Ellen G. White Writings

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Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, Page 123

their minds are turned in this direction, they begin to feel that they must become church tinkers. They climb upon the judgment seat, and as soon as they see one of their brethren or sisters, they look to find something to criticise. This is one of the most effectual means of becoming narrow-minded, and of dwarfing spiritual growth. God would have them step down from the judgment seat, for he has never placed them there. I speak thus plainly because I know your danger in this country. Already souls have become discouraged and given up the truth because of this spirit manifested toward them.

When the subject of dress is dwelt upon explicitly, there are some who feel all the burden over it that they ought to feel for a soul balancing between life and death. I once attended a meeting where this spirit existed. There was the most solemn interest that I ever saw. Seventy-five were baptized before the meeting closed. After speaking to the crowd in public, I labored for the youth privately, talking and praying with them as they came to my tent. Many were greatly blessed; but there was a company on the ground who had no burden. I could hear their idle conversation, their trifling laugh, while agonizing prayer was being offered for the unconverted. In the height of the interest, one of this number came to me and said that some were in trial because Sister White wore gold. Some time before, I had received a present of a little open-faced, gold watch. It was very ancient in appearance, and certainly never would have been worn for its beauty. I carried it because it was a good timekeeper. But in order to avoid all occasion for any to stumble, I sold the watch, and I would recommend that others follow a similar course. This is in harmony with the teaching of the apostle Paul, who says: “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”

All the religion many have is to pick flaws. I once knew a lady whose religion was of just this character, and in her family she was so overbearing that they could hardly live with her. A tent-meeting was held near the place where she lived, but instead of taking hold to help those who were laboring very hard in the meetings, or to receive help herself, this woman stood back to criticise. On returning to the house one day, I found her searching my trunk to see if there was not some article of clothing in it that she could condemn. We shall ever have just such people to deal with in this world. But if we do not enter too much into particulars, they will have no excuse for indulging their natural disposition. It is a marvel to me what patience the Lord has with such crooked material. But he has ordained that by the clear presentation of truth all can be brought into love and harmony.

There are few of my brethren and sisters who maintain plainness of dress as I do. My writings are pointed on this subject; but I do not carry it in the front. It is not to be made of greater importance than the solemn, testing truths for this time. There is in the very composition of some a criticising spirit, and this they cultivate as a precious acquisition.

We must present the principles of truth, and let them work upon the hearts of the people. We may pick the leaves from a tree as often as we please, but this will not cause the tree to die; the next season the leaves will come out again as thick as before. But strike

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