"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all that ye do be done in love." 1 Corinthians 16:13, 14, A. R. V.
Lessons from the Past Centralization
It was God's design that after the Flood, in fulfillment of the command given to Adam, men should disperse themselves throughout the earth, to replenish and subdue it.
But as Noah's descendants increased in numbers, apostasy manifested itself. Those who desired to cast off the restraint of God's law decided to separate from the worshipers of Jehovah. They determined to keep their community united in one body and to found a monarchy which should eventually embrace the whole earth. In the plain of Shinar they resolved to build a city, and in it a tower that should be the wonder of the world. This tower was to be so high that no flood could rise to the top, so massive that nothing could sweep it away. Thus they hoped to secure their own safety and make themselves independent of God.
This confederacy was born of rebellion against God. The dwellers on the plain of Shinar established their kingdom for self-exaltation, not for the glory of God. Had they succeeded, a mighty power would have borne sway, banishing righteousness and inaugurating a new religion. The world would have been demoralized. Erroneous theories would have diverted minds from allegiance to the divine statutes, and the law of Jehovah would have been ignored and forgotten. But God never leaves the world without witnesses for Him. At this time there were men who humbled themselves before God and cried unto Him. "O God," they pleaded, "interpose between Thy cause, and the plans and methods of men." "And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded." Genesis 11:5. Angels were sent to bring to nought the purposes of the builders.
The tower had reached a lofty height, and it was impossible for the workmen at the top to communicate directly with those at the base; therefore men were stationed at different points, each to receive and report to the one next below him the orders for the needed material, or other directions regarding the work. As messages were thus passing from one to another, the language was confounded, so that material was called for which was not needed, and the directions received were often the reverse of those that had been given. Confusion and dismay followed. All work came to a standstill. There could be no further harmony or co-operation. The builders were wholly unable to account for the strange misunderstandings among them, and in their rage and disappointment they reproached one another. Their confusion ended in strife and bloodshed. Lightnings from heaven broke off the upper portion of the tower and cast it to the ground. Men were made to feel that there is a God who ruleth in the heavens and that He is able to confuse and to multiply confusion in order to teach men that they are only men.
God bears long with the perversity of men, giving them ample opportunity for repentance; but He marks all their devices to resist the authority of His just and holy law.
Up to this time all had spoken the same language; now those that could understand one another's speech united in companies; some went one way, and some another. "From thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth." Verse 9.
In our day the Lord desires that His people shall be dispersed throughout the earth. They are not to colonize. Jesus said: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15. When the disciples followed their inclination to remain in large numbers in Jerusalem, persecution was permitted to come upon them, and they were scattered to all parts of the inhabited world.
For years messages of warning and entreaty have been coming to our people, urging them to go forth into the Master's great harvest field and labor unselfishly for souls.
From testimonies written in 1895 and 1899 I copy the following paragraphs:
"True missionary workers will not colonize. God's people are to be pilgrims and strangers on the earth. The investment of large sums of money in the building up of the work in one place is not in the order of God. Plants are to be made in many places. Schools and sanitariums are to be established in places where there is now nothing to represent the truth. These interests are not to be established for the purpose of making money, but for the purpose of spreading the truth. Land should be secured at a distance from the cities, where schools can be built up in which the youth can be given an education in agricultural and mechanical lines.
"The principles of present truth are to become more widespread. There are those who are reasoning from a wrong point of view. Because it is more convenient to have the work centered in one place, they are in favor of crowding everything together in one locality. Great evil is the result. Places that should be helped are left destitute.
"What can I say to our people that will lead them to follow the course that will be for their present and future good? Will not those in Battle Creek heed the light given them by God? Will they not deny self, lift the cross, and follow Jesus? Will they not obey the call of their Leader to leave Battle Creek and build up interests in other places? Will they not go to the dark places of the earth to tell the story of the love of Christ, trusting in God to give them success?
"It is not God's plan for our people to crowd into Battle Creek. Jesus says: "Go work today in My vineyard. Get away from the places where you are not needed. Plant the standard of truth in towns and cities that have not heard the message. Prepare the way for My coming. Those in the highways and hedges are to hear the call.'
"The Lord will make the wilderness a sacred place, as His people, filled with the missionary spirit, go forth to make centers for His work, to establish sanitariums, where the sick and afflicted can be cared for; and schools, where the youth can be educated in right lines."
"It has been urged that there were great advantages in having so many institutions in close connection; that they would be a strength to one another and could afford help to those seeking education and employment. This is according to human reasoning; it will be admitted that, from a human point of view, many advantages are gained by crowding so many responsibilities in Battle Creek; but the vision needs to be extended."
Notwithstanding frequent counsels to the contrary, men continued to plan for centralization of power, for the binding of many interests under one control. This work was first started in the Review and Herald office. Things were swayed first one way and then another. It was the enemy of our work who prompted the call for the consolidation of the publishing work under one controlling power in Battle Creek.
Then the idea gained favor that the medical missionary work would be greatly advanced if all our medical institutions and other medical missionary interests were bound up under the control of the medical missionary association at Battle Creek.
I was told that I must lift my voice in warning against this. We were not to be under the control of men who could not control themselves and who were not willing to be amenable to God. We were not to be guided by men who wanted their word to be the controlling power. The development of the desire to control has been very marked, and God sent warning after warning, forbidding confederacies and consolidation. He warned us against binding ourselves to fulfill certain agreements that would be presented by men laboring to control the movements of their brethren.
An Educational Center
The Lord is not pleased with some of the arrangements that have been made in Battle Creek. He has declared that other places are being robbed of the light and advantages that have been centered and multiplied in Battle Creek. It is not pleasing to God that our youth from all parts of the country should be called to Battle Creek, to work in the sanitarium, and to receive their education. When we permit this, we are often guilty of robbing needy fields of their most precious treasure.
Through the light given in the testimonies, the Lord has indicated that He does not desire students to leave their home schools and sanitariums to be educated in Battle Creek. He instructed us to remove the college from this place. This was done, but the institutions that remained failed of doing what they should have done to share with other places the advantages still centered in Battle Creek. The Lord signified His displeasure by permitting the principal buildings of these institutions to be destroyed by fire.
Notwithstanding the plain evidence of the Lord's providence in these destructive fires, some among us have not hesitated to make light of the statement that these buildings were burned because men had been swaying things in directions which the Lord could not approve.
Men have been departing from right principles, for the promulgation of which these institutions were established. They have failed of doing the very work that God ordained should be done to prepare a people to "build the old waste places" and to stand in the breach, as represented in the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. In this scripture the work we are to do is clearly defined as being medical missionary work. This work is to be done in all places. God has a vineyard; and He desires that this vineyard shall be worked unselfishly. No parts are to be neglected. The most neglected portion needs the most wide-awake missionaries to do the work which, through Isaiah, the Holy Spirit has portrayed:
"Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?" "If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in." Isaiah 58:6, 10-12.
For His own name's sake, God will not permit the froward and the independent to carry out their unsanctified plans. He will visit them for their perversity of action. "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." Isaiah 57:21. But in His judgments the Lord will remember mercy. He declares:
"I will not contend forever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before Me, and the souls which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid Me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him." Verses 16-19.
"The spirit of My people should fail before Me," said the Lord, "if I were to deal with them in accordance with their perversity. They could not endure My displeasure and My wrath. I have seen the perverse ways of every sinner. He who repents and does the works of righteousness, I will convert and heal, and restore unto My favor."
Concerning those who have been deceived and led astray by unconsecrated men, the Lord says: "Their course of action has not been in accordance with My will; yet for the righteousness of My own cause, for the truth's sake, I will heal everyone who shall honor My name. All the penitent of Israel shall see of My salvation. I, the Lord, do rule, and I will fill with praise and thanksgiving the hearts of all who are nigh and far off, even all the penitent of Israel who have kept My ways."
"Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." Verse 15.
How Shall Our Youth Be Trained?
John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, received his early training from his parents. The greater portion of his life was spent in the wilderness, that he might not be influenced by beholding the lax piety of the priests and rabbis or by learning their maxims and traditions, through which right principles were perverted and belittled. The religious teachers of the day had become so blind spiritually that they could hardly recognize the virtues of heavenly origin. So long had they cherished pride, envy, and jealousy that they interpreted the Old Testament Scriptures in such a manner as to destroy their true meaning. It was John's choice to forgo the enjoyments and luxuries of city life for the stern discipline of the wilderness. Here his surroundings were favorable to habits of simplicity and self-denial. Uninterrupted by the clamor of the world, he could here study the lessons of nature, of revelation, and of providence. The words of the angel to Zacharias had been often repeated to John by his God-fearing parents. From his childhood his mission had been kept before him, and he accepted the holy trust. To him the solitude of the desert was a welcome escape from the society in which suspicion, unbelief, and impurity had become well-nigh all-pervading. He distrusted his own power to withstand temptation and shrank from constant contact with sin lest he should lose the sense of its exceeding sinfulness.
But the life of John was not spent in idleness, in ascetic gloom, or in selfish isolation. From time to time he went forth to mingle with men, and he was ever an interested observer of what was passing in the world. From his quiet retreat he watched the unfolding of events. With vision illuminated by the Divine Spirit, he studied the characters of men, that he might understand how to reach their hearts with the message of heaven.
Christ lived the life of a genuine medical missionary. He desires us to study His life diligently, that we may learn to labor as He labored.
His mother was His first human teacher. From her lips, and from the scrolls of the prophets, He learned of heavenly things. He lived in a peasant's home, and faithfully and cheerfully He acted His part in bearing the household burdens. He had been the Commander of heaven, and angels had delighted to fulfill His word; now He was a willing servant, a loving, obedient son. He learned a trade and with His own hands worked in the carpenter's shop with Joseph. In the simple garb of a common laborer He walked the streets of the little town, going to and returning from His humble work.
With the people of that age the value of things was determined by outward show. As religion had declined in power, it had increased in pomp. The educators of the time sought to command respect by display and ostentation. To all this the life of Jesus presented a marked contrast. His life demonstrated the worthlessness of those things that men regarded as life's great essentials. The schools of His time, with their magnifying of things small and their belittling of things great, He did not seek. His education was gained from heaven-appointed sources, from useful work, from the study of the Scriptures and of nature, and from the experiences of life-- God's lessonbooks, full of instruction to all who bring to them the willing heart, the seeing eye, and the understanding heart.
"The Child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him." Luke 2:40.
Thus prepared, He went forth to His mission, in every moment of His contact with men exerting upon them an influence to bless, a power to transform, such as the world had never witnessed.
Words of Warning
We are living in a time of special peril to the youth. Satan knows that the end of the world is soon to come, and he is determined to improve every opportunity for pressing young men and young women into his service. He will devise many specious deceptions to lead them astray. We need to consider carefully the words of warning written by the apostle Paul:
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters." 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.
Special light has been given me in regard to why we may accomplish much more for the Master by the establishment of many small sanitariums than by the building up of a few large medical institutions. In large institutions there would be gathered together many who are not very sick, but who, like tourists, are seeking rest and pleasure. These would have to be waited on by nurses and helpers. Young men and young women, who from their earliest years have been shielded from worldly associations, would thus be brought in contact with worldlings of all classes, and to a greater or less degree would be influenced by what they see and hear. They would become like those with whom they associate, losing the simplicity and modesty that Christian fathers and mothers have guarded and cherished by careful instruction and earnest prayer.
We are living amidst the perils of the last days. Something decisive must be said to warn our people against the danger of permitting children who need parental care and instruction, to leave their homes to go to places where they will be brought into contact with pleasure-loving, irreligious worldlings.
In many homes the father and mother have allowed the children to rule. Such children are in far greater danger, when brought into contact with influences opposed to godliness, than are those who have learned to obey. Not having received the necessary disciplinary training, they think that they can do as they please. A knowledge of how to obey would have strengthened them to resist temptation, but this knowledge their parents have not given them. When these undisciplined youth enter an immense institution, where there are many influences opposed to spirituality, they are in grave peril, and often their stay in the institution is an injury to themselves and to the institution.
I am instructed to warn parents whose children have not firmness of principle or a clear Christian experience not to send them away from home to distant places, to be absent for many months and perhaps for years, and, it may be, to have sown in their minds the seeds of unbelief and infidelity. It is safer, and far better, to send such youth to the schools and sanitariums nearest their homes. Let the youth who are forming character be kept away from places where they would have to mingle with a great company of unbelievers, and where the forces of the enemy are strongly entrenched.
Let a decided effort be made by the managers of our large sanitariums to employ older persons as helpers in these institutions. In the visions of the night I was in a large assembly, where this matter was up for consideration. To those who were planning to send their undisciplined children to Battle Creek, One of authority said:
"Dare you make this experiment? The salvation of your children is worth more than the education they will receive in this place, where they are constantly exposed to the influence of unbelievers. Many who come to this institution are unconverted. They are filled with pride and have not through faith a connection with God. Many of the young men and women who wait on these worldlings have had but little Christian experience, and they easily become entangled in the snares that are laid for their feet."
"What can be done to remedy this evil?" someone present asked. The Speaker answered: "Since you have placed yourselves into this position of peril, let Christian men and women of mature years and established character be brought into the institution to exert a counterinfluence for the right. The carrying out of such a plan would increase the running expenses of the sanitarium, but it may be an effective means of guarding the fort and of shielding the youth in the institution from the contaminating influences to which they are now exposed.
"Parents, guardians, place your children in training schools where the influences are similar to those of a rightly conducted home school; schools in which the teachers will carry them forward from point to point and in which the spiritual atmosphere is a savor of life unto life."
The words of warning and instruction that I have written in regard to the sending of our youth to Battle Creek to receive a training for service in the Lord's cause are not idle words. Some God-fearing youth will stand the test, but it is not safe for us to leave even the most conscientious ones without our best care and protection. Whether or not our youth who have received wise instruction and training from godly parents will continue to be sanctified through the truth depends largely upon the influence that, after leaving their homes, they meet among those to whom they look for Christian instruction.
I am instructed to repeat to our brethren and sisters the warning and the exhortation that Paul sent to the church at Thessalonica:
"The mystery of lawlessness doth already work: only there is one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of His mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation of His coming; even he, whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be judged who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12, A. R. V.
"But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work." 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17.
September, 1903 . As I consider the state of things in Battle Creek, I tremble for our youth who go there. The light given me by the Lord, that our youth should not collect in Battle Creek to receive their education, has in no particular changed. The fact that the sanitarium has been rebuilt does not change the light. That which in the past has made Battle Creek a place unsuitable for the education of our youth makes it unsuitable today so far as influence is concerned.
When the call came to move out of Battle Creek, the plea was: "We are here, and all settled. It would be an impossibility to move without enormous expense."
The Lord permitted fire to consume the principal buildings of the Review and Herald and the sanitarium, and thus removed the greatest objection urged against moving out of Battle Creek. It was His design that instead of rebuilding the one large sanitarium, our people should make plants in several places. These smaller sanitariums should have been established where land could be secured for agricultural purposes.
It is God's plan that agriculture shall be connected with the work of our sanitariums and schools. Our youth need the education to be gained from this line of work. It is well, and more than well,--it is essential,--that efforts be made to carry out the Lord's plan in this respect.
Shall we encourage our most promising young men and women to go to Battle Creek to obtain their training for service where they will be surrounded with so many influences that tend to lead astray? The Lord has revealed to me some of the dangers that the youth connected with so large a sanitarium will have to meet. Many of the wealthy, worldly men and women who patronize this institution will be a source of temptation to the helpers. Some of these helpers will become the favorites of wealthy patients and will be offered strong inducements to enter their employ. Through the influence of the worldly display of some who have been guests at the sanitarium, tares have already been sown in the hearts of young men and women employed as helpers and nurses. This is the way in which Satan is working.