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Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists

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    Manner of Presenting the Truth

    Those who labor in word and doctrine have a great work before them to tear from the minds of those for whom they labor the fatal deceptions of Satan, and to impress them with the importance of aiming to reach God's great standard of righteousness. They should pray earnestly for divine enlightenment, and for wisdom to present the truth as it is in Jesus. Sympathy, tenderness, and love, woven into their discourses and manifested in their lives, would disarm opposition, weaken prejudice, and open the way to many hearts.HS 121.4

    It is to be regretted that many do not realize that the manner in which Bible truth is presented has much to do with the impressions made upon minds, and with the Christian character afterward developed by those who receive the truth. Instead of imitating Christ in his manner of labor, many are severe, critical, and dictatorial. They repulse instead of winning souls. Such will never know how many weak ones their harsh words have wounded and discouraged.HS 121.5

    Christ came to break the yoke from off the necks of the oppressed, to strengthen the weak, to comfort those who mourn, to set at liberty those who are bound, and to bind up the broken-hearted. The servants of Christ are to take the work where he left it when he ascended, and carry it forward in his name. But it is Satan's constant aim to so shape circumstances that the workers will become disconnected from God, and labor in their own spirit and in their own strength.HS 121.6

    Our ministers need more of the wisdom that Paul had. When he went to labor for the Jews, he did not first make prominent the birth, betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ, notwithstanding these were the special truths for that time. He first brought them down step by step over the promises that had been made of a Saviour, and over the prophecies that pointed him out. After dwelling upon these until the specifications were distinct in the minds of all, and they knew that they were to have a Saviour, he then presented the fact that this Saviour had already come. Christ Jesus fulfilled every specification. This was the “guile” with which Paul caught souls. He presented the truth in such a manner that their former prejudice did not arise to blind their eyes and pervert their judgment.HS 121.7

    Brethren, you who go forth to labor for those who are bound in chains of prejudice and ignorance, need to exercise the same divine wisdom that Paul manifested. When you are laboring in a place where souls are just beginning to get the scales from their eyes, and to see men as trees walking, be very careful not to present the truth in such a way as to arouse prejudice, and to close the door of the heart to the truth. Agree with the people on every point where you can consistently do so. Let them see that you love their souls, and want to be in harmony with them so far as possible. If the love of Christ is revealed in all your efforts, you will be able to sow the seed of truth in some hearts; God will water the seed sown, and the truth will spring up and bear fruit to his glory.HS 122.1

    Oh that I could impress upon all the necessity of laboring in the spirit of Jesus; for I have been shown that souls here in Europe have been turned away from the truth because of a lack of tact and skill in presenting it. In kindness and love seek to instruct those who oppose you. Preach the truth with the meekness of simplicity, remembering that it is not your words but the word of God which is to cut its way to the heart. There is danger, even in laboring among our churches, of leaving the great principles of truth and dwelling too much upon small, unimportant matters that create a fault-finding spirit among brethren. There are always those in the church and out who have not the love of Jesus in their souls, and who have, in the place of true religion, a criticising, exacting spirit, a desire to find something to condemn in their brethren and sisters. Such ones grasp eagerly at this kind of labor; but they do more harm than good, and should not be encouraged.HS 122.2

    The third angel's message is infallible. Upon the grand, ennobling truths connected with that message you can dwell with perfect safety. Labor intelligently to encourage union of faith and union of judgment, that all may be united in the bonds of Christian fellowship and love; but do not belittle the work of God with ideas and notions of your own. Let not your ears listen to gossip from any one. If all would refuse to hear evil of their neighbor, the tale-bearer would soon seek other employment.HS 122.3

    Do not encourage a class who center their religion in dress. Let each one study the plain teachings of the Scriptures as to simplicity and plainness of dress and by faithful obedience to those teachings strive to set a worthy example to the world and to those new in the faith. God does not want any one person to be conscience for another. Talk of the love and humility of Jesus; but do not encourage the brethren and sisters to engage in picking flaws in the dress or appearance of one another. Some take delight in this work; and when 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.HS 122.4

    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.”HS 123.1

    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.HS 123.2

    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.HS 123.3

    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 the ax at the root of the tree, and not only will the leaves fall off of themselves, but the tree will die. Those who accept the truth, in the love of it, will die to the world, and will become meek and lowly in heart like their divine Lord. Just as soon as the heart is right, the dress, the conversation, the life, will be in harmony with the word of God.HS 123.4

    We all need to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. May he help us to plant our feet firmly upon the platform of eternal truth. Give God a chance to impress hearts, brethren, and you will find that a wholesome impression will be left upon the minds both of church members and of outsiders. May God help you to exercise reason in the work of saving souls. Let the people hear through you the voice of God, not the voice of man. Let God's mould be placed upon the work, and not the mould of man. Take to yourselves the exhortation of the apostle Paul to Timothy, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.”HS 124.1

    Thursday morning, September 17.

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