Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Ms 26, 1886

Sermon/Evil Speaking

Christiania, Norway

July 15, 1886

Portions of this manuscript are published in UL 210; OHC 234; Ev 244-245.

“Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoreth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.” Psalm 15. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 1

We all know what mischief an unruly tongue will do if left to run at will. Those who have been brought together in church capacity have bound themselves by their act in joining the church to keep evil speaking out of their ranks. It is the duty of those in responsible positions in the church to closely guard this matter to see that order and harmony are preserved in the church. From the light given me by God in regard to the church here in Christiania, this work has been greatly neglected. Because of this, the enemy has worked through unruly elements to weaken the church. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 2

When I was here last year, I bore my testimony on this point, through my interpreters. At that time there was a demoralized condition of things in the church. And those occupying positions of responsibility did not seem to understand the harm that the mischiefmakers were doing. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 3

There are those whose propensity it is to talk. They seem to think it their duty to watch for faults and mistakes in the lives of others. Such do not see the necessity of taking vigilant watchcare of themselves. There was one in this church who was working in this way, watching for defects, and then talking unkindly about her brethren and sisters. There were others who were just as guilty as she, because they listened to her, and in listening, partook of her spirit. Her words were as cruel as the grave, but they did not seem to realize this. There were those who took real pleasure in listening to tales that blackened the character of this one and that one. This was a cruel work; and had the individual members of the church taken the right stand, it would not have been done. They would not have allowed it for a moment. But instead of rebuking the one who carried these reports, they listened to the scandal; and in the books of heaven they are charged as being equally guilty with the one who did the talking. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 4

This kind of work brought the displeasure of God and left a stain upon the church and has greatly weakened the church. If I could set this matter before you as it has been before me, I think you would change very materially your course of action. Those who felt pleased as they listened to reports that blackened the character of others are guilty before God. But so far have some of the members of this church departed from the Bible rule in regard to this matter that their eyes are blinded. Unsanctified tongues need to be converted. Every member of the church should strive with all his power to obey the directions laid down in the Word of God. If there are those who refuse to do this, it should be made a matter of church discipline. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 5

As a church you should stand where you can represent the character of Christ to the world. You should stand where you can build one another up in the most holy faith. Never are you to tear one another down, for you are doing Satan’s work. Day by day you are to help one another to grow up to full stature of men and women in Christ. In this work you close the door to the enemy. The power of speech is a great talent to bless others or a great curse to cause dissension and strife. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 6

The one who gives himself up to finding fault with this one and that one is neglecting his own precious soul. And those who allow such a one to carry on his unchristlike work unrebuked are themselves accountable before God of injury to their brethren. You, my brethren and sisters, have seen this spirit of faultfinding in the church and have gone right on as if it were regarded as the work committed you to do. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 7

Can we expect the blessing of God to rest upon a church when the members are cherishing bitterness against one another? Why is it, that when such a condition as this exists among you, that you do not drive it out? Meet together and faithfully show from the Word the wrong done to the whole church. The Word of God declares, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen.” 1 John 4:20. Those in whose hearts Christ abides will show in their lives the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness. Those who are controlled by the enemy will be filled with envy, strife, malice, and evil surmising. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 8

If tonight I can speak words strong enough to arouse you to see the evil that the unruly tongues amongst you are doing in the church, I shall be thankful that I came to Christiania at this time. There are those among you who have precious talents, but they dare not improve these talents; for they fear that wherever they might go or whatever they might do, they would be followed by the cruel words of the scandal-mongers. There are in this church some who are suffering martyrdom from these unruly tongues. They feel no surety, no peace. They feel sure that they will be followed by backbiting and reproach, and they dare not take a position of trust, in which they might improve their gifts, because they fear the envy that would be aroused by the agents of the enemy, who would follow on their track and find fault with them. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 9

If one of those of whom these cruel words are spoken were tonight lying cold in death, how different would be the words spoken of him. How often this is the case! While a person is living and could be blessed by kind words, unkind, bitter words are spoken of him. But when his work is ended, and his hands are folded in death, words of love and appreciation are spoken. But the words of love fall upon ears that hear not. They are spoken to hearts that cannot be comforted. It is too late! O if some of these words of love could have been spoken in life, how much better it would have been for the persons and closed the door of reflection after them. Let us be kind and helpful to one another. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 10

At the day of judgment we shall meet those with whom we have associated in this life, and every one will then be judged according to the things written in the books. “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Matthew 12:37. Then those who have given themselves up to evil thinking and evil speaking, and who have refused to change this course, will see plainly revealed the words of censure and falsehood that they have spoken. And they will see the souls who have been turned from the truth by these words. There are in this city those who today would be united with the church had it not been for the envy and malice cherished and revealed by some of the members. How will those who have turned these souls from the truth meet their record in the judgment? 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 11

God desires His people to bring into their homes all the peace and joy and love that it is possible for them to have. The love that they bring into the home they will bring into the church. My brethren and sisters, you can bring the peace of heaven into the home and into the church if you will sanctify to God the talent of speech. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 12

If it were possible for those who have brought turmoil into the church to be admitted to heaven, would they not reveal the same spirit there? If their way were crossed, would they not become impatient and begin to find fault? Would they not be jealous of those whose crowns were brighter than their own? 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 13

In the Scriptures the question is asked, “What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue?” What treatment shall be given the unruly member? The answer is, “Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper.” Psalm 120:3, 4. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 14

The Bible is full of instruction enjoining us to show in speech love, patience, and respect in our treatment of one another. The love of Jesus in the soul never leads to malice and envy. The tender plant of Christlike love must be carefully cherished. It will not grow unless it is cultivated. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 15

Heaven takes notice of the one who carries about with him an atmosphere of peace and love. Such a one will receive his reward. He will stand in the great day of the Lord. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 16

The Importance of Obedience

The Sabbath of the fourth commandment has not been exalted and honored by some of the members of this church as it should have been. God blessed and sanctified the seventh day and said that during its hours no secular work should be done. He declared that His Sabbath was to be a sign between Him and His people forever, throughout their generations. [Exodus 31:13.] Of the week, God has given us six days on which to labor, but the seventh He has reserved for Himself. And to spend the hours of this day in doing our own work is to rob Him. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 17

I desire tonight to show you the importance of strict obedience to God’s commands. It is dangerous to attempt to go through the world without living in obedience to God. The Scriptures declare that those who offend on one point are guilty of all. [James 2:10.] Those who love God will honor Him by keeping His commandments. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 18

We are now living in the great day of atonement. Christ is standing in the heavenly sanctuary, before the mercy seat, making an atonement for the sins of His people. He died to exalt the law of God and make it honorable, and shall we dare to manipulate it to suit our own convenience? Shall we dare to spend for ourselves the hours of His holy Sabbath? 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 19

Among those who embraced the truth at Basel last winter was a young man who left the school that he was attending in order to keep the Sabbath. He was asked what he expected to do for a living. He replied, “God has given me physical strength, and I will work in any capacity rather than break His commandments.” Some felt anxious that he should be given a place in the printing office, but one said. “No. When he shows that he will obey God at any cost, then we shall know that he is the very man we need in this office. But if he has not principle enough to do this, he is just the man that we do not want.” 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 20

Elder Whitney came to me and asked me if he ought to give the young man encouragement to think that he would be given a place in the office. I said, “The God of heaven has presented before him the eternal weight of glory that awaits the overcomer; and if like Moses he has respect unto the recompense of reward, he will take his position decidedly on the side of truth. But it would do harm and not good to hold out before him any bribe or attraction. And yet your duty is to help him see that he must walk out by faith, but do not leave him to wrestle this battle out alone, for Satan will tempt him, and you must render him every help possible.” 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 21

God has not given us the commandments so that we can change them to suit our own convenience. The idea that the law of God is of little consequence has prevailed with many in this church, and a change must come. When all the members surrender to God, placing heart and mind in His keeping, a different condition of things will exist. Courage and faith will come in. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 22

“What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul, or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:36. “To obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22. God sent Saul to destroy the Amalakites utterly. Feeling at liberty to use his own judgment to depart a little from what the Lord had said, Saul supposed it his prerogative to save the best of the sheep and oxen to sacrifice in offerings to God. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 23

“Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth Me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following Me, and hath not performed My commandments.” 1 Samuel 15:11. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 24

Meeting Samuel at Gilgal, Saul accosted him with the words, “Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord. And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.” 1 Samuel 15:13-15. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 25

“And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being king.” 1 Samuel 15:22, 23. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 26

To those who have been trying to serve God and mammon in any line, I would say, Is it not time that you took your position on the Lord’s side? You may say that you cannot keep the Sabbath and attend to your business. Then change your business whatever the consequence may be. Can you not trust God? He does not ask you whether or not it is convenient for you to keep the Sabbath. He asks you to keep it at whatever cost. The Sabbath is often desecrated because it is convenient. God forbid. On this point there is great danger in all our churches. 4LtMs, Ms 26, 1886, par. 27