This is a continuation of the letter we started publishing excerpts from in last month’s editorial—a letter from Ellen White to two large Seventh-day Adventist churches.
“Those who have used the tithe money to supply the common necessities of the house of God, have taken the money that should go to sustain ministers in doing his work, in preparing the way for Christ’s second appearing. Just as surely as you do this work, you misapply the resources which God has told you to retain in his treasure-house, that it may be full, to be used in his service. This work is something of which all who have taken a part in should be ashamed. They have used their influence to withdraw from God’s treasury a fund that is consecrated to a sacred purpose. From those who do this, the blessing of the Lord will be removed.
“If the brethren in responsible positions would talk faith and courage to all the workers in the office, if you would talk self-denial in the church, if you would practice it in your own families, if you would bear a clean-cut testimony, which you have not yet borne, if you would all be mouthpieces for God, and present to the church the necessity for self-denial, the humiliation of the soul, praying for the Lord to forgive your pride, your foolish, senseless vanity, the Lord may pass by and leave you a blessing.
“Let your works show that you do believe your words of murmuring in the past to be wrong, that it is time now for you to cast your net on the right side of the ship, the side of faith. For the rest of your days, while probation lasts, show what can be done by a self-denying, self-sacrificing, consecrated, living church.
“A different testimony must go forth from lips touched with the live coal from off the altar. When you are in Christ, you can bear a living testimony. But throughout the churches there is selfishness and sin, dishonesty, unbelief, criticism, and faultfinding. It is high time now for you have to awake out of sleep. We read that in olden times holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
“This is what we need. This is what we must have. We need money here to carry forward the work. But we have no such resources to draw upon as you have in Oakland and Battle Creek. We can not sustain ministers in the field; for there is no money in the treasury. I know from the light given me of God that there should be many workers in California. There should be workers in Michigan, and yet men are questioning in regard to using the tithe for other purposes than that which the Lord has specified. In California, in all our cities in America, in the highways and byways, men and women should go forth as consecrated workers, who will proclaim the message of warning. Why should it [the General Conference] permit its ministers to be half paid, and at the same time talk so begrudgingly of that which they do receive? When this work shall cease in our churches, a living testimony will go forth from human lips, under the operation of the Holy Ghost.
“Satan has stolen a march on us. God desires that we shall put on the whole armor of righteousness. There are exceptional cases, where poverty is so deep that, in order to secure the humblest place of worship, it may be necessary to appropriate the tithes. But that place is not Battle Creek or Oakland. Let those who assemble to worship God consider the self-denial and self-sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Let those brethren who profess to be children of God study how they can deny themselves, how they can part with some of their idols, and carefully economize in every line. In each house there should be a box for the church fund, to be used for the needs of the church.
“I have been shown case after case where men are working in the ministry, who are just as deserving of their wages as those who are employed in the publishing houses, are left without sufficient means to support their families. If they work at all for the Master, they have to depend on charity. The censure and frown of God is upon the church that will permit these things to exist. Let not those to whom are entrusted responsibilities, allow the treasury that God has appointed to sustain the ministers in the field, to be robbed to supply the expenses incurred in keeping in order and making comfortable the house of God.
“A separate fund for the purpose of defraying the expenses, which every church member should share according to his ability, should be instituted in every place where there is a church.”
Taken from Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 183–191.