Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3

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Lt 2, 1878

Brethren in Switzerland

Ballardvale, Massachusetts

August 28, 1878

See also Lt 2a, 1878. Portions of this letter are published in TDG 249.

Dear Brethren [in Switzerland]:

For several weeks past I have felt anxious to address you by letter, and do not dare to delay longer. Although in the midst of interesting meetings, I feel so interested that I feel constrained to write you. The Lord was pleased to come very near me while I was in Oregon. I had a very marked experience. I was brought into a sacred nearness to God. He revealed to me many things. 3LtMs, Lt 2, 1878, par. 1

I was shown missionary fields, and that the angel of mercy was flying swiftly with the light of truth to these new fields in Europe. 3LtMs, Lt 2, 1878, par. 2

God has sent you His ministers, men of marked experience and conscientiousness. But you have failed to co-operate with them as God would have you. You had your own peculiar ideas, and because your brethren did not meet them in some particular, you were jealous of them, and have not assisted them in some instances when you might have done so. The more extensive experience of these men in the workings of the cause of God demanded your respect, and a willingness on your part to be instructed by them. Some who claim to believe the truth are responsible for making their work much harder than it otherwise would have been. 3LtMs, Lt 2, 1878, par. 3

You have not been willing to be taught, have not comprehended the wants of the cause in all its bearings. The views of some have been very limited. Some of you have been conceited and self-righteous, and your own course had hedged up the way for the advancement of the precious cause of present truth. 3LtMs, Lt 2, 1878, par. 4

I was shown that a very much greater work might have been done had you been humble and teachable, and had you heartily co-operated with those who have been sent to you. You have failed to do this ignorantly. Nevertheless, had you stood in the light, you would have recognized the voice of Jesus in His servants, whom He has sent to you to do you good. This slight, and distrust, and withdrawal of sympathy had been as though manifested toward the Master Himself. “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, My brethren, ye did it not to Me.” [Matthew 25:45.] This is a bad work, which will stand against you in the day of God, unless you repent of this great sin and put it away. Some have spiritual pride. Your ideas are narrow, and you will always be a hindrance to the cause of present truth, unless you assume a different attitude. 3LtMs, Lt 2, 1878, par. 5

No teacher ever placed such signal honor upon man as did our Lord and Master. He was known as a “friend of publicans and sinners.” [Matthew 11:19.] He mingled with all classes of society, that all might partake of the blessings He came to bestow. He was found in the synagogue and in the market place. He shared the social life of His countrymen, gladdened with His presence the households of all who invited Him. But He never urged His way uninvited. He was active to relieve every species of human misery that was brought to Him in faith for relief; but He did not bestow healing power indiscriminately where there was manifested an independence and selfish exclusiveness that would give no expression to their sorrows nor ask for the help so much needed. All who came unto Him in faith He was ready and willing to relieve. Sorrow fled at His presence; injustice and oppression withered beneath His rebukes; and death, the cruel spoiler of our sinful race, obeyed His commands. 3LtMs, Lt 2, 1878, par. 6

In every age since Christ was among men, there have been some who, while they professed His name, have pursued a course of seclusion or of Pharisaical pre-eminence. But they have not blessed their fellow men. They have found no excuse in the life of Christ for this self-righteous bigotry; for His character was genial and beneficent. He would have been excluded from every monastic order upon earth because of overstepping their prescribed rules. In every church and denomination are to be found erratics who would have blamed Him for His liberal mercies; they would have found fault with Him because He ate with publicans and sinners; they would have accused Him of worldly conformity in attending a wedding feast, and would have censured Him severely and criticized His conduct unmercifully for permitting His friends to make a supper in honor of Him and His disciples. But on these very occasions, by His precious teachings and by His generous conduct, He was enshrining Himself in the hearts of those whom He honored with His presence. He was thus giving them an opportunity to become acquainted with Him, so that they might have a knowledge of His character, and might see the marked character which His life and teachings presented to that of the Pharisees who were spies upon His track, condemning every move He made which was not in harmony with their bigoted, selfish ideas of salvation. 3LtMs, Lt 2, 1878, par. 7

While we may maintain a firm trust in God, receiving light and strength and power from Him, it is our duty to let the light reflected upon us shine forth to others, that the world may see this light in contrast with the darkness of error and superstition. My dear brethren in Switzerland, you have much to learn. There is an icy chilliness, a reserve, like that of the Pharisees that must be broken down. You are not willing to become learners, but like the Pharisees, desire to be dictators, teachers. God sent His Son to give the Pharisees a better understanding of His claims, a more perfect knowledge of the truth, and to show them the best manner in which to help their fellow men. But they refused the divine instruction. They thought Christ was too liberal. His ways did not agree with their ways; and instead of thinking the improvement must be made in their lives, to bring them into harmony with the life of Christ, they wanted to convert Christ to a unison with them. They thought His differing in manner from them would hurt their influence and disannul their teachings. They refused to co-operate with Christ, and thus cast their influence against Him, working out their own purposes, which placed them in irretrievable darkness. 3LtMs, Lt 2, 1878, par. 8

Those with whom God has entrusted His truth must so order their intercourse with the world as to secure to themselves a calm, hallowed peace, as well as a sacred and most thorough knowledge of how to meet men with their prejudices where they are, and minister to them the light, comfort, and peace found in the acceptance of the truth of God. They should take for example the inspiring, authoritative, and social life of Christ. They must cultivate the same beneficent spirit which He possessed, and must cherish the same broad plans of action in meeting men where they are. They should have a kind, generous spirit toward the poor and in a special sense feel that we are God’s stewards. They must hold all they have as not their own, but lent them in trust to advance the cause of Christ upon the earth. Like Christ, they should not shun the society of their fellow men, but encourage it, with the purpose of bestowing upon others the heavenly benefits God has given them. 3LtMs, Lt 2, 1878, par. 9

Our adorable Redeemer left the royal courts of heaven because He saw that men needed His presence upon the earth, and that they could [not] come to a correct knowledge of the truth without it. He brought divine power and infinite knowledge to man. But wonder, O Heavens! and be astonished, O Earth! Men refused to accept the light brought to them from heaven by Jesus Christ, choosing their own ways, their own defective knowledge. And when the Majesty of heaven came to the earth as a teacher, the Jews wanted to instruct Him, and were filled with envy, jealousy, and madness because He would not accept their traditions and the manner of their teachings. Had they received the Messenger of heaven, what a vastly different history would now be recorded of them. They made their own history. The hearts of men are perverse. The life of Christ is a life well worthy of study. And the strong, noble characters of many who have followed His example are worthy of imitation. But of many of the race of mankind it may be said that their lives have been almost entirely useless. They have striven to have their own way and to carry out their own purpose. They have lived for self and died without having laid up for them a jeweled crown. 3LtMs, Lt 2, 1878, par. 10

How many have stood directly in the [way of the] advancement of the work the Lord has sent His servants to perform. How much greater work might have been accomplished with their united sympathy and co-operation than without it! Those who have hindered the work are responsible for it. You may inquire, How have we hindered? By your envy, your jealousy, your distrust, your unwillingness to move when God was saying, Go forward. By your standing still and doing so little when you should have been the most interested, earnest workers with the servants whom God had sent you. God is grieved with you for your willingness to let them do this while you neglect to do what you might do and would do willingly were you consecrated to God and not wrapped up in your own selfish ideas and plans. Many of you have hindered the work of God in your own country as the Pharisees hindered the advancement of the kingdom of Christ when He was in their midst. I saw that the Lord was looking upon you with displeasure. There might have been an army of Sabbath-keepers raised up in response to your efforts had you received God’s messengers as you should, and given them your sympathy, your confidence, and your love. You have revealed that you did not deserve their labors. You know but little of the discouragements, sadness, and grief you have brought to their hearts. 3LtMs, Lt 2, 1878, par. 11

Many of you can do much if you have a willing mind. You are losing much by standing back and casting hindrances in the way of God’s servants who are working zealously. You manifest a spirit of independence to carry out your own way and follow your own plans. Many of us hold back the arm of infinite power when Jesus stands back to help us in all our wants, because we are desirous of being helped in our own way rather than in God’s way. God chooses instruments to do His work of mercy in the salvation of man; but infinite mercy waits for the consent of human hearts, and the help of human hands, to make the work wholly beneficial to them. If those professing to be Christ’s followers will not exercise the power and authority God has given them, the work which might have been accomplished will remain undone. He will not compel anyone to move against his will. 3LtMs, Lt 2, 1878, par. 12

Jesus might have spoken the word at the grave of Lazarus, and the stone would have rolled away at once. He could bid the mountains depart and the hills remove out of their place, and they would obey His voice; but He stands before the sepulcher as one of the weakest of all that company, and says to His disciples, “Take ye away the stone.” [John 11:39.] He does not propose to exhibit His divine power unless the feeblest, the most helpless and afflicted shall show their faith by their works, and thus prepare the way. As the mighty Lifegiver is about to perform His crowning miracle, the faith of the afflicted ones fails them. Objections are urged, and objections presented. Their limited faith and short vision suggest impossibilities. They dread the revolting sight of decay that will meet their eyes. “Too late,” says unbelief. He has been dead four days and the body is corrupted. The stone is not moved by feeble humanity, but still bars the way to Christ’s work. A word from Christ would cast it into the depths of the sea; but He waits for man, finite man, to co-operate with Him to prepare the way. Jesus reasons with them, and again requests them to submit their will, and let Him help them in His own way. “Take ye away the stone” is the requirement which Christ has made, and which must be obeyed before Christ shall work for them. The stone is finally rolled away, Now man has done all that was required of him, and the way is prepared for Christ to do His work. The Prince of Life calls for death to give up its captive and permit this new subject to return to life. He commands. The dead obeys His voice, and Lazarus awakes to consciousness. Now again, human hands can do something. Jesus bids them loose the bands, unwind the sheet which is wrapped about Lazarus’s body, and let the ransomed from the grave go. This request is quickly obeyed, and Lazarus is one among them again, free from every taint of disease. 3LtMs, Lt 2, 1878, par. 13

It is upon similar conditions that Jesus still performs His mighty works for man. There is much for human hands and human faith to do before those who are bound in death-like slumber, in carnal security, shall be reached by the voice of the Son of God, and those that hear shall live. Jesus has stood in your midst in assemblies and congregations, ready to speak the life-giving word and make the spiritually dead alive by His power; but He has been hindered in His work by your questionings and doubts. Your jealousies, your suggestions, have many of them prompted by a disposition to have your own way and will. You entreated the Lord to send you help. He heard your cry and came to your relief by sending His servants. And He has been waiting for you to roll away the stone of unbelief from the door of your own hearts before He can do His work. Christ’s followers are far behind the providence of God. If they will only have faith in His providence, and in His power to save, He will work mightily in their behalf. In many cities, as of old, Jesus is waiting to carry forward His work of dispelling darkness by the light of truth. But His own professed followers stand in the way. Their unbelief and numerous plans and projects of their own hold back the arm of infinite power. If they would humble their own proud hearts, and submit their stubborn wills and ways to the will of God, they would see sinners converted and the believing strengthened by a more correct knowledge of the whole truth. 3LtMs, Lt 2, 1878, par. 14

It is not money alone, nor talent, nor learning, nor opportunities which the church needs so much as simple, earnest, confiding faith. Possessing this, and working in faith and love wherever they can find something to do, the followers of Christ may fulfil His great commission to spread the gospel to all nations. Neither the arguments of the most able men who are wise in this world, the opposition of the skeptic, the bold revilings of the scoffer, nor the cold, carnal security of the world will be able to stand before the truth presented in the meekness and in the power of Christ. The toil and sacrifice of a consecrated, united people, laboring in faith and love, will advance the truth and have a transforming power over the world. 3LtMs, Lt 2, 1878, par. 15

Christ was rich; yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich. He now appeals to your hearts, “What hast thou done for Me?” 3LtMs, Lt 2, 1878, par. 16

“I gave My life for thee;
My precious blood I shed,
That thou mightst ransomed be,
And quickened from the dead.
I gave—I gave My life for thee;
What hast thou given for Me?”
3LtMs, Lt 2, 1878, par. 17