Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4

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Lt 60, 1886

Corliss, John; Corliss, Julia

Tramelan, Switzerland

December 25, 1886

Portions of this letter are published in Ev 84-85, 340; UL 373; EGWE 249; 5MR 328-329; 6MR 64, 196.

Dear Children, John and Julia:

We received a letter from you while at Basel last Thursday. We were glad to hear from you and to learn that the good work was still progressing in Australia. The work is still moving forward here in Europe. Some additions are being made to our numbers in every effort that is put forth to open the Scriptures to the people. The truth is like leaven; it will work silently in some hearts. We find it so here. The truth will have its transforming power upon those who are honest in heart. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 1

Brethren Conradi and Ertzenberger are two good workmen. They have been laboring here in Basel the past two months. The hall they have hired is filled, and some evenings a small room adjoining the hall is filled. Brother Ertzenberger told me last evening that sixteen had decided to keep the Sabbath. This is very encouraging to us all. Those who are gained here will be better situated to be cared for than in many places where there is no church or meetinghouse and no fold for the sheep. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 2

I think our laborers are in danger of making mistakes upon this point. They do not make the most thorough efforts where a church has been raised up, but they go at a distance and work far off; and then if some souls take hold of the truth, they are neglected. Some new field has been entered, and there are many small companies brought out into the truth and left for the wolves to come in and devour them. It is wisdom to choose fields where there is a church established that these fields can be cared for, and those newly come out into the faith can be encouraged, led along until they become established, rooted and grounded in the present truth. I think wise generalship is needed in the selection of fields of labor. Plans should be made before a field is entered, how these souls are to be cared for. Who will minister unto these who shall take hold of the truth? They have accepted an unpopular truth. Who will educate them after they have learned their ABC’s? Who will give the spiritual mold to their experience? To labor at considerable expense to bring out souls into the truth and then leave them to fashion their own experience according to false ideas they have received and woven into their religious experience would leave that work far worse than if the truth had never been brought to them. To leave the work incomplete and to ravel out is worse than to wait until there are plans well devised to take care of those who do come into the faith. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 3

It is poor policy to leave a few here and there, unfed and uncared for, for devouring wolves, or to become targets for the enemy to open fire upon. I have been shown that there has been much of such work done among us as a people. Promising fields have been spoiled for future effort by striking in prematurely without counting the cost and leaving the work half done. Because there has been a course of lectures given, then stop the work, rush into a new field to half do the work there, these poor souls who have but a slight knowledge of the truth are left without proper measures being taken to confirm and establish them in the faith and educate them like well-drilled soldiers how to meet the enemy’s attacks and vanquish him. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 4

Where there are missions established, gather everything possible surrounding them. Make effort after effort and [do] not stop with one course of lectures; the second is needed far more than the first and will establish points. Peter addressed his brethren in regard to practical godliness, teaching them that they must live upon the plan of addition, constantly climbing heavenward, adding grace to grace, as the only security for them to keep them from shipwreck and ruin. And by thus climbing round after round of the ladder of progress, looking to God above the ladder, clinging to Christ, climbing up by Christ’s help, they have the assurance that they would never fall, and the pledge from God is that He would multiply unto them His graces as they should perseveringly, and by giving all diligence, act upon the plan of addition. “For,” said he, “so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance.” “Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” 2 Peter 1:11-13, 15, 16. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 5

If those who knew the truth and were established in it were indeed in need of having its importance kept ever before them, and their minds stirred up by the repetition of it, how important that this work is not neglected for those newly come to the faith. Everything in the interpretation of the Scripture is new and strange to them, and they will be in danger of losing the force of the truth and [of] receiving ideas not correct. In many efforts that have been made, the work has been left incomplete. One man alone should not commence this work or finish it, for one man becomes too weary to follow up the pulpit effort and teach and minister; but two should be connected in this effort. And if their manner of labor is not the same, this will be all the better, for then one man’s mold and ideas will not have too great power upon the minds of those for whom they labor. It should be after the order Christ established, sending forth the laborers two and two, then the labor will be divided; for the coming close to the people out of the pulpit, explaining Scripture to them, talking with them, praying with them, and showing the spirit of Jesus in all meekness and patience, bearing with their ignorance, and that patiently and with the spirit of Christ, bearing with their opposition and objections will tell more than all the arguments and discourses given aside from this personal labor. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 6

This personal effort is that which the people must have. Heart must be brought close to heart, and in every soul we are to see one whom Christ died to save. This work is not pleasant to all, but it is a work that is to be done; and it is essential in the formation and building up of a church and in educating you to become able ministers. When the arguments for present truth are presented for the first time, it is difficult to fasten the points upon the mind. And although some may see sufficiently to decide, yet for all this there is need of going all over the very same ground again and giving another course of lectures. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 7

New ones will be added to the hearers and the second series of discourses fastens upon the mind, and by Bible readings and a more definite explanation of the truth more souls will be gathered and established there that have taken their stand upon present truth. This is the only work that should be accepted as giving “full proof of thy ministry.” [2 Timothy 4:5.] Many love to preach, but they do not love to minister; but this is the work which is really more essential than preaching alone. There is to be practical instruction given in regard to the daily Christian life and duty. We are to present in our own life patience, meekness, and forbearance, long-suffering, cheerfulness, joyfulness in the truth—but not a love for controversy. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 8

Then if the teacher shall represent Christ in words, in character, that he is seeking to reach the highest elevation of Christian character after the divine standard, God will bless his effort to present to others the Bible specifications of what constitutes Christian character. The Bible may be opened, the perfect standard of human character presented, and a perfect guide under all circumstances of life. But those presenting sacred truth must be backed up by the example of the teacher. Thus God would have us become living epistles known and read by all men. All our passions must be under the control of the Spirit of God. Christ must be an abiding presence by faith in our own hearts. Our conversation then will not be trivial, but in heaven, our thoughts refined, our words select and well chosen, for are they not registered in the books of heaven? There is a precious, holy work to be back up and the truth exemplified in a holy life, that we may be examples to the flock. Thus we are representing Jesus to others around us. Oh, that God would help us to work in His order, with His Spirit, and not take any glory to ourselves, is my prayer day and night. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 9

How thankful I am that we have a loving Saviour to whom we can go in our great need. We often lack wisdom, and we scarcely know ourselves or understand how liable we are to depend on our own finite judgment. I know that if we should have greater earnestness to seek God, greater earnestness to subdue self and work intelligently, we should see wonderful results. Oh, my heart cries out after the living God! I want daily, yes, hourly, a renewal of His grace and His salvation. I must have power from on high, else I cannot be a living channel of light to the world. I tremble, for I have reason to know great trials are before me. I do not want to be surprised by the enemy. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 10

I am so glad that the work has started in Australia, and when I think of what a power those who have taken hold of the truth may become, what light may flow through them to others, I am filled with rejoicing and think that every one who truly believes the truth will be workers for God and that through them the light is to be communicated to others, I am led to praise God with pen and heart and voice. But the exceeding great and precious promises are held upon condition of obedience. We may be exalted to heaven in point of privileges. We may have great light, precious opportunities for doing good, and yet fail to make God our dependence. The warnings God has given in His holy Word through His prophets, the great and heavenly illuminations reflected from the cross of Calvary, will not prevent souls from falling away from the truth for the reason they trusted to their own hearts, sparks of their own kindling, and did not make God their strength, and they lost that which was sacred and valuable—the Spirit of God witnessing with their spirit. Their sins were not put away, and He hid His face from them. He would not hear their prayers. The Lord did not forsake them nor suffer His faithful ones to fail, but they departed from Him and separated themselves from His love and forfeited the fulfilment of His promise in which they trusted. They trusted in forms of doctrine as their saviour and did not do the works of Christ or glorify His holy name. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 11

We are exalted very high. The Word of God has been opened to our understanding; we see the precious light shining forth from Calvary, giving divine illumination to the whole Jewish economy and giving force and power to the prophecies that open before all future events to the close of time. In this age of Bibles and great light, immorality and ignorance are without excuse; and those who retain depraved hearts and unholy practices are without excuse. They are guilty before God. There was a time when men could be ignorant without sin. But in the flood of light now pouring upon our world, ignorance becomes a sin. Now God commands us to seek wisdom and to obtain knowledge. We may be wise or ignorant, but its results, its consequences, will surely follow. God has given us intelligent minds. This is God’s precious gift to man, and He demands of us the full improvement of this gift to search His Word for ourselves. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 12

As we are exalted very high in point of privilege, if we do not respond to the light given and render corresponding obedience, keeping our souls in the love of God, abiding in Christ, that which to us would become a blessing becomes a curse. It is the deceiver, not the Spirit of truth, that makes us believe that we cannot become pure and holy, a powerful people separate from the world, united in love and union with one another through Christ. We need not expect any other portion than that which was given to our Lord. According to the heart service given to God will be the enmity of Satan against the followers of Jesus; and the children of God are more wise and powerful when the wisdom and influence of the world are arrayed against us than when they are engaged in favor and fellowship with them. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 13

My brother, if reproach did not come to me, I should question whether I were a child of God or not and doing His work. I have plenty of this kind. The Jewish temple was built of hewn stones, and at great expense of time and money and labor these stones were cut out of the mountain and fitted for their places in the building before they were collected together, so that when the building was completed there was not the sound of an ax or hammer heard in its upbuilding. The stones which are in God’s sacred temple are not collected from the mountains of Judea, but gathered from the nations, kindreds, and tongues and people. They are not lifeless material that must be prepared with hammer and chisel, but living stones which emit light. The great cleaver of truth has taken them from the quarry of the world and placed them under the hand of the great Master Builder, the Lord of the temple; and He is polishing them in His workshop, which is this world, that all the rough edges and crookedness may be removed and they hammered and chiseled and squared by the truth of God, polished and refined, ready to fill their place in God’s spiritual temple, that they may grow up a holy temple for God. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 14

Now we are in the workshop of God, and the process is going on in these hours of probation to fit us for the glorious temple. We cannot now be indifferent and negligent and careless and refuse to depart from sin, but we must be dying to our defects of character and expect to become pure and holy and fashioned in character after the similitude of a palace. When Christ shall come, it is then too late for wrongs to be righted, too late for the character to be changed, too late to obtain a holy character. Now is the day of preparation; now is the time when we can have our defects removed; now is the time when our sins must go beforehand to judgment, be confessed and repented of, and pardon written off against our names. May God help us who teach the truth to be patterns of piety, full of meekness and good fruits, examples to the flock of God. We must be thus if we win our way to hearts. If we are all that God would have us be, we shall be spotless and undefiled. We will be patient; we will reveal the subduing, softening influences of the Spirit of God. But if we retain our defects, we are not Christlike and are not abiding in Christ and Christ abiding in our hearts by faith. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 15

We are about to commence another year, and the increased light and privileges call upon us to make a new and entire consecration to God. One year nearer home, nearer to the great white throne. One year nearer the mansions Christ is preparing for us. I long to see Jesus; I long to be with Him, to be changed to His image, and have eternal life where I shall enjoy His presence forever. I long to see God’s people coming up to their high privileges in oneness with Christ. The exceeding great and precious promises on record for us we are to claim as ours. We are to live by them; by them we are made partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption which is in the world through lust. We must present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service. We are to be constantly pressing heavenward. We are to be filled with all the fulness of God. Our heavenly Father requires of His people according to the grace and truth given them; He will not accept less. His demands must be fully met. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 16

The salvation of sinners requires a great outlay of positive power. God expects His workers to do something; to let light shine forth in good works that flash light upon the pathway of the sinner and turn his steps from the gates of hell. Every true believer is under the direction of God to hold forth the Word of life. We are not to wait until we are importuned for counsel, not to be so delicate and modest. We can now sound the note of warning and take right hold of the hand of the sinner and seek to urge his steps from the path of ruin. Let the luster of our piety, the energy, the earnestness of our faith, the practical godliness brought into our life and our own souls subdued by the love of God lead us to expostulate and entreat to save the soul from death. If we neglect this personal effort and do not habitually and perseveringly urge upon the sinner his danger, we are guilty before God. Human language is not sufficient to express our guilt of neglect. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 17

God is the Helper of each individual member of the church. Our only safeguard against failure in our God-given work is found in our earnest reliance upon God, in unreserved piety. Without this we shall do infinite harm to souls and fail in our highest responsibilities. Our light must shine forth in good works, sending forth bright and steady rays. If we live in the light, walk in the light, unconsciously to ourselves that light will be shining forth to all around us. The sons of God are to represent Christ and the elevated character of the truth which they claim to believe in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. Would that the members of the church would feel their true heavenly calling and feel, as I have been shown they should, their duty to be living, acting, working members of the church. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 18

The Lord will use all who will become channels of light through holy consecration. The consistent religious life, the holy conversation, the stern, unswerving fidelity to truth and uprightness, the active benevolence, the godly example of the true disciple are making their impressions upon the unbelievers. Then let each Christian shine and be as bright beams of light, and they will shine in the dark pathway of others. The Lord will work if we will co-operate with Him. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 19

May the Lord be near us and guide us, is my prayer. 4LtMs, Lt 60, 1886, par. 20