Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 15, 1888

Brethren and Sisters in Illinois

Battle Creek, Michigan

December 14, 1888

Previously unpublished, but used in RH 12/18/1888.

Dear Brethren and Sisters:

We rejoice that there is a mission established in your state. This is one of the instrumentalities of God to advance His work. But the very work that is now being done in Illinois ought to have been done years ago. I have seen that there has been great remissness on the part of some in Illinois who were holding in their hands means which God had entrusted to them to use in His precious cause, making such investments of it that better facilities might be provided for the advancement of the truth. A great work is to be done in a short time. There is power in the present truth, and Satan is working in every conceivable way to keep its light away from the people. The controversy between Christ and Satan is not yet ended. The latter is constantly seeking to establish his own power and authority. If he can entangle minds, he will do it. If he can lead them to depend on human beings instead of upon the living God, he is well pleased. The deceptions of Satan are manifold, but the Lord will be our helper if we seek Him earnestly. 5LtMs, Lt 15, 1888, par. 1

The perils of the last days are upon us. Many have been asleep, and their lamps are going out. We now need a thorough consecration, a deeper devotion, to the work. The Lord has presented to me the corruption existing even among Seventh-day Adventists. Satan is Christ’s personal enemy, the originator of every evil. If our eyes could be opened, we should see him working his specious devices upon the minds of men whom we think are secure from his temptations and who feel themselves secure. They do not seem to understand that all unrighteousness is sin, and sin is the transgression of the law. 5LtMs, Lt 15, 1888, par. 2

Are we prepared for the trials which await us when the lying wonders of Satan shall be manifested? Will not many souls be ensnared? Let us now arouse and do our duty. We must individually draw near to God, repent of our sins, our lukewarmness and selfishness, and give back into the Lord’s treasury the goods He has lent us in trust. Faith in God and in the teachings of Christ our Saviour will be revealed if it is in the heart. Let the grace of Christ open your hearts to give valuable offerings to God on this Christmas and New Year’s. Has not the Lord made you channels of light to the world? 5LtMs, Lt 15, 1888, par. 3

Our missionary efforts must not be limited by lack of means. The calls for help in new fields should arouse us to do something and do it now. Shall we let home and foreign missions suffer through selfishness and covetousness? It is possible to confess Christ with our lips while in works we deny Him. 5LtMs, Lt 15, 1888, par. 4

The Laodicean message is applicable to the people of God at this time. They are saying, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,” [but] they know not that they are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” [Revelation 3:17.] Christ, the True Witness, declares, “I know thy works, that thou are neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.” [Verses 15, 16.] How is it, brethren? Have you not been giving up to self-indulgence, rather than growing into greater self-denial? Have you not back-slidden upon health-reform? Has the light which God has been pleased to give His people been cherished? Has not life and health been sacrificed through the indulgence of appetite and carnal lusts? Will my brethren consider this matter carefully and see if they have closely followed the self-denying Saviour? 5LtMs, Lt 15, 1888, par. 5

There has been a great departure from God in this matter. There has been a loss of zeal for the truth, and the light contained in the “Testimonies” has been disregarded. May the Lord help you, my brethren, to come into a position where the animal powers will not predominate over the moral and the spiritual. May your eyes not be blinded by self-indulgence, so that you cannot discern between the sacred and the common. God forbid that the precious truth should be held in unrighteousness and that you should dishonor God and the truth by a corrupt and unconsecrated life. Study your true position before God. At this time when the prayers of faith should be going up to God, you are not ready to lift up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. Have you not a work to do to seek the Lord with humiliation of soul, with fasting and prayer? Is it not time, high time, for you to awake out of sleep and shake off this carnal security? “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” [Isaiah 55:6.] This privilege will not always be granted us; therefore, we should make diligent use of our present opportunities. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” [Verse 7.] Then make no delay. The gracious promise is yours today. Set your heart and your house in order. God sees the defects in your character, and He desires that you should see them and feel your great need of help which He alone can give you. 5LtMs, Lt 15, 1888, par. 6

O backsliding Israel, return unto the Lord with full purpose of heart, confess your sins, and make humble supplications to God. It will not be possible for you to stand in the day of trial that is just before us with your present sins resting upon you. You may understand the truth theoretically, but this will not save you. It must be impressed upon the heart by the power and Spirit of God. Unless the truth is enthroned in the soul, unless the thoughts, the purposes, the aims and the whole object of life are brought into service to Jesus Christ under the control of His Spirit, there cannot be a transition from darkness to light. Christ says even ministers who proclaim the truth are only blind leaders of the blind, clouds without water, carried about by every wind unless they have the principles of the truth deep down in the soul; trees are they “whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots.” [Jude 12.] 5LtMs, Lt 15, 1888, par. 7

Eternity demands of you individually a solid experience, such as will stand the test, and it is in this precious probationary time that you must obtain thorough transformation of character. Pure and undefiled religion is to be brought into the sanctuary of the soul. Each has a work to do, and no friend or minister can do it for him; each must repent for himself and confess his sins to God. Make thorough work of it. Believe for yourself; have the grace of God in your heart for yourself. God will have His true, faithful witnesses in every walk of life, testifying to the power of His grace. They may be humble, but they will be living in the sunshine of God’s countenance, with the Bible as their guide. 5LtMs, Lt 15, 1888, par. 8

See, oh, see, where your duties have been neglected and where you have given an example to believers and unbelievers which would lead them away from God, away from righteousness, and the spirit of the truth. Jesus would have men come to Him, trust in Him, rely upon Him, and have their experience founded on Him alone. Light and counsel have been sought of human beings who were as much in the dark and as far from living in the favor of God as were those who looked to them for aid and could not give the help sought. The result has been just what might have been expected, counsel tainted with human weakness and defects. God has been dishonored, and souls have been robbed of that grace and light which Jesus is ever ready to impart to those who would seek His face. We have been interweaving with our experiences more and more of human appliances and human aids, and have sought less and less divine counsel, until our work is marked with grave defects and with destitution of divine power. 5LtMs, Lt 15, 1888, par. 9

Another grievous sin existing to a large degree in our midst is self-sufficiency, phariseeism, feeling that we are righteous and all our acts meritorious, when we are far from cherishing the right spirit toward God or toward our brethren. It is a spirit of wanting to be first. Self-esteem has been cherished, and you have had a spirit of criticism toward others because you were not first. There have been envy, jealousy, suspicion, fault-finding, and false witness. There are unconsecrated hearts among you who turn everything said or done, even under the special direction of God, in a wrong way. The power of Satan’s temptations is strong upon them, and they view things in a perverted light. They please the enemy by their criticisms and by making a man an offender for a word. In many of these cases there is no actual sin in the act criticized. The suspicion is the result of the condition of the mind of him who entertains it. If one crosses their track, they have no more unity or sweet fellowship with him. They feel disgusted with all he may say or do. Those who have confidence in you share your feelings and sentiments. A spirit of retaliation is secretly at work. Yet those who are thus creating disaffection and disunion and planting the seeds of jealousy, all the while claim to be firm believers in the truth. Such do not practice the spirit of the truth, and the leaven of their evil surmisings permeates the companies where it exists. God is dishonored, the principles of truth are degraded, and the Christian experience of many is marred and dwarfed. 5LtMs, Lt 15, 1888, par. 10

Now is it not high time to change this order of things and to seek true repentance? This unsanctified element has weakened the church and given large place to the devil. Is not this something to repent of, something to bring us to the foot of the cross, until Jesus be found of us and chosen as our Guide, our Counsellor, our Alpha and Omega? He is the Rock that is higher than we. He is our sun and our shield. He is our life and our wisdom. It is through His righteousness that we are saved, and His truth, as an abiding principle in the soul, sanctifies the man. 5LtMs, Lt 15, 1888, par. 11

There is hope for the erring, for it is not too late for wrongs to be righted. The Psalmist inquired, “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 back-biteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.” [Psalm 15:1-3.] Then should we not fear to be found sowing seeds of distrust, of jealousy, of enmity? Shall we not be afraid to transgress the Word of God? 5LtMs, Lt 15, 1888, par. 12

“And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice; and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” [Ephesians 4:30-32.] What an appeal is this! We should heed it if we expect forgiveness of God for our sins. We must have the mind of Christ and forgive just as freely as we are forgiven. 5LtMs, Lt 15, 1888, par. 13

The gospel of Christ is to be inwrought in our every day experience. The mind itself must be in a state to appreciate the divinity of the claims of the gospel. It must be girded about, trained, and disciplined to habits of self-control and obedience. If we read our Bibles with a spirit out of harmony with its sacred principles, we shall not be likely to bring from our research the spirit which it should impart. The true Bible reader finds that the teachings of the living oracles cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Satan has great power over the soul to drag it down to a low level. Those who really want to learn of Christ will have to empty the soul of all its foul imaginings, that there may be room to enthrone Christ. Clothed in the robe of humility, we must take our place as children at His feet to learn of Him meekness and lowliness. 5LtMs, Lt 15, 1888, par. 14

Will you not, my brethren, examine yourselves to see if there are not humble confessions to be made in regard to this sin of evil-surmising, watching for evil, thinking of evil, and talking of evil? If these things are cherished, God cannot bless you. All this must be put out of the heart. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him, let him know that he which converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death and shall hide a multitude of sins.” [James 5:16-20.] 5LtMs, Lt 15, 1888, par. 15

“But as He who hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation. Because it is written, Be ye holy for I am holy.” [1 Peter 1:15, 16.] “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1 John 1:8, 9.] “Who is a wise man and endowed with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter strife and envying in your hearts glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above but is earthly, sensual, devilish; for where envying and strife is there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom which cometh from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy; and the fruit of peace is sown in them that make peace.” [James 3:13-18.] Let our churches humble themselves with deep heart-searching, putting those things which have grieved the Spirit of God away from hearts, away from families, and away from churches. 5LtMs, Lt 15, 1888, par. 16