The men of talent among the colored believers are to be laborers together with God for their own people. And yet there will sometimes be opportunities for them to bear a testimony in tent meetings and in large assemblies, which will reach many, many souls. These opportunities will appear as the Southern field is worked and the loud cry is given. When the Holy Spirit is poured out, there will be a triumph of humanity over prejudice in seeking the salvation of the souls of human beings. God will control minds. Human hearts will love as Christ loved. And the color line will be regarded by many very differently from the way in which it is now regarded. To love as Christ loves, lifts the mind into a pure, heavenly, unselfish atmosphere.
He who is closely connected with Christ is lifted above the prejudice of color or caste. His faith takes hold of eternal realities. The divine Author of truth is to be uplifted. Our hearts are to be filled with the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. The work of the good Samaritan is the example that we are to follow.
We are not to agitate the color line question, and thus arouse prejudice and bring about a crisis. The light of the third angel’s message is to be given to those who need light. We are to labor calmly, quietly, faithfully, trusting in our Elder Brother. We are not to be in haste to define the exact course to be pursued in the future regarding the relation to be maintained between white and colored people. The truth for this time is to be proclaimed before the thousands of people in the Southern States. The way is to be cleared, as far as possible, of all obstruction. Let the gospel message be given to the people. Let white and colored people be labored for in separate, distinct lines, and let the Lord take care of the rest. The truth must come before the white men and women of the Southern States. Then there will be a work done in their families that will lead to the salvation of many souls.
“In All Wisdom and Prudence”
While men are trying to settle the question of the color line, time rolls on, and souls go down into the grave, unwarned and unsaved. Let this condition of things continue no longer. Let men and women go to work, and let them labor as the Spirit of God shall impress their minds. We need the talent of the colored believers, every jot of it, in this work. Let colored workers labor for their own people, assisted by white workers as occasion demands. They will often need counsel and advice. Let the colored believers have their place of worship and the white believers their place of worship. Let each company be zealous to do genuine missionary work for its own people and for the colored people wherever and whenever they can.
When the truth has been presented in a place, and as many white people as will hear and believe have accepted the truth, opportunities will sometimes appear for efforts to be made, in a quiet, unobtrusive manner, by white laborers for the colored people. Such opportunities should not be overlooked.
But we must not unnecessarily arouse prejudice that would close the way against the proclamation of the third angel’s message to the white people. They need this message; for a time of trouble is before us, such as never was since there was a nation.
Great care must be exercised that nothing be said or done to inflame the feelings of the colored people against the whites. Let us not aggravate the difficulties that already exist. However wisely the workers labor, they will have opposition to meet, without creating an agitation over the color line. Let us clear the King’s highway. Let God have a chance to work. Let men keep out of His way. He will plan and manage better than human beings possibly can. Let us remember that our first great work is to preach the word of God, to give the warnings of the Bible.
The Lord calls upon all to take up the work in humility of mind. The ministers are not all sanctified through the truth. The Lord calls upon all to lay down their controversies. Let men beware of doing that which would cut off our last hope of entering difficult fields where there is race prejudice and antagonism.
As a means of overcoming prejudice and gaining access to minds, medical missionary work must be done, not in one or two places only, but in many places where the truth has not yet been proclaimed. We are to work as gospel medical missionaries, to heal the sin-sick souls by giving them the message of salvation. This work will break down prejudice as nothing else can.
The Sabbath question is one that will demand great care and wisdom in its presentation. Much of the grace and power of God will be needed to cast down the idol that has been erected in the shape of a false sabbath. Lift up the standard, lift it up, higher and still higher. Point the people to the twentieth chapter of Exodus, in which the law of God is recorded. The first four of the Ten Commandments outline our duty to our Maker. He who is false to his God cannot be true to his neighbor. He who loves God supremely will love his neighbor as himself. Pride lifts itself up unto vanity, leading the human agent to make a God of himself. The gospel of Christ sanctifies the soul, expelling self-love.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Exodus 20:8. The Sabbath was instituted in Eden, after God had created the world. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.” Genesis 2:1-3.
“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: everyone that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.” Exodus 31:12-16.
October 19, 1908.
Chapter 24—The Color Line
I have some things to say in regard to the colored people of the Southern States of America and the relation that we should sustain to them. So long were they under the curse of slavery that it is a difficult problem to know how they should now be treated.
When God’s workers allow His Spirit to work upon their minds, much will be accomplished in the saving of souls. The Lord is our helper. He will guide us in all matters if we will trust in Him. One thing is certain: We must have faith in God—faith that He will arrange matters in a way that will enable us to work successfully. No one ever trusted God in vain. He will never disappoint those who put their trust in Him.
We are to avoid entering into contention over the problem of the color line. If this question is much agitated, difficulties will arise that will consume much precious time to adjust. We cannot lay down a definite line to be followed in dealing with this subject. In different places and under varying circumstances, the subject will need to be handled differently. In the South, where race prejudice is so strong, we could do nothing in presenting the truth were we to deal with the color line question as we can deal with it in some places in the North. The white workers in the South will have to move in a way that will enable them to gain access to the white people.
It is Satan’s plan to call minds to the study of the color line. If his suggestions are heeded, there will be diversity of opinion and great confusion. No one is capable of clearly defining the proper position of the colored people. Men may advance theories, but I assure you that it will not do for us to follow human theories. So far as possible the color line question should be allowed to rest.
The cities of the South are to be worked, and for this work the best talent is to be secured, and that without delay. Let white workers labor for the white people, proclaiming the message of present truth in its simplicity. They will find openings through which they may reach the higher class. Every opportunity for reaching this class is to be improved.
Let colored laborers do what they can to keep abreast, working earnestly for their own people. I thank God that among the colored believers there are men of talent who can work efficiently for their own people, presenting the truth in clear lines. There are many colored people of precious talent who will be converted to the truth if our colored ministers are wise in devising ways of training teachers for the schools and other laborers for the field.
The colored people should not urge that they be placed on an equality with white people. The relation of the two races has been a matter hard to deal with, and I fear that it will ever remain a most perplexing problem. So far as possible, everything that would stir up the race prejudice of the white people should be avoided. There is danger of closing the door so that our white laborers will not be able to work in some places in the South.
I know that if we attempt to meet the ideas and preferences of some of the colored people, we shall find our way blocked completely. The work of proclaiming the truth for this time is not to be hindered by an effort to adjust the position of the Negro race. Should we attempt to do this we should find that barriers like mountains would be raised to hinder the work that God desires to have done. If we move quietly and judiciously, laboring in the way that God has marked out, both white and colored people will be benefited by our labors.
The time has not come for us to work as if there were no prejudice. Christ said: “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16. If you see that by doing certain things which you have a perfect right to do, you hinder the advancement of God’s work, refrain from doing those things. Do nothing that will close the minds of others against the truth. There is a world to save, and we shall gain nothing by cutting loose from those we are trying to help. All things may be lawful, but all things are not expedient.
The wise course is the best. As laborers together with God, we are to work in the way that will enable us to accomplish the most for Him. Let none go to extremes. We need wisdom from above; for we have a difficult problem to solve. If rash moves are made now, great mischief will be done. The matter is to be presented in such a way that the truly converted colored people will cling to the truth for Christ’s sake, refusing to renounce one principle of sound Bible doctrine because they may think that the very best course is not being pursued toward the Negro race.
We must sit as learners at the feet of Christ, that He may teach us the will of God and that we may know how to work for the white people and the colored people in the Southern field. We are to do as the Spirit of the Lord shall dictate, and agitate the subject of the color line as little as possible. We must use every energy to present the closing gospel message to all classes in the South. As we are led and controlled by the Spirit of God we shall find that this question will adjust itself in the minds of our people.
Let us individually seek the Lord. Let those whose religious experience in the past has been only a surface work, draw near to God. Repent, repent, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.
When we are prepared to take hold of the work in earnest we shall be better able than we are now to deal with the questions involved in this work. Let every believer do his best to prepare the way for the gospel missionary work that is to be done. But let no one enter into controversy. It is Satan’s object to keep Christians occupied in controversies among themselves. He knows that if they do not watch, the day of the Lord will come on them as a thief in the night. We have no time now to give place to the spirit of the enemy and to cherish prejudices that confuse the judgment and lead us away from Christ.
It will take money and earnest, persevering effort to do that which needs to be done among the colored people. Every man needs now to stand in his lot and place, confessing and forsaking his sins, and working in harmony with his brethren. God’s workers are to be of one mind and one heart, praying for the impartation of the Spirit and believing that God will fulfill His word.
A Lesson from Christ’s Labors
On one occasion, while Christ was in the midst of His work of teaching and healing, one of the company assembled about Him said: “Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.” Luke 12:13.
This man had witnessed Christ’s wonderful works. He had been astonished at the clearness of His comprehension, His superior judgment, and the fairness with which He viewed the cases brought to Him. He heard Christ’s stirring appeals and His solemn denunciations of the scribes and Pharisees. If words of such command could be spoken to this brother, he would not dare to refuse the aggrieved man his portion. He solicited Christ’s influence on his side. “Speak to my brother,” he said, “that he divide the inheritance with me.”
The Holy Spirit was pleading with this man to become an heir of the inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away. He had seen evidence of the power of Christ. Now the opportunity was his to speak to the Great Teacher, to express the desire uppermost in his heart. But like the man with the muckrake in Bunyan’s allegory, his eyes were fixed on the earth. He saw not the crown above his head. Like Simon Magus he valued the gift of God as a means of worldly gain.
The Saviour’s mission on earth was fast drawing to a close. Only a few months remained for Him to complete what He came to do in establishing the kingdom of His grace. Yet human greed would have turned Him from His work to take up the dispute over a piece of land. But Jesus was not to be diverted from His mission. His answer was: “Man, who made Me a judge or a divider over you?” Luke 12:14.
Christ gave the man plainly to understand that this was not His work. He was striving to save souls. He was not to be turned aside from this to take up the duties of a civil magistrate.
How often today labor is forced upon the church that should never be allowed to enter the work of the gospel ministry!
Again and again Christ had been asked to decide legal and political questions. But He refused to interfere in temporal matters. He knew that in the political world there were iniquitous proceedings and great tyranny. But His only exposure of these was the proclamation of Bible truth. To the great multitudes that thronged His steps He presented the pure, holy principles of the law of God and spoke of the blessing found in obeying these principles. With authority from on high He enforced the importance of justice and mercy. But He refused to become entangled in personal disputes.
Christ stood in our world as the Head of the great spiritual kingdom that He came to our world to establish—the kingdom of righteousness. His teaching made plain the ennobling, sanctifying principles that govern this kingdom. He showed that justice and mercy and love are the controlling powers in Jehovah’s kingdom.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9 pp. 209-218