Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Ms 35, 1886

A Christlike Character


July 1886

Portions of this manuscript are published in OHC 176; TSB 261.

We keep Christ in the background and we do not bring Him into our hearts. I feel deeply that as a people we are not closely following our Bibles in our treatment of one another. There is not that full, entire, forgiving spirit that will bring peace and rest to the soul. I find here in Europe that on this point there are special lessons to learn, and the neglect to learn these precious lessons separates the soul from communion with God. Satan magnifies little things; and if we see that our efforts in behalf of others do not work a reformation in them at once, then there comes in a spirit of impatience, and sharp, rasping words are spoken that do not work any reformation in them or bind them any more closely to our hearts. 4LtMs, Ms 35, 1886, par. 1

Love is the silken cord that binds hearts together. We are not to feel that we must set up ourselves as a pattern. As long as we think of ourselves and what is due to us from others, it will be impossible for us to do our work of saving souls. When Christ takes possession of our hearts, we shall no longer make the narrow circle of self the center of our thoughts and of our attentions. What a wonderful reverence for human life Jesus expressed in His life mission. He stood not among the people as a king, demanding attention, reverence, service, but as one who wished to serve, to uplift humanity. He said He had not come to be ministered unto, but to minister. [Matthew 20:28.] 4LtMs, Ms 35, 1886, par. 2

I am sure that the great lesson of forgiveness must be more perfectly learned by all of us, and we must practice the Christian graces. Wherever Christ saw a human being, He saw one who needed human sympathy. Many of us are willing to serve particular ones—those whom we honor—but the very ones to whom Christ would make us a blessing if we were not so coldhearted, so unkind and selfish, we pass by as unworthy of our notice. We do not help them when it is our duty to do so, to bear with their rudeness, while we seek to cultivate the opposite traits of character. We must work the works of Christ. The greatest wrong we can do to others is to be unforgiving if we think they injure us in any way. This is a most dangerous position for a professed Christian, because just in the manner in which he treats his brethren, so will the Lord of heaven treat him. 4LtMs, Ms 35, 1886, par. 3

We are seeking here in these meetings to instruct not alone upon the theory of the truth, but in regard to how we shall practice the truth. The great question that is of vital importance with us all now is, What must I do to be saved? To say we believe the truth while its principles are not practiced daily in our lives will leave us in a similar position to Capernaum—exalted to heaven in point of light and blessings bestowed, yet this light and these blessings, so graciously given, were unappreciated. The Lord would have us wash our robes of character now and remove every stain in the blood of the Lamb. 4LtMs, Ms 35, 1886, par. 4

We see so many who estimate the character of their brethren and sisters by the manner in which they treat them or serve them. We are not in this world to be made much of, but to be helpful to others, and we must not measure the religious standing of others by their willingness to serve us. We love people who are pleasant, who have no disagreeable ways. Then let us gather to our souls the graces of the Spirit of Christ and bring them into our life, that God will not turn from us with the same disgust with which we turn from others. Defects of character close our hearts to those who need encouragement to overcome them. The Lord will then close His heart to us, if we are wayward and unpleasant, disobedient, disrespectful and irreverent, and forgetful of Him as a guest whom we should honor. Shall we require of others that deference, that respect, that honor which we refuse to give to Jesus in Christian politeness? Let our pride, our selfishness be humbled in the dust. Let self be hid with Christ in God. And remember, if we have an unforgiving spirit toward the erring, the Lord will not forgive our trespasses, but will deal with us as we deal with one another who err, who are connected with us in labor and in church capacity. ... [Two pages missing.] 4LtMs, Ms 35, 1886, par. 5

We need to have higher and more distinct views of the character of Christ, that we may copy His example. We need to understand better what constitutes a pure religious life. We must learn to be Christlike in disposition and in character. We want an increase of faith in the promises of God. He has shown us great and precious favors. He has revealed to us His glory, all loving, all holy. His attributes are blended with justice and mercy. We are not to think of God only as a judge and to forget Him as a loving Father. Nothing can do our souls greater harm than this, for our whole spiritual life is molded from our conceptions of God’s character. We have lessons to learn of Jesus’ love. He has been ever solicitous for our welfare. His voice is ever inviting us to come to Him with all our griefs, all our sorrows, and if we will obey the call we will be drawn toward Jesus. Now let us improve the precious opportunities to become acquainted with our heavenly Father who “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16.] 4LtMs, Ms 35, 1886, par. 6

Wondrous love, that God, the infinite God, has made it our privilege to approach Him by the endearing name of “Father”! No earthly parent could plead more earnestly with an erring child than He who has made us pleads with the transgressor. No human interest has ever followed the impenitent with such tender invitations. Then with what tender sympathy should we labor for those who are erring and sinful, who are perishing around us. We must work in the spirit in which Christ worked, in the compassionate tenderness that He manifested. When we shall, by living faith, claim the promises of God, when we shall live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, we place ourselves on the side of Christ, and we have His Spirit and His grace to work with our efforts to bring souls to a knowledge of the divine will. 4LtMs, Ms 35, 1886, par. 7

“Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17. Why do we not come to Him who hath promised? This is His pledged word: “The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed.” Isaiah 54:10. His voice is heard, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3. “With everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee.” Isaiah 54:8. 4LtMs, Ms 35, 1886, par. 8

How amazing is this love! God condescends to remove all cause for doubt and questioning from human fears and weakness and takes hold of the trembling hand reached up to Him in faith, and He helps us to trust Him by multiplied assurances and securities. He has made us a binding agreement upon condition of our obedience, and He comes to meet us in our own understanding of things. 4LtMs, Ms 35, 1886, par. 9

We think that a pledge or promise from our fellow men, if recorded, still needs a guarantee. Jesus has met all these peculiar fears, and He has confirmed His promise with an oath. Hebrews 6:17. “Willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” [Verses 17, 18.] 4LtMs, Ms 35, 1886, par. 10

What more could our Lord do to strengthen our faith in His promises? The clean heart, the right spirit He requires of us, is the gift of Jesus Christ. Christ works to this end, and man cooperates with Christ. The divine and human effort are united. The white robes, the crown of righteousness, the exceeding and eternal weight of glory are laid up for those who love God and keep His commandments. Then let all pride, all self-sufficiency be laid at the feet of Jesus. He is faithful that hath promised. If we approach Him with a lowly, childlike trust, He will give us His grace and the treasures of eternal life as a free and everlasting gift. 4LtMs, Ms 35, 1886, par. 11