Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)

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Lt 35b, 1877

Clough, Caroline

NP

November 6, 1877

Portions of this letter are published in CTr 77-78. Compare with Lt 35, 1877 and Lt 35a, 1877.

[Dear Sister:]

[First four pages missing.] ... in your ideas. “Why,” said I, “sister, I have heard you say the Sabbath of the fourth commandment was the only true Sabbath, that it could not be controverted.” 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 1

“Yes,” said she, “that is so, But God is not as particular as you folks are. Do you suppose all our good and great men would not see and keep the seventh day if it were essential?” I answered, “No, I did not think they would leave the popular current and be in the minority and distinguish themselves from this world any more than the learned rabbis and scribes and rulers could see and accept Christ and yield up their customs and traditions.” 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 2

“Oh,” said she, “that is an entirely different thing. I shall be saved if I do not keep the Sabbath.” 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 3

“No, my sister, not if you see the light and refuse to walk in it, any sooner than the Jews who had the light that Christ was the Messiah, yet, because He was a Saviour of humiliation, but few would accept Him. He was the light of the world. He made the world, and yet the world knew Him not. The light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not. When the question was asked by the scribes and Pharisees, ‘Are we blind also?’ said Christ, ‘If ye were blind ye would have no sin, but now ye say ye see, therefore your sin remaineth. This is your condemnation, that Christ has come into the world and men choose darkness rather than light. If I had not come, ye would have had no sin.’ [John 9:40, 41; 3:19; 15:22.]” 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 4

My sister answered, “That is an entirely different thing. Our good men and our great men do not keep the Sabbath. You think you are right and all the world are wrong? You are a little handful of people, and is this all that will be saved? I will risk my salvation if I do not keep the Sabbath. I will go with the crowd and fare as the crowd fares. I have liberty in prayer; I enjoy religion. My God is too good and too merciful to punish me if I do not keep the Sabbath. I will risk it. I will come out all right.” 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 5

I referred to the Bible. What saith God in relation to this matter? I referred her to the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” [Verses 13, 14.] 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 6

I told her it was our work to stand in the gap, to be repairers of the breach, the restorers of paths to dwell in. Our work was important; nothing could be secondary to this. It was not our work to inquire as did the Jews, Have any of the rulers and Pharisees believed on Him? [John 7:48.] We who preach unpopular truth will receive no more favor of the great men and professedly wise and good men than Christ met from the Jews. [I said,] “It is not safe to occupy the position you do in the matter where eternal interests are at stake. We can afford no ventures, can run no risks. A mistake made here, where the soul’s salvation is concerned, is for eternity; it is beyond remedy.” 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 7

I told my sister it was not left to our own will to choose a day for ourselves and make it a Sabbath. God had given us a day. He had sanctified and placed His blessing and honor upon the day He had given man to be sacredly observed. Our convenience was not to be consulted. What does God require? What hath God said? is the question to be determined. Self and selfish interest are not to [be considered]. 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 8

The question was asked of the Pharisees concerning Christ, “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on Him?” [Verse 48.] The same spirit which actuated the Jews against Christ will actuate professed Christians who refuse to accept the truth against those who do and who keep the commandments of God. It is dangerous business even to be indifferent to the light of truth, and to reject it and close the eyes to the light is rejecting that which heaven has sent to man just as really as [when] God sent His Son into the world. The Jews rejected Christ: the professed Christian world rejects the law of God. 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 9

The history of the Reformation teaches us that the light of truth is not accepted and cherished by the majority. Those who have advanced in reform, obeying the voice of God, Go forward, have met with opposition. Men have sacrificed their lives for the truth. What if they had taken the position you take: I am a Methodist. I am satisfied with my faith. I shall always be a Methodist. I will go with the crowd. What advancement would the Reformation have made? We are accountable for the light that shines in our day. We must walk in that light or the words of Christ are applicable to us: “This is your condemnation, that light has come into the world and men chose darkness rather than light.” [John 3:19.] 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 10

I told you, Caroline, that Mary could not be in my employment and trample upon the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, for there could be no harmony between us. Before she had the opportunity of seeing the light, God would accept her efforts; but after the light has come and she has had every opportunity to see it, and she refuses to be influenced by it, I must disconnect from her. There is no harmony of spirit between us. 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 11

This has been a matter which has long perplexed my mind, but I have had hope all along that Mary would yield to the influence of the Spirit of God. I had felt there was a certainty that she would give up her will to the will of her heavenly Father; but when I saw that she would pass through the most impressive meetings where I knew for a certainty the Spirit of the Lord was at work, and still she made no sign of change of views, I have felt my faith almost fail. And when she so unconcernedly went off the second time upon the Sabbath with a gentleman, I know not whom, my heart sank within me. 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 12

I thought I would converse with you on that Sabbath evening, but when I heard your position, I felt it was a hopeless case. One who professes to be a follower of Christ makes light of one of God’s holy precepts! I have felt heartsick. You hinder each other. Your loose ideas of obeying God’s commandments shocked me. I thought, There is nothing to hope for in either. 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 13

I have been reported as saying you could not be saved unless you kept the Sabbath. Does it indeed seem meaningless, the requirement of the fourth commandment? Does not the habitual subjection to our heavenly Master’s will lead the obedient to ask constantly and earnestly, not, What is pleasing? not, What is most convenient or agreeable to self or those around us? but, What does my Lord require? What is the will of God concerning me? Is it anything strange that one should do this or that under the conviction of the Spirit of God, under a sense of the fact that a refusal or neglect to do so would endanger his soul’s salvation? Is this a matter hard to be comprehended, that obedience on our part to all God’s law is absolutely essential to eternal life? Is this an unfathomable mystery to the Christian, to secure the soul’s salvation at any cost to self or selfish interest? Does the Word of God give us any assurance that we can get to heaven just as well transgressing the law as obeying it? If so, the whole requirement of God as a condition of salvation is an entire mistake. 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 14

The inhabitants of the old world who perished in the flood—were they punished for their disobedience of God’s requirements? Or were they washed by the waters of the deluge straight into glory because our merciful God is too good to execute the final penalty of transgressing His law? Were the Sodomites punished for their disobedience and just Lot saved? Or were the inhabitants of Sodom winged by the fire that fell from heaven straight into glory? 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 15

Has God commanded? Then we must obey, without hesitating and seeking to find out some way to be saved without obedience. This would be climbing up some other way. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” “I have kept my Father’s commandments,” says the Majesty of heaven. [John 14:6; 15:10.] 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 16

Our salvation depends upon our keeping all of God’s commandments. Perfect obedience without hesitancy or doubt is all that God will accept. We should not even obey the commandments merely to secure heaven, but by obedience to please Him who died to save sinners from the penalty of the transgression of the Father’s law. The sinner’s salvation depends upon his ceasing to transgress and obedience to that law he has transgressed. No one should venture or presume upon the mercy of God, feeling at liberty to sin as much as they dare, and not abandon the hope that God will finally pardon and save. It is a sad resolve to follow Christ as far off as possible, venturing as near the verge of perdition as possible without falling in. 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 17

It was a great sacrifice Christ made for man in dying for him upon the cross. What are we willing to sacrifice for His love? Jesus says, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments” [John 14:15]—not to select out one or two or nine, but the whole ten—all His commandments must be kept. John tells us of those who pretend to love but do not obey God’s requirements. “He who saith I know Him and keepeth not His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him.” “For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not grievous.” [1 John 2:4; 5:3.] 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 18

You may say, So you believe all the learned world are wrong and a poor company, greatly in the minority, looked upon as ignorant, common people, are all that will be saved? I answer, Jesus was among the lowly of the earth. He did not take His position by the side of the learned rabbis or the rulers. He was not found among the potentates of earth, but among the lowly ones. The truth was never found among the majority. It was ever found among the minority. The angels from heaven did not come to the school of the prophets and sing their anthems over the temple or synagogues, but they went to the men who were humble enough to receive the message. They sang the glad tidings of a Saviour over Bethlehem’s plains while the great men, the rulers, and honorable men were left in darkness because they were perfectly satisfied with their position and felt no need of a piety greater than that which they possessed. Teachers in the schools of the prophets, the scribes and priests and rulers, were the worst persecutors of Christ. Those who made the highest pretensions to spiritual light were the very ones who slighted and rejected and crucified Christ. 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 19

Great men and professedly very good men may do terrible deeds, in their bigotry and self-exalted position, and flatter themselves that they are doing God service. It will not do to rely upon them. Truth, Bible truth, you and I want at any cost. Like the noble Bereans, we want to search the Scriptures daily, with earnest prayer, to know what is truth, and then obey the truth at any cost to ourselves, without reference to the great men or good men. If truth is in the Bible, we can find it there as well as the good and great men. God help us to be wise unto salvation, is my prayer. 3LtMs, Lt 35b, 1877, par. 20