Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Ms 20, 1887

Sermon/Morning Talk at Workers’ Meeting

Grand Rapids, Michigan

September 25, 1887

Portions of this manuscript are published in UL 282.

We are glad to see so many at this meeting, and we do feel earnest in this matter of being prepared that the Spirit of God can come into our midst. We have allowed many things to come in and separate our hearts from God, and we have not had thoughts of God as it is our privilege to have. We are not on that high vantage ground that we should be, and we feel it sensibly. We want to come nearer to God. We feel sad over the matter when we think that in all the years that we have professed to be obeying the truth, we have not learned more perfectly to take God at His word that we may be strengthened in His strength. 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 1

My mind was called to the first of James, second verse: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work.” If this is our privilege, and we cannot think that the apostle has led us astray, then let us by faith appropriate the promises of God to us. “That ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” [Verses 2-4.] The Word does not say, count it all joy when ye fall under temptations, but when ye fall into temptations. It is not necessary because you fall into temptations that you should fall under them, but it is a comfort to know when you fall into temptation that you are sons and daughters of God, and that the trying of your faith worketh—ill will, murmuring, fretfulness?—No, patience! And this is an evidence to us that we are sons and daughters of God, if the trying of our faith worketh patience. But Jesus will help us because we look to God for our support and strength in every emergency. 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 2

We learn a lesson in these trials in (Romans 5:1-5): “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope in the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience; and experience hope; and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” But many are inclined to think, as these temptations fall upon us, that we must give up in discouragement, that we have no power to overcome. This is unbelief. We become weak because we fall under temptation and sin against God with our lips in talking discouragements and doubts and talk on the off side and not on the side of hope and faith. You know Christ has had all these temptations. He was tempted in all points as we are. Christ says: “For the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.” [John 14:30.] What does that mean? He will find nothing that will give him the least advantage or the least ground for triumph, that Satan has prevailed. 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 3

How important for us to be on high vantage ground! As a people we are looking for our Lord to come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. How careful should we be to examine ourselves to see whether we be in the faith. There seems to be a mist hanging before the eyes of many that they cannot really discern spiritual things and the workings of Satan which threaten to entrap and ruin us. Christians will not be the slaves of passions; they will be controlled by the Spirit of Christ. When they get into perplexity, they will not lose patience and faith and hope. The Lord Jesus has helped us out of peril and oppressive difficulties and perplexities hitherto, and He can help us out of our present trials. These little daily trials and difficulties are the most perplexing and irritating, and we stumble over them and fall under temptation. If we do not bear these little troubles, we are not receiving strength and knowledge to endure greater difficulties which will certainly come. Satan will press upon us overwhelming troubles. But we must learn to come to God in any and every circumstance, come as a child comes to his parents. 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 4

We profess to be Bible Christians, and if we are, we are not left in the dark to take one step after the other in uncertainty, but we can see by the eye of faith where we are going. There is no real difficulty before us, because we have our leader Jesus Christ. But hear the words of Christ, “They that follow Me shall not walk in darkness.” [John 8:12.] Do we not believe it? Then if our pathway appears to be compassed with darkness and difficulties, we must remember that there is light beyond the cloud, and we are not to swerve to the right hand or to the left, but to press forward and upward to the light, notwithstanding all these trials and temptations. Take courage, the Lord knoweth them that are His. 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 5

We are to keep talking faith, and this is the victory, even your faith. Jesus has said we should not walk in darkness. Then let us believe His words, and we are to keep talking light and faith and courage, praying and believing—not as the man who said, “I have prayed and prayed, and yet I don’t get anything for my prayer.” “Well,” said his companion, “let us bow now and ask God together.” So they knelt down and prayed, and when they rose up the man said, “Well there, I don’t feel any different, and I did not expect I would.” 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 6

This is the way that many pray. They pray, and they would be much surprised if the Lord would answer their prayer. They do not expect that the Lord will hear them, and they go away just as they came. “Knowing this that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” [James 1:3.] Well now, let our faith be tried. Certainly we will not know whether we have any faith unless it is tried, knowing this that the trying of your faith worketh patience. Well, you say, I cannot see and feel that which I desire, but I believe the Lord will give me the things I have asked of Him. I can and will trust in God. Then be thankful, knowing this that the trying of your faith worketh patience. Do not become restless and faultfinding under the test and proving of God; do not fret or scold or talk discouragements and grieve the Holy Spirit. That which you sow you will also reap, and you do not want to reap this kind of a harvest. You must be careful what kind of seed you put into the soil, for it will be reproduced. If you talk light and faith and hope, you will educate yourself to see light when God presents it to you. “But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” [Verse 4.] 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 7

Now everything seems to hinge upon faith, and here are precious words right to the point. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.” [Verse 5.] Now do not get to anyone else with your trials and your temptations, but carry [them] to God. What is the condition in the promise? We are to ask in faith, nothing wavering. When you see those that are in ecstasy, full of joy, let temptations and the little difficulties come, and the first thing you know, they are way down in the valley of despondency and gloom, and they begin to talk out their discouragements and doubts. Well, I don’t know about this, I do not feel happy, I do not know whether we have the truth or not, and they do not understand this and that, and they talk darkness. Satan listens with hellish joy, for they please the devil doing this. When these discouragements arise, they should not talk them to others. The devil cannot read your thoughts, but he hears your words and sees your actions, and takes advantage of the weak points of your character, and you have told him how he can gain victory over you by his temptations, wherewith to beset you. 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 8

How much stronger we would be, if our words were of that character that we would not be ashamed to meet the record in the great day of God. Should we see our words, faithless words, in a book as spoken, they would appear to you very different than when you uttered them. When you hear one speak impatiently in the house, how quick some one is to retaliate, and then comes the self-justification. How heavy is the yoke you have placed upon your neck. There is an abundance of words which you have to harvest, and you feel ashamed, you lose self-respect and lose confidence in yourself. You think how much better it would have been if the words had not been spoken. How much better to pass by the first words of a provoking character, showing that the oil of grace was in your heart oiling the human machinery so there will be no friction. 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 9

My brethren, unless you are careful to use the same kind of Christian talk in your family and in the household as when you go to church, I would not appreciate your religion highly. We want good home religion, then we may have a great deal more faith than we have, if we exercise it, and when we ask God for anything, believe we receive it, and we shall have it. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” [Hebrews 11:1.] But here is the point. You are to believe God just as you would believe and trust a friend who stood by your side, and that friend had never denied you a request, never deceived you. You are to believe that Jesus knows just what you want, and He will give you the very things that you need. Thus you are to go right along, saying, I have laid my burden upon the Lord, and will not lay it upon any human being, God will hear and answer my prayers. 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 10

The devil may say, You don’t feel any better, you feel just as miserable as ever. Tell him, I believe God will do just as He said He would; Jesus has said it, and I believe it. We want that faith which is seen in practical life, faith that works by love and purifies the soul. The right kind of faith has a purifying, refining influence upon the human character. This genuine faith does not make a man careless and rough in his words and deportment in his own family; it does not make him untidy in his dress. He will be neat and orderly and cleanly because he is of value in the sight of the Lord, a son of God. He keeps thinking, I am a spectacle unto the world, to angels and to men, and my words and thoughts must be untainted, and I must not defile my mind with impure thoughts and actions, but I must be getting ready for the society of heavenly angels in the kingdom of glory. 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 11

Brethren and sisters, do not let everyone know your thoughts and feelings and your temptations to impatience. Put them under control, master yourself, because Satan will come in and take advantage of you, if you give him the least chance. Fight the good fight of faith. You may have gained one victory in this work, but that is not enough; you want to gain a succession of victories every day, and thus you are to go on from strength to strength. 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 12

We are all to occupy a place in the Lord’s building, and it is not the important question whether we shall be big stones or little stones. Let the Builder decide this matter and place you where He sees fit. However little the stone may be, if it shines and emits light just when it is needed, you fulfil the purpose of God. We have a truth that is ennobling, if our faith corresponds with the truth we have accepted. It is not a weak, dwarfed, sickly faith. As soon as you begin to be dissatisfied with yourself, then you begin to cast about for a reason, and you frequently think that there is something the matter with your faith and doctrine, but the trouble is with yourself, and just as soon as you bring yourself into the right relation to the truth you profess, your heart will be refined and sanctified by it, it will grow more and more precious in your sight, and you will love the truth and its divine Author. Then you can lift up holy hands to God without wrath and doubting. You will not let any hear these miserable, dark testimonies of backsliding and sin, but you will feel all the time as if you must speak a word in praise of Jesus and present to Him gratitude offerings. 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 13

I have come over from Europe, and I know what they are doing there. But supposing I should come and tell you all that has made my heart sad and gloomy there, and throw the gloomy, heart-aching experience upon you. What good would this do you? Why, you would say, We will let Europe take care of itself. Well now, we have not found things any more discouraging there than we have found right here in Michigan in the early stage of the work. We do not expect them in Europe to do just what we can do here with our mature experience; but they have to labor with faith and patience as we have had to labor here, and we have seen far more accomplished there than we expected. We have no evil reports to bring, like the spies that went up to search the land and came back saying they were not able to possess it. But now supposing we put away our sin and unbelief and become more like the Pattern. We grow weaker and weaker by talking of our sins. This is not the way to do, but let us cease to do evil and learn to do well. We must work on the side of faith and hope, and while we are doing this, our faith will be growing, because God honors our faith. 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 14

I have not time this morning to tell you how God honored my faith while in Europe, but let us all begin on the faith line! You have been on the doubting line, but now take your feet right off this, and tell what God has done for your soul, and rejoice in the light of truth. When Satan tells you you are too wicked to be saved, tell him, Christ came to save just such sinners as I, and throw the promise of God right in his face, and you will come out all right. 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 15

What you want is genuine faith to trust in the Son of God as your Saviour. He has died for you, and He loves you, and you are to consider yourself of such great value that you will not disappoint the confidence Christ has placed in you by letting yourself down to a low level. Consider that your mind is purchased by God in that He gave His beloved Son to die that you might live, and you want to make of yourself just what God wants you to be—pure, holy, harmless, and undefiled. He says, I will make a man more precious than fine gold, even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. [Isaiah 13:12.] God never works to save a man against his will, but He co-operates with man to bring to fallen man moral power, if he places himself wholly on the side of God. But if you put your power on the devil’s side, you are not answering the claims of God at all, either in thought, word, or action. 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 16

You are to feel that all the power of your soul has been redeemed at infinite cost, and if you feel discouraged, let not the dark shadow fall upon another’s truth. You have no right to tell all your disagreeable thoughts to anyone. Come to Me, says Jesus, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. [Matthew 11:28.] Now the Sun of righteousness is shining upon us. He does not want us to be so cold as icebergs. He has shone upon us, and we want to have self-respect and reach higher and higher. 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 17

Here are many of our ministers that need help from God. They need spirit and power. Suppose every member of the church in the place of faultfinding spends his breath in praying for the watchmen upon the walls of Zion. Don’t you think that this work would be honored of God? I do. We have just such a God that is not unmindful of your deeds of earnest faith. Here are our younger ministers who need help and strength and want to be fitted up for the great work for these last days. We hope at this meeting, as they come in from their different places of labor, that they will take a course, that the grace of God may come into their hearts, and that they will show [that] which will correspond with the greatness and devoted character of our faith. If they will do this, they will be channels of light. 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 18

We hope every one of you, my ministering brethren, also the colporteurs and canvassers, will not keep on the back, on the outskirts of the camp, but come to the front, and let there be light and courage in every testimony you bear; and we will find that when the meeting closes, we have had a blessed meeting and made advancement, because Christ was here to teach and bless. We have nothing to discourage us, because the end is nearer than when we first believed, and we know how we felt when we first believed. Why, we did not think of talking unbelief or against each other. We had no time for this. Let us come up to the help of the Lord now, to the help of the Lord against the mighty. I never loved Jesus more than I do today, and if one half of you should pour out your bitter words against me, it would not change my course one hair. I know the devil will take me as a target, and I know that he wants me to take such a course as to make you ashamed and discouraged. But I will look to Jesus and in His name go right ahead. We have a truth that will sanctify the soul and make us holy, if we will only let it. Will we be sanctified through the truth? God help us to let His help and grace into our soul. 5LtMs, Ms 20, 1887, par. 19