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Manuscript Releases, vol. 21 [Nos. 1501-1598]

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    MR No. 1542—Dealing With Dissident Brethren Through Prayer, Preaching, and Personal Effort

    (Written June 15, 1884, from Walla Walla Washington Territory, to Brother and Sister Uriah Smith. A portion of this manuscript appears in Manuscript Release No. 714.)

    Our meeting is nearly closed in this place. We are encamped in a cottonwood grove, in a very pleasant, retired spot although it is only a few minutes’ walk to the business part of the city. There is a swift running stream of clear water that half encircles the camp. We are on the bank of the stream very pleasantly located. We have a large tent fifteen by twenty-two. Professor Brownsberger and Willie occupy one end of the tent; Sister Ings and I the other end. We have the best arrangement for meals and for order we have had on any encampment. And we needed good food.21MR 202.1

    We have had an amount of the hardest kind of labor. Brother Van Horn did not bring the people up to do their duty, and as he was president of both conferences, the work devolving upon him left undone, left both conferences in a bad condition. For anyone to work after him (because he is one of the ablest preachers we have)—when a man with less preaching talent but with financial ability should come in there—bringing up the work to a healthful condition was not easy.21MR 202.2

    Brother and Sister Colcord came as workers, and for the first year they did quite well, but after that the Milton church ran things and did not magnify his office. They would criticize his preaching and dictate to him until he was manipulated like a ball of putty. He was president only in name, and he lost his courage and his manhood and had no moral backbone, and under this management everything in the conference ran down.21MR 202.3

    And when Corliss was sent here to help them they put him through the picking machine until his courage was about gone. Brother Raymond has never been in harmony with his brethren. He has been independent, self-conceited, but carries such an appearance of humility that nearly all believed him to be the humblest of men. He was talking against the General Conference and finding fault with the men in responsible positions. He had some new light on Revelation; was saying your views on two or three points were incorrect. He was discouraging some from canvassing for Daniel and Revelation.21MR 202.4

    How [we] dreaded to touch this case, for the moment we should take hold of this matter there would be trouble in the camp. We prayed over the matter. We had all the ministers and the leading men in the conference come into our tent each morning and had special seasons of prayer. The Lord blessed us abundantly, but these men from Milton, who had run things, the president and all, thought they would run us, and they set at the work most decidedly, telling us we ought to do this and that and preach this and that. But we heard them respectfully and preached the Word of the Lord without any reference to their suggestions. I entered upon my labors Friday in the early morning meeting. I spoke as the Lord bid me which [made] them somewhat uneasy.21MR 202.5

    I took some of our brethren aside in our tent and read the matter I had written three years ago in regard to their course. They had pledged to the General Conference and taken it all back again. I read to them straight, clear, and pointed testimonies, but here was the trouble: they had felt no obligation to believe the Testimonies. Brother Nichols had been one of the Marion party when he lived in LaPorte, Iowa, and what to do with these folks was a mystery. There was no minister or his message [that] they respected above their own judgment. How to bring anything to bear upon them was the question.21MR 203.1

    We could only pray and I work for them as though they did believe every word of testimony, and yet so cautious as though they were unbelievers. It was in my mind day and night—a portion of the Lord's prayer—“Thine is the power and the glory.” God's power could come to us and we could work only in faith, believing that the Lord would help us. Just as soon as we preached the plain principles of truth there was a buzzing in camp like a swarm of bees. They said Elder Waggoner and I were clubbing them. They did not want that kind of preaching.21MR 203.2

    Sabbath morning early I went into meeting and the Lord gave me a testimony directly to them, all unexpected to me. I poured it out upon them, showing them that the Lord sent His ministers with a message, and the message they brought was the very means God had ordained to reach them, but they felt at liberty to pick it in pieces and make of none effect the Word of God. They had run over Brethren Colcord and Van Horn, but they must hear the words from God we brought them. We did not propose to ask them what we should present before them. We came to bring the message of God to them, and we should not abate one word of the testimony given to please any of them. This had already been done until they felt at liberty to sit in judgment upon every sermon preached. We did not come to have them preach to us but we came with a message to them, and we should give them the word of the Lord.21MR 203.3

    I can tell you there was great astonishment and marveling that I dared to speak to them thus. Brother Nichols would order the ministers as though he knew all about the work. Sabbath forenoon the Lord helped Brother Waggoner to preach with power.21MR 204.1

    In the afternoon He helped me to speak. We dealt on general principles. Brother Raymond was going to go right away from the camp. He said we were clubbing him. I sent for him. I read to him. I talked with him. I told him that when my brethren, as did Brother Owen, come up with new light he almost made me have an ague chill, for I knew it was a device of Satan which no one could understand although a man declare it unto them. It is a sure case that Satan throws a bewitching power into their new views they take with minds, although the arguments are as clear as mud, disjointed [and] out of harmony with the message. Well, this talk helped the man. He is one of these studying men like Brother Edson, but with a firm, determined purpose with such a precious talent with it as a helper ready to do anything, with ready tact and apparent martyr-like humility.21MR 204.2

    But the snare was broken. Brother Raymond was balanced in the right direction once more where he could be helped. It will take time to work him out all clear.21MR 204.3

    Well now, the work must be carried on for others, and we have been diligent, preaching and praying and talking upon general principles. They would confess a little and scold a good deal and find fault and pick flaws, but we worked for them all the stronger. We told them we had come here to help them and we were determined to work till we did help them.21MR 204.4

    We have had excellent meetings all through. All seemed to enjoy the meetings but these criticizers, and we were so close upon them for the work they had done they did not like it at all. One brother says, “I felt good when I came to the meeting but I do not feel so good now. I begin to see, brethren, we have been wrong and done wrong.”21MR 204.5

    We kept at work. One part [of] the morning meeting we would declare the true condition of these leading men; then we would change the exercises and have a meeting calling the wrong forward, laboring for them, praying with them; and there were their own children we labored for, and we would have a most remarkable meeting. The Spirit of the Lord was manifested. Then these men would half confess and bear good testimonies, but the grumbling and criticism were in them and they could not keep it from breaking out. The next meeting would be discourses on general principles, bringing the truth to bear upon these men.21MR 204.6

    Sabbath, June 14—We had meetings long to be remembered. Sabbath forenoon Brother Loughborough talked. I talked in the afternoon. The Lord helped me. I then called them forward. Thirty-five responded. They were mostly young men and women, and old men and women. We had a most precious meeting. Some who had left the truth came back with repentance and confession. Many were starting for the first time. The Lord was here Himself. This seemed to break down the prejudice, and melting testimonies were borne. We had a recess and then began again, and the good work went on.21MR 205.1

    I forgot to say, Friday afternoon I read important matter written three years ago. This was acknowledged to be of God. The testimonies were accepted heartily and confessions made of great value to the wrongdoer.21MR 205.2

    We can say the Lord is giving us precious victory but it has been a hard battle from the very first. God has been giving me strength every day. I was very feeble when I left Oakland, so weak I could scarcely stand alone, but I have been receiving strength from the first day I bore my testimony. I believe it was right I came here.—Letter 19, 1884.21MR 205.3

    Ellen G. White Estate

    Silver Spring, Maryland,

    January 17, 1991.

    Entire Letter.

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