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Manuscript Releases, vol. 16 [Nos. 1186-1235]

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    MR No. 1193—An Appeal To Be Faithful Stewards of Money and Other Talents; Also to Follow Christ in Humility and Self-Denial; A New Believer Faces a Crisis over Sabbathkeeping

    (Written November 22, 1897, from Stanmore, Sydney, NSW, to “Dear Brethren in California.”)

    I have confidence that you will help us at this time. We have had a special interest aroused in Stanmore, a beautiful suburb of Sydney. About twenty, I learn, have taken their stand to observe the Sabbath of the Lord, and many more are convicted. The people are deeply interested in the truth, and the important points of present truth are to them as a new revelation. The interest continues to grow, and those who embrace the truth go right to work for their friends, inviting them to come out to hear. More than this, they invite their neighbors and friends to come to their house. They then secure one of our ministers to give a Bible reading. These meetings are made very interesting.16MR 45.1

    We have secured a good house for the mission. Here the workers have a home. Instruction is given them to prepare them for the work. Elder Haskell and wife, Elder Starr and wife, Brother Baker, and Brother and Sister Wilson are here. Then there are several women workers, who are selling papers, tracts, and small books. Some days they do very well; then on other days not so well. But they have good average success.16MR 45.2

    All those newly come to the faith are enthusiastic over the idea of erecting a meetinghouse. Two who have just taken their stand on the Sabbath were expressing their desire for a church building. The husband said to the wife, “What will you give?” She turned to him and said, “Husband, what will you give?” He said, “Let us each write on a slip of paper the sum we propose to give, and then exchange papers.” They did this, and each had subscribed 5 pounds. They told Brother Starr that no doubt they would make it more than this, and since then they have doubled their subscription, each giving 10 pounds. Ten pounds from each is quite a donation. No one has been asked to do anything, and this is a surprising chapter in our experience.16MR 45.3

    Yesterday afternoon I talked to the people from Luke 12. This chapter is a lesson of great importance for all the sons and daughters of God. I told them at the close of my talk that we desired to build a church, and that we would accept all the help that was freely given. We should have to move out by faith. We did not design to erect a cathedral, but a plain building that we would call a tabernacle; one that would be in harmony with our faith. We could not conscientiously spend any of the Lord's money in needless adornment. We would have a neat structure. Skillful hands could make it very tasteful and appropriate. I told them that the building at Cooranbong was a commendable house of worship—neat, thoroughly well built and, in harmony with our faith, dedicated to God free from debt. The interest paid on a debt left on any house of worship is a great loss. We propose that this house shall be as a tabernacle for us. We are all pilgrims and strangers; our citizenship is above.16MR 46.1

    We would devote this tabernacle to educating and training not the elder members of the church alone, but the children and youth. They are to be taught not to live to please themselves, not to court praise, but to guard their hearts with perpetual vigilance and jealousy, lest they be estranged from God. Teach them what it means to hunger and thirst after righteousness. These lessons must be given, else there will be a thirst for human appreciation and honor, which would be only injury to them should they receive it.16MR 46.2

    The Lord understands every sacrifice we make for Him to contribute to the necessities of His cause, without ostentation or display. Hide self in Jesus. Our great Teacher has plainly defined the way we should walk. The inward spiritual perception of the truth as it is in Jesus will never exalt the human agent in his own estimate of self. The Spirit of God leads the human heart to realize that sanctification of the Spirit brings self-abasement and lowliness.16MR 47.1

    December 16—I rise to write at two o'clock. What gives the proper level to the human mind? It is the cross of Calvary. By looking unto Jesus, who is the Author and Finisher of our faith, all the desire for self-glorification is laid in the dust. There comes, as we see aright, a spirit of self-abasement that promotes lowliness and humbleness of mind. As we contemplate the cross, we are enabled to see the wonderful provision it has brought to every believer. God in Christ and Christ as God, if seen aright, will level human exaltation and pride. There will be no self-exaltation, but there will be true humility.16MR 47.2

    [1 Corinthians 1:17-31; Galatians 6:14, quoted.]

    The Creator of all worlds humbled Himself to human nature, and in human nature He took the place of meekness and lowliness. Any human being that cherishes high-mindedness and self-trust because of self-sufficiency and self-complacency, dishonors his Maker. Just as surely as he does this, he will be humbled. The Lord was rich in heaven's treasure, yet He for our sake became poor, that we through His poverty should be made rich. In the days of His humiliation, He clothed His divinity with humanity. Although He was the Majesty of heaven, He humbled Himself.16MR 47.3

    Christ devoted Himself to the salvation of the human race, and man should never, never, lift up his heart unto vanity. You who are possessed of worldly treasure are to become poor by following your Redeemer's example, devoting your substance to the advancement of the cause of God, and not to self-indulgence. Those who acquire wealth for the purpose of hoarding it, leave the curse of wealth to their children. It is a sin, an awful, soul-periling sin, for fathers and mothers to do this, and this sin extends to their posterity. Often the children spend their means in foolish extravagance, in riotous living, so that they become beggars. They know not the value of the inheritance they have squandered. Had their fathers and mothers set them a proper example, not in hoarding but in imparting their wealth, they would have laid up for themselves treasure in heaven, and received a return, even in this world, of peace and happiness, and in the future life eternal riches.16MR 48.1

    Many, many church members have sold themselves, soul, body, and spirit—to enjoyment? no; none can know what enjoyment is till they lay their accumulated treasure at the feet of Jesus—to covetousness and idolatry. Church members are to be true and faithful servants of the Lord. They are to use their entrusted capital to bless the needy in their churches. Churches are to be established where the people of God may worship Him. The pews and seats are not to be rented. The wealthy are not to be honored above the poor. No distinction is to be made. “All ye are brethren.”16MR 48.2

    Your property is a talent lent you by God to test you, to see if you will accept the character of Christ and be a subject of the kingdom of God. Thus you may come into possession of eternal riches. Your profession of Christianity is true if you follow Christ; worthless if you do not follow Him. Self-indulgence will not secure for any soul a citizenship in the better, even the heavenly, country. Those who will not be good and do good, as did their Master, those who covetously spend their all upon themselves, will lose the eternal riches. They will find no place for their selfish souls in the mansions Christ has gone to prepare for those who love Him.16MR 49.1

    The time is coming when every entrusted talent must be accounted for. The Lord has put into our keeping talents that we are to improve by wise investment. We are to increase and sustain the facilities for God's worship, not by sociables, fairs, raffles, games, lotteries, or any such means. When money is obtained in this way to sustain the church, it is because the church members are self-indulgent, gratifying pride and appetite by using wine, beer, liquor, and tobacco. Thousands of dollars are expended in needless things, while the poor are suffering for food and clothing, and the cause of God is left to makeshift to secure means to supply its numerous necessities.16MR 49.2

    God watches to see how His stewards fulfill their sacred trust, and when the cries of the widow and the fatherless come into His ears because of hunger and overwork, sickness and distress, it is written in the books of heaven that the Lord's stewards have embezzled His goods to gratify their selfish passions, and the needy have been left to cry unto God because of the conduct of hardhearted men, who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Every man in this world is using God's money. Men would have been left to perish if Christ had not given His life for them. He is their Substitute, their Surety. He has given them a probation in which they may work out a perfect character by obedience to all God's commandments. Thus they show that they appreciate the great offering made, that through the Holy Spirit they might be converted and secure eternal riches by laying up their treasure in heaven, and not on earth.16MR 49.3

    When in the great day of God each one is apportioned his own reward, not many great, not many wealthy, not many of the now-extolled wise, will find mansions awaiting them. Christ says to them, “You in your lifetime had those things which you chose for your happiness. But when your riches and fame perished, it was found that you had not put your treasure beside the throne of God. You did not lay up your treasure in heaven, but you sought to employ it for your own gratification. Your insurance was not in the banks of heaven. The poor members of the royal family have been left in poverty, unaided by the means of God left in your hands with which to do good. You worked hard to glorify yourself, but the work which the Lord gave you to do, to love and serve Him, you refused to do. You had many disparaging remarks to make in regard to the poor and suffering, the homeless widows and the fatherless children, as though they were made of different material from you. You despised My poor, those who loved Him who for their sake and yours became poor that they and you might come into possession of eternal riches. ‘What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul, or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’”16MR 50.1

    I warn all to whom this letter may come that unless you follow where Christ leads the way, you will fall into Satan's snares and lose heaven. Your houses, your lands, are talents for which you are just as responsible to God as for any He has entrusted to you. You may bury your talent as did the slothful servant, but your business is to inquire of God and to watch for opportunities for doing good with your Lord's entrusted money. His cause is to be advanced. Souls are to be saved, and the question should not be, How much will this effort cost? Will it pay to venture? It will pay if one soul is rescued. That soul is estimated as of more value with God than a world.16MR 51.1

    All have talents entrusted to them according to their several ability, and the Lord expects these to be used to His name's glory. The warning must go to the world, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear. It may be that by your efforts a score of souls will be brought to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and each become a worker for the salvation of others. No man should reckon his labor a failure if through his efforts one soul has his name registered in the book of life. Eternity will reveal many wonderful histories in connection with the efforts made, which at the time seemed to be fruitless.16MR 51.2

    Talents that are not needed are not bestowed. But every talent given has a place where it can be used. The single talent is needed. God has a place for it. There are channels everywhere through which benevolence may flow. Needs are constantly arising; missions are handicapped for want of means. These must be abandoned unless God's people awake to the true state of things. Wait not until your death to make your will, but dispose of your means while you live. Great necessities will arise and means will be needed to supply them. Wherever there is an important field of labor which you see should be worked, there begin, your individual self, to work.16MR 51.3

    There are portions of the Lord's vineyard untilled because no means have been supplied. There are meetinghouses burdened with debt which should never have had a debt upon them if proper efforts had been made. To find means to put up a house of worship entirely free from debt is one of the greatest acts of benevolence that can be performed. The interest goes out yearly for an old debt, and no one feels the disgrace, but the hardest part is to redeem the blunder made at the first, to clear off the old debt, and stop the interest that is so difficult to raise. The Lord has need of the money He has lent to men to use in doing good.16MR 52.1

    December 17—I rise at a quarter after two o'clock. I could not complete that which I commenced several days ago. The Lord is working for His people in Stanmore. Brother Sharp lost a situation in a prosperous firm, where he has worked for fourteen years. During all that time no fault was found with him. When Brother Sharp told one of the partners of his decision to keep the Sabbath, he said they could work it all right, and was disposed to give him the day. It is the custom to work only three hours on Saturday, but Brother Sharp promised to make up that time fully by working over hours.16MR 52.2

    But when the matter was brought before the associate partners, it was decided that they could not keep him if he kept Sabbath. They gave him one month to decide the matter. As he was firm at the end of the month, he was asked to resign his situation, because they did not like to turn him off.16MR 52.3

    He said, “Have you not been pleased and satisfied with my work?”16MR 53.1

    “Perfectly,” they said.16MR 53.2

    “Well, then, why should I act an untruth? I am very sorry to break connection with you, and I want to remain; but I must keep the Sabbath, and I could arrange to keep the Sabbath and do just as many hours work by giving more time. I certainly cannot resign.” Then they discharged him.16MR 53.3

    When he rather abruptly told his wife, she was disappointed. Everything presented itself to her mind in the worst light. She saw her children suffering for want of food and without clothing. She was completely overcome. She was taken with a spasm, and for some time it was uncertain that she would live. But the Lord brought her through.16MR 53.4

    I had a long talk with this brother. He was a bookkeeper and solicitor for the firm, and has kept everything in order. He is also a musician. I at once saw that an opening must be made for him. His employer was watching him, as were also several others. It was a test question, and we thought he might engage as bookkeeper and solicitor for the health home. They had no money. He had received 3 pounds 10 shillings, per week, and had several children to keep.16MR 53.5

    December 14—I received a letter saying that Brother Sharp had been sent for to come to an important firm and talk with the proprietor. This man said that he had let his bookkeeper go for a holiday, and in his absence had attended to the books himself. While doing so he found that he credited himself with 15 pounds more per month than had his bookkeeper. He saw that he had been dealt with dishonestly. He told Sharp that he had heard that he had lost his place not because of any failure on his part but because he wanted to keep the Sabbath, and added, “I said, ‘That is the man I want. I can trust that man. He has a conscience, and fears God,’” “Well,” he said, “you may have the Sabbath”; and I think he has the same pay that he received from the other firm.16MR 53.6

    So you see the hand of the Lord is in this. His former employer said to one who was favorable to the Sabbath, “I felt bad at having that man leave; he was a faithful workman. I do not know who I can get to fill his place, but I did not want one in my employ who would always be poking the Sabbath down our throats.” Poor man! One day he will wish the Sabbath had not only been brought to his throat but that he had taken it in and eaten it as the word of God. The best recommendation that Brother Sharp could have was that he would not dishonor God by breaking the Sabbath.16MR 54.1

    The interest in Stanmore continues to be good. Brother Wilson writes that they are finding new Sabbathkeepers every week. The work is advancing, and now a lot must be secured on which to build a meetinghouse. It will cost a good deal in this locality to get a piece of land 100 by 100 feet, but there is no other way but to build. We must have a house of worship in eight or ten weeks. I want you, my brethren, to help me all you can, by taking my shares in the Healdsburg school, and thus release me. I want to invest in this missionary work. We must pay the workers, and we must pay for a lot for the church.16MR 54.2

    What will you do to help me? If the shares are sold to those who can buy them, and thus divided among the churches, each bearing a part, the load can be easily lifted, and I shall have means to invest here. It must be done. The house of worship will serve for several suburbs, and I will do my best that it may be dedicated without a penny's debt upon it.16MR 54.3

    The interest in the camp meetings in Melbourne and Sydney has taken in the same features as did the proclamation of the Message in 1842. The interest is spreading far and wide. Those recently come to the truth will do what they can, for they have an enthusiasm that bears the signature of the Holy Spirit. My brethren, will you help me by taking the shares in the Healdsburg school? Will you also help me in the case of Brother Leininger? You are well acquainted with this matter, and can help me if you will. I am now carrying a debt of 1,000 pounds at five-and-a-half percent interest, besides 200 pounds hired for the school building. But notwithstanding I am responsible for this, I make my donation of 25 pounds toward the church in Stanmore. I have been walking by faith, and I shall continue to invest.16MR 55.1

    Soon after I came to this country, I hired $1,000 from a brother to commence the school in Melbourne; then $500 more. This is aside from the sums I have already mentioned. We could not get means, and I walked out by faith. This $1500 ought to be returned to this brother, who would, if he had it, use it in other places.16MR 55.2

    I want you to tell our people about the Scott case, and the case of Brother Leininger, and see what can be done for him. I must be released, that I may have means to open up new fields. The cities of Newcastle and Maitland, twenty miles from Cooranbong, are calling for labor. We must have means to start the work. Much canvassing has been done in these places, but we have been waiting until the time should come when we could take hold of the work, and keep at it until these places are fully worked.16MR 55.3

    Then there are large cities in Queensland calling for help and workers. But we have not had the means in the treasury to keep the workers paid. All round in these countries are cities that need to be entered. But the lack of means prevents it. I submit this matter to you. Forty have now commenced keeping the Sabbath in Stanmore, and still the interest is widespread. I believe we shall have a church of one hundred souls.—Letter 20, 1897.16MR 56.1

    Ellen G. White Estate

    Washington, D. C.,

    May 1, 1986.

    Entire Letter.