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    Labor in Churches

    In the work done for the church at Battle Creek in the spring of 1870, there was not all that dependence upon God that the important occasion demanded. Brn. Andrews and Waggoner did not fully make God their trust, and move in his strength, and with his grace, as they should.PH159 129.1

    When Bro. Waggoner thinks a person is wrong, he is frequently too severe. He fails to exercise that compassion and consideration that he would have shown him under like circumstances. He is also in great danger of misjudging and erring in dealing with minds. It is the nicest work, and the most critical ever given to mortals, to handle minds. Those who engage in this work should have clear discernment, and good powers of discrimination. True independence of mind is an element entirely different from rashness. Independence, that is of that quality which leads to a cautious, prayerful, deliberate opinion, should be not easily yielded, until the evidence is sufficiently strong to make it certain that we are wrong. This independence will keep the mind calm, and unchangeable amidst the multitudinous errors which are prevailing, and will lead those in responsible positions to look carefully at the evidence on every side, and not be swerved by the influence of others, or by the surroundings, to form conclusions without intelligent and thorough knowledge of all the circumstances.PH159 129.2

    The investigation of cases in Battle Creek was very much after the order that a lawyer criticises a witness, and there was a decided absence of the Spirit of God. And there were a few united in this work who were active and zealous. Some were self-righteous and self-sufficient, and their testimonies were relied upon, and their influence swayed the judgment of Brn. Andrews and Waggoner. Sister Hewitt and sister Dodge were not received as members of the church because of some trivial deficiency. These brethren should have had judgment and discrimination to have seen that these objections were not of sufficient weight to keep those sisters out of the church. They both had been long in the faith, and had been true to the observance of the Sabbath for eighteen or twenty years.PH159 130.1

    Sister Richmond, who brought up these things, should have urged more weighty reasons against herself, why she should not have become a member of the church. Was she without sin? Were all her ways perfect before God? Was her patience, her self-denial, her gentleness, and forbearance, and calmness of temper, perfect? If she was without the weakness of common women, then she could cast the first stone. But these sisters who were left out of the church were beloved of God. They were worthy of a place in the church. These were dealt with unwisely, without a sufficient cause, and there were others whose cases were handled with no more heavenly wisdom, or without even sound judgment. Bro. Waggoner's judgment and power of discrimination have been perverted for very many years through the influence of his wife, who has been a most effective medium of Satan. If Bro. Waggoner had possessed the genuine quality of independence, he would have had a proper self-respect, and with becoming dignity built up his own house. If he has started upon a course designed to command respect in his family, he has generally carried the matter too far, and has been severe, and has talked harshly and overbearing. He would become conscious of this after a time, and then go to the opposite extreme and come down from his independence.PH159 130.2

    In this state of mind he receives reports from his wife, gives up his judgment, and would be easily deceived by her intrigues. She would sometimes feign to be a great sufferer, and would relate what she endured of neglect from her brethren, and privation in the absence of her husband. Her prevarications and cunning artifices to abuse the mind of her husband have been great. Bro. Waggoner has not fully received the light in times past which the Lord has given him in regard to his wife, or he would not have been deceived by her as he has. He has been brought into bondage many times by her spirit, because his own heart and life have not been fully consecrated to God. His feelings kindled against his brethren and he oppressed them. Self has not been crucified. He should seek earnestly to bring all his thoughts and feelings into subjection to the obedience of Christ. Faith and self-denial would have been Bro. Waggoner's strong helpers. If he had girded on the whole armor of God, and chosen no other defense than that which the Spirit of God and the power of truth gives him, he would have been strong in the strength of God.PH159 131.1

    But Bro. Waggoner is weak in many things. If God required him to expose and condemn a neighbor, to reprove and correct a brother, and resist and destroy his enemies, this would be to him a comparatively natural and easy work. But a warfare against self, subduing the desires and the affections of his own heart, searching out and controlling the secret motives of the heart, is a more difficult warfare. How unwilling to be faithful in such a contest as this. The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, and being clothed with humility, possessing that love that is pure, peaceable, and easy to be entreated, full of gentleness and good fruits, is not an easy attainment. And yet it is his privilege and his duty to be a perfect overcomer here. The soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in knowledge and true holiness. The holy life and character of Christ is a faithful example. His confidence in his Heavenly Father was unlimited. His obedience and submission were unreserved and perfect. He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister to others. He came not to do his own will, but the will of Him that sent him. In all things he submitted himself to Him that judgeth righteously; and from the lips of the Saviour of the world was heard these words, “I can of my own self do nothing.”PH159 132.1

    He became poor, and made himself of no reputation. He was hungry, and frequently thirsty, and many times weary in his labors, and he had not where to lay his head. When the damp, cold shades of night gathered about him, frequently the earth was his bed. He blessed those who hated him. What a life! what an experience! Can we, the professed followers of Christ, cheerfully endure privation and suffering, as did our Lord, without murmuring? Can we drink of the cup, and be baptized with the baptism? If so, we may share with him in his glory, in his heavenly kingdom. If not, we shall have no part with him.PH159 133.1

    Bro. Waggoner has an experience to gain, without which his work will do positive injury. He is affected too much by what others tell him, of the erring, and he is apt to decide according to the impressions made upon his mind, and he deals with severity when a milder course would be far better. He does not bear in mind his own weakness, and how hard it is for him to have his course questioned, even when he is wrong.PH159 134.1

    When Bro. Waggoner decides in his judgment that a brother or sister is wrong, he is inclined to carry the matter through, and press his censure, although in doing so he hurts his own soul, and endangers the souls of others. Bro. Waggoner should shun church trials, and should have nothing to do in settling difficulties, if he can possibly avoid them. He has a valuable gift, which is needed in the work of God. But he should separate himself from influences which draw upon his sympathies, and confuse his judgment, and lead him to move unwisely. This should not and need not be. Bro. Waggoner exercises too little faith in God. He dwells too much upon his bodily infirmities, and strengthens unbelief by dwelling upon poor feelings. God has strength and wisdom in store for those who seek for it earnestly, in faith believing.PH159 134.2

    I was shown that Bro. Waggoner is a strong man upon some points, while upon other points he is as weak as a child. His course in dealing with the erring has had a scattering influence. Bro. Waggoner has confidence in his ability to labor in setting things in order where he thinks it is needed, but he does not view the matter aright. He weaves into his labors his own spirit, and he does not discriminate, but often deals without tenderness. There is such a thing as over-doing the matter in doing strict duty to individuals. “And of some have compassion, making a difference; and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”PH159 135.1

    Duty, stern duty has a twin sister, which is kindness. If duty and kindness are blended, there will be decided advantage gained; but if duty is separated from kindness, and there is not mingled with duty tender love, there will be a failure, and much harm will be the result. Men and women will not be driven. Many can be won by kindness and love. Bro. Waggoner has held aloft the gospel whip, and his own words have frequently been the snap to that whip, which has not had the influence to spur others to greater zeal, and provoke to good works; but has aroused their combativeness to repel his severity.PH159 135.2

    If Bro. Waggoner had walked in the light he would not have made so many serious failures. “If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.” The path of obedience is the path of safety. “He that walketh uprightly walketh surely.” Walk in the light and then shalt thou walk in thy way safely and thy foot shall not stumble. Those who do not walk in the light will have a sickly and stunted religion. Bro. Waggoner should feel the importance of walking in the light however crucifying to self. It is earnest effort prompted by love for souls which strengthens the heart, and develops the graces.PH159 136.1

    Bro. Waggoner is naturally independent and self-sufficient. He estimates his ability to do more highly than it will bear. Bro. Waggoner, you pray for the Lord to humble you, and fit you for his work, and when the Lord answers your prayer, and puts you under a course of discipline necessary for the accomplishment of the object, you frequently give way to doubts and despondency, and think you have reasons for discouragements. You frequently think Bro. White is restraining you, when he has cautioned and held you back from engaging in church difficulties.PH159 136.2

    I was shown your labors in Iowa. There was a decided failure to gather with Christ. You distracted, confused, and scattered, the poor sheep. You had a zeal, but it was not according to knowledge. Your labors were not in love, but in sternness and severity. You were exacting and overbearing. You did not strengthen the sick and bind up the lame. Your injudicious harshness pushed some out of the fold who can never be reached and brought back. Words fitly spoken are like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Words unfitly spoken are the reverse. Their influence will be like desolating hail.PH159 137.1

    Bro. Waggoner, you have felt restless under restraint because Bro. White has cautioned, advised, and reproved you. You have thought that if you could be free and act yourself, you could do a good and great work. But your wife's influence has greatly injured your usefulness. You have failed to command your household after you. You have not ruled well your own house. You have thought you understood how to manage your home matters. But how have you been deceived. You have too often followed the promptings of your own spirit, which has resulted in perplexities and discouragements which have clouded your discernment and weakened you spiritually, so that your labors have been marked with great imperfections.PH159 137.2

    The labors of Brn. Waggoner and Cornell in Boston were premature. These brethren had their past experience with its mistakes before them, which should have been sufficient to guard them from engaging in a work which they were not qualified to perform. There was enough that needed to be done. Boston was a hard place to raise up a church. Opposing influences surrounded them. Every move made should have been with due caution and prayerful consideration.PH159 138.1

    These two brethren had been warned and reproved repeatedly for moving injudiciously, and they should not have taken the responsibilities upon themselves that they did. Oh! how much better would it have been for the cause of God in Boston if they had been laboring in new fields. Satan's seat is in Boston, as well as in other wicked cities; and he is a wily foe to contend with. There were disorderly elements among Sabbath-keepers in Boston that were hindrances to the cause. But there is a proper time to speak and act, a golden opportunity which will show the best results of labor put forth.PH159 138.2

    If things had been left to more fully develop before they were touched, there would have been a separation of the disorderly, unconsecrated ones, and there would not have been an opposition party. This should ever be saved if possible. The church might better suffer much annoyance and exercise the more patience than to get in a hurry, drive matters, and provoke a combative spirit. Those who really loved the truth for the truth's sake, should have pursued their course with the glory of God in view, and let the light of truth shine out before all.PH159 139.1

    They might expect that the elements of confusion and dissatisfaction among them would make them trouble. Satan would not remain quiet and see a company raised up in Boston to vindicate truth, and dispel sophistry and error. His ire would be kindled, and he [would] institute a war against those who keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus. But this should not have made the faithful believers impatient or discouraged. These things should have the influence to make the true believer more guarded, watchful, and prayerful—more tender, pitiful, and loving, to those who are making so great a mistake in regard to eternal things. As Christ has borne and continues to bear with our errors, our ingratitude, and our feeble love, so should we bear with those who test and try our patience. Shall the followers of the self-denying, self-sacrificing Jesus be unlike their Lord? Christians should have hearts of kindness and forbearance.PH159 139.2

    Christ presented before his hearers the parable of the gospel sower, which contains a lesson we should study. Those who preach present truth and scatter the good seed will realize the same results as the gospel sower. All classes will be affected more or less by the presentation of pointed and convincing truth. Some will be wayside hearers. They will be affected by the truths spoken, but they have not cultivated the moral powers. They have followed inclination rather than duty. Evil habits have hardened their hearts like the hard, beaten road. These may profess to believe the truth, but will have no just sense of its sacredness and elevated character. They do not separate from the friendship of the lovers of pleasure and corrupt society. They place themselves where they are constantly tempted, and may well be represented by the unfenced field. They invite the temptations of the enemy and finally lose the regard they seemed once to have for the truth when the good seed was dropped into their hearts.PH159 140.1

    Some are stony-ground hearers. They readily receive anything new and exciting. The word of truth they receive with joy. And with ardor and zeal they talk earnestly in reference to their faith and hope, and may even administer reproof to those of long experience for some apparent deficiency or for their lack of enthusiasm. But when they are tested and proved by the heat of trial and temptation, when the pruning-knife of God is applied, that they may bring forth fruit unto perfection, their zeal dies, their voice is silent. No longer do they boast in the strength and power of truth. This class are controlled by feelings. They have not depth and stability of character. Principle does not reach down deep, underlying the springs of action. They have in word exalted the truth, but are not doers of that word. The seed of truth has not rooted down below the surface. The heart has not been renewed by the transforming influence of the Spirit of God. And when the truth calls for working men and women, when sacrifices have to be made for the truth's sake, they are somewhere else; and when trials and persecution come; they fall away because they have no deepness of earth. The truth, plain, pointed, and close, is brought to bear upon the heart, and reveals the deformity of character. Some will not bear this test, but frequently close their eyes to their imperfections, although their consciences tell them that the words spoken by the messengers of God, which bears so closely upon their Christian characters, are truth; yet they will not listen to the voice. They are offended because of the word, and yield the truth rather than to submit to be sanctified through the truth. They flatter themselves that they may get to Heaven an easier way.PH159 140.2

    Still another class is represented in the parable. Men and women who listen to the word are convinced of the truth, and accept it without seeing the sinfulness of their hearts. The love of the world holds a large place in their affections. In their deal, they love to get the best of the bargain. They prevaricate, and by deception and fraud gain means which ever will prove as a thorn to them; for it will over-balance their good purposes and intentions. The good seed sown in their hearts is choked. They frequently are so anxious and full of care, fearing they shall not gain means, or shall lose what they have gained, they make their temporal matters primary. They do not nourish the good seed. They do not attend meetings where their hearts can be strengthened by religious privileges. They fear they shall meet with some loss in temporal things; and the deceitfulness of riches leads them to flatter themselves that it is duty to toil and gain all they can, that they may help the cause of God; and yet the more they increase in their earthly riches the less is their heart inclined to part with their treasure, until their hearts are fully turned from the truth they loved. The good seed is choked because overgrown with unnecessary worldly cares and needless anxiety—with love for earthly pleasures and worldly honors which riches give.PH159 142.1

    Another parable Jesus presents to his disciples—the field wherein good seed was sown, and, while sleeping, the enemy sowed tares. The question was asked the householder, “Didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?” “He said unto him, An enemy hath done this.” “The servant said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn.” If faithfulness and vigilance had been preserved, if there had been no sleeping or negligence upon the part of any, the enemy would not have had so favorable an opportunity to sow tares among the wheat. Satan never sleeps. He is watching, and improves every opportunity to set his agents to scatter error, which finds good soil in many unsanctified hearts.PH159 143.1

    The sincere believers of truth are made sad, and their trials and sorrows greatly increased, by the elements among them which annoy, dishearten, and discourage, them in their efforts. But the Lord teaches a lesson to his servants of great carefulness in all their moves. Let both grow together. Do not forcibly pull up the tares, lest in rooting them up, the precious blades will become loosened. The ministers and church should be very cautious, lest they get a zeal not according to knowledge. There is danger of doing too much to cure difficulties in the church which, if let alone, frequently work their own cure. It is bad policy to take hold of matters in any church prematurely. We shall have to exercise the greatest care, patience, and self-control, to bear these things and not go to work in our own spirit to set things in order.PH159 144.1

    The work done in Boston was premature, and caused an untimely separation in that little church. If the servants of God could have felt the force of our Saviour's lesson in the parable of the wheat and tares, they would not have undertaken the work they did. It should always be a matter of the most careful consideration and prayer before steps are taken which will give even those who are utterly unworthy the least occasion to complain of being separated from the church. Steps were taken in Boston which created an opposition party. Some were wayside hearers, others were stony-ground hearers. And still others were of that class who receive the truth while the heart had a growth of thorns, which choked the good seed, and those would never have perfected Christian character. But there were a few that might have been nourished and strengthened, and become settled and established in the truth, but the positions taken by Brn. Cornell and Waggoner brought a premature crisis, and then there was a lack of wisdom and judgment in managing the faction.PH159 144.2

    If persons are as deserving to be separated from the church as Satan was of being cast out of Heaven, they will have sympathizers. There is always a class who are more influenced by individuals than they are controlled by the Spirit of God and sound principles; and they are, in their unconsecrated state, ever ready to take up upon the wrong side, and give their pity and sympathy to the very ones who least deserve it. These sympathizers have a powerful influence with others, and things are seen in a perverted light, and great harm is done, and many souls ruined. Satan, in his rebellion, took a third part of the angels. They turned from the Father and from his Son, and united with the instigator of rebellion. With these facts before us, we should move with the greatest caution. What can we expect in our connection with men and women with peculiar minds but trials and perplexity. We must bear this, and avoid the necessity of rooting up the tares, lest the wheat be rooted up also.PH159 145.1

    In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in me ye shall have peace. The trials to which Christians are subjected in sorrow, adversity, and reproach, are the appointed means of God to separate the chaff from the wheat. Our selfishness, love of worldly pleasure, evil passions, and pride, must be all overcome, and therefore God sends us afflictions to test and prove us, and show us that these evils exist in our characters; and we must, through his strength and grace, overcome, that we may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. “For our light affliction,” says Paul, “which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Afflictions, crosses, temptations, adversity, and our varied trials, are God's workmen to refine us, sanctify us, and fit us for the heavenly garner.PH159 146.1

    The harm done to the cause of truth by premature moves can never be fully repaired. The cause of God in Boston has not advanced as it might, and will not stand in as favorable light before the people as before this work was done. There are frequently persons among us whose influence seems to be but a cipher on the right side. Their lives seem to be useless; but let them become rebellious and combative, and they became zealous workmen for Satan. This work is more in accordance with the feelings of the natural heart. There is great need of self-examination and secret prayer. God has promised wisdom to those who ask him. Missionary labor is frequently entered into by those unprepared for the work. Outward zeal is cultivated while secret prayer is neglected. When this is the case, much harm is done, for these laborers seek to regulate others’ consciences by their own rule. Self-control is much needed. Hasty words stir up strife. Bro. Waggoner is in danger of indulging in a spirit of sharp criticism. This does not become ministers of righteousness.PH159 147.1

    Bro. Waggoner, you have much to learn. Your failures and your discouragements you have been inclined to charge to Bro. White; but close investigation of your motives and of your course of action would reveal other causes which exist in yourself for these discouragements. Following the inclinations of your own natural heart brings you into bondage. Your severe and torturing spirit which you sometimes indulge in cuts off your influence. Bro. Waggoner, you have a work to do for yourself which no other can do for you. Each must give an account of himself to God. God has given us his law as a mirror into which we may look and discover the defects in our character. This mirror into which we are to look is not for the purpose of seeing our neighbor's faults reflected, for us to watch to see if he comes up to the standard, but to see the defects in ourselves, that we may remove these defects. Knowledge is not all that we need. We must follow the light. We are not left to choose for ourselves, and to obey that which is agreeable to us, and disobey to suit our convenience. Obedience is better than sacrifice.PH159 147.2


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