SEVENTH DAY ADVENTIST MOVE TO FIGHT EXTRIMISTS AMONG THEM
Elder Uriah Smith also came out of darkness into the light. For further details, see A. V. Olson, Thirteen Crisis Years , pp. 87-108.
I have read your letter with surprise, and yet I am not altogether in the dark in regard to your feelings. I fail to discover in your letter the right ring. I do not see in your expressions in regard to others the love and respect that should exist between brethren.
If you think you can indulge in feelings of contempt for men whom God has been raising up to fill important places in His work for this time because you are the president of the General Conference, you do not understand your true position. We all need, rather, to encourage these men who are evidencing that they are bearing burdens in the work—even if they are younger men in years and in experience, even if they were mere children when we were active in the work—and standing in the forefront of the battle.
I tremble for you and Elder Smith, for I know from the light God has been giving me from time to time for the last 45 years that you are working upon principles that are not altogether after God’s order. Your understanding has become confused upon some things. You must not think that the Lord has placed you in the position that you now occupy as the only men who are to decide as to whether any more light and truth shall come to God’s people.
The spirit and influence of the ministers generally who have come to this meeting is to discard light. I am sorry that the enemy has power upon your minds to lead you to take such positions. They will be a snare to you and a great hindrance to the work of God, if God has ever spoken by me. I do not hesitate to speak to you decidedly, because the position you occupy is a responsible one and your relation to the cause and work of God makes it important that you be entirely clear and correct in your ideas of what is truth and what is light. While many are looking to you to lead the way, be very careful that you do not lead in the wrong direction.
There is not the least need, my brethren, of disunion and variance among us. No such thing should exist among Christians. When you speak let your words savor of unity and love. We are Christians; how can we be in the least perplexed in regard to the course we should pursue toward each other? Christ has given the plainest rules for us to follow in Matthew 5:23, 24: “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”
Why is it that our personal feelings are stirred up so easily? Why do we cherish suspicion toward each other? One of the terrible fruits of sin is that it separates very close friends, puts brother at variance against brother, and neighbor against neighbor.
Those who have enjoyed sweet union and love become cold and indifferent toward each other because they do not hold, in all points, ideas alike. Our blessed Lord came into the world to bring peace and good will to men, and prayed that His disciples might be one as He was one with the Father. He prayed for His immediate disciples and said, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also who shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” John 17:20-23. It is the absence of Christ in the soul, and the cherishing of self-sufficiency, that leads to dissension.
I have felt so grateful to God that He was qualifying men to carry the heavy burdens which have rested with crushing weight upon a few men who have been the standard bearers. Shall not we, my brother, acknowledge that God in mercy has been raising up other workmen besides ourselves to devise, and plan, and gain experience? And shall we regard them lightly because they may differ with us, honestly and conscientiously, upon the interpretation of some points of Scripture? Are we infallible? The spirit that controls the attitude of a large number at this meeting evidences that they are led by another spirit. The church at Battle Creek, which is the great center, will either be advancing to greater light, or it will be retrograding.
How men claiming to be led of God can feel at ease when the church is so destitute of the grace of Christ, is a marvel to me. The truths of God’s Word are elevating and stirring if really acted upon. They are truths of eternal moment. The application of Scriptural truths to the heart and conscience by the Holy Spirit must have a power upon the life, and work a transformation of character, else the truth is no truth to us.
The fruit we bear should testify that the truth has sanctified the soul, that the receiver is ever learning in the school of Christ to be more and more like the divine Teacher, and that the grace of God has fallen upon the soul like the warm, bright rays of the sun upon the earth. And God gives the weary wrestler rest.
I cannot be pleased with your spirit, Brother Butler; it is not Christlike. I am sorry for you that you have not kept pace with the opening providence of God. You have mingled your own natural traits of character with your work. Sometimes your spirit has been softened and melted with tenderness, but false ideas of what belonged to your position in the work has turned your mind into wrong channels.
There have been continuous mistakes made in devising and planning. If one man has been deemed capable to stand in a position of trust, manifold responsibilities have been laid upon him, so that nothing was done with thoroughness. This was not wise.
The Lord did not move upon you by His Holy Spirit to write upon inspiration. That was not your work. While you may regard it as light, it will lead many souls astray, and will be a savor of death to some.
You have special union with those who consider your work and your way of doing it all right.
They seek your favor, confide in, and work to sustain you, while there are many who are far more acceptable than these men in the sight of One who is infinite in wisdom and who never makes a mistake, but upon whom you look with suspicion because they do not feel obliged to receive their impressions and ideas from human beings who act, only as they act, talk only as they talk, think only as they think and, in fact, make themselves little less than machines.
God wants both pupils and teachers to look to Him for light and knowledge. Christ is always sending fresh and profitable messages to those whose minds and hearts are open to receive them. It is not for the Lord’s delegated ministers to look to other minds to plan and devise for them. They must use the ability God has given them, and make God the center and source of all their wisdom.
Has God given these light? Has He given them knowledge? Go yourself to the same source from whence they received that light. In God is strength, and power, and all blessing. We must carry the minds of all away from poor, defective self, and present Jesus as the fountain of all grace and all wisdom.
We must teach young and old to search the Scriptures and obtain an experience for themselves, that they may be rooted and grounded in the truth. They are not to copy any man’s peculiarities of speech, or of spirit, or his ways and manners of working, but are to be their own simple selves, looking to God to put His divine impress upon the character.
We are pained to see the defects existing in men entrusted with weighty responsibilities being copied as virtues by those who look up to them. This makes us afraid. We say, Go to God for your own selves, and obtain His mold upon you.
The Lord has presented some things before me in regard to the prejudice and jealousy which has existed in your mind, and which you have communicated to others both by hints and in plainly expressed words, showing that you were not seeking to promote harmony and unity with the workers upon the Pacific coast. Just as precious are they in the sight of the Lord as are the workers on this side of the Rocky Mountains.
Unsanctified ambition is always abhorrent to God. It reveals itself in seeking to be first, because they have borne burdens and, unwisely, too many responsibilities. Let these things be corrected, and let each man bear his part in thinking and in planning, and gain an experience.
You are not doing God’s will in depreciating those who are fellow-workers in the same cause and for the same purpose as yourself. Give them the same chance to obtain an experience and to act, as you have had. God enjoins upon us to guard the reputation of our fellow-believers in the harvest field as we desire our own reputation to be guarded.
If carnal ambition holds the supremacy, God is displeased, for His name is dishonored where it should be magnified.
A man may be looked upon as under the controlling influence of the Spirit of God, while he may be deceived, for it is his own natural tendencies that control his judgment and bear sway, so that a look, a hint, a mean smile, a word from him, though he may be apparently suppressing his own feelings, goes a long way in suggesting doubts and suspicion to other minds when, in order to meet the approval of God, his every word, his whole soul, should be thrown in an opposite direction from that to which he gives it. 1888 85.3 – 1888 91.1 CONTINUE READING….