God desires to bring men into direct relation with Himself. In all His dealings with human beings He recognises the principle of personal responsibility. He seeks to encourage a sense of personal dependence and to impress the need of personal guidance. His gifts are committed to men as individuals. Every man has been made a steward of sacred trusts; each is to discharge his trust according to the direction of the Giver; and by each an account of his stewardship must be rendered to God.
In all this, God is seeking to bring the human into association with the divine, that through this connection man may become transformed into the divine likeness. Then the principle of love and goodness will be a part of his nature. Satan, seeking to thwart this purpose, constantly works to encourage dependence upon man, to make men the slaves of men. When he thus succeeds in turning minds away from God, he insinuates his own principles of selfishness, hatred, and strife.
In all our dealing with one another, God desires us carefully to guard the principle of personal responsibility to and dependence upon Him. It is a principle that should be especially kept in view by our publishing houses in their dealing with authors.
It has been urged by some that authors have no right to hold the stewardship of their own works; that they should give their works over to the control of the publishing house or of the conference; and that, beyond the expense involved in the production of the manuscript, they should claim no share of the profit; that this should be left with the conference or the publishing house, to be appropriated, as their judgement shall direct, to the
various needs of the work. Thus the author's stewardship of his work would be wholly transferred from himself to others.
But not so does God regard the matter. The ability to write a book is, like every other talent, a gift from Him, for the improvement of which the possessor is accountable to God; and he is to invest the returns under His direction. Let it be borne in mind that it is not our own property which is entrusted to us for investment. If it were, we might claim discretionary power; we might shift our responsibility upon others, and leave our stewardship with them. But this cannot be, because the Lord has made us individually His stewards. We are responsible to invest this means ourselves. Our own hearts are to be sanctified; our hands are to have something to impart, as occasion demands, of the income that God entrusts to us.
It would be just as reasonable for the conference or the publishing house to assume control of the income which a brother receives from his houses or lands as to appropriate that which comes from the working of his brain.
Nor is there justice in the claim that, because a worker in the publishing house receives wages for his labour, his powers of body, mind, and soul belong wholly to the institution, and it has a right to all the productions of his pen. Outside the period of labour in the institution, the worker's time is under his own control, to use as he sees fit, so long as this use does not conflict with his duty to the institution. For that which he may produce in these hours, he is responsible to his own conscience and to God.
No greater dishonour can be shown to God than for one man to bring another man's talents under his absolute
control. The evil is not obviated by the fact that the profits of the transaction are to be devoted to the cause of God. In such arrangements the man who allows his mind to be ruled by the mind of another is thus separated from God and exposed to temptation. In shifting the responsibility of his stewardship upon other men, and depending on their wisdom, he is placing man where God should be. Those who are seeking to bring about this shifting of responsibility are blinded as to the result of their action, but God has plainly set it before us. He says: "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm." Jeremiah 17:5.
Let not authors be urged either to give away or to sell their right to the books they have written. Let them receive a just share of the profits of their work; then let them regard their means as a trust from God, to be administered according to the wisdom that He shall impart.
Those who possess the ability to write books should realise that they possess ability to invest the profits they receive. While it is right for them to place a portion in the treasury, to supply the general needs of the cause, they should feel it their duty to acquaint themselves with the necessities of the work, and with prayer to God for wisdom they should personally dispense their means where the need is greatest. Let them lead out in some line of benevolence. If their minds are under the direction of the Holy Spirit, they will have wisdom to perceive where means are needed, and in relieving this need they will be greatly blessed.
If the Lord's plan had been followed, a different state of things would now exist. So much means would not have been expended in a few localities, leaving so little for investment in the many, many places where the banner of truth has not yet been lifted.
Let our publishing houses beware lest in their dealing with God's workers, wrong principles be allowed to control. If connected with the institution there are men whose hearts are not under the direction of the Holy Spirit, they will be sure to sway the work into wrong lines. Some who profess to be Christians regard the business connected with the Lord's work as something wholly apart from religious service. They say: "Religion is religion, business is business. We are determined to make that which we handle a success, and we will grasp every possible advantage to promote this special line of work." Thus plans contrary to truth and righteousness are introduced with the plea that this or that must be done because it is a good work and for the advancement of the cause of God.
Men who through selfishness have become narrow and shortsighted feel it their privilege to crowd down the very ones whom God is using to diffuse the light He has given them. Through oppressive plans, workers who should stand free in God have been trammelled with restrictions by those who were only their fellow labourers. All this bears the stamp of the human, and not of the divine. It is the devising of men that leads to injustice and oppression. The cause of God is free from every taint of injustice. It seeks to gain no advantage by depriving the members of His family of their individuality or of their rights. The Lord does not sanction arbitrary authority, nor will He serve with the least selfishness or overreaching. To Him all such practises are abhorrent.
He declares: "I hate robbery for burnt offering." "Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small. But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have. . . . All that do unrighteously, are an abomination
unto the Lord thy God." Isaiah 61:8; Deuteronomy 25:14-16.
"He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Micah 6:8.
One of the very highest applications of these principles is found in the recognition of man's right to himself, to the control of his own mind, to the stewardship of his talents, the right to receive and to impart the fruit of his own labour. Strength and power will be in our institutions only as in all their connection with their fellow men they recognise these principles, --only as in their dealing they give heed to the instruction of the word of God.
Every power lent us by God, whether physical, mental, or spiritual, is to be sacredly cherished to do the work assigned us for our fellow men who are perishing in their ignorance. Every man is to stand at his post of duty untrammelled, each serving the Lord in humility, each responsible for his own work. "Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ." He "will render to every man according to his deeds." Colossians 3:23, 24; Romans 2:6.
Satan's skill is exercised in devising plans and methods without number to accomplish his purposes. He works to restrict religious liberty and to bring into the religious world a species of slavery. Organisations, institutions, unless kept by the power of God, will work
under Satan's dictation to bring men under the control of men; and fraud and guile will bear the semblance of zeal for truth and for the advancement of the kingdom of God. Whatever in our practise is not as open as the day belongs to the methods of the prince of evil.
Men fall into error by starting with false premises and then bringing everything to bear to prove the error true. In some cases the first principles have a measure of truth interwoven with the error; but it leads to no just action; and this is why men are misled. They desire to reign and become a power, and, in the effort to justify their principles, they adopt the methods of Satan.
If men resist the warnings the Lord sends them, they become even leaders in evil practises; such men assume to exercise the prerogatives of God--they presume to do that which God Himself will not do in seeking to control the minds of men. Thus they follow in the track of Romanism. They introduce their own methods and plans, and through their misconceptions of God they weaken the faith of others in the truth and bring in false principles that work like leaven to taint and corrupt institutions and churches.
Anything that lowers man's conception of righteousness and equity and impartial judgement, any device or precept that brings God's human agents under the control of human minds, impairs their faith in God, and separates the soul from Him.
God will not vindicate any device whereby man shall in the slightest degree rule or oppress his fellow man. As soon as a man begins to make an iron rule for other men, he dishonours God and imperils his own soul and the souls of his brethren.
The members of a church within whose borders one of our publishing houses is situated are honoured in having among them one of the Lord's special instrumentalities. They should appreciate this honour and should realise that it involves a most sacred responsibility. Their influence and example will go far in helping or hindering the institution in the accomplishment of its mission.
As we approach the last crisis, it is of vital moment that harmony and unity exist among the Lord's instrumentalities. The world is filled with storm and war and variance. Yet under one head--the papal power--the people will unite to oppose God in the person of His witnesses. This union is cemented by the great apostate. While he seeks to unite his agents in warring against the truth he will work to divide and scatter its advocates. Jealousy, evil surmising, evilspeaking, are instigated by him to produce discord and dissension. The members of Christ's church have the power to thwart the purpose of the adversary of souls. At such a time as this let them not be found at variance with one another or with any of the Lord's workers. Amidst the general discord let there be one place where harmony and unity exist because the Bible is made the guide of life. Let the people of God feel that a responsibility rests upon them to build up His instrumentalities.
Brethren and sisters, the Lord will be pleased if you will take hold heartily to sustain the publishing institution with your prayers and your means. Pray every
morning and evening that it may receive God's richest blessing. Do not encourage criticism and complaining. Let no murmurs or complaints come from your lips; remember that angels hear these words. All must be led to see that these institutions are of God's appointment. Those who disparage them in order to serve their own interests must render an account to God. He designs that everything connected with His work shall be treated as sacred.
God wants us to do much more praying and much less talking. The threshold of heaven is flooded with the light of His glory, and He will let this light shine into the heart of everyone who will stand in right relation to Him.
Every institution will have to battle with difficulty. Trials are permitted in order to test the hearts of God's people. When adversity befalls one of the Lord's instrumentalities, it will be shown how much real faith we have in God and in His work. At such a time let none view matters in the worst light and give expression to doubt and unbelief. Do not criticise those who carry the burdens of responsibility. Let not the conversation in your homes be poisoned with criticism of the Lord's workers. Parents who indulge this criticising spirit are not bringing before their children that which will make them wise unto salvation. Their words tend to unsettle the faith and confidence not only of the children, but of those older in years. All have little enough of respect and reverence for sacred things. Satan will unite most zealously with the criticiser in fostering unbelief, envy, jealousy, and disrespect. Satan is always at work to imbue men with his spirit, to quench the love which should be sacredly cherished between brethren, to discourage confidence, to excite envy, evil surmisings, and the strife
of tongues. Let us not be found acting as his coworkers. One heart open to his suggestions may sow many seeds of disaffection. Thus may be wrought a work whose results in the ruin of souls will never be fully manifest until the great day of final judgement.
Christ declares: "Whoso shall cause one of these little ones which believe on Me to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of occasions of stumbling! for it must needs be that the occasions come; but woe to that man through whom the occasion cometh!" Matthew 18:6, 7, R.V. A great responsibility is here placed upon the members of the church. Let them beware lest through inattention to the souls of those young in the faith, lest through sowing seeds of doubt and unbelief under the instigation of Satan, they be found guilty of the ruin of a soul. "Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled." Hebrews 12:13-15.
The power of Satanic agencies is great, and the Lord calls upon His people strengthen one another, "building up yourselves on your most holy faith."
Instead of cooperating with Satan, let everyone learn what it means to cooperate with God. In these depressing times He has a work to be done that demands the firm courage and faith which will enable us to sustain one another. All need to stand shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart as labourers together with God. What
might not be accomplished in and through the grace of God if the members of the church would stand together, to sustain His workers, to help with their prayers and their influence when discouragement presses in on every side! Then is the time to work as faithful stewards.
Instead of criticism and censure, let our brethren and sisters have words of encouragement and confidence to speak in regard to the Lord's instrumentality. God calls upon them to encourage the hearts of those who carry the heavy burdens, for He is working with them. He calls upon His people to recognise the sustaining power in His instrumentality. Honor the Lord by endeavouring to the utmost of your ability to give it the influence that it should have.
As you have opportunity, speak to the workers; speak words that will be a strength and an inspiration. We are altogether too indifferent in regard to one another. Too often we forget that our fellow labourers are in need of strength and cheer. In times of special perplexity and burden, take care to assure them of your interest and sympathy. While you try to help them by your prayers, let them know that you do it. Send along the line God's message to His workers: "Be strong and of a good courage." Joshua 1:6.
The managers of our institutions have a most difficult task to maintain order and to discipline wisely the youth under their care. The members of the church can do much to stay up their hands. When the youth are unwilling to submit to the discipline of the institution, or in any matter of difference with their superiors are determined to have their own way, let not parents blindly sustain and sympathise with their children.
Better, far better might your children suffer, better lie in their graves, than be taught to treat lightly the
principles that lie at the very foundation of loyalty to truth, to their fellow beings, and to God.
In cases of difficulty with the ones who have them in charge, go directly to those in authority and learn the truth. Bear in mind that the managers of the various departments understand much better than others can what regulations are essential. Manifest confidence in their judgement and respect for their authority. Teach your children to respect and honour the ones to whom God has shown respect and honour by placing them in positions of trust.
In no way can the members of the church more effectively second the efforts of the managers in our institutions than by giving in their own homes an example of right order and discipline. Let parents in their words and deportment give to their children an example of what they desire them to be. Let purity in speech and true Christian courtesy be constantly maintained. Let there be no encouragement to sin, no evil speaking or evil surmising. Teach the children and youth to respect themselves, to be true to principle, true to God. Teach them to respect and obey the law of God and the rules of the home. Then they will practise these principles in their lives and will carry them out in all their associations with others. They will love their neighbour as themselves; they will create a pure atmosphere and will exert an influence to encourage weak souls in the path that leads to holiness and heaven.
Children who receive such instruction will not be a burden, a cause of anxiety, in our institutions; they will be a support to those who bear responsibility. Under right instruction they will be prepared to fill places of trust, and by precept and example will constantly aid others to do right. They will put a just estimate upon their own endowments and will make the best use of
their physical, mental, and spiritual powers. Such souls are fortified against temptation; they are not easily overcome. With the blessing of God such characters are light bearers; their influence tends to educate others for a business life which is a practical Christian life.
The members of the church, filled with Christ's love for souls, and awake to their privileges and opportunities, may exert upon the youth in our institutions an influence for good that is beyond estimate. Their example of faithfulness in the home, in business, and in the church, their manifestation of social kindness and Christian courtesy, combined with a genuine interest for the youth's spiritual well-being, will go far toward shaping the characters of these youths for the service of God and their fellow men, both in this life and in the life to come.