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Tithe & Systematic Benevolence Review & Additional Information

A review and additional information relating to Systematic Benevolence, Tithes and Offerings to that given upon
http://www.godswordexplained.com/?page_id=971
Please refer to this web-page for more information.
Note that on this web-page the definition of the word Tithe is a tenth [10%] BUT it can mean LESS THAN a tenth via it’s “indefinitely / very small part” meaning.
SECTION 1: Spirit of Prophecy quotes
I saw that it is time for those who have large possessions to begin to work fast. It is time that they were not only laying by them in store as God is now prospering them, but as He has prospered them. In the days of the apostles, plans were especially laid that some should not be eased and others burdened. Arrangements were made that all should share equally in the burdens of the CHURCH OF GOD according to their several abilities. Said the angel: “The ax must be laid at the root of the tree.” Those who, like Judas, have set their hearts upon earthly treasure will complain as he did. His heart coveted the costly ointment poured upon Jesus, and he sought to hide his selfishness under a pious, conscientious regard for the poor: “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?” He wished that he had the ointment in his possession; it would not thus be lavished upon the Saviour. He would apply it to his own use; sell it for money. He prized his Lord just enough to sell Him to wicked men for a few pieces of silver. As Judas brought up the poor as an excuse for his selfishness, so professed Christians, whose hearts are covetous, will seek to hide their selfishness under a put-on conscientiousness. Oh, they fear that in adopting SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE we are becoming like the nominal churches! “Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.” They seem to have a conscientious desire to follow exactly the Bible as they understand it in this matter; but they entirely neglect the plain admonition of Christ: “Sell that ye have, and give alms.” {1T 192.1 1855-1868} {2SG 232.1 1860}
1 Testimonies {1855-1868} – Chap. 41 – Systematic Benevolence
“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed Thee? In TITHES AND OFFERINGS. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the TITHES into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.” I saw that this SCRIPTURE has been misapplied to speaking and praying in meeting. THE PROPHECY HAS A SPECIAL APPLICATION TO THE LAST DAYS, AND TEACHES GOD’S PEOPLE THEIR DUTY TO BRING A PROPORTION OF THEIR SUBSTANCE AS A FREEWILL OFFERING TO THE LORD. {1T 222.2 1855-1868} {RH, January 1, 1875 par. 3} {4bSG 53.3 1864} {3T 409.1 1872-1875} {3T 510.2 1872-1875}
Had you been standing in the counsel of God, acknowledging the gifts of HIS SPIRIT as occupying their proper place in the church; had you been in heart and principle with the Review, established upon the strong truths applicable for this time; had you been giving meat in due season to the people of God, your influence in —– and vicinity would have been very different. You would have had a pointed testimony to bear in harmony with those who are leading out in this great work. Individual wrongs would have been reproved. Faithful labor would have brought up the Sabbathkeepers there, so that they would not have been behind other churches. But they have almost everything to learn. You should have borne a pointed testimony, impressing upon them the necessity of sacrificing, and all doing a part to bear the burden of the cause. You should have brought them up upon SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, leading all to act a part and exert themselves to do something to advance the cause of truth. Your indefinite position, and leaving matters so loose and slack in —– has had a bad influence upon the cause there. The opposition you felt and talked out in regard to organization and the advance of God’s people, has borne fruit which can be seen in many places in northern Wisconsin. {1T 315.2 1855-1868}
Some who are wealthy do not withhold from ministers. They keep up their SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE exactly and pride themselves upon their punctuality and generosity, and think their duty ends here. This is well as far as it goes, but their duty does not cease here. God has claims upon them that they do not realize. Society has claims upon them; their fellow men have claims upon them. Every member of their family has claims upon them. All these claims should be regarded; not one should be overlooked or neglected. Some men give to ministers and put into the treasury with as much satisfaction as though it would entitle them to heaven. Some think that they can do nothing to aid the cause of God unless they constantly have a large increase. They feel that they can in nowise touch the principal. Should our Saviour speak the same words to them that He did to the certain ruler, “Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me,” they would go away sorrowful, choosing like him to run the risk of retaining their idols, riches, rather than to part with them to secure treasure in heaven. This ruler claimed that he had kept all the commandments of God from his youth up, and confident in his fidelity and righteousness, and thinking that he was perfect, he asks: “What lack I yet?” Jesus immediately tears off his sense of security by referring to his idols, his possessions. He had other gods before the Lord, which were of greater value to him than eternal life. SUPREME LOVE TO GOD WAS LACKING. Thus it is with some who profess to believe the truth. They think they are perfect, think that there is no lack, when they are far from perfection and are cherishing idols which will shut them out of heaven. {1T 483.1 1855-1868}
SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE LOOKS TO YOU AS NEEDLESS; you overlook the fact that it originated with God, whose wisdom is unerring. THIS PLAN HE ORDAINED TO SAVE CONFUSION, TO CORRECT COVETOUSNESS, AVARICE, SELFISHNESS, AND IDOLATRY. This system was to cause the burden to rest lightly, yet with due weight, upon all. The salvation of man cost a dear price, even the life of the Lord of glory, which He freely gave to lift man from degradation and to exalt him to become heir of the world. God has so ordained that man shall aid his fellow man in the great work of redemption. He who excuses himself from this, who is unwilling to deny himself that others may become partakers with him of the heavenly benefit, proves himself unworthy of the life to come, unworthy of the heavenly treasure which cost so great a sacrifice. GOD WANTS NO UNWILLING OFFERING, NO PRESSED SACRIFICE. THOSE WHO ARE THOROUGHLY CONVERTED AND WHO APPRECIATE THE WORK OF GOD WILL GIVE CHEERFULLY THE LITTLE REQUIRED OF THEM, considering it a privilege to bestow. {1T 545.3 1855-1868}
A great and good work was done for this dear people. Wrongs were freely and fully confessed, union was restored, and the blessing of God rested down upon the work. My husband labored to bring up the SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE of the church to the figures which should be adopted in all our churches, and his efforts resulted in raising the amount to be paid into the treasury annually by that church about three hundred dollars. Those in the church who had been in trial about some of my testimonies, especially respecting the dress question, became fully settled on hearing the matter explained. The health and the dress reform were adopted, and a large amount was raised for the Health Institute. {1T 571.2 1855-1868}
SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE WAS NOT PRESENTED AS A PERFECTED PLAN, FOR IT WAS ALSO STATED THAT “GOD IS LEADING HIS PEOPLE” IN THE MATTER, AND “IS BRINGING” THEM UP. (PAGE 191.) AS PLANS FOR SUPPORT OF THE WORK AND THE MINISTRY BROADENED, THE SPIRIT OF LIBERALITY WAS ENCOURAGED MORE AND MORE UNTIL AT LENGTH LIGHT FROM THE SCRIPTURES REVEALED THE SYSTEM OF TITHES AND OFFERINGS AS THEY ARE KNOWN IN THE CHURCH TODAY. Extracts taken from the Appendix of Testimonies for the Church Volume 1 – by the Trustees of the Ellen G. White publications.
2 Spiritual Gifts {1860} – Chapter XXXII. – Systematic Benevolence.
THE PLAN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE IS PLEASING TO GOD. I was pointed back to THE DAYS OF THE APOSTLES, and saw that God laid the plan by the descent of HIS HOLY SPIRIT, and by the gift of prophecy counseled his people in regard to A SYSTEM OF BENEVOLENCE. All were to share in this work of imparting of their carnal things to those who ministered unto them in spiritual things. They were also taught that the widows and fatherless had a claim upon their charity. Pure and undefiled religion is defined, to visit the widows and fatherless in their affliction, and to keep unspotted from the world. I saw it was not merely to sympathize with them in their affliction by comforting words, but to aid them, if needy, with their substance. God has given health to young men and women, and they can obtain a great blessing by aiding the widow and fatherless in their affliction. I saw that God required young men to sacrifice more for the good of others. He claims more of them than they are willing to perform. If they keep themselves unspotted from the world, cease to follow its fashions, and lay by that which the lovers of pleasure spend in useless articles to gratify pride, and give it to the worthy afflicted ones, and to sustain the cause, they will have the approval of Him who says, “I know thy works.” {2SG 230.1 1860} {1T 190.1 1855-1868}
THERE IS ORDER IN HEAVEN, and God is well pleased with the efforts of his people in trying to move with the system and order in his work. I saw that there should be order in the CHURCH OF GOD, and arrangement in regard to carrying forward successfully the last great message of mercy to the world. GOD IS LEADING HIS PEOPLE IN THE PLAN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, and this is one of the very points which will cut the closest with some, to which God is bringing up his people. To them this point cuts off the right arm, and plucks out the right eye, while to others it is a great relief. To noble, generous souls the demands upon them seem very small, and they cannot be content to do so little. Some have large possessions, and if they lay by them in store for charitable purposes as God has prospered them, it seems to them like a large sum. THE SELFISH HEART CLINGS AS CLOSELY TO A LITTLE OFFERING AS TO A LARGER ONE, AND MAKES THE SMALL OFFERING LOOK VERY LARGE. I was pointed back to the commencement of this last work. Then some who loved the truth could consistently talk of sacrificing. They devoted much to the cause of God to send the truth to others. They have sent their treasure beforehand to heaven. Brethren, you who have received the truth at a later period, and have large possessions, God has called you into the field, not merely that you may enjoy the truth, but that you may aid with your substance in carrying forward this great work. And if you have an interest in this work, you will venture out, and invest something in it, that others may be saved by your efforts, and you reap with them the final reward. Great sacrifices have been made, and privations endured to place the truth in a clear light before you. Now God calls upon you, in your turn, to make great efforts, and to sacrifice in order to place the truth before those who are in darkness. God requires this. You profess to believe the truth; let your works testify to the fact. Unless your faith works, it is dead. Nothing but a living faith will save you in the fearful scenes which are just before you. {2SG 231.1 1860} {1T 191.1 1855-1868} {1T 191.2 1855-1868}
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them.” Some think this text teaches that they must be secret in their works of charity. And they do but very little, excusing themselves, because they do not know just how to give. But Jesus explained it to his disciples as follows: “Therefore, when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee as the hypocrites do, in the synagogues, and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.” They gave to be regarded noble and generous by men. They received praise of men, and Jesus taught his disciples that it was all the reward they would have. With many, the left hand does not know what the right hand does, for the right hand does nothing worthy of the notice of the left hand. This lesson of Jesus to his disciples was to rebuke those who wished to receive glory of men. They performed their alms-giving upon some very public gathering; and before doing this, a public proclamation was made of their generosity before the people, and many gave large sums merely to have their names exalted by men. And the means given in this manner was often extorted from others by oppressing the hireling in his wages, and grinding the face of the poor. {2SG 234.1 1860}
Then I was shown that this scripture does not apply to those who have the cause of God at heart, and use their means humbly to advance it. I was directed to these texts: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” “By their fruits ye shall know them.” I was shown that scripture testimony will harmonize, when it is rightly understood. The good works of the children of God are the most effectual preaching the unbeliever has. He thinks there must be strong motives that actuate the christian to deny self, and with his possessions, try to save his fellow man. It is unlike the spirit of the world. Such fruits testify that they are genuine christians. They seem to be constantly reaching upward to a treasure that is imperishable. {2SG 234.2 1860}
In every gift and OFFERING there should be a suitable object before the giver–not to uphold any in idleness–not to be seen of men or to get a great name–but to glorify God by advancing his cause. Some make large donations to the cause of God, but their brother who is poor may be suffering close by them, and they do nothing to relieve him. Little acts of kindness imparted to their brother in a secret manner would bind their hearts together, and would be noticed in heaven. I saw that the rich should make a difference in their prices and their wages to the afflicted and widows, and the worthy poor among them. But I saw it was too often the case that the poor were taken advantage of, and the rich reap the advantage, if there is any to be gained, and the last penny is exacted for every favor. It is all written in heaven. “I know thy works.” {2SG 235.1 1860}
THE GREATEST SIN WHICH NOW EXISTS IN THE CHURCH IS COVETOUSNESS. God frowns upon his professed people for their selfishness. His servants have sacrificed their time and their strength to carry them the word of life, and many have prized it just as highly, and no more, as their works have shown. If they can help the servant of God just as well as not, they sometimes do it; but he is often left to pass on, and but little done for him. But if they employ a day laborer, he must be paid full wages. But the self-sacrificing servant of God labors for them in word and doctrine; he carries the heavy burden of the work on his soul; he patiently shows from the WORD OF GOD the dangerous errors which are hurtful to the soul; he enforces the necessity of immediately tearing up the weeds which choke the good seed sown; he brings out of the storehouse of GOD’S WORD things new and old to feed the flock of God. All acknowledge that they have been benefited; but the poisonous weed, covetousness, is so deeply rooted they let the servant of God leave them without administering of their temporal things. They have prized his wearing labor just as highly as they act. Says the True Witness, “I know thy works.” {2SG 236.1 1860}
I saw that GOD’S SERVANTS ARE NOT PLACED BEYOND THE TEMPTATIONS OF SATAN. They are often fearfully beset by the enemy, and have a hard battle to fight. If they could be released from their commission, they would gladly labor with their hands. Their labor is called for by their brethren; but when they see it so lightly prized, they are depressed. True, they look to the final settlement for their reward, and this bears them up, but their families must have food and clothing. Their time belongs to the CHURCH OF GOD. It is not at their own disposal. They sacrifice the society of their families to benefit others, and there are those who are benefited by their labors who are indifferent to their wants. I saw that it was doing injustice to such, to let them pass on and deceive themselves. They think they are approved of God, when he despises their selfishness. Not only will these selfish ones be called to render an account to God how they have used their Lord’s money; but all the depression, and heart-aching feelings they have brought upon God’s chosen servants, which have crippled their efforts, will be set to their account. {2SG 237.1 1860}
The True Witness declares, “I know thy works.” The selfish, covetous heart will be tested. SOME ARE NOT WILLING TO DEVOTE TO GOD A VERY SMALL PORTION OF THE INCREASE OF THEIR EARTHLY TREASURE. They would start back with horror if you should speak of the principal. What have they sacrificed for God? Nothing. They profess to believe that Jesus is coming; but their works deny their faith. Every individual will live out all the faith he has. False-hearted professor, Jesus knows thy works. HE HATES YOUR STINTED OFFERINGS AND LAME SACRIFICES. {2SG 237.2 1860}
You have a useful testimony but it has been of little use for some time past. You can now review the past and see that your efforts have not accomplished much. You have shunned the pointed testimony which bears upon individuals and leads them to dedicate their means and use it in the cause of God. You stood back at SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE and failed to come up to the work on this point. Brother White has been obliged to strike out on this as well as other things alone. {Lt32a-1861}
If you had manifested the zeal that would be pleasing to God, a different condition of things would now exist in Wisconsin. Every preacher in the field should manifest zeal to establish church order and impress upon the church the necessity of acting their part in advancing the cause of God. You leave others to attend to these disagreeable tasks while you are willing to be benefited with the result. You have been unwilling to venture or run any risk, but leave others to do the very things that you should do. If these ministers in the field would all do their part and zealously bear the plain, pointed, cutting truth, the churches would be in a more promising condition than they are now. But the church cannot be blessed unless they act their part and impart of their substance to aid the cause of truth. They must have an interest in this cause. They must be taught that responsibility rests upon them. Ministers stand ready to start back at any advance move in the cause, and if they do not cast their influence directly against, do not use their influence in favor. {Lt32a-1861}
When you last labored with the tent, you planned and chose its location and there was not accomplished by the tent that which might have been accomplished if you had been right and yielded your judgment to others. I have been shown that ministers must be right. I was shown that when you or any other laborer enter a new field thorough work must be made. If a company is brought out into the truth they should not be left until the work is finished. You fail to bring the people up and plant them where they should be. You dread to bring them up to the point of acting, to enforce upon them SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, and urge upon them the necessity of pursuing their investigation, of taking the Review and studying the truths it publishes. They should be brought up on every point. Clear testimony should be borne upon laying aside their idols, and they should be instructed in regard to the gifts. {Lt15-1862}
If the ministers who have been the instruments of bringing souls into the truth go away and leave them before their work is thoroughly done, and another comes in and draws the line a little closer than their favorite minister did, and reins them up upon points which the former preacher has neglected, Satan takes advantage and some will almost surely make shipwreck of faith, become offended, and walk no more with us. It is very important that a thorough blow be struck while the SPIRIT OF THE LORD is convicting of sin and transgression of THE LAW. Thorough work done before leaving a company who has embraced the truth will be a strong fortification for them to remain separate from the spirit of the world and will fortify them against the coming in of Satan. Another cannot do this work half as well as the one who first presented the truth to them. {Lt15-1862}
Brother Ingraham, you had rather another would finish up the work you begin. You do not like the disagreeable responsibility and burden of laboring with individuals in private in regard to these important duties. You should carry a system with you and show all the necessity of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE and of their acting a part, and have matters arranged and established before leaving a company. God will not reward and approbate any one who only half does his work and leaves the disagreeable work for some other one to do. God will have thoroughgoing, decided, straightforward men. Satan must be shut out every time. He must not have place for a moment. Ministers must be thoroughgoing and shun not to lay their hand on individual wrongs. You must stand out of the way of your own light and stand in the light and counsel of God. {Lt15-1862}
The reproach resting upon the cause in regard to Brother Billings’ wife rests heavily upon Brother and Sister Steward. It was through their influence that she left her family. They made much of her exercises and experience. She was weak, and after she had been from her home a short time she was no longer a sane woman. I was shown that if Brother Steward had been standing in the counsel of God, acknowledging the gifts as of God, and occupying their place in the church; had he been heart and mind wholly with the Review, being led by the strong truths of GOD’S WORD, his influence in Mauston would have been far different than it was. The church would have been in an entirely different position and would, had his labors been right among them, been walking right up to all God required of them, as churches in other States. But the gifts have not been believed and considered of any weight, and Brother Steward has not impressed upon them the necessity of sacrificing, the necessity of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE. Brother Steward’s sideways position in regard to the Review and in regard to important truths being practically carried out, led the people in and about Mauston to not think as highly of the Review as they should, and they held very lightly the truths taught in it. Therefore the Review failed to have that influence upon them God designed it should have, and they were on the background in and about Mauston. {Lt18-1862}
The state of things in Mauston led T. M. Steward and his wife to influence Brother Billings’ wife to leave her family to secure her influence in Mauston, and he can bear the responsibility for her mind being overtaxed and diseased and the awful strain brought upon God’s cause. Brother Steward, I was shown that you try to throw these things off upon others, but as a watchman God holds you responsible. You have most humble confessions to make in Marquette and Portage and Lodi and other places. {Lt18-1862}
4bSG – Spiritual Gifts Volume 4b {1864} – Page 51 – Systematic Benevolence.
I was pointed back to THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL ANCIENTLY. God required of them all a sacrifice, both poor and rich, according as he had prospered them. The poor were not excused because they had not the wealth of their rich brethren. THEY WERE REQUIRED TO EXERCISE ECONOMY AND SELF-DENIAL, THAT THEY COME NOT BEFORE THE LORD EMPTY-HANDED. AND THOSE WHO WERE SO POOR THAT IT WAS UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR THEM TO BRING AN OFFERING TO THE LORD, IF SICKNESS OR MISFORTUNE HAD DEPRIVED THEM OF THE ABILITY TO BESTOW, THOSE WHO WERE WEALTHY WERE REQUIRED TO HELP THEM TO A HUMBLE MITE, THAT THEY COME NOT BEFORE THE LORD EMPTY-HANDED. This arrangement preserved a mutual interest. {4bSG 51.1 1864} {1T 220.1 1855-1868 1855-1868}
In the arrangement of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, some have not come up and united in this work, and have excused themselves because they were not free from debt. They plead that they must first “owe no man anything.” But BEING IN DEBT DOES NOT EXCUSE THEM. I saw that they should render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. Some feel conscientious to “owe no man anything,” and think that God can require nothing of them until their debts are all paid. Here they deceive themselves. THEY FAIL TO RENDER TO GOD THE THINGS THAT ARE GOD’S. EVERY ONE MUST BRING TO THE LORD A SUITABLE OFFERING. Those who are in debt should take the amount of their debts from what they possess, and give a proportion of the remainder. {4bSG 51.2 1864} {1T 220.2 1855-1868}
Some have felt under sacred obligations to their children. They must give them each a portion, but feel themselves unable to raise means to aid the cause of God. They make the excuse that they have a duty to do their children. This may be right, but their first duty belongs to God. Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. ROB NOT GOD BY WITHHOLDING FROM HIM YOUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS. IT IS THE FIRST, SACRED DUTY, TO RENDER TO GOD A SUITABLE PROPORTION. Let no one throw in their claims and lead you to rob God. Let not your children steal your OFFERING from God’s altar for their own benefit. {4bSG 52.1 1864} {1T 220.3 1855-1868}
I saw that anciently the covetousness of some led them to withhold a suitable proportion; they made their OFFERING stinted. This was recorded in heaven, and they were cursed in their harvest and their flocks just as they withheld. Some were visited with affliction in their families. GOD WOULD NOT ACCEPT A LAME OFFERING. IT MUST BE WITHOUT BLEMISH, THE BEST OF THEIR FLOCKS, AND THE BEST FRUITS OF THEIR FIELDS. AND IT MUST BE A FREEWILL OFFERING, if they would have the blessing of the Lord rest upon their families and their possessions. {1T 221.1 1855-1868} {4bSG 52.2 1864} {4bSG 52.3 1864}
The case of Ananias and Sapphira was presented before me to illustrate the course of those who put down their property below its value. They pretended to make A FREE-WILL OFFERING of their possessions to the Lord. Said Peter, “Sold ye the land for so much?” The answer was, “Yea, for so much.” Some in this evil age would not consider that a lie, but the Lord regarded it thus. They had sold it for so much, and much more. Their consecration was professedly made to God. To him they had dissembled, and their retribution lingered not. {4bSG 52.4 1864} {1T 221.2 1855-1868}
I SAW THAT IN THE ARRANGEMENT OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE HEARTS WILL [BE] TESTED AND PROVED. IT IS A CONSTANT, LIVING TEST. It brings one to understand his own heart, whether the truth or the love of the world predominates. Here is a test for the naturally selfish and covetous. They will put down their possessions at very low figures. Here they dissemble. Said the angel, “Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully.” Angels are watching the development of character, and the doings of such are carried to heaven by the heavenly messengers. Some will be visited of God for these things, and their increase will be brought down to their figures. “There is that scattereth and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” Proverbs 11:24, 25. {4bSG 53.1 1864} {1T 221.3 1855-1868}
All are required to have an interest in this work. Those who use tobacco, tea and coffee should lay these idols aside, and put their cost into the treasury of the Lord. Some have never made any sacrifice for the cause of God, and are asleep as to what God requires of them. Some of the very poorest will have the greatest struggle to deny themselves of these stimulants. This individual sacrifice is not required because the cause of God is suffering for means. But every heart will be tested and its character developed. It is principle that God’s people must act upon. The living principle must be carried out in the life. {4bSG 53.2 1864} {1T 222.1 1855-1868}
The last merciful message is entrusted to God’s humble, faithful servants of this time. GOD HAS LED ALONG THOSE WHO WOULD NOT SHUN RESPONSIBILITY, AND HAS LAID BURDENS UPON THEM, AND HAS THROUGH THEM PRESENTED TO HIS PEOPLE A PLAN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE IN WHICH ALL CAN ENGAGE, AND WORK IN HARMONY. THIS SYSTEM HAS BEEN CARRIED OUT, AND HAS WORKED LIKE MAGIC. The people have heartily responded to the call, and prized the system, as soon as the preachers ceased their opposition, and stood out of their way. Everything is made convenient and easy for the preachers, that they may work, free from embarrassment. The people have taken hold with a will and an interest which is not to be found among any other class of people. And God is displeased with preachers who now complain, and fail to throw their whole energies into this all-important work. They are without excuse, yet some are deceived, and think that they are sacrificing much, and are having a hard time, when they do not know really anything about suffering, self-denial, or want. They may often be weary, so would they be if they were dependent on manual labor for a support. {4bSG 121.2 1864} {1T 375.3 1855-1868} [GW 92 61.3 (1892)]
In the first place there is a deficiency with some of our ministers. They lack thoroughness. They do not take on the burden of the work and reach out to lift just where the people need help. They do not possess discernment to see and feel just where the people need to be corrected, reproved, built up and strengthened. Some of them labor weeks and months in a place, and there is actually more to do when they leave than when they commenced. SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE IS DRAGGING. It is one part of the ministers’ labor to keep up this branch of the work. Because this is not agreeable, some neglect their duty. They talk the truth from the WORD OF GOD, but do not impress the people with the necessity of obedience. Therefore many are hearers, but not doers. The people feel the deficiency. Things are not set in order among them, and they look to Brother and Sister White to make up the deficiency. {Ms4-1868} {2T 119.1 1868-1871}
There were some who kept the Sabbath, attended meeting, and paid SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, yet were out of the church. And it is true that they were not fit to belong to any church. But while leading church members stood as some in that church did, giving them little or no encouragement, it was almost impossible for them to arise in the strength of God and do better. As we began to labor with the church, and teach them that they must have a spirit of labor for the erring, much that I had seen relative to the cause in that place, opened before me, and I wrote out pointed testimonies not only for those who had erred greatly and were out of the church, but for those members in the church who had erred greatly in not going in search of the lost sheep. And I was never more disappointed in the manner in which these testimonies were received. When those who had been greatly in fault were reproved by most pointed testimonies, read to them publicly, they received them, and confessed with tears. But some of those in the church, who claimed to be the fast friends of the cause and the Testimonies, could hardly think it possible that they had been as wrong as the testimonies declared them to be. When told that they were self-caring, shut up to themselves and families; that they had failed to care for others, had been exclusive, and had left precious souls to perish; that they were in danger of being overbearing and self-righteous, they were brought into a state of great agitation and trial. {2T 19.2 1868-1871}
God calls for earnest, unselfish, disinterested laborers in His cause who will keep up the various branches of the work, such as obtaining subscribers for the periodicals, teaching them promptness in paying their dues, and encouraging brethren to keep up their SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE. Sacrifice, self-denial, toil, and disinterested BENEVOLENCE characterized the life of Christ, who is our example in all things. The work and character of a true minister will be in accordance with the life of Christ. He laid aside His glory, His high command, His honor, and His riches, and humbled Himself to our necessities. We cannot equal the example, but we should copy it. Love for souls for whom Christ made this great sacrifice should stimulate His ministers to exertion, to self-denial and persevering effort, that they may be co-workers with Him in the salvation of souls. Then will the works of God’s servants be fruitful, for they will indeed be His instruments. The power of God will be seen upon them in the gracious influences of HIS SPIRIT. God would have you arouse and possess strength to surmount obstacles; be not easily discouraged; if need be, labor, as did the apostle Paul, in weariness, in painfulness, in watching, forgetting infirmities in the deep interest felt for souls for whom Christ died. {2T 628.1 1868-1871}
The brothers B. make a mistake in remaining at Bordoville. They should change their location, and not see Bordoville oftener than a few times in the year. They would have greater freedom in bearing their testimony. These brethren have not felt freedom to speak out truth and facts as they existed. If they had lived elsewhere, they would have been more free from burdens, and their testimony would have had tenfold more weight when they should visit the church at Bordoville. While brother A. C. B. has been weighed down with petty church trials, and kept at Bordoville, he should have been laboring abroad. He has served tables until his mind has become clouded, and he has not comprehended the force and power of the truth. He has not been awake to the real wants of the cause of God. He has been losing spirituality and courage. THE WORK OF KEEPING UP SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE HAS BEEN NEGLECTED. Some of the brethren, whose whole interest has once been in the advancement of the cause of God, have been growing selfish and penurious, instead of being more self-sacrificing, and their devotion and love for the truth increasing. They have been growing less devotional, and more like the world. Father B. is one of this number. He needs a new conversion. Brother B. has been favored with superior privileges, and if these are not improved, condemnation and darkness will follow equal to the light he has had, for the non-improvement of the talents lent of God for him to improve. {PH159 167.1 1872} {3T 127.4 1872-1875}
God is not dependent upon man for the support of His cause. He could have sent means direct from heaven to supply His treasury, if His providence had seen that this was best for man. He might have devised means whereby angels would have been sent to publish the truth to the world without the agency of men. He might have written the truth upon the heavens, and let that declare to the world His requirements in living characters. God is not dependent upon any man’s gold or silver. He says: “Every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” “If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is Mine, and the fullness thereof.” Whatever necessity there is for our agency in the advancement of the cause of God, He has purposely arranged for our good. He has honored us by making us co-workers with Him. He has ordained that there should be a necessity for the co-operation of men, that they may keep in exercise their BENEVOLENCE. {3T 390.2 1872-1875}
GOD HAS IN HIS WISE PROVIDENCE PLACED THE POOR ALWAYS WITH US, that while we should witness the various forms of want and suffering in the world, we should be tested and proved, and brought into positions to develop Christian character. He has placed the poor among us to call out from us Christian sympathy and love. {3T 391.1 1872-1875}
Rightly directed BENEVOLENCE draws upon the mental and moral energies of men, and excites them to most healthful action in blessing the needy and in advancing the cause of God. If those who have means should realize that they are accountable to God for every dollar that they expend, their supposed wants would be much less. If conscience were alive, she would testify of needless appropriations to the gratification of appetite, of pride, vanity, and love of amusements, and would report the squandering of the Lord’s money, which should have been devoted to His cause. Those who waste their Lord’s goods will by and by have to give an account of their course to the Master. {3T 401.1 1872-1875}
Chap. 34 – Systematic Benevolence
I was shown that there have been unhappy results from making urgent calls for means at our camp meetings. This matter has been pressed too hard. Many men of means would not have done anything had not their hearts been softened and melted under the influence of the testimonies borne to them. But the poor have been deeply affected and, in the sincerity of their souls, have pledged means which they had a heart to give, but which they were unable to pay. In most instances urgent calls for means have left a wrong impression upon some minds. Some have thought that money was the burden of our message. Many have gone to their homes blessed because they had donated to the cause of God. But there are better methods of raising means, by FREEWILL OFFERINGS, than by urgent calls at our large gatherings. If all come up to the plan of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, and if our tract and missionary workers are faithful in their department of the work, the treasury will be well supplied without these urgent calls at our large gatherings. {3T 510.1 1872-1875}
BUT THERE HAS BEEN A GREAT NEGLECT OF DUTY. Many have withheld means which God claims as His, and in so doing they have committed robbery toward God. Their selfish hearts have not given THE TENTH OF ALL THEIR INCREASE, which God claims. Neither have they come up to the yearly gatherings with their FREEWILL OFFERINGS, their THANK OFFERINGS, and their TRESPASS OFFERINGS. Many have come before the Lord empty-handed. {3T 510.2 1872-1875}
Constant, self-denying BENEVOLENCE is God’s remedy for the cankering sins of selfishness and covetousness. GOD HAS ARRANGED SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE TO SUSTAIN HIS CAUSE AND RELIEVE THE NECESSITIES OF THE SUFFERING AND NEEDY. He has ordained that giving should become a habit, that it may counteract the dangerous and deceitful sin of covetousness. Continual giving starves covetousness to death. SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE is designed in the order of God to tear away treasures from the covetous as fast as they are gained and to consecrate them to the Lord, to whom they belong. {3T 548.1 1872-1875}
This system is so arranged that men may give something from their wages every day and lay by for their Lord a portion of the profits of every investment. The constant practice of GOD’S PLAN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE weakens covetousness and strengthens BENEVOLENCE. If riches increase, men, even those professing godliness, set their hearts upon them; and the more they have, the less they give to the treasury of the Lord. Thus riches make men selfish, and hoarding feeds covetousness; and these evils strengthen by active exercise. God knows our danger and has hedged us about with means to prevent our own ruin. He requires the constant exercise of BENEVOLENCE, that the force of habit in good works may break the force of habit in an opposite direction. {3T 548.2 1872-1875}
God requires an appropriation of means for BENEVOLENT objects every week, that in the frequent exercise of this good quality the heart may be kept open like a flowing stream and not allowed to close up. By exercise, BENEVOLENCE constantly enlarges and strengthens, until it becomes a principle and reigns in the soul. It is highly dangerous to spirituality to allow selfishness and covetousness the least room in the heart. {3T 548.3 1872-1875}
In the first rise of the third angel’s message, those who engaged in the work of God had something to venture. They had sacrifices to make. They started this work in poverty, and suffered the greatest deprivations and reproach. They met determined opposition, which drove them to God in their necessity, and kept their faith alive. OUR PRESENT PLAN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE AMPLY SUSTAINS OUR MINISTERS. And there is no want and no call for the exercise of faith as to a support. Those who start out now to preach the truth have nothing to venture. They have no risks to run, no especial sacrifices to make. The system of truth is made ready to their hand. Publications are provided for them, vindicating the truths they advance. {RH, September 16, 1873 par. 14} {3T 256.1 1872-1875}
Brother Butler labors hard. He is in full sympathy and union with you. I never heard Brother Andrews preach more pointedly and clearly and with more of the Spirit’s unction than at the Maine camp meeting. Brother Butler talked so plainly to the people upon their backwardness in regard to SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, the new ones, most of whom are wealthy, were thrown into great trial. {Lt51-1874}
If the plan of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE was fully adopted, and carried out to a man, there would be a constant supply in the treasury. The income would flow in like a steady stream constantly supplied by overflowing springs of BENEVOLENCE. {RH, August 25, 1874 par. 27} {3T 389.4 1872-1875}
Almsgiving is a part of gospel religion. Does not the consideration of the infinite price paid for our redemption leave upon us solemn obligations pecuniarily, as well as lay claim upon all our power to be devoted to the work of the Master? {RH, August 25, 1874 par. 28}
We shall have a debt to settle with the Master by-and-by, when he shall say, GIVE AN ACCOUNT OF THY STEWARDSHIP. If men prefer to set aside the claims of God, and grasp and selfishly retain all that he gives them, he will hold his peace at present, and continue frequently to test them by increasing his bounties, and by letting his blessings flow on, and these men pass on receiving honor of men, and without censure in the church, but by-and-by he will say, “Give an account of thy stewardship.” Says Christ, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” “Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price,” and are under obligation to glorify God with your means as well as in your body, and in your spirit, which are his. {RH, August 25, 1874 par. 29} {3T 390.1 1872-1875}
“Ye are bought with a price,” not “with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.” He asks the return of the gifts, he has intrusted to us, to aid in the salvation of souls. He has given his blood; he asks our silver. {RH, August 25, 1874 par. 30}
IT IS THROUGH HIS POVERTY THAT WE ARE MADE RICH, and yet, will we refuse to give back to him his own gifts? {RH, August 25, 1874 par. 31}
Whenever God’s people, in any period of the world, have cheerfully and willingly carried out HIS PLAN IN SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, and in gifts and OFFERINGS, there has been a standing promise that prosperity should attend all their labors just in proportion as they obeyed his requirements. When they acknowledged the claims of God, and complied with his requirements, honoring him with their substance, their barns were filled with plenty. But when they robbed God in TITHES AND IN OFFERINGS, they were made to realize that they were not only robbing him, but themselves; for God limited his blessings to them, just in proportion as they limited their OFFERINGS to him. {RH, August 25, 1874 par. 50} {3T 395.4 1872-1875}
Some will pronounce this as one of the rigorous laws binding upon the Hebrews. But this was not a burden to the willing heart that loved God. It was only when their selfish natures strengthened by withholding, that men have lost sight of eternal considerations, and valued their earthly treasures above that of souls. There are even more urgent necessities upon the Israel of God in these last days than were upon ancient Israel. There is a great and important work to be accomplished in a very short time, and God never designed that the law of the TITHING system should be of no account among his people, but that instead of this, the spirit of sacrifice should widen and deepen for the closing work. (To be Continued.) {RH, August 25, 1874 par. 51} {3T 396.1 1872-1875}
December 15, 1874 Tithes and Offerings.
SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE SHOULD NOT BE MADE SYSTEMATIC COMPULSION. IT IS FREE-WILL OFFERINGS THAT ARE ACCEPTABLE TO GOD. True Christian BENEVOLENCE springs from the principle of grateful love. Love of Christ cannot exist without corresponding love to those whom he came into the world to redeem. Love to Christ must be the ruling principle of the being, controlling all its emotions and directing all its energies. Redeeming love should awaken all that tender affection and self-sacrificing devotion that is possible to exist in the heart of man. When this is the case, no heart-stirring appeals will be needed to break through their selfishness and awaken their dormant sympathies, to call forth BENEVOLENT OFFERINGS for the precious cause of truth. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 1} {3T 396.2 1872-1875}
Jesus has purchased us at an infinite sacrifice. All our capabilities and all our influence are indeed our Saviour’s, and should be dedicated to his service. By doing this, we show our gratitude that we have been ransomed from the slavery of sin by the precious blood of Christ. Our Saviour is ever working for us. He has ascended up on high and pleads in behalf of the purchase of his blood. He pleads before his Father the agonies of the crucifixion. He raises his wounded hands and intercedes for his church, that they may be kept from falling under temptation. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 2}
If our senses could be quickened to take in this wonderful work of our Saviour for our salvation, love, deep and ardent, would burn in our hearts. Our apathy and cold indifference would then alarm us. Entire devotion and BENEVOLENCE, prompted by grateful love, will impart to the smallest OFFERING and willing sacrifice a divine fragrance, making the gift of priceless value. But, after all that we can bestow is yielded willingly to our Redeemer, be it ever so valuable to us, if we view the debt of gratitude we owe to God as it really is, all we may offer will seem to us very insufficient and meager. But the angels take these OFFERINGS, which to us seem poor, and present them as a fragrant OFFERING before the throne, and they are accepted. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 3}
We do not, as followers of Christ, realize our true position. We do not have correct views of our responsibilities as hired servants of Christ. He has advanced us the wages in his suffering life and his spilled blood, to bind us in willing servitude to himself. All the good things we have are a loan from our Saviour. He has made us stewards. OUR SMALLEST OFFERINGS, OUR HUMBLEST SERVICES, PRESENTED IN FAITH AND LOVE, MAY BE CONSECRATED GIFTS TO WIN SOULS TO THE SERVICE OF THE MASTER, TO PROMOTE HIS GLORY. The interest and prosperity of Christ’s kingdom should be paramount to every other consideration. Those who make their pleasure and selfish interest the chief objects of their lives are not faithful stewards. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 4}
Those who deny self to do others good, and devote themselves and all they have to Christ’s service, will realize the happiness which the selfish man seeks for in vain. Said our Saviour, “Whosoever forsaketh not all that he hath cannot be my disciple.” “Charity seeketh not her own.” This is the fruit of that disinterested love and BENEVOLENCE which characterized the life of Christ. The LAW OF GOD, in our hearts, will bring our own interests in subordination to high and eternal considerations. We are enjoined by Christ to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. This is our first and highest duty. Our Master expressly warned his servants not to lay up treasures upon the earth, for in doing so their hearts would be upon earthly, rather than heavenly, things. Here is where many poor souls have made shipwreck of faith. They have gone directly contrary to the express injunction of our Lord, and have allowed the love of money to become the ruling passion of their lives. They are intemperate in their efforts to acquire means. They are as much intoxicated with their insane desire for riches as the inebriate for his liquor. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 5}
Christians forget that they are servants of the Master, that they themselves, their time, and all that they have, belong to him. Many are tempted, and the majority are overcome, by the delusive inducements which Satan presents to invest their money where it will yield them the greatest profit in dollars and cents. There are but few who consider the binding claims that God has upon them to make it their first business to meet the necessities of his cause, and let their own desires be served last. There are but few who invest in God’s cause in proportion to their means. Many have fastened their money in property which they must sell before they can invest it in the cause of God, and thus put it to a practical use. They make this an excuse for doing but little in their Redeemer’s cause. They have as effectually buried their money in the earth as the man in the parable. THEY ROB GOD OF THE TENTH WHICH HE CLAIMS AS HIS OWN, and in robbing him they rob themselves of the heavenly treasure. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 6}
THE PLAN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE DOES NOT PRESS HEAVILY UPON ANY ONE MAN. “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” The poor are not excluded from the privilege of giving. They may act a part in this work, as well as the wealthy. THE LESSON CHRIST GAVE IN REGARD TO THE WIDOW’S TWO MITES SHOWS US THAT THE SMALLEST WILLING OFFERINGS OF THE POOR, IF GIVEN FROM A HEART OF LOVE, ARE AS ACCEPTABLE AS THE LARGEST DONATIONS OF THE RICH. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 7} {3T 398.2 1872-1875}
IN THE BALANCES OF THE SANCTUARY, THE GIFTS OF THE POOR, MADE FROM LOVE TO CHRIST, ARE NOT ESTIMATED ACCORDING TO THE AMOUNT GIVEN, BUT ACCORDING TO THE LOVE WHICH PROMPTS THE SACRIFICE. The promises of Jesus will as surely be realized by the liberal poor man, who has but little to offer, but who gives that little freely, as by the wealthy man who gives of his abundance. THE POOR MAN MAKES A SACRIFICE OF HIS LITTLE WHICH HE REALLY FEELS. He really denies himself of some things that he needs for his own comfort, while the wealthy man gives of his abundance, and feels no want, and denies himself nothing that he really needs. Therefore, THERE IS A SACREDNESS IN THE POOR MAN’S OFFERING that is not found in the rich man’s gift; for the rich give of their abundance. GOD’S PROVIDENCE HAS ARRANGED THE ENTIRE PLAN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE FOR THE BENEFIT OF MAN. His providence never stands still. If God’s servants follow his opening providence all will be active workers. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 8} {3T 398.3 1872-1875}
Those who withhold from the treasury of God, and hoard their means for their children, endanger the spiritual interest of their children. They place their property, which is a stumbling-block to themselves, in the pathway of their children, that they may stumble over it to perdition. Many are making a great mistake in regard to the things of this life. They economize, withholding from themselves and others the good they might receive from a right use of the means which God has lent them, and become selfish, and avaricious. They neglect their spiritual interests, and become dwarfs in religious growth, all for the sake of accumulating wealth which they cannot use. They leave their property to their children, and nine times out of ten it is even a greater curse to their heirs than it has been to themselves. Children relying upon the property of their parents, often fail to make a success of this life, and generally utterly fail to secure the life to come. The very best legacy parents can leave their children is a knowledge of useful labor and the example of a life characterized by disinterested BENEVOLENCE, showing by their works that the true value of money is only to be appreciated in the good that it will accomplish in relieving their own wants, the necessities of others, and in advancing the cause of God. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 9} {3T 399.1 1872-1875}
Some are willing to give according to what they have, and feel that God has no further claims upon them, because they have not a great amount of means. They have no income that they can spare from the necessities of their families. But there are many of this class who might ask themselves the question; am I giving according to what I might have had? God designed that their powers of body and mind should be put to use. Some have not improved to the best account the ability that God has given them. Labor is apportioned to man. It was connected with the curse, because made necessary by sin. The physical, mental, and moral well-being of man makes a life of useful labor necessary. “Be not slothful in business,” is the injunction of the inspired apostle. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 10} {3T 400.1 1872-1875}
NO PERSON, WHETHER RICH OR POOR, CAN GLORIFY GOD BY A LIFE OF INDOLENCE. All the capital that many poor men have is time and physical strength and this is so frequently wasted in love of ease, and in careless indolence, that they have nothing to bring to their Lord in TITHES AND IN OFFERINGS. If Christian men lack wisdom to labor to the best account, and to make a judicious appropriation of their physical and mental powers, they should have meekness and lowliness of mind to receive advice and counsel of their brethren, that their better judgment may supply their own deficiencies. Many poor men who are now content to do nothing for the good of their fellow-men, and for the advancement of the cause of God, might do much if they would. They are as accountable to God for their capital of physical strength as is the rich man for his capital of money. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 11} {3T 400.2 1872-1875}
Some who ought to put means into the treasury of God will be receivers from it. There are those who are now poor who might improve their condition by a judicious use of their time, by avoiding patent rights, and restraining their inclination to engage in speculations in order to obtain means in some easier way than by patient, persevering labor. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 12} {3T 400.3 1872-1875}
If those who have not made life a success were willing to be instructed, they could train themselves to habits of self-denial and strict economy, and have the satisfaction of being distributors, rather than receivers, of charity. There are many slothful servants. If they would do what it is in their power to do, they would experience so great a blessing in helping others that they would indeed realize that it is “more blessed to give than to receive.” {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 13}
Rightly directed BENEVOLENCE draws upon the mental and moral energies of men, and excites them to most healthful action in blessing the needy and in advancing the cause of God. If those who have means should realize that they are accountable to God for every dollar that they expend, their supposed wants would be much less. If conscience was alive, she would testify of needless appropriations in the gratification of the appetite, and in ministering to pride, to vanity, and to amusements, and report the squandering of their Lord’s money, which should have been devoted to his cause. Those who waste their Lord’s goods will have to give an account of it to the Master, by-and-by. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 14}
If professed Christians would use less of their wealth in the adorning of the body, and in beautifying their own houses, and would consume less in the extravagant, health-destroying luxuries upon their tables, they could place much larger sums into the treasury of God. They would thus imitate their Redeemer, who left Heaven, his riches, and his glory, and for our sakes became poor, that we might have eternal riches. If we are too poor to faithfully render to God in the TITHES AND OFFERINGS as he requires, we are certainty too poor to dress expensively; and to eat luxuriously; for we are wasting our Lord’s money in hurtful indulgences to please and glorify ourselves. We should inquire diligently of ourselves, What treasure have we secured in the kingdom of God? Are we rich toward God? {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 15}
Jesus gave his disciples a lesson upon covetousness. “And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 16}
The length and happiness of life consist not in the amount of our earthly possessions. This foolish rich man in his supreme selfishness had laid up for himself treasures that he could not use. He had lived only for himself. He had overreached in trade, had made sharp bargains, and had not been exercised by mercy or the love of God. He had robbed the fatherless and widow, and defrauded his fellow-men to add to his increasing stock of worldly possessions. He might have laid up his treasure in Heaven in bags that wax not old. Through his covetousness he lost both worlds. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 17}
Those who humbly use to the glory of God the means that he has intrusted to them, will receive their treasure by-and-by from the Master’s hand with the benediction, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 18}
When we consider the infinite sacrifice made for the salvation of men, we are lost in amazement. When selfishness clamors for the victory in the hearts of men, and they are tempted to withhold their due proportion in any good work, they should strengthen their principles of right by the thought that he who was rich in Heaven’s priceless treasure turned away from it all, and became poor, He had not where to lay his head. And all this sacrifice was in our behalf, that we might have eternal riches. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 19}
Christ set his own feet in the path of self-denial and sacrifice, which all his disciples must travel, if they would be exalted with him at last. He took to his own heart the sorrows which man must suffer. The minds of worldly men frequently become gross. They can only see earthly things, which eclipse the glory and value of the heavenly. Men will compass land and sea for earthly gain, and endure privation and suffering to obtain their object, yet will turn away from Heaven’s attractions and not regard eternal riches. Men who are in comparative poverty are usually the ones who do the most to sustain the cause of God. They are generous with their little. They have strengthened their generous impulses by continual liberalities. When their expenditures pressed close upon the income, their passion for earthly riches had no room or chance to strengthen. But many, when they begin to gather earthly riches, commence to calculate how long it will be before they can be in possession of a certain sum. In their anxiety to amass wealth for themselves, they fail to become rich toward God. Their BENEVOLENCE does not keep pace with their accumulation. As their passion for riches increases, their affections are bound up with their treasure. The increase of their property strengthens the eager desire for more, until their giving to the Lord a tenth is considered by some a severe and unjust tax. Inspiration has said, “If riches increase, set not your heart upon them.” Many have said, “If I were as rich as such an one, I would multiply my gifts in the treasury of God. I would do nothing else with my wealth but use it in the advancement of the cause of God.” God has tested some of these by giving them riches; but with the riches came the fiercer temptation, and their BENEVOLENCE was far less than in the days of their poverty. A grasping desire for greater riches absorbed their minds and hearts, and they committed idolatry. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 20}
He who presents to men infinite riches, and an eternal life of blessedness in his kingdom as the reward of faithful obedience, will not accept a divided heart. We are living amid the perils of the last days, where there is everything to divert the mind and allure the affections from God. Our duty will only be discerned, and appreciated when viewed in the light which shines from the life of Christ. As the sun rises in the east and passes toward the west, filling the world with light, so the true follower of Christ will be a light unto the world. He will go forth into the world as a bright and shining light, that those who are in darkness may be lightened and warmed by the rays shining forth from him. Christ says of his followers, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 21}
Our great Exemplar was self-denying, and shall the course of his professed followers be in such marked contrast to his? The Saviour gave all for a perishing world, not withholding even himself. THE CHURCH OF GOD ARE ASLEEP. They are enfeebled by inaction. Voices come to us from every part of the world, “Come over and help us;” but there is no answering movement. There is a feeble effort now and then; a few show that they would be co-workers with their Master; but such are frequently left to toil almost alone. There is but one missionary from our people in all the wide field in foreign countries. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 22}
The truth is mighty, but it is not carried into practice. Money alone is not sufficient to be laid upon the altar. God calls for men, volunteers, to carry the truth to other nations, and tongues, and people. It is not our numbers or our wealth that will give us a signal victory; but it is devotion to the work, moral courage, ardent love for souls, and untiring zeal, that never flags. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 23}
There are many who have looked upon the Jewish nation as a people to be pitied, because they were constantly taxed for the support of their religion; but God, who created man and provided him with all the blessings he enjoys, knew what was for his best good. And he has, through his blessing, made their nine-tenths worth more to them than the entire amount without his blessing. If any through their selfishness robbed God or brought to him an OFFERING not perfect, disaster and loss were sure to follow them. God reads the motives of the heart. He is acquainted with the purposes of men, and will mete out to them in his own good time as they have merited. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 24}
THE SPECIAL SYSTEM OF TITHING WAS FOUNDED UPON A PRINCIPLE WHICH WAS AS ENDURING AS THE LAW OF GOD. This system of TITHING was a blessing to the Jews, else God would not have given it them. So also will it be a blessing to those who carry it out TO THE END OF TIME. OUR HEAVENLY FATHER DID NOT ORIGINATE THE PLAN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE TO ENRICH HIMSELF, BUT TO BE A GREAT BLESSING TO MAN. HE SAW THAT THIS SYSTEM OF BENEFICENCE WAS JUST WHAT MAN NEEDED. [RH, December 15, 1874 par. 25] {3T 404.4 1872-1875}
Those churches who are the most SYSTEMATIC and liberal in sustaining the cause of God, are the most prosperous spiritually. True liberality in the follower of Christ identifies his interest with that of his Master. IN GOD’S DEALING WITH THE JEWS AND HIS PEOPLE TO THE END OF TIME, HE REQUIRES SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE PROPORTIONATE TO THEIR INCOME. The plan of salvation was laid by the infinite sacrifice of the SON OF GOD. The light of the gospel shining from the cross of Christ rebukes selfishness, and encourages liberality and BENEVOLENCE. It is not to be a lamented fact that there are increasing calls to give. God, in his providence, is calling his people out from their limited sphere of action, to enter upon greater enterprises. Unlimited effort is demanded at this time when moral darkness is covering the world. Worldliness and covetousness are eating out the vitals of God’s people. They should understand that it is his mercy which multiplies the demands for their means. THE ANGEL OF GOD PLACES BENEVOLENT ACTS CLOSE BESIDE PRAYER. He said to Cornelius, “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.” {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 26} {3T 405.1 1872-1875}
In the teachings of Christ, he said, “If ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” The spiritual health and prosperity of the church is dependent in a great degree upon her SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE. It is like the life blood which must flow through the whole being, vitalizing every member of the body. It increases love for the souls of our fellow-men; for by self-denial and self-sacrifice we are brought into a closer relation to Jesus Christ, who for our sakes became poor. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 27} {3T 405.2 1872-1875}
The more we invest in the cause of God to aid in the salvation of souls, the closer to our hearts they will be brought. Were our numbers half as large, and all of these devoted workers, we should have a power that would make the world tremble. To the active workers, Christ has addressed these words, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 28}
We shall meet opposition arising from selfish motives and from bigotry and prejudice, yet with undaunted courage and living faith, we should sow beside all waters. The agents of Satan are formidable; we shall meet them and must combat them. Our labors are not to be confined to our own country. The field is the world; the harvest is ripe. The command given the disciples just before he ascended was, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” We feel pained beyond measure to see some of our ministers hovering about the churches, apparently putting forth some little effort, but having next to nothing to show for their labors. The field is the world. Let them go out to the unbelieving world and labor to convert souls to the truth. We refer our brethren and sisters to the example of Abraham going up to Mount Moriah to offer his only son at the command of God. Here was obedience and sacrifice. Moses was in king’s courts, and a prospective crown was before him. But he turned away from the tempting bribe and “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.” {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 29}
The apostles counted not their lives dear unto themselves, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ. Paul and Silas suffered the loss of all things. They suffered scourging, and were in no gentle manner thrown upon the cold floor of a dungeon in a most painful position, their feet elevated and fastened in the stocks. Then did repinings and complaints reach the ear of the jailor? Oh! no. From the inner prison, voices broke the silence of midnight with songs of joy and praise to God. Deep and earnest love for the cause of their Redeemer, for which Paul and Silas suffered, cheered them. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 30}
And as the truth of God fills our hearts, absorbs our affections, and controls our lives, we also shall count it joy to suffer for the truth’s sake. No prison walls, no martyr’s stake, can then daunt or hinder us in the great work. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 31}
Come, O my soul, to Calvary. Mark the humble life of the SON OF GOD. He was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” Behold His ignominy, His agony in Gethsemane, and learn what self-denial is. Are we suffering want? so was Christ, the Majesty of heaven. But His poverty was for our sakes. Are we ranked among the rich? so was He. But He consented for our sakes to become poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. In Christ we have self-denial exemplified. His sacrifice consisted not merely in leaving the royal courts of heaven, in being tried by wicked men as a criminal and pronounced guilty, and in being delivered up to die as a malefactor, but in bearing the weight of the sins of the world. The life of Christ rebukes our indifference and coldness. We are near the close of time, when Satan has come down, having great wrath, knowing that his time is short. He is working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. THE WARFARE HAS BEEN LEFT IN OUR HANDS BY OUR GREAT LEADER FOR US TO CARRY FORWARD WITH VIGOR. WE ARE NOT DOING A TWENTIETH PART OF WHAT WE MIGHT DO IF WE WERE AWAKE. The work is retarded by love of ease and a lack of the self-denying spirit of which our Saviour has given us an example in His life. {3T 407.1 1872-1875} Also see {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 32}
Co-workers with Christ, men who feel the need of extended effort, are wanted. The work of our presses should not be lessened, but doubled. Schools should be established in different places to educate our youth preparatory to their laboring to advance the truth. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 33}
Already a great deal of time has been wasted, and angels bear to Heaven the record of our neglects. Our sleepy and unconsecrated condition has lost to us precious opportunities which God has sent to us in the persons of those who were qualified to help us in our present need. Oh! how much we need our Hannah More to aid us at this time in reaching those of other nations. Her extensive knowledge of missionary fields would give us access to those of other tongues that now we cannot approach. God brought this gift among us to meet our present emergency; but we prized not the gift, and he took her from us. She is at rest from her labors, but her self-denying works follow her. It is to be deplored that our missionary work should be retarded for the want of knowledge how to gain access to the different nations and localities in the great harvest field. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 34}
We feel anguish of spirit because some gifts are lost to us that we might now have if we had only been awake. Laborers have been kept back from the whitening harvest. It becomes the people of God to humble their hearts before him, and in the deepest humiliation to pray the Lord to pardon our apathy and selfish indulgence, and to blot out the shameful record of duties neglected, and privileges unimproved. In contemplation of the cross of Calvary the true Christian will abandon the thought of restricting his OFFERINGS to that which costs him nothing, and will hear in trumpet tones, “Go, labor in my vineyard, There’s resting by-and-by.” {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 35}
When Jesus was about to ascend on high, he pointed to the harvest fields, and said to his followers, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel.” “Freely ye have received, freely give.” Shall we deny self that the wasting harvest may be gathered? {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 36}
God calls for talents of influence and of means. Shall we refuse to obey? Our Heavenly Father bestows gifts and solicits a portion back, that he may test us whether we are worthy to have the gift of everlasting life. {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 37}
Should all whom God has prospered with earthly riches carry out his plan in faithfully giving A TENTH OF ALL THEIR INCREASE, and if they should not withhold their TRESPASS OFFERINGS and their THANK OFFERINGS, the treasury would be constantly replenished. THE SIMPLICITY OF THE PLAN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE does not detract from its merits, but extols the wisdom of God in its arrangement. Everything bearing the divine stamp unites simplicity with utility. {RH, January 1, 1875 par. 1} {3T 408.4 1872-1875}
IF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE WAS UNIVERSALLY ADOPTED, ACCORDING TO GOD’S PLAN, AND THE TITHING SYSTEM CARRIED OUT AS FAITHFULLY BY THE WEALTHY AS IT IS BY THE POORER CLASSES, THERE WOULD BE NO NEED OF REPEATED AND URGENT CALLS FOR MEANS AT OUR LARGE RELIGIOUS GATHERINGS. THERE HAS BEEN A NEGLECT, IN THE SEVERAL CHURCHES, OF KEEPING UP THE PLAN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, AND THE RESULT HAS BEEN AN IMPOVERISHED TREASURY AND A BACKSLIDDEN CHURCH. {RH, January 1, 1875 par. 2} {3T 408.4 1872-1875}
GOD HAS BEEN ROBBED IN TITHES AND IN OFFERINGS. It is a fearful thing to be guilty of withholding from the treasury, or of robbing God. Ministers who preach the word at our large gatherings feel the sinfulness of neglecting to render to God the things that are his. They know that God will not bless his people while disregarding HIS PLAN OF BENEVOLENCE. They seek to arouse the people to their duty by pointed, practical discourses, showing the danger and sinfulness of selfishness and covetousness. Conviction fastens upon minds, and the icy chill of selfishness is broken. And when the call is made for donations to the cause of God, some, under the stirring influence of the meetings, are aroused to give who otherwise would do nothing. As far as this class is concerned, good results have been realized. But under pressing calls many feel the deepest who have not had their hearts frozen up with selfishness. They have conscientiously kept their means flowing out to advance the cause of God. Their whole being is stirred by the earnest appeals made, and the very ones respond who may have given all their circumstances in life would justify. {RH, January 1, 1875 par. 4} {3T 409.2 1872-1875}
January 1, 1875 Systematic Benevolence.
But these whole-hearted, liberal believers, prompted by their zealous love for the cause, in their desire to do promptly for the cause, judge themselves capable of doing more than God requires them to do, for their usefulness is crippled in other directions. These willing ones sometimes pledge to raise sums when they know not from what source they are coming, and some are placed in distressing circumstances to meet their pledges. Some are obliged to sell their produce at great disadvantage. Some have actually suffered for the conveniences and necessities of life, in order to meet their pledges. {RH, January 1, 1875 par. 5} {3T 410.1 1872-1875}
There was a time at the commencement of our work when such sacrifice would have been justified, when God would have blessed all who thus ventured out to do for his cause. The friends of truth were few, and means were very limited. But the work has been widening and strengthening until there are means enough in the hands of believers to amply sustain the work in all its departments without embarrassing any, if all would bear their proportional part. The cause of God need not be crippled in the slightest degree. The precious truth has been made so plain that many have taken hold of it, who have in their hands means which God has intrusted to them for the purpose of using to advance the interests of the truth. If these men of means do their duty, there need not be a pressure brought upon the poorer brethren. {RH, January 1, 1875 par. 6} {3T 410.2 1872-1875}
We are in a world of plenty. If the gifts and OFFERINGS were proportionate to the means which each has received of God, there would be no need of the urgent call for means at these large gatherings. I am fully convinced it is not the best plan to bring a pressure upon the point of means at our camp-meetings. Men and women who love the cause of God as they do their lives will pledge upon these occasions when their families must suffer for the very means that they have promised to give to advance the cause. Our God is not a taskmaster, requiring the poor man to give means to the cause that belong to his family to keep them in comfort and above pinching want. {RH, January 1, 1875 par. 7} {3T 410.3 1872-1875}
The call for means at our large camp-meetings has been attended hitherto with apparently good results so far as the wealthy are concerned. But we fear the result of the continued effort to thus replenish the treasury. There will be, we fear, a re-action. Greater effort should be put forth, by responsible men in the different churches, to have all follow the plan of God’s arrangement. If SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE is carried out, the urgent calls for means at the camp-meetings for various enterprises will not be necessary. {RH, January 1, 1875 par. 8} {3T 411.1 1872-1875}
GOD HAS DEVISED A PLAN BY WHICH ALL MAY GIVE AS HE HAS PROSPERED THEM, AND WHICH WILL MAKE GIVING A HABIT WITHOUT WAITING FOR SPECIAL CALLS. Those who can do this, and will not because of their selfishness, are robbing their Creator, who has bestowed upon them means to invest in his cause to advance its interests. UNTIL ALL SHALL CARRY OUT THE PLAN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, THERE WILL BE A FAILURE IN COMING UP TO THE APOSTOLIC RULE. Those who minister in word and doctrine should be men of discrimination. They should, while they make general appeals, become acquainted with the ability of those who respond to their appeals, and should not allow the poor to pay large pledges. After a man has once consecrated a certain sum to the Lord, he feels that it is sacred and consecrated to a holy use. This is true, and therefore our preaching brethren should be well informed of whom they accept pledges. {RH, January 1, 1875 par. 9} {3T 411.2 1872-1875}
Each member of the different families in our churches who believe the truth may act a part in its advancement by cheerfully adopting SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE. “Let every one of you lay by him in store [margin, by himself at home], . . . that there be no gatherings when I come.” The burden of urging and pressing individuals to give of their means was not designed to be the work of God’s ministers. The responsibility should rest upon every individual who enjoys the belief of the truth. “Let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him.” Every member of the family, from the oldest down to the youngest, may take part in this work of BENEVOLENCE. {RH, January 1, 1875 par. 10} {3T 411.3 1872-1875}
THE OFFERINGS OF LITTLE CHILDREN MAY BE ACCEPTABLE AND PLEASING TO GOD. In accordance with the spirit that prompts the gifts will be the value of the OFFERING. The poor, by following the rule of the apostle in laying by every week a small sum, help to swell the treasury, and the gifts are wholly acceptable with God; for they are making just as great sacrifices as their more wealthy brethren, and even greater. The plan of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE will prove a safeguard to every family against temptations to spend means for needless things, and especially will it prove a blessing to the rich in guarding them from indulging in extravagances. {RH, January 1, 1875 par. 11} {3T 412.1 1872-1875}
Every week the demands of God upon each family are brought to mind by each of its members fully carrying out the plan, and as its members have denied themselves some superfluity in order to have means to put into the treasury, lessons of value in self-denial for the glory of God have been impressed upon the heart. Once a week, each is brought face to face with the doings of the past week–the income that he might have had if he had been economical, and the means he has not because of indulgence. His conscience is reined up, as it were, before God, and either commends or accuses him. He learns that if he retains peace of mind and the favor of God, he must eat, and drink, and dress, to his glory. {RH, January 1, 1875 par. 12} {3T 412.2 1872-1875}
SYSTEMATIC action in giving in accordance with the plan keeps open the channel of the heart in liberal gifts. We place ourselves in connection with God, that he may use us as channels that his gifts may flow through us to others. THE POOR WILL NOT COMPLAIN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE; FOR IT TOUCHES THEM LIGHTLY. They are not neglected and passed by, but are favored with acting a part in being co-workers with Christ, and will receive the blessing of God as well as the wealthy. In the very process of laying aside the littles as they can spare them, they are denying self and cultivating liberality of heart. They are educating themselves to good works, and are meeting the design of God in the plan of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE as effectually as the more wealthy who give of their abundance. {RH, January 1, 1875 par. 13} {3T 412.3 1872-1875}
In the days of the apostles, men went everywhere preaching the word. New churches were raised up. Their love and zeal for Christ led them to acts of great denial and sacrifice. MANY OF THESE GENTILE CHURCHES WERE VERY POOR; YET THE APOSTLE DECLARES THAT THEIR DEEP POVERTY ABOUNDED TO THE RICHES OF THEIR LIBERALITY. Their gifts were extended beyond their power. Men periled their lives and suffered the loss of all things for the truth’s sake. {RH, January 1, 1875 par. 14} {3T 413.1 1872-1875}
The apostle suggests the first day of the week as a proper time to review the course of Providence and the prosperity experienced, and in the fear of God, with true gratitude of heart for the blessings he has bestowed, decide how much, according to his own devised plan, shall be rendered back to him. {RH, January 1, 1875 par. 15} {3T 413.2 1872-1875}
GOD HAS DESIGNED THAT THE EXERCISE OF BENEVOLENCE SHOULD BE PURELY VOLUNTARY, not having recourse even to eloquent appeals to excite sympathy. “The Lord loveth a cheerful giver.” He is not pleased to have his treasury replenished with forced supplies. The loyal hearts of the people of God, rejoicing in the saving truth for this time, will, through love and gratitude to him for this precious light, be earnest and anxious to aid with their means in sending the truth to others. The very best manner to give expression to our love for our Redeemer, is to give and make OFFERINGS to bring souls to the knowledge of the truth. {RH, January 1, 1875 par. 16} {3T 413.3 1872-1875}
THE PLAN OF REDEMPTION WAS ENTIRELY VOLUNTARY ON THE PART OF OUR REDEEMER, AND IT IS THE PURPOSE OF CHRIST THAT ALL OUR BENEVOLENCE SHOULD BE FREE-WILL OFFERINGS. {RH, January 1, 1875 par. 17}
God provided bread for His people in the wilderness by a miracle of mercy, and He could have provided everything necessary for religious service; but He did not, because in His infinite wisdom He saw that the moral discipline of His people depended upon their co-operating with Him, every one of them doing something. As long as the truth is progressive, the claims of God rest upon men to give of that which He has entrusted to them for this very purpose. GOD, THE CREATOR OF MAN, BY INSTITUTING THE PLAN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, HAS MADE THE WORK BEAR EQUALLY UPON ALL ACCORDING TO THEIR SEVERAL ABILITIES. Everyone is to be his own assessor and is left to give as he purposes in his heart. But there are those who are guilty of the same sin as Ananias and Sapphira, thinking that if they withhold a portion of what God claims in the TITHING system the brethren will never know it. Thus thought the guilty couple whose example is given us as a warning. God in this case proves that He searches the heart. The motives and purposes of man cannot be hidden from Him. He has left a perpetual warning to Christians of all ages to beware of the sin to which the hearts of men are continually inclined. {4T 469.1 1876-1881}
Although no visible marks of God’s displeasure follow the repetition of the sin of Ananias and Sapphira now, yet the sin is just as heinous in the sight of God and will as surely be visited upon the transgressor in the day of judgment, and many will feel the curse of God even in this life. When a pledge is made to the cause, it is a vow made to God and should be sacredly kept. In the sight of God it is no better than sacrilege to appropriate to our own use that which has been once pledged to advance His sacred work. {4T 469.2 1876-1881}
Persons who thus pledge to their fellow men do not generally think of asking to be released from their pledges. A vow made to God, the Giver of all favors, is of still greater importance; then why should we seek to be released from our vows to God? Will man consider his promise less binding because made to God? Because his vow will not be put to trial in courts of justice, is it less valid? Will a man who professes to be saved by the blood of the infinite sacrifice of Jesus Christ, “rob God”? Are not his vows and his actions weighed in the balances of justice in the heavenly courts? {4T 470.2 1876-1881}
Each of us has a case pending in the court of heaven. Shall our course of conduct balance the evidence against us? The case of Ananias and Sapphira was of the most aggravated character. In keeping back part of the price, they lied to the Holy Ghost. Guilt likewise rests upon every individual in proportion to like offenses. When the hearts of men are softened by the presence of the SPIRIT OF GOD, they are more susceptible to impressions of the Holy Spirit, and resolves are made to deny self and to sacrifice for the cause of God. It is when divine light shines into the chambers of the mind with unusual clearness and power that the feelings of the natural man are overcome, that selfishness loses its power upon the heart, and that desires are awakened to imitate the Pattern, Jesus Christ, in practicing self-denial and BENEVOLENCE. The disposition of the naturally selfish man then becomes kind and pitiful toward lost sinners, and he makes a solemn pledge to God, as did Abraham and Jacob. Heavenly angels are present on such occasions. The love of God and love for souls triumphs over selfishness and love of the world. Especially is this the case when the speaker, in the Spirit and power of God, presents the plan of redemption, laid by the Majesty of heaven in the sacrifice of the cross. By the following scriptures we may see how God regards the subject of vows: {4T 470.3 1876-1881}
THE PLAN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE WAS OF GOD’S OWN ARRANGEMENT, but the faithful payment of God’s claims is often refused or postponed as though solemn promises were of no significance. It is because church members neglect to pay their TITHES and meet their pledges that our institutions are not free from embarrassment. If all, both rich and poor, would bring their TITHES into the storehouse, there would be a sufficient supply of means to release the cause from financial embarrassment and to nobly carry forward the missionary work in its various departments. God calls upon those who believe the truth to render to Him the things that are His. Those who have thought that to withhold from God is gain will eventually experience His curse as the result of their robbery of the Lord. Nothing but utter inability to pay can excuse one in neglecting to meet promptly his obligations to the Lord. Indifference in this matter shows that you are in blindness and deception, and are unworthy of the Christian name. {4T 475.3 1876-1881}
A church is responsible for the pledges of its individual members. If they see that there is a brother who is neglecting to fulfill his vows, they should labor with him kindly but plainly. If he is not in circumstances which render it possible for him to pay his vow, and he is a worthy member and has a willing heart, then let the church compassionately help him. Thus they can bridge over the difficulty and receive a blessing themselves. {4T 476.1 1876-1881}
God would have the members of HIS CHURCH consider their obligations to Him as binding as their indebtedness to the merchant or the market. Let everyone review his past life and see if any unpaid, unredeemed pledges have been neglected, and then make extra exertions to pay the “uttermost farthing,” for we must all meet and abide the final issue of a tribunal where nothing will stand the test but integrity and veracity. {4T 476.2 1876-1881}
When a verbal or written pledge has been made in the presence of our brethren to give a certain amount, they are the visible witnesses of a contract made between ourselves and God. The pledge is not made to man, but to God, and is as a written note given to a neighbor. No legal bond is more binding upon the Christian for the payment of money than a pledge made to God. {4T 470.1 1876-1881}
Ministers frequently neglect these important branches of the work,–HEALTH REFORM, spiritual gifts, SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, and the great branches of the missionary work. Under their labors large numbers may embrace the theory of the truth, but in time it is found that there are many who will not bear the proving of God. The minister laid upon the foundation, hay, wood, and stubble, which would be consumed by the fire of temptation. Some proved to be gold, silver, and precious stones; these from principle would cling to the truth. But if the teacher of truth had brought these converts along as he should have done, presenting before them the obligation which rested upon them, many who afterward drew back to perdition, might have been saved. {RH, December 12, 1878 par. 10} {GW92 99.1 1892}
Another minister follows the first, and in the fear of God presents the practical duties, the claims of God upon his people. Some draw back, saying, “Our minister who brought us the truth did not mention these things. We have been deceived. These things were kept back.” And they become offended because of the word. SOME WILL NOT ACCEPT THE TITHING SYSTEM; THEY REJECT SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, and become offended, turn away, and no longer walk with those who believe and love the truth. When the tract and missionary field is opened before them, inviting them to work in it, they answer, “It was not so taught us,” and they hesitate to engage in the work. How much better it would be for the cause, if the messenger of truth had faithfully and thoroughly educated these converts in regard to all these essential matters, ever if there were less whom he could number as being added to the church under his labors. {RH, December 12, 1878 par. 11}
Ministers must impress upon those for whom they labor the importance of their bearing burdens in connection with the work of God. They should be instructed that every department of the work of God should enlist their support and engage their interest. The great missionary field is open to men, and the subject must be agitated, agitated, again and again. THE PEOPLE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS NOT THE HEARERS OF THE WORD BUT THE DOERS OF THE WORD THAT WILL HAVE ETERNAL LIFE. Not one is exempted from this work of BENEFICENCE. God requires of all men to whom he imparts the gifts of his grace to communicate, not only of their substance to meet the demands for the time in successfully advancing his truth but to give themselves to God without reserve. {RH, December 12, 1878 par. 12}
SELF-DENYING BENEVOLENCE CHARACTERIZED THE LIFE OF CHRIST. He came not to seek his own. He identified his interest with the wants of his people. He went about doing good. Our sisters who have hitherto lived for self and have cherished habits of indolence and self-indulgence, can now, through the grace given them, imitate the life of Christ. The exercise of disinterested BENEVOLENCE will strengthen in their own hearts the principles taught by their divine Master. {RH, December 12, 1878 par. 13}
GOD GIVES REGULARLY AND FREELY TO BLESS MAN. His gifts are not only rich and munificent but SYSTEMATIC. The light of day, the recurring seasons, the dew and rains causing vegetation to flourish, are blessings of God unceasingly flowing to the children of men. And God requires of those whom he blesses BENEFICENT efforts in conformity to the divine Model. Our liberalities are never to cease; our charities must be regular and constant; and order must be observed in the work. It is not a trait of the natural heart to be BENEFICENT; men must be taught, giving them line upon line and precept upon precept, how to work and how to give after God’s order. {RH, December 12, 1878 par. 14}
We are required to do good and bless others by our labors and prayers as well as by the gift of means. IN ORDER TO BE CHRISTIANS AND TO GAIN HEAVEN WE MUST IMITATE THE GREAT EXEMPLAR. He cheerfully gave his life to ransom an apostate world. Selfishness and worldliness were condemned by the daily life of Christ; and none of us can live for ourselves and yet enjoy the approval of God. {RH, December 12, 1878 par. 15}
I could not see but that SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE must be enjoined upon the people here as well as in America, even if their donations were small. The Lord would bless them in conscientiously doing what they could. God has revealed in HIS WORD His appointed way that His work should be carried forward. Those who have small talents must do according to their ability, but [all] must feel that they have a part to act to sustain the work. They must organize tract societies and act as though they expected the Lord to do something for them. The Israelites had to obey the command, “Go forward,” when the Red Sea barred their way; and when they did advance, their feet were in the very waters when the Lord opened the path before them. We want to exercise much more faith than we have hitherto done. {Lt2-1886}
They have managed generally to pay his expenses in traveling. This was good as far as it went, but they NEED TO BE EDUCATED TO SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, TO THE TITHING SYSTEM. This will be for their spiritual interest and for the growth of the work. We are all doing what we can here, and may the Lord work mightily is my prayer. {Lt117-1886}
I attended the conference meeting in the forenoon and spoke to the brethren upon the importance of working more earnestly and being united in their labor after Christ’s order. I related how we had worked in America, and I could not see but that we must work in the same manner here in the kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, although through an interpreter. It is true the brethren are poor, but no more so than when the work was in its infancy in America. We worked then according to the directions of God with what facilities we had in establishing SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE and organizing tract societies. We showed by our works that we expected the Lord to do something for us, and the Lord honored our faith. We think that there will be most decided moves from this point and that the Lord will open the way for His message to go to all classes. {Ms65-1886}
All should be taught to do what they can for the Master; to render to him according as he has prospered them. HE CLAIMS AS HIS JUST DUE A TENTH OF THEIR INCOME, BE IT LARGE OR SMALL; and those who withhold this, commit robbery toward him, and cannot expect his prospering hand to be with them. Even if the church is composed mostly of poor brethren, the subject of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE SHOULD BE THOROUGHLY EXPLAINED AND THE PLAN HEARTILY ADOPTED. God is able to fulfill his promises. His resources are infinite, and he employs them all in accomplishing his will. And when he sees a faithful performance of duty in the payment of the TITHE, he often, in his wise providence, opens ways whereby it shall increase. {RH, August 24, 1886 par. 9} {GW92 270.1 1892}
Those who have been made partakers of the grace of God should not be slow to show their appreciation of that gift. They should not look upon the TITHE as the limit of their liberality. The Jews were required to bring to God numerous OFFERINGS besides the TITHE; and shall not we who enjoy the blessings of the gospel, do as much to sustain God’s cause as was done in the former, less-favored dispensation? None should forget to make THANK-OFFERINGS and FREE-WILL OFFERINGS to God, that through their instrumentality the precious light that they have received may be borne to others just as worthy as themselves. {RH, August 24, 1886 par. 10}
The Lord gives some an opportunity to honor him with the abundance of their substance; others, if they can do no more, can honor him just as much by watching for an opportunity to give a cup of cold water to the weary, thirsty disciple. It is the privilege and duty, not only of those who have large possessions, but of those who have but little, to be faithful, to grudge nothing from the Lord. The poor widow who gave two mites made as great a sacrifice as the rich man who gives his thousands; and her reward will be as great. He who follows God’s arrangement in the little that has been given him will receive the same returns as he who bestows of his abundance. The same is true also of those who cheerfully employ their talents of ability in the cause of God, while those who fail to improve that which has been given them will incur the same loss as though that little had been much. It was the man who had only one talent, but who went and hid that talent in the earth, that received the condemnation of the Lord. {RH, August 24, 1886 par. 11}
In a Testimony first published in 1859 in regard to SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE are these words: {Lt32-1892}
“There is order in heaven, and God is pleased with the efforts of His people in trying to move with system and order in His work on earth. I saw that there should be order in the CHURCH OF GOD, and that system is needed in carrying forward successfully the last great message of mercy to the world.” {Lt32-1892} {1T 191}
“We had a hard struggle in establishing organization. Notwithstanding that the Lord gave testimony after testimony upon this point, the opposition was strong, and it had to be met again and again. But we knew that the Lord God of Israel was leading us, and guiding by his providence. We engaged in the work of organization, and marked prosperity attending this advance movement. As the development of the work called us to engage in new enterprises, we were prepared to enter upon them. The Lord directed our minds to the importance of educational work. We saw the need of schools that our children might receive instruction, free from the errors of false philosophy, that their training might be in harmony with the principles of the WORD OF GOD. The need of health institutions had been urged upon us, both for the help and instruction of our own people and as a means of blessing and enlightenment of others. This enterprise also was carried forward. All this was missionary work of the highest order. Our work was not sustained by large gifts and legacies: for we have few wealthy men among us. What is the secret of our prosperity? We have moved under the order of the Captain of our salvation. God has blessed our united efforts. The truth has spread and flourished. Institutions have multiplied. The mustard seed has grown to a great tree. The system of organization has proved a grand success. SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE WAS ENTERED INTO ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE PLAN. The body “has been complicated by that which every joint supplieth.” As we have advanced, our system of organization has still proved effectual. {GCDB, January 29, 1893 par. 1} {Lt32-1892} {Ms139-1901} {RH, October 12, 1905 par. 18}
It is a solemn thing to be entrusted with talents. It is a wonderful responsibility. I have some very decided statements to make to all who claim to follow the Lord, to be faithful and obedient to HIS WORD. The WORD OF THE LORD has come to me upon the subject of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE. The TITHING question is a matter that is so plainly stated in GOD’S WORD that not one living soul needs to misunderstand it. The Lord has given men talents to use to His name’s glory; but He makes one reserve. To Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden He said, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it.” Here was the test that was to prove the loyalty of Adam and Eve. But they did the very thing the Lord had forbidden, and as result the floodgates of woe were opened to our world. {Ms37-1896} {PH087 1.2 1897} {Lt32-1892}
God has given to man abundantly. He says, “I will lend you these goods of mine to trade upon: but I require you to return to me THE TENTH OF ALL YOUR INCREASE.” Through Moses, directions had been given how the Lord’s talents of means should be appropriated; and again in Malachi this instruction is repeated. With all the blessings that the Lord bestows upon man, He tells him how they are to be used; and in obedience to His will there is safety and security. But when men set up their own ideas and plans, and do as God has forbidden with the talents He has entrusted to them, He counts them as “disobedient, unthankful, unholy.” {Ms37-1896}
Ms 70, – September 27, 1896 – Systematic Benevolence – Previously unpublished.
God’s bounties are given to man to be acknowledged by him in returning to the Lord the portion He claims in TITHES AND OFFERINGS. By giving to the Lord His due, God’s children present to the world a constant evidence that they are mindful that all their mercies, all their entrusted treasures, come from God and belong to God. {Ms70-1896}
Cain and Abel made OFFERINGS to God. Abel brought as his sacrifice the firstling of the flock. This was the very choicest gift he could bring, for it was the Lord’s specified claim. But Cain brought only of the fruits of the ground, and his OFFERING was not accepted by the Lord. We are not to bring to the Lord an OFFERING like that of Cain. We are to give the Lord our own individual lives, as the purchased possession of the beloved SON OF GOD. {Ms70-1896}
By our OFFERINGS we acknowledge our dependence upon God. To Him we are indebted for life itself. Were it not for His miracle-working power, which by day and by night causes vegetation to flourish, there would be no harvest to gather. The sun, which brings us light and warmth, ripening that which the earth produces, is His gift. THE WHOLE WORD OF GOD PROCLAIMS THE LOVE AND BENEVOLENCE OF HIS CHARACTER, AND THE MERCIFUL DESIGNS OF HIS GOVERNMENT. “The eyes of all wait upon thee,” writes the Psalmist, “and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.” {Ms70-1896}
Man’s indebtedness to God, and his entire dependence upon Him, should lead him to acknowledge God as the Giver of all blessings in giving Jesus to our world. God desires that the memories of men, women, and children should be freshened in the year 1896. He desires that their hearts be filled with gratitude, and that they connect their outward, worldly blessings with the atonement of the great sacrifice made in their behalf. “For God so loved the world, that he gave HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” {Ms70-1896}
Well and appropriate was the festal anthem of the Jewish nation, “Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” It seems strange to the human mind that in these festivals of rejoicing, which were observed after the ingathering of nature’s treasure, the SACRIFICIAL OFFERINGS should be so important a feature. To outward appearance it was a strange combination to mingle the sacrifice of beast with their expression of joy and gladness. But this was built upon the true foundation. Christ Himself was the foundation of all these ceremonial services. When, in these festal gatherings, these holy convocations, blood was shed, and OFFERING made to the Lord, the people were thanking God for the promise of a Saviour. They were expressing the truth that without the shedding of the blood of the SON OF GOD, there could be no forgiveness of sins. These impressive, jubilant celebrations were right and acceptable in the sight of God. Christ is to be regarded and appreciated as the Source from whence all our blessings come. {Ms70-1896}
But when the Jewish people departed from God, they lost sight of the true significance of these festal celebrations. When Christ, with His divinity clothed with humanity, stood among them, witnessing their jubilant festivals and solemn services, which in type signified Himself, He was not recognized. He who was the foundation of all these services was not honored by those who were celebrating them. His eye looked upon the leafy encampments, His ear heard the words of song, and understood their import. But the actors knew not the deep meaning of the words they uttered or of the songs they sang. Thousands of voices shouted, “Hosanna, Come Saviour;” thousands of voices prayed for the coming of Him who even stood in their midst, and who they would not receive. They knew Him not. {Ms70-1896}
Thus, by precept and example, the Jewish nation tore down what they were trying to maintain by outward ceremonies. So enveloped were they in darkness that the influence, produced by their words and by their SACRIFICIAL OFFERINGS and their jubilant rejoicing, was destroyed by their example. The power of the principles in representation was not accepted by God; their OFFERINGS did not bear the divine credentials, for they were neutralized by wrong practice. {Ms70-1896}
Those in Christ’s day who confederated to make a grand display pledged themselves with the same mind to murder the SON OF GOD, He who was symbolized by all their religious ceremonies. Their hearts were devoid of the spirit of true worship, and were filled with wicked purposes, hypocrisy, and all manner of corruption. {Ms70-1896}
The Lord has committed to us talents of money, talents of tact and qualification for service. He allots to some five talents, to others two, and to others one. God’s whole family are responsible moral agents. From the lowliest to the highest, all are entrusted with gifts from God. They are to employ every capability for God; they are to use the smallest gift, improving it to the glory of God. By diligent exercise, their gifts will grow. The Lord has given to every human agent according to his several ability, and each one is to be a worker in God’s great moral vineyard. The Lord expects all to do their best. THE INTEREST HE REQUIRES WILL BE IN PROPORTION TO THE AMOUNT OF ENTRUSTED CAPITAL. Now is our solemn period of sacred trust. {Ms70-1896}
The incarnation of the SON OF GOD is but dimly comprehended by those who are placed in positions of responsibility and trust. If the spirit of self-denial and self-sacrifice imbued the hearts of all those who claim to be children of God, every soul at the head and heart of the work would represent Jesus in character. But this has not been for years. Were the men in positions of responsibility connected with God, the streams of salvation flowing from Christ to human hearts, the revelation of life and immortality brought to light through Jesus Christ, would make an impression on the work and cause of God. {Ms70-1896}
The requirement of GOD’S WORD is that we should be like Christ, that we should bear Christ’s image, that we should follow His example, and live His pure, unselfish life. Christ went about doing good. He cheerfully gave His life to ransom the world from sin. For our sake He became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. Selfishness, self-pleasing, self-serving cannot be consistent with a Christian life. {Ms70-1896}
We must constantly recognize, before believers and unbelievers, our dependence upon God for life, for breath, and for the use of our faculties. HE IS OUR CREATOR, AND WE ARE HIS BY REDEMPTION. OUR BODIES, OUR SOULS, OUR LIVES, ARE GOD’S not only because they are His free gift, but because He constantly supplies us with His benefits, and gives us strength to use our blessings. God has ordained that men, women, and children should be educated by HIS WORD to become co-laborers with Christ in the great work of dispensing His gifts to the world. {Ms70-1896}
The great lesson we are daily to learn is that we are stewards of God’s gifts, stewards of money, of reason, of intellect, of influence. All these are lent talents; and God would have us realize that He has a right to mind and soul and body and spirit. “Know ye not,” asks Paul, “that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” The claim of creation is God’s claim to our entire service. The claim of redemption is a claim which we are to realize every hour of our existence. It is a claim of love, as well as of right, of love without a parallel. {Ms70-1896}
The streams of salvation are poured into our hearts through the grace of Jesus Christ. All our possessions are gained for us by Him who purchased us with His own blood. God has placed signal honor on the human race, for we read, “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” {Ms70-1896}
All who are sons of God will represent Christ in character. Their works will be performed by the infinite tenderness, compassion, love, and purity of the SON OF GOD. And the more completely soul and body are yielded up to the Holy Spirit, the greater will be the fragrance of the OFFERING. Shall we not give to Jesus all the powers He has redeemed? If you will do this, He will renew your heart, convert your conscience, sanctify your affections, purify your thoughts, and set all your powers to work in Christ’s lines. The motives and thoughts of your mind will be brought into captivity to Christ Jesus. {Ms70-1896}
As Christians we are to follow our Leader step by step in the heavenward way. He has enjoined upon us, “Love not the world, neither the things of the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” This is the sign which is uplifted to distinguish between the children of God and the children of the wicked one. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world.” {Ms70-1896}
“They that will be rich, those who are fully determined to obtain riches and enjoy the world, “fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts.” For a time Satan holds out before them many attractions and opportunities, but that which the WORD OF GOD pronounces the sure result, must come upon them. That snare into which they fall drowns them in destruction and perdition. “For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” {Ms70-1896}
Those who allow a covetous disposition to take possession of them, cherish and develop those traits of character which will place their names on the record books of heaven as idolaters; and no idolater “hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” “The wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth.” Covetous men are classed with idolaters, adulterers, thieves, drunkards, revilers, extortioners, none of whom, the WORD OF GOD declares, shall inherit the kingdom of God. {Ms70-1896}
These attributes are ever opposed to the exercise of Christian BENEFICENCE. They are the fruit of selfishness, and reveal themselves in a neglect of duty, in a failure to use God’s entrusted gifts to advance His work. {Ms70-1896}
The property which we possess is not our own; it is a lent talent, and it is to be used for God. It is not to be regarded as our own, to use as our fancy shall direct. It is to be employed in doing the will of God in behalf of truth and righteousness. The Lord hath need of that talent. {Ms70-1896}
Rich and poor must awaken to their God-given responsibility in this matter. God would have us work to the uttermost of our ability to honor and glorify Him. None of us are to underrate our talents, and hide them, our entrusted gifts, in the earth. However small our talent, it is important that we use it wisely. By doing good with that talent, one soul who will dedicate his powers to the Master’s service may be brought to God, and that one soul may win other souls. Thus the one talent, improved, becomes many talents. {Ms70-1896}
We cannot place an accurate estimate upon our talents. God bids you use your entrusted gifts, small or large, in whatever sphere you may be called to act. His gifts are not to be absorbed in worldly pursuits. Many have left the one and the two and the five out of their reckoning, but by doing this they rob God. An account will have to be rendered for each talent; and day by day, hour by hour, by the use we make of our gifts, we are deciding our own destiny, deciding what decisions shall be given in the day of judgment. Our whole life-work is bound up in the solemn period of the judgment scene. {Ms70-1896}
Bear in mind that your money belongs to the Lord. He will one day reckon with His servants, that He may know how much each one has gained by trading. Our whole eternal interests are involved in the use we make of our property, our time, our strength, our capabilities; and our reward will be proportionate to our works. “Behold I come quickly,” said Christ, “and my reward is with me, to give unto every man according as his works shall be.” {Ms70-1896}
The whole value of the life-work is measured by the employment of the entrusted talents. They are the instrumentalities with which we are to work, and our final reward will depend upon the piety and the earnestness and unselfishness which characterizes our work. Day by day we are making our work for eternity. Read Malachi 3. The subject is here presented in a striking, plain, sharp, decided manner. It is not traced by human pen, but is THE VOICE OF GOD speaking for the benefit of all living upon the earth. {Ms70-1896}
Christians must practice temperance in all things. WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO NEGLECT THAT BODY AND STRENGTH AND SOUL AND MIND which are to be given to the Lord is consecrated service. We are made up of body and senses, as well as of conscience and affections. Our impulses and passions have their seat in the body; therefore there must be no abuse of any of our organs. {Ms70-1896}
The LAW OF TEMPERANCE must pervade the whole life of a Christian. We are to keep the glory of God in view. He is to be in all our thoughts. Every influence that would captivate our thoughts, every worldly power that would divide our mind, must be cut away. The love of worldly things must not be allowed to divert the mind from God. We are under sacred obligations to God to govern our body, to rule our appetites and passions, so that they shall not lead us away from purity and holiness, or take our minds from the work God requires us to do. {Ms70-1896}
LIFE IS THE GIFT OF GOD. A MISUSE OF ANY OF THE ORGANS OF THE BODY SHORTENS LIFE, REDUCES THAT PERIOD WHICH GOD DESIGNS WE SHOULD LIVE. If unhealthful habits are carelessly indulged—in late hours, immoderate eating, the gratification of the appetite for dainties at the expense of health, thus laying the foundation for feebleness, the neglect of physical exercise, in overwork of the mind and body, in allowing the passions to be indulged—the nervous system becomes unbalanced. Those who thus shorten their lives by disregarding nature’s laws, are guilty of practicing robbery toward God. {Ms70-1896}
God desires that we shall have a care, a regard, and an appreciation for our bodies—THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. He desires that the body shall be kept in the most healthful condition possible, and under the most spiritual influences, that the talents that He has given us may be used to render perfect service to Him. {Ms70-1896}
There should be on the part of each one an intelligent knowledge of the human structure, that the body may be preserved in the healthful condition necessary in order to do the work of trading upon the Lord’s goods, and that every talent may be employed with the glory of God in view. Those who form habits that lessen physical force, that weaken the brain nerve power, and lessen the vigor of mind or body, are making themselves inefficient for the work that God has given them to do. On the other hand, a healthful, wholesome life is most favorable for the perfection of Christian character, and the development of all the powers of mind and body. {Ms70-1896}
The very uncertainty of life should cause every human agent to feel the necessity of working to the utmost of his ability to do good and become a blessing to humanity. NO ONE IS SURE OF A DAY. ACCIDENT, SICKNESS, OR DEATH MAY COME AT ANY MOMENT. We, none of us know how long our life will last, and while we have it in our possession, it should be most precious in our estimation. It is our duty to keep our bodies, as the property of God, free from all disease and preserve them in health. We are not our own. This life is not ours. We are Christ’s purchased possession. And we read in GOD’S WORD, “His servants shall serve him.” Then let us personally devote our lives in doing God’s will. {Ms70-1896}
If our individual influence is to be rightly used, and increase in efficiency, the first great secret for us to recognize is that whatever degree of influence we possess, be it great or small, it will increase by being exercised, for God co-operates with the human agent. One may be given credit for natural energy of character, which, if used to honor and glorify God, will increase in growth and accomplish much good; but God is the Source from whence all our capabilities spring. He is personally dealing with each one of us, and we are to recognize the talents that He has bestowed, and make the best use of them. They must not be allowed to weaken and decay through misuse and indolence on the part of the human agent. The words of inspiration exhort us: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” {Ms70-1896}
It is our privilege to increase our influence in whatever sphere of life we may be placed. We are God’s servants, to whom we must individually yield ourselves. We are to obey Him; for He knows just what He would have us do as His workers, and what position we can acceptably fill. He wants each individual believer to act the part assigned him. He supplies by His own power those points of character that are essential for the very place that He wishes each to fill. The life that is dedicated to God, He will not leave to become the victim to Satan’s temptations, nor to be used as natural inclination may choose. The true believer is brought into close contact with his Redeemer. “Come unto me,” He says, “all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” {Ms70-1896}
Here we have plainly revealed to us that if we preserve the meekness and lowliness of Christ, if we walk humbly by the side of the Burden-bearer, if we come in close contact with OUR REDEEMER, in being thus yoked up with Him, He will impart to us His own individuality. {Ms70-1896}
As we individually exercise for usefulness in His service the endowments given us of God, we become one with Christ, and our responsibility is in and through Him. But the human agent, on his part, must not attempt to shape circumstances for himself; he must avoid everything that he knows will have a tendency to dampen or extinguish earnest zeal and devotedness for the service of God. The love of God cannot live in the heart where selfishness is carefully enshrined. Fleshly lusts are against the holy principles of purity and godliness. {Ms70-1896}
The human agent himself often makes many of the worries and trials that press his path by endeavoring to meet the world’s standard. But the Lord desires that he shall fix his eyes upon Jesus, and study God’s will. In thousands and ten times ten thousand ways the Lord has given knowledge and endowments and opportunities to man, that by their diligent use he may become better qualified to do the duties and bear the responsibilities that are required of him as the servant of God. {Ms70-1896}
Every one may add to his talents by improving those which he already has. In looking to, and fashioning the mind after, outward surroundings, we can never increase our ability. The Lord expects us to gain a valuable knowledge, to increase our ability, to improve the talents that we have. We can only do this by working on the plan of addition. And if we do this, we shall find that God is working for us on the broader plan of multiplication. He says, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, AND OF JESUS OUR LORD, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” {Ms70-1896}
Read still further in this chapter and see the plan of addition worked out and proved: “And beside all this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is sanctified ambition, to advance, to increase in wisdom, and in favor with God and man, to live the WORD OF GOD. {Ms70-1896}
Every true Christian will be ready for instant action, depending not on his own preparedness, but trusting in God. He will be instant in season, and out of season. Whatever the circumstances may be, he will be armed and equipped, and standing prepared for service. At all times and in all places, he will be ready to speak, to pray, to sing the praises of God, to use his influence for the Master. His sanctified energies and endowments will be employed in exalting the Lord Jesus, in magnifying the truth, and in extending the interest of THE KINGDOM OF GOD. {Ms70-1896}
All are to stand as minutemen, ready to file into service at a moment’s warning, losing no opportunity that offers itself to hold forth THE WORD OF LIFE, to make known to others the unsearchable riches of Christ, for that opportunity neglected is forever beyond recall. Be ever ready to make the most of every presented opportunity for exercising your influence for the Master. From hour to hour in your varied life, these opportunities will open before you. They will be constantly coming and going. That opportunity of speaking in the hearing of some soul THE WORD OF LIFE may never offer itself again. Therefore let no one venture to say, “I pray thee have me excused.” {Ms70-1896}
It is a rare thing to see SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE practiced by professed Christians. Self and its demands interpose between the soul and God. But GOD LIVES, GOD REIGNS. HE IS OUR RULER. HE HAS HIS LAW, and He sees as He looks upon the lawless character of the beings He has created, that they are unworthy of becoming members of [the] royal family, children of the heavenly King. The LAW OF GOD does not change to meet man in his disloyalty, but by many the WORD OF GOD is wrested from its true meaning. It is misapplied to meet the ideas of the perverted minds of those who talk the WORD but do not practice it. Thus the truth of God is adulterated and made to sustain error and falsehood. “Shall I not judge for these things saith the Lord?” {Ms150-1898}
THE LORD GOD OF HEAVEN WILL JUDGE EVERY MAN BY HIS WORD. He will demonstrate before the universe of heaven, before every human being who has lived upon the earth, that there is one thing fixed and that is the WORD OF GOD. LIKE HIMSELF, IT IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, AND TODAY, AND FOREVER. It will vindicate the righteous, and the evil will be detected, unmasked. {Ms150-1898}
The Lord has entrusted His goods to men that they may advance the truth as it is in Jesus. But many turn aside the purposes of God by withholding that entrusted capital. Those who will not use their means to elevate the standard of holiness and make known the laws of the kingdom of God in all parts of the world, the Lord will call to account as disloyal subjects. {Ms150-1898}
So now let us look at the early churches:
Volume 6 Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary: pages 17-95.
By reading the above pages, which cover ‘The Early Christian Church’ and ‘Roman History in New Testament Times’, there is no mention of a requirement to TITHE.
Extract from page 24:
The Common Purse. – WHILE IN FELLOWSHIP WITH THEIR LORD BEFORE THE ASCENSION THE DISCIPLES HAD SUBSISTED FROM A COMMON PURSE, maintained by contributions (Luke 8:2, 3) and drawn upon for food and alms (John 4:8; 6:5-7), with Judas as the treasurer (ch. 13:29).
The same economy was used IN THE INFANT CHURCH. THERE WAS A COMMON TREASURY, CONTRIBUTED TO BY ALL WHO WISHED, IN ANY AMOUNT THEY DESIRED. Fellowship among these early Christians was spiritual, theological, fraternal, and economic. It was effective throughout all the relationships of the believers with one another.
This ability of the church to find, under God, its own means of supporting itself, put Christ’s followers in the position of being no longer dependant upon the Jewish economy. The church became self-sufficient.
The above capitalized text confirms how the early church functioned.
SECTION 2: Autobiography of Ellen G. White by Arthur Lacey White – Volumes 1-6 – Systematic Benevolence references
They were attentive to my wants, and generously supplied me with means to travel. They were reproached because they believed me to be a child of God, chosen to bear a special testimony to His people, and on account of this they were obliged to be in almost constant conflict, for many left no means untried to turn them against me. A faithful record is kept of their acts of love and BENEVOLENCE. They will not lose their reward. He that seeth in secret is acquainted with every kind and generous act, and will reward them openly.—Ibid., 228. 1BIO 99.1
The philosophy of BENEVOLENCE was revealed to her: 1BIO 370.3
THE CHURCH WAS GROWING; as it spread to the West, families of means accepted the message. For some it was difficult to grasp their responsibility in giving financial support to the cause they loved. During the years 1857 and 1858, the situation became desperate. THERE WAS NO CHURCH ORGANIZATION; THERE WAS NO CHURCH TREASURY. Those who felt called to enter the ministry faced great sacrifices, for they were dependent upon the gifts placed in their hands as they moved from place to place heralding the message. Dedication and sacrifice were called for. 1BIO 383.3
The BIBLE class was held in Battle Creek for two days, and at the end of it our brethren said, “The TITHING system is just as binding as it ever was.” They said, however, in first introducing it, “Let us call it SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE on the TITHING principle.”—Ibid. 1BIO 388.2
As the details of this development are presented it is important to keep in mind that the church was without organization but was held together by strong leaders, one of whom possessed the special guidance of the Holy Spirit. These, working together close to the publishing office, kept in touch through the Review with the churches and with scattered believers throughout the East and the Midwest. The steps taken by the Battle Creek church provided an example to the other churches. The framework of an organizational structure was coming into being. At this point, however, the leaders of the cause could speak in an official way only for the Battle Creek church, of which they were members. Progressive actions of the Battle Creek church were carefully reported in the Review and Herald and thus carried to all Sabbathkeeping Adventists. 1BIO 388.3
The Development of the Plan of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE
As reported by J. N. Loughborough, several workers, including J. N. Andrews, who was summoned for the purpose, MET FOR TWO DAYS IN BATTLE CREEK TO STUDY A BIBLE-BASED SYSTEM OF FINANCE FOR THE EMERGING CHURCH. The plan developed was brought to the Battle Creek church in a business meeting the following Sunday night. James White reported: 1BIO 388.4
The Battle Creek church assembled January 16 in the evening to consider the subject of a SYSTEM OF BENEVOLENCE which would induce all to do something to sustain the cause of present truth, and thereby fully sustain the cause, and at the same time relieve some who have given beyond their real ability.
Brethren Andrews and Frisbie were present, and spoke upon the subject. Others also freely expressed their views; all seemed deeply interested in the subject. 1BIO 389.1
Brethren Andrews, Frisbie, and White were chosen to prepare an address on SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, founded upon the declarations of HOLY SCRIPTURE.—The Review and Herald, February 3, 1859. 1BIO 389.2
Two weeks later, January 29, after the hours of the Sabbath were passed, the church came together to hear the reading of the address. The report was adopted by a unanimous vote, and it was voted to publish it in the Review and Herald. 1BIO 389.3
The Address
The address carried a heading giving the proper setting of the matter: “From the Church of God at Battle Creek, to the Churches and Brethren and Sisters in Michigan.” It opened with the words: 1BIO 389.4
Dear Brethren and Sisters,
We wish to call your attention to a plan of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE to support the proclamation of the third angel’s message, which may be in harmony with the plain declarations of HOLY SCRIPTURE.—Ibid. 1BIO 389.5
With the citing of NEW TESTAMENT support, a scriptural framework was assembled for the projected procedures, and it was suggested that “we gather from these facts some instruction relative to our own duty.” The pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church could have gone more easily to the OLD TESTAMENT and brought in the obligation of the TITHE, but at this juncture, regardless of the attractiveness of the TITHE, they were not sure that it was not one of those ceremonial obligations that ceased at the cross. In the occasional mention of organization they were looking to the NEW TESTAMENT with its seven deacons, not to the OLD TESTAMENT with the appointment by Moses of the seventy. In finance they were looking to the NEW TESTAMENT and Paul’s counsel in 1 Corinthians 16:2 that “upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, “rather than to Malachi’s direction to “bring ye all the TITHES into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house” (Malachi 3:10). They conceded that the TITHING system was a good plan, and it did have a strong bearing on the conclusions reached and set before the church. Here is the argument set forth in the address: 1BIO 389.6
If Paul found it essential to complete success that method should be observed in raising means for BENEVOLENT purposes, it is certainly not unreasonable to conclude that we should find the same thing beneficial in promoting a similar object. As Paul wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we may rest assured that his suggestions were not only safe to follow, and calculated to ensure success, but also that they were in exact accordance with the will of God. We shall not therefore displease Him by adopting the suggestions of His servant Paul.—Ibid. 1BIO 390.1
The next paragraph delineated the points supported by SCRIPTURE, which it was thought should form the basis for the plan Sabbathkeeping Adventists ought to follow: 1BIO 390.2
“Upon the first day of the week let everyone of you lay by him in store as God hath prospered him.” This implies:
1. A stated time for the business, viz., the first day of the week.
2. The concurrent action of each individual, for he adds, “Let every one of you” lay by him in store.
3. This is not a public collection, but a private act of setting apart for the Lord a portion of what one possesses.
4. The amount to be given is brought home to the conscience of each individual by the language, “as God hath prospered him.”—Ibid. 1BIO 390.3
The next point made was “How may we reduce to practice these excellent suggestions?” It was thought that with few exceptions the following plan could be adopted: 1BIO 390.4
1. Let each brother from 18 to 60 years of age lay by him in store on the first day of each week from 5 to 25 cents.
2. Each sister from 18 to 60 years of age lay by her in store on the first day of each week from 2 to 10 cents.
3. Also, let each brother and sister lay by him or her in store on the first day of each week from 1 to 5 cents on each and every $100 of property they possess…. 1BIO 390.5
The lowest sums stated are so very small that those in the poorest circumstances (with very few exceptions of some widows, infirm, and aged) can act upon this plan; while those in better circumstances are left to act in the fear of God in the performance of their stewardship, to give all the way up to the highest sums stated, or even more, as they see it their duty to do.—Ibid. 1BIO 391.1 RH February 3, 1859, p. 84
To implement the plan, the pioneers suggested: 1BIO 391.2
Each church may choose one of their number whose duty it shall be to take the names of those who cheerfully act upon this plan, and also the sums they propose to give each week, and collect these sums on the first of each month, and dispose of them according to the wishes of the church. Those scattered, and not associated with any church, can act for themselves or for their households, in the same manner.—Ibid.
This plan, developed by leading men in the church, became known from the outset as “SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE.” They were pleased that it placed the burden of church support in an equitable way upon all believers. In time refinements and developments in applying and servicing the plan were made. As for the Battle Creek church, to which this plan was primarily addressed: 1BIO 391.3
J. P. Kellogg was … chosen COLLECTOR AND TREASURER for the Battle Creek church, and Elder James White was chosen corresponding secretary to correspond with the brethren scattered abroad who may wish to address him upon the subject of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE.—Ibid. 1BIO 391.4
A week later, White reported to the readers of the Review that forty-six in Battle Creek had already signed up, declaring what they intended to do. It looked good to him, and he stated: 1BIO 391.5
It is time that all shared the blessings of the cheerful giver. God loves such…. Let this work of giving be equally distributed, and let the cause be fully sustained, and all share the blessing. THIS SYSTEM carried out properly will serve to unite in prompt action, in sympathy and love, the waiting people of God.—Ibid., February 10, 1859. 1BIO 391.6
White was cheered by the response of some of the churches. The first to respond was Hillsdale, Michigan. They also had a question: 1BIO 392.1
Brother I. C. Vaughn writes from Hillsdale, Michigan, that the church in that place “are acting on the SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE plan, and like it much,” and inquires, “What is to be done with the money at the end of the month?”—Ibid., March 3, 1859. 1BIO 392.2
White rather quickly came up with a practical answer. This related to the very purpose of instituting the plan. He responded: 1BIO 392.3
We suggest that EACH CHURCH KEEP AT LEAST $5 IN THE TREASURY TO HELP THOSE PREACHERS WHO OCCASIONALLY VISIT THEM, AND LABOR AMONG THEM. This seems necessary…. Such is the scarcity of money, that our good brethren very seldom are prepared to help a messenger on his journey. Let there be a few dollars in every church treasury. Beyond this, THE DEBT ON THE TENT ENTERPRISE, ET CETERA, claims the proceeds of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE in this state [Michigan].—Ibid. 1BIO 392.4
The back page of the February 10 issue of the Review carried an announcement that blank, ruled books were being prepared at the Review office “for the use of those who act as collectors and treasurers,” and they could be had for 15 cents. White urged a response from believers in other States, and some soon began to appear in the Review and Herald. 1BIO 392.5
Almost from the first the close relation of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE to the TITHE was observed. This appeared first in the details of how to reckon the obligation of the property holder. The basic plan, which called for 1 TO 5 CENTS TO BE PAID EACH WEEK ON EVERY $100 OF PROPERTY, embodied a TITHING principle, as explained in more detail in EARLY 1861. JAMES WHITE, IN A LITTLE-KNOWN AND SHORT-LIVED PRINTED SHEET, REFERRED TO THE SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE AS THE TITHE: 1BIO 392.6
We propose that the friends give A TITHE, OR A TENTH OF THEIR INCOME, estimating their income at 10 percent of what they possess.—Good Samaritan, January, 1861. 1BIO 392.7
The basis for this determination of the TITHE was soon explained in the Review and Herald: 1BIO 393.1
We meant just what the churches are adopting in Michigan [referring to his statement published in the Good Samaritan]; viz., they regard the use of their property worth the same as money at 10 percent. THIS 10 PERCENT THEY REGARD AS THE INCREASE OF THEIR PROPERTY. A TITHE OF THIS WOULD BE 1 PERCENT, AND WOULD BE NEARLY 2 CENTS PER WEEK ON EACH $100, which our brethren, for convenience sake, are unanimous in putting down…. 1BIO 393.2
Next come the personal donations. Let the young men who have no taxable property come up nobly here, also the young women.—The Review and Herald, April 9, 1861. 1BIO 393.3
SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE was early endorsed by Ellen White, and she linked it with the TITHE. First she assured the church in June, 1859, “The plan of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE is pleasing to God” (Testimonies for the Church, 1:190), and then in January, 1861, in a Testimony article entitled “SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE,” she wrote: “Rob not God by withholding from Him your TITHES AND OFFERINGS.” The article closed with Malachi 3:8-11 quoted in full (Testimonies for the Church, 1:221, 222). At the outset there was no separation of TITHES from OFFERINGS. The demand for funds was MAINLY FOR THE SUPPORT OF THE MINISTERS AND THE EVANGELISTIC OUTREACH. 1BIO 393.4
Some years later, in an article published in the Testimonies entitled “TITHES AND OFFERINGS,” Ellen White wrote of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE: 1BIO 393.5
THE SPECIAL SYSTEM OF TITHING WAS FOUNDED UPON A PRINCIPLE WHICH IS AS ENDURING AS THE LAW OF GOD. This system of TITHING was a blessing to the Jews, else God would not have given it them. So also will it be a blessing to those who CARRY IT OUT TO THE END OF TIME.—Testimonies for the Church, 3:404, 405. 1BIO 393.6
There were developments through the years, as the work of the church broadened, that called for A SEPARATION OF FUNDS INTO TWO GROUPS, “TITHES” AND “OFFERINGS.” Also the precise use of the TITHE, SACRED TO THE SUPPORT OF THE MINISTRY OF THE CHURCH, was repeatedly brought to the attention of the leaders and members. 1BIO 393.7
In several notices in the Review James White sent forth to believers “east, west, north, and south,” a general invitation to attend a general conference at Battle Creek, Friday, June 3, to Monday, June 6. He was especially eager for a good attendance, for it was his plan to promote SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE. The people were told to make provision for their own entertainment. “It will be impossible,” he wrote, “to supply all with beds, or all their horses with stable room. Our sleeping rooms will be given up to females to be made as comfortable as possible, in camp meeting style. The brethren will have the next-best chance in our barns, in the tent, or on unoccupied floors in our houses. Blankets and buffalo robes will be in good demand. Those who will need them must bring them.”—The Review and Herald, April 21, 1859. 1BIO 405.2
There was a good response. Reporting the conference, Uriah Smith declared: 1BIO 405.3
And those who came showed their interest in the matter not only by the pains they took to come, but also by the liberal provision they made for taking care of themselves and others during their sojourn with us.—Ibid., June 9, 1859 1BIO 405.4
Of the quality of the meeting and its spiritual impact, he wrote: 1BIO 405.5
We can tell you of a conference such as makes the hearts of God’s people glad, brightens their hope, revives their courage, and renews their strength. We can tell you of a conference without one unpleasant feature from beginning to end; of a meeting where there was a steady and rapidly increasing interest from its very commencement to its very close.—Ibid.
Because he was eager to have the largest possible representation present for the consideration of the plans for the financial support of the growing church, James White called for a business session to convene immediately after the Sabbath. Joseph Bates chaired the meeting. The address from the Battle Creek church prepared in January setting forth the broad plans for SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE was read and freely discussed. Waggoner declared he had seen the plan in operation and “it worked well. “Andrews said he heartily approved of the plan. Steward compared it to taxes that people pay, even when they are increased. Cornell declared that “nothing could be brought against the position taken.” Byington remarked that God is a God of order and he thought it to be a good plan. Rhodes had only one objection, and that was that “the individual amount called for by the system was too small.” 1BIO 406.1
THE PLAN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE IS PLEASING TO GOD. I was pointed back to the days of the apostles, and saw that God laid the plan by the descent of His Holy Spirit, and that by the gift of prophecy He counseled His people in regard to a SYSTEM OF BENEVOLENCE. All were to share in this work of imparting of their carnal things to those who ministered unto them in spiritual things. They were also taught that the widows and fatherless had a claim upon their charity…. GOD IS LEADING HIS PEOPLE IN THE PLAN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE.—Ibid., 1:190, 191. 1BIO 408.1
Mid-June found Ellen White well along in getting the counsels based on the vision of June 4 into print in Testimony No. 5. She wrote of it: 1BIO 408.3
The Lord visited me again in great mercy. I am preparing a tract which will probably be ready as soon as orders can reach me. The subjects of the tract are: Testimony to the Laodiceans—SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE—The Talents, Matthew 25—The Unjust Steward, Luke 16—Copartnership With Unbelievers, and Slack Management of Worldly Matters—Idle Words—Oath-taking—Meetinghouse Buildings, et cetera. 1BIO 408.4
On Wednesday, August 17, she left by train with her husband for a three-month tour through the Eastern States. Her diary carries day-by-day accounts of conferences and meetings held, of old friends met, of comforting the bereaved, of preaching to large audiences, and, where presented, of the adoption of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE. They were back home Monday, November 21. Ellen White’s diary entry written Sunday, November 20, at Monterey, Michigan, was her last for 1859. She was home again, and there was no time for the diary. James White summarized the eastern trip this way: 1BIO 409.3
The writing for publication of what was revealed to her in this vision filled sixty-eight pages of the testimony pamphlet and is currently found in Testimonies for the Church, 1:210 to 252. The titles of the articles reveal well the nature of the messages, opening with “Slackness Reproved” and followed by “Duty to Children,” “SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE,” and then “Our Denominational Name.” Among the ten articles that follow, one carries the significant title “Fanaticism in Wisconsin.” 1BIO 434.1
Just three months had elapsed since the general conference was held in Battle Creek at which some steps had been taken to organize the publishing work in a formal manner. Two years had passed since the adoption of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE. In the vision of December 23, 1860, right after John Herbert White’s death, the Lord placed His seal of approval on the steps taken in these firm moves toward church order, organization, and the choice of a denominational name. On organization Ellen White wrote: 1BIO 437.2
Concerning financial support, she stated: 1BIO 438.3
Some have not come up and united in the plan of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE…. Rob not God by withholding from Him your TITHES AND OFFERINGS…. I saw that in the arrangement of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, hearts will be tested and proved. It is a constant living test.—Ibid., 1:220, 221.
We are done moving out in any enterprise connected with the cause until system can lie at the bottom of all our operations. Mrs. White and self have interested ourselves in behalf of the poor; but in the absence of systematic arrangements among us much care has come upon us, and at least three fourths of those whom we have been instrumental in helping became our enemies.
The matter of a meeting referred to as a true “General Conference” could not be put off for a year. By April, 1863, James White was calling for such a meeting to commence Wednesday, May 20, 1863, at 6:00 P.M. “to secure the united and systematic action of the friends of the cause in every part of the wide field” (Ibid., April 28, 1863). At the appointed time, twenty delegates assembled in Battle Creek. They examined and accepted credentials and undertook the work before them. The minutes read: 1BIO 479.8
There were still many difficult days ahead, but the provision that by paying $300 a drafted Seventh-day Adventist could gain freedom from military service brought relief till well into 1864. The newly organized church had a breathing spell. Yet such a payment was equivalent to somewhat more than the wages for a year of employment, and James White saw the provision, as beneficial as it was, a threat to denominational income. He warned in an editorial in the Review, November 24, 1863, that many good causes could be found for the use of the SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE funds being gathered by the churches for the support of the ministry, as providing for the worthy poor, the care of war orphans, et cetera. He added: 2BIO 52.5
We pay into the S. B. FUND annually $40. Let that be used as designed. We have $40 more to help drafted ministers if needed. We say then let the plan of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE be carried out sacredly, and let it accomplish its designed object, namely, to send forth the last merciful message to the world.—The Review and Herald, November 24, 1863. 2BIO 53.3
The cause in the East has suffered under many embarrassments. While our most efficient laborers have been breaking and cultivating new ground in the West, the more feeble, and some of them of poor judgment, and tending to fanaticism, have occupied this field. And while organization, spiritual gifts, and SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE have proved a perfect success in Michigan, a large portion of New England has dreadfully suffered for want of judicious men to hold these things before the people in a proper light.—Ibid., October 6, 1863 2BIO 65.2
His firm and persevering efforts on organization, SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, et cetera, added to his preaching talent, and the qualifications before mentioned, make him, with the blessing of God, the man to build up churches, and have the especial oversight of the work in the East.—Ibid. 2BIO 65.4
For the future we design to pay TITHES of all we possess, and labor proper hours, seek for the restoring influence of rest for ourselves and overworked family, and give ample chance for those who have a zeal for the Lord to lead off in the liberal enterprises of the cause. Only this one privilege we claim, of paying $10 to each efficient minister who shall be drafted from among us, to help him pay the $300.—Ibid.
With the prospects of the two laboring together among the people improving, Ellen’s feeling of “gratitude was unbounded.” Subjects dealt with in depth were primarily SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE and health reform in its broad aspects. They found the word more readily received there than at Wright, prejudice breaking away as plain truth was spoken (The Review and Herald, February 19, 1867). 2BIO 167.4
We acknowledge with gratitude the good hand of the Lord with us, and the care of His people [at Greenville] to us in their kind acts of sympathy and BENEVOLENCE. And we look forward with no small degree of pleasure to the time when we shall be permanently settled in their midst.—Ibid., March 19, 1867 2BIO 171.5
On Friday, November 1, the delegates set about to organize the Maine Conference. L. L. Howard was elected president. Actions were taken in regard to SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, the Spirit of Prophecy, and health reform. 2BIO 214.4
We were all strengthened by seeing the courage of the servants of the Lord who have labored so long and faithfully in this cause. If they can go forward with courage through the opposition and trial to which they have been so long exposed, feeling an increasing zeal and interest, certainly those of us who have not borne a TITHE of their burdens ought not to be cast down.—Ibid. 2BIO 277.3
We ask …that those who have been witnesses of, or sharers in, his acts of BENEVOLENCE shall also give us statements of the facts touching this part of the subject. We request an immediate response from all concerned.—Ibid.
The life of Brother White has been filled with acts of disinterested BENEVOLENCE. Were it not that those who hate his close preaching and his faithful reproofs have so often represented him as a grasping, selfish man, it would be well to let these remain to the revelation of the great day, known only to Him who beholds every act, and to those who have been the sharers of these acts of mercy. But the circumstances of the case demand that we speak freely, though it is quite impossible to give more than a very small part of the many deeds of noble and unselfish devotion to the good of others.—Ibid., 53.
Finances. Without endowments and with few men of wealth, the work sustained by a plan of SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, spreading the burden over the total membership. 2BIO 313.1
OUR SYSTEM OF SUPPORTING THE CAUSE BY MEANS OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE APPEARS TO BE THE BEST THAT COULD BE DEVISED. It bears very lightly upon THE POOR MAN, DRAWING ONLY ABOUT 1 PERCENT ANNUALLY OF THE LITTLE WHICH HE POSSESSES. And when this system is applied to the wealthy—when we consider that they profess to believe that the end of all things is at hand; and that they have but a little time to use their means, and when we consider that the system calls for only about one tenth of their increase—they should be the very last to complain of the system. 2BIO 374.3
The eastern camp meetings opened with the Michigan camp meeting in Battle Creek, August 10-17. The General Conference session and the regular annual anniversary meetings of the three Battle Creek institutions were also held during that week. James and Ellen White were present, of course, to listen and to participate. Reports showed the “present standing” of the cause to be: 2BIO 477.5
Church members – 8,022
Ministers – 69
Churches – 339
Licentiates – 76
SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE FUND pledged by the churches – $32,618
—The Review and Herald, August 26, 1875.
The TITHE
Another matter receiving consideration at the time was the basis for calculating the TITHE. In 1858, a plan known as “SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE” had been recommended as a means of providing support for the work of the ministry. It called for regular contributions and the TITHE. The TITHE was to be figured on the basis of the church member’s property holdings. IT WAS THOUGHT THAT PROPERTY SHOULD YIELD 10 PERCENT INCOME PER YEAR, AND THIS AMOUNT SHOULD BE REGARDED AS THE AMOUNT TO BE TITHED. BUT MORE AND MORE, CHURCH MEMBERS WERE WORKING FOR PAY RATHER THAN FARMING THEIR OWN LAND, and Canright and White saw that to ascertain the TITHE on the basis of PROPERTY HOLDINGS, NAMELY 1 PERCENT OF PROPERTY VALUES PER YEAR, excused those who had incomes other than from property. 3BIO 92.1
With plans for building and financing the Dime Tabernacle, and with a move well under way to lead the members of the church to understand their responsibility in the matter of the TITHE, James White was ready to leave for Colorado for the long-anticipated few weeks’ period of rest and relaxation in the Rocky Mountains. But first there was one more task in Battle Creek, a pleasurable one. It was the baptism of Addie Walling, one of the girls James and Ellen White were caring for and educating. In touching words he presented the situation and its involvements in the Review of July 4, 1878, under the heading “Baptism.” 3BIO 92.3
At the session the interests of the broadening work of the church were considered, and sound progressive actions were taken. Among these were resolutions calling for developments in the newly introduced health and temperance thrust; encouragement in ascertaining the TITHE based on income rather than property holdings; the provision for the appointment of a man to deal with foreign mission interests—and the election of W. C. White to so serve; the usual allocation of ministerial help; broader distribution of the E. G. White books; and provision to republish Ellen White’s first book, Experience and Views. 3BIO 115.2
Resolved, That it should not be considered that any minister has fully discharged his duty in any new field where a company of Sabbathkeepers has been raised up, until he has fully advocated, in public and in private, the subjects of health and temperance and spiritual gifts, and organized SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE; and a failure in this should be considered worthy of censure; and the Auditing Committee should take this into account when settling with him.—Ibid., November 20, 1879 3BIO 125.6
I saw in my dream yourself [probably Haskell] and Elder Butler in conversation with him. You made statements to him which he seemed to grasp with avidity, and close his hand over something in it. I then saw him go to his room, and there upon the floor was a pile of stones systematically laid up, stone upon stone. He placed the additional stones on the pile and counted them up. Every stone had a name—some report gathered up—and every stone was numbered. 3BIO 161.5
Monday was taken up mostly with business meetings of the conference session. S. N. Haskell preached in the afternoon. Study was given to the TITHING system, a point accepted rather belatedly by the believers in Norway. When those at the camp saw that this was THE BIBLE PLAN ORDAINED OF GOD FROM THE FIRST, THAT HE HAD A TITHING CHURCH AS FAR BACK AS ABRAHAM, and that it was God’s plan that His children should return to Him the TITHE and to give gifts, the matter was understood in a new light. A resolution to be faithful in these matters was passed, with good support. On Tuesday morning, June 14, the Norwegian believers left for their homes and their businesses. 3BIO 368.1
I spoke in afternoon from Isaiah 58 upon the Sabbath and the many ways the Lord could be robbed. Read in regard to robbing God in TITHES AND OFFERINGS. Called the people forward for prayers.—Manuscript 25, 1888. 3BIO 422.6
Brother Winslow was coming to the light. Said he had been to some whom he had wronged and made confession, and the Lord blessed him. Brother Lucas and his wife came forward and made confessions. Brother Lucas said he had not paid his TITHES; he had robbed God of $500 which he would pay into the treasury in a short time. Our meeting continued until past ten o’clock. The SPIRIT OF THE LORD was working upon the hearts.—Ibid. 3BIO 423.1
He has paid no TITHE for two years and he was becoming a changed man in spirituality because he was robbing God. He gave me a note for the treasury of God for $571.50. He recounted up all the interest, and faithfully paid an honest TITHE. Then he was happy.—Manuscript 17, 1889. 3BIO 423.3
Others were visited also, some giving their notes for withheld TITHE, to be paid soon. Ellen White wrote to Mary on Sunday, January 6, picking up a letter she had started two weeks before: 3BIO 423.4
The blessings of that Week of Prayer extended through the church. Confessions were made. Those who had robbed God in TITHES AND IN OFFERINGS confessed their wrong and made restitution, and many were blessed of God who had never felt that God had forgiven their sins. All these precious fruits evidenced the work of God…. The Lord wrought in our midst, but some did not receive the blessing.—Manuscript 30, 1889. 3BIO 424.2
Dr. J. H. Kellogg was drawn in to assist in the compilation of this volume. In the preface, which he wrote, he paid high tribute to the major contribution to the world made by Ellen White in leading out in health teachings. Dr. Kellogg stated that up to that time, “nowhere, and by no one, was there presented a systematic and harmonious body of hygienic truths, free from patent errors, and consistent with the BIBLE and the principles of the Christian religion.”—Page iii. He wrote of the enduring nature of the principles she set forth. His closing paragraphs give the history of the book: 3BIO 446.4
IF YOU HAVE SINNED BY WITHHOLDING FROM GOD HIS OWN IN TITHES AND OFFERINGS, CONFESS YOUR GUILT TO GOD and to the church, and heed the injunction that has been given you, “Bring ye all the TITHES into the storehouse.” … 4BIO 40.4
These early workers and believers faced two kinds of prejudice, racial and religious. The black ministers opposed them because they were teaching Sabbath observance and TITHE paying; the white people opposed them because they were educating the blacks and introducing new and better agricultural methods, which threatened to break the stranglehold of poverty in the Delta. 5BIO 62.7
According to the General Conference Bulletin, that first Sabbath of the session, April 6, was a great day. “Sister White spoke in the Tabernacle at 11:00 A.M. to an overflowing house. Not only was every available seating space occupied but every foot of standing room was covered. There must have been 3,500 people or more present to listen to a stirring address upon the duty of TITHE-PAYING.”—Ibid., 89. 5BIO 89.1
At College View, Nebraska, she visited both the sanitarium and the new college that stood on the same campus. Her meetings held in the church exposed a rare insight into local situations. She called for harmony in the work and declared, “I am deeply pained as I see that things have been moving in a kind of systematic discord.”—Letter 97, 1901. 5BIO 116.2
Debts piled on debts—debts assumed with no systematic plan for their amortization. This was reflected in the sad situation of the Battle Creek Sanitarium at the time of the fire. Even though they had been operating for thirty-five years, they had outstanding notes of $250,000. The Boulder Sanitarium, opened in 1893, was heavily in debt. It was overbuilt at the outset and was then plagued by poor business management. Even with a good patronage no appreciable progress was being made in the reduction of its debt load. Other newly established sanitariums were in much the same shape. 5BIO 156.1
Another significant action provided for the use of TITHE MONEY FOR THE SUPPORT OF AGED OR SICK WORKERS AND FOR THE SUPPORT OF WIDOWS AND ORPHANS OF WORKERS (Ibid., 135). 5BIO 258.2
TITHE Money and Its Use
I was charged not to neglect or pass by those who were being wronged…. If I see those in positions of trust neglecting aged ministers, I am to present the matter to those whose duty it is to care for them. Ministers who have faithfully done their work are not to be forgotten or neglected when they have become feeble in health. Our conferences are not to disregard the needs of those who have borne the burdens of the work.—The Review and Herald, July 26, 1906 (Selected Messages 1:33). 5BIO 390.3
The ramifications of carrying out such a special commission are more than those seen on the surface. Not only was she to stand as an advocate for the neglected or oppressed ministers—THE CHURCH HAD NO RETIREMENT PLAN IN THOSE DAYS [THE SUSTENTATION PLAN, WHICH MADE PROVISION FOR AGED OR INCAPACITATED WORKERS, WENT INTO EFFECT IN 1911. IT HAS SINCE BEEN MODIFIED AS A RETIREMENT PLAN]—she was also to engage in ministering relief. In doing so, she worked quietly, feeling that publicity was uncalled for. 5BIO 390.4
At times TITHE money was entrusted to her by fellow Adventists for appropriation in the Lord’s work as in the providence of God she saw best. She sent it on to bring relief and aid to WORTHY ORDAINED MINISTERS who were in special need. Once in a great while, some of her own TITHE was so employed. 5BIO 390.5
This matter was given more or less general exposure following the writing of a letter she penned January 22, 1905, while attending important meetings at Mountain View, California. But before recounting that situation, we should review the principles regarding the TITHE and its use. 5BIO 390.6
Nothing is plainer in the E. G. White writings than the instruction concerning the faithful payment of TITHE and the fact that it IS RESERVED FOR SUPPORT OF THE MINISTRY. This is attested to in all Ellen White’s statements that have a bearing on this question. 5BIO 390.7
THE TITHE IS SACRED, RESERVED BY GOD FOR HIMSELF. It is to be brought into His treasury to be used to sustain the gospel laborers in their work.—Gospel Workers, 226. 5BIO 391.1
It [THE TITHE] is to be devoted solely TO SUPPORT THE MINISTRY OF THE GOSPEL.—The Review and Herald, May 9, 1893 (Counsels on Stewardship, 81). 5BIO 391.2
God has not changed; the TITHE is still TO BE USED FOR THE SUPPORT OF THE MINISTRY.—Testimonies for the Church 9:250. 5BIO 391.3
The TITHE is to be brought into the “storehouse,” and from there is to be dispersed: 5BIO 391.4
It is part of the minister’s work to teach those who accept the truth through his efforts, to bring the TITHE to the storehouse, as an acknowledgment of their dependence upon God.—Gospel Workers, 370. 5BIO 391.5
They [TITHES AND OFFERINGS] are to be placed in His treasury and held sacred for His service as He has appointed.—Testimonies for the Church 9:247, 248. 5BIO 391.6
The TITHE, unlike FREEWILL OFFERINGS, is not controlled by the discretion of the one who gives. 5BIO 391.7
The portion that God has reserved for Himself is not to be diverted to any other purpose than that which He has specified. LET NONE FEEL AT LIBERTY TO RETAIN THEIR TITHE, TO USE ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN JUDGMENT. They are not to use it for themselves in an emergency, nor to apply it as they see fit, even in what they may regard as the Lord’s work.—Ibid., 9:247. 5BIO 391.8
Clearly God has had one plan for all time: 5BIO 391.9
A TITHE of all our increase is the Lord’s. He has reserved it to Himself to be employed for religious purposes. It is holy. Nothing less than this has He accepted in any dispensation. A NEGLECT OR POSTPONEMENT OF THIS DUTY, WILL PROVOKE THE DIVINE DISPLEASURE. If all professed Christians would faithfully bring their TITHES to God, His treasury would be full.—The Review and Herald, May 16, 1882.
How and Why Ellen White Dispensed TITHE Funds
That Ellen White in her special ministry handled some TITHE funds has perplexed some. A few have felt it gave them license to disregard the plain teachings on TITHE paying cited above, and use their TITHES in their own way. The following details and quotations should be carefully noted. 5BIO 392.1
First should be established Ellen White’s personal relationship to the TITHE and the manner in which she paid her TITHE. In an early pamphlet published in 1890 she stated: 5BIO 392.2
I pay my TITHE gladly and freely, saying, as did David, “Of thine own have we given thee.”—Manuscript 3, 1890. 5BIO 392.3
The preceding sentence indicates clearly that she paid her TITHES in the regular way into the conference treasury. 5BIO 392.4
Unworthy ministers may receive some of the means thus raised, but dare anyone, because of this, withhold from the treasury and brave the curse of God? I dare not.—Ibid. 5BIO 392.5
But back to the special commission God gave her and the burden this placed on her. As a denominational worker she knew from experience what it meant to face illness in the family with no provision for financial assistance. When James White, while serving as president of the General Conference, was stricken with paralysis, and in the absence of provision for such an emergency, she had to take up the carpets from the floor—rag rugs of her own making—and sell them, as well as the furniture, to secure means for the care of her husband. So the instruction that in a special manner she was to watch out for ministers who might be in need was significant to her. 5BIO 392.6
Through vision her attention was often called to the cases of ministers or their families who were being neglected. In many cases she gave financial assistance from her own personal income, or from funds in her control, for at times her personal resources were inadequate. Of this experience, and of the inadequacy of funds, W. C. White wrote: 5BIO 392.7
When we pleaded with her that her income was all consumed in the work of preparing her books for publication, she said: 5BIO 393.1
“The Lord has shown me that the experience which your father and I have passed through in poverty and deprivation, in the early days of our work, has given to me a keen appreciation and sympathy for others who are passing through similar experiences of want and suffering. And where I see workers in this cause that have been true and loyal to the work, who are left to suffer, it is my duty to speak in their behalf. If this does not move the brethren to help them, then I must help them, even if I am obliged to use a portion of my TITHE in doing so.” 5BIO 393.2
In harmony with this, Mother has MANY, MANY TIMES MADE REQUEST OF OUR CONFERENCE OFFICERS, TO GIVE CONSIDERATION TO THE NECESSITIES OF HUMBLE BUT FAITHFUL WORKERS WHOSE NEEDS WERE BY SOME MEANS OVERLOOKED. 5BIO 393.3
In many instances her requests have been responded to, and the needed help given. But in some cases the lack of funds and the absence of appreciation of the worthiness and the necessities have left the needy workers without help, and have left her to face the burden. 5BIO 393.4
Then she has said to me or to the bookkeeper, “Send help as soon as you can, and if necessary take it from my TITHE.” In many cases we found it possible to respond to her requests by gifts from her personal funds, and in some cases a portion of her TITHE has been used. 5BIO 393.5
These experiences relate mostly to the years we were in Europe and Australia, and to the years 1900 to 1906, in behalf of the work in the Southern States.—DF 113b, WCW statement in “Ellen G. White and the TITHE.” 5BIO 393.6
W. C. White then clearly declares: 5BIO 393.7
During the greater part of the time since my connection with Mother’s business in 1881, a full TITHE has been paid on her salary, to church or conference treasurer. Instead of paying TITHE on the increase from her books, there has been set apart an amount greater than a TITHE from which she has made appropriations from time to time in accordance with the instruction mentioned above….
In view of the extraordinary and exceptional responsibilities placed upon her as a messenger of God having special light and special responsibility in behalf of the needy and the oppressed, she says she has been given special and exceptional authority regarding the use of her TITHE. This authority she has used in a limited way as seemed to be for the best interests of the cause.—Ibid. 5BIO 394.1
What called for the January 22 letter written from Mountain View was that in the latter part of 1904 an agent of the Southern Missionary Society (the conference-recognized organization fostering work among the blacks in the South), while visiting in the State of Colorado, received as a gift from one church the sum of about $400 to assist in the work of the society. These funds came to his hands in response to his appeal for help in evangelizing the South. Some of the money was TITHE. Elder W. C. White, familiar with the details of this matter, informs us: 5BIO 394.2
My brother, I wish to say to you, Be careful how you move. You are not moving wisely. The least you have to speak about the TITHE that has been appropriated to the most needy and the most discouraging field in the world, the more sensible you will be. 5BIO 394.6
It has been presented to me for years that my TITHE was to be appropriated by myself to aid the white and colored ministers who were neglected and did not receive sufficient, properly to support their families. When my attention was called to aged ministers, white or black, it was my special duty to investigate into their necessities and supply their needs. This was to be my special work, and I have done this in a number of cases. No man should give notoriety to the fact that in special cases the TITHE is used in that way. 5BIO 395.1
In regard to the colored work in the South, that field has been and is still being robbed of the means that should come to the workers in that field. If there have been cases where our sisters have appropriated their TITHE to the support of the ministers working for the colored people in the South, let every man, if he is wise, hold his peace. 5BIO 395.2
I have myself appropriated my TITHE to the most needy cases brought to my notice. I have been instructed to do this; and as the money is not withheld from the Lord’s treasury, it is not a matter that should be commented upon, for it will necessitate my making known these matters, which I do not desire to do, because it is not best. 5BIO 395.3
Some cases have been kept before me for years, and I HAVE SUPPLIED THEIR NEEDS FROM THE TITHE, AS GOD HAS INSTRUCTED ME TO DO. And if any person shall say to me, Sister White, will you appropriate my TITHE where you know it is most needed, I shall say, Yes, I will; and I have done so. I commend those sisters who have placed their TITHE where it is most needed to help do a work that is being left undone, and if this matter is given publicity, it will create a knowledge which would better be left as it is. I do not care to give publicity to this work which the Lord has appointed me to do, and others to do. 5BIO 395.4
I send this matter to you so that you shall not make a mistake. Circumstances alter cases. I would not advise that anyone should make a practice of gathering up TITHE money. But for years there have now and then been persons who have lost confidence in the appropriation of the TITHE who have placed their TITHE in my hands, and said that if I did not take it they would themselves appropriate it to the families of the most needy ministers they could find. I have taken the money, given a receipt for it, and told them how it was appropriated. 5BIO 395.5
I write this to you so that you shall keep cool and not become stirred up and give publicity to this matter, lest many more shall follow their example.—Letter 267, 1905. 5BIO 396.1
It should be noted that as Mrs. White speaks of the use of the TITHE in this and similar cases, it is always in the setting of money that was to be used for the support of the ministers. Any TITHE money she handled was used as TITHE money should be used. The one whom the Lord used as His messenger, and to whom had been given special enlightenment regarding the necessities of worthy laborers, at a time when there was inadequate provision for these ordained ministers, was authorized to meet those necessities, even to the use of her TITHE. 5BIO 396.2
But there is not one phrase or sentence in this letter that would neutralize or countermand the clear and full instruction concerning paying TITHE or its use. Any such use of the letter addressed to the conference president is a misuse. 5BIO 396.3
Ellen White did not make a practice of gathering up TITHE funds, and she never requested that TITHE be placed in her hands. 5BIO 396.4
At times a certain veteran colporteur sent a portion of his TITHE to Mrs. White to be used properly in the Lord’s work. How she handled such TITHE is reflected in a letter she wrote to workers in the South explaining the source of some $500 that she was hastening on to them in response to an urgent need made known to her. She related that a large part of this was money given when she made an appeal for the work in the South at a large gathering. A part of it was TITHE money place in her hands by this colporteur. Of this portion she wrote: 5BIO 396.5
I have seventy-five dollars from Brother—, TITHE money, and we thought that it would be best to send it along to the Southern field to help colored ministers…. I want it specially applied to the colored ministers, to help them in their salaries.—Letter 262, 1902. 5BIO 396.6
But in writing to this man at another time she revealed not only her course of action but her attitude toward such matters, urging confidence in his brethren and the regular manner of handling the TITHE: 5BIO 396.7
You ask if I will accept TITHE from you and use it in the cause of God where most needed. In reply I will say that I shall not refuse to do this, but at the same time I will tell you that there is a better way. 5BIO 397.1
How glad she was after the camp meeting to learn that there was a response in the amount of $12,500 to the call for funds for Loma Linda (Pacific Union Recorder, September 13, 1906). Somehow the conference had been especially blessed since taking steps in 1905 to purchase the property. In addition to the gift to Loma Linda, $5,000 of surplus TITHE went to establish mission stations in Uganda and India; $4,594 in OFFERINGS was sent outside the conference for special enterprises; and $4,250 was given for the San Fernando school. 6BIO 114.1
Later in January the California Conference session would be held in San Jose, and it seemed desirable to present there Ellen White’s counsel on the TITHE and its use. On that New Year’s Day, plans were laid for Dores Robinson to assemble the material, first to be read at the conference session, then published in a pamphlet and eventually in Testimonies, volume 9, a book then in preparation. 6BIO 119.4
For three weeks and four days Ellen White met with her brethren from the whole world field. SHE HAD SEEN THE CHURCH GROW FROM FIFTY SABBATHKEEPING ADVENTISTS IN NEW ENGLAND IN 1846 TO 83,000 AT THE CLOSE OF 1908. Of these, 59,000 were in the United States and 24,000 in other parts of the world. TOTAL TITHE PAID INTO THE TREASURIES OF THE CHURCH IN 1908 HAD GROWN TO $1.1 MILLION. There were NEARLY 800 ORDAINED MINISTERS, AND 400 MORE HELD MINISTERIAL LICENSES (1908 Statistical Report, in The General Conference Bulletin, 1909, 260, 265). The reports brought by delegates from various parts of the world were detailed and thrilling. The day-to-day departmental meetings had been constructive and helpful. The resolutions adopted by the session drawn together in the last issue of the Bulletin filled five pages. 6BIO 196.2
Will any who are ministers of the gospel, proclaiming the most solemn truth ever given to mortals, set an example in returning to the fleshpots of Egypt? Will those who are supported by the TITHE from God’s storehouse permit themselves by self-indulgence to poison the life-giving current flowing through their veins? Will they disregard the light and warnings that God has given them?— Ibid.
A review of the 1875 situation:
The eastern camp meetings opened with the Michigan camp meeting in Battle Creek, August 10-17. The General Conference session and the regular annual anniversary meetings of the three Battle Creek institutions were also held during that week. James and Ellen White were present, of course, to listen and to participate. Reports showed the “present standing” of the cause to be: 2BIO 477.5
Church members – 8,022
Ministers – 69
Churches – 339
Licentiates – 76
SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE FUND pledged by the churches – $32,618
—The Review and Herald, August 26, 1875.
Consider the above implications:
In 1875, the average tithe per church member is $32,618 / 8,022 = $4.066
How much did the average person make in 1880?
If you worked in manufacturing (as many did during this period of mechanization), you could have expected to make approximately $1.34 a day in 1880, which adds up to $345 annually for an average 257 days of work in a given year.
How much did the average person make in 1860?
Laborers made about 10 cents an hour ($6 a week, or $300 per year)
So the average wage in 1875 may be considered as $333.75 / year.
Hence an average tithe of $4.066 represents 1.2183 % of their salary.
From previous studies it has been shown that about 80% of church membership pay tithe.
Therefore, the average tithe percentage for just the tithe payers = 1.2183 / 80% = 1.5229 %.
This amount is in keeping with the 1% – 4% recommendations for systematic benevolence being in mind the poverty levels during that time.
SECTION 3: Final Thoughts
IF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE WAS UNIVERSALLY ADOPTED, ACCORDING TO GOD’S PLAN, AND THE TITHING SYSTEM CARRIED OUT AS FAITHFULLY BY THE WEALTHY AS IT IS BY THE POORER CLASSES, THERE WOULD BE NO NEED OF REPEATED AND URGENT CALLS FOR MEANS AT OUR LARGE RELIGIOUS GATHERINGS. THERE HAS BEEN A NEGLECT, IN THE SEVERAL CHURCHES, OF KEEPING UP THE PLAN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, AND THE RESULT HAS BEEN AN IMPOVERISHED TREASURY AND A BACKSLIDDEN CHURCH. {RH, January 1, 1875 par. 2} {3T 408.4 1872-1875}
THE SPECIAL SYSTEM OF TITHING WAS FOUNDED UPON A PRINCIPLE WHICH WAS AS ENDURING AS THE LAW OF GOD. This system of TITHING was a blessing to the Jews, else God would not have given it them. So also will it be a blessing to those who carry it out TO THE END OF TIME. OUR HEAVENLY FATHER DID NOT ORIGINATE THE PLAN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE TO ENRICH HIMSELF, BUT TO BE A GREAT BLESSING TO MAN. HE SAW THAT THIS SYSTEM OF BENEFICENCE WAS JUST WHAT MAN NEEDED. [RH, December 15, 1874 par. 25] {3T 404.4 1872-1875}
Those churches who are the most SYSTEMATIC and liberal in sustaining the cause of God, are the most prosperous spiritually. True liberality in the follower of Christ identifies his interest with that of his Master. IN GOD’S DEALING WITH THE JEWS AND HIS PEOPLE TO THE END OF TIME, HE REQUIRES SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE PROPORTIONATE TO THEIR INCOME. The plan of salvation was laid by the infinite sacrifice of the SON OF GOD. The light of the gospel shining from the cross of Christ rebukes selfishness, and encourages liberality and BENEVOLENCE. It is not to be a lamented fact that there are increasing calls to give. God, in his providence, is calling his people out from their limited sphere of action, to enter upon greater enterprises. Unlimited effort is demanded at this time when moral darkness is covering the world. Worldliness and covetousness are eating out the vitals of God’s people. They should understand that it is his mercy which multiplies the demands for their means. THE ANGEL OF GOD PLACES BENEVOLENT ACTS CLOSE BESIDE PRAYER. He said to Cornelius, “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.” {RH, December 15, 1874 par. 26} {3T 405.1 1872-1875}
From the above, THE SPECIAL SYSTEM OF TITHING / THE PLAN OF SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE is enduring as the LAW OF GOD and will be a blessing to those who carry it out TO THE END OF TIME.
Paul exhorted Timothy, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” We are to give the message of warning to the world, and how are we doing our work? Are you, brethren, preaching that part of the truth that pleases the people, while other parts of the work are left incomplete? Will it be necessary for some one to follow after you, and urge upon the people the duty of faithfully bringing all the TITHES AND OFFERINGS into the Lord’s treasury? THIS IS THE WORK OF THE MINISTER, BUT IT HAS BEEN SADLY NEGLECTED. THE PEOPLE HAVE ROBBED GOD, AND THE WRONG HAS BEEN SUFFERED BECAUSE THE MINISTER DID NOT WANT TO DISPLEASE HIS BRETHREN. God calls these men unfaithful stewards. The charge to his servants is, “Be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine.” If the under shepherds do their duty with fidelity, when the chief Shepherd shall appear he will give them “a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” Daniel saw their reward, and he says, “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever.” {RH, July 8, 1884 par. 11}
During the days when Systematic Benevolence was being entertained, the ministers neglected to teach about Tithe paying and, when the wealthy found out about these payments, they chose not to pay their Tithes. The Seventh-day Adventist Church then chose to abandon GOD’S Systematic Benevolence plan by changing the rules to a “10% Tithe for everyone”, rather than convict the wealthy that they needed God’s blessings.
There are many Seventh-day Adventist Church members who cannot afford a 10% [gross] Tithe but, if aware, would accept and pay a Tithe based upon God’s method of Systematic Benevolence which relates to their financial circumstances.
Rather than being in a position of never being able to pay a 10% Tithe, many of the members in such areas as Africa, India, and most parts of South America and the Far East, would appreciate being given an understanding of Systematic Benevolence and to hear that God only requires from them a 1% [or more] payment.
It is not possible to lay down rules for every case, for in many instances such a course would distress the giver. The circumstances in which some are placed, and which are of God’s appointment are to be considered. THE LORD EXPECTS A MAN TO IMPART OF WHAT HE HAS AND NOT OF WHAT HE HAS NOT. With some a tenth of the income would not properly represent the proportion they should give to the Lord, while to others it is a fair return. {Ms47-1899} [TDG 97.3 1979]