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Manuscript Releases Volume Fifteen : Page 124

21. Biblical Counsel on Solving Church Difficulties

The state of the church was presented before me. I saw many things in a tangled, perplexed condition. . . .The brethren and sisters are, many of them, unconsecrated, and when individual wrongs are reproved some stand prepared to triumph over those reproved. . . .

The church must search carefully in meekness, and with humble hearts, for their own wrongs which have separated God from them. They must remember that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Self justification must be laid aside, and all possess yielding spirits. . . .

The church must be subject to one another, willing to be counseled, reproved, and directed by the body. Dear self is the most obstinate person the follower of Jesus has to contend with. There must be humility and forbearance in the church. Self must be overcome, and those looking for Christ's appearing must possess the power of endurance and self control if they would have God's Spirit with them. . . .

Then God's people were presented before me. Oh, the lack of forbearance and patience with one another, the lack of brotherly love, of meekness, of self control, while professing to be followers of Christ, subjects of His special grace! Oh, what a reproach to Christ! What a reproach to God's cause!


Brethren and sisters professing His name suffer evil traits to appear in their lives, and they are stumbling blocks to those who have not professed to be Christ's followers. The reality of experimental religion and infidelity often blushes at the wayward course of professed Christians.--Letter 16, 1861, pp. 1, 3, 5-6. (Written cir. 1861, to the Church in Roosevelt, N.Y., and vicinity.)

It was your duty to lay your case in the hands of the church. Let them bear the responsibility. If they err, you are clear. They are accountable and not you.--Letter 5, 1863, pp. 2-3. (Written July 6, 1863, from Battle Creek, Michigan, to Brother and Sister Scott.)

We must bear with one another, remembering our failings. With some have compassion, making a difference; others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire. All cannot bear the same rigid discipline. All cannot be brought up to just another's ideas of duty. Allowance must be made for different temperaments and different minds. God knows how to deal with us. But my heart has been sick as I have seen brother deal with brother and the disposition to catch another in his words, and to make a man an offender for a word. . . .

I saw that all who profess the truth should unite together to walk in church capacity, to be a mutual strength and help to each other. None should seek or


dare to lord it over God's heritage or dare to hold off and reject any one of their brethren without sufficient cause, but should labor with them and bear with them as long as Jesus has borne with them.--Letter 12, 1863, pp. 2, 4. (Written February 18, 1863, from Battle Creek, Michigan, to Dear Friends at Hanover, N.H.)

Men of God of the clearest minds and of the best capabilities are generally the ones who are the most ready to admit that they have failings and weaknesses and that their own understanding may not be perfect.

Humility is the constant attendant of true wisdom. Those who have this grace will patiently listen to the advice and counsel of others and give it due weight. They will not give up their own judgment for another's, but if advice and counsel bear the recommendation of age and experience, they will carefully weigh the matter and incorporate it into their own experience and mind because they see the force of the counsel and advice given. . . .

God has in His providence placed the cup of sorrow to your lips that you might sympathize with your brethren who have tasted of its bitterness. To close the soul to human griefs, to make no consideration for circumstances where God's providence is at work upon His suffering children, to force all under any and every circumstance and condition into one groove without reference to God's providences, is a fearful mistake which will react upon our own heads.

I was shown that in dealing with our fellowmen we all are to consider that they are of like passions with ourselves, feeling the same weaknesses and


suffering the same temptations. They, with us, have a struggle with life if they maintain their integrity in circumstances of peril, keeping the balance of the mind. We must deal with fellow mortals with kindly compassion and tenderest sympathy. We must cultivate in our character amiable tempers as well as firmness of principles. It is entirely out of place for one fellow laborer to lord it over another. . . .

I was shown that God requires true love to unite the hearts of the human brotherhood, and why this love does not flourish is because selfishness, envy, and jealousy exist. True justice will not injure our fellow men, and true politeness will not offend them. . . .

God is displeased when fellow laborers in His vineyard shut up their sympathy to themselves, esteem themselves highly, and cannot see the good purposes, the noble efforts, of their fellow laborers, but live as if they felt no pitying love or tender sympathy. I have been shown that love, tender love and consideration for our fellow mortals, needs to be cultivated, for it is very essential and is the most valuable trait of Christian character we can have. . . . We shall be very unhappy if we place ourselves in a position to question and criticize as an enemy every man who does not greet us with a smile. . . .

Oh, how many mistakes we make in attempting to judge the motives of our brethren! That which we condemn as grievous wrongs in them are not greater than those that exist in ourselves which we do not discern. . . .

God wants this evil to exist no longer. He calls upon us to put away this great sin and to strive to answer the prayer of Christ that His disciples may be one as He is one with the Father that the world may know that the Father had


sent His Son. It is the special work of Satan to cause dissension, that the evidence of oneness which should exist with them might be hindered, that the world should be deprived of the most powerful testimony Christians can give it that God has sent His Son to bring into harmony turbulent, proud, envious, jealous, bigoted minds. . . .

We lose much, very much, by lack of love for our brethren and sisters. Our ministering brethren--by their unity, their steadfast love, their delicacy in dealing with their brethren, firmly sustaining one another, their forbearance and sympathy and tender compassion for each other--can give to the churches an example that will rightly represent the life of our Redeemer. The truth of God is not designed merely to deal with errors and vices, and the ministers to feel that they must be reined up to censure and condemn even if they see existing wrongs. Frequently the very best way to cure the evil is to let those who are wrong see the heart of the minister of God softened and tender and pitiful, His bosom full of the milk of human kindness.

The truth is designed to sanctify the receiver, to fashion and mold the entire man, externally as well as internally, by abasing pride and disposing his heart to be kind and amiable and condescending. Yes, the religion of Christ is a system of the truest politeness, and its triumphs are complete when a world may look on a people professing godliness with a united front, believers showing habitual tenderness of feeling and kindness of deportment and sincere regard for the reputation of each other. We may not look for the approval of God unless we work to the point of habitual kindness, acting upon the principles of the gospel. Tender mercy is to soften whatever is harsh in the disposition and to


smooth, refine, and elevate whatever is course and rough in deportment. Love and faith carried out in our words and actions bear a testimony to the world that they cannot resist. It is the most powerful ministry that a church can have.--Letter 25, 1870, pp. 4-5, 7-11. (A Testimony Regarding Elder and Mrs. D. T. Bourdeau, written cir. 1870, from Battle Creek, Michigan.]

The most prosperous church will backslide under the most powerful preaching unless the people awake to the necessity of individual effort. The followers of Christ cannot advance and grow up to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus unless they are, individually, workers. If they do nothing themselves, and expect to retain life and vitality, they will be disappointed and then fall into temptation and great spiritual weakness. . . .

Second, I know that one of the greatest sins that the [Battle Creek] church is guilty of is that of being cold and indifferent in regard to the spiritual interest of the brethren and sisters. Each should feel a responsibility resting upon him to see that his brethren and sisters prosper in their religious life.--Letter 10, 1872, p. 1. (Written July 4, 1872, from Ottawa, Kansas, to Edson and Emma.)

It becomes us to cultivate a deference to other people's judgment when we are absolutely dependent to a greater or less extent upon one another. We should cultivate true Christian courtesy and tender sympathy even for the roughest, hardest cases of humanity. Jesus came from the pure courts of heaven to save just such. . . .


The world's Redeemer has invested His church with great power. He states the rules to be carried in cases of trial with its members. After He has given explicit directions as to the course to be pursued, He says, "Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever (in church discipline) ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 8:18). Thus the highest authority, even the heavenly, ratifies the discipline of the church in regard to its members when the Bible rule has been followed.

The word of God does not give license for one man to set up his judgment in opposition to the judgment of the church, neither is he allowed to urge his opinions against the opinions of the church. Unless there was church discipline and church governments, the church would go to fragments. They could not hold together as a body. . . .

In the conversion of Paul is given us important principles, which we should ever bear in mind.

The Redeemer of the world does not sanction the experience and exercises in religious matters independent of His organized and acknowledged church, where He has a church.

Many have the idea that they are responsible to Christ alone for their light and their experience independent of Christ's acknowledged body in the world. But this is condemned by Jesus Christ in His teachings and in the examples of facts given to us for our instruction. Here was Paul directly brought into the presence of Christ,--One whom Christ was to fit for


a most important work, one who was to be a chosen vessel unto Him--yet He does not teach him the lessons of truth he must learn; He arrests his course, He convicts him. He asks Christ, "What wilt Thou have me to do?" The Saviour does not tell him directly but places him in His direction in connection with His church--They will tell thee what thou must do.

Jesus was the sinner's friend; His heart was ever open, ever touched with human woe. He has all power both in heaven and upon earth, but He respects the means He has ordained for the enlightenment and salvation of men. He directs Saul to the church, thus acknowledging the power He has placed upon the church as a channel of light to the world. It is Christ's organized body upon the earth, and respect was required to be paid to His ordinances. Ananias represents Christ in the case of Saul. He also represents Christ's ministers upon the earth who are appointed to act in Christ's stead.

Saul was a learned teacher in Israel, but while [he was] under the influence of blind error and prejudice Christ reveals Himself to him and then places him in communication with His church, the light of the world. They were to instruct this educated, popular orator in the Christian religion. In Christ's stead, Ananias touches his eyes that they may receive sight. In Christ's stead he lays his hands upon him, and praying in Christ's name, Saul receives the Holy Ghost. All is done in the name and authority of Christ.

Christ is the foundation; the church is the channel of communication. Those who boast of personal independence need to be brought into closer relation to


Christ by closer communion with His church upon the earth.--Letter 54, 1874, pp. 12, 19, 24-26. (Written October 24, 1874, from Battle Creek, Michigan, to Brother Lee.)

Our ministers must feel the peril as well as the worth of souls. Never can the worth of a soul be estimated, except through the cross and in measuring eternity. A sinner saved from death is to save other souls from death.--Letter 37, 1878, p. 4. (Written June 28, 1878, from Salem, Oregon, to James White.)

In every age of the world there have been some who professed Christ while they were pursuing an erroneous course of seclusion or of Pharisaical preeminence. But they have not blessed their fellow men. They have found no excuse in the life of Christ for this self-righteous bigotry, for His character was genial and beneficent. He would have been excluded from every monastic order on earth because of overstepping their prescribed rules.

In every church and denomination are to be found erratics who would have blamed him for His liberal mercies; they would have accused Him of worldly conformity in attending a wedding feast; and would have censured him severely, and criticized his conduct unmercifully for permitting His friends to make a supper in honor of Himself and His disciples. But on these very occasions, by His precious teachings and by His generous conduct, He was enshrining Himself in the hearts of those whom He honored with His presence. He was thus giving them


an opportunity to become acquainted with Himself, so that they might have a knowledge of His character, and might see the marked contrast which His life and teachings presented to that of the Pharisees who were spies upon His track, condemning every move He made which was not in harmony with their bigoted, selfish ideas of salvation.

While we may maintain a firm trust in God, receiving light and strength and power from Him, it is our duty to let the light reflected upon us shine forth to others, that the world may see this light in contrast with the darkness of error and superstition. My dear brethren in Switzerland, you have much to learn. There is an icy chilliness, a reserve, like that of the Pharisees, that must be broken down. You are not willing to become learners, but, like the Pharisees, desire to be dictators, teachers.

God sent His Son to give the Pharisees a better understanding of His claims, a more perfect knowledge of the truth, and to show them the best manner in which to help their fellow men. But they refused the divine instruction. They thought Christ was too liberal. His ways did not agree with their ways; and instead of thinking the improvement must be made in their lives, to bring them into harmony with the life of Christ, they wanted to convert Christ to a unison with them. They thought His differing in manner from them would hurt their influence and disannul their teachings. They refused to cooperate with Christ, and thus cast their influence against Him, working out their own purposes, which placed them in irretrievable darkness.

Those with whom God has entrusted His truth must so order their intercourse with the world as to secure to themselves a calm, hallowed peace, as well as a


sacred and most thorough knowledge of how to meet men with their prejudices, where they are, and minister to them the light, comfort, and peace found in the acceptance of the truth of God. They should take for example the inspiring, authoritative, and social life of Christ. They must cultivate the same beneficent spirit which He possessed, and must cherish the same broad plans of action in meeting men where they are.

They should have a kind, generous spirit toward the poor, and in a special sense feel that we are God's stewards. They must hold all they have as not their own, but lent them in trust to advance the cause of Christ upon the earth. Like Christ, they should not shun the society of their fellow men, but encourage it, with the purpose of bestowing upon others the heavenly benefits God has given them.--Letter 2a, 1878, pp. 3-4. (Written August 29, 1878, from Ballardvale, Mass., to Brethren in Switzerland.)

But there is a class in the church who are a living contradiction of the name Christian--a class that have ruled at home with a sharp, dictatorial, unchristian spirit. Their ideas and opinions must bear sway; their hearts are filled with selfishness; they are constantly exalting self and finding fault with others who are better than themselves. They pass censure and harsh judgment upon others, while their own course appears right in their own eyes. They put their hands to a work which God has not given them, but leave undone the work he has left for them to do, which is to take heed to themselves lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble the church and defile it.


They turn their eyes outward to watch lest the character of others should not be right, when their eyes should be turned inward to scan and criticize their own actions, testing their feelings and motives by the law of God, the only standard of right, and emptying from the heart love of self, envy, evil surmising, jealousy, malice, unkindness, and self-esteem. When they do this, they will not be climbing upon the judgment seat and pronouncing sentence upon others who are in God's sight better than they. The simple reason of all the difficulty is, their religious life is not well built; there is not underlying godliness based on Jesus Christ; and the first gale of temptation sweeps their foundation from under them. This has caused all the difficulties in the church. . . .

At some appointed time the subject should be patiently considered, and in the fear of God, with much humility and sorrow for the erring who are the purchase of the blood of Christ, with earnest, humble prayer, the proper officers should deal with the offenders. How different has been the course when, with self-assumed authority and a hard, unfeeling spirit, accusations have been made, and souls have been thrust out of the church of Christ.

The matter should be thoroughly investigated before any action is taken. Let such questions as the following be carefully considered: What is the charge brought against the erring? Has the law of God been willfully transgressed? Has the offender been dishonest in his dealings with his brethren or the world? Has be been guilty of licentious conduct? Has he been untruthful? Has he practiced deception? Has he been severe, overbearing, and abusive in his family, with his neighbors, his brethren, or worldlings? Has he shown a spirit


of penuriousness, selfishness, covetousness, of doubt, fault-finding, or talebearing? Has he talked of the faults of his brethren, magnifying their wrongs and cherishing a spirit of bitterness toward them, thus endangering the prosperity and unity of the church?

All these points require careful consideration, but the next question is, What course has been pursued toward the erring? Has the Bible rule been followed to the letter? Read before the church the rules given them by their Captain, and let the question be asked, Have they obeyed orders like faithful soldiers in the army? To go contrary to the positive orders of the Captain of our salvation is deserving of severest censure by those whom God has placed in authority. . . .

There is always danger and trouble in any church which is composed mostly of family connections. This is the course of the Ligonier church. Relatives who are unconsecrated sympathize with one another, and thus a sinful harmony exists among them. Jesus is united to His people by a love far greater and more enduring than ever bound together the hearts of human kindred; and this love, so deep, so unchanging, is a continual assurance of His faithfulness to support the weak, confirm the wavering, comfort the feeble-minded, and to bind up the bruises of the soul. Oh, wondrous love, that should lead the Saviour to yield up His honor, His glory, His royal throne and royal court, and for our sakes become poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich! . . .

If a brother is supposed to err, his brethren and sisters should not whisper it among themselves and comment upon it, magnifying supposed errors and faults. Much of this work is done in the Ligonier church, and the result is, the


displeasure of God is upon those who do it, and Satan exults that he can weaken and annoy those who might be strong in the Lord. The world sees their weakness, and judges this class and the truth they profess to love, by the fruits manifested in them.

"Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoreth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved" [Ps. 15:1-5]. Here the backbiter is excluded from abiding in the tabernacle of God and dwelling in the holy hill of Zion. He that taketh up a reproach against his neighbor can not receive the approval of God. . . .

There are in the church unconsecrated, unconverted men and women who think more of maintaining their own dignity and their own opinions than they do of the salvation of their fellow creatures, and Satan works upon these to stir up difficulties that consume the time and labor of the minister, and many souls are lost as the result.

The minister also is placed in a most unenviable position; for, though he should decide ever so wisely, his decision must displease someone, and thus a party spirit is strengthened, when, had he refused to leave his work, his influence would have been preserved.


Ministers and lay members of the church displease God when they allow individuals to tell them the errors and faults of their brethren. They should to listen to these reports, but should inquire, "Have you strictly followed the injunction of your Saviour? Have you gone to the offender and told him his faults between you and him alone, and has he refused to hear you? Have you carefully and prayerfully taken two or three others, and labored with him in tenderness, humility, and meekness, your heart throbbing in love for his soul? If the Captain's orders, in the rules given for the erring, have been strictly followed, then an advance step is to be taken. Tell it to the church, and let action be taken in the case according to the Scriptures. Then it is that heaven will ratify the decision made by the church in cutting off the offending member if he does not repent.

If these steps have not been taken, close the ear to their complaints, and thus refuse to take up a reproach against your neighbor. Listening to the reports of evil is taking up a reproach. If there were no brethren and sisters to do this, evil tongues would soon cease, for they would not find so fruitful a field in which to work in backbiting and devouring one another. . . .

Some precious souls that could not justify the unchristian course pursued toward Brother J and others, have been crowded until they have separated from the church. Others have been cut off for no cause except bitter enmity because they did not act in harmony with the wishes and ideas of the leaders. Such a spirit has taken possession of those leaders who have ever been determined to rule, that they have been controlled by Satan rather than by the spirit of Christ. Some who have been deprived of the fellowship of the church were far more worthy of a place in it than are those who with their longer experience have been so overbearing and so anxious to drive out their brethren.


The unreasonable, unchristian course of men and women who had more zeal than knowledge or piety, has displeased and dishonored God. He calls upon them to repent. Some have taken the position that those who use tobacco should be dealt with and turned out of the church at once; but with some who would engage in this work there are greater defilements of the soul-temple than tobacco can make. In all our experience for many years, not a case of this kind has been thus treated. We have borne for years with those in the slavery of habit, and unless there was some other cause for such action, we have not felt at liberty to deal with them or separate them from the church. We have prayed and labored with them, and in many cases have after a time succeeded in winning them fully. Those who did not reform, became lax in other things, and gave up their efforts to overcome, so that offenses of a grievous character occurred that required action on the part of the church.

The responsibility of dealing with the cases last mentioned was not assumed by the resident elder or deacon, or by any member of the church. For months, and sometimes for years, the church waited patiently for wise counselors; and every move was made with the greatest caution. Hasty decisions in such cases show greater zeal than wisdom or spirituality. They reveal a self-sufficient, self-important, bigoted spirit, which will injure, and, if tolerated, ruin any church. . . .

Men and women who had no connection with God themselves felt competent to instruct, reprove, and condemn those far above them in the scale of intelligence and moral worth. . . . It is their lack of the Spirit of God that leads them into their unquiet, censorious, condemning course. . . .


Although aware of the defiling nature and injurious effects of tobacco, the Doctor has indulged in its use for many years. This is a habit which is annoying to him, and which God would have him overcome. In the name of Jesus, the mighty Conqueror, he can triumph over this defiling practice, and at last wear the victor's crown.

Brother J has not submitted, with a good grace, to the treatment he has received; he has been harsh, severe, and unyielding. Human nature would not endure dictation from those whose character and deportment contradicted their profession. The course of these persons was uncourteous and unreasonable. Passion and prejudice bore sway, and the spirit of truth and holiness was driven out. While they were willing that Brother J's money should aid the church, many were not willing that he should have any voice in controlling its affairs.

Those who have been thus forward and officious, need to become acquainted with the dear Saviour; for they know Him not. He is the eternal guardian of justice. He can never be excluded from any transaction in which the rights of His followers are concerned. His hand is ever spread as a buckler over the humblest of His children, and none can harm them without smiting that hand. . . .

Many are partaking of the spirit indulged by Sister Q--a driving, censorious, dictatorial spirit. Oh, I would that it might be banished from the hearts of all who profess the faith! But if this cannot be, then it is necessary, for the salvation of the remaining members, that all who stir up strife be separated from the church. . . .

There may be in the church those who do not honor the cause of God, whose lives and characters reveal the deformity of sin. But we must bear long even


with these, remembering how Jesus bears with us; how sinful we have been, and how He loves us still. Christ paid an infinite price to redeem us from ruin and despair, and with hearts filled with gratitude to God, we should manifest toward others the same love, tenderness, and forbearance, that we would have Him exercise toward us as sinful, erring mortals. While we need grace and mercy every moment, and forgiveness daily, how unbecoming for us to be so ready to criticize, censure, and condemn our brethren who are of like passions with ourselves.

The reproof given by our Redeemer condemns all this. Such conduct is the result of self-esteem and self-exaltation; persons strive for the supremacy, and become envious and jealous lest others shall come in and fill a higher place than they themselves occupy. But the teachings of Christ on this point are clear and decided: "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." We must constantly cherish meekness and humility, if we would possess the spirit of Christ.

The parable of the lost sheep is a forcible illustration of the Saviour's love for the erring. The shepherd leaves the ninety and nine in the shelter of the fold, while he goes out to search for the one lost, perishing sheep; and when it is found, he places it upon his shoulder, and returns with rejoicing. He did not find fault with the straying sheep; he did not say, "Let him go if he will," but he went forth amid frost and sleet and tempest, to save the one that was lost. And he patiently continued his search until the object of his solicitude was found.

Thus are we to treat the erring, wandering one. We should be ready to sacrifice our own ease and comfort when a soul for whom Christ died is in peril.


Said Jesus, "Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more that over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance." As joy was manifested at the recovery of the one lost sheep, so will exceeding joy and gratitude be manifested by the true servants of Christ when one soul is saved from death.

A reckless disregard for souls has been manifested by the church at Ligonier. Many cherish the spirit of the self-righteous Pharisees, who sought to be first in everything. They loved the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues; but they shut up the kingdom of heaven against men, neither going in themselves nor permitting others to enter. They for a pretense made long prayers, but secretly devoured widows' houses. They paid tithes of mint and anise and cummin, but neglected the weightier matters of the law--judgment, mercy, and the love of God. They appeared to love the truth and to be very zealous for the cause of God, while their hearts were unsubdued, unsanctified, and unhumbled, open to envy, jealousy, hatred, and malice.

Christ teaches all who believe on His name, that instead of seeking their own glory they must humble themselves to bear the cross and to walk in His footsteps. He would reform others must first reform himself. He must obtain the spirit of his Master, and be willing like Him, to suffer reproach, and to practice self-denial. In comparison with the worth of one soul, the whole world sinks into insignificance. A desire to exercise authority, to lord it over God's heritage, will, if indulged, result in the loss of souls. Those who really love Jesus will seek to conform their own lives to the Pattern, and will labor in His spirit for the salvation of others.


Persons are attracted by sympathy and love, and many may thus be won to the ranks of Christ and reform; but they cannot be forced or driven. Christian forbearance, candor, consideration, and courtesy toward all who do not see the truth as we do, will exert a powerful influence for good. We must learn not to move too fast and require too much of those who are newly converted to the truth. . . .

We profess to be the depositaries of God's law; we claim to have greater light and to aim at a higher standard than any other people upon the earth; therefore we should show greater perfection of character and more earnest devotion. A most solemn message has been entrusted to those who have received the light of truth. Our light should shine forth to brighten the pathway of those who are in darkness. As members of the visible church, and workers in the vineyard of the Lord, all professed Christians should do their utmost to preserve peace, harmony, and love in the church. Mark the prayer of Christ: "That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me."

The unity of the church is the convincing evidence that God has sent Jesus into the world as its Redeemer. This is an argument which worldlings can neither withstand nor controvert. Therefore Satan is constantly working to prevent this union and harmony, that unbelievers, by witnessing backbiting, dissension, and strife among professed Christians, may become disgusted with religion, and be confirmed in their impenitence. God is dishonored by those who profess the truth while they are at variance and enmity with one another. Satan is the great accuser of the brethren, and all who engage in this work are enlisted in his service.


We profess to have more truth than other denominations, yet if this does not lead to greater consecration, and purer and holier lives, of what benefit is the truth to us? It would be better for us never to have seen the light of truth, than to profess to accept it, and not be sanctified through it. . . .

The worth of a soul cannot be fully estimated by finite minds. How gratefully will the ransomed and glorified ones remember those who were instrumental in their salvation! No one will then regret his self-denying efforts and persevering labors, his patience, forbearance, and earnest heart-yearnings for souls that might have been lost had he neglected his duty of become weary in well doing.--Manuscript 1, 1878, pp. 4-11, 15-18, 20-25. (Written to the church at Ligonier, Indiana.)

I received your letter while in the midst of the Conference duties. Since that meeting closed I have been sorely afflicted with my teeth, and I am in such a state of nervous weakness that I cannot write as lengthily as I would be pleased to do.

I have been unable as yet to find the writings which you mention, but I may find them, and if I do will send them to you. I will say that the difficulties which have existed in the church are all unnecessary. The troubles exist because of the misunderstanding of what constitutes true Christian charity, brotherly affection, and Christlike love. There is far more self-love, self-esteem, far more talking among men and women than is essential. You have been measuring yourselves by yourselves, comparing yourselves among yourselves,


taking it for granted that all your feelings and surmisings and suspicions were correct, when if such feelings and suspicions and judging of one another are continued there will be discord, strife, and an unhealthy state of the church.

If you will meet together once or twice a week in the evening, and with humble minds, feeling your own weakness and defects, will ask the Lord to enlighten your understandings and fill your hearts with His love, and examine, not one another, but the Scriptures, Satan will be defeated. Many imaginary difficulties, mere mole-hills, have been magnified into mountains that have made barriers between brethren. Love, compassion, and respect cherished for one another should take the place of jangling and accusation.

When you begin to give your minds to the work of judging your brethren, you are doing the work God has not given you to do. You are not working with Christ. God did not place you upon the judgment seat to measure and pronounce sentence upon your brethren. Satan is an accuser of the brethren, and when he can set the leaven of disaffection to work in human hearts, he is exultant. When he can divide brethren he has a hellish jubilee. I think if our brethren could see as I have seen how much wrong is done in speaking evil of our brethren there would be an entire change in the way you treat one another. You do not understand yourselves; you misinterpret words and deeds and measure them from your own finite standpoint. Your feelings, your tongues, which are not sanctified, are employed in a service and work that is anything but holy and Christlike.

Brother Buckner, bring the attractiveness of Christ into your Christian service. Let the soft beams of the Sun of Righteousness into your heart and you


will be more pleasant and cheerful. If you do this you will have a strong and blessed influence on all around you. The truth of Jesus Christ is not gloom and sadness. Do not forget, my brother, that we are in Christ's school to learn lessons of truthfulness and love. We are taught in this school to have faith in our Redeemer. We must attend carefully to our own soul's necessity, improving every privilege provided for us to learn the meekness and lowliness of Christ.

We will have to learn the benefits of trials, and not be discouraged under them. The heart must be disciplined, faith must be cultivated, the power of the soul's endurance must be tested. The simplicity of faith and perfect confidence in God needs to be encouraged in your hearts. You must be constantly looking and talking on the bright side, and while the work of self-discipline must be carried on by every individual Christian, it must be in such a manner as to exalt and ennoble, and not to contract and center on little things. Your thoughts should be a growth of holy principles. Do not center your minds on your poor selves, and do not make a brother an offender for a word. Do not judge him by your own finite measurement. Let the voice of simple, trustful, earnest prayer be heard in your dwelling. When our sisters visit one another let them never speak words of criticism of their brethren. Let your minds dwell upon the attributes and experiences of the love of Jesus. The fullness of that love will prove a soother of little bruises, inconveniences, and disagreeable occurrences.

"O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry

Everything to God in prayer."


How much sweet peace we lose because we keep poring over the disagreeable items in ourselves and in our brethren. We must look away from the disagreeable to Jesus. We must love Him more, obtain more of His attractive beauty and grace of character, and cease filling the mind with the contemplation of others' mistakes and others' errors. No one is perfect but Jesus. Think of Him and be charmed away from yourself and from every disagreeable thing; for beholding our defects faith is weakened. Faith in God and His promises is lost sight of.

Let me tell you, brethren in the church at Lemoore, you need more of Jesus and less of self. Think no evil; talk no evil of anyone; keep your lips as with a bridle. You cannot measure others' experience by your own. It would be a deplorable thing if everyone was of the same mind. If all were just like Brother Buckner in religious experience, there would be a wonderful want of fullness in church labor, in carrying forward the work of God. I do not write this to discourage you, but to help you.

Brother Buckner is worn and feeble; he needs the help of stronger men, and the church needs the help of stronger men. What if Brother Harvey Grey has made mistakes? What if in some respects we do err, does the Lord forsake us, and forget us, and leave us to our own ways? No, the Lord does not treat us as we wish to treat one another. May the Lord help you all to repent and confess and let the love of Jesus pervade your hearts. Jealousy is all ready to spring into existence at the least provocation. Envy, and evil surmising is ready to be indulged, ready to grow by being cultivated.

Oh, how many hurt the heart of Christ because they want their own way, and their own will. Let the warfare be turned against these unenviable traits of


character, and then they will not be against one another in the church of the living God. If there were only such elements existing in the church as characterized the life of Jesus Christ, there would be a firm union. The world is against the church to weaken and destroy it, but let the church of God press together, press together, press together. Let not Satan thrust himself between the members of the church. Do not give one stroke on the enemy's side of the question. Put away egotism. Do not think that one or two men in the church are all the men who are conscientious in the church. You are far too narrow in your thoughts and in your actions.

Could the state of every human heart reputed eminent for holiness be critically examined and developed, there would be seen some dark chapters of distrust of God. What erroneous ideas of what constitute a Christian life we would find. What false ideas of God's prerogatives and of His moral government; what feeble, inefficient ideas of the atonement; what limiting of the powers of the Holy One of Israel in the agency of the Holy Spirit, would be seen.

I know you all are earnestly struggling after the higher life and for clearer views of heavenly things, yet how slow the progress. How difficult for the mind to rise to the full assurance of hope that maketh not ashamed. In spite of all our efforts, we are often discouraged because the flesh warreth against the spirit. Let not the common cheap things engross the mind that the presence of Jesus shall be withdrawn. The life of the church is communicated from Christ, and He to the church, and we help the church when we work in harmony with the life giving power, when we lose sight of ourselves and seek to build one another up in the most holy faith.


There may be instrumentalities which we do not prefer because they do not exactly meet our ideas. They do not work in the very line we have marked, and in the place of leaving them with God we begin to lay difficulties and barricades in the way and cherish a grieved feeling because we see that they are doing a work which we ourselves cannot do. Then comes the picking, the dissecting of character, the talking, the gathering up of tidbits of complaint, and faultfinding and slander magnifies little occurrences and events into grave sins. This has been done with the church at Lemoore until you are a weak church, and you always will be weak until this narrow order of things is changed. May the Lord show you all what to do that you may be filled with thanksgiving, gratitude, and praise to God for the precious gift of the Son of God , and not with envying, jealousies, and rivalries. Then true love and unity will exist.

Christ prayed that His disciples might be one, even as He and His Father are one. In what does this unity consist? That oneness does not consist in everyone having the same disposition, the very same temperament, that makes all run in the very same channel. All do not possess the same degree of intelligence. All have not the same experience. In a church there are different gifts and varied experiences. In temporal matters there is a great variety of ways of management, and yet none of these variations in manner of labor, in exercise of gifts, need to create dissension and discord and disunion. One man may be conversant with the Scriptures, and some particular portion of the Scripture is especially appreciated by him because he has seen it in a certain striking light; another sees another portion as very important; and thus


one and another presents the very points to the people that appear of highest value. This is all in the order of God. One man blunders in his interpretation of some portion of the Scripture, but shall this cause diversity and disunion? God forbid. We cannot then take a position that the unity of the church consists in viewing every text of Scripture in the very same shade of light.

The church may pass resolution upon resolution to put down all disagreement of opinions, but we cannot force the mind and will, and thus root out disagreement. These resolutions may conceal the discord but they cannot quench it and establish a perfect agreement. Nothing can perfect a perfect unity in the church but the spirit of Christlike forbearance. Satan can sow discord; Christ alone can harmonize the disagreeing elements. Then let every soul sit down in Christ's school and learn of Christ who declares Himself to be meek and lowly of heart; and Christ declares that if we learn of Him, then our worries will cease, and we shall find rest to our souls.

The great truths of the Word of God are so clearly stated that none need make a mistake in understanding them. When you as individual members of the church love God supremely and your neighbor as yourself, then there will be no labored efforts to be in unity; there will be a oneness in Christ, the ears to reports will be closed, and no one will take up a reproach against his neighbor. The members of the church will cherish love and unity and be as one great family. Then we shall bear the credentials to the world that will testify that God has sent His Son into the world. Christ has said, "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another." The divinity of Christ is acknowledged in the unity of the children of God. Brethren, when you


humble your hearts before God you will see that there is danger of Phariseeism, danger of thinking and praying as did the self-righteous Pharisee. "I thank God that I am not as other men are." Oh, that there may be a breaking up of the fallow ground of the heart, that the seeds of truth may take deep root and spring up and bear much fruit to the glory of God.

When, my brethren, you would accuse one of the brethren, consider the words of Jesus, "He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone." Your sin may not be the particular sin that is under consideration, but Jesus's words meant that when you are free from sin you may cast the first stone. When Jesus spoke these words to the accusers, their guilty consciences were aroused. They could not answer Him. They were convicted each in his own conscience, and they went out one by one, beginning at the eldest even to the youngest.

What can Christ, who is so forgiving, so patient with all our mistakes, so rich in mercy and love, think of our hardhearted criticism and fault-finding? Love for your erring brethren will produce far greater effect in reforming him than all your harsh criticisms. Let all the thoughts and emotions of the heart be after Christ's order. Let self be put out of sight. The Lord would have the thoughts and the language and the experience of Christian life far more attractive than it is today. If they are not more like Jesus, they can never be the light of the world.

When you assemble together, do not dishonor God by criticizing the worshipers and picking flaws in the characters of your brethren. Your work is between God and your own individual soul. What are you thinking, of my brethren? There is work to do in the saving of souls around you, and precious


time is passing. The hours of probation will soon close. Is your work for the Master of that character that you will hear the "Well done good and faithful servant?" Remember that every soul making efforts in the divine life, finds every inch of ground disputed by antagonistic force, and he must gird himself for the conflict by earnest prayer, and fight the good fight of faith. He is called to wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. There is no strength to be invested in warring against each other. If individually we make progress in spirituality the loins must be girt about with truth, and we must have on the breastplate of righteousness; we must take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. Brethren, seek God. Seek Him while He is to be found; call upon Him while He is near.

Oh, what experiences we might gain if we were devoting all our God-given ability to seeking knowledge and spiritual strength from God in the place of devoting our powers to hurting one another. How unsearchable are His judgments. Brethren, love one another as Christ has loved you. How little we really know of sweet communion with God; how little we know of the mysteries of the future life. Let us put our mind on these things. We may know far more than we do know if all our powers are sanctified to discern the blessed features of the character of Christ. There are heights for us to reach, depths of experience to sound, if we are to be the light of the world. Then why dishonor God by contention and strife? Why question and find fault with one another? Why misinterpret and misconstrue the words and acts of your brethren? Is there not better work for you to do than to discourage one another and try to put out the light of your brethren?


Let the capacities of the mind expand that you may take in the heavenly beauties and the blessed promises. Only believe in Jesus and learn in the school of the greatest Teacher the world ever knew, and His grace will act mightily upon the intellect and heart. This teaching gives clearness to the mental vision. It gives compass to the power of the thoughts; ideas are created, the soul hunger is filled. The heart is softened and subdued and filled with glowing love that neither discouragement, despondency, affliction, or trial can quench. God will open to the mind's eye His preciousness and His fullness.

Then let us labor and love. I point you to the Rock of Ages, Christ Jesus. You can be saved only through Him. Let the praise of God be upon your lips when you meet together in little companies to worship God. Let not one man do much of the talking. Let several take part. He who heard the voice of Christ and did His will was the wise man that built upon the rock, and storm nor tempest could not destroy this structure. We are workers for time and for eternity.

I write to you to love one another. Try the art of forgiving one another even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven your sins.--Letter 29, 1889. (Written November 8, 1889, from Battle Creek, Michigan, to Brother and Sister Buckner.)

Let every member of the church try to save the souls of others, and not seek to discourage or destroy them through criticism or evil reports. How many and how great evils would be extinguished in the church if men would follow Christ's rule of dealing with the erring instead of following the impulses and passions of their unsanctified hearts. If matters of difficulty between brethren are not


laid open to others, but frankly spoken of between themselves in the spirit of Christian love, the difficulty would in nearly every case be healed and the offending brother won. Misunderstandings have arisen that have been thus explained, in Christian tenderness, and the breach has been healed.

When brethren come together in harmony with the directions of Christ, Jesus Himself is a witness to the scene, and the whole universe looks with intense interest upon those who not only believe but do the words of Christ. The Spirit of God will move upon the heart of him who has erred, when Christ's words are carried out, and the one at fault will be convicted of his error. But if he is too proud, too self-sufficient, to confess his mistake and heal the wrong, other steps are to be taken in order to follow out the complete directions of the Word. "But if he will not hear thee (in that private interview), then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established" (Matthew 18:16). The matter of difficulty is to be confined to as small a number as possible. But two or three are to labor with the one who is in error. They should not only talk with him but bow in prayer, and with humble hearts seek the Lord.

"And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church"--if he persists in his unreasonable course, and will not be corrected, then there is only one more step to be taken, and that is a very sorrowful one--"Let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican" (Matthew 18:17). "Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 18:18). When every specification which Christ has given


has been carried out in the true, Christian spirit, then and then only, Heaven ratifies the decision of the church, because its members have the mind of Christ, and do as He would do were He upon the earth. . . .

We are not to be blind; we may see the prejudices which are cherished by those with whom we associate, we may see the errors that hinder their religious growth, we may discern their instability of opinion, their partiality of action; but because we see this, we should not feel that we are superior to them, measuring ourselves among ourselves, and leaning to our own understanding. As we see the deficiencies of others, it should lead us to be less self-confident, to be jealous of our own spirit and action. No living man should come in to take the place of God in our mind. . . .

I know of nothing more injurious to the souls than this habit of talking of one another's errors, of reporting every unfavorable tale that is brought to your ears, and of magnifying the mistakes of a brother. When a brother's fault comes to your notice, how much better it would be to go to him with it, following out the Bible rule that has been given by Him who owns the souls of all men. An infinite price has been paid to ransom the souls of men from the power of the enemy, and how terrible it is for one who professes to love God to set forth the mistakes and errors of his brethren in high colors. He is doing a wicked work against Jesus in the person of His saints. The rebuke of God is upon all who engage in such work; they are doing the work of Satan. The Lord has declared, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40).

When Christians accuse and condemn their brethren, they show themselves to be in the service of the accuser of the brethren. When they talk of the faults


and failings of others, they plant roots of bitterness, whereby many will be defiled. It is through this kind of work that brother becomes suspicious of brother. Confidence is unsettled, and variance arises in the church. Love cannot exist where the conversation is largely upon the errors and mistakes of others. The words of Christ are thus treated with indifference and contempt, as though frail, erring man had found some other way to heaven than that appointed by the Lord--the path of obedience to His commandments.

We all hope to reach the same home in heaven, but if Christ is not formed within, if you have not the mind of Christ and do not practice the words of Christ, if you are fully satisfied with your own peculiar ways so that you feel justified in complaining of your brethren, you will never reach heaven. If you cannot live in harmony upon the earth, how could you live throughout eternity in love and peace? Kindness, love, courtesy, and delicate regard must be manifested toward one another even here and now.

To practice the principle of love will not prevent us from dealing plainly with our brethren, in kindness pointing out wrongs and shortcomings when it is necessary to do so. But we must do this in harmony with the directions of Christ. When you are yourself connected with God you may speak plainly to those who by their crooked steps are turning the lame out of the path. The apostle directs, "If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Galatians 6:1).

Satan designs to keep the church in a state of wrangling, of envy, jealousy and evil surmising, so that brethren cannot pray or work in harmony. While thus


at variance, they fail to bring the saving power of the truth to bear upon the hearts of unbelievers; people become disgusted with religion when they witness the way in which a brother treats an offending brother.

It is the duty of every true follower of Christ to reflect light to the world. God has laid upon us a responsibility for the souls of those who are unsaved. As an ambassador of Christ I would tell you, brethren, that if you talked more of the merits of Christ, if you engaged more frequently in humble prayer, and said less to your brethren of the weaknesses of others, you would advance in spirituality and be far ahead of where you now are. You must give the precious plant of love some chance to grow. Jesus has said, "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).--Letter 1c, 1890, pp. 2-7. (Written May 28, 1890, from Crystal Springs, California, to Brethren Atwood and Pratt.)

There are to be found in the church those who are unconverted. They are to be pitied. But shall the church be judged as sustaining these? Should they be expelled, those who made them a stumbling block would make them a stumbling block still, because they had been unmercifully treated. If the truth were known, these complaints are made to quiet a condemned conscience. Those who make them know that their own course of action is not commendable.--Manuscript 49, 1893, p. 9. (Written October 28, 1893, from Gisborne, New Zealand.)


Christ enjoins upon His followers to "love your enemies, . . . do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." He would have us love those who oppress us and do us harm. We must not express in words and acts the spirit they manifest, but improve every opportunity to do them good.

But while we are required to be Christlike toward those who are our enemies, we must not, in order to have peace, cover up the faults of those we see in error. Jesus, the world's Redeemer, never purchased peace by covering iniquity, or by anything like compromise. Though His heart was constantly overflowing with love for the whole human race, He was never indulgent to their sins. He was too much their friend to remain silent while they were pursuing a course which would ruin their souls--the souls He had purchased with His own blood. He was a stern reprover of all vice; and His peace was the consciousness of having done the will of His Father, rather than a condition of things that existed as the result of having done His duty.

He labored that man should be true to himself in being all that God would have him, and true to his higher and eternal interest. Living in a world marred and seared with the curse brought upon it by disobedience, He could not be at peace with it unless He left it unwarned, uninstructed, and unrebuked. This would be to purchase peace at the neglect of duty.

Everyone who loves Jesus and the souls for whom He died will follow after the things that make for peace. But His followers are to take special care lest in their efforts to prevent discord, the truth is surrendered, lest in warding


off divisions, they make a sacrifice of its principles. True brotherhood can never be maintained by compromising principle. As surely as Christians approach the Christlike model, and become more and more pure in spirit and in action, searching out and reproving sin, so surely will they experience the strength and venom of that old serpent the devil. The opposition of the children of disobedience is excited by a Christianity that is spiritual.

"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." A duty is here enjoined upon us. We are to strive to live at peace with all men. Every care should be taken on the part of Christians to give no offense, that the truth be not evil spoken of. But the text suggests that no amount of diligence and care will preserve this harmony in all cases. Dissensions will arise even between individual members of the church, because they are not Christlike in character.

But there will be a point where members must be separated from its fellowship because of their unchristian course of action. In the home they are oppressive and a reproach to the cause of Christ. Their practices are inconsistent with truth and religion, and to retain them in church fellowship would be faithless to the Master.

The church, as a body, is to do all in its power to promote union and prevent schisms. This rule is designed to guide every individual member in his treatment of others. If unsound doctrine is introduced, it will endanger the flock of Christ. It is the duty of those in authority, who are jealous for the truth as it is in Jesus, to make a firm, decided protest. This expression of rebuke will often be used to create sympathy for the reproved. The harm that is


thus done to precious souls and to Christ's kingdom is not considered. At this crisis is the time to decide who are God's faithful sentinels, who will be true to principle; who will bear in mind that truth is too dearly purchased for its least principle to be surrendered.

That peace and harmony is not worthy of the name which is secured by mutual concessions to avoid all differences of opinion. On points of feeling between man and man, concessions should sometimes be made; but never should one iota of principle be sacrificed in order to obtain harmony. All our words and actions pass in review before God, and if we wish to stand in the judgment as having done all that we could to have a correct influence over our fellowmen, we must repay kind acts for acts of mischief and malice. Christ is our Pattern; He would have us follow Him.

To those who have been injured without a cause, the words of this scripture apply, "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." Their failure to comply with the instruction given in the text is not due to the course of action that they themselves have pursued, but to the envy, jealousy, and evil surmising of those who have been in the wrong. Thus a division is caused. How can it be healed? Shall the man that has been sinned against, misjudged, and maligned be called to account, to find something in his past course by which he can humiliate himself, and acknowledge himself in the wrong for the sake of making peace? No. If he has conscientiously gone forward under the oppression of wicked feelings that have been welcomed in the hearts of the fault-finding, if he has been patient under the abuse, if he has tried to do his duty, he is not to humble himself to acknowledge that he is guilty. He does


the offenders a great wrong thus to take their guilt upon his soul, admitting that he has given them occasion for their course of action, when he has done no such thing. This is very gratifying to those who have done the work of the enemy; but heaven's books record the facts just as they stand.

Concessions that are not true from the one who has been wrongfully treated gratifies the feelings of the carnal heart. Their position has been interpreted by them as zeal for God, when in truth it is zeal to do the work of the adversary of souls. They do not dig out from their hearts the root of bitterness, but leave the fibers to spring up when Satan shall stir them up again to active growth. But the axe must be laid at the root of the tree. Heart work is needed. True conversion is essential; the nature must be renewed after the divine image, until the work of grace is completed in the soul.

There is a work for us to do. We must begin here to cultivate the meekness of Christ. There are stern battles for us to fight against our traits of character which lead us to err in decisions that will make it hard and unfavorable for others. This is giving advantage to the enemy. We are not commended for a zeal that savors of Phariseeism, for this is not of Christ. We should not go to an extreme in false charity, neither of unbending severity in cases where kindness and mercy and love would have a telling power.--Manuscript 23b, 1896, pp. 2-6. (Written July 25, 1896, "Peace, How to Secure.")

The Lord is not pleased with the position of those who have a knowledge of the truth but do not keep it. They do not practice the truth. In their soul the love of Christ is eclipsed. Their principles of action are not sanctified,


righteous, holy. Self is the supreme idol. By the words they speak, they show that they have given themselves over to do Satan's work, to drop seeds which will produce tares. They repeat words that were spoken to them in confidence, and betray their friends. Anything that will cut the threads of union between brother and brother, between sister and sister, is looked upon as a worthy action. Satan stands by and laughs to think that he can so easily inspire the tongue to utter words which will kindle a fire not easily quenched.

Some tattle and criticize, finding fault with everything, when they might easily find something to approve. Their words might encourage; they might leave a sweet, fragrant influence behind them; but is otherwise. Their words create strife and disaffection, and evil angels are close beside them. These are the ones who think they see something that they must reprove, but do not try to see that which is worthy of commendation. If they would commend where it is just and right to commend, they would give strength to righteous purposes and principles.

The men who hold positions of trust in our institutions should be men who appreciate the love of God, who realize their own weakness, who remember their own mistakes and errors and feel too much humbled in consequence to think that God has given them a special duty to criticize and place themselves as far off as they can from their own fellowmen. This is Satan's inspiration. Shall we provoke the Lord to anger by our idolatrous sentiments and selfish up-building, so that He will leave us to follow on in our own supposed wisdom and self-sufficiency, till He proves us, and reveals the true character of our service? "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." The Lord


is against all self-sufficiency. He cannot work with His people because they will not use His blessings aright, but glorify themselves.

"And for their sakes I sanctify Myself," Christ declared, "that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which 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."

Here is defined the exalted position we should occupy. Let busybodies and accusers be visited and rebuked. If after thorough labor, they do not hold their tongues in check, they should be suspended from church membership.--Manuscript 43a, 1898, pp. 12-14. (Written March 22, 1898, "The Laborer Is Worthy of His Hire.")

There are those members who are busybodies, speaking evil, sowing the seeds of doubt and infidelity, who pay no heed to the light God has given them in His Word. If we have but one church member who by his spirit, words, and influence seeks to counterwork the influence of the minister of Christ, labor with that one faithfully; and if after taking the steps required by Christ, he will not hear, will not change his course of action, then separate him from the church, and let him know the reason why the church cannot hold him in her fellowship.


And if there are those who sympathize with him, who will not discern the right from the wrong, who, after patient instruction has been given them, choose to keep on the wrong side, let them also be suspended. God's name must not be dishonored by murmurers, faultfinders, and those who are continually sowing seeds of disaffection.

"A bishop must be blameless as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not give to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision; whose mouths must be stopped."

There has been too little personal labor done. When one becomes in any way disaffected, he begins to visit and talk with others, and impressions of a disagreeable and untruthful character are left upon the mind. Thus it is that much of the seed of irritation and evil-surmisings are sown, and the unity of the brethren and sisters is broken up. There is a great need of work to be done, that the churches may not become defiled. Let those persons who have no inclination to come out and be on the Lord's side be labored with, and if they cannot harmonize with the church, let them either keep their tongue as with a bridle, or find some other place to worship. Their influence of evil cannot have the sanction of the church or God's approval. This work has been strangely neglected. It is time to set the church in order.--Manuscript 52, 1898, pp. 17-19. (Written May 5, 1898, "The Work Required of God's People.")


The Holy Spirit will come to the believing, praying soul who is meek and lowly. This Spirit must come to every child of God. The spirit of accusing, of envy and evil-surmising, is inspired by Satan. Those who take part in the work here, should not stand as independent atoms, but as a solid wall, which the Lord makes firm and immovable.

Satan is playing the game of life for the souls of men. Will those who claim to be Christians work with him to weaken the forces of [God's] army and to strengthen the forces of the enemy? Every worker is now to be wide awake, but he is not to train his imagination to see defects in others and designs and mischief against themselves. They are not to use their capabilities to tear down the influence of those whom God has chosen to do his work. Keep quiet. Let the precious talent of speech be used to win minds to God. Silence is eloquence unless in patience, kindness, and tenderness you can speak to win souls to Christ's side. Separate from the tempter, and cling to the Lord. . . . Unity is the element so much needed in the work of God. This drawing apart, this scolding and fretting, this pettish spirit of fault-finding, might better be cut away; for it is a root of bitterness springing up, whereby many are defiled. He who is imbued with the love of God will be at unity with his fellow workers.

Unity of thought, unity of prayer, unity of action, is essential. When this unity is manifested, the heavenly intelligences will observe the earnestness of our prayers, and our love for one another in the Holy Spirit. It is necessary at times to hold church meetings, when the obstinate persistence of a brother


must be brought before the church for decision. But of what value is the decision of men who are full of suspicion, jealousy, and evil-surmising. Who can put reliance upon the decisions arrived at in board meetings where such a spirit controls the members? . . .

God calls upon his people to be converted, to become humble as a little child, that they may have childlike faith. Those who have grown hard and cold and unimpressionable, may have the form of godliness but they have lost the virtue that keeps the mind humble. "Blessed are the poor in the spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Remove from the heart that criticizing spirit. God hates it. Those who yield to this spirit have given themselves up to do Satan's work, and he stands by exulting.--Manuscript 165, 1898, pp. 6-9. (Written December 13, 1898, "Unity a Test of Discipleship.")

Holiness to God through Christ is required of Christians. If there are wrongs in the church, they should receive immediate attention. Some may have to be sharply rebuked. This is not doing the erring one any wrong. The faithful physician of the soul cuts deep, that no pestilent matter may be left to burst forth again. After the reproof has been given , then comes repentance and confession, and God will freely pardon and heal. He always pardons when confession is made.--Manuscript 130, 1899, p. 8. (Written September 8, 1899, "The Test of Obedience.")


Those who walk in obedience to the commandments of God are the Lord's representatives in our world. Church members are to be lightbearers. They are to help one another. If there are those in the church who are walking contrary to the word of God, who give no evidence that they are seeking to live the life of Christ, faithful shepherds are to labor for them. If they refuse to come out from the world and be separate, if they continue to walk contrary to Bible rules, they should be suspended from church fellowship, that they may not be stumbling blocks to sinners. If after being earnestly labored with, they refuse to repent and humble themselves before God, let them be separated from the church.--Letter 102, 1901, p. 6. (Written July 21,1901, from St. Helena, California, to the church at Healdsburg.)

You are in a position where you can do much good. As you fill your position as elder of the church, be true and kind to God in the person of the erring ones in the church. Bear in mind, my brother, that you should not fail to heed the admonition of the Spirit of God to bring into your heart all the kindness, all the tenderness, all the love of Christ. Do not cherish a cold, unsympathetic spirit. Let your words be carefully chosen. Speak and act so that you will have a great influence for good over the church members.

God desires you to avoid all harshness. Cover yourself with the robe of Christ's righteousness. Speak the truth in love, and in so doing you will be a blessing. Do not allow a rash spirit to control your words. May the Lord


soften and subdue your heart, that your words shall be a blessing to the church.--Letter 100, 1901, p. 1. (Written July 29,1901, from St. Helena, California, to Brother Mills.)

I have frequently been instructed to have a special charge over some who were in danger through special temptations. There are many who have weak points of character. I am instructed that when they shall be overtaken in a fault, and overcome, I am not to leave them to the unadvised words or unchristlike methods of those who have not the love and pity and grace of Christ in their hearts.

Those who can see the weakness and mark the faults of an erring one have a special responsibility to try to help him. If they push him off and crowd him away, I am to hold out to him the hand of hope, that he may grasp it, and never let go. I am to say to him. Never be discouraged. I am to tell him of his mistakes manifesting the kindest sympathy. Thus a soul may be saved, and a multitude of sins hidden; for if he confesses his faults, the Lord will pardon him. And from his own experience he will learn how to deal with others who make mistakes.

In dealing with the erring, Christ showed tender, forgiving love, and we are to practice the lessons He has given.

When Christ ate with publicans and sinners, the priest and rulers made all the capital possible out of his action. But Christ did this that He might speak to erring men the words of encouragement that the priests and rulers were not willing to speak. He would satisfy the inmost longings of the soul, and help


the sore-troubled ones, who needed guidance and encouragement. His words were always spoken with wisdom. They always exalted the truth. He presented principles that searched the recesses of the hearts of those who listened. He said that which reached the diseased imagination, and drew the mind out after eternal realities. . . .

In church capacity there are many things that we must do if we would be laborers together with God. If we would study Christ's methods, we would see many things to be reproved and corrected. But in doing this, we are to be sure to follow Christ's methods. Christ fellowship reveals duties to be performed and responsibilities to be borne. In all we are to follow Christ's example. In failing to deal faithfully with one who has erred, in refusing to speak kindly to him, we commit a grievous sin in the sight of God. In acting a harsh, stubborn part, in treating the one has made a mistake in accordance with our own unchristlike traits of character, we may discourage a soul that is in danger,and leave him to settle down into spiritual dwarfage, or to relapse into spiritual death.

A disregard of Christ's directions as to how to deal with the erring leads to contention and strife. A desire to cast a mote out of the eye of a brother often creates a beam in the eye of the accuser, because of his neglect or refusal to work in Christ's way.

If the directions of Christ, so explicitly given in His lessons to His disciples, are not followed, if church members engage in accusing and condemning their brethren and sisters, refusing to heed the words of the Saviour, serious estrangements will come into the church as the result.


Christ says, "First cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." The one who neglects to follow the directions of Christ , who accuses his brother without first going to him and talking the matter over with him, in the spirit of the Saviour, has a beam in his eye. He pays no attention to the remedy that Christ has given for the cure of dissension and strife. He does not go to the one he has condemned, telling him kindly what appears to be against his character. An explanation might clear away the difficulty, but he does not give the one he condemns an opportunity to make the explanation.

It is now time that we heeded the lessons of Christ, learning from him now to proceed in wisdom in dealing with the erring. The Saviour pities the one who does wrong, and in love corrects him, and, if he confesses and forsakes his sin, forgives him. Christ cannot save the purchase of His blood without, through reproof and correction, administering His discipline. This is necessary for the safety of the church, for the preservation of a wholesome atmosphere in the church. But He sees the danger of unwise judgment, and he gives the following injunctions: [Matt. 7:1-5, quoted].

To make His people perfect, the Lord points out their mistakes and dangers. If they give no heed to His words, He permits the sure consequence of wrongdoing to come upon them. But He does not forsake them and turn from them,unless they are willfully stubborn. If after reproof on reproof has been sent to them, they still refuse to reform, He says, "Separate them from the church, lest others be defiled; for their example is detrimental to the health of the church."


But let all remember the words, "First cast out the beam out of thine own eye, and then thou shalt see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother's eye." Let us not be so ready to accuse. God will make His people perfect if they will be molded and fashioned after the divine similitude. If they err, and then repent, He forgives them. His reproofs and corrections are sent to make His people perfect. Then let us accept reproof, and acknowledge our errors, and seek to avoid them.

No unlikeness to Christ will be permitted in the holy city. The process of gaining perfection of character is to be carried on in this life, that we may be prepared for the future immortal life. It is God's purpose that His church on earth shall reach perfection. It is essential that His directions be strictly obeyed. The members are to help and strengthen one another. No self-exaltation or accusing or harshness are to be shown in our dealings with one another. We must purify our souls through love and obedience to the truth. We must act like saints toward one another. We must purify our souls through love and obedience to the truth. We must act like saints toward one another, preparing ourselves, drilling ourselves, to be without fault in character, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.--Letter 67, 1905, pp. 2-7. (Written February 18, 1905, from St. Helena, California, to Brethren and Sisters.) Ellen G. White Estate Washington, D.C. October 8, 1985