and persons. The influence is bad upon the cause of God. Brethren, you should move cautiously, economically, and judiciously. A great work is to be done, and our offices are embarrassed. There are men who work faithfully in the office at Battle Creek who do not receive an equivalent for their labor. Justice is not done these men. In other work they could earn double the amount received here, but they conscientiously keep to their business because they feel that God’s cause needs their help.
There is a great work to be done in the day of God’s preparation in devising and executing plans for the advancement of His cause. Our publications should have a wide circulation, for they are doing a great work. There is much missionary work to be done. But I have been shown that there is danger of having this work too mechanical, so intricate and complicated that less will be accomplished than if it were more simple, direct, plain, and decided. We have neither time nor means to keep all parts of this machinery in harmonious action.
Our brethren who bear responsibilities in devising plans for carrying forward this part of the work must keep in mind that while a certain amount of education and training is essential in order to work intelligently, there is danger of making this too great a matter. By obtaining a most thorough education in all the minutiae, and leaving vital principles out of the question, we become dry and formal workers. The hearts that God has made willing by the operations of His grace are fitted for the work.
God wants heartwork. The unselfish purpose, the pure, elevated principle, the high and holy motive, He will accept. His grace and power will work with these efforts. All who realize that it is the work of God to prepare a people for His coming will find in their disinterested efforts opportunities where they can do tract and missionary labor. But there may be too much means expended and too much time occupied in making matters so exact and minute that the heartwork is neglected and a dry form preserved.
I tell you frankly that Jesus and the power of His grace are being left out of the question. Results will show that mechanical working has taken the place of piety, humility, and holiness of heart and life. The more spiritual, devoted, and humble workers find no place where they can take hold, and therefore they stand back. The young and inexperienced learn the form and do their work mechanically; but true love, the burden for souls, is not felt. Less dwelling upon set forms, less of the mechanical, and more of the power of godliness are essential in this solemn, fearful day of responsibilities.
There is order in heaven; and there should be system and order upon the earth, that the work may move forward without confusion and fanaticism. Our brethren have been working to this end; but while some of our ministers continually bear the burden of souls, and ever seek to bring the people up in spiritual attainments, those who are not so conscientious, and who have not carried the cross of Christ nor felt the value of souls as reflected from Calvary, will, in teaching and educating others in the mechanical working, become formal and powerless themselves, and bring no Saviour to the people.
Satan is ever working to have the service of God degenerate into dull form and become powerless to save souls. While the energy, earnestness, and efficiency of the workers become deadened by the efforts to have everything so systematic, the taxing labor that must be done by our ministers to keep this complicated machinery in motion engrosses so much time that the spiritual work is neglected. And with so many things to run, this work requires so large an amount of means that other branches of the work will wither and die for want of due attention.
While the silent messengers of truth should be scattered like the leaves of autumn, our ministers should not make this work a form and leave devotion and true piety out of the question. Ten truly converted, willing-minded, unselfish workers can do more in the missionary field than one hundred who confine their efforts to set forms and preserve mechanical rules, working without deep love for souls.
Vigilant missionary work must in no case be neglected. It has done much for the salvation of souls. The success of God’s work depends very much upon this; but those who do this work are to be those who are spiritual, whose letters will breathe the light and love of Jesus, and who feel the burden of the work. They should be men and women who can pray, who have a close connection with God. The ready mind, the sanctified will, and sound judgment are needed. They will have learned of the heavenly Teacher the most successful manner of appealing to souls. They will have learned their lessons in the school of Christ. They will do their work with an eye single to the glory of God.
Without this education all the teachings received from your instructors in regard to forms and rules, however thorough the lessons may be, will leave you still novices in the work. You must learn of Christ. You should deny self for Christ. You should put your neck under the yoke of Christ. You must carry the burden of Christ. You must feel that you are not your own, but servants of Christ, doing a work that He has enjoined upon you, not for any praise or honor or glory that you shall receive, but for His own dear sake. Into all your work you should weave His grace, His love, His devotion, His zeal, His untiring perseverance, His indomitable energy, that will tell for time and for eternity.
The tract and missionary work is a good work. It is God’s work. It should be in no way belittled, but there is continual danger of perverting it from its true object. Canvassers are wanted to labor in the missionary field. Persons of uncouth manners are not fitted for this work. Men and women who possess tact, good address, keen foresight, and discriminating minds, and who feel the value of souls, are the ones who can be successful.
The work of the colporteur is elevated and will prove a success, if he is honest, earnest, and patient, steadily pursuing the work he has undertaken. His heart must be in the work. He must rise early and work industriously, putting to proper use the faculties God has given him. Difficulties must be met. If confronted with unceasing perseverance, they will be overcome. Much is gained by courtesy. The worker may continually be forming a symmetrical character. Great characters are formed by little acts and efforts.
There is danger of not giving sufficient encouragement to our ministers. I was shown some men whom God was calling to the work of the ministry, entering the field as canvassers. This is an excellent preparation if their object is to disseminate light, to bring the truth revealed in God’s word, directly to the home circle. In conversation the way will frequently be opened to speak of the religion of the Bible. If the work is taken hold of as it should be, families will be visited, the workers will carry with them tender hearts and love for souls, and will bear, in words and deportment, the fragrance of the grace of Christ, and great good will be the result. This would be an excellent experience for any who have the ministry in view.
But many are attracted into the canvassing field to sell books and pictures that do not express our faith and do not give light to the purchaser. They are induced to do this because the financial prospects are more flattering than can be offered them as licentiates. These persons are obtaining no special fitness for the gospel ministry. They are not gaining that experience which would fit them for the work. They are losing time and opportunities by this kind of labor. They are not learning to bear the burden of souls and daily obtaining a knowledge of the most successful way of winning people to the truth. These men are frequently turned aside from the convictions of the Spirit of God and receive a worldly stamp of character, forgetting how much they owe to the Lord, who gave His life for them. They use their powers for their own selfish interests and refuse to labor in the vineyard of the Lord.
I was alarmed as I saw the various nets of Satan woven about men whom God would use, diverting them from the work of the ministry. There will surely be a dearth of laborers unless there is more encouragement given men to improve their ability with the purpose of becoming ministers of Christ. Satan is constantly and perseveringly presenting financial gain and worldly advantages to engage the minds and powers of men, and keep them from doing the duties essential to give them an experience in the things of God. And when he sees that men will move forward, giving themselves to the work of teaching the truth to those who are in darkness, he will do his utmost to push them to extremes in something that will weaken their influence and cause them to lose the advantage they would gain were they balanced by the Spirit of God.
I was shown that our ministers were doing themselves great injury by carelessness in the use of their vocal organs. Their attention was called to this important matter, and cautions and instructions were given them by the Spirit of God. It was their duty to learn the wisest manner of using these organs. The voice, this gift of heaven, is a powerful faculty for good, and if not perverted, would glorify God. All that was essential was to study and conscientiously follow a few simple rules. But instead of educating themselves, as they might have done by the exercise of a little common sense, they employed a professor of elocution.
As a result, many who were feeling that God had a work for them to do in teaching the truth to others, have become infatuated and crazed with elocution. All that certain ones needed was to have this temptation presented before them. Their interest was attracted by the novelty, and young men and some ministers were carried away with this excitement. They left their fields of labor–everything in the vineyard of the Lord was neglected–and paid their money and gave their precious time to attend a school of elocution. When they came from this drill, devotion and religion had parted company with them, and the burden of souls was laid off, as they would lay aside a garment. They had accepted Satan’s suggestions, and he had led them where he chose.
Some set themselves up as teachers of elocution, who had neither discretion nor ability, and they made themselves disgusting to the public, for they did not properly use what knowledge they had gained. Their performances were void of dignity or good sense; and these exploits on their part have closed the door, so far as they are known, to any influence that they may have in future as men to carry the message of truth to the world. This was Satan’s device. It was well to make improvement in speaking; but to give time and money to this one branch, and absorb the mind with it, was rushing into extremes and showing great weakness.
Young men who call themselves Sabbathkeepers attach “professor” to their names and abuse the community with that which they do not understand. Many thus pervert the light which God has seen fit to give them. They have not well-balanced minds. Elocution has become a byword. It has caught up men to engage in a work that they cannot do wisely, and spoiled them for doing a work which, had they been humbly and modestly seeking to accomplish it in the fear of God, they would have made a glorious success. These youth might have been fitting for usefulness in the missionary field as canvassers and colporteurs, or as licentiates proving themselves for ministerial labor, doing work for time and for eternity. But they have been crazed with the thought of becoming teachers of elocution, and Satan stands and laughs that he has caught them in the net which he has laid for them.
God’s servants should ever be united. They should repress and control strong traits of character, and day by day they should carefully reflect upon the nature of the life structure they are building. Are they Christian gentlemen in their daily life? Are there seen in their lives noble, upright deeds, which will make their building of character stand forth as a fair temple of God? As one poor timber will sink a ship and one flaw make a chain worthless, so one demoralizing trait of character revealed in words or actions will leave its influence for evil, and if not overcome, will subvert every virtue.
Every faculty in man is a workman that is building for time and for eternity. Day by day the structure is going up, although the possessor is not aware of it. It is a building which must stand either as a beacon of warning because of its deformity or as a structure which God and angels will admire for its harmony with the divine Model. The mental and moral powers which God has given us do not constitute character. They are talents, which we are to improve, and which, if properly improved, will form a right character. A man may have precious seed in his hand, but that seed is not an orchard. The seed must be planted before it can become a tree. The mind is the garden, the character is the fruit. God has given us our faculties to cultivate and develop. Our own course determines our character. In training these powers so that they shall harmonize and form a valuable character, we have a work which no one but ourselves can do.
Those who have sharp, rough traits of character are guilty before God if they do not, by training, repress and root out all the bitterness of their nature. The man who yields to impatience is serving Satan. “To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey.” A good character is more precious in God’s sight than the gold of Ophir. The Lord would have men act for time and for eternity. We have received good and bad as a legacy, and by cultivation we may make the bad worse or the good better. Shall the bad gain the ascendancy, as with Judas, or shall the evil be purged from our souls and the good predominate?
Principle, right, honesty, should ever be cherished. Honesty will not tarry where policy is harbored. They will never agree; one is of Baal, the other of God. The Master requires His servants to be honorable in motive and action. All greed and avarice must be overcome. Those who choose honesty as their companion will embody it in all their acts. To a large class, these men are not pleasing, but to God they are beautiful.
Satan is working to crowd himself in everywhere. He would put asunder very friends. There are men who are ever talking and gossiping and bearing false witness, who sow the seeds of discord and engender strife. Heaven looks upon this class as Satan’s most efficient servants. But the man who is injured is in a far less dangerous position than when fawned upon and extolled for a few of his efforts which appear successful. The commendation of apparent friends is more dangerous than reproach.
Every man who praises himself brushes the luster from his best efforts. A truly noble character will not stoop to resent the false accusations of enemies; every word spoken falls harmless, for it strengthens that which it cannot overthrow. The Lord would have His people closely united with Himself, the God of patience and love. All should manifest in their lives the love of Christ. Let none venture to belittle the reputation or the position of another; this is egotism. It is saying: “I am so much better and more capable than you that God gives me the preference. You are not of much account.”
Our ministers in responsible places are men whom God has accepted. No matter what their origin, no matter what their former position, whether they followed the plow, worked at the carpenter’s trade, or enjoyed the discipline of a college; if God has accepted them, let every man beware of casting the slightest reflection upon them. Never speak disparagingly of any man, for he may be great in the sight of the Lord, while those who feel great may be lightly esteemed of God because of the perversity of their hearts. Our only safety is to lie low at the foot of the cross, be little in our own eyes, and trust in God; for He alone has power to make us great.
Our ministers are in danger of taking credit to themselves in the work which they do. They think God is favoring them, and they become independent and self-sufficient; then the Lord gives them up to the buffetings of Satan. In order to do God’s work with acceptance, we must have the spirit of meekness, of lowliness of mind, each esteeming others better than himself. There is much at stake. The judgment and ability of all are needed now. Every man’s work is of sufficient importance to demand that it be performed with care and fidelity. One man cannot do the work of all. Each has his respective place and his special work, and each should realize that the manner in which his work is done must stand the test of the judgment.
The work before us is important and extensive. The day of God is hastening on, and all the workers in the Lord’s great field should be men who are striving to become perfect, wanting in nothing, coming behind in no gift, waiting for the appearing of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven. Not one moment of our precious time should be devoted to bringing others to conform to our personal ideas and opinions. God would educate men engaged as colaborers in this great work to the highest exercise of faith and the development of a harmonious character.
Men have varied gifts, and some are better adapted to one branch of the work than another. What one man would fail to do, his brother minister may be strong to accomplish. The work of each in his position is important.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4 pp. 599-608