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The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials - Contents
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    Chapter 25—To R. A. Underwood


    See variant Lt 22a, 1889 below.

    Battle Creek, Michigan. Jan. 18, 1889

    R. A. Underwood,

    Dear Brother:—

    While at General Conference in Oakland, some things were brought forcibly to my mind which I must place upon paper. I am very sorry that you have taken the leading active part that you have in establishing an institution in Ohio, for I cannot think that the Lord has led you in this matter. I have been considering your statement in regard to Bro. Gilmore's unwillingness to invest his means in any enterprise of the cause of God excepting in this sanitarium which he designs to control largely himself, and I have concluded that his position is not a correct one to take. God is willing to bless us, but we are to be perfectly passive in his hands. We are to earnestly inquire that we may know and do the will of God. If you had been in a condition to have directed Brother Gilmore with wise counsel he might have made a far different use of his money, time, and talent. He has ability which could have been employed with profit in the work and cause of God instead of being used in this uncertain enterprise.1888 230.1

    I do not censure Brother Gilmore. He was young in the truth, and he looked to you as a man of discernment and wisdom who would not advise him to take an injudicious course. He will have trials. He will be disappointed, and may the Lord preserve him from making grievous mistakes. He may look to God in faith and place his trust in Him.1888 230.2

    I addressed letters from Europe to several brethren, asking help for the foreign work. Brother Gilmore was one to whom I wrote; but he answered his means was all invested in the Health Institution and he could not aid the missionary work in London. I did not get a dollar from any one in Iowa except from Brother Smouse who gave me 100.00.1888 230.3

    I cannot think that you have moved advisedly in establishing this institution, and I can reach no other conclusion than that the Lord has not prompted this investment. I can see no light in it, and I cannot approve it.1888 231.1

    Cleveland is an important place, and if Sabbath-keepers have been raised up there, you will see the necessity of building in order to facilitate the work in that city and vicinity. But who will come to the front now to invest means in this essential enterprise? My brother, you have taken burdens upon yourself that the Lord has not laid upon you. The establishment of the health institution at Mount Vernon was a personal enterprise, and I cannot see the justice of calling means from the Ohio churches to support it, neither can I see any reason why it should be shouldered on the General Conference which has already as many burdens as it can carry. The foreign missions and the continually increasing enterprises for the spread of the truth requires a large outlay of means, the exercise of careful thought, the disciplining of efficient forces to carry out their plans, and all these things make care enough without adding superfluous burdens.1888 231.2

    It is not the most important part of an enterprise to erect a building in which to treat the sick; there is still a necessity of securing wise, competent discreet managers, and of securing proper facilities to make a complete success of the institution. In our experience with the Sanitarium and the Health Retreat we have learned how difficult a thing it is to secure all these essential things. It takes years to equip an institution and to place it in good running order. We cannot find everywhere men like Dr. Kellogg to manage such institutions. It is a heavy load for some one to carry to undertake the management of an enterprise like that and make it a success. This affair in Mount Vernon seems still more unadvised when you see what a great demand there is for both men and means in matters of vital interest connected with the cause of truth. There are new fields opening up on every aide. Not only from home but also from foreign fields, the Macedonian cry is heard “come over and help us.” Would it be wise to allow this enterprise in Mount Vernon to cripple other and more important branches of the work? Is God pleased with such inventions? Is it in his order that this institution has been brought into existence to consume means and time and to perplex the servants of God, hindering them from working for the salvation of souls, when there is already an institution to do the work for which this has professedly been established. If such an institution is not run wisely, it will only work against the truth.1888 231.3

    I hope that no one will be discouraged in the failure of the hopes and plans concerning this institution. The Lord bestows his blessing upon us when we comply with His stated conditions. He will bless us when we are in harmony with His laws. We may think that there is something wanting that is essential to success; but in time we may see that we do not always attain success when we gain what we desire. You may be tried like gold in the fire, but if you bear the trial rightly, your soul may be more greatly benefitted than if you had had the prosperity you desired. My brother, keep humble, keep a spirit of meekness. You want to be a bold, successful soldier of Jesus. You want to be a valiant overcomer. God grant that you may win the crown of life.1888 232.1

    I have something I would say to you directly. You have all the responsibility you could well carry before you became interested in this Mount Vernon matter. This additional care has not helped you to take a course calculated to win the confidence of your brethren. It has not helped you to keep calm nerves and an even temper that you might do the work God has given you to do.1888 232.2

    If you are a disappointed man you will be a very unhappy one. You need a different mold upon your character, in order that you may be highly useful. You need to possess more of the Love of Christ that your own will may be subdued. You have not realized your obligations to God to be patient, kind, and respectful to your ministering brethren and to every member of the church. You need the kindness, courtesy, meekness, and lowliness of Christ. You have many valuable qualifications that should be perfected to do highest service in the cause of God.1888 233.1

    You should feel the necessity of approaching your brethren not with harshness and severity but with kindness and courtesy. You cut them off from you by your abrupt ways and words. The ministers in your conference become disheartened and lose their courage to do that which they might do if you did your duty to them in giving them your confidence and love. By your manner of dealing you have separated the hearts of your brethren from you, so that your counsel has had little influence over them for good. This is not as the Lord would have it.1888 233.2

    The Lord is not pleased with your attitude toward your brethren. If you live by faith in Christ, your will will be under the control of the will of God. Christ will abide in your soul by faith. You will be in harmony with the divine will. Your happiness will not be found in that which you possess nor in that which you are or can be in yourself, it consists in the oneness of your will to the will of God. The happiness and glory of the inhabitants of heaven is perfect because the will of God is their supreme delight. The work of grace will be carried forward to perfection in your heart if you do not voluntarily refuse to be molded by the sanctifying influence of the truth.1888 233.3

    The truth must sanctify the soul of the believer else it is no truth to him. You need to learn daily in the school of Christ. The apostle said, “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.... Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus must be made manifest in the body.”1888 234.1

    You are required to have your labors correspond with the truth you profess to believe. The sufficiency of the apostle was not in himself but in the presence and agency of the holy spirit whose gracious influence filled his heart, bringing every thought into subjection to Christ. There must be the soft fillings in your character. You do not realize the harm you do by your sharp, abrupt, domineering attitude toward your brethren. You encourage certain ones to do a certain work and although they prove themselves unworthy and are an injury both by work and influence to the cause of God, you still uphold them by your confidence and virtually say to them, “It is well with you.”1888 234.2

    I have much to say to you; for I love your soul. But will it do you any real good? Will it simply be received as Sister White's opinion? The position that has been taken by some of the erring brethren makes my words simply the expression of an opinion and this view has been advocated and has had leavening influence in our ranks.1888 234.3

    I repeat to you the apostolic injunction, “Examine yourself, whether you be in the faith, prove your own selves.” Inquire into the character of your motives, purposes, thoughts, words and deeds. Will you see whether you are discerning? Whether you are moving in the wisdom of God or not? Are you an example for believers in spirit, in patience, in forbearance? Do you exhibit the fruits of righteousness? My brother, if you do not searchingly examine your own heart in the light of the Scriptures, you will become careless. You must be meek as a little child or you will not see your great need.1888 234.4

    Our lives may seem disfigured and marred by failures and blots; but if their disfigurement is seen there is hope that something better will take the place of these objectionable features. God's wisdom must be exalted, man's wisdom must be laid in the dust. I hope you will discern your deficiencies in the light of divine truth. If self love exists it will prompt you to overestimate your ability and power. You should have a deep insight into your own heart that you may have a realization of your need, of the compassion of your heavenly Redeemer. Should the Lord treat you as you have sometimes treated your fellow laborers in the cause when you thought they needed correction, you would be indeed in a sad condition.1888 235.1

    You need sanctifying grace. I tell you, my brother you do need to reach a higher standard. Your position and work demands that you be a guide and example to others in patience, in kindness, and compassion. To fulfill your responsibilities you must be an ever growing Christian. Your faith must be strong, your consecration complete, your zeal ardent, your love perfect. You must make steady advancement in the knowledge of the love of Christ that you may realize from those under your charge that your labor is multiplying the fruits of the spirit among them. You need spiritual discernment to keep the eye singled to the glory of God that your profiting may appear unto all.1888 235.2

    Do not gather to yourself too many burdens to worry and perplex you. Appropriate the promises of God to your soul. Press close to the bleeding side of Jesus. Encourage tenderness and compassion. Employ every means of grace that your love may abound more and more, that you may have heavenly wisdom, that you may approve things that are excellent, that you may be filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God.”1888 235.3

    Your present and future usefulness depends upon your having a living connection with God. Your heart will then be filled with love to your brethren. Your position grants you no liberty to be severe, critical, and overbearing. Peter instructed the elders to “feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind, neither as being lords over God's heritage but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time; casting all your care upon him; for He careth for you.”1888 236.1

    The church upon the earth is not perfect. It is not the church that will be when Zion is triumphant. Earth is not heaven. The church is composed of erring men and women who will need patient, pains-taking effort that they may be educated, trained, and disciplined by precept and example to do their work with acceptance and to be crowned with glory and immortality in the future life.1888 236.2

    If men who are placed in important positions do not cultivate tact to a greater degree than you have done in dealing with human minds great loss will result both to the minister and to the church. There is delicate work for one in your position to do, as you meet with alienation, bitterness, envyings, and jealousy, and you will need to labor in the spirit of Christ to set things in order. “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. And the fruits of righteousness are sown in peace of them that make peace.”1888 236.3

    I entreat you to make diligent work for eternity. We have but little time in this life. We want to be led by the Spirit of Christ. (at all times) We should never stir up strife by domineering words and actions. Put away everything like hard dealing, and seek for a closer walk with God. You used to be a more meek and humble man than you are now. You need the refining grace of God, the meekness of Christ. There is a work allotted to you that no one can do for you. “Holding forth the word of life” you are to practically set forth a Christian example. “Do all things without murmuring or disputing, that you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke in the midst of a crooked, perverse nation among whom ye shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.”1888 237.1

    I know from the light that God has been pleased to give me that those who have long held responsible position are inclined to feel that they have a right to exercise more authority than their positions justify them to. God will sanction no tyranny, no sharp dictation; for this naturally repels souls and they are unfavorably affected by the manifestation of this disagreeable spirit which stirs up the worst passion of the human heart. If men in responsible office do not show partiality but exercise the patience and kindness of Jesus they will find this course more effective than the preaching of sermons, the exercise of power, or the presentation of strong argument. The silent influence of Christian character will fall upon men as the sunbeams of heaven. May God help you to do right because it is right.1888 237.2

    Feb. 12, 1889. As you have asked in your letter if I had anything for you I think it best now to send you this letter, hoping that it will have no bad effect upon you.1888 237.3

    You seem to be surprised that I look at matters in the light that I do. You speak of the resolution that you thought ought to have passed at the General Conference. What did that resolution comprehend? It virtually said that nothing should be taught in the college but that which had been taught during the past year. Now my dear brother, I would not wound your feelings, I would not grieve your soul or discourage you; but I must lay some things open before you. I told the conference that had been shown me in the past in reference to resolutions which covered the same ground. I stated that many things had been taught in the college that was as seed sown in minds and would yield a harvest which would not be pleasant to reap. I stated that I had light in reference to this matter.1888 238.1

    Both in the [Battle Creek] tabernacle and in the college the subject of inspiration has been taught, and finite men have taken it upon themselves to say [that] some things in the Scriptures were inspired and some were not. I was shown that the Lord did not inspire the articles on inspiration published in the Review, neither did He approve their endorsement before our youth in the college. When men venture to criticize the word of God they venture on sacred, holy ground and had better fear and tremble and hide their wisdom as foolishness. God sets no man to pronounce judgment on His Word selecting some things as inspired and discrediting others as uninspired. The testimonies have been treated in the same way; but God is not in this.1888 238.2

    Infidel arguments have been brought into the college for the purpose of instructing our youth how to argue against infidelity. The seeds of infidelity may not at once be developed yet they will manifest their existence when temptation arises. I have been shown that doubts will enter the heart, arguments in favor of infidelity will fasten in the mind that will finally lead to skepticism as a result of this course.1888 238.3

    I did not desire to definitely state these particulars in the conference for the delegates to garble and misconstrue; but I said enough in regard to what the Lord had been pleased to show me. I stated that I was a stock holder and I could not let the resolution pass, that there was to be special light for God's people as they neared the closing scenes of this earth's history. Another angel was to come from heaven with a message and the whole earth was to be lightened with his glory. It would be impossible for us to state just how this additional light would come. It might come in a very unexpected manner, in a way that would not agree with the ideas that many have conceived. It is not at all unlikely, or contrary to the ways and works of God to send light to His people in unexpected ways. Would it be right that every avenue should be closed in our school so that the students could not have the benefit of this light? the resolution was not called for.1888 239.1

    I have been shown that our conferences have been overburdened with resolutions. One-tenth as many would be of far greater value than a larger number. I stated these things clearly, but still you urged that the resolution should be carried into effect. You made it evident that if God was leading me, he was certainly not leading you. Your resistance to my words, and the manifestation of so much feeling expressed in your lowering countenance and your determined words impressed me very unfavorably.1888 239.2

    Another resolution was passed that might have been laid upon the table, i.e. the one in reference to training all licentiates [in the canvassing work] before permitting them to enter the ministry. This was to be an absolute rule, and notwithstanding all I had to say against this resolution it was carried. It was not right for the conference to pass it. It was not in God's order, and this resolution will fall powerless to the ground. I shall not sustain it, for I would not be found working against God. This is not God's way of working, and I will not give it countenance for a moment.1888 239.3

    My brother, how can I hope to labor in harmony with you when Minneapolis with its experiences is so plainly before me? My ministering brethren came to that conference with a spirit that was not the Spirit of God. They were under a deception in regard to me. If the Spirit of God had impressed and controlled their hearts they would not have taken a position so wide of the mark in judging me, my position and work. After plainly stating my position I said that as long as my brethren thought that I was influenced in my judgment and work by W.C. White, A. T. Jones, or Dr. Waggoner, they need not send for me to attend their camp-meetings or conferences for I could do them no good if I did come.1888 240.1

    There can be no harmony in our work when our brethren are so completely blinded that they cannot recognize the Spirit of God, as it worked through me at Minneapolis. But although I plainly stated that which the Lord had been pleased to show me which led me to oppose the resolution, your hand went up for its adoption. Did you think that Sister White would stand against you all in that conference if she did not have most decided reasons for so doing? You thought that your own judgment was superior to the light that God had given me. Would it be consistent for me to unite with you while you are of the same mind as at Minneapolis? Have I any reason to believe that you would not manifest the same spirit under favorable circumstances that you did then. To my brother, I cannot sanction the spirit that prevailed at Minneapolis, neither can I have confidence that those who were actuated by that spirit are walking in the light.1888 240.2

    Suppose Dr. Waggoner did hold views that were not wholly correct was it Christ-like to manifest the spirit that was felt in that meeting? The rich blessing of God was hanging over that conference, but the Lord could not work upon hearts so full of misconceived opinions of his own messages and so barricaded with prejudice against them. The reports that were brought to Battle Creek were in accordance with the spirit that prevailed at that meeting. Falsehoods have been circulated which I have not yet felt called upon to contradict before the church.1888 241.1

    A good work has been done in Battle Creek. The Lord has abundantly blessed me, and I desire that every one shall have this blessing; but I have had to fight for every inch of ground that we have gained here at Battle Creek. The brethren were not going to ask Brother A. T. Jones to preach in the tabernacle. I felt deeply stirred with indignation at the persistent efforts to close the door to every ray of heaven's light. I have carried the heaviest load that I have ever borne in Battle Creek, but we have gained a measure of victory. Still there must be a more thorough work done. There must be seen a spirit of conviction that will make it manifest that we have been born again. There must be a spiritual revolution throughout the churches that fruits unto righteousness may be seen in our daily life.1888 241.2

    The daily life of the Christian should bring no discredit upon our holy faith. The motive of the heart as well as the words and actions are weighed in estimating our moral worth. Those who rejected Christ the Lord of glory knew not that He was the Prince of life else they would not have crucified him. Reliance on forms and ceremonies will not save us. The lawyer whom Christ found wanting in love to God and to his neighbor which is the very essence of religion could have vindicated himself on the ground of ceremonial correctness. He could have said with Paul that as touching the law he was blameless. But the Lord defines Bible religion as a principle in the soul, not merely the performance of virtuous acts, although virtuous acts are the natural fruits of this principle in the soul. It is the spirit in which the acts are performed rather than the performance that counts with God. A man may give his goods to feed the poor, his body to be burned, yet if he is not actuated by the living principles of love for God and man his work is a failure. God looks at the heart. We must repent and believe.1888 241.3

    Thank God it is not too late for wrongs to be righted. Christ looks at the spirit, and when He sees us carrying our burden with faith, his perfect holiness atones for our short comings. When we do our best, He becomes our righteousness. It takes every ray of light that God sends to us to make us the light of the world.1888 242.1

    I have nothing, nothing but kindness and love in my heart towards you. I long for perfect harmony with my brethren, but I must do the work that God has given me to do, even if it separates me from my brethren and friends.1888 242.2

    Yours with respect,

    (Signed) E. G. White

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