Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2

149/362

Lt 9, 1873

Billet, Sister

Battle Creek, Michigan

April 5, 1873

Portions of this letter are published in DG 230-233; OHC 149, 186.

Dear Sister Billet:

I would be much pleased to have a conversation with you today, but as this is impossible, the next best thing for me to do is to let the silent pen give expression to my thoughts and feelings. Very many hundred miles separate us, but you are not forgotten by us. We have deep interest that your soul should prosper even as your health. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 1

My dear sister, does the truth grow more clear to your understanding? As you plant your feet upon the platform of eternal truth, do you feel that God is more precious and that you are in His sheltering care? We have precious, harmonious, sanctifying truth. We do not always consider that the sanctification we so earnestly desire and for which we pray so earnestly is brought about through the truth and, by the providence of God, in a manner we least expect. When we look for joy, behold there is sorrow. When we expect peace, we frequently have distrust and doubt because we find ourselves plunged into trials we cannot avoid. In these trials we are having the answers to our prayers. In order for us to be purified, the fire of affliction must kindle upon us, and our will must be brought into conformity to the will of God. In order to be conformed to the image of our Saviour we pass through a most painful process of refining. The very ones that we regard the most dear upon the earth may cause us the greatest sorrow and trial. They may view us in the wrong light. They may think us in error, and that we are deceiving and degrading ourselves because we follow the dictates of enlightened conscience in seeking for the truth as for hid treasures. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 2

The character and course of the Christian is in marked contrast to that of worldlings. The Christian cannot find pleasure in the amusements and in the varied scenes of gaiety of the world. Higher and holier attractions engage the affections. Christians will show that they are the friends of God by their obedience. “Ye are my friends,” says Christ, “if ye do whatsoever I command you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he may give it you. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” John 15:14-19. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 3

Christ is your rock and your fortress. Unto His name the righteous runneth and are safe. Says Christ, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15. Christ promised His followers that He would pray to His Father and after His departure He would send them another Comforter that He might abide with them forever, “even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive.” John 14:17. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 4

Great is the mystery of godliness. But that which may appear dark and mysterious to the lovers of pleasure, is clearly discerned by the faithful, trusting Christian. Our will and our way should be submitted wholly to God. Then we may ask what we will and the promise is sure, “Ye shall receive.” [John 15:7; 16:24.] 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 5

Our prayers for conformity to the image of Christ may not be answered exactly as we desire. We may be tested and proved, for God sees it [is] best to put us under a course of discipline which is essential for us before we are fit subjects for the blessing we crave. We should not become discouraged and give way to doubt, and think that our prayers are not noticed. We should rely more securely upon Christ and leave our case with God to answer our prayers in His own way. God has not promised to bestow His blessings through the channels we have marked out. God is too wise to err and too regardful of our good to allow us to choose for ourselves. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 6

The plans of God are always the best, although we may not always discern them. Perfection of Christian character can be obtained only through labor, conflict, and self-denial. We do not always count upon this, and do not consider the painful and often protracted process of purifying necessary for us in order that we may be conformed to the image of Christ. God frequently answers our prayers in a way we least expect. He brings us into positions which are the most trying to reveal what is in our hearts. To further the development of Christian graces He will place us in circumstances which will demand increased exertion on our part to keep our faith in lively exercise. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 7

Let us bear in mind, dear sister, how inestimably precious are the gifts of God—the graces of His Spirit—and we shall not shrink from the trying, testing process, be it ever so painful or humiliating to us. How easy would be the way to heaven if there was no self-denial or cross! How worldlings would rush in the way, and hypocrites would travel in it without number! Thank God for the cross, the self-denial. The ignominy and shame our Saviour endured for us is none too humiliating for those saved by the purchase of His blood. Heaven will indeed be cheap enough. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 8

Dear Sister, it is for us to be patient, to choose the suffering part of religion. Your own precious child may not discern the mystery of godliness and may think you stubborn and foolish, that you will be odd and singular from the world. But faint not. If faithful to duty, God may touch the heart of your child and she may see the matchless charms of a Saviour’s love. To the unbeliever whose happiness is in the things of the world, its pleasures and its vanities, the conscientious observers of the Lord’s Sabbath seem wild and erratic. They may inquire why the great men, the ministers, the doctors, and the learned do not see these things if they are indeed the truth? Because of the cross! Popularity and worldly inducements are too great considerations for them to yield up. They have their minds darkened by the god of this world. “The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1:5. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 9

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. ... But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and ... the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are; that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23-30. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 10

The value of man, as God estimates him, is through his union with Christ, for God is the only One able to raise man in the scale of moral worth through the righteousness of Christ. Worldly honor and worldly greatness are of just that value that the Creator of man places upon them. Their wisdom is foolishness, their strength weakness. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 11

Let us value what God esteems. True elevation of character is found alone through Christ. Our Saviour imputes His righteousness to the man who yields to Him his heart’s best and holiest affections. Our value is in proportion to our alliance to God. Look upward, my sister, “not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.” 2 Corinthians 4:18. Contemplate that your outward afflictions, which are but for a moment, are working out for you “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Verse 17. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 12

We may have Christ with us while engaged in our daily avocations. Wherever we are, in whatever we are engaged, we may be indeed elevated because we are united to Christ. We may take up our humble life duties ennobled by and sanctified through the assurance of the love of God. Working from principle in the humblest calling invests it with dignity. The consciousness that we are indeed the servants of Christ will give a higher tone of character to our everyday duties—ever cheerful, patient, forbearing, and gentle. Says Christ, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” John 16:12. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 13

“‘Ye cannot bear them now.’ What tenderness
Breathes in this language! Well does it express
Thy principle of teaching. ‘Here and there
A little,’ is the plan Thou dost pursue;
Waiting until our feeble sight can bear
The truths which love unfolds before our view.
The gentleness of Christ! Lord, should not we
In teaching others strive to act like Thee?
Patient, not hasty, toward those who learn
But slowly in Thy school; who seem to need
Line upon line before they can discern
The hallowed lessons we so plainly read.”
2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 14

Let the language of our hearts be, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” [Acts 9:6.] It matters not what our position may be or how limited our capacities, we have a work to do for the Master. Our graces are developed and matured by exercise. With the truth of God burning in the soul we cannot be idle. The happiness we shall experience in doing will compensate even in this life for every effort. Those only who have experienced happiness resulting from self-denying effort in the service of Christ can speak of the matter understandingly. It is indeed joy so pure, so deep that language cannot express it. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 15

“Christian sister, through life’s transient day
There is a special work marked out for you;
It may be of the lowliest kind, it may
Be such as shall the loftiest powers display.
But none besides yourself your work can do.
‘What wilt Thou have me do?’ With single eye
To your Redeemer’s glory, work for Him;
Illumined every moment from on high,
Strive in each action God to glorify,
Nor let one thought of self life’s radiance dim.”
2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 16

If you, my dear sister, are seen to be firm in principle, fearless in duty, zealous in seeking to exemplify Christ in your daily work, yet humble, lowly, gentle and tender, patient and forgiving, ready to suffer and to forgive injuries, you will be a living epistle known and read of all men. Your friends who are conforming their character to the world are not abiding in Christ, however high may be their profession. They do not discern the value and preciousness of the love of Christ. They cannot have a just sense of the great sacrifice made by the Captain of our salvation to redeem them from hopeless misery. The infinite sacrifice made on their account they cannot discern, therefore they are not willing to make any sacrifice themselves. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 17

The tongue of an angel cannot describe the matchless depths of a Saviour’s love, which is seen in the work of the atonement. Christ left the courts of glory, came down to this sin-polluted world, and veiled His divinity with humanity that in humbling Himself to our natures He might meet and relieve the wants of the soul and bless with all spiritual blessings those who believe on His name. He points the believing soul to things unseen—the true riches, unsearchable riches, durable riches that He has purchased for them at immense cost to Himself. Those who think to come into possession of the heavenly treasure without any special self-denial or self-sacrifice will find at last that they are weighed in the balance and found wanting. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 18

We must be willing to be partakers with Christ of the shame, reproach, and sacrifice He endured that He might be ennobled and exalted to His throne. Oh, blessed hope for the obedient and faithful! Heaven will be cheap enough if we go through toil and danger, persecution, and even death, to obtain it. Our Saviour requires no more of us than He has given us as an example in His own life. He leads the way and calls us to follow. Christ identifies Himself with all our necessities, all our trials, griefs and suffering. What is done to His children is as though done to the person of Christ. He that toucheth them toucheth the apple of His eye. In all their affliction He is afflicted. Their prayers are His delight. Christ was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor that we through His poverty might be made rich. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 19

What evidence has He given us of His interest in us? What does He require of us that will injure us or make us less happy? All He requires of us is an entire surrender to Him. The righteousness and excellency of His requirements are not comprehended by the world, who look upon the religion of Christ as a yoke of bondage, a surrender of their liberty. Each of God’s requirements is an order to become wise, rich, and noble by uniting our weak strength with the power of the Infinite. While following the footsteps of Christ we need never blush, for our conscience will never reproach us. His service is always reasonable. His work is always honorable and glorious. Our friends who desire us to choose the pleasures of the world and to conform to the customs of the world, who look upon us as obstinate, can have no claims upon us that bear any comparison with the claims of Christ. What have they done and suffered for us? 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 20

Christ remembered us in our low estate, and when we were sold into bondage in consequence of sin, His love and pity redeemed us. How did He accomplish the work? He was made a curse for us. He bore our sins that His righteousness might be imputed unto us. By His stripes we are healed. O what love! What inexpressible love! 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 21

Christ has bought us with a dear price, but yet He will recompense our service to Him. We may feel sad and weep over our poor service to Him who has given us such unmeasured evidences of His interest in and love for us. But the recompense will not be in exact proportion to the amount of work done, but in accordance with the motive and the love which prompted the doing of the work. The recompense will be of grace. His own abundant mercy will be displayed not because we have done anything worthy, but on account of His ummeasured love. Christ will say to the faithful, sincere worker, “Well done, good and faithful servant; ... enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Matthew 25:23. And even now angels of God take cognizance of our works of love and righteousness and we shall not be forgotten even in this life. In keeping His commandments there is great reward. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Psalm 119:165. Christ lays no more upon His servants than He gives them strength to perform. He will not cast them off in their adversity. When heart and flesh fail He will be the strength of their heart and their portion forever. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 22

Sinners talk of the amusements of the world and the pleasures of sin, but when death is staring them in the face, they say nothing in praise of the beautiful life of sin they have led. The terrible, dark future is before them and if they could only know that their names were written in heaven, what a weight would be lifted from their sin-burdened souls! In every condition, under every circumstance, the Christian may say, “The path of holiness is a good way.” However trying may be their position, they can say, “The Lord is good; his mercy endureth forever.” [Jeremiah 33:11.] Be of good courage, my sister. Trust wholly in God. He will sustain and comfort you in all your trials endured for His name’s sake. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 23

Will you write me! I am anxious to hear from you. My husband has many burdens to bear but we have God to lean upon. Last night we cried earnestly to God and we had a very special power of God resting on us. Brethren Butler and Haskell were with us. Good is the Lord and greatly to be praised. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 24

In much love. 2LtMs, Lt 9, 1873, par. 25