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Manuscript Releases, vol. 17 [Nos. 1236-1300]

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    MR No. 1272—Bible Principles to Govern SDA Institutions; Conscience Accountable to God Alone; Unconverted Men Controlling Councils and Boards

    (Written “To the General Conference and Our Publishing Institutions.”)

    In the General Conference the counsels of God have been set aside, and the counsels and wisdom of men have been relied upon. God has seen this, and He is displeased. The General Conference—what is it? what does it comprehend? Is it a General Conference, or is it something wrapped up and called by that name? With the exception of a limited number, the people who ought to know are not intelligent in regard to its workings. A few have managed matters according to their own judgment, and the people at large know scarcely anything of what is being done at the heart of the work, only as it is represented by the men who have not set the Lord ever before them.17MR 221.1

    As I was made to understand something of the management of the work in this great center, it was all that I could bear. My spirit was pained within me, for I had lost confidence in that which I had ever presented before the people as the voice of God to His children. It has not been the voice of God. There has been a lording power exercised over God's heritage in decisions which were not dictated by the Spirit of God. Unconsecrated men who were brought in connection with the work have exercised their own wisdom, and have woven into the work their own unconverted peculiarities. Their own principles have been counterworking the principles of truth and righteousness. We cannot therefore present before the people that the voice of the General Conference in its decisions must move and control them; for its propositions and decisions cannot be accepted. They are not in the right line of progress. God is dropped out of their counsels.17MR 221.2

    Those who have questioned the policy of the lines pursued have been in the way of these supposed wise counsellors’ accomplishing all that they desired, and some have been instructed that their talents were needed in some other place. They have been recommended to secure a healthful and better climate.17MR 222.1

    The Lord has need of faithful stewards in connection with His work, and this He has not had. There has been much confusion and evil working in the Committee and Board meetings. Suggestions have been made which, if men had not put out their own eyes, they would have easily discerned as wrong. The men who have devised and planned are not the ones who should have been in trust, for they were no more qualified to grasp and manage the large responsibilities than are children to guide the steamships over the broad ocean.17MR 222.2

    The men who are guiding and planning, who carry large responsibilities, have separated themselves from God, and the righteousness of true principles is not in them; and if their plans are not counterworked they will cause ruin. They have been very diligent in attending to matters which they had far better have left for God to handle. In the place of diminishing the cares, they were only increasing them.17MR 222.3

    It was God who gave knowledge to Daniel and his fellows. Those four companions were united in mind and judgment, for they depended on the counsel that was given by Christ as, enshrouded in the pillar of cloud, He led the children of Israel in the wilderness. He gave light in regard to the lessons that must be unwaveringly followed by those who would engage in His service. But at this stage of the work objectionable influences have come in to counterwork the work of God. The work of God has not been done according to His purpose. The Lord's workmen must have their eyes anointed with the heavenly eyesalve, and then they will see light and truth in its importance and sanctifying character.17MR 222.4

    Many see in the light which God has permitted to shine upon His people nothing but objectionable darkness. Others decide that they will not be untrue to principle, but when temptation comes and the enemy presents methods of working that are entirely contrary to the word of God, they follow his suggestions and counterwork the very work that God would have them do for this time.17MR 223.1

    Thus it was that Satan presented his temptation to our first parents. He led them to believe that in disobeying the command of God a great good would be secured to them. The temptation was gilded with attractions, and our first parents yielded to it. Thus the seed of evil is cast into the soil, and by reasoning upon it the matter which once he regarded as decidedly opposed to the Scriptures, man begins to view in a more favorable light; and the tempter secures the once steadfast soul with the confederacies of evil.17MR 223.2

    Thus the work has gone forward till the tares have appeared. The harvest of corrupting influences does its work, and in the place of the fine gold of character being found in men in positions of trust, there are revealed principles which, if cherished, will bring disaster and defeat, spiritual blindness, nakedness, and despair.17MR 223.3

    Says the True Witness, “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.” A few even in Sardis held fast their integrity. Their only hope was in holding fast to God, and in these the promise will be fulfilled, “I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir” [Isaiah 13:12].17MR 223.4

    God holds responsible the men whom He has appointed to positions of trust. They are to conduct our institutions upon strictly Bible principles, in every line, in every branch. They are to educate those who are connected with them. They may be surrounded with ever increasing cares, but if they are looking to God in prayer, if they are seeking for the grace of Christ, they will have the help that they so much need. They will not be found unfaithful in their stewardship in large or small responsibilities, in spiritual or business lines.17MR 224.1

    In the early Christian church there were men who were true disciples of Christ. They met often together where prayer was wont to be made. They could only work to advance those principles that bore the signet of heaven. They first talked with God, ascertained what spirit they themselves were of; then they could closely and critically examine every point, every method, every principle in the light reflected from the Sun of Righteousness.17MR 224.2

    They did not accept strange fire. They took their fire from the divine altar. To them holy and just principles were sacred, and by cherishing these they kept themselves unspotted from the world. Ever looking to Jesus, they marked the spirit in which He worked, and followed His example. They gave to others the pure principles of the Word of God. This Word was their counsel, their guide, their close companion. To them the Scriptures were supreme authority. For every question agitated they had one standard to consult. It was not, “What saith men?” but, “What saith the Lord?”17MR 224.3

    Those who are constrained by the love of Christ will be faithful to the work and word of God. They will not be sluggards. They will not be noncommittal. They will not be divided in their decisions and sentiments. They will be of one mind and one judgment, quick to detect errors and not slow to name them.17MR 224.4

    In order that no cheap, bungling work be brought into the cause of God, the true Christian is ever to feel that he is dependent upon his Maker. And he will not be ashamed to acknowledge his dependence. Like Daniel, he will not take credit to himself. He will give all honor to God, letting worldly men as well as his brethren know that he is depending upon the Lord and weeding out of his life everything that would grieve His Spirit. Like Daniel, he will improve every opportunity of adding to his acquirements. He will trade upon the talents the Lord has given him, after the holy principles laid down in the Word. And this will give him multiplied ability.17MR 225.1

    The man who magnifies his own office in working in any line to bind about the conscience of another, be he president of the General Conference, president of a smaller conference, or the elder or deacon or lay member of a church, he is out of God's line. The Lord has been dishonored by the misrepresentations that have weakened and discouraged some of His servants, and deprived them of the opportunity to employ their talents because they will not sell their conscience or their powers for other men to use. God desires that men shall stand in their own individual responsibility, and while they are consecrated to Him there will be unity in their diversity, as branches of the true Vine. But in the present condition of things, if one stands fast to his integrity, he is by some scorned, scouted, criticised, and dropped out if it can be brought about.17MR 225.2

    Brethren, God has given you no power to work in the lines in which you have worked. The Holy Spirit has not appointed you to any such position. Attend to your own soul's salvation. If you have not that wisdom which will lead you to provide for your own future eternal good, how can you provide for others? How can you give right instruction to them?17MR 225.3

    If God gives a man wisdom, his course of action will be in harmony with the will of God, and those connected with him will have confidence in his wisdom to devise and plan for the progress and advancement of the work of God in saving souls that are ready to die. The apostle Peter says: [2 Peter 1:2-9, quoted].17MR 226.1

    Men who have been standing in stubborn resistance of the teachings of the Spirit of God have been honored as chosen men, as men qualified to run the work of God and to decide questions involving the highest responsibilities. They have been sent from place to place to give judgment in regard to matters which affect the future history of the work. But how can God look upon such a presentation as is now given at the great center of the work?17MR 226.2

    Those in our council meetings who are Christians will be thoughtful, serious, sober-minded, calm, and not easily thrown off their balance by the sweeping assertions and misrepresentations which they will have to meet, though there be one by their side who is led by the spirit of Satan to bring confusion and humiliation and defeat upon those who stand in vindication of the truth. Positive disrespect has been shown to these men as they have advanced their opinions in regard to the work, while those who have stood in opposition have not given an honest answer to prove why the position taken was not right. A sneer goes a long way with some who are very sensitive, but let all remember that loud voiced reiteration of opinion is not evidence. Let all bear in mind that whatever men have said or ever may say is of value only as far as the Word of God can endorse and sustain their opinions. A jingle of words is only as chaff when compared to sound reasoning and sound principles. What is the chaff to the wheat?17MR 226.3

    The spirit of men has striven for the mastery against God. The man who trusts in man will receive the spirit and sentiments of men as wiser and safer than God's. But those who trust in God, who can, like Moses, come into the mount with God, will be kept by the power of God, calm and composed above the influence of the boisterous accusations and the shocks that ruffle and discompose the minds of men. Nothing can sway from right principles the men who will make the Word of God their guide. Ever before their minds is the question, “What is written in the law?” “How readest thou?” “What hath God said?” No word from men or from ministers in the highest position can make them set their feet in questionable paths. In earnest prayer with God they have shod their feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.17MR 227.1

    The blessing of God can attend only the cleanest, purest work between man and his fellow man. But at the very heart of the work wrongs have been glossed over. Strict integrity has been turned aside, and dishonesty has taken its place. Men have not scrupled to conduct the work after their own defective planning. All this bears only too plainly the impress of human, erring wisdom. These men have no completeness of character in Christ, and nothing could be more unwise than to allow such men to be actively engaged in work that God has not demanded of them. Bible principles are not considered of sufficient consequence to demand forethought, earnest prayer in private. Close investigation of the work and its management is not considered needful.17MR 227.2

    If men will walk in the path that God has marked out for them, they will have a Counselor whose wisdom is far above any human wisdom. Joshua was a wise general because God was his guide. The first sword that Joshua used was the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Will the men who are handling large responsibilities read the first chapter of Joshua? [Joshua 1:1, 5, 7, quoted.]17MR 227.3

    Do you think that all these charges would have been given to Joshua if there had been no danger of his being brought under misleading influences? It was because the strongest influences were to be brought to bear against his principles of righteousness that the Lord in mercy charged him not to turn to the right hand or to the left. He was to follow a course of strictest integrity. [Joshua 1:8, 9, quoted.] If there had been no peril before Joshua, God would not over and over again have charged him to be of good courage. But amid all his cares, Joshua had his God to guide him.17MR 228.1

    There is no greater deception than for man to suppose that in any difficulty he can find a better guide than God, a wiser counselor in any emergency, a stronger defense under any circumstance. Man cannot act more unwisely than to rely upon human wisdom, to devise and plan when Christ has said, “Without Me ye can do nothing” aright, to venture to unite with men who set aside the wisdom of God as unessential, and enter into plans devised by human agents who are worked by the enemy of righteousness. Human devices that should never have been allowed to come into existence have been adopted to escape from financial embarrassment. These will not help the matter, but make it tenfold worse. We are not to trust to the wisdom of men whose management has helped to bring about the difficulties.17MR 228.2

    God declares, “Them that honor Me, I will honor.” God's revealed will has been superseded by the speculations and opinions of finite men who have refused the Holy Spirit's working and called His work fanaticism. How often have you changed the working of the Sentinel? Will you attend to matters in your own line, and let God manage this organ? The Word of God has not been taken into your council meetings; for had this been followed you would have had your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. You would have walked in straight paths. But men have foolishly trusted to finite wisdom. They have adopted theories and plans that are opposed to the Word of God, and have greatly marred His work. Yet they act like blind men. They work desperately to gather all the responsibilities they can grasp, while they are no more able to manage them than are children.17MR 228.3

    In your conference meetings there were heard pleasant presentations in regard to the consolidation of the Pacific Publishing House with the publishing interests at Battle Creek. This, it was proposed, should not interfere with their independence and rights, but that the General Conference should be to the interests on the Pacific Coast what fathers and mothers are to their children. These were very pleasant presentations; but I was carried into the future and was shown those who sanctioned these principles laying plans to control the work on the Pacific Coast. I was shown that if this plan were adopted, the publishing interests there would be swallowed up by the methods and plans of those who wanted more power, who were contending as to who should be first, who should carry the greatest honors, who should have the supremacy.17MR 229.1

    You cannot relieve your present embarrassment by loading down, but by unloading. The word of the Lord was given, “Attend to your own work faithfully, and take your hands off that which the Lord has appointed for the Pacific Coast.” And again, “Warn them upon the Pacific Coast not to entangle themselves in anywise, nor bind upon themselves obligations which will place them in bondage to any man or council.”17MR 229.2

    “Come out from among them,” God says, “and be ye separate, ... and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” [2 Corinthians 6:17, 18]. We all need a Father with whom to consult. The Holy Spirit has been refused by men who are puffed up with vain conceit and believe themselves capable of managing wonderful responsibilities. The men who have chosen to be a light unto His people have acted as if their lamps, lighted from the divine altar, had gone out.17MR 229.3

    For years the Lord has given light which is unheeded. Men may fast and pray and have every appearance of sanctity, but it will disappear as frost before the sun if they continue to dishonor God as Eli dishonored Him in sanctioning wrong influences and accepting wrong principles, and turning from the light that God has given.17MR 230.1

    To the men who handle God-given responsibilities, the Bible must be more than a collection of syllables and words. The Spirit of God has been grieved from many who have had great light. But is it always to be so? God will not have His word return unto Him void. He will make it a power, a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death.17MR 230.2

    There are men in responsible places who have but a limited knowledge of what the soul demands. Men are placed there who are deficient in many ways. But the most dangerous men in all our ranks are those who do not work righteousness. The Holy Spirit does not work them. They are worked by a power from beneath. And yet these men suppose that they can manufacture laws and rules, build up and tear down, and carry all they can grasp under their own control, without God. They should tremble and be afraid because of their course of action.17MR 230.3

    If our people were not blinded by deception they would see that these men are walking contrary to God. God has been speaking to them by His Word, through His testimonies, by His Spirit. Why do they not take heed? They have closed their eyes that they should not see, and their ears that they should not hear. They have rushed madly on in their uncontrollable spirit, unsanctified and separated from God; and yet they suppose that they can bring God's people to their terms and under their control.17MR 230.4

    Cannot our people understand that when men's lips speak proudly and they seek to rule their fellow men, when their resolutions and principles are decidedly contrary to the Word, to turn away from justice and equity, and when they treat their fellow men unjustly, they are walking away from God? Brother----, how could you give your sanction to the methods that have had a place in the work, and which have caused God's workers to be treated as inanimate machines? God abhors your practice.17MR 231.1

    When the consolidation was first devised, it was represented as altogether another thing. But the enemy saw that this was his chance to work upon human minds. He prepared a confederation that the Battle Creek institutions might be the power to bring under its control all other lines of work. It cannot be done. God will put a voice in the stones to cry out against it. Unconverted men have had altogether too much to do in molding and fashioning the work at Battle Creek—in erecting large buildings to make a display, to “give character to the work.” Piety, true fear and love of God alone, can give stability of character to the cause of truth.17MR 231.2

    Unless they fall on the Rock and are broken, it is impossible for the men who have been under the leavening influence of those who have separated themselves from God to see and work on correct principles. Unless they obtain an experience in how to control their own spirit, they cannot manage any religious interest; for they are unable to judge righteously and unselfishly.17MR 231.3

    The refuge of lies will fail. God will strike a blow to deliver His oppressed people. He will raise up humble men to do His will. He who rules among the nations calls upon those at the heart of the work to “be still, and know that I am God.” Men will find ere long that they cannot trample on God's holy precepts without incurring the punishment. The Lord will not be slow to punish those who have had great light and yet have betrayed Him. His eye has been reading the transactions that have been stealing through the unconsecrated elements in councils and board meetings in our institutions. “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment,” He says, “in meteyard, in weight, and in measure” [Leviticus 19:35]. “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor, and life” [Proverbs 22:4]. “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” [Hebrews 13:5].17MR 231.4

    Men have walked contrary to the light. They have extinguished their light, and yet have dictated with their strong spirit how matters should be, as if God had given the special control over all His heritage, to forbid or sanction, to oppress, to speak proudly, to put forth the finger unto vanity, to walk in a false show as mighty men. Shall not God judge for these things? Is prosperity to come to God's institutions and work by building upon the ruins of truth, of righteousness, of justice, of all that is pure and holy?17MR 232.1

    Do those who know the truth and have a knowledge of God suppose that men who have turned away from truth and righteousness and are filled with a sense of their own importance, can invent safe methods for carrying on the work? This is what it means, and the sooner this bubble blown by Satan is burst, the better it will be for the healthfulness of all our institutions. When the very heart of the work is diseased, its action must be uncertain, fitful, unreliable. It is time we had an investigation before as many people as possible. All who are helping to sustain the work should get together and understand its inward workings.17MR 232.2

    I must speak plainly. We are reaching a time when a just standard of right and wrong, of honor and dishonor, of truth and error, is becoming a thing of naught. “Truth is fallen in the streets, and equity cannot enter.” In the ambitious projects invented, there [is danger] of losing all sense of distinction between right and wrong. Those who listen to misrepresentations are supposed to be acting for the cause. For a long time a course has been pursued which has perverted principle and justice. We need men who will not be drawn into secret, underhand confederacy, but who will shun as a sin the least intriguing and underhand work—men who will call things by their right name, men who are barricaded by principle and braced for duty, be it pleasant or unpleasant, men whom neither flattery, pretense, cunning, nor art could induce to swerve one hair from principle or duty.17MR 233.1

    It is a great dishonor to prevaricate, to falsify, to come to terms with men because they have spoken that which is not true, for the love of a little money to degrade the soul. The Word of God condemns all such practice. It is a common thing with some to sacrifice conscience in order to obtain an advantage or to be thought greatest. The man who sits at the feet of Jesus and learns His lessons will say as did one of old, “Unto their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united.”17MR 233.2

    Those who in heart are not united to the truth pride themselves upon the great show of buildings in the publishing house. Though habituated to handling divine interests, the sacred has no more virtue to them than the common, and they do many things deceitfully. They do not bring the sacred Word of God to their lips to feed upon it as upon heavenly manna. They may talk the most pointed truth, but they do not love or practice its principles.17MR 233.3

    The Word of God is to be our teacher. It is the voice of God speaking to our hearts. But the principles that God has given us—principles of strictest integrity—have been discarded. The deceitful heart has been consulted, and the Wonderful, the Counsellor, who alone can keep the soul pure, has been rejected. The transactions of the past years should be presented before those who should know the inward workings. Little by little have the barriers been broken away, showing that the foundation of the structure is built upon the sand. The Bible and the Bible alone must now be laid up in the heart. It must be cherished and regarded as the voice of God, for it alone can make men right and keep them so.17MR 234.1

    Every earthly influence is weak when compared with the wayward heart of man. Unless the truth is cherished, unless it controls the whole man, conscience will be violated. When the Word of God abides in the soul, the heart is kept as a fountain of living water, refreshing and blessing all within the sphere of its influence.17MR 234.2

    The lessons we are to learn from the existing state of things in the publishing institution is that any resistance against the Holy Spirit in any of its workings is dangerous. No one should lose his confidence in the validity of the truth, for the showing at the present time is a positive testimony to the power of the truth in its influence upon human hearts, and proves that truth alone is the bread of life. Truth must be enthroned in the heart and maintained in the conscience as the savor of the whole man and the saviour of many souls.—Manuscript 66, 1898.17MR 234.3

    Ellen G. White Estate

    Washington, D. C.,

    July 9, 1987.

    Entire Manuscript.

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