Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Ms 26, 1887

Sermon/“A Living Sacrifice”

Tramelan, Switzerland

February 6, 1887

Portions of this manuscript are published in 4MR 445-446; CTr 215.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:1, 2. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 1

In the ancient Jewish service it was required that every sacrifice should be without blemish, and in the text we are told to present our bodies “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is” our “reasonable service.” 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 2

We are God’s workmanship. Said David, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14. There are those who are educated in the sciences and in the theory of truth who do not understand their own organization. God has given us faculties and talents, and it is our duty as sons and daughters of God to make the best use of them. Should we, by wrong habits, by perverted appetites, weaken these powers, it would be impossible for us to honor God as we should. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 3

It has been at an immense cost that we have been placed on the high vantage ground where we can be liberated from the bondage of sin which has been wrought by the fall of Adam. It was the indulgence of appetite that overcame our first parents, but thanks be to God it is our privilege to resist the evil of intemperance and reach a higher standard. The Word of God declares that we are not our own, but that we are bought with a price. [1 Corinthians 6:19, 20.] Never can we understand the value of the human soul until we can realize the great sacrifice made for the redemption of the soul upon Calvary. Adam’s sin in Eden plunged the human race into hopeless misery. But in the scheme of salvation, a way has been provided for all to escape if they comply with the requirements. A second probation has been granted to man by the sacrifice of the Son of God. Here we have a battle to fight, but we can come off victor through the merits of Christ’s blood. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 4

God saw that it was impossible for man to overcome and gain the victory in his own strength. The race has ever been growing weaker in every succeeding generation since the fall, and without the help of Christ we cannot resist the evil of intemperance. How thankful we should be that we have a Saviour and that He consented to lay off His royal robes and leave the royal throne and to clothe His divinity with humanity and become a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 5

When Jesus was baptized by the hand of John, when about to enter upon His ministry, He offered up to His Father such a prayer as the world had never heard. Heaven was opened to that prayer, and the Spirit of God, descending like a dove of burnished gold, encircled the precious Saviour, and a voice was heard from the highest heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17. In this we have an assurance that Heaven is opened to our petitions. Christ has opened the way by which we can have access to the Father. It was sin that had separated man from his Maker, and it had divorced the human race from the favor of Heaven. But the way is now laid open, and how thankful we ought to be that the gates of heaven are left ajar and beams of light and truth will shine upon those who will avail themselves of it. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 6

Christ came as our substitute, and He was to be tested on the same point on which Adam was tested and fell. After His baptism, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness and was tempted of the devil. Christ commenced the work of redemption just where the ruin began, and the future welfare of the world depended on that battle fought by the Prince of life in the wilderness. Thanks be to God that He came off victorious, passing over the same ground where Adam fell and redeeming Adam’s disgraceful failure. Satan left the field of battle a conquered foe. This victory is an assurance to us that through divine help we may come off victorious in our behalf on our own account in the conflict with the enemy. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 7

Christ came from heaven to earth that He might unite His interest with that of man, but our heavenly Father does not propose that He shall save man without any effort on his part to co-operate with Him in the work. Man must act his part, then Christ will bring His divine power to unite with man’s human effort in the work of overcoming Satan’s temptations. Satan felt that all the power of this fallen planet was in his possession, but when Christ came to measure strength with the prince of darkness, he found One that was able to resist his temptations. The words of Christ are, “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.” John 14:30. There was nothing in the life of Christ that Satan could take advantage of. Satan could bruise His heel, but could not touch His head. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 8

All heaven was watching the result of the controversy between Christ and Satan. When Satan succeeded in his hellish plot to murder the Son of God, all the universe was filled with horror. On the cross Christ cried, “It is finished.” [John 19:30.] In this mighty achievement He threw aside the vail, and this world was brought back into God’s favor, finite man was again connected with God, and earth was connected with the continent of heaven. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 9

Now the question is, Will man take advantage of the situation and come off more than conqueror through Him that loved us? How few there are that are giving heed to their eternal interest and are fortifying their souls against the attacks of Satan! The way has been prepared, and man may be an overcomer by the help of Christ. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 10

We see intemperance everywhere. We see it as we travel on the cars and on steamboats, and we should ask ourselves the question, Are we making use of our God-given powers to bless humanity in rescuing them from Satan’s grasp? Satan is constantly on the alert to destroy souls and to bring the human race under his control. His strongest hold is on the appetite, and he strengthens its powers in desire for strong drinks. All stimulants are an evil and lead to iniquity. How shall we prevent this wickedness? Have we done all in our power to counteract this condition of things? Some will say that we have done all that can be done, and that it is impossible to reclaim the drunkard from the gutter, for we have failed again and again, and what can be done to prevent this state of things? 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 11

We think we can see a way to remedy this evil. In presenting this matter I appeal to you mothers to give your children a right education. First they must be taught that they cannot have their own way. Teach them from the cradle that all stimulants should be abhorred. They should not be educated as we often see in Basel. While the servants are out promenading with the children who have been entrusted to their care, they are often seen entering the places where wine and beer can be had, and they give to the innocent children that which in afteryears will cause them to fill drunkards’ graves. Thus they are giving them an education that will pervert their appetites, and when older they will depend on these stimulants. Little by little they are overcome and are placed out of the reach of help. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 12

Here in Europe the beverage consists of wine and beer, while in America stronger drinks are used; and the people are also addicted to gluttony—and this among the higher classes as well as the lower. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 13

It might be well for me right here to mention a circumstance that came under my notice while crossing the continent from California to the Atlantic coast. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 14

Two naval officers were on the train, and one of them addressed me as follows: “When you came on the train at Oakland, I saw that you were quite weary, but you seem to be gaining each day while I am becoming weaker. You are constantly at work, and daily you are sending large rolls of manuscript for the printer. Why is it that you can do all this amount of work while I am so weary and debilitated?” As he desired to know what made the difference, I told him that I was careful of my eating and drinking. I used no stimulants, and my diet was simple, while he was indulging in many hurtful things. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 15

I said, “You use wine and frequently visit restaurants as we pass along our journey. You indulge in rich food. You have your chicken and many other things which are causing you to feel as you do; but with me, my simple diet of fruit and bread gives me health and strength to do the amount of work that I am doing.” I told him to leave off these hurtful things and he would soon be a different man. But his reply was that he was afraid he could not resist the temptation. He said that he was not afraid of his life, he could face an enemy, but he could not resist the appetite for these things that I said were an injury to him. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 16

While I was conversing with him a call came from another officer for him to attend to a companion of noble stature of about six feet who was dead drunk. I asked him what he thought of that scene. “Why do you persist in imbibing that which you know is injurious to your well-being?” I asked him. The answer was, “I do not carry it to such an extreme as this young man.” I asked him how long it would be before he would be just as weak in resisting temptation. But his reply was, “How could I pass over these alkali plains and live without these stimulants?” I told him that our party lived without them. “You complain of weariness and we do not,” I said. “If it is a luxury, tell me where does it come in? Why partake of that which will break down physical force? Why continue to thus weaken your system? The true reason is that it is caused by force of habit, for there is nothing in nature that calls for these things.” But the young man frankly admitted that he could not resist the established habits, if he knew that his life would be shortened ten years. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 17

Oh, that he could realize that he had been bought with a price! Oh, that he could sense the great sacrifice that had been made for him, and that in return he could realize that he must make a sacrifice in self-denial. In the ten years that he proposed to throw away, what a vast amount of good he could do! What a harvest of souls might be gathered in if the talents and strength were used for the salvation of men. Christ has attached great value to a soul, and we know not how many could be saved in the length of time specified. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 18

God’s fostering care is over every soul who will deny himself and take up his cross. In our travels, while on the cars, we have been brought in contact with accidents. We have heard the groans of the dying. We have seen coffins made for those who had left their homes in the morning in the prime of life. And why all this disaster? It is from the effects of drink. Those causing all of this sacrifice of life will say, “Oh, I do not drink to excess, but I get lonesome and I must have some indulgence to pass away the time.” 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 19

The same excuse is made by the tobacco devotee. Ladies, do you not want company? If the poisonous tobacco is such a soother for gentlemen, is it not for the ladies? Shall the women go through the streets polluting the air with the smoke of the noxious weed? One has just as much right as the other. But what right have any of the human race to defile themselves? What right have any to poison the air that is given us of Heaven? There is no justice in it, no more than is in the use of alcohol to poison and deform the image of God. What does the apostle say? “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” [Romans 12:1.] And you say the habit cannot be broken? 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 20

I am speaking on temperance from a Christian standpoint, and what are you doing? There is a great responsibility resting upon you, and you cannot render to God true service unless you present your bodies a living sacrifice. None of us can be justified in violating this wonderful machinery. Should we do so, the evil is transmitted to our children. You give them a legacy, and you are accountable for that which you transmit. There is a great responsibility resting upon parents. They are accountable for the morals of their children. Can we be surprised that the children do not fear God? How often you see boys no more than eight years old smoking. When spoken to about it, the reply is, “My father does it, and if it does him good it will me.” And they will frequently say that the minister or the Sunday school superintendent uses it, and “if they are good men, surely I can use it.” How can we expect to reform the children while older ones set a wrong example? 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 21

God pity the slaves to these indulgences. It is tobacco that gives a thirst for strong drinks, and both break down the nerve force and weaken the brain so that the slaves to their vices cannot discern between common and sacred things. We have an example of this in the cases of Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron. They had so perverted their appetites that they could not discern any difference between strange fire and that which was consecrated for the use of the tabernacle service, and for this breach of trust they were slain. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 22

How is it in our courts today? Men are placed in positions where life is at stake. How is it with these men? Are they temperate in their habits? If not, they are not fit to occupy such responsible places of trust. When the appetite is perverted, then the faculties are weakened so that they cannot rule justly. Anciently, God restricted those who were to fill sacred places, and they were to refrain from wine. If God saw that it was injurious then, is it not in this day? God by His angel informed Zacharias that his wife should have a son, and that he should not use wine or strong drink. If God saw that it was necessary for John to refrain from these evils, it is surely necessary for us to refrain. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 23

Christ came to this earth and fought the battle on appetite and came off victorious; and we can come off victor through strength derived from Him. Who of us will enter the gates of the city? I can answer you that not one of those who declare that they cannot break the force of appetite will enter heaven. Christ has resisted the power of him who would hold us in bondage, and although emaciated with His long fast of forty days, He successfully broke the chain of bondage and has exemplified by this act that our cases are not irrecoverable. I know we cannot obtain the victory alone, and how thankful we should be that heaven has been opened before us and that our petitions can go up before God. We have a living Saviour and One who is ready and willing to assist us to resist the power of appetite, and we can overcome in His strength. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 24

A case has just come to my mind to the point. A man who attended one of my meetings in the State of Michigan in America had made himself almost a wreck both in body and mind by the use of liquor and tobacco. I appealed to him to resist the evil in the strength of a risen Saviour. He was bowed down from the effects of his appetite. His dress was in keeping with his shattered condition, and to all appearance he had passed the line to be helped. But he tremblingly arose in the congregation and said, “Mrs. White, you have an interest for me, and I will have an interest for myself.” 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 25

Six months later he came to my home and with tears, and a countenance beaming with joy, grasped my hand. I did not recognize who he was. He said, “Do you not know the man in an old blue coat who rose in your congregation and said that he would try and reform?” When the facts were presented I was astonished, for the reason that he looked ten years younger; and instead of being bowed down, he stood erect. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 26

I was anxious to know what course he took to wean himself from his former habits. He stated that he went home with a quid of tobacco in his mouth. He took it in his hand and he promised that he would not touch it for five minutes. “Then,” he said, “I made a promise for ten minutes, and then I prayed and fought the temptation. I continued this process until the sun was seen coming up, when I threw the tobacco into the fire and have not touched it since. That night was a night of struggle, but thank God I came off victor.” 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 27

This man became superintendent of a Sabbath school. He could tell by experience what bondage these evils had brought him under, and he could warn the youth from becoming contaminated with this vice; and those who had been overcome as himself he could point to Christ as a source of help in gaining the victory. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 28

Let each one in the sound of my voice ask himself, How many have fallen into the habit of using liquor and tobacco through my influence? How many can appear before God and say that they are free from these contaminating vices? How have you used the powers and talents entrusted to you? In the judgment there will be two classes. To one class Christ will say, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 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. ... Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me. Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for 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. ... Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me.” Matthew 25:34-45. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 29

Christ identifies Himself with the persons of His saints. We have a heaven to gain, and shall we obtain it? Shall we make the best use of our talents while the hours of probation last? Shall we gather strength, and be where we can by our lives teach by precept and example? And shall we not walk before the world in such a way that the responsibility of their destruction shall not be charged to our account? Let all who profess the name of Christ scatter blessings by the way. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” [Romans 12:1.] 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 30

All heaven are looking on to see how we are fighting the battle. Shall we break the fetters of Satan and show by our lives that we love our Captain? Who will unite in an effort to break every yoke? If faithful, our reward will be eternal life. 5LtMs, Ms 26, 1887, par. 31