Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4

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Lt 70, 1886

Brethren in New York

Basel, Switzerland

December 27, 1886

This letter is published in entirety in PH039 3-13.

Dear Brethren in New York:

Several times it has been shown me that you are living far beneath your privileges you do not meet or appreciate your responsibilities. God has given you great light and precious opportunities to know His will and to do good. He who neglects these does harm to himself as well as to others connected with Him. It is not a praiseworthy act to decline responsibility; it is a great dishonor to your Maker, who has entrusted you with talents of means and of influence which would constitute you channels of light to the world if you were faithful to your trust. All your powers and all the means which God has lent you are to be put to wise improvement; because you are trading with intrusted capital. You are not your own, you are bought with a price. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 1

No one should live merely to get gain to himself. The world’s Redeemer has said: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth,” “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also;” but, “lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven,” in “bags which wax not old.” [Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 12:33.] How can this be done? By constantly regarding your property as the Lord’s and by anxiously watching, like faithful stewards of God, to see what you can do in any direction to help advance His cause. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 2

This is God’s work, and you are His servants, intrusted with His goods. If you use your means for your own personal benefit, rather than for the advancement of God’s work, you are using that which is the Lord’s in a selfish, worldly manner, and are withholding from His cause that which was committed to you for its support. Now the reason why the funds in the treasury are so low is that those whom God has made stewards of His means are unfaithful to their trust. God’s money is used for selfish purposes, and the means which the cause of God needs to advance His work in the earth is kept flowing in a worldly channel. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 3

It has been presented to me that you are not doing what God has a right to expect of you in advancing His cause. All the means is the Lord’s; why do you withhold from Him that which is His own? You are not doing one-hundredth part of what you ought to do. You have so little faith that God cannot do much for you. Small faith and narrow plans are circumscribing the work in your state. God will work for us just in accordance to our faith. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 4

At the slow rate our people in many states are advancing, it will take a millennium to warn the world. Angels are holding the four winds, that they may not blow until the world has been warned and a people have decided for the truth and have been converted. The power, influence, and means of those who are truly converted will flow in the missionary channel. Those who put out money in this way to the exchangers may present to the Master their talents doubled in the ingathering of souls to Christ. Some wealthy farmers act as if they thought that in a day of judgment the Lord will only require of them to present to Him improved, enriched farms, with building added to building. If the acres of their farms and their buildings were so many precious souls saved to Christ, then He could say to them, “Well done, good and faithful servants.” [Matthew 25:23.] But none can take their improved farms into heaven. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 5

The fires of the last day will consume them. If you invest your talents in means in these earthly treasures, your heart will be on them, you will be anxious to improve them, and your tact and skill will be cultivated to serve earthly purposes, instead of being directed to heavenly things. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 6

Some of you have looked upon the means invested in larger plans to extend the work of God as so much capital lost, which would bring no return. This is a great mistake. While the heart is on earthly treasures, it can have no true estimate of heavenly things. The testimonies of such have been heard in your meetings, continually cautioning against advanced moves which would call for means to help carry the light to the world. They are so buried up in earthly things that they have no right estimate of eternal riches and would not prize heaven if it were given them. Their tastes, their pursuits, their inclinations have all been of a worldly character. They are fully occupied just as Satan wants them to be, and the heavenly is eclipsed by the earthly. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 7

There are many who work as though their salvation depended upon their wonderful economy in investing means in the cause of God, and as though the less money they invested in plans and efforts to broaden and to build up His work, the more virtue they would possess. Do these men know that they are enveloped in selfishness? Do they know that they are robbing God every day of their lives? Do they know that they are devoting their time, their physical and mental talents in laying upon the foundation wood, hay, and stubble? All the improvements of years will be consumed by the fires of the last day; and if they themselves are saved, it will be only as by fire. Their whole lifework will be in ashes. The reward that they might have gained had they been faithful stewards is eternally forfeited; and the host of souls that they might have saved are lost, and all because of their neglect. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 8

God has given them all their powers to see whether they will prove worthy to be intrusted with eternal riches. We are required to develop our abilities by exercise until they have reached the highest standard in doing—your farming? your building? No, but God’s work, as stewards of His grace. All who take God’s intrusted talents, and employ them for selfish, worldly purposes, and neglect His work in winning souls to Christ will be counted unfaithful servants. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 9

It is a fearful thing to take the powers of the body and mind, which are given to be employed as a blessing to the world, and use them in such a way that God is not honored. It is also a fearful thing to fold up the talent in a napkin and hide it in the earth; for God will demand its return with usury. All these talents must be employed to bring glory to the Giver. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 10

God calls upon you who have the precious light of truth no longer to devote your time and talents to selfish purposes, but to accept your God-given responsibilities, and take up your cross, denying yourselves, that you may be disciples of Christ. God did not design that you should devote brain, bone, and muscle to earthly employments; He intended that you should improve your talents, that you might fill some grand and noble place in His plans and in doing His work. Selfish thoughts and feelings have withered up the nobler aspirations of your souls. You are as destitute of the Spirit of God as were the hills of Gilboa of dew or rain. Grand opportunities are being lost, and you are shriveled and dying, because you make no use of your talents. You cannot fulfil your solemn responsibilities toward God unless you are transformed in character. Through your lack of spirituality, your unconscious influence is saying to those around you, “My Lord delayeth His coming.” [Matthew 24:48.] You are planting and building, and your works testify that you are not looking and watching and waiting for your Lord’s appearing. You will reveal to the world all the faith you have. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 11

How will you who are blessed with so great light, such high and sacred privileges, render an account to God of why you have been so remiss in fulfilling life’s grand work? God lays the responsibility upon you of educating and training all your powers to do His work with an efficiency that shall earn for you the “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Wherein does this faithfulness consist?—in your withdrawing your interests, your time, your influence from the work of God, and from seeking to send the truth to every city and village in your state, and devoting all your powers to earthly, selfish purposes? No, the blessing will be pronounced upon those who unite with Christ in doing His work. “We are laborers together with God.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 12

You are not compelled to go to heathen lands. There are souls right within your own borders that are just as precious in the sight of God as your own. And how few, very few, workers are employed in giving the message of warning in the large cities! What excuse will you offer for this terrible neglect of your God-given responsibilities? These souls, perishing within your reach, will confront you in the day of judgment. You worshiped your farms and your money; you prided yourselves upon your wisdom as financiers in worldly affairs; but how much does all this weigh with God? He said to the rich man, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee. Then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?” [Luke 12:20.] Now the application, “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” [Verse 21.] The Lord has given you light in testimonies of warning, reproof, and counsel, but you do little in accordance with the light given. The words of Christ are explicit, but you are not doers of His words. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” [Luke 16:13.] 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 13

Some do not realize that their influence reaches into eternity. In every life there are opportunities to accomplish much good. We are leaving impressions upon those around us either for good or for evil; we are directing the current of their thoughts into a heavenly channel, or in an earthly direction. As preachers to the world, we bear testimony in works, in words, and in deportment as to whether or not we believe the truth. By our works we are either confirming or denying our profession of faith. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” [Matthew 7:20.] 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 14

Are you, my brethren, testifying to the world that you are preparing to move to a better country? Do your works show that you are waiting for your Lord? Is the heavenly country the theme of your conversation? Do you act in the presence of the world as though you cared more for their souls than for your cattle, your houses, and your lands? Do you remember that Christ sacrificed His majesty, His honor, and His glory to bring salvation within your reach, and within the reach of every son and daughter of Adam? “He for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich.” [2 Corinthians 8:9.] When He ascended on high, He left His work to be carried forward by His followers, as He gave the example in His self-sacrificing life. Do you follow his example? Does your own business seem of greater importance than the precious souls Jesus came to save? O that I could open the eyes that Satan has blinded! O that pen and voice could have an influence to arouse you from paralysis! O that you might see that you are doing nothing, while all Heaven is intensely active in preparing a people to stand in the great day of God! 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 15

Study the message to the Laodicean church; for it applies to many in New York. You need to buy of Christ gold, white raiment, and eyesalve. You need to be zealous, and repent. Please consider: zealous does not mean a few feeble prayers and half-hearted confessions; it means an earnest, determined effort to conquer worldly, selfish love, and to be consecrated, devoted Christians, shedding a tender warmth and love wherever you may be. You must awake and obtain heart-culture, or you will fail of heaven. Christ is coming. Are you ready? Are you waiting? Are you loving His appearing? What wondrous love Christ has shown for us! And He said, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” [John 13:34.] 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 16

You need purity, truth, helpfulness, and the love of Christ, which sanctifies the heart. You must be full of Christ, and then you will estimate worldly things as God estimates them; and when at work upon your farms or engaged in your business vocations, you will not be separating your souls from God; because you will labor with the true purpose, recognizing God as the owner of all you possess, and will seek wisdom to use His goods in advancing His cause. You should not be slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. If this spirit actuates you, the lives of others will be blessed through your influence; your mind will be on heavenly things, and you will diffuse light to all around you. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 17

To live a true Christian life will cost thoughtfulness, searching of the Scriptures, and most earnest, persevering prayer. It will not be prayer without point and purpose, but it will be intercession of a heart burdened for poor sinners out of Christ and longing to do service for Jesus in personal effort for the salvation of souls. Christ made great sacrifices for these souls. Many of you who have been in the truth for years have not advanced in spiritual and divine life, because worldly business has been exalted above the heavenly. The work of God ever calls for self-sacrificing men, and every soul who has the knowledge of the truth is under obligation to communicate the light to others, cultivating all the graces of the Spirit, that he may do his work to God’s acceptance. Your lifeless, heartless efforts are not acceptable to God. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 18

There is no excuse for your doing so little for Jesus when He has done so much for you. God says, “I know thy works.” He witnesses the heart service and He marks also the mere lip service. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 19

We are in perilous times. Had you kept pace with the opening providences of God, and made the most of the light and privileges granted you, you would today be a power in the world. You would not need these words I now write you, because you would be accepted of the Lord, and divine power and glory would be manifested in your gatherings. According to your faith, so shall it be unto you; if your faith claims little, you will receive but little. If you by faith saw the great work to be done in the harvest field, you would also see that there are too few laborers, and you would fall upon your knees, praying the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into the harvest field, and promising to do all in your power to sustain those who should go forth to work in the cities, in the highways and hedges with the compelling message. You would work to the very best of your ability to reflect light upon your neighbors and upon the members of the church; and your prayers would ascend in faith that the laborers might be as sharp sickles in the harvest field. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 20

We have solemn work to do, which must bear the test of the judgment. We are called to greater faith than God’s ancient people because of increased light. “Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God.” [James 4:4.] The times in which we are living call for you who believe the truth to arouse and put on the armor. The more we do, the more knowledge of truth and the more experience in heavenly things we shall have. The more firmly we walk in the path of faith, the greater will be our separation from the world and from darkness, and the closer will we come to the great Light of the world. Will you consecrate yourselves, soul, body, and spirit to God? Will you lay upon His altar that which belongs to Him? Will you cut loose from the world and give evidence that you believe the truth? 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 21

In a dream not long previous to this writing, a large congregation was before me, and I was talking with you who were assembled. I talked, wept, and prayed; but some seemed to be as unimpressible as the granite rocks. Then there was a mighty revealing of the Spirit of God. Jesus walked through the midst of us, touching one, and another, and still another, and how their faces lighted up! They praised God with joyful hearts. But some poor souls were passed by. Light was shining everywhere, but they shrank away into dark corners and did not try to come to the light, and Jesus looked upon them with pity. Others rushed from the darkness as though it were life or death with them, and the cry went forth as I never heard it before, “What shall I do to be saved?” [Acts 16:30.] It seemed as though the people were reined up for final judgment. There was confession of sins; there was rejoicing over sins forgiven. But all did not participate. Some had not been walking in company with Jesus, but apart from Him, and therefore did not realize His presence, but seemed to think it was not Jesus. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 22

It is surely time to awake out of sleep, to arise from the dead, that Christ may give you life. O that we may sit together in heavenly places! “The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” [John 1:5.] God forbid that we should lose the heavenly blessings because we do not comprehend the light. We must be God’s peculiar people in good works. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 23

Where there is one man laboring in New York, there ought to be one hundred. The Lord has given the light of truth, but men who have means are encouraging covetousness, and I fear it will prove their ruin. Brethren, it is too late in the day for this kind of work. The things which have been freely given to us of God were not given to Sodom or Gomorrah, or they would not have perished in their sins. We have superior advantages and shall be judged according to the light and privileges of the times in which we are living. God will not give judgment in our favor because, like Capernaum, we are exalted to heaven in point of privileges. What use have we made of God’s blessings? Are we walking in the light, and working in accordance with the holy character of the truth which we profess? 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 24

There is a great work to be done in home missions. Laborers in America do not have the difficulties which are met in foreign lands. God wants men to work for Him who are sanctified in heart and life, elevated and ennobled by the greatness of the truth. He wants men who will have the true enterprising spirit, who will walk humbly with God, and who will strive to push the triumphs of the cross of Christ. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 25

May God help you to do a much greater work in the Lord than you have done, to put away darkness and come to the light. 4LtMs, Lt 70, 1886, par. 26