Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)

298/473

1880

Letters

Lt 1, 1880

Canright, D. M.

Battle Creek, Michigan

October 15, 1880

This letter is published in entirety in 2SM 162-170. +Note

Dear Brother:

I was made sad to hear of your decision but I have had reason to expect it. It is a time when God is testing and proving His people. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken. Only those will stand whose souls are riveted to the eternal Rock. Those who lean to their own understanding, those who are not constantly abiding in Christ, will be subject to just such changes as this. If your faith has been grounded in man, we may then expect just such results. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 1

But if you have decided to cut all connection with us as a people, I have one request to make for your own sake as well as for Christ’s sake: keep away from our people, do not visit them and talk your doubts and darkness among them. Satan is full of exultant joy that you have stepped from beneath the banner of Jesus Christ and stand under his banner. He sees in you one he can make a valuable agent to build up his kingdom. You are taking the very course I expected you would take if you yielded to temptation. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 2

You have ever had a desire for power, for popularity, and this is one of the reasons of your present position. But I beg of you to keep your doubts, your questionings, your skepticism to yourself. The people have given you credit for more strength of purpose and stability of character than you possessed. They thought you were a strong man; and when you breathe out your dark thoughts and feelings, Satan stands ready to make these thoughts and feelings so intensely powerful in their deceptive character that many souls will be deceived and lost through the influence of one soul who chose darkness rather than light, and presumptuously placed himself on Satan’s side, in the ranks of the enemy. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 3

You have wanted to be too much, and make a show and noise in the world, and as the result your sun will surely set in obscurity. Every day you are meeting with an eternal loss. The school-boy who plays truant thinks he is cheating his parent and his teacher; but who is meeting with the greatest loss? Is it not himself? Is he not cheating and deceiving himself, robbing himself of the knowledge he might have? God would have us become efficient in copying the example of Christ in good works; but you are playing truant, you are nursing [a] feeling which will sting and poison your soul to its own ruin, playing truant upon important eternal things, robbing your soul of the richness, the knowledge of the fulness of Christ. Your ambition has soared so high, it will accept nothing short of elevation of self. You do not know yourself. What you have always needed was a humble, contrite heart. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 4

What life was that of Christ? He was just as certainly fulfilling His mission as the Pattern Man when toiling as a carpenter, and hiding the great secret of His divine mission from the world, as when He trod the foaming, white-capped billows on the sea of Galilee, or when raising the dead to life, or when dying [as] man’s sacrifice upon the cross that He might lift up the whole race to a new and perfect life. Jesus dwelt long at Nazareth, unhonored and unknown, that the lesson in His example might teach men and women how closely they may walk with God in even the common course of daily life. How humiliating, how rude and homely was this condescension of the Majesty of heaven, that He might be made one of us. He drew the sympathy of all hearts by showing Himself capable of sympathizing with all. The men of Nazareth in their questioning doubts asked, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Joseph and Mary?” 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 5

Heaven and earth are no wider apart today than when common men of common occupation met angels at noonday, or when on Bethlehem’s plains shepherds heard the songs of the heavenly host as they watched their flocks by night. It is not the seeking to climb to eminence that will make you great in God’s sight, but it is the humble life of goodness, of fidelity, that will make you the object of the heavenly angels’ special guardianship. The Pattern Man, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, took upon Himself our nature, and lived nearly thirty years in an obscure Galilean town, hidden away among the hills. All the angel host was at His command, yet He did not claim to be anything great or exalted. He did not attach Professor to His name to please Himself. He was a carpenter, working for wages, a servant to those for whom He labored, showing that heaven may be very near us in the common walks of life, and that angels from the heavenly courts will take charge of the steps of those who come and go at God’s command. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 6

O, that the Spirit of Christ might rest upon His professed followers. We must all be willing to work and toil, for this is the lesson Christ has given us in His life. If you had lived for God in common things, doing your work purely and faithfully when there was no one to say it was well done, you would not be in your present position. Your life you could make faithful by good words wisely spoken, by kind deeds thoughtfully done, by the daily manifestation of meekness, purity, and love. In view of all the light you have had, I fear you have made your final move. You have given Satan every advantage. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 7

Decisions may be made in a moment that fix one’s condition for ever. Satan has come to you, as he came to Christ, with the presentation of worldly honor and glory if you will only acknowledge his supremacy. This you are now doing. But before you take one more step, I beseech you to reflect. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 8

What record are angels making in regard to you? How will you meet that record? What excuse will you render to God for the abrupt apostasy? There has ever been with you a desire to do a large work. Had you been content to do your small work with thoroughness and fidelity, this would meet the approval of the Master. But remember, it would take the work of a lifetime to recover what a moment of yielding to temptation and thoughtlessness throws away. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 9

We are traveling, strangers and pilgrims, traveling to a better country; but it would be better for you and me to be beasts of burden to plow the field rather than to be in heaven without a heart to sympathize with its inhabitants. By a momentary act of will you may place yourself in the power of Satan, but it will require more than a momentary act of will to break his fetters and reach for a higher, holier life. The purpose may be formed, the work begun, but its accomplishment will require toil, time and perseverance, patience and sacrifice. The man who deliberately wanders from God in the full blaze of light will find, when he wishes to set his face to return, that briars and thorns have grown up in his path, and he must not be surprised or discouraged if he is compelled to travel long with torn and bleeding feet. The most fearful and most to be dreaded evidence of man’s fall from a better state is the fact that it costs so much to get back. The way of return can be gained only by hard fighting, inch by inch, every hour. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 10

Heaven’s path is too narrow for rank and riches to ride in state, too narrow for the play of ambition, too steep and rugged for carriages of ease to climb. Toil, patience, self-sacrifice, reproach, poverty, hard work, enduring the contradiction of sinners against himself, was the portion of Christ, and it must be the portion of man if he ever enters the paradise of God. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 11

If your present faith is yielded so easily, it is because you never sent down the taproot in clinging faith. It has cost you too little. If it does not sustain you in trial and comfort you in affliction, it is because your faith has not been made strong by effort and pure by sacrifice. Those who are willing to suffer for Christ will experience more joy in suffering than in the fact that Christ has suffered for them, thus showing that He loved them. Those who win heaven will put forth their noblest efforts, and will labor with all long suffering, that they may reap the fruit of toil. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 12

There is a hand that will open wide the gates of Paradise to those that have stood the test of temptation and kept a good conscience by giving up the world, its honors, its applause, for the love of Christ, thus confessing Him before men, and waiting with all patience for Him to confess them before His Father and holy angels. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 13

I do not ask an explanation of your course. Brother [C. W.] Stone wished to read your letter to me. I refused to hear it. The breath of doubt, of complaint and unbelief, is contagious; if I make my mind a channel for the filthy stream, the turbid, defiling water proceeding from Satan’s fountain, some suggestion may linger in my mind, polluting it. If his suggestions have had such power on you as to lead you to sell your birthright for a mess of pottage—the friendship of the Lord’s enemies—I want not to hear anything of your doubts, and I hope you will be guarded, lest you contaminate other minds; for the very atmosphere surrounding a man who dares to make the statements you have made is as a poisonous miasma. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 14

I beg of you to go entirely away from those who believe the truth; for if you have chosen the world and the friends of the world, go with those of your own choice. Do not poison the minds of others and make yourself Satan’s special agent to work the ruin of souls. If you have not fully taken your stand, make haste to resist the devil before it shall be forever too late. Do not take another step into darkness, but take your position as a man of God. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 15

If you would secure the grand aim and purpose of life without mistake in your choice or fear of failure, you must make God first and last and best in every plan and work and thought. If you want a path that leads straight into darkness, you have only to cast the light of God behind you, live without God. When God points out your path and says, “This is your way of safety and peace,” you have only to set your face in an opposite direction from the way of the Lord, and your feet will take hold on perdition. The voice of the Lamb of God is heard speaking to us, “Follow me, and ye shall not walk in darkness.” 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 16

God has chosen you for a great and solemn work. He has been seeking to discipline, to test, to prove you, to refine and ennoble you, that this sacred work may be done with a single eye to His glory which belongs wholly to God. What a thought that God [chooses] a man and brings him into close connection with Himself, and gives him a mission to undertake, a work to do, for Him. A weak man is made strong, a timid man is made brave, the irresolute becomes a man of firm and quick decision. What! is it possible that man is of so much consequence as to receive a commission from the King of kings! Shall worldly ambition allure from the sacred trust, the holy commission? 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 17

The Majesty of heaven came to our world to give to man an example of a pure and spotless life, and to sacrifice Himself to the joy of saving the perishing. Whoever follows Christ is a co-laborer with Him, sharing with Him the divine work of saving souls. If you have a thought of being released from it because you see some prospect of forming an alliance with the world, which shall bring yourself to greater notice, it is because you forget how great and noble it is to do anything for God, how exalted a position it is to be a co-laborer with Jesus Christ, a light bearer to the world, shedding light and love upon the pathway of others. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 18

You will have a great conflict with the power of evil in your own heart. You have felt that there was a higher work for you, but oh, if you would only take up the work lying directly in your path, and do it with fidelity, not seeking in any way to exalt self, the peace and joy would come to your soul, purer, richer, and more satisfying than the conquerors in earthly warfare. To live and work for God and make the best use we can of all our time and faculties, is to grow in grace and knowledge. This we can do, because it is our work. You must needs put away your questioning doubts, and have full faith in the reality of your divine mission to be indeed successful in labor. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 19

The joy, the success, the glory of your ministry, is to be ever ready with listening ear to answer the call of the Master, “Here am I, send me.” Here, Lord, with my heart’s best and holiest affections; here, take my mind with its purest and noblest thoughts, take me, and qualify me for Thy service. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 20

I now appeal to you to make back tracks as fast as possible; take up your God-given mission, and seek for purity and holiness to sanctify that mission. Make no delay; halt not between two opinions. If the Lord be God, serve Him; but if Baal, serve him. You have the old lesson of trust in God to learn anew in the hard school of suffering. Let D. M. Canright be swallowed up in Jesus. What is your life? The answer was given by a voice from heaven long ago. It is like a vapor of the morning that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 21

Our names may be called in a little while, and there will be none to answer. Let that life be hid in God, and that name be registered in heaven, and it is immortalized. Follow on wherever Christ leads the way, and let the footprints which you leave behind you on the sands of time be such that others may safely follow in the path of holiness. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 22

All along the path that leads to death there are pains and penalties, there are sorrows and disappointments, there are warnings from God’s messengers not to go on, and God will make it hard for the heedless and the headstrong to destroy themselves. All the way up the steep path leading to eternal life are well springs of joy to refresh the weary. The true, strong joy of the soul begins when Christ is formed within, the hope of glory. If you now choose the path where God leads, and go forward where the voice of duty calls, the difficulties which Satan has magnified before you will disappear. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 23

No path is safe, save that which grows clearer and firmer the farther it is pursued. The foot may sometimes slip upon the safest path. In order to walk without fear, you must know that your hand is firmly held by the hand of Christ. You must not for a moment think there is no danger for you. The wisest make mistakes. The strongest sometimes falter. The foolish, self-confident, heady, and high-minded, who press heedlessly on upon forbidden paths, flattering themselves that they can change their course when they please, are walking upon a path of pit-falls. They may recover a fall, a mistake they make, but how many make one misstep which will prove their eternal ruin. If you play the policy of non-committal in order to gain objects you would otherwise fail to obtain, if you secure by art and cunning what should be won by perseverance, toil, and conflict, you will be entangled in a net of your own weaving, and will be ruined, not only for this world, but for the future life. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 24

God forbid that you should make shipwreck of faith here. Look at Paul; listen to his words sounding along the line to our time: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only but unto all them also that love his appearing.” Here is the battle shout of victory from Paul. What will be yours? 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 25

Now, Elder Canright, for your soul’s sake grasp firmly again the hand of God, I beseech you. I am too weary to write more. God deliver you from Satan’s snare is my prayer. 3LtMs, Lt 1, 1880, par. 26