A far greater effort should be made to extend the circulation of our literature in all parts of the world. The warning must be given in all lands and to all peoples. Our books are to be translated and published in many different languages. We should multiply publications on our faith in English, German, French, Danish-Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and many other tongues; and people of all nationalities should be enlightened and educated, that they, too, may join in the work.
Let our publishing houses do all in their power to diffuse to the world the light of heaven. In every way possible call the attention of the people of every nation and tongue to those things that will direct their minds to the Book of books.
Great care should be exercised in selecting the members of the book committee. The men who are to pass judgment on the books offered for publication should be few and well chosen. Only such as have an experimental knowledge of authorship are qualified to act in this capacity. Only those should be chosen whose hearts are under the control of the Spirit of God. They should be men of prayer, men who do not exalt self, but who love and fear God, and respect their brethren. Only such as, in distrust of self, are led by divine wisdom are competent to fill this important position.
The Lord directed that publishing houses should be established for the promulgation of present truth and for the transaction of the various lines of business which this work embraces. At the same time they should keep in touch with the world, that the truth may be as a light set on a candlestick, to give light to all that are in the house. In God's providence, Daniel and his fellows were connected with the great men of Babylon, that these men might become acquainted with the religion of the Hebrews and know that God rules over all kingdoms. Daniel in Babylon was placed in a most trying position; but while faithfully performing his duties as a statesman, he steadfastly refused to engage in any work that would militate against God. This course provoked discussion, and thus the Lord brought the faith of Daniel to the attention of the king of Babylon. God had light for Nebuchadnezzar, and through Daniel were presented to the king things foretold in the prophecies concerning Babylon and other kingdoms. By the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Jehovah was exalted as more powerful than earthly rulers. Thus, through the faithfulness of Daniel, God was honored. In like manner the Lord desires that our publishing houses shall witness for Him.
One of the means by which these institutions are brought in contact with the world is found in commercial work. A door is thus opened for the communication of the light of truth.
The workmen may think themselves doing only worldly business, when they are engaged in the very work that will call out questions in regard to the faith and principles they hold. If they are of the right spirit they will be able to speak words in season. If the light of heavenly truth and love is in them, it cannot but shine out. The very manner in which they conduct business will make manifest the working of divine principles. Of our workers, the artisans, as of one of old, it may be said: "I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship." Exodus 31:3.
Not to Stand First
In no case are the publishing institutions to be devoted chiefly to commercial work. When this work is given the first place, those connected with the publishing houses lose sight of the purpose for which they were established, and their work deteriorates.
There is danger that managers whose spiritual perception is perverted will enter into contracts to publish questionable matter merely for the sake of gain. As the result of taking in this work, the purpose for which the offices of publication were established is lost sight of, and the institutions are regarded very much as any other commercial enterprise would be. In this God is dishonored.
In some of our publishing houses the commercial work necessitates a constant increase of expensive machinery and other facilities. The outlay thus demanded is a heavy tax on the resources of the institution, and with a large amount of work there is required not only an increase of facilities, but a larger force of workers than can be properly disciplined.
It is claimed that the commercial work is a financial benefit to the office. But One of authority has made a correct estimate of the cost of this work at our leading publishing houses. He presented the true balance, showing that the loss exceeds the gain. He showed that this work causes the workers to be driven with a constant rush. In the atmosphere of hurry and bustle and worldliness, true piety and devotion wither.
It is not necessary that the commercial work should be entirely divorced from the publishing houses, for this would close the door against rays of light that should be given to the world. And connection with outside parties need be no more detrimental to the workers than was Daniel's work as a statesman a perversion of his faith and principles. But whenever it is found to interfere with the spirituality of the institution, let the outside work be excluded. Build up the work that represents the truth. Let this always come first, and the commercial work second. Our mission is to give to the world the message of warning and mercy.
In the effort to secure outside patronage in order to relieve the publishing houses from financial embarrassment, prices have been set so low that the work brings no profit. Those who flatter themselves that there is a gain have not kept strict account of every outgo. Do not cut down prices in order to secure a job. Take only such work as will give a fair profit.
At the same time there should be in our business deal no shadow of selfishness or overreaching. Let no one take advantage of any man's ignorance or necessity by charging exorbitant prices for work done or for goods sold. There will be strong temptation to diverge from the straight path; there will be innumerable arguments in favor of conforming to custom and adopting practices that are really dishonest. Some urge that in dealing with sharpers one must conform to custom; that, should he maintain strict integrity, he could not carry on business and secure a livelihood. Where is our faith in God? He owns us as His sons and daughters on condition that we come out from the world and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing. To His institutions as well as to individual Christians are addressed the words, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness," and His promise is sure that all things needed for this life shall be added. Let it be written upon the conscience as with a pen of iron upon the rock, that real success, whether for this life or for the life to come, can be secured only by faithful adherence to the eternal principles of right.
When our publishing houses do a large amount of commercial work, there is great danger that an objectionable class of literature will be brought in. Upon one occasion when these matters were brought to my attention, my Guide inquired of one occupying a responsible position in a publishing institution: "How much do you receive in payment for this work?" The figures were placed before Him. He said: "This is too small a sum. If you do business in this way, you meet with loss. But even should you receive a much larger sum, this class of literature could be published only at a great loss. The influence on the workers is demoralizing. All the messages that God shall send them, presenting the sacredness of the work, are neutralized by your action in consenting to print such matter."
The world is flooded with books that might better be consumed than circulated. Books upon Indian warfare and similar topics, published and circulated as a money- making scheme, might better never be read. There is satanic fascination in such books. The heartsickening relation of crimes and atrocities has a bewitching power upon many youth, exciting in them the desire to bring themselves into notice by the most wicked deeds. There are many works more strictly historical whose influence is little better. The enormities, the cruelties, the licentious practices, portrayed in these writings have acted as leaven in many minds, leading to the commission of similar acts. Books that delineate the satanic practices of human beings are giving publicity to evil works. The horrible details of crime and misery need not to be lived over, and none who believe the truth for this time should act a part in perpetuating their memory.
Love stories and frivolous, exciting tales constitute another class of books that is a curse to every reader. The author may attach a good moral and all through his work may weave religious sentiments, yet in most cases Satan is but clothed in angel robes the more effectually to deceive and allure. The mind is affected in a great degree by that upon which it feeds. The readers of frivolous, exciting tales become unfitted for the duties lying before them. They live an unreal life and have no desire to search the Scriptures, to feed upon the heavenly manna. The mind is enfeebled and loses its power to contemplate the great problems of duty and destiny.
I have been instructed that the youth are exposed to the greatest peril from improper reading. Satan is constantly leading both the young and those of mature age to be charmed with worthless stories. Could a large share of the books published be consumed, a plague would be stayed that is doing a fearful work in weakening the mind and corrupting the heart. None are so confirmed in right principles as to be secure from temptation. All this trashy reading should be resolutely discarded.
We have no permission from the Lord to engage either in the printing or in the sale of such publications; for they are the means of destroying many souls. I know of what I am writing, for this matter has been opened before me. Let not those who believe the message for this time engage in such work, thinking to make money. The Lord will put a blight upon the means thus obtained; He will scatter more than is gathered.
There is another class of literature, more defiling than the leprosy, more deadly than the plagues of Egypt, against which our publishing houses need unceasingly to guard. In accepting commercial work, let them beware lest matters presenting the very science of Satan be admitted into our institutions. Let not works setting forth the soul-destroying theories of hypnotism, spiritualism, Romanism, or other mysteries of iniquity find a place in our publishing houses.
Let nothing be handled by the employees that will sow one seed of doubt in regard to the authority or purity of the Scriptures. Upon no consideration let infidel sentiments be placed before the youth, whose minds so eagerly grasp anything new. At the very highest figures that might be paid, such work could be published only at infinite loss.
To allow matter of this character to pass through our institutions is to place in the hands of the employees and to present to the world the fruit of the forbidden tree of knowledge. It is to invite Satan to come in, with his bewitching science, to insinuate his principles in the very institutions that are set for the advancement of the sacred work of God. To publish matter of this character would be loading the guns of the enemy and placing them in their hands, to be used against the truth.
Think you that Jesus will stand in the publishing establishment to work through human minds by His ministering angels; think you that He will make the truth coming from the presses a power to warn the world, if Satan is allowed to pervert the minds of the workers right in the institution? Can God's blessing attend the publications coming from the press when from the same press are sent forth satanic heresy and delusion? "Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?" James 3:11.
The managers of our institutions need to realize that in accepting their position they become responsible for the mental food given to the workers while in the institution. They are responsible for the character of the matter that goes forth from our presses. They will be called to account for the influence exerted by the introduction of matter that would defile the institution, contaminate the workers, or mislead the world.
If such matter is allowed a place in our institutions, it will be found that the subtle power of Satan's sentiments is not easily cast out. If the tempter is allowed to sow his evil seed, it will germinate and bring forth fruit. There will be a harvest for his reaping in the very institutions established by the funds of God's people for the advancement of His work. It will result in sending forth to the world, in place of Christian workers, a company of educated infidels.
In these matters a responsibility rests not only upon the managers, but upon the employees. I have a word to say to the workers in every publishing house established among us: As you love and fear God, refuse to have anything to do with the knowledge against which God warned Adam. Let typesetters refuse to set a sentence of such matter. Let proofreaders refuse to read, pressmen to print, and binders to bind it. If asked to handle such matter, call for a meeting of the workers in the institution, that there may be an understanding as to what such things mean. Those in charge of the institution may urge that you are not responsible, that the managers must arrange these matters. But you are responsible--responsible for the use of your eyes, your hands, your mind. These are entrusted to you by God to be used for Him, not for the service of Satan.
When matters containing errors that counteract the work of God are printed in our houses of publication, God holds accountable not only those who allow Satan to lay a trap for souls, but those who in any way co-operate in the work of temptation.
My brethren in responsible positions, beware that you do not harness your workers to the car of superstition and heresy. Let not the institutions ordained by God to send out life-giving truth be made an agency for the dissemination of soul-destroying error.
Let our publishing houses, from the least to the greatest, refuse to print a line of such pernicious matter. Let it be understood by all with whom we have to do that from all our institutions literature containing the science of Satan is excluded.
We are brought into connection with the world, not that we may be leavened with the world's falsehood, but that as God's agencies we may leaven the world with His truth.
There is much to be done in the way of establishing centers for our work in new fields. Missionary printing offices should be established in many places. In connection with our mission schools there should be facilities for printing and for training workers in this line. Where there are in training persons of various nationalities, speaking different languages, each should learn to print in his own tongue, also to translate into that tongue from the English. And while he is learning English, he should be teaching his language to such English-speaking students as may need to acquire it. Thus some of the foreign-born students might defray the expense of their education, and workers might be prepared to give valuable help in missionary enterprises.
In many cases the publishing work will have to be started on a small scale. It will have to contend with many difficulties and to be carried forward with few facilities. But none should be discouraged because of this. The world's way is to begin its work with pomp and show and boasting, but all will come to nought. God's way is to make the day of small things the beginning of the triumph of truth and righteousness. For this reason none need to be elated by a prosperous beginning or cast down by apparent feebleness. God is to His people riches and fullness and power as they look to the things that are not seen. To follow His direction is to choose the path of safety and true success. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." 1 John 5:4.
Human power did not establish the work of God, neither can human power destroy it. To those who carry forward His work in face of difficulty and opposition, God will give the constant guidance and guardianship of His holy angels. His work on earth will never cease. The building of His spiritual temple will be carried forward until it shall stand complete, and the headstone shall be brought forth with shoutings: "Grace, grace unto it."
The Christian is to be a benefit to others. Thus he himself is benefited. "He that watereth shall be watered also himself." Proverbs 11:25. This is a law of the divine administration, a law by which God designs that the streams of beneficence shall be kept, like the waters of the great deep, in constant circulation, perpetually returning to their source. In the fulfilling of this law is the power of Christian missions.
I have been instructed that wherever by self-sacrifice and urgent efforts facilities for the establishment and advancement of the cause have been provided, and the Lord has prospered the work, those in that place should give of their means to help His servants who have been sent to new fields. Wherever the work has been established on a good foundation, the believers should feel themselves under obligation to help those in need, by transferring even at great sacrifice, a portion or all of the means which in former years was invested in behalf of the work in their locality. Thus the Lord designs that His work shall increase. This is the law of restitution in right lines.
Relation of Publishing Houses to One Another
Under the figure of the vine and its branches is illustrated the relation of Christ to His followers and the relation of His followers to one another. The branches are all related to one another, yet each has an individuality which is not merged in that of another. All have a common relation to the vine and depend upon it for their life, their growth, and their fruitfulness. They cannot sustain one another. Each for itself must be centered in the vine. And while the branches have a common likeness, they also present diversity. Their oneness consists in their common union with the vine, and through each, though not in just the same way, is manifested the life of the vine.
This figure has a lesson, not only for individual Christians, but for the institutions that are engaged in God's service. In their relation to one another each is to maintain its individuality. Union with one another comes through union with Christ. In Him each institution is united to every other, while at the same time its identity is not merged in that of another.
At times it has been urged that the interests of the cause would be furthered by a consolidation of our publishing houses, bringing them virtually under one management. But this, the Lord has shown, should not be. It is not His plan to centralize power in the hands of a few persons or to bring one institution under the control of another.
Our work has been presented to me as, in its beginning, a small, very small, rivulet. To the prophet Ezekiel was given the representation of waters issuing "from under the threshold of the house eastward," at the south side of the altar." Read Ezekiel 47. Especially mark verse 8: "Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed." So our work was presented to me as extending to the east and to the west, to the islands of the sea, and to all parts of the world. As the work extends, there will be great interests to be managed. The work is not to be centered in any one place. Human wisdom argues that it is more convenient to build up the interests where the work has already obtained character and influence, but mistakes have been made in this line. It is burden bearing that gives strength and development. And for the workers in different localities to be largely freed from responsibility means to place them where their characters will remain undeveloped and their powers will be repressed and weakened. The work is the Lord's, and it is not His will that the strength and efficiency shall be concentrated in any one place. Let each institution remain independent, working out God's plan under His direction.
The policy of consolidation, wherever pursued, tends to the exaltation of the human in place of the divine. Those who bear responsibilities in the different institutions look to the central authority for guidance and support. As the sense of personal responsibility is weakened, they lose the highest and most precious of all human experiences, the constant dependence of the soul upon God. Not realizing their need, they fail of maintaining that constant watchfulness and prayer, that constant surrender to God, which alone can enable men to hear and to obey the teaching of His Holy Spirit. Man is placed where God should be. Those who are called to act in this world as heaven's ambassadors are content to seek wisdom from erring, finite men, when they might have the wisdom and strength of the unerring, infinite God.
The Lord does not design that the workers in His institutions shall look to or trust in man. He desires them to be centered in Him.
Never should our publishing houses be so related to one another that one shall have power to dictate as to the management of another. When so great power is placed in the hands of a few persons, Satan will make determined efforts to pervert the judgment, to insinuate wrong principles of action, to bring in a wrong policy; in so doing he can not only pervert one institution, but through this can gain control of others and give a wrong mold to the work in distant parts. Thus the influence for evil becomes widespread. Let each institution stand in its moral independence, carrying on its work in its own field. Let the workers in each feel that they are to do their work as in full view of God, His holy angels, and the unfallen worlds.
Should one institution adopt a wrong policy, let not another institution be corrupted. Let it stand true to the principles that were expressed in its establishment, carrying forward the work in harmony with these principles. Every institution should endeavor to work in harmony with every other just so far as this is consistent with truth and righteousness; but further than this none are to go toward consolidating.
There should be no rivalry between our publishing houses. If this spirit is indulged, it will grow and strengthen, and will crowd out the missionary spirit. It will grieve the Spirit of God and will banish from the institution the ministering angels sent to be co-workers with those who cherish the grace of God.
Never should the managers of our institutions attempt, in the slightest degree, to take advantage of one another. Such efforts are most offensive to God. Sharp dealing, the effort to drive sharp bargains with one another, is a wrong that He will not tolerate. Every effort to exalt one institution at the expense of another is wrong. Every reflection or insinuation that tends to lessen the influence of an institution or its workers is contrary to the will of God. It is the spirit of Satan that prompts such effort. Once given place, it will work like leaven to corrupt the workers and to thwart God's purpose for His institution.
Let every department of our work, every institution connected with our cause, be conducted on considerate, generous lines. Let every branch of the work, while maintaining its own distinctive character, seek to protect, strengthen, and build up every other branch. Men of varied abilities and characteristics are employed for carrying forward the various branches of the work. This has always been the Lord's plan. Each worker must give his own branch special effort; but it is the privilege of each to study and labor for the health and welfare of the whole body of which he is a member.
Not consolidation, not rivalry or criticism, but co-operation, is God's plan for His institutions, that "the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part," may make "increase of the body unto the edifying [building up] of itself in love." Ephesians 4:16.
Through the failure of canvassers to meet their indebtedness, our tract societies have been involved in debt; they cannot meet their obligations to the publishing houses; thus these institutions become embarrassed, and their work is hindered. Some canvassers have thought themselves ill-treated when required to make prompt payment to the publishers for books received, but prompt remittal is the only successful way of conducting business.
The loose manner in which some canvassers have performed their work shows that they have important lessons to learn. Much haphazard work has been presented before me. By laxness in secular affairs some have formed habits of carelessness and slackness, and they have brought this deficiency into the Lord's work.
God calls for decided improvement in the various branches of the work. The business done in connection with His cause should be marked with greater precision and exactness. There must be firm, decided effort to bring about essential reforms.
"Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord negligently." Jeremiah 48:10, margin.
"If ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person?" Malachi 1:8. "Cursed be the deceiver, which . . . voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a blemished thing: for I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts, and My name is terrible." Verse 14, R.V.
God desires to bring men into direct relation with Himself. In all His dealings with human beings He recognizes the principle of personal responsibility. He seeks to encourage a sense of personal dependence and to impress the need of personal guidance. His gifts are committed to men as individuals. Every man has been made a steward of sacred trusts; each is to discharge his trust according to the direction of the Giver; and by each an account of his stewardship must be rendered to God.
In all this, God is seeking to bring the human into association with the divine, that through this connection man may become transformed into the divine likeness. Then the principle of love and goodness will be a part of his nature. Satan, seeking to thwart this purpose, constantly works to encourage dependence upon man, to make men the slaves of men. When he thus succeeds in turning minds away from God, he insinuates his own principles of selfishness, hatred, and strife.
In all our dealing with one another, God desires us carefully to guard the principle of personal responsibility to and dependence upon Him. It is a principle that should be especially kept in view by our publishing houses in their dealing with authors.
It has been urged by some that authors have no right to hold the stewardship of their own works; that they should give their works over to the control of the publishing house or of the conference; and that, beyond the expense involved in the production of the manuscript, they should claim no share of the profit; that this should be left with the conference or the publishing house, to be appropriated, as their judgment shall direct, to the various needs of the work. Thus the author's stewardship of his work would be wholly transferred from himself to others.
But not so does God regard the matter. The ability to write a book is, like every other talent, a gift from Him, for the improvement of which the possessor is accountable to God; and he is to invest the returns under His direction. Let it be borne in mind that it is not our own property which is entrusted to us for investment. If it were, we might claim discretionary power; we might shift our responsibility upon others, and leave our stewardship with them. But this cannot be, because the Lord has made us individually His stewards. We are responsible to invest this means ourselves. Our own hearts are to be sanctified; our hands are to have something to impart, as occasion demands, of the income that God entrusts to us.
It would be just as reasonable for the conference or the publishing house to assume control of the income which a brother receives from his houses or lands as to appropriate that which comes from the working of his brain.
Nor is there justice in the claim that, because a worker in the publishing house receives wages for his labor, his powers of body, mind, and soul belong wholly to the institution, and it has a right to all the productions of his pen. Outside the period of labor in the institution, the worker's time is under his own control, to use as he sees fit, so long as this use does not conflict with his duty to the institution. For that which he may produce in these hours, he is responsible to his own conscience and to God.
No greater dishonor can be shown to God than for one man to bring another man's talents under his absolute control. The evil is not obviated by the fact that the profits of the transaction are to be devoted to the cause of God. In such arrangements the man who allows his mind to be ruled by the mind of another is thus separated from God and exposed to temptation. In shifting the responsibility of his stewardship upon other men, and depending on their wisdom, he is placing man where God should be. Those who are seeking to bring about this shifting of responsibility are blinded as to the result of their action, but God has plainly set it before us. He says: "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm." Jeremiah 17:5.
Let not authors be urged either to give away or to sell their right to the books they have written. Let them receive a just share of the profits of their work; then let them regard their means as a trust from God, to be administered according to the wisdom that He shall impart.
Those who possess the ability to write books should realize that they possess ability to invest the profits they receive. While it is right for them to place a portion in the treasury, to supply the general needs of the cause, they should feel it their duty to acquaint themselves with the necessities of the work, and with prayer to God for wisdom they should personally dispense their means where the need is greatest. Let them lead out in some line of benevolence. If their minds are under the direction of the Holy Spirit, they will have wisdom to perceive where means are needed, and in relieving this need they will be greatly blessed.
If the Lord's plan had been followed, a different state of things would now exist. So much means would not have been expended in a few localities, leaving so little for investment in the many, many places where the banner of truth has not yet been lifted.
Let our publishing houses beware lest in their dealing with God's workers, wrong principles be allowed to control. If connected with the institution there are men whose hearts are not under the direction of the Holy Spirit, they will be sure to sway the work into wrong lines. Some who profess to be Christians regard the business connected with the Lord's work as something wholly apart from religious service. They say: "Religion is religion, business is business. We are determined to make that which we handle a success, and we will grasp every possible advantage to promote this special line of work." Thus plans contrary to truth and righteousness are introduced with the plea that this or that must be done because it is a good work and for the advancement of the cause of God.
Men who through selfishness have become narrow and shortsighted feel it their privilege to crowd down the very ones whom God is using to diffuse the light He has given them. Through oppressive plans, workers who should stand free in God have been trammeled with restrictions by those who were only their fellow laborers. All this bears the stamp of the human, and not of the divine. It is the devising of men that leads to injustice and oppression. The cause of God is free from every taint of injustice. It seeks to gain no advantage by depriving the members of His family of their individuality or of their rights. The Lord does not sanction arbitrary authority, nor will He serve with the least selfishness or overreaching. To Him all such practices are abhorrent.
He declares: "I hate robbery for burnt offering." "Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small. But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have. . . . All that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God." Isaiah 61:8; Deuteronomy 25:14-16.
"He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Micah 6:8.
One of the very highest applications of these principles is found in the recognition of man's right to himself, to the control of his own mind, to the stewardship of his talents, the right to receive and to impart the fruit of his own labor. Strength and power will be in our institutions only as in all their connection with their fellow men they recognize these principles, --only as in their dealing they give heed to the instruction of the word of God.
Every power lent us by God, whether physical, mental, or spiritual, is to be sacredly cherished to do the work assigned us for our fellow men who are perishing in their ignorance. Every man is to stand at his post of duty untrammeled, each serving the Lord in humility, each responsible for his own work. "Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ." He "will render to every man according to his deeds." Colossians 3:23, 24; Romans 2:6.
Satan's skill is exercised in devising plans and methods without number to accomplish his purposes. He works to restrict religious liberty and to bring into the religious world a species of slavery. Organizations, institutions, unless kept by the power of God, will work under Satan's dictation to bring men under the control of men; and fraud and guile will bear the semblance of zeal for truth and for the advancement of the kingdom of God. Whatever in our practice is not as open as the day belongs to the methods of the prince of evil.
Men fall into error by starting with false premises and then bringing everything to bear to prove the error true. In some cases the first principles have a measure of truth interwoven with the error; but it leads to no just action; and this is why men are misled. They desire to reign and become a power, and, in the effort to justify their principles, they adopt the methods of Satan.
If men resist the warnings the Lord sends them, they become even leaders in evil practices; such men assume to exercise the prerogatives of God--they presume to do that which God Himself will not do in seeking to control the minds of men. Thus they follow in the track of Romanism. They introduce their own methods and plans, and through their misconceptions of God they weaken the faith of others in the truth and bring in false principles that work like leaven to taint and corrupt institutions and churches.
Anything that lowers man's conception of righteousness and equity and impartial judgment, any device or precept that brings God's human agents under the control of human minds, impairs their faith in God, and separates the soul from Him.
God will not vindicate any device whereby man shall in the slightest degree rule or oppress his fellow man. As soon as a man begins to make an iron rule for other men, he dishonors God and imperils his own soul and the souls of his brethren.
The members of a church within whose borders one of our publishing houses is situated are honored in having among them one of the Lord's special instrumentalities. They should appreciate this honor and should realize that it involves a most sacred responsibility. Their influence and example will go far in helping or hindering the institution in the accomplishment of its mission.
As we approach the last crisis, it is of vital moment that harmony and unity exist among the Lord's instrumentalities. The world is filled with storm and war and variance. Yet under one head--the papal power--the people will unite to oppose God in the person of His witnesses. This union is cemented by the great apostate. While he seeks to unite his agents in warring against the truth he will work to divide and scatter its advocates. Jealousy, evil surmising, evilspeaking, are instigated by him to produce discord and dissension. The members of Christ's church have the power to thwart the purpose of the adversary of souls. At such a time as this let them not be found at variance with one another or with any of the Lord's workers. Amidst the general discord let there be one place where harmony and unity exist because the Bible is made the guide of life. Let the people of God feel that a responsibility rests upon them to build up His instrumentalities.
Brethren and sisters, the Lord will be pleased if you will take hold heartily to sustain the publishing institution with your prayers and your means. Pray every morning and evening that it may receive God's richest blessing. Do not encourage criticism and complaining. Let no murmurs or complaints come from your lips; remember that angels hear these words. All must be led to see that these institutions are of God's appointment. Those who disparage them in order to serve their own interests must render an account to God. He designs that everything connected with His work shall be treated as sacred.
God wants us to do much more praying and much less talking. The threshold of heaven is flooded with the light of His glory, and He will let this light shine into the heart of everyone who will stand in right relation to Him.
Every institution will have to battle with difficulty. Trials are permitted in order to test the hearts of God's people. When adversity befalls one of the Lord's instrumentalities, it will be shown how much real faith we have in God and in His work. At such a time let none view matters in the worst light and give expression to doubt and unbelief. Do not criticize those who carry the burdens of responsibility. Let not the conversation in your homes be poisoned with criticism of the Lord's workers. Parents who indulge this criticizing spirit are not bringing before their children that which will make them wise unto salvation. Their words tend to unsettle the faith and confidence not only of the children, but of those older in years. All have little enough of respect and reverence for sacred things. Satan will unite most zealously with the criticizer in fostering unbelief, envy, jealousy, and disrespect. Satan is always at work to imbue men with his spirit, to quench the love which should be sacredly cherished between brethren, to discourage confidence, to excite envy, evil surmisings, and the strife of tongues. Let us not be found acting as his co-workers. One heart open to his suggestions may sow many seeds of disaffection. Thus may be wrought a work whose results in the ruin of souls will never be fully manifest until the great day of final judgment.
Christ declares: "Whoso shall cause one of these little ones which believe on Me to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of occasions of stumbling! for it must needs be that the occasions come; but woe to that man through whom the occasion cometh!" Matthew 18:6, 7, R.V. A great responsibility is here placed upon the members of the church. Let them beware lest through inattention to the souls of those young in the faith, lest through sowing seeds of doubt and unbelief under the instigation of Satan, they be found guilty of the ruin of a soul. "Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled." Hebrews 12:13-15.
The power of Satanic agencies is great, and the Lord calls upon His people strengthen one another, "building up yourselves on your most holy faith."
Instead of co-operating with Satan, let everyone learn what it means to co-operate with God. In these depressing times He has a work to be done that demands the firm courage and faith which will enable us to sustain one another. All need to stand shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart as laborers together with God. What might not be accomplished in and through the grace of God if the members of the church would stand together, to sustain His workers, to help with their prayers and their influence when discouragement presses in on every side! Then is the time to work as faithful stewards.
Instead of criticism and censure, let our brethren and sisters have words of encouragement and confidence to speak in regard to the Lord's instrumentality. God calls upon them to encourage the hearts of those who carry the heavy burdens, for He is working with them. He calls upon His people to recognize the sustaining power in His instrumentality. Honor the Lord by endeavoring to the utmost of your ability to give it the influence that it should have.
As you have opportunity, speak to the workers; speak words that will be a strength and an inspiration. We are altogether too indifferent in regard to one another. Too often we forget that our fellow laborers are in need of strength and cheer. In times of special perplexity and burden, take care to assure them of your interest and sympathy. While you try to help them by your prayers, let them know that you do it. Send along the line God's message to His workers: "Be strong and of a good courage." Joshua 1:6.
The managers of our institutions have a most difficult task to maintain order and to discipline wisely the youth under their care. The members of the church can do much to stay up their hands. When the youth are unwilling to submit to the discipline of the institution, or in any matter of difference with their superiors are determined to have their own way, let not parents blindly sustain and sympathize with their children.
Better, far better might your children suffer, better lie in their graves, than be taught to treat lightly the principles that lie at the very foundation of loyalty to truth, to their fellow beings, and to God.
In cases of difficulty with the ones who have them in charge, go directly to those in authority and learn the truth. Bear in mind that the managers of the various departments understand much better than others can what regulations are essential. Manifest confidence in their judgment and respect for their authority. Teach your children to respect and honor the ones to whom God has shown respect and honor by placing them in positions of trust.
In no way can the members of the church more effectively second the efforts of the managers in our institutions than by giving in their own homes an example of right order and discipline. Let parents in their words and deportment give to their children an example of what they desire them to be. Let purity in speech and true Christian courtesy be constantly maintained. Let there be no encouragement to sin, no evil speaking or evil surmising. Teach the children and youth to respect themselves, to be true to principle, true to God. Teach them to respect and obey the law of God and the rules of the home. Then they will practice these principles in their lives and will carry them out in all their associations with others. They will love their neighbor as themselves; they will create a pure atmosphere and will exert an influence to encourage weak souls in the path that leads to holiness and heaven.
Children who receive such instruction will not be a burden, a cause of anxiety, in our institutions; they will be a support to those who bear responsibility. Under right instruction they will be prepared to fill places of trust, and by precept and example will constantly aid others to do right. They will put a just estimate upon their own endowments and will make the best use of their physical, mental, and spiritual powers. Such souls are fortified against temptation; they are not easily overcome. With the blessing of God such characters are light bearers; their influence tends to educate others for a business life which is a practical Christian life.
The members of the church, filled with Christ's love for souls, and awake to their privileges and opportunities, may exert upon the youth in our institutions an influence for good that is beyond estimate. Their example of faithfulness in the home, in business, and in the church, their manifestation of social kindness and Christian courtesy, combined with a genuine interest for the youth's spiritual well-being, will go far toward shaping the characters of these youths for the service of God and their fellow men, both in this life and in the life to come.
Duty of the Publishing House to the Church
While the church has a responsibility to the publishing house, so also has the publishing house to the church. Each is to uphold the other.
Those in positions of responsibility in the publishing houses should not allow themselves to be so pressed with work that they have no time for maintaining the spiritual interest. When this interest is kept alive in the publishing house, it will exert a powerful influence in the church; and when it is kept alive in the church, it will exert a powerful influence in the publishing house. God's blessing will rest on the work when it is so conducted that souls are won to Christ.
All the workers in the publishing house who profess the name of Christ should be workers in the church. It is essential to their own spiritual life that they improve every means of grace. They will obtain strength, not by standing as spectators, but by becoming workers.
Everyone should be enlisted in some line of regular, systematic labor in connection with the church. All should realize that as Christians this is their duty. By their baptismal vow they stand pledged to do all in their power to build up the church of Christ. Show them that love and loyalty to their Redeemer, loyalty to the standard of true manhood and womanhood, loyalty to the institution with which they are connected, demands this. They cannot be faithful servants of Christ, they cannot be men and women of real integrity, they cannot be acceptable workers in God's institution, while neglecting these duties.
The managers of the institution in its various departments should have a special care that the youth form right habits in these lines. When the meetings of the church are neglected or duties connected with its work are left undone, let the cause be ascertained. By kind, tactful effort endeavor to arouse the careless and to revive a waning interest.
None should allow their own work to excuse neglect of the Lord's sacred service. Much better might they lay aside the work which concerns themselves than neglect their duty to God.
I urge upon you the importance of attending our annual meetings, not merely the business meetings, but the meetings that will be for your spiritual enlightenment. You do not realize the necessity of having a close connection with heaven. Without this connection not one of you is safe; not one is qualified to do God's work acceptably.
In this work more than in any secular business, success is proportioned to the spirit of consecration and self-sacrifice with which the work is done. Those who bear responsibility as mangers in the work need to place themselves where they can be deeply impressed by the Spirit of God. You should have as much greater anxiety than do others to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and a knowledge of God and Christ, as your position of trust is more responsible than that of the common worker.
Natural and acquired endowments are all gifts of God and need to be constantly held under the control of His Spirit, of His divine, sanctifying power. You need to feel most deeply your lack of experience in this work and put forth earnest endeavor to acquire needed knowledge and wisdom, that you may use every faculty of body and mind in such a way as to glorify God.
"A new heart also will I give you." Christ must dwell in your hearts, as the blood is in the body, and circulate there as a vitalizing power. On this subject we cannot be too urgent. While truth must be our panoply, our convictions need to be strengthened by the living sympathies that characterized the life of Christ. If the truth, living truth, is not exemplified in the character, no man can stand. There is only one power that can either make us steadfast or keep us so--the grace of God, in truth. He who confides in aught else is already tottering, ready to fall.
The Lord desires you to rely on Him. Make the most of every opportunity to come to the light. If you remain apart from the holy influences that come from God, how can you discern spiritual things?
God calls upon us to make use of every opportunity for securing a preparation for His work. He expects you to put all your energies into its performance and to keep your hearts alive to its sacredness and its fearful responsibilities. God's eye is upon you. It is not safe for any one of you to bring into His presence a marred sacrifice, a sacrifice that costs neither study nor prayer. Such an offering He cannot accept.
I entreat you to awake and to seek God for yourselves. While Jesus of Nazareth is passing by, cry most earnestly unto Him, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David," and you will receive sight. Through the grace of God you will receive that which will be more valuable to you than gold or silver or precious stones.
If there is ever one time above another when men need to preserve their connection with God, it is when they are called to bear special responsibility. It is not safe for us, when going into battle, to cast away our weapons. It is then that we need to be equipped with the whole armor of God. Every piece is essential.
Never entertain the thought that you can be Christians and yet withdraw within yourselves. Each one is a part of the great web of humanity, and the nature and quality of your experience will be largely determined by the experiences of those with whom you associate. Jesus says: "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst." Matthew 18:20. Then let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhort one another; and so much the more, as we see the day approaching.
Make the social meetings of the church as interesting as possible. Let everyone present feel that he has a duty to perform in the meeting. Co-operate with the heavenly angels, who are trying to make a right impression on every worker.
There are many who recognize no distinction between a common business enterprise, as a workshop, factory, or cornfield, and an institution established especially to advance the interests of the cause of God. But the same distinction exists that in ancient times God placed between the sacred and the common, the holy and the profane. This distinction He desires every worker in our institutions to discern and appreciate. Those who occupy a position in our publishing houses are highly honored. A sacred charge is upon them. They are called to be workers together with God. They should appreciate the opportunity of so close connection with the heavenly instrumentalities and should feel that they are highly privileged in being permitted to give to the Lord's institution their ability, their service, and their unwearying vigilance. They should have a vigorous purpose, a lofty aspiration, a zeal to make the publishing house just what God desires it to be--a light in the world, a faithful witness for Him, a memorial of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment.
"He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand hath He hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in His quiver hath He hid me; and said unto me, Thou art My servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. . . . It is a light thing that thou shouldest be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be My salvation unto the end of the earth." Isaiah 49:2-6. This is the word of the Lord to all who are in any way connected with His appointed institutions. They are favored of God, for they are brought into channels where the light shines. They are in His special service, and they should not esteem this a light thing. Proportionate to their position of sacred trust should be their sense of responsibility and devotion. Cheap, common talk and trifling behavior should not be tolerated. A sense of the sacredness of the place should be encouraged and cultivated.
Over this, His appointed instrumentality, the Lord has a constant, watchful care. The machinery may be run by men who are skillful in its management; but how easy it would be to leave one little screw, one little part of the machinery, out of order, and how disastrous might be the result! Who has prevented casualties? The angels of God have supervision of the work. If the eyes of those who run the machinery could be opened, they would discern the heavenly guardianship. In every room in the publishing house where work is done, there is a witness taking note of the spirit in which it is performed, and marking the fidelity and unselfishness revealed.
If I have failed of presenting the light in which God regards His institutions,--as the centers through which He works in a special manner,--may He portray these things to your minds by His Holy Spirit, that you may understand the difference between common and sacred service.
Both the members of the church and the employees in the publishing house should feel that as workers together with God they have a part to act in guarding His institution. They should be faithful guardians of its interests in every line, seeking to shield it, not only from loss and disaster, but from all that could profane or contaminate. Never through act of theirs should its fair fame be tarnished, even by the breath of careless criticism or censure. God's institutions should be regarded by them as a holy trust, to be guarded as jealously as the ark was guarded by ancient Israel.
When the workers in the publishing house are educated to think of this great center as related to God and under His supervision; when they realize that it is a channel through which light from heaven is to be communicated to the world, they will regard it with great respect and reverence. They will cherish the best thoughts and the noblest feelings, that in their work they may have the co-operation of the heavenly intelligences. As the workers realize that they are in the presence of angels, whose eyes are too pure to behold iniquity, a strong restraint will be placed on thoughts, words, and actions. They will be given moral strength; for the Lord says: "Them that honor Me I will honor." 1 Samuel 2:30. Every worker will have a precious experience and will possess faith and power that will rise superior to circumstances. All will be able to say: "The Lord is in this place."
Dependence on God
The first lesson to be taught the workers in our institutions is the lesson of dependence upon God. Before they can attain success in any line, they must, each for himself, accept the truth contained in the words of Christ: "Without Me ye can do nothing."
Righteousness has its root in godliness. No human being is righteous any longer than he has faith in God and maintains a vital connection with Him. As a flower of the field has its root in the soil; as it must receive air, dew, showers, and sunshine, so must we receive from God that which ministers to the life of the soul. It is only through becoming partakers of His nature that we receive power to obey His commandments. No man, high or low, experienced or inexperienced, can steadily maintain before his fellowmen a pure, forceful life unless his life is hid with Christ in God. The greater the activity among men, the closer should be the communion of the heart with God.
The Lord has given instruction that the employees in the publishing houses are to be educated in religious lines. This work is of infinitely more consequence than financial gain. The spiritual health of the workers is to be the first consideration. Every morning take time to begin your work with prayer. Do not think this wasted time; it is time that will live through eternal ages. By this means success and spiritual victory will be brought in. The machinery will respond to the touch of the Master's hand. God's blessing is certainly worth asking for, and the work cannot be done aright unless the beginning is right. The hands of every worker must be strengthened, his heart must be purified, before the Lord can use him effectively.
If we would live a true Christian life, the conscience must be quickened by constant contact with the word of God. All the precious things which at infinite cost God has provided for us will do us no good; they cannot strengthen us and produce spiritual growth unless we appropriate them. We must eat the word of God-- make it a part of ourselves.
Let small companies assemble in the evening, at noon, or in the early morning to study the Bible. Let them have a season of prayer, that they may be strengthened, enlightened, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. This work Christ wants to have done in the heart of every worker. If you yourselves will open the door to receive it, a great blessing will come to you. Angels of God will be in your assembly. You will feed upon the leaves of the tree of life. What testimonies you may bear of the loving acquaintance made with your fellow workers in these precious seasons when seeking the blessing of God. Let each tell his experience in simple words. This will bring more comfort and joy to the soul than all the pleasant instruments of music that could be brought into the churches. Christ will come into your hearts. It is by this means only that you can maintain your integrity.
Many seem to think the time lost that is devoted to seeking the Lord. But when He comes in to co-operate with human effort, and men and women co-operate with Him, a marked change will be seen in the work and in the results. Every heart that has been visited by the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness will reveal the working of the Spirit of God in voice, mind, and character. The machinery will move as if oiled and guided by a masterly hand. There will be less friction when the spirit of the worker receives the oil from the two olive branches. The holy influences will be imparted to others in words of kindness, tenderness, love, and encouragement.
By God-fearing evangelists zealous efforts should be made in behalf of the apprentices, that they may be converted. They should be carefully instructed in regard to the truth. They should be encouraged to study the Bible daily and should have an instructor to read and study it with them.
The increasing knowledge of Christ that is gained by a study of the Scriptures, under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, enables the receiver to distinguish between right and wrong in all the affairs of life. If those connected with our publishing houses gain this knowledge and become rooted and grounded in the truth, they will keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment.
Those who are handling sacred things in the publishing institutions and in every branch of God's work are to put forth the highest energies of their mental and moral powers. They are continually to study, not the will of man, but the will of God. His grace must be revealed in all their work.
We are to be "not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord." Romans 12:11. We are to be active in our work; but another element is to mingle with this energy--a living zeal in the service of God. Into our daily work we are to bring devotion, piety, godliness. If you carry on your business without this you make the greatest mistake of your lives; you commit robbery toward God while professing to serve Him.
In the establishment of institutions in new fields it is often necessary to place responsibilities upon persons not fully acquainted with the details of the work. These persons labor at great disadvantage, and, unless they and their fellow workers have an unselfish interest in the Lord's institution, there will result a condition of things that will hinder its prosperity.
Many feel that the line of work they are doing belongs solely to them and that no one else should make any suggestions in regard to it. These very ones may be ignorant as to the best methods of conducting the work; yet, if one ventures to offer them advice, they are offended and become more determined to follow their independent judgment. Again, some of the workers are not willing to help or instruct their fellow workmen. Others who are inexperienced do not wish their ignorance to be known. They make mistakes, at a cost of much time and material, because they are too proud to ask counsel.
The cause of the trouble it is not difficult to determine. The workers have been independent threads, when they should have regarded themselves as threads that must be woven together to help form the pattern.
These things grieve the Holy Spirit. God desires us to learn of one another. Unsanctified independence places us where He cannot work with us. With such a state of things Satan is well pleased.
There should be no secretiveness, no anxiety lest others gain a knowledge possessed by the few. Such a spirit gives rise to constant suspicion and restraint. Evil thinking and evil surmising are indulged, and brotherly love dies out of the heart.
Every line of God's work has a connection with every other line. Exclusiveness cannot exist in an institution where God presides; for He is the Lord of all tact, all ingenuity; He is the foundation of all correct methods. It is He who imparts knowledge concerning them, and no man is to look upon this knowledge as exclusively his own.
Each worker should feel an interest in every line of the work, and if God has given him foresight, capability, and knowledge that will help in any line, he should communicate that which he has received.
All the ability that can be connected with the institution, through disinterested effort, should be brought in to make it a success, a living, working agent for God. Consecrated workers who possess talents and influence are the ones whom the publishing houses need.
Every worker will be tested as to whether he is laboring for the advancement of the Lord's institution, or to serve his own interests. Those who have been converted will give daily evidence that they are not seeking to use for their personal benefit the advantages and knowledge they have gained. They realize that divine providence has given them these advantages, that, as the Lord's instrumentalities, they may serve His cause by doing superior work.
None should work from love of praise, or ambition for supremacy. The true worker will do his best because in so doing he can glorify God. He will try to improve all his faculties. He will perform his duties as unto God. His one desire will be that Christ may receive homage and perfect service.
Let the workers enlist all their energies in the effort to gain advantages for the Lord's work. In doing this they themselves will gain strength and efficiency.
Self-Control and Fidelity
We have no right to overtax either the mental or the physical powers so that we are easily excited and led to speak words which dishonor God. The Lord desires us to be always calm and forbearing. Whatever others may do, we are to represent Christ, doing as He would do under similar circumstances.
Every day one in a position of trust has decisions to make on which depend results of great importance. He has often to think rapidly, and this can be done successfully only by those who practice strict temperance. The mind strengthens under the correct treatment of the physical and the mental powers. If the strain is not too great, it acquires new vigor with every taxation.
None but a wholehearted Christian can be a true gentleman.
A neglect to conform in every particular to God's requirements means certain failure and loss to the wrongdoer. Failing to keep the way of the Lord, he robs his Maker of the service that is His due. This reacts upon himself; he fails of gaining that grace, that power, that force of character, which it is the privilege of each to receive who surrenders all to God. Living apart from Christ, he is exposed to temptation. He makes mistakes in his work for the Master. Untrue to principle in little things, he fails of doing God's will in things greater. He acts on the principles to which he has accustomed himself.
God cannot connect with those who live to please themselves, to make themselves first. Those who do this will in the end be last of all. The sin that is most nearly hopeless and incurable is pride of opinion, self-conceit. This stands in the way of all growth. When a man has defects of character, yet fails of realizing this; when he is so imbued with self-sufficiency that he cannot see his fault, how can he be cleansed? "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." Matthew 9:12. How can one improve when he thinks his ways perfect?
When one who is supposed to be led and taught by God turns out of the way, because of self-confidence, many follow his example. His false step may result in misleading thousands.
Consider the parable of the fig tree:
"A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." Luke 13:6-9.
"Then after that." In these words there is a lesson for all who are connected with the work of God. A period of probation was granted to the tree that bore no fruit. And in like manner God bears long with His people. But of those who have had great advantages, and who are standing in positions of high and sacred trust, and yet bear no fruit, He says: "Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?"
Let those connected with the Lord's special instrumentalities remember that He will call for fruit from His vineyard. Proportionate to the blessings bestowed will be the returns required. Heavenly angels have visited and ministered in every place where God's institutions are established. Unfaithfulness in these institutions is a greater sin than it would be elsewhere, for it has a greater influence than it would elsewhere have. Unfaithfulness, injustice, dishonesty, conniving at wrong, obstruct the light which God designs shall shine forth from His instrumentalities.
The world is watching, ready to criticize with keenness and severity your words, your deportment, and your business transactions. Everyone who acts a part in connection with the work of God is watched, and is weighed by the scales of human discernment. Impressions, favorable or unfavorable to Bible religion, are constantly made on the minds of all with whom you have to do.
The world watches to see what fruit is borne by professed Christians. It has a right to look for self-denial and self-sacrifice from those who claim to believe advanced truth.
There have been, and will continue to be, among our workers those who do not feel their need of Jesus at every step. They think they cannot take time to pray and attend religious meetings. They have so much to do that they cannot find time to keep their souls in the love of God. When this is the case, Satan is on the ground to create vain imaginations.
Workers who are not diligent and faithful do incalculable harm. They set an example for others. In every institution there are some who are rendering wholehearted, cheerful service; but will not the leaven affect them? Shall the institution be left without some sincere examples of Christian fidelity? When men claiming to be representatives of Christ reveal that they are unconverted, their characters gross, selfish, impure, they should be separated from the work.
The workers need to realize the sacredness of the trust with which the Lord has honored them. Impulsive motives, fitful actions, must be put aside. Those who cannot distinguish between the sacred and the common are not safe stewards of high responsibilities. When tempted, they will betray their trust. Those who do not appreciate the privileges and opportunities of a connection with the work of God will not stand when the enemy presents his specious temptations. They are easily misled by selfish, ambitious projects. If, after the light has been presented to them, they still fail of distinguishing right from wrong, the sooner they are disconnected from the institution, the purer and more elevated will be the character of the work.
No one should be retained in any one of the Lord's institutions who in a crisis fails of realizing that His instrumentalities are sacred. If workers have no relish for the truth; if their connection with the institution makes them no better, brings to them no love for the truth, then, after sufficient trial, separate them from the work; for their irreligion and unbelief influence others. Through them evil angels work to mislead those who are brought in as apprentices. You should obtain for apprentices those who are promising youth, those who love God. But if you place them in connection with others who have no love for God, they are in constant danger from the irreligious influence. The halfhearted and worldly, those who are given to gossip, who dwell on the faults of others, while neglecting their own, should be separated from the work.
Danger from Improper Reading
As I see the danger that threatens the youth from improper reading I cannot forbear to present still further the warnings given me in regard to this great evil.
The harm that results to the workers from handling matter of an objectionable character is too little realized. Their attention is arrested and their interest aroused by the subject matter with which they are dealing. Sentences are imprinted in the memory. Thoughts are suggested. Almost unconsciously the reader is influenced by the spirit of the writer, and mind and character receive an impress for evil. There are some who have little faith and little power of self-control, and it is difficult for them to banish the thoughts suggested by such literature.
Before accepting the present truth, some had formed the habit of novel reading. Upon uniting with the church, they made an effort to overcome this habit. To place before this class reading similar to that which they have discarded is like offering intoxicants to the inebriate. Yielding to the temptation continually before them, they soon lose their relish for solid reading. They have no interest in Bible study. Their moral power becomes enfeebled. Sin appears less and less repulsive. There is manifest an increasing unfaithfulness, a growing distaste for life's practical duties. As the mind becomes perverted, it is ready to grasp any reading of a stimulating character. Thus the way is open for Satan to bring the soul fully under his domination.
Works that do not so decidedly mislead and corrupt are yet to be shunned if they impart a disrelish for the study of the Bible. This word is the true manna. Let all repress the desire for reading matter that is not food for the mind. You cannot possibly do the work of God with clear perception while the mind is occupied with this class of reading. Those who are in God's service should spend neither time nor money for light reading. What is the chaff to the wheat?
There is no time for engaging in trifling amusements, the gratification of selfish propensities. It is time that you were occupied with serious thoughts. And you cannot dwell upon the self-denying, self-sacrificing life of the world's Redeemer and find pleasure in joking and jesting and whiling away your time in foolishness. You are greatly in need of a practical experience in the Christian life. You need to train the mind for the work of God. The religious experience is to a great degree determined by the character of the books you read in your leisure moments.
If you love the Scriptures, and search them whenever there is opportunity, that you may come into possession of their rich treasures, then you may be assured that Jesus is drawing you to Himself.
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him." Colossians 2:8-10.
We cannot be complete in Christ and yet be ready to grasp those things that come from the so-called great men of the earth, and place their wisdom before the wisdom of the greatest Teacher the world has ever known. To seek knowledge from such sources is represented in the word as seeking to drink from broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Let the truth of God be the subject for contemplation and meditation. Read the Bible, and regard it as the voice of God speaking directly to you. Then will you find inspiration and that wisdom which is divine.
The gathering together of many books for study too often interposes between God and man a mass of knowledge that weakens the mind and makes it incapable of assimilating that which it has already received. The mind becomes dyspeptic. Wisdom is needed, that man may choose aright between these many authors and the word of life, that he may eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God.
My brethren, discard the streams of the lowlands and come to the pure waters of Lebanon. Never can you walk in the light of God while you crowd the mind with a mass of matter which it cannot digest. It is time we resolved to have heaven's help and allow the mind to be impressed with the word of God. Let us close the door to so much reading. Let us pray more and eat the words of life. Unless there is a deeper work of grace in mind and heart, we can never see the face of God.
God does not want His work to be continually embarrassed with debt. When it seems desirable to add to the buildings or other facilities of an institution, beware of going beyond your means. Better to defer the improvements until Providence shall open the way for them to be made without contracting heavy debts and having to pay interest.
The publishing houses have been made places of deposit by our people and have thus been enabled to furnish means to support branches of the work in different fields and have aided in carrying other enterprises. This is well. None too much has been done in these lines. The Lord sees it all. But, from the light He has given me, every effort should be made to stand free from debt.
The publishing work was founded in self-denial and should be conducted upon strictly economical principles. The question of finance can be managed if, when there is a pressure for means, the workers will consent to a reduction in wages. This was the principle the Lord revealed to me to be brought into our institutions. When money is scarce, we should be willing to restrict our wants.
Let the proper estimate be placed upon the publications, and then let all in our publishing houses study to economize in every possible way even though considerable inconvenience is thus caused. Watch the little outgoes. Stop every leak. It is the little losses that tell heavily in the end. Gather up the fragments; let nothing be lost. Waste not the minutes in talking; wasted minutes mar the hours. Persevering diligence working in faith, will always be crowned with success.
Some think it beneath their dignity to look after small things. They think it the evidence of a narrow mind and a niggardly spirit. But small leaks have sunk many a ship. Nothing that would serve the purpose of any should be allowed to waste. A lack of economy will surely bring debt upon our institutions. Although much money may be received, it will be lost in the little wastes of every branch of the work. Economy is not stinginess.
Every man or woman employed in the publishing house should be a faithful sentinel, watching that nothing be wasted. All should guard against supposed wants that require an expenditure of means. Some men live better on four hundred dollars a year than others do on eight hundred. Just so it is with our institutions; some persons can manage them with far less capital than others can. God desires all the workers to practice economy, and especially to be faithful accountants.
Every worker in our institutions should receive fair compensation. If the workers receive suitable wages, they have the gratification of making donations to the cause. It is not right that some should receive a large amount and others, who are doing essential and faithful work, very little.
Yet there are cases where a difference must be made. There are men connected with the publishing houses who carry heavy responsibilities and whose work is of great value to the institution. In many other positions they would have far less care and, financially, much greater profit. All can see the injustice of paying such men no higher wages than are paid to mere mechanical workers.
If a woman is appointed by the Lord to do a certain work, her work should be estimated according to its value. Some may think it good policy to allow persons to devote their time and labor to the work without compensation. But God does not sanction such arrangements.
When self-denial is required because of a dearth of means, the burden is not to rest wholly upon a few persons. Let all unite in the sacrifice.
The Lord desires those entrusted with His goods to show kindness and liberality, not niggardliness. Let them not, in their deal, try to exact every cent possible. God looks with contempt on such methods.
Workers should receive compensation according to the hours they give in honest labor. The one who gives full time is to receive according to the time. If one enlists mind, soul, and strength in bearing the burdens, he is to be paid accordingly.
No man should be granted an exorbitant salary, even though he may possess special capabilities and qualifications. The work done for God and His cause is not to be placed on a mercenary basis. The workers in the publishing house have no more taxing labor, no greater expense, no more weighty responsibilities, than have the workers in other lines. Their labor is no more wearing than is that of the faithful minister. On the contrary, ministers, as a rule, make greater sacrifices than are made by the laborers in our institutions. Ministers go where they are sent; they are minutemen, ready to move at any moment, to meet any emergency. They are necessarily separated, to a great degree, from their families. The workers in the publishing houses, as a rule, have a permanent home and can live with their families. This is a great saving of expense and should be considered in its bearing on the relative compensation of laborers in the ministry and in the publishing houses.
Those who labor wholeheartedly in the Lord's vineyard, working to the utmost of their ability, are not the ones to set the highest estimate on their own services. Instead of swelling with pride and self-importance, and measuring with exactness every hour's work, they compare their efforts with the Saviour's work and account themselves unprofitable servants.
Brethren, do not study how little you may do in order to reach the very lowest standard; but arouse to grasp the fullness of Christ, that you may do much for Him.
The Lord wants men who see the work in its greatness and who understand the principles that have been interwoven with it from its rise. He will not have a worldly order of things come in to fashion the work in altogether different lines from those He has marked out for His people. The work must bear the character of its Originator.
In the sacrifice of Christ for fallen men, mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. When these attributes are separated from the most wonderful and apparently successful work, there is nothing to it.
God has not singled out a few men for His favor and left others uncared for. He will not lift up one and cast down and oppress another. All who are truly converted will manifest the same spirit. They will treat their fellow men as they would treat Christ. No one will ignore the rights of another.
God's servants should have so great respect for the sacred work they are handling that they will not bring into it one vestige of selfishness.
Faith and Courage
The Lord directed Moses to recount to the children of Israel His dealings with them in their deliverance from Egypt and their wonderful preservation in the wilderness. He was to call to mind their unbelief and murmuring when brought into trial, and the Lord's great mercy and loving-kindness, which had never forsaken them. This would stimulate their faith and strengthen their courage. While they would be led to realize their own sin and weakness, they would realize also that God was their righteousness and strength.
It is just as essential that the people of God in this day should bear in mind how and when they have been tested, and where their faith has failed; where they have imperiled His cause by their unbelief and also by their self-confidence. God's mercy, His sustaining providence, His never-to-be-forgotten deliverances, are to be recounted, step by step. As God's people thus review the past, they should see that the Lord is ever repeating His dealings. They should understand the warnings given, and should beware not to repeat their mistakes. Renouncing all self-dependence, they are to trust in Him to save them from again dishonoring His name. In every victory that Satan gains, souls are imperiled. Some become the subjects of his temptations, never to recover themselves. Then let those who have made mistakes walk carefully, at every step praying: "Hold up my goings in Thy paths, that my footsteps slip not." Psalm 17:5.
God sends trials to prove who will stand faithful under temptation. He brings all into trying positions to see if they will trust in a power out of and above themselves. Everyone has undiscovered traits of character that must come to light through trial. God allows those who are self-sufficient to be sorely tempted, that they may understand their helplessness.
When trials come to us; when we can see before us, not an increase of prosperity, but a pressure necessitating sacrifice on the part of all, how shall we receive Satan's insinuation that we are to have a very hard time? If we listen to his suggestions, unbelief in God will spring up. At such a time we should remember that God has always had a care for His institutions. We should look at the work He has done, the reforms He has wrought. We should gather up the evidences of Heaven's blessings, the tokens for good, saying: Lord, we believe in Thee, in Thy servants, and in Thy work. We will trust in Thee. The publishing house is Thine own instrumentality, and we will not fail or be discouraged. Thou hast honored us by connecting us with Thy center. We will keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. We will act our part by being true to the work of God."
If we lack faith where we are when difficulties present themselves we would lack faith in any place.
Our greatest need is faith in God. When we look on the dark side we lose our hold on the Lord God of Israel. As the heart is opened to fears and conjectures, the path of progress is hedged up by unbelief. Let us never feel that God has forsaken His work.