Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Ms 49, 1886

Sermon/Church Dedication Sermon

Tramelan, Switzerland

December 25, 1886

This manuscript is published in entirety in 3MR 230-236.

Sermon at the Dedication of the Church at Tramelan, Switzerland 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 1

[This house was built by the Brethren Roth family and not by the church. Cost 3,300 francs.]

[Two songs were sung by the choir before the service. Then a hymn. Prayer by J. Ertzenberger.]

Text: 1 Kings 8:54-61. Here you see, at the dedication of the temple, the conditions God required of His people in order that they might receive the blessings of God at their worship. David, while dwelling in his palace of cedar, felt disturbed in his conscience as he considered that there was no suitable dwelling place for the ark of God, which symbolized His presence. It still rested in the tabernacle which had been constructed in the wilderness and borne all the way from Horeb to Jerusalem in a pilgrimage of nearly forty years. But now the nation had ended their pilgrimage and obtained a permanent location. And David looked around him upon the costly buildings of cedar, the homes of the inhabitants settled in the goodly land of Canaan, and conceived the idea that a temple should be built, more worthy for the residence of God. The site of the building was indicated and the most complete instructions were given, and Solomon entered upon the great work. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 2

“And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.” Verses 10, 11. Here we learn that God approved of the work of Solomon in the building of the temple. It is true that the company at Tramelan is small compared with the millions of people who worshiped at Solomon’s temple, but the Lord’s presence is not confined to numbers. He meets with the few as well as the many. The promise is, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 3

We are thankful that God has put it into the hearts of the Brethren Roth to build this comfortable, neat house for the worship of God. When God sees the efforts made to build a house for His honor, even if it be humble according to their ability, He will accept it and the heartfelt service of the worshipers. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 4

You will see by the prayer of Solomon that Israel’s dependence was in the God of Israel. The people that built the temple were many and the house that they built was large and grand and the Lord God of heaven honored them because they had built Him a sanctuary where they could meet to worship Him. Those that worshiped Him sincerely had His blessing. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 5

The first tabernacle, built according to God’s directions, was indeed blessed of Him. The people thus were preparing themselves to worship in the temple not made with hands—a temple in the heavens. The stones of the temple built by Solomon were all prepared at the quarry and then brought to the temple site. They came together without the sound of ax or hammer. The timbers were also fitted in the forest. The furniture was likewise brought to this house all prepared for use. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 6

Even so, the mighty cleaver of truth has taken out a people from the quarry of the world and is fitting this people, who profess to be the children of God, for a place in His heavenly temple. We want the cleaver of truth to do its work for us. We are taken from the quarry of the world. The material must not be a dead substance, but living souls, and these souls must be brought out of the quarry of the world, where the hand of God can fit them for the temple in heaven. We are here as probationers, and we must pass under the hand of God. All rough edges and rough surfaces must be removed, and we must be stones fitted for the building. We are brought into church capacity with defects of character, but we must not retain them. We must be fitted and squared for the building. We must be “laborers together with God,” for we are “God’s husbandry,” we are “God’s building.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] In view of this we must see that our temple is not defiled with sin. We should be lively stones, not dead ones, but live ones that will reflect the image of Christ. We must be worshipers in spirit and in truth. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 7

Although your company is small, you can be consoled by the words of the apostle, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2. And we should not forget the enjoinder, “And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” 1 John 3:3. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 8

It is not enough to be brought in as worshipers, but the heart must be brought into harmony with God’s plans. We must be spiritual worshipers. If we are to represent Christ we must be living stones “built up a spiritual house.” 1 Peter 2:5. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 9

It is important that we should live as Solomon was admonished in (verses 4 to 6 [1 Kings 9]): “And if thou wilt walk before Me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep My statutes and My judgments: then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. But if ye shall at all turn from following Me, ye or your children, and will not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: ...” We see that God’s promises are to the obedient, those that keep the commandments of God. If we depart from His law, then we are separated from heaven. God does not separate from us, but we separate from Him. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 10

We are thankful that this comfortable house has been prepared for His people. The first house built in Battle Creek was only about one third larger than this, and when we entered that building we felt happy. The meetings heretofore had been held in a private house. We all felt poor, but we felt that we must have a place to dedicate to the Lord. All exerted their energies to build, as they did in building the tabernacle in the wilderness. It took quite an effort to erect it. In two years it had to be given up for a larger one, as it was impossible for it to accommodate all the people that attended our special meetings. And it was not long before the third had to be built, and then the present one which will seat three thousand persons. And we may have to enlarge our borders still. God has blessed in the effort to increase the accommodations for His work in Battle Creek. We may have to exert all our efforts in doing the will of God, but He will bless according to our faith. We must act as men of faith, and after we have done in accordance with the will of God, we do not find ourselves any poorer. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 11

In California it seemed almost impossible to obtain a suitable place in which to worship. The church was poor, depending on their hands only, but they said that they would build. It was also the same with the San Francisco church. Both houses were commenced, but they said, Where is the means? and asked Brother White if he could help them. The reply was: “Yes, but I shall have to sell everything in order to do it.” In this transaction we lost $1,700 in exchange, but we cared not for that, for we were helping the cause. The houses went up, and the one in Oakland has already proven too small, and it had to be sold and a larger one must take its place. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 12

We hope that the Lord will so bless your work that this house will prove too small for you. We expect to see other houses erected by our people, and in this our faith will be revealed, for faith without works is dead. This house, so small as it is, is recorded in heaven. I can come to visit you with more courage now than heretofore, because the people will see that you mean business. They expect something of you. God will honor those that will honor Him. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 13

I thank God that I have the privilege of speaking to you today. This little house is just as precious in the sight of God as a larger one would be, because you have done what you could. Now you can teach reverence in coming in and going out. When meetings are held in a room used daily by the family, every day and for every purpose, there is not much respect shown as a place of worship. Everything the people look upon is associated with everyday affairs. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 14

In entering the house of worship you should remember that it is the house of God. Respect should be shown by the removal of the hat, remembering that you are entering into the presence of God and angels. You should teach the children reverence. Let earnest efforts be carried forward to this end, and remember that you are the temple of the living God. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 15

Ephesians 2:1-19; 4:1-6. Now if we had a most splendid temple and our hearts were not right, it would amount to nothing. Our greatest anxiety should be in regard to our spiritual condition. We must educate our children that God meets with His people and direct their thoughts heavenward. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 16

The only day that God has set His seal upon is the seventh. While He has given us the six days, He has taken the seventh as His, that His order of worship might be preserved. Neither the house of God nor His day should be used for visiting, but our thoughts should be upon heaven and heavenly things. Let there be no disunion one with another. If feelings should arise in your heart with a brother or sister, do not let the sun go down until such feelings be removed, that you may retain the blessing of God with you. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 17

Christ says you may be known by all men if ye have love one for another. [John 13:35.] Now in order to have this love in the heart one for another, it must be cultivated; and if this grace is attained, then you will be a spectacle unto the world and to angels. We have a great truth, and we must seek to be in harmony with it. If we are living stones, we should emit light and have an influence upon others for their good. If every member should seek to honor God, then you would be a power that would be felt. We want an increase of faith. We need a faith that will enable us to meet infidelity. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 18

We want the Spirit of God to come in to meet with us in our worship. When we enter the house, it would be pleasing to God if all would lift up their hearts to God in secret prayer. On entering the desk, every minister should drop on his knees to implore divine help. We do not take hold as we ought of the divine arm. We might be stronger spiritually. Every defect of character must be removed in order that we may stand before the great white throne. There the books will be opened, and from them we are to be judged, and we do not want to be ashamed to meet our record. If we manifest great zeal in worldly business, and are dead in spiritual things, it will be manifest in the house of God. The meetings can be made more interesting if all would have more earnestness in spiritual life. God is full of blessings, but if we do not prize them we suffer loss. We need to take hold of the arm of God, and God will meet you in this house. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 19

Above everything else, be at peace among yourselves. Strive to see eye to eye and be members of the royal King, and the blessing of God will rest upon you as it rested upon Solomon’s temple. And from this place may light and truth go out, and work upon the hearts of the people, and then your testimony will be felt. We must weave the principles of truth into our character, and thus we can be prepared for the temple of God and be privileged to join in the anthem, Worthy is the Lamb. 4LtMs, Ms 49, 1886, par. 20