Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3, pp. 499-508 Day 191

This slowness, this sluggishness of action, is one of the greatest defects in your character and stands in the way of your usefulness.

Your slowness of decision in connection with the cause and work of God is sometimes painful. It is not at all necessary. Prompt and decisive action may accomplish great results. You are generally willing to work when you feel just like it, ready to do when you can see clearly what is to be done; but you fail to be that benefit to the cause that you might be if you were prompt and decisive at the critical moment, and would overcome the habit of hesitation and delay which has marked your character and which has greatly retarded the work of God. This defect, unless overcome, will prove, in instances of great crises, disastrous to the cause and fatal to your own soul. Punctuality and decisive action at the right time must be acquired, for you have not these qualities. In the warfare and battles of nations there is often more gained by good management in prompt action than in earnest, dead encounter with the enemy.

The ability to do business with dispatch, and yet do it thoroughly, is a great acquisition. My brother, you have really felt that your cautious, hesitating course was commendable, rather a virtue than a wrong. But from what the Lord has shown me in this matter, these sluggish movements on your part have greatly hindered the work of God and caused many things to be left undone which in justice ought to have been done with promptness. It will be difficult now for you to make the changes in your character which God requires you to make, because it was difficult for you to be punctual and prompt of action in youth. When the character is formed, the habits fixed, and the mental and moral faculties have become firm, it is most difficult to unlearn wrong habits, to be prompt in action. You should realize the value of time. You are not excusable for leaving the most important, though unpleasant work, hoping to get rid of doing it altogether, or thinking that it will become less unpleasant, while you occupy your time upon pleasant matters not really taxing. You should first do

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the work which must be done and which involves the vital interests of the cause, and only take up the less important matters after the more essential are accomplished. Punctuality and decision in the work and cause of God are highly essential. Delays are virtually defeats. Minutes are golden and should be improved to the very best account. Earthly relations and personal interests should ever be secondary. Never should the cause of God be left to suffer, in a single particular, because of our earthly friends or dearest relatives.

“And He said to another, Follow Me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow Thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

No earthly ties, no earthly considerations, should weigh one moment in the scale against duty to the cause and work of God. Jesus severed His connection from everything to save a lost world, and He requires of us a full and entire consecration. There are sacrifices to be made for the interests of God’s cause. The sacrifice of feeling is the most keen that is required of us; yet after all it is a small sacrifice. You have plenty of friends, and if the feelings are only sanctified, you need not feel that you are making a very great sacrifice. You do not leave your wife among heathen. You are not called to tread the burning African desert or to face prisons and encounter trial at every step. Be careful how you appeal to your sympathies and let human feelings and personal considerations mingle with your efforts and labors for the cause of God. He demands unselfish and willing service. You can render this and yet do all your duties to your family; but hold this as a secondary matter.

My husband and myself have made mistakes in consenting to take responsibilities that others should carry. In the commencement of this work a man was needed to propose, to execute

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with determination, and to lead out battling with error and surmounting obstacles. My husband bore the heaviest burden and met the most determined opposition. But when we became a fully organized body, and several men were chosen to act in responsible positions, then it was the proper time for my husband to cease to act longer as one man to stand under the responsibilities and carry the heavy burdens. This labor devolved on more than one. Here is where the mistake has been made by his brethren in urging him, and by himself in consenting, to stand under the burdens and responsibilities that he had borne alone for years. He should have laid down these burdens years ago, and they should have been divided with other men chosen to act in behalf of the people. Satan would be pleased to have one man’s mind and one man’s judgment control the minds and judgment of those who believe the present truth.

My husband has frequently been left almost alone to see and feel the wants of the cause of God and to act promptly. His leading brethren were not deficient in intellect, but they lacked a willing mind to stand in the position which my husband has occupied. They have inconsistently allowed a paralytic to bear the burdens and responsibilities of this work, which no one of them alone could endure with their strong nerves and firm muscles. He has sometimes used apparent severity and has spoken so as to give offense. When he has seen others who might have shared his burdens avoiding responsibilities, it has grieved him to the heart, and he has spoken impulsively. He has not been placed in this unreasonable position by the Lord, but by his brethren. His life has been but little better than a species of slavery. The constant trial, the harassing care, the exhausting brainwork, have not been valued by his brethren. He has led an unenjoyable life, and he has increased his unhappiness by complaining of his brother ministers who neglected to do what they might have done. Nature has been outraged time and again. While his brethren have found fault with him for doing so much, they have not come up to take their share of the responsibility, but have been too

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willing to make him responsible for everything. You came nobly up to bear responsibilities when there were no others who would lift them. If his brethren in the ministry had cultivated a willingness to lift the burdens they should have borne, my husband would not have seen and done so much work which needed to be done and which he thought must not be neglected.

God has not suffered the life of my husband to end ingloriously. He has sustained him. But the man who performs double labor, who crowds the work of two years into one, is burning his candle at both ends. There is yet a work for my husband to do which he should have done years ago. He should now have less of the strife, perplexity, and responsibility of life, and be ripening, softening, and elevating for his last change. He should now husband his strength. He should not allow the responsibilities of the cause to rest upon him so heavily, but should stand free, where the prejudices and suspicions of his brethren will not disturb his peace.

God has permitted the precious light of truth to shine upon His word and illuminate the mind of my husband. He may reflect the rays of light from the presence of Jesus upon others by his preaching and writing. But while serving tables, doing business in connection with the cause, he has been deprived, to a great degree, of the privilege of using his pen and of preaching to the people.

He has felt that he was called of God to stand in defense of the truth, and to reprove, sometimes severely, those who were not doing justice to the work. The pressure of care and the affliction of disease have often thrown him into discouragement, and he has sometimes viewed matters in an exaggerated light. His brethren have taken advantage of his words, and of his prompt manners, which have been in marked contrast with their tardy labor and narrow plans of operation. They have accredited to my husband motives and feelings which were not his due. The wide contrast between themselves and him seemed like a gulf; but this might easily have been bridged, had these men of intellect put their undivided interests

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and whole hearts into the work of building up and advancing the precious cause of God.

We might exert a constant influence in this place, at the head of the work, which would advance the prosperity of our institutions. But the course of others who do not do what they might, who are subject to temptation, and who, if their track is crossed, would reflect upon our most earnest efforts for the prosperity of God’s cause, compels us to seek an asylum elsewhere where we may work to better advantage with less danger of being crushed under burdens. God has given us great freedom and power with His people at Battle Creek. When we came to this place last summer, our work commenced in earnest, and it has continued ever since. One perplexity and difficulty has followed closely upon another, calling forth taxing labor to set things right.

When the Lord showed that Brother D might be the man for the place, if he remained humble and relied upon His strength, He did not make a blunder and select the wrong man. For a time Brother D had a true interest and acted as a father at the Health Institute. But he became self-exalted, self-sufficient. He pursued a wrong course. He yielded to temptation. The excuses which the directors have made for their neglect of duty are all wrong. Their shifting responsibilities upon Brother and Sister White is marked against them. They simply neglected their duty because it was unpleasant.

I saw that help was needed upon the Pacific Coast. But God would not have us take the responsibilities or bear the perplexities which belong to others. We may stand as counselors and help them with our influence and our judgment. We may do much if we will not be induced to get under the load and bear the weight which others should bear, and which it is important for them to bear in order to gain a necessary experience. We have important matter to write out which the people greatly need. We have precious light on Bible truth which we should speak to the people.

I was shown that God did not design that my husband should bear the burdens he has borne for the last five months.

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The working part in connection with the cause has been left to fall upon him. This has brought perplexity, weariness, and nervous debility, which have resulted in discouragement and depression. From the commencement of the cause there has been a lack of harmonious action on the part of his brethren. His brethren in the ministry have loved freedom. They have not borne the responsibilities which they might, and have failed to gain the experience which they might have had to enable them to stand in the most responsible positions relative to the vital interests of the cause of God at the present time. They have excused their neglect to bear responsibilities on the ground that they feared being reflected upon afterward.

The religion we profess is colored by our natural dispositions and temperaments; therefore it is of the highest importance that the weak points in our character be strengthened by exercise and that the strong, unfavorable points be weakened by working in an opposite direction and by strengthening opposite qualities. But some brethren have not done what they might and should have done, and which would have given my husband sufficient encouragement and help to continue to bear some responsibilities at the head of the work. His fellow laborers did not move independently, looking to God for light and for duty for themselves; they did not follow in His opening providence and consult together upon plans of operation and unite in their plans and manner of labor.

Since coming to Michigan last summer, the Lord has especially blessed the labors of my husband. He has been sustained in a most remarkable manner to do work that so much needed to be done. Had those associated with him been awake to see and understand the wants of the cause of God at our last Michigan camp meeting, the many things not done might have been accomplished. There was a failure to meet the wants of the occasion. Had Brother A stood cheerful in God, walking in the light, ready to see what was to be done, and executing the work with dispatch, we should now be months advanced in our work, and we might long ago have been working to establish the press upon the Pacific Coast.

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God cannot be glorified by our falling into singular gloom and then remaining under the cloud. The light does shine, although we may not realize its blessing; but if we make all diligence to press to the light, and if we move ahead just as though the light did shine, we shall soon pass out of the darkness and find light all around us.

At our last camp meeting the angels of God in a special manner came with their power to lighten, to heal, and to bless both my husband and Brother Waggoner. A precious victory was there gained which should never lose its influence. I have been shown that God had in a most marked manner given my husband tokens of His love and care, and also of His sustaining grace. He has regarded his zeal and devotion to His cause and work. This should ever lead to humility and gratitude on the part of my husband.

God wants minutemen. He will have men who, when important decisions are to be made, are as true as the needle to the pole; men whose special and personal interests are swallowed up, as were our Saviour’s, in the one great general interest for the salvation of souls. Satan plays upon the human mind wherever a chance has been left for him to do so; and he seizes upon the very time and place where he can do the most service to himself and the greatest injury to the cause of God. A neglect to do what we might do, and what God requires us to do in His cause, is a sin which cannot be palliated with excuses of circumstances or conditions, for Jesus has made provision for all in every emergency.

My brother, in doing the work of God you will be placed in a variety of circumstances which will require self-possession and self-control, but which will qualify you to adapt yourself to circumstances and the peculiarities of the situation. Then you can act yourself unembarrassed. You should not place too low an estimate upon your ability to act your part in the various callings of practical life. Where you are aware of deficiencies, go to work at once to remedy those defects. Do not trust to others to supply your deficiencies, while you go on indifferently, as though it were a matter of course that your

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peculiar organization must ever remain so. Apply yourself earnestly to cure these defects, that you may be perfect in Christ Jesus, wanting in nothing.

If you form too high an opinion of yourself, you will think that your labors are of more real consequence than they are, and you will plead individual independence which borders on arrogance. If you go to the other extreme and form too low an opinion of yourself, you will feel inferior and will leave an impression of inferiority which will greatly limit the influence that you might have for good. You should avoid either extreme. Feeling should not control you; circumstances should not affect you. You may form a correct estimate of yourself, one which will prove a safeguard from both extremes. You may be dignified without vain self-confidence; you may be condescending and yielding without sacrificing self-respect or individual independence, and your life may be of great influence with those in the higher as well as the lower walks of life.

Brother A, your danger now is of being affected by reports. Your labors are decidedly practical, close, and cutting. You rein up the people to very close tests and requirements. This is necessary at times; but your labors are getting to be too much of this character, and will lose their force unless mingled with more of the softening, encouraging grace of the Spirit of God. You allow the words of your relatives and special friends to influence your propositions and affect your decisions. You credit them too readily and incorporate their views into your own ideas and are too often led astray. You need to be guarded. The families in —– which are so closely related have had an influence. Your judgment, your feelings, your views, influence them, and, in turn, they influence you; and a strong current will be set flowing in a wrong direction unless you are all humble and thoroughly consecrated to God. All the elements of these family connections are naturally independent and conscientious, and, unless especially balanced and controlled by the Spirit of God, are inclined to extremes.

Never, never be influenced by reports. Never let your

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conduct be influenced by your dearest relatives. The time has come when the greatest wisdom needs to be exercised in reference to the cause and work of God. Judgment is needed to know when to speak and when to keep silent. Hunger for sympathy frequently leads to imprudence of a grave character in opening the feelings to others. Your appearance frequently claims sympathy when it would be better for you if you did not receive it. It is an important duty for all to become familiar with the tenor of their conduct from day to day and the motives which prompt their actions. They need to become acquainted with the particular motives which prompt particular actions. Every action of their lives is judged, not by the external appearance, but from the motive which dictated the action.

All should guard the senses, lest Satan gain victory over them; for these are the avenues to the soul. We may be as severe as we like in disciplining ourselves, but we must be very cautious not to push souls to desperation. Some feel that Brother White is altogether too severe in speaking in a decided manner to individuals, in reproving what he thinks is wrong in them. He may be in danger of not being so careful in his manner of reproving as to give no occasion for reflection; but some of those who complain of his manner of reproving use the most cutting, reproving, condemnatory language, too indiscriminating to be spoken to a congregation, and they feel that they have relieved their souls and done a good work. But the angels of God do not always approve such labor. If Brother White makes one individual feel that he is not doing right, if he is too severe toward that one and needs to be taught to modify his manners, to soften his spirit, how much more necessary for his ministering brethren to feel the inconsistency of making a large congregation suffer from cutting reproofs and strong denunciations, when the really innocent must suffer with the guilty.

It is worse, far worse, to give expression to the feelings in a large gathering, firing at anyone and everyone, than to go to the individuals who may have done wrong and

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personally reprove them. The offensiveness of this severe, overbearing, denunciatory talk in a large gathering is of as much more grave a character in the sight of God than giving personal, individual reproof as the numbers are greater and the censure more general. It is ever easier to give expression to the feelings before a congregation, because there are many present, than to go to the erring and, face to face with them, openly, frankly, plainly state their wrong course. But bringing into the house of God strong feelings against individuals, and making all the innocent as well as the guilty suffer, is a manner of labor which God does not sanction and which does harm rather than good. It has too often been the case that criticizing and denunciatory discourses have been given before a congregation. These do not encourage a spirit of love in the brethren. They do not tend to make them spiritually minded and lead them to holiness and heaven, but a spirit of bitterness is aroused in hearts. These very strong sermons that cut a man all to pieces are sometimes positively necessary to arouse, alarm, and convict. But unless they bear the especial marks of being dictated by the Spirit of God they do far more injury than they can do good.

I was shown that my husband’s course has not been perfect. He has erred sometimes in murmuring and in giving too severe reproof. But from what I have seen, he has not been so greatly at fault in this respect as many have supposed and as I have sometimes feared. Job was not understood by his friends. He flings back upon them their reproaches. He shows them that if they are defending God by avowing their faith in Him and their consciousness of sin, he has a more deep and thorough knowledge of it than they ever had. “Miserable comforters are ye all,” is the answer he makes to their criticisms and censures. “I also,” says Job, “could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul’s stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you.” But he declares that he would not do this. “I,” he says, “would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should assuage your grief.”

Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3 pp. 499-508

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