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Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899) - Contents
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    Lt 39, 1899

    Brethren in Responsible Positions in the Work


    February 22, 1899

    Portions of this letter are published in 1BC 1113; PM 354-355; PH139 25-29; CTr 122. +NoteOne or more typed copies of this document contain additional Ellen White handwritten interlineations which may be viewed at the main office of the Ellen G. White Estate.

    To My Brethren in Responsible Positions in the Work:

    As long as the president of the General Conference worked away from the light given, others felt sustained in their wrong course. Men who ought to have been persuaded to pursue a different course thought themselves sustained because the president of the conference made them his staff of dependence, spending much to heed calls made from long distances, and traveling with them to places where their presence left things no better, but left a leavening influence for wrong behind. Men were retained in office who were warring against the purposes of God. Linked up with the president of the conference, they felt sure of carrying out schemes they desired. But God saw the end from the beginning. He withdrew His Holy Spirit, and would not work out His purposes for good. Certain men were working against the prosperity of the school and of the Review and Herald office. Means were diverted and swallowed up just as Satan designed they should be. Therefore foreign fields did not receive the help they should have received. The work that should have been done in those fields was not done.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 1

    The time came for the sanitarium to be placed upon a more sure foundation, and for the school to receive thorough reconstruction. Satan was working through his agents in a masterly manner. His instruments were all ready to fall into line, and to be worked by him. These called evil good and good evil. Had they not been resisted and defeated, there would have been as fearful a state of rebellion as when the spies returned who were sent to view the land of Canaan. When they returned from their work, they brought back an evil report. They acknowledged all the advantages of the promised land. They displayed the fruit they had found there, and then they magnified the difficulties, showing their unbelief in the God who was leading them. They said all they could to discourage, and they discouraged all Israel. They bore false witness. They did not remember how the Lord had helped them under every difficulty. The people broke forth into lamentations, mourning, and faultfinding.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 2

    Caleb stood before Moses and the people, and his ringing voice was heard above all the noise of wailing and complaint. He came to the front, and in face of unbelievers, in face of the cowards who stood with stones in their hands to throw [at him], he said, “Let us go up at once, and possess the land; for we are well able to overcome it. But the men that went up with him said, We are not able to go up against this people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” [Numbers 13:30-33.]14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 3

    This report created the sin of apostasy. “All the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron.” Their disappointment was so great that they said, “Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!” They had their wish. God took them at their word. “Wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land,” they said, “to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? Were it not better for us to return into Egypt? And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.” [Numbers 14:2-4.]14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 4

    Cut to the heart by this rebellion, Moses and Aaron fell upon their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel, and rent their clothes with horror as they heard the voices of apostasy and rebellion. Caleb and Joshua pressed themselves forward, and again the clear, ringing voice of Caleb was heard: “The land which we passed through to search it is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us in to this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not. But all the congregation bade stone them with stones.” Their voices would soon have been hushed in death had not the Lord interposed. “The glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation.” [Verses 7-10.] This was a manifestation that the children of Israel well knew could not be resisted. This was an authority they were bound to obey.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 5

    The men that brought up an evil report of the promised land died by the plague, while Caleb and Joshua lived; but though the Lord thus manifested his power to slay and to keep alive, the leaven of evil that had been introduced worked so effectually that the people would have stoned God’s faithful witnesses. They were not transformed in character. They were prepared, as we have seen men prepared in our day, to exalt their judgment and pervert the judgment of God.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 6

    This history was recorded for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Here is seen a determination to disregard the will of God. In their unbelief the people refused to go up to take the land. When they found that because of unbelief they must wander in the wilderness for another forty years, they said, We will go up now. But Moses told them they had no permission to go up. If they had gone when the Lord said, Go, the armies of the Lord’s host would have gone with them, but because of their rebellion and delay the Lord refused to give them victory. But the people said, We will go up; we will not wander in this wilderness any longer. And Moses said, “Go not up, for the Lord is not among you, that ye be not smitten before your enemies. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword; because ye are turned away from the Lord, therefore the Lord will not be with you. But they presumed to go up unto the hilltop: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and Moses, departed not out of the camp. Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.” [Verses 42-45.]14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 7

    Calebs have been greatly needed in different periods of the history of our work. Today we need men of thorough fidelity, men who follow the Lord fully, men who are not disposed to be silent when they ought to speak, who are as true as steel to principle, who do not seek to make a pretentious show, but who walk humbly with God, patient, kind, obliging, courteous men, who understand that the science of prayer is to exercise faith and show works that will tell to the glory of God and the good of His people. Our institutions, whatever their character, can prosper only by the manifestation of the self-denying, self-sacrificing spirit which was manifested in their foundation.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 8

    The principles of entire consecration must be maintained. Christ Himself has said, “Ye can not serve God and mammon.” “He that is not for me, (voicing my words,) is against me.” [Matthew 6:24; 12:30.] God will have no men in His work who offer divided service. His servants are to take the position that they will not sanction any evil work. To follow Jesus requires wholehearted conversion at the start, and a repetition of this conversion every day.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 9

    There have been times when a crisis has determined character. This has been again and again. When the time came [for] our institutions to receive new organization, the elements of character [of] ruling men were revealed. Those who had not been in harmony with truth and righteousness, who did not bear the approval of God, strove to obtain the ascendancy. But it was not the Lord’s design that their voice, their decisions, should have influence in board or council meetings. The only way in which they can be a strength to the work and cause of God is by keeping quiet until they know whether they are on Satan’s side or on Christ’s.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 10

    There are men who have put out their spiritual eyesight. They cannot distinguish between the sacred and the common. Their voice is the loudest when they are in the enemy’s service. It will be greatly to their credit to keep still. This is their strength. Silence is their eloquence. It means very much to every man whether he is on the Lord’s side of the question or on Satan’s side.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 11

    God’s people today have far greater light than had ancient Israel. They have not only the increased light which has been shining upon them, but the instruction given by God to Moses, to be given to the people. God specified the difference between the sacred and the common, and declared that this difference must be strictly observed. This lesson is given also to modern Israel. That which God has set apart as sacred must ever be respected as sacred. Christ was the foundation of the Jewish economy. When type met antitype in His death, the need for sacrificial offerings ceased. But the lessons regarding practical obedience, given by Christ from the Mount of Blessing, were still binding.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 12

    The Lord has given His people great light and precious instruction. What sorrow, what shame, what agony of soul, has been felt by God’s faithful servants who have stood as did Joshua and Caleb to hear Israel cast off their leader, and choose one of their rebellious number to lead them back to Egypt. In their complaints the Israelites blasphemed God. God had signified that the defense of the land of Canaan had departed, and that now was the opportune time for them to enter it. Caleb declared the truth for that and every time: “The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us, a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not. But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle before all the congregation of Israel.” [Numbers 14:7-10.] The manifestation of the Lord’s glory was needed to quell the mad and blasphemous utterances of the people, and to save the lives of His servants from the maddened throng.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 13

    Has there not been seen in modern Israel manifestations similar to this? Has not the loud, boisterous voice of rebellion been heard in your council meetings and in your board meetings? Has not human prejudice been revealed as you have settled up accounts with the ministers? The spirit manifested by the men belonging to the auditing committee showed that these men were as destitute of the divine nature and the Spirit and grace of God as the hills of Gilboa are destitute of dew and rain. This is where Elder Olsen’s influence should have been seen and felt as was the influence of Caleb and Joshua. He was responsible for the injustice done in those meetings, when he suffered evil, unprincipled actions to go unreproved. His voice could have turned the whole current of the stream of evil that was by his silence encouraged to swell to immense proportions.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 14

    Men having no experimental knowledge of ministerial work should never be called to the auditing committee. The Lord has spoken regarding this matter: “Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens, and let them judge the people at all seasons.” [Exodus 18:21, 22.]14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 15

    These men are to be carefully selected. They are to be men who have moral perception, men who are acquainted with the work they are handling. God declares, Behold, all souls are mine. He has said again and again that He is present in all your council meetings, in all your auditing of accounts. He knows just how every person is dealt with, and He keeps a record of all these things. Sacred things have been handled as common matters. The Lord’s work has been done just as men chose to have it done.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 16

    In the past the Book Committee has been composed of men who know nothing of book making. They have assembled in council to consider matters that they knew nothing about. They have voiced the opinions of men who were double minded, who did not conscientiously keep the fear of God before them. The Lord has given direction regarding the carrying forward of His work. Concerning the man He had appointed to do a certain work, He said, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom and in understanding and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship. ... And in the hearts of all that are wise hearted (who have made the best use of their talents that they might distinguish between the sacred and the common) I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee.” [Exodus 31:3, 6.]14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 17

    The ideas of many in reference to the matters pertaining to God’s work are too cheap. In the selection of pictures to illustrate holy things, a deficiency of wisdom has been shown that God cannot approve. The Lord calls for men with pure and holy minds, with whom He can work. The Holy Spirit must impress the hearts of the workers. When this influence is felt, no more such board and council meetings will be held as have been held. Surely there is need now of bold, fearless Calebs, who, under the influence of the Spirit, will use the talents of hearing and speaking with heroic courage, disregarding all personal dangers and anxieties.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 18

    After the rebellion of the children of Israel because of the evil report of the spies, the Lord purposed to destroy them. Had they not walked and worked at cross-purposes with Him? When He planned for them to obtain easy access into Canaan, did they not listen to the report of the faithless spies, who under the control of Satan did the very work he intended them to do? The spies broke down the courage of all Israel by the lying report, and developed a rebellion that called for the presence of God Himself to adjust matters.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 19

    It was God’s purpose to destroy the children of Israel because of their rebellion. But Moses would not give Israel up. He said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;) and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou, Lord are among this people, that thou, Lord, art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by daytime in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.” [Numbers 14:13, 14.]14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 20

    Then the Lord declared that for forty years the children of Israel should wander in the wilderness. They shall know My breach of promise, He declared. Then the people went to the other extreme. The Lord had said, Go not up; for I will not go with you, but unheeding all that was said, they went up. They said, we have sinned, and now repent; and they thought this would change the case. We will do just what Caleb and Joshua told us to do, they said, and God will certainly give us the land of promise. They were warned that their enemies in the valley had knowledge of the visit of the spies, and would be at the top of the hill before them, but they were determined to follow the impulse of their stubborn will. They refused to go when the Lord promised to go with them; now when their perversity called for a change of action on the Lord’s part, they determined to go to battle without their General, without the ark.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 21

    The Amalekites had prepared for the reception of the army of Israel, and were in ambush against them. They became God’s instrument for punishing the people of Israel in their guilty rebellion. There was a great slaughter of the Israelites, and those who escaped returned to the camp humbled but not converted. At every proving, their murmurings broke forth. The merciful God turned the course of the children of Israel, for the Amalekites and Canaanites in their triumph would seek to follow up their advantage. The Lord did not plan this humiliation for the people. He had pledged Himself to go with their armies to battle. But their own course of rebellion caused Him to make a breach of promise. For forty years, He declared, You shall know My breach of promise.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 22

    We have the history of the children of Israel before us. Shall we learn anything from this history, written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come? In the last ten years there have been men as unreasonably provoked as were the children of Israel, and they have acted fully as unwisely. Will they ever see this? Will they manifest that repentance that needeth not to be repented of? Read of the development of the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, recorded in the sixteenth chapter of Numbers. Read this carefully and prayerfully, my brethren.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 23

    The Lord has had great and grand purposes for His people, but they have worked at cross-purposes with Him. As soon as The Great Controversy came from the press, it should have been pushed forward above every other book. I have been shown this. Had it been circulated at the time it was lying idle, there would have been a very different order of things among our workers. The impressions made would have wrought decided changes. But instead of this, the book was suppressed, although the promise was made me that it should go forward if I would take the lowest royalty. The book that should have gone did not go, and the men who should have worked to carry it forward discouraged the canvassers from handling it. All that I could say was as water spilt upon a rock. Thus said the Lord, I will judge for this false, dishonest work.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 24

    Who was working in these men? Certainly it was not God. The managers of the Pacific Press have followed in the trend of those in responsible positions in Battle Creek. The enemy obtained advantage of us in many ways, and since that time the madness of men has reached to heaven. They have sought to spoil the work of God, and to betray the Lord into the hands of sinners. O what shame, what disgrace to the cause of God! The Lord declared of Israel, “Neither will I be with you any more unless these sins are put away from you.” [Joshua 7:12.] The Lord’s work has languished. There has been a revival of the Spirit of God, but the work has not prospered. Will it ever again stand in its elevated character? Will God ever again be with His people in the publishing work as He was at its commencement? Never, unless your principles are decidedly changed; and this can never be until hearts are cleansed by the Spirit of God.14LtMs, Lt 39, 1899, par. 25

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