Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4

148/448

Lt 14, 1885

Church at St. Claire, Nevada

NP

[March 13, 1885]

Portions of this letter are published in OHC 34, 94; TDG 81; 1MCP 321; 2MCP 691.

My Dear Brethren and Sisters:

While speaking to you on the campground at Reno, I recognized a people I had been shown in church capacity who were not living up to God’s requirements. The angels of God are constantly active to bring enlightened beings up from a low and degraded state to purity, to holiness, bringing their perverse will into subjection to the will of God. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 1

A violation of the law of God is the greatest loss and deepest injury that can be conceived. It lost for our first parents beautiful Eden and opened the flood gates of woe to our world. It is through the sacrifice of Christ alone that in God’s wise plans fallen man has been granted another trial. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 2

We have the example of Adam and Eve before us, and the result of their transgression should lead every soul of us to avoid sin, to abhor sin, as the hateful thing it is, and to feel, in view of the sufferings which sin is sure to inflict, that it is better to suffer loss of all things than to depart from the least of God’s commandments. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 3

God has done all for us that God could do to prevent ignorance and sin and misery in our world; and if man had co-operated with God in His work, by putting away sin and cultivating personal piety, we should see altogether a more happy condition of things in the church at St. Claire. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 4

The author of sin is the devil; and whenever we sin, we place ourselves decidedly on the devil’s ground and under his power. Not one of us will have one word to plead in the judgment as an excuse for sin. But when we see that there are those who claim to believe the truth who are not Christians, then we feel to humble ourselves in the dust, and plead, Spare Thy people, O God, and give not Thine heritage to reproach. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 5

Men and women and youth will hear and acknowledge the theory of the truth and doctrines which we profess to believe, and yet their daily life and character evidences that they know nothing of the power of godliness. The truth has not sanctified the soul of the receiver. Those who are indeed children of God will come out from the world and be separate. They will be a peculiar and distinguished people. They will be the light of the world. They will always be few in number; they will be humble, Christlike, distinct and separate from sin and sinners, because they are unlike them. They live in the world, they are industrious in business, that they may acquire means, do faithful honest labor, that this means may be used to advance the cause of God in our world. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 6

Will you please to carefully compare your life and character with God’s great moral mirror, and observe and keenly criticize the reflection of your character in the light of God’s law. Will you look with sincerity; for your soul’s interest is at stake. It is life or death with you. A mistake here will be fatal. Be diligent to make your calling and election sure. How are you to do this? By believing all of God’s commandments. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 7

The faithful and beloved disciple had occasion to write, as the defection of the church was presented before him, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen and repent, and do thy first works.” [Revelation 2:5.] 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 8

Many who have had light and knowledge have turned from their sin only for a time. They did not preserve their integrity. They did not search the Scriptures carefully, with a heart to obey them, and put away every sin, seeking by the grace of Christ to overcome their defects of character. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 9

They were not fully converted; and when temptations came, they did not keep their garments white and pure. They did not retain the simplicity of their faith, they did not keep their first love; and notwithstanding they believed the truth, they did not bring it in personal contact with their lives. Their minds became earthly, sensual, devilish. The strength and purity of faith had diminished. Zeal had grown cold. And the trees of the Lord’s planting, the fruitful plant, now bears the fruit of a degenerate and strange vine. It stands before the world as a monument, not of goodness, but as an evil, corrupt tree, bearing corrupt fruit. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 10

I have no liberty to call names; but your own consciences must convict you that the picture of the tree bearing no fruit to the glory of God means you. Now this church have not all been working for unity, for elevation, for purity; and yet we would not say, erase their names from the church books. But earnest effort should be put forth to show them what they must do to be saved. “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean; and I will receive you.” [2 Corinthians 6:17.] 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 11

There is a solemn work to be done for your souls. Come to Jesus with contrition, with repentance. Come just as you are, sinful and polluted, and O plead for the salvation of your souls as you never pleaded before. Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1 John 1:9.] 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 12

I want you to be saved. You are few in numbers, but if each will keep his lamp trimmed and burning, he can reflect light. The more light the Lord permits to shine upon our pathway, the greater the guilt incurred if we do not respond to the light. The more efforts the Lord makes through His instrumentalities to win a soul, the more deep and flagrant is his offense who rejects the means God has employed. I feel deeply for your souls, and I desire you shall improve the present opportunity to find Jesus, to renew your allegiance to God. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 13

All merely human effort is vain in the conversion of the soul. Man can accomplish nothing without God; but man must co-operate with God. Your will, your way must become God’s will and God’s way. This co-operation of the divine energy with human endeavor can accomplish much. We are laborers together with God in working out our own salvation and in the activities in which we engage in personal religion. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 14

When there is anything accomplished in co-operation with God, in obedience to His laws, God is to receive all the glory. Man has no right or title to any part of it. All our powers are to be sanctified to God. We can do nothing in our own strength. God requires all that there is of us, and we must withhold nothing from Him. We must work, believe, and pray. We are required to employ all our powers and opportunities diligently and conscientiously to be laborers together with God. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 15

How can we be thus, and not learn the trade? How can we take hold of and employ all our powers as God shall direct, and yet not be growing in intelligence as to the very best way of laboring? To be laborers together with God we must distinguish the voice of the true Shepherd from the voice of a stranger. There must be a searching for the truth as for hidden treasures. There must be no vanity, no mixing and mingling with worldly amusements, no strife in politics; but there must be a diligent, thoughtful prayerful study of the Oracles of God. The simple-hearted, God-fearing teachers must be respected in their work. There must be a constant work to harmonize in everything you do, with the prayer of Christ, that we may be one as He was one with the Father. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 16

This is the duty of every church, however small or however large. Christians must be light-givers, holding forth the words of life. They are exhorted by the apostle to be the highest achievements of piety. The world will not be convinced by what the pulpit teaches, but by (what) the church lives. The path to heaven is dark or bright, just as in proportion as the church gives forth a clear and strong, or doubtful, fitful light. The preacher in the desk announces the theory of the gospel, but the practical piety of the church demonstrates the power of truth, showing its real value. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 17

The gospel is a system of practical truths destined to work great changes in human character. If it does not work the transformation in life, in habits, and practice, it is no truth to those who claim to believe it. Man must be sanctified through the truth. And said Jesus, “Thy Word is truth.” [John 17:17.] Unless the truth of God shall lift up man out of his depravity, his intemperate and profligate habits, and make him reflect the image of God, he is lost. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 18

Your lives, my brethren and sisters, must be after a different model than they have hitherto been and constitute the demonstration in the sight of heaven and earth that you are lights in the world, holding forth the words of life. The piety of the members of the church constitutes the world’s standard of the gospel. Then let every church member in St. Claire do his duty well; for you are laborers together with God. Let your example be in harmony with the great Pattern. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 19

Do all things without murmurings and disputings, without grumbling, without envy. Do not repeat or believe the old slander that the man of one talent brought against God, “I knew thee that thou were an austere man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed.” [Matthew 25:24.] This parable represented the many professors of religion who gauged their piety to reach the lowest standard possible and escape perdition. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 20

There is a need of your being diligent, prayerful students of the Bible, then you will see the exalted standard and aim to reach it. And you will be letting your light shine to an unbelieving world. You will sacredly observe the Sabbath in regard to which many of you have been very negligent. Some of you have practiced cutting off both ends of the Sabbath, dragging in your own work upon God’s holy time. Now this has a decided influence against the truth you claim to believe and makes your influence detrimental to others. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 21

Then there are some who use narcotics and by indulgence are encouraging wrong habits that are obtaining a controlling power over the will, the thoughts, and the entire man. Now it would be better if the unbeliever should never come under the influence of such professors of religion who have no vital power for good. They endanger their Master’s cause. They are traitors to holy trust. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 22

You are brought together in church capacity, and every member has his work to do as a faithful sentinel to God. In the family the performance of religious duties should be maintained. Your children should be educated by precept and example to reverence the hour of prayer. In simplicity you can call upon God in faith as your heavenly Father. It is your duty to talk to your children earnestly, interestedly in regard to the salvation of their souls. Tell them of Christ; His love for them should be often presented with loving tenderness. Never complain of your brethren or find fault with them, for this will have a demoralizing influence upon your own soul and upon your children. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 23

Never allow them to make complaints to you because they are required to behave with propriety in the house of God. If they are not required to respect religious service, it is certainly better that they remain away. Family influences, I am sorry to say, are against the church in many ways, yet many do not sense this evil. Let this order of things cease. Will parents bear in mind that Jesus is an honored guest in your assemblies for the worship of God? Then for Christ’s sake restrain your children from misbehavior in the place of worship if you would honor the Master of assemblies. Let the restraining influence of parents be exercised in requiring of their children respectful attention and reverent behaviour in times of religious worship. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 24

There is a work devolving upon parents, the most important ever committed to mortals, to train your children day by day, both by precept and example, to have clean, pure characters, to be obedient, to cultivate simplicity of habits. You, parents, are to bring your children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This will require so much time, so much earnest prayer, that you will not be found engaged in gossip or talebearing. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 25

Your talents, my brethren, have been unused and uncultivated. Your lifework is not that which the Lord would have it to be, or what you will wish it had been. No church can prosper unless there is a silencing of the tongues of those who are busybodies in other men’s matters. They do harm, and only harm, while they take credit to themselves as being a strength to the church. They are not peacemakers, except it be to speak peace to the evildoers and quiet their awakened consciences so that they shall not make thorough work. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 26

Let the work of individual effort go forward. Let each keep his own soul uncorrupted and his own hands free from defilement. In order to be good soldiers of Christ, you must work to secure concerted action. Every part of the Lord’s army must seek to work in harmony. Let each of Christ’s soldiers act with reference to others; connected with Him, union is strength. There is no individual independence in this great work of God. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 27

When difficult work has to be done, some are altogether wanting; they have not kept themselves in working order. Those who will preserve order in the church must not be busybodies, not peddling hearsay, but be quiet, doing their own business. They are expected to do difficult work, to bear painful trials, to wear Christ’s yoke and lift His burdens. Has not the Master given to every one of His soldiers something to do? There is a great work for you to do in St. Claire, and you have a mighty Helper in Jesus Christ. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 28

There are those who have, during this meeting, wanted liberty and peace of mind, but they have not fallen upon the rock and been broken. It has been hard for self to die; and when they return home, they will have to meet the assaults of the enemy, because they gained no real victory here. They will be overcome. They have not really received into their hearts the engrafted Word. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 29

When God speaks through His delegated servants the people are to listen to His words and obey the counsels given; but it is so hard for some to yield their own way, they make up their mind that God must say so and so, and are ready to reject every utterance which does not coincide with their past work and their preconceived opinions. Remember, every one, it is by what God does say to us that we shall be tried at last, not by what we imagine He ought to say. You must bring your souls up to the light, the standard of God’s Word. Let none venture to choose darkness rather than the light, and keep away from the light lest their deeds shall be reproved. He who desires truth in the inward parts has declared that only the pure in heart should see God. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 30

Your ideas of God and His work must become enlarged. You must not lose sight of the work of Christ. You have reason to fear and tremble, for some are in a position where they have no just sense of right and righteousness. They have no true conception of God’s mercy or of His judgment. This makes the situation more difficult and trying for those who labor for you. If you suppose for a moment that God will treat sin lightly, or make provisions or exemptions so that you can go on in committing sin, and the soul suffer no penalty from so doing, you are under a terrible delusion of Satan. Any wilful violation of the righteous law of Jehovah exposes your soul to the full assaults of Satan. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 31

When you lose your conscious integrity, your soul becomes a battlefield for Satan; you have doubts and fears enough to paralyze your energies and drive you to discouragement. When the favor of God was gone, you know that some of you have tried to supply the place and seek compensation for the loss of the Holy Spirit’s witness that you are a child of God in worldly excitement, in the society of worldlings. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 32

In short, you have plunged deeper into sin, become intemperate, until every better feeling was under the control of the adversary of souls. Satanic influences were at work to make you reach a point where in your sinful course conscience will not make her voice heard. You are stupefied, your moral sense is perverted. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 33

This is a terrible picture, yet it is nevertheless true. Some regard sin as altogether so light a matter that they have no defense against its indulgence or its consequence. You do not rise high enough in your efforts. How can you but tremble in the sight of your own inefficiency. How can you hope that a righteous God will be constantly granting you forgiveness for the offenses you are constantly repeating? 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 34

Why not yield your will unreservedly to the will of God? Your spiritual sensibilities are almost completely benumbed. The testimonies that I bear to you, by pen and voice, will not make any radical change in the life of some, in their habits or their practices, because they do not sense sin. If the fallow ground of the heart could be broken up, then there would be some hope that the good seed would find lodgment and spring up and bear fruit. But I greatly fear that some of you will not make that work in repenting that needeth not to be repented of. Your will must be summoned to the conflict. Remember that temptation is not sin. Remember that however trying the circumstances in which a man may be placed, nothing can really weaken his soul so long as he does not yield to temptation, but maintains his own integrity. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 35

The interests most vital to you individually are in your own keeping. No one can damage them without your consent. All the satanic legions cannot injure you unless you open your soul to the darts and arrows of Satan. Your ruin can never take place until your will consents. If there is not pollution of mind in yourself, all the surrounding pollution cannot taint or defile you. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 36

Eternal life is worth everything to us or it is worth nothing. Those only who put forth persevering effort and untiring zeal with intense desire, proportionate to the value of the object they are in pursuit of, will gain that life which measures with the life of God. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 37

With some in your midst, religion is purely a matter of feeling. You will see a fair show of fervor and devotedness for a time, but soon a change comes, their ardor is not fed, and careless indifference takes the place of the feelings which were strongly and pleasantly affected while the love of Christ and the glories of heaven were dwelt upon. Their feelings, their experience have no connection with the belief of the truth. Their hope is not founded on the statements of the Oracles of God, which they know to be true, and which would be a firm foundation to their faith. When their experience changes, faith and hope and religion depart. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 38

They made a profession of religion and were baptized, but they show they were on sliding sand instead of the solid rock. They do not find all as pleasant as they anticipated; they want to sip of the pleasure of excitement, the ballroom, the dance; they show that they have not yet tasted of the living water, of the fountain of life. Because they have no hunger of soul for righteousness, no soul thirst for the waters of life, they drink at broken cisterns that can hold no water. Their religion rests only on the sandy foundations of their own fluctuating feelings. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 39

If you are intelligent Christians, you will maintain religious vitality, and will not be deterred by difficulties which shall beset you, because your hope is wrought in God. You will work the works of God in gloom as well as in the glory, in shade as well as in the sunshine, in conflict as well as in peace. The truth must be treasured up in your hearts as well as incorporated into your being, so that no temptation and no argument can induce you to yield to Satan’s suggestions or devices. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 40

The truth is precious; it has wrought important changes upon the life and character, exerting a masterly influence over words, deportment, thoughts, and experience. The true followers of Christ live not to themselves, but to Him who died for them. The soul that appreciates the truth lives under its influence and senses the tremendous reality of eternal things. To them God lives and is ever cognizant to all their words and actions. 4LtMs, Lt 14, 1885, par. 41