Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3

228/473

Manuscripts

Ms 1, 1878

Church Difficulties

NP

October 9, 1878

Compare with Ms 1, 1880. Portions of this manuscript are published in FLB 92, 138; TDG 291; Ev 691; 12MR 113-116; 15MR 134-144.

To the Church at Ligonier, Indiana:

In the vision given me October 9, 1878, I was shown the condition of our ministers and people in the State of Indiana. My attention was directed especially to the church at Ligonier. The foundation of that church is not altogether of precious material. While its members have accepted the theory of the truth, many of them, by their life and character, deny the faith which they profess. Their hearts are unrenewed by divine grace, and their unchristian traits of character are a dishonor to the church. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 1

Wherever an effort is made to advance the truth, some will be converted to the theory while they are not converted to God. The gospel net gathers good and bad. All who join themselves to the church but not to the Lord will in time develop their true character. “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” [Matthew 7:16.] The precious fruit of godliness, temperance, patience, kindness, love, and charity does not appear in their lives. They bear only thorns and briers. God is dishonored before the world by all such professors. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 2

Satan urges this class forward, [page torn here] ... [so that he] can then use them to accomplish his purposes better than before their connection with the church. They are, Satan knows, his best working agents, while they are unchanged in heart and life, and their works are in such marked contrast to their profession, that they are a stumbling block to unbelievers and a great trial to believers. Thus the archenemy closes the door to scores of souls, whose life and character if they were consecrated to do God service would do honor to the cause if they would yield to the claims of God. What an account will those have to give in the day of final reckoning, who profess to be keeping the commandments of God, while their lives contradict their profession, for they bear no precious fruit. They are weighed in the balances of the sanctuary and found wanting. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 3

I see no hope for the church at Ligonier unless there is a thorough conversion of those who make a profession of the truth or the church be disorganized and rebuilt of different material. There is a class in the church who claim a long experience, whose influence is in almost everything contrary to the Spirit of Christ. These leading members have done more harm to the church and to present truth by causing it to be regarded with suspicion and distrust than the most violent opposers could have done. The strong, self-willed spirit of Sister Graham is termed by some who have but little spiritual discernment “zeal for God;” but her course, as well as that of all in harmony with her, is contrary to the example of Christ. These persons have no genuine experience in the transforming influence of the Spirit of God. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 4

How much better would have been the condition of this church today if the strong, self-righteous spirit of Sr. Graham had never entered it. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” [Galatians 5:9.] Many are blinded by their pretensions to godliness, and they cannot see but that this class have the Spirit of God; but the Lord has no part in such an experience. If these poor, self-willed souls could be converted in heart and life, then the change in them would show to the world that the truth has a transforming power. The fierce, self-sufficient, vindictive spirit would give place to meekness, gentleness, goodness, forbearance, kindness, and lowliness of mind. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 5

Many of the church at Ligonier are yet in the bondage of Satan. They have never passed from death unto life; they have never felt the offensive character of sin. God has promised forgiveness to all who turn unto Him with hearty repentance and true faith. But those who have hitherto exerted the greatest influence in the church are strangers even to repentance. They have never known what a broken and contrite heart is. They are spiritually blind. While professedly accepting the truth, they have grasped a mere shadow and know nothing of the privileges and the liberty of the sons of God. Those who have become the children of God will give to the world some evidence of the fact. A change takes place in the disposition and character—a change from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God. The apostle says to the Ephesians: “You hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” “God who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, ... and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” [Ephesians 2:1, 4-6.] But the class to whom I refer know nothing of such a change. They do not even comprehend the language. The child of God is easily distinguished from a presumptuous self-deceiver. The fruit of the Spirit is not a boisterous, noisy, boasting, self-confidence, but a humble joy that leads to the abasement of self. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 6

Where the Spirit of God is, there is meekness, patience, gentleness, and long-suffering; there is a tenderness of soul, a mildness which savors of Christ. But these fruits are not manifested by the unconverted. The more real need there is for this class to humble themselves before God, the less sense they have of their real standing, and the more self-confidence they assume. The more they claim to be led by God, the more overbearing they are to all around them, the more incapable of receiving any reproof, the more impatient of contradiction; and the less they feel the need of counsel. Instead of being meek and gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy, love, and good fruits, they are exacting and tyrannical; instead of being swift to hear and slow to speak, they are slow to hear and swift to speak. They are unwilling to learn of any one. The temper is fiery and vehement. There is a set determination, a fierceness in the very looks and deportment. They speak and act as though they would take the work out of God’s hands and pass judgment themselves upon those whom they consider in the wrong. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 7

A true disciple of Christ will seek to imitate the Pattern. His love will lead to perfect obedience. He will study to do the will of God on earth, as it is done in heaven. He whose heart is still defiled with sin cannot be zealous of good works; and is not careful to abstain from evil, is not vigilant and watchful over his own motives and conduct, is not jealous over his unruly tongue; he is not careful to deny self and lift the cross of Christ. These poor, deceived souls fail to keep the first four precepts of the decalogue, defining the duty of man to God, neither do they keep the last six commandments, defining the duty of man to his fellow men. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 8

The fruits of the Spirit, ruling in the heart and controlling the life, are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, bowels of mercies, and humbleness of mind. True believers walk after the Spirit, and the Spirit of God dwells in them. But there is a class in the church who are a living contradiction of the name Christian—a class that have ruled at home with a sharp, dictatorial, unchristian spirit. Their ideas and opinions must bear sway; their hearts are filled with selfishness; they are constantly exalting self and finding fault with others who are better than themselves. They pass censure and harsh judgment upon others, while their own course appears right in their own eyes. They put their hands to a work which God has not given them, but leave undone the work He has left for them to do, which is to take heed to themselves lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble the church and defile it. They turn their eyes outward to watch lest the character of others should not be right, when their eyes should be turned inward to scan and criticize their own actions, testing their feelings and motives by the law of God, the only standard of right, and emptying from the heart love of self, envy, evil surmising, jealousy, malice, unkindness, and self-esteem. When they do this, they will not be climbing upon the judgment seat and pronouncing sentence upon others who are in God’s sight better than they. The simple reason of all the difficulty is: their religious life is not well built, there is not underlying godliness based on Jesus Christ; and the first gale of temptation sweeps their foundation from under them. This has caused all the difficulties in the church. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 9

Elders and deacons are chosen to have a care for the prosperity of the church; yet these leaders, especially in young churches, should not feel at liberty, on their own judgment and responsibility, to cut off offending members from the church; they are not invested with such authority. Many indulge a zeal like that of Jehu, and rashly venture to make decisions in matter of grave importance, while they themselves have no connection with God. They should humbly and earnestly seek wisdom from the one who has placed them in their position and should be very modest in assuming responsibilities. They should also lay the matter before the president of their conference and counsel with him. At some appointed time the subject should be patiently considered, and in the fear of God, with much humility and sorrow for the erring who are the purchase of the blood of Christ; with earnest, humble prayer, the proper officers should deal with the offenders. How different has been the course when, with self-assumed authority, and a hard, unfeeling spirit, accusations have been made and souls have been thrust out of the church of Christ. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 10

The matter should be thoroughly investigated before any action is taken. Let such questions as the following be carefully considered: What is the charge brought against the erring? Has the law of God been wilfully transgressed? Has the offender been dishonest in his deal with his brethren or the world? Has be been guilty of licentious conduct? Has he been untruthful? Has he practiced deception? Has he been severe, overbearing, and abusive in his family, with his neighbors, his brethren, or worldlings? Has he shown a spirit of penuriousness, selfishness, covetousness; of doubt, faultfinding, or talebearing? Has he talked of the faults of his brethren, magnifying their wrongs, and cherishing a spirit of bitterness toward them, thus endangering the prosperity and unity of the church? 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 11

All these points require careful consideration, but the next question is, What course has been pursued toward the erring? Has the Bible rule been followed to the letter? Read before the church the rules given them by their Captain, and let the question be asked, Have they obeyed orders like faithful soldiers in the army? To go contrary to the positive orders of the Captain of our salvation is deserving of severest censure by those whom God has placed in authority. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 12

Those who constitute the active element in the church at Ligonier are the ones who should see their wrongs and be willing to confess them, or they should be disconnected from the church. Their spirits are strong and uncontrollable; if checked lightly today, they will rise in triumph tomorrow if they have a chance. And they will gather about them those who cannot see and understand their spirit and who will oppose any influence that would check their movements. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 13

There is always danger and trouble in any church which is composed mostly of family connections. This is the curse of the Ligonier church. Relatives who are unconsecrated sympathize with one another, and thus a sinful harmony exists among them. Jesus is united to His people by a love far greater and more enduring than ever bound together the hearts of human kindred; and this love, so deep, so unchanging, is a continual assurance of His faithfulness to support the weak, confirm the wavering, comfort the feeble-minded, and to bind up the bruises of the soul. Oh, wondrous love, that should lead the Saviour to yield up His honor, His glory, His royal throne and royal court, and for our sakes become poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich! In order to secure us to Himself, and insure our eternal salvation, He gave all that He had—His riches, His glory, and His own precious life. For us He endured the agony of the garden of Gethsemane, when the mysterious cup trembled in His hand, and His anguished soul cried out, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” From His pale, quivering lips came this anguished prayer, and then the words of submission, “O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me except I drink it, Thy will be done.” [Matthew 26:39, 42.] An angel from heaven strengthened the royal Sufferer to tread His blood-stained path to Calvary, and to drink the cup of suffering to its very dregs. [Luke 22:43.] Oh, why was all this suffering, this ignominy, and torturing agony? It was that by this sacrifice of Himself His love might stand revealed, that He might woo men from the ways of sin. After man has cost so much, will He leave him now? Oh, no, no! He is faithful that has promised, His arms are outstretched to clasp the repentant, believing ones to His heart of love, with all the tenderness of divine affection. In Jesus we have an enduring, unchanging friend, and though all earthly prospects should fail, and every earthly friend prove treacherous, yet He is faithful still. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 14

His servants are as dear to Him as the apple of the eye. In trial, in want, in perplexity and distress, we are not alone; at every step, in tones of assurance, He bids us, “Follow Me.” “I will never leave nor forsake thee.” [Hebrews 13:5.] But this blessed assurance is given only on condition of our obedience and faithfulness to Him. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 15

In view of the infinite price paid for man’s redemption, how dare any professing the name of Christ treat with indifference one of His little ones? How carefully should brethren and sisters in the church guard every word and action, lest they hurt the oil and the wine! How patiently, kindly, and affectionately should they deal with the purchase of the blood of Christ! How faithfully and earnestly should they labor to lift up the desponding, and the discouraged! How tenderly should they treat those who are trying to obey the truth and have no encouragement at home, who have constantly to breathe the atmosphere of unbelief and darkness! 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 16

In what contrast to the course of our Exemplar has been that pursued by Sister Graham and those connected with her? The reason is, they have not the Spirit of Christ. He does not dwell in them. Satan will in every conceivable manner obstruct the path of all who try to follow the Saviour, and when Christ’s professed friends allow themselves to tear down, to discourage, and destroy, they show that they are not of Christ, but of Satan, for his works they do. If a brother is supposed to err, his brethren and sisters should not whisper it among themselves and comment upon it, magnifying supposed errors and faults. Much of this work is done in the Ligonier church, and the result is, the displeasure of God is upon those who do it, and Satan exults that he can weaken and annoy those who might be strong in the Lord. The world sees their weakness, and judges this class and the truth they profess to love, by the fruits manifested in them. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 17

“Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle; who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoreth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.” [Psalm 15:1-5.] Here the backbiter is excluded from abiding in the tabernacle of God and dwelling in the holy hill of Zion. He that taketh up a reproach against his neighbor cannot receive the approval of God. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 18

How many ministers, while engaged in a good work in which souls are turning to God and to the truth, are called away, leaving the interest to wane and die while they go to settle some church trial among brethren who were wholly wrong themselves, and who had a contentious and overbearing spirit. While the members of the church are in the divided state of feeling, their hearts are hard and unimpressible. The efforts of the minister are like blows upon cold iron, and each party becomes more set in his own way than before. [If] the minister makes his home with some one family, others are sure to be jealous lest he shall receive impressions unfavorable to themselves. If he gives counsel, some will say, “There, such a one has been talking with him,” and his words have no weight with them. Thus their souls are armed with distrust and evil surmisings, and the minister is made the sport of their prejudices and jealousies. He generally leaves the matter much worse than he found it. The dye of prejudice has set the colors, and the impressions are almost indelible. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 19

Had the minister utterly refused to listen to the colored, one-sided statements of any, had he given words of advice in accordance with the Bible rule, and said, like Nehemiah, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down” [Nehemiah 6:3], that church would have been in a far better condition. This work of withdrawing men from their fields of labor has been repeated again and again in the progress of this cause. It is the device of the great adversary of souls to hinder the work of God. When souls that are upon the point of deciding in favor of the truth are thus left to unfavorable influences, they lose their interest, and it is very rarely that so powerful an impression can again be made upon them. Satan is ever seeking some device to call the minister from his field of labor at this critical point, that the results of his labors may be lost. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 20

There are in the church unconsecrated, unconverted men and women who think more of maintaining their own dignity and their own opinions than they do of the salvation of their fellow creatures; and Satan works upon these to stir up difficulties that consume the time and labor of the minister, and many souls are lost as the result. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 21

The minister also is placed in a most unenviable position; for, though he should decide ever so wisely, his decision must displease someone, and thus a party spirit is strengthened; when, had he refused to leave his work, his influence would have been preserved. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 22

Ministers and lay members of the church displease God when they allow individuals to tell them the errors and faults of their brethren. They should not listen to these reports, but should enquire, “Have you strictly followed the injunction of your Saviour? Have you gone to the offender, and told him his faults between you and him alone? and has he refused to hear you? Have you carefully and prayerfully taken two or three others, and labored with him in tenderness, humility, and meekness, your heart throbbing in love for his soul?” If the Captain’s orders, in the rules given for the erring, have been strictly followed, then an advance step is to be taken; tell it to the church, and let action be taken in the case according to the Scriptures. Then it is that heaven will ratify the decision made by the church in cutting off the offending member if he does not repent. If these steps have not been taken, close the ear to their complaints, and thus refuse to take up a reproach against your neighbor. Listening to the reports of evil is taking up a reproach. If there were no brethren and sisters to do this, evil tongues would soon cease, for they would not find so fruitful a field in which to work in backbiting and devouring one another. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 23

This has been the great sin in the church at Ligonier. Talebearing, gossiping ones have sought to find a stain upon the character of others, while they have neglected to purify their own souls from the defilement of sin. Thus have they opened the door of their hearts to Satan’s temptations, and shut out the compassion, pity, and love of Christ. Instead of cherishing the spirit of the truth, they have been glorifying themselves. The language of their hearts is, We are rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, while they are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. The gold, which is love, they do not possess. Says the True Witness: “I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” [Revelation 3:18.] This is what the church in Ligonier wants, and what they must have, or it would have been better had they never been organized; for as they now stand, they are a curse to the truth they profess. They need to seek the white raiment, which is a pure and spotless character. Eyesalve they need, to see clearly their own defects, their lack of the grace and Spirit of God. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 24

Some have cherished a strong, unyielding, self-sufficient spirit, that would never endure control or contradiction. This has ruled in the family, the neighborhood, and the church. It is this that is threatening to ruin the church at Ligonier. One, only one such individual if countenanced, will destroy the peace and unity of the entire church in any place, but when there are connected with such a person relatives near and distant, then the danger is increased in proportion to the number of connections and the amount of sympathy given. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 25

The apostle Paul writes to Titus: “Set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: if any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God.” [Titus 1:5-7.] 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 26

It would be well for all our ministers to give heed to these words, and not to hurry men into office without due consideration, and much prayer that God would designate by His Holy Spirit whom He will accept. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 27

Said the inspired apostle, “Lay hands suddenly on no man.” [1 Timothy 5:22.] In Ligonier the work of organizing and ordaining elders was premature; the Bible rule was disregarded, and consequently a grievous trouble was brought upon the church. There should not be so great haste in electing leaders as to ordain men who are in no way fitted for the responsible work—men who need to be converted, elevated, ennobled, and refined, before they can serve the cause of God in any capacity. The gospel net gathers both good and bad. It takes time for character to be developed, there must be time to learn what men really are. The family of one suggested for office should be considered. Are they in subjection? Can the man rule his own house with honor? What character have his children? Will they do honor to the father’s influences? If he has no tact, wisdom, or power of godliness at home, in managing his own little family, it is safe to conclude that the same defects will be carried into the church, and the same unsanctified management will be seen there. It will be far better to criticize the man before he is put into office than after; better to pray and counsel before taking the decisive step, than to labor to correct the consequences of a wrong move. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 28

The leader at Wolf Lake has not the right qualifications to educate the members of the church to be workers. Tact and judgment have not been used to keep up a living interest in the work of God. Old habits have been dragged into the church. The leader is slow and tedious; he talks too much, and prays too long in public; he has not a living connection with God, which would give him a fresh experience. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 29

The leaders of churches in every place should be earnest, full of zeal and unselfish interest, men of God, who can give the right mold to the work. They should make their requests to God in faith. They may devote all the time they wish to secret prayer, but in public they should make their prayers, and their testimonies also, short and to the point. Long, dry prayers, and long exhortations should be avoided. If the brethren and sisters would have something to say that will refresh and edify others, it must first be in their hearts. They must daily be connected with God, drawing their supplies from His exhaustless storehouse, and bringing therefrom things new and old. If their own souls have been vivified by the Spirit of God, they will cheer, strengthen, and encourage others; but if they have not drunk at the living fountain of salvation themselves, they will not know how to lead others there. God has precious souls in these churches who will, if they grow in grace and the knowledge of the truth, become ministers of righteousness to teach others the way of salvation. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 30

The work of God has been hindered by unwise marriages. Satan will use every device in leading young men who might teach the truth to form marriage connections which will defeat the purpose of God. He will seek to lower the standard of spirituality and holiness, so that the church will not be a living, working church. Oh, how careful should those be who take a leading position in churches, that their lives and deportment shall not scatter from Christ instead of gathering with Him! 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 31

The necessity of experimental religion must be urged upon those who embrace the theory of the truth. Ministers must keep their own souls in the love of God, and then impress upon the people the necessity of an individual consecration, a personal conversion. All must obtain a living experience for themselves; they must have Christ enshrined in the heart, His Spirit controlling the affections, or their profession of faith is of no value and their condition will be even worse than if they had never embraced the truth. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 32

If a man is unrefined, and dictatorial in his words and deportment at home, if he does not there manifest the Christian graces, he is not the man of God’s choice to have any special influence in the church. Satan works through such men to destroy the people of the Lord. If a man cannot mold his own children, how can he mold, elevate, and instruct the church? Such arrangements should be made for the little companies embracing the truth as shall secure the prosperity of the church. One man may be appointed to lead for a week or a month, then another for a few weeks, and thus different persons may be enlisted in the work; and after a suitable trial, some one should be selected by the voice of the church to be the acknowledged leader, never, however, to be chosen for more than one year. Then another may be selected or the same one may be re-elected, if his service has proved a blessing to the church. Many fail to exercise proper discernment in these important matters, where eternal interests are involved. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 33

The same principle should be followed in selecting men for other responsible positions, as in the offices of the conferences. Untried men should not be elected as presidents of conferences. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 34

Some who have accepted the truth, and who could be a blessing in the work of God, have been treated in a harsh, inconsiderate manner by men who occupy a leading position in the church. These leaders were too far from God themselves to understand their duty—with some have compassion, making a difference. They could not discern the great good which one person of intelligence and moral worth could do, if wholly consecrated to the work of God. Because they could not rule such a person, they would pursue a course toward him that would drive him from the truth. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 35

Dr. Osborn has not manifested that meek and Christlike spirit which the Bible requires; but those who have condemned him have pursued a course far more objectionable in the sight of God, and they are accountable for the influence exerted upon the doctor by their unchristian conduct. The Judge of all the earth will enquire of these self-sufficient ones, Who hath required this at your hand? God calls upon Dr. Osborn to draw near to Him by faith and obedience. Divine grace can subdue, sanctify, and refine, rendering him an honor to the cause of Christ, a chosen vessel for the Master’s use. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 36

Some precious souls that could not justify the unchristian course pursued toward Dr. Osborn and others have been crowded until they have separated from the church. Others have been cut off for no cause except bitter enmity because they did not act in harmony with the wishes and ideas of the leaders. Such a spirit has taken possession of those leaders who have ever been determined to rule, that they have been controlled by Satan rather than by the Spirit of Christ. Some who have been deprived of the fellowship of the church were far more worthy of a place in it than are those who with their longer experience have been so overbearing and so anxious to drive out their brethren. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 37

The unreasonable, unchristian course of men and women who had more zeal than knowledge or piety has displeased and dishonored God. He calls upon them to repent. Some have taken the position that those who use tobacco should be dealt with and turned out of the church at once; but with some who would engage in this work there are greater defilements of the soul-temple than tobacco can make. In all our experience for many years, not a case of this kind has been thus treated. We have borne for years with those in the slavery of habit, and unless there were some other cause for such action, we have not felt at liberty to deal with them or separate them from the church. We have prayed and labored with them, and in many cases have after a time succeeded in winning them fully. Those who did not reform became lax in other things, and gave up their efforts to overcome, so that offenses of a grievous character occurred that required action on the part of the church. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 38

The responsibility of dealing with the cases last mentioned was not assumed by the resident elder or deacon, or by any member of the church. For months, and sometimes for years, the church waited patiently for wise counselors; and every move was made with the greatest caution. Hasty decisions in such cases show greater zeal than wisdom or spirituality. They reveal a self-sufficient, self-important, bigoted spirit, which will injure, and, if tolerated, ruin any church. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 39

God loves the soul of Dr. Osborn. He is a man of noble spirit, and, if converted to God, he will do good. The Master has entrusted him with talents of influence and of means to advance the cause of truth and to lay up for himself a treasure in heaven. Not long hence he will be required to give an account of his stewardship. The Lord has claims upon this brother. He should render to God the things that are His. If he is faithful, many souls will be brought to a knowledge of the truth by his efforts to circulate the publications. He has a large circle of relatives and friends to whom he can give the light; and some will receive it. In the hand of God he may be an instrument to do much good. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 40

But there are in the church narrow-minded, self-important, self-righteous persons who have not discerned this. They occupied a low level, and could not appreciate position or character. They were destitute of Christian courtesy. Although Dr. Osborn was in error in some things, he was nearer the kingdom of God than they. He is a man of intelligence, a man who loves the truth, and whose life has been one of usefulness. He should be treated with the respect due to his years, his position, and character. The course that has been pursued toward him is an offense to God. How many would be brought to Christ and the truth by such coarse, rough characters as the persons I have mentioned? They make the doctrines they hold repulsive to unbelievers, and thus drive them from the truth. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 41

Men and women who had no connection with God themselves felt competent to instruct, reprove, and condemn those far above them in the scale of intelligence and moral worth. These things have caused Dr. Osborn to regard their conduct with contempt. Had a judicious course been pursued toward this man, he would have been a great help and blessing to the church. Those turbulent spirits need to turn their attention to themselves. It is their lack of the Spirit of God that leads them into their unquiet, censorious, condemning course. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 42

God’s care is over Dr. Osborn, and he will deal with him in a very different manner from that of his brethren. The doctor’s habits are confirmed, his character is formed, and at his age it is a great work to accept the truth and to become transformed by it. This is not to be accomplished in a day; but the work is going forward, and if he will sit as a learner at the feet of Jesus, he will know Him whom to know aright is life eternal. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 43

Although aware of the defiling nature and injurious effects of tobacco, the doctor has indulged in its use for many years. This is a habit which is annoying to him, and which God would have him overcome. In the name of Jesus, the mighty Conqueror, he can triumph over this defiling practice, and at last wear the victor’s crown. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 44

The doctor has not submitted, with a good grace, to the treatment he has received; he has been harsh, severe, and unyielding. Human nature would not endure dictation from those whose character and deportment contradicted their profession. The course of these persons was uncourteous and unreasonable. Passion and prejudice bore sway, and the spirit of truth and holiness was driven out. While they were willing that the Doctor’s money should aid the church, many were not willing that he should have any voice in controlling its affairs. Those who have been thus forward and officious need to become acquainted with the dear Saviour; for they know Him not. He is the eternal guardian of justice. He can never be excluded from any transaction in which the rights of His followers are concerned. His hand is ever spread as a buckler over the humblest of  His children, and none can harm them without smiting that hand. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 45

Sister Graham, see that you smite not the hand that protects God’s people; for it holds the sword of justice. Your course for years in the past has been opened before me, and though I tell it not here, you have a record which you will not wish to meet in the day of God. You are far from Christ; you have a combative, destructive spirit that is contrary to the spirit of the gospel. If you could see yourself as you appear in the sight of God, you would no longer pry into the faults of others or seek to correct their errors; for a lifework is before you to set your own heart in order. The history of your life, with all its unconfessed and unforgiven sins, has gone up to heaven. What excuse will you urge before God for these wrongs? Could you realize your defects, you would take up your neglected home duties, correct your own ways in the fear of God, and cherish a meek and lowly spirit. You must in your daily life give evidence of repentance and conversion, or at the last you will take up the sad lament, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved.” [Jeremiah 8:20.] 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 46

In your home there are precious souls whom your influence must affect. Deal with them in gentleness, kindly consideration, and love. Give them some evidence that Jesus is yours, that you have learned of Him. Reveal the Christlike side of your character, and not the repulsive, satanic side. Aim to reach the highest standard of moral integrity. Do not pet your daughter and indulge in harsh, selfish, unmotherly conduct toward your sons; but show that you love them all and desire to make them happy. This will do them more good than will all your religious teaching, and your censure and reproof. Practical godliness goes a great way in leading souls to Christ. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 47

A cold, unsympathetic, unlovely spirit, a harsh, repulsive manner has become second nature with you. It has exerted its evil influence in molding the character of your children and is brought into the church to sow discord, malice, and strife there. That which you sow, you must also reap. Look at the seed crop which you have been sowing for years past, and then consider what will be the harvest. May God pity you! 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 48

You should not take any leading position in the church. Your only safe course is to search your own heart, try your motives by the Word of God, test your spirit, and see what is the influence of your words and actions. You need a thorough conversion. The transforming influence of the Spirit of God must be seen in your character and be manifested in your daily life. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 49

Many are partaking of the spirit indulged by Sr. Graham—a driving, censorious, dictatorial spirit. Oh, I would that it might be banished from the hearts of all who profess the faith! But if this cannot be, then it is necessary, for the salvation of the remaining members, that all who stir up strife be separated from the church. If Sr. Graham’s eyes could be turned within, and she could see how offensive to God is this spirit which passes for a Christian virtue, she would make determined efforts to sit at the feet of Jesus, and, like Mary, learn of the Master meekness and lowliness of heart. Instead of seeking to be a teacher, she would be a learner in the school of Christ. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 50

The helpless sinner must cling to Christ as his only hope. If he lets go his hold for a moment, he imperils his own soul and the souls of others. Only in the exercise of living faith are we safe. But the commission of any known sin, the neglect of known duties at home or abroad will destroy faith and disconnect the soul from God. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 51

Nothing is more offensive to God than a self-sufficient spirit. In the life of Peter is a sad lesson which should be a warning to all the professed followers of Christ. The Saviour had faithfully warned him of the approaching danger, but, self-confident and presumptuous, he asserted his constant fidelity and zeal and declared himself willing to follow his Master to prison and to death. The test came for Peter when the storm burst upon the disciples by the humiliation of their Leader. Mournful are the words traced by the pen of inspiration: “Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.” [Matthew 26:56.] And the ardent, zealous, self-confident Peter repeatedly denied his Lord. He afterward bitterly repented; but this example should admonish all to beware of self-confidence and self-righteousness. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 52

Mark the teachings of Christ upon humility and the care and tenderness which should be manifested for the souls of the flock: “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offences cometh!” [Matthew 18:1-7.] 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 53

There may be in the church those who do not honor the cause of God, whose lives and characters reveal the deformity of sin. But we must bear long, even with these, remembering how Jesus bears with us; how sinful we have been, and how He loves us still. Christ paid an infinite price to redeem us from ruin and despair, and with hearts filled with gratitude to God, we should manifest toward others the same love, tenderness, and forbearance that we would have Him exercise toward us as sinful, erring mortals. While we need grace and mercy every moment, and forgiveness daily, how unbecoming for us to be so ready to criticize, censure, and condemn our brethren who are of like passions with ourselves. The reproof given by our Redeemer condemns all this. Such conduct is the result of self-esteem and self-exaltation; persons strive for the supremacy and become envious and jealous, lest others shall come in and fill a higher place than they themselves occupy. But the teachings of Christ on this point are clear and decided: “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” [Verse 3.] We must constantly cherish meekness and humility, if we would possess the spirit of Christ. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 54

The parable of the lost sheep is a forcible illustration of the Saviour’s love for the erring. The Shepherd leaves the ninety and nine in the shelter of the fold, while He goes out to search for the one lost, perishing sheep; and when it is found, He places it upon His shoulder and returns with rejoicing. He did not find fault with the straying sheep; He did not say, “Let him go if he will;” but He went forth amid frost and sleet and tempest, to save the one that was lost. And He patiently continued His search until the object of His solicitude was found. Thus are we to treat the erring, wandering one. We should be ready to sacrifice our own ease and comfort when a soul for whom Christ died is in peril. Said Jesus, “Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance.” [Luke 15:7.] As joy was manifested at the recovery of the one lost sheep, so will exceeding joy and gratitude be manifested by the true servants of Christ when one soul is saved from death. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 55

A reckless disregard for souls has been manifested by the church at Ligonier. Many cherish the spirit of the self-righteous Pharisees, who sought to be first in everything. They loved the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues; but they shut up the kingdom of heaven against men, neither going in themselves, nor permitting others to enter. They for a pretense made long prayers, but secretly devoured widows’ houses. They paid tithes of mint and anise and cumin, but neglected the weightier matters of the law—judgment, mercy, and the love of God. They appeared to love the truth and to be very zealous for the cause of God, while their hearts were unsubdued, unsanctified, and unhumbled, open to envy, jealously, hatred, and malice. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 56

Christ teaches all who believe on His name, that instead of seeking their own glory, they must humble themselves to bear the cross and to walk in His footsteps. He who would reform others must first reform himself. He must obtain the spirit of his Master and be willing, like Him, to suffer reproach and to practice self-denial. In comparison with the worth of one soul, the whole world sinks into insignificance. A desire to exercise authority, to lord it over God’s heritage, will, if indulged, result in the loss of souls. Those who really love Jesus will seek to conform their own lives to the Pattern and will labor in His spirit for the salvation of others. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 57

Persons are attracted by sympathy and love; and many may thus be won to the ranks of Christ and reform; but they cannot be forced or driven. Christian forbearance, candor, consideration, and courtesy toward all who do not see the truth as we do will exert a powerful influence for good. We must learn not to move too fast and require too much of those who are newly converted to the truth. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 58

It is impossible to exert a right influence, unless the heart is in communion with God. Souls that are precious in the sight of God have been oppressed, censured, abused, and severed from the church; and the body of Christ is bleeding from these cruel wounds. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 59

The most thrilling appeals may be made from the pulpit without effect; logic and eloquence may fail to move men to see and accept the truth; but meekness and piety exhibited in the daily life, in the right training and management of families, has a power which even disarms the infidel. It is the Word of God living in the heart, shining upon the countenance, expressed by the lips, and exemplified in the conduct. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 60

The humble prayer of the lowly and contrite moves the arm of Omnipotence. In the prayer offered for His disciples just prior to His crucifixion, our Saviour said: John 17:15-23 quoted. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 61

We profess to be the depositaries of God’s law; we claim to have greater light and to aim at a higher standard than any other people upon the earth; therefore we should show greater perfection of character and more earnest devotion. A most solemn message has been entrusted to those who have received the light of truth. Our light should shine forth to brighten the pathway of those who are in darkness. As members of the visible church, and workers in the vineyard of the Lord, all professed Christians should do their utmost to preserve peace, harmony, and love in the church. Mark the prayer of Christ: “That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me, that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.” [Verse 21.] The unity of the church is the convincing evidence that God has sent Jesus into the world as its Redeemer. This is an argument which worldlings can neither withstand nor controvert. Therefore Satan is constantly working to prevent this union and harmony, that unbelievers, by witnessing backbiting, dissension, and strife among professed Christians, may become disgusted with religion and be confirmed in their impenitence. God is dishonored by those who profess the truth while they are at variance and enmity with one another. Satan is the great accuser of the brethren, and all who engage in this work are enlisted in his service. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 62

We profess to have more truth than other denominations, yet if this does not lead to greater consecration, and purer and holier lives, of what benefit is the truth to us? It would be better for us never to have seen the light of truth than to profess to accept it and not be sanctified through it. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 63

In order to determine how important are the interests involved in the conversion of a soul from error to truth, we must appreciate the value of immortality; we must realize how terrible are the pains of the second death; we must comprehend the honor and glory awaiting the ransomed, and understand what it is to live in the presence of Him who died that He might elevate and ennoble man and give to the overcomer a royal diadem. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 64

The worth of a soul cannot be fully estimated by finite minds. How gratefully will the ransomed and glorified ones remember those who were instrumental in their salvation! No one will then regret his self-denying efforts and persevering labors, his patience, forbearance, and earnest heart-yearnings for souls that might have been lost had he neglected his duty or become weary in well-doing. 3LtMs, Ms 1, 1878, par. 65