Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Ms 18, 1887

Sermon/Christian Temperance

Moss, Norway

June 19, 1887

Portions of this manuscript are published in CC 130; 9MR 232-234.

Text: Revelation 3:5, 12, 21. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 1

Here is a three-fold promise to the overcomer. God’s promises are rich to every believer. We have a special work before us to overcome the temptations of the enemy, which will meet us in this world. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 2

Adam and Eve transgressed the law of God in Eden. They fell from their high estate and were driven out from beautiful Eden. Everything that their wants required had been provided for them, and there was only one prohibition laid upon them. The Lord said, “Of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it.” [Genesis 2:17.] Many have tried to prove that there was some peculiar quality in the tree which called for this prohibition; but this was not the case. The fruit of the tree of knowledge was not in itself injurious. It was used merely as a test of their obedience to God. Will they be obedient to God’s requirements, or not? We find that Satan came then, just as he comes today, with temptations upon the point of appetite. Eve was told that there was nothing bad in the tree, that its fruit was of such a character as would give increased knowledge. Does not Satan come to us in just that way? Does he not present attractions and try to make us believe that if we will pursue a certain course, contrary to the law of God, something will be gained by it? But after they had yielded to the temptations of Satan, Adam and Eve found that they had met with terrible loss. And so will every one in our world who yields to the temptations of the enemy to indulge appetite find that it is a fearful loss to them. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 3

The transgression of our first parents was the cause of woe to our world. We have had to labor under the oppressive load of sin ever since that sin. But a provision was made for the fallen race. The Son of God has opened a way of escape for the ruined race by taking the transgressions of man and their just penalty upon himself. He laid aside His robes of royalty, clothed His divinity with humanity, and came into our world. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He suffered insult and reproach and mockery, and yet He was the Majesty of heaven. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 4

Just before He entered upon His public ministry, Christ received baptism at the hands of John. After His baptism He knelt upon the banks of Jordan and offered a prayer to Heaven. That prayer was heard by His Father, and the glory of God, assuming the form of a dove, descended upon Him, and a voice was heard, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” [Matthew 3:16, 17.] How many can comprehend the full meaning of these words spoken by our heavenly Father? Here He says to man, “You are accepted in the Beloved.” [Ephesians 1:6.] 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 5

There is no excuse for man to remain in transgression and sin; because strength has been provided for him in Jesus, that he may overcome. The God of heaven Himself is working by His Spirit. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 6

After the baptism, Christ went into the wilderness of temptation. It was here that He fought the great battle with His fallen foe. Satan tried every device to overcome the humanity of Christ. He claimed to be an angel direct from heaven. He clothed himself with angel robes, that he might, if possible, deceive the Son of God. And this is the way that he will come to the tempted ones who are upon the earth now, hiding his real character in order to overcome them. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 7

But Christ withstood his temptations on every point. For forty days and forty nights He fasted, neither eating nor drinking. He did not do this because of any necessity on His own account, but for man. There was a mighty work for Him to achieve as the representative of the race. He was to pass over the ground where Adam stumbled and fell. By His resistance to temptation, He was to work out a victory in behalf of the fallen race and elevate man in the scale of moral value with God. Too few realize the importance that is attached to our having a living connection with God. It is our privilege to see, in this great victory gained for man, a hope that every one of us may overcome. Here was Christ on the field of battle, faint and hungry, almost dying under the long strain of warfare. But where was the hand that could be placed beneath His head? Where was the sympathizing breast upon which He could repose? He trod the winepress all alone, and of the people none were with Him. But angels from heaven came and ministered unto Him in His necessity. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 8

We see intemperance everywhere we look. We see that the power of appetite is robbing man of his intellectual powers. It is Satan’s plan to weaken the physical, mental, and moral powers. He will come to man and seek to obtain control of the mind on the point of appetite. And when habits of intemperance are once formed, it is difficult to break them. Therefore it should be a special work with fathers and mothers, and with educators all through our churches, to bring up their children to strict, temperate habits. Parents should teach their children what it is that constitutes true manliness. They should educate them to fear and honor God. They should feel that their children are a solemn trust given them to prepare for the future life. We must give an account for how we educate and train our children in this life. God requires us to present these children to Him refined, elevated, and ennobled. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 9

How common it is for fathers to set an example of intemperance before their children! How many do we see educating their children to the intemperate habit of using tobacco! This is a slow poison, which is continually weakening physical, mental, and moral power. Children have all the appetites and passions which have been transmitted to them from their parents, and they have less moral power to battle with temptation than their fathers and mothers. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 10

God Himself appeared to the wife of Manoah and told her that she should have a son and that he should be a great man and should deliver Israel. Then He gave her special instructions regarding her diet. She must not use wine or strong drink, for this would affect her offspring. Who is it that says this?—It is the God of heaven. He has a right to say it, for He made man. He has a right to the affections and the whole mind of man. He has made man in His own image, and He expects that man will render to Him the powers that He has imparted to him. Let us regard this as instruction given to every mother in our world. If you want your children to have well-balanced minds, you must be temperate yourselves. Keep your own heart and affections sound and healthful, that you may impart to your offspring a healthful mind and body. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 11

To understand what value the Lord has placed upon human beings, look to Calvary. They are of great value in the sight of God. In order to elevate man, Christ left His honor and glory in heaven and came to our earth to die. The very Christ that redeemed man by dying in his behalf gave instruction to the wife of Manoah, and through that record to the people generally. That very same Jesus who so values man tells him what is for his very best and highest interest in this world. Then should we not seek to preserve every God-given power in the very best condition to serve Him? The very best that we can give to God is feeble enough. He has given us a habitation here—our bodies—for which we must have a special care. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 12

Why is there so much misery and suffering in the world today? Is it because God loves to see His creatures miserable? Oh, no! It is because the immoral habits of man have weakened his physical, mental, and moral powers. We mourn over Adam’s transgression and seem to think that our first parents showed great weakness in yielding to temptation. But if Adam’s transgression were the only evil that we had to meet, this world would be in a much better condition than it is. There has been a succession of falls since Adam’s day. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 13

We see the indulgence of spiritous liquors and the great evil it does to man. Though liquor drinkers are told again and again that they are lessening the days of their life, they still go right on in transgression. Why not cease to transgress the laws of God? Why not seek to preserve themselves in a condition of health? 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 14

If parents would educate their children from babyhood to temperate habits, there would be a different state of society than we see today. The appetites of children are pampered until they learn to love wine and strong drink, and they also love tobacco, that poisonous narcotic which is injurious to both soul and body. When remonstrated with, they say, “My father uses it and says it does him good; and it will do me good.” Many tobacco devotees say that they have to use it to strengthen and quiet their nerves. If this is so, why should not women use it, too? Imagine a mother with lips stained and smeared with tobacco juice, kissing the lips of the children. The very thought makes me shudder. Let us rejoice that not many mothers indulge in this defiling practice. God requires His sons and daughters to preserve themselves in the very best condition of health. But as I see the habits and the practices of the people around us, I inquire, What account will they have to render to God? What has been their influence? God wants us to enjoy life and health, and the blessing of His Holy Spirit. He wants us to bring ourselves into a right relation to the laws of health. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 15

Here are children that are being brought up and educated to fill positions of trust. Some of them may sit in legislative and deliberative councils, where they will have to enact laws. What kind of education are they obtaining? Is it such as will fit them for these positions of trust and influence? Satan is constantly working upon the passions. How easily the mind is disturbed! The reason is, the children are not taught what constitutes true manliness. The course of instruction to be given to the children should begin when they are in their mother’s arms. Teach them self-control. Keep from them everything injurious. Teach them to be temperate in all things. Place them in a position where the fear of God will be before them. If you ever expect a better condition in society, your first efforts must be with your children. Teach them that they must restrain themselves from every hurtful indulgence, that they must practice self-control. But how can fathers and mothers give the right mold to their children’s characters when they indulge their own appetites? If the God of heaven has laid such weighty responsibilities upon us individually, let us bear them in the fear of God. Let us educate our children for the future immortal life. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 16

People sometimes say to me, “You must let your children go out into the world to learn its habits.” But my effort has been to place the hands of my children in the hand of Jesus. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” [Psalm 111:10.] Therefore I feel the necessity of weaving the precious likeness of Christ into the life and character of my children. Then they will be in a position where they can resist temptation like Daniel who, although in the king’s court, and surrounded by temptation, was not seduced by intemperance. Daniel had had the right kind of education in his childhood. He had been educated to fear God. And he purposed in his heart that he would not taste of the king’s wine nor eat of his dainties. Did it make a fool of Daniel to take that singular position in the king’s court? We read that when he was examined he stood higher in wisdom and knowledge than all the magicians, astrologers, and learned men of the court. [Daniel 1:19, 20.] Then we read that God gave him wisdom, understanding, and knowledge in all mysteries. [Verse 17.] So if you want your children to have the very highest stamp of education, teach them the fear and the love of God. Christ is the best teacher the world has ever known. And if the love and fear of God are in the hearts of the children, they will not yield to temptation any more than Daniel did. Daniel would let nothing come between him and God. Daniel honored God, and God honored Daniel. “They that honor Me I will honor.” [1 Samuel 2:30.] 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 17

It has been my purpose so to educate my children that they will love the service of God. They never went to a theater. They never were in a gambling room. They never went into a house where was offered strong drink. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 18

I feel an intense interest that every father and mother should feel the solemn obligations that are resting upon them at this time. We are bringing up children that will be controlled by Satan or by Christ. The only safety for any family is for father, mother, and children to pledge themselves unitedly before God that they will never taste of wine, beer, or strong drink. What account can we render to God for the money spent for liquor and tobacco? These poisons stand upon the same level, and we must teach our children that in order to be manly they must let them alone. God has shown us what consists of true manliness. It is he that overcometh who will be honored and whose name will not be blotted out of the book of life. If we sit with Christ upon His throne, we must make earnest efforts to overcome as He overcame. The great battle that He fought with Satan in the wilderness of temptation tells you what He overcame. Are you learning to overcome as Christ overcame? Will you take up your God-given work and educate your children from their babyhood to know the way of the Lord? This was the education that Joseph received. When he was tempted, he said, “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” [Genesis 39:9.] His eye was fixed upon Jesus, who had promised him redemption. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 19

How many who are present here today will be partakers of that great redemption which has been wrought out for them? How many will overcome as Christ overcame in their behalf? How many will be determined to be partakers with Christ of His self-denial and self-sacrifice? How many, who have love for their fellow men, will, for the sake of others’ good, deny their own appetite and passions? Christ has said, “I sanctify Myself that they also may be sanctified.” [John 17:19.] He wanted His disciples to be sanctified, and He made Himself their example, that they might follow Him. What if fathers and mother should take this position, “I want my children to have steadfast principles, and I will give them such an example in my life”? 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 20

Trials and temptations will surely come to our children. Satan is not dead, though he wants you to think so. He was the first great apostate, and his work has never ceased from the time he was cast out of heaven to the present. The precious Saviour made an infinite sacrifice to break the power of human appetite over the race. He has made provision that man may overcome in His name and through His power obtain the victory. He has not left us to our own feeble power. He saw that it was impossible for the human race, on their own account and alone, to overcome the power of appetite; and therefore the Majesty of heaven came to our world, bringing to man divine power to unite with human effort. He unites finite man to the infinite God and connects earth with heaven. Therefore every youth, and every man and woman, may know that there is a power working with their efforts to overcome. Why will we not lay hold upon the help that has been provided for us? Why will not man become elevated and ennobled, as God has made provision that he should be? Why does he degrade himself in every way by the indulgence of perverted appetite? Why does he not rise in the strength of Jesus and be victorious in His name? The very feeblest prayer that man can offer Jesus will hear. He pities every soul in its weakness and feebleness. Help for every one of us has been laid upon Him that is mighty. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 21

I point you to Jesus Christ, the sinner’s Saviour, who alone can give you power to overcome on every point. We have a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. This life is a constant battle with the powers of darkness. Adam and Eve lost Eden through indulgence of appetite, but the sons of God may, through the merits of Christ, gain Eden by the denial of appetite. Heaven is worth everything to us. We must not run any risk in this matter. We must make no venture here. We must know that our steps are ordered by the Lord. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 22

All around us are the victims of depraved appetite, and what are you going to do to help them? Can you not, by your example, place their feet in the path of temperance? Can you have a sense of the temptations that are coming upon the youth who are growing up around us, and not seek to help them? Who will stand on the Lord’s side? Who will press back this tide of immorality, of woe and wretchedness, that is filling the world? We entreat of you to turn your attention to the work of overcoming. Those who will at last have a right to the tree of life will be those who have kept God’s commandments. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 23

Let the education go on, fathers and mothers; let it go on in your households. Teach your children to enjoy the beauties and the glories of nature. Teach them that there is an expression of the love of God in every flower. Teach them to look up from nature to nature’s God. And then teach them that the most beautiful garment they can wear is the robe of Christ’s righteousness. It is not the outward apparel that makes the lady or the gentleman; but it is the beauty and loveliness of a pure character. Pure words and a clean heart will give them a position anywhere. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 24

I want you to be saved. I want you to see Christ in His beauty. I want you to dwell with Him through the ceaseless ages of eternity. But if you have heaven at last, you must be overcomers here, free from every perverted appetite. You must fight the battle against every hurtful lust. Every one who enters the city of God will enter it as a conqueror. He will not enter it as a condemned criminal, but as a son of God. And the welcome will be to every one who shall enter the gates of the city of God, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” [Matthew 25:34.] 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 25

The reward of those on the right hand and on the left has been decided by what they have done. To those on the right hand He says, “For I was an hungred, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me in: naked, and ye clothed Me: I was sick, and ye visited Me: I was in prison, and ye came unto Me.” But the query rises, “When saw we Thee thus, Lord?” They had the spirit and the love of Christ in their hearts. They had done this work willingly and gladly, because Christ was abiding in them. He answered, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” [Verses 35-40.] But to them on His left hand, He says, “I was an hungred, and ye gave Me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took Me not in: naked, and ye clothed Me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited Me not.” And the question again is asked, “Lord, when saw we Thee thus?” And He answers, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me.” [Verses 42-45.] 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 26

Here you can see that Christ identifies His interest with the fallen humanity. It is the way we treat God’s people, or humanity, here upon earth that brings us condemnation or reward. May God help us to rouse to the subject of temperance, and understand our duty, that we may exert an influence to lift up the oppressed. Let the money that is spent for tea, coffee, liquors, and tobacco flow into the Lord’s treasury. It is God’s money, and you will have to give an account of it in the day of God. May God help us in the great work of overcoming. He has crowns for those that overcome. He has white robes for those that are righteous. He has an eternal world of glory for those who seek for glory, honor, and immortality. How many shall we meet around the great white throne? How many voices will join in praise, honor, and glory to Him who sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever? 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 27

In a few weeks I expect, if God spares my life, to stand upon the American shore. I shall remember the pleasant scene that I have had with you here in Moss. I thank you, those with whom I have become acquainted, for all your kindness and attention for me. God grant that I may have the privilege of meeting you where there is no sorrow, no sickness, no pain, no death. 5LtMs, Ms 18, 1887, par. 28