Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5

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Lt 28, 1888

Burke, Brother

[Fresno, California?]

April 5, 1888

Portions of this letter are published in 3SM 63-64; 1MCP 45, 271-272; 2MCP 643; 8MR 107-109. +Note

Dear Brother Burke:

I received your letter and will endeavor to answer it. You say that you receive the testimonies, but the portion in regard to deception you do not receive. Nevertheless, my brother, it is true, and hearsay has nothing to do with this case of reproof. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 1

As a faithful messenger from God, I have tried to tell you the truth because I love your soul, and I do not want your record to stand in the books of heaven as it now appears. I do not desire you to take such a course that you will be ashamed to meet your life record when the Judge of all the earth shall reward both saint and sinners according as their works have been. I am not your enemy because I speak plain truth to you. I would not injure you in any way, but my dear brother, you are doing injury to your own soul that will be as lasting as eternity. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 2

It is no evidence that you are a child of God and in harmony with the Bible standard because you have the praise of those who love not God and who do not keep His commandments. Many of our brethren and sisters are deceived in this matter. They judge you from the outward appearance, while the Lord looketh upon the heart. The Lord never makes a mistake. He judgeth righteously and accurately. I have told you the truth. Because you do not see and understand yourself, the Lord has graciously presented the matter before you. Will you reject the light of the message of God to you and say it is hearsay? Dare you do this? You know better. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 3

There has been a Witness to every word you have uttered, to every impression you have made upon minds by presenting matters that have not been in accordance with truth. You may have striven hard to make yourself believe that you had the correct side of these things, but the Lord has shown me that your words, your representations, were not all in harmony with truth. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 4

The Lord would not repress your activity, but He would give it the proper direction. God would have your ambition sanctified and worthy of the Christian name. Both old and young have some object, some aim to pursue. That object may involve destruction because it is not in harmony with God, and it may tend to dignify and ennoble the whole man because it is pure, unselfish, and holy. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 5

The Bible is our guidebook, and every motive, every action is to be tried by the moral principles contained in the Word of God. The Bible is our light, our adviser, and to those who deviate from the path of right the Bible presents warnings and reproofs, pointing out the right course to pursue that we may become heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 6

The Bible presents to our view the unsearchable riches and immortal treasures of heaven. Man’s strongest impulse urges him to seek his own happiness, and the Bible recognizes this desire and shows us that all heaven will unite with man in his efforts to gain true happiness. It reveals the condition upon which the peace of Christ is given to men. It describes a home of everlasting happiness and sunshine where no tears nor want shall ever be known. But in order to gain this home, we must comply with the conditions upon which it is promised. But God never compels any man to serve Him. He would direct the aspirations that the soul may be ennobled and sanctified. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 7

Now, my brother, because the world is taking you in its arms with flattery and applause, it is no evidence that you are right, but rather a matter of alarm that you should have such an experience. The enemy of God and of man is ever on the lookout, and if he can ensnare a soul by any device, even by the means of praise and sympathy and by flattering inducements, he will do it. He will appear to be the best and strongest friend a man could have; but the apostle says, “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be the friend of the world is the enemy of God.” [James 4:4.] It is no evidence that a man is right because the world places its confidence in him. The work of Christ in our world was not recognized. He was misjudged and maligned, and His words were misinterpreted and His lessons perverted. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 8

Jesus said, “These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.” [John 15:17-21.] 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 9

The Lord has plainly shown us in His Word that if we are loyal to God and to His truth, we shall not have the friendship of the world, the Lord’s enemies. And of the work of the Comforter, Jesus says, “When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” [John 16:8.] And in His last prayer for His disciples, Jesus said, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. ... And now I come to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. ... 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 10

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they may be one: as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may believe that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” [John 17:9-24.] 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 11

The words of Christ plainly reveal the fact that the followers of Christ are to be a unit and that in that unity there is strength. Satan will seek to the utmost of his power to prevent harmony among those who profess to be Bible Christians. If confidence is given to any but God, your expectations will be blighted. Deceived by our own hearts, or by the hollow maxims that exert such influence around us, we may seek the support and sympathy of the world; we may lose sight of the frauds of men as well as of the truth of God, and we may bind up in bundles with the world, but all this will separate us from the source of our strength. Words may be spoken, deeds may be done that will gain the confidence of the world, but if they do not bear the signet of heaven they will gain nothing of permanent worth for the soul. The Lord can and will bless His own work wherever it is done. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 12

Selfishness prompts many of the deeds that men do, and it is a terrible evil. It exists in all ranks and is destructive in its influence in proportion as it is cherished in a greater or less degree. It casts a baleful influence over the individuals that do not resist its terrible encroachments. In some its working is seen in their strife for supremacy. They look upon others who stand above them in position, and they begin to plan to gain a position above their superiors to win popularity and power. They will not scruple to use unfair means in order to win their point and will continually be seeking for something that can be construed into evil that they may bring condemnation upon those whom they would supplant. Whatever evil they can find in the course of others they use as something that will justify them in their underhanded work of creating distrust and suspicion against those over whom they would stand superior. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 13

My brother, as far as it has been in your power, you have made capital of the mistakes and errors of your brethren. You have reported their sins and opened up their weaknesses, both to those of our faith and to unbelievers, and you have done this all through a spirit of revenge, depreciating others and extolling yourself in your self-righteousness. With neither my pen nor my voice can I portray the way in which God looks upon this kind of conduct. You are putting Christ to an open shame. You are making the truth, which your brethren profess to believe, a byword and a jest. How have the angels of God looked upon this work? 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 14

God Himself has drawn strong and clear lines of separation between His people and the world, and He is greatly dishonored when one professing His name so far forgets the principles of love and right that should govern the conduct of a brother to his brethren as to publish the defects of those of like faith with himself to those who believe not the truth. How much will this manner of conduct guard men from the temptations to unbelief and unfidelity? In exposing the weakness and errors of those who are of the same faith with yourself, are you not acting the part of a traitor? If a soldier in the army should do as you have done, give the enemy an advantage by pointing out the weakness of some file or rank in the troops, he would be thought worthy of death and would immediately be put to death. And what have you done? I have been shown that you have done a work that the Lord abhors. You have brought contempt on the doctrines entertained by this people. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 15

I have been shown that every word of your free and uncalled-for confidences and disclosures has weakened the confidence of unbelievers in the truth which we hold sacred and has turned aside the people from the doctrines set forth in the living oracles of God’s Word. You have become very liberal and have formed alliances with unbelievers. Through the door of your undue confidences to unbelievers you have polluted and corrupted the doctrines of the Bible. Did the Lord, the Captain of your salvation, give you orders to follow the course you have been pursuing? 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 16

The standard of our faith is one that requires a pure life, a pure association; and communicating to unbelievers that which they should not know, have no right to know, ought not to know, has sapped your spiritual vitality and made you guilty before God. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 17

Did you think that God has forsaken your erring brethren? Could you not realize that, though erring, they might yet recover themselves out of the snare of the devil? If you were in greater light than they were, if you were in connection with God, why, I ask you, did you not try to save your brethren? “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” [Galatians 6:1.] 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 18

Christ requires separation from the world. God’s warnings were ever given to oppose such a course as you have been taking. He says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” [2 Corinthians 6:14.] “Be ye not unequally yoked together,” letting unbelievers into your secrets; for all alliances that give undue influence to those who do not love God over those who profess His name must be strictly avoided. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 19

All combinations with unbelievers that bind as a yoke must be broken. These words apply not only to making a marriage covenant with an unbeliever, but to the making of all unions where the worldly element can have a prevailing influence over believers. For “what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” [Verses 15-18.] 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 20

You have been doing the very work in which Satan is engaged. He is an accuser of the brethren and accuses them before God night and day. You have worked not on the side of Christ, but on the side of the enemy. Will you call to mind the lesson which Christ gave the Pharisees when they brought to Him the woman guilty of adultery? While they vehemently accused her, Christ stooped down and wrote on the ground, and one after another beheld their sins written in the sand, and the accusers were accused; for the life and character of each one was laid open before him as if written in an open book. And when they urged Christ for His decision and condemnation, He said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” [John 8:7.] And one by one they turned from His presence, guilty and condemned of greater sins than the poor woman whom they had thought worthy of death. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 21

The members of the church of God should be well organized, for they are to be as one. Their bond of union should be the living oracles of truth, for they should be united under the yoke of Christ. The yoke of Christ is the only yoke they should take upon them. The church is the Lord’s, even though all within its covenant circle are not perfect in character. Judas was among the twelve, yet he was not perfect, for he betrayed his Lord. Any confederacy with the world is strictly forbidden by the Scriptures. God would have His people distinct from all worldly confederacy. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 22

If charity work is to be done, the church is its own almoner. We do not need to unite with societies of a worldly character in order to visit the sick, clothe the naked, or help the needy. This work we can do through God’s own appointed agencies, and in the name of Jesus Christ. God does not design that we shall be placed in any subservience to the world in this regard, or that any communication shall be made by us to them that will give them an advantage over us. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 23

Now, my brother, as near as I can trace them, words similar to these were spoken to you, and I must judge from this that you have mingled with the world, and that it has proved a snare to you. May the Lord reveal to you just what this matter is. There is a work to be done for you, my brother, for you have separated from your brethren and have united with worldlings. A spirit of self-righteousness has come upon you. There is abundant opportunity for pride to work in the hearts of those who have made but few attainments in the Christian life, who have given up little for their Redeemer. They are ready to receive flattery and are ever gratified with the thought that they are esteemed as among those who have wonderful qualifications and are jealous lest they shall not be esteemed as first among their brethren. Pleased with self, they are gratified that they are ... [page missing here] ... to his vanity, his pride, his desire for supremacy and self-exaltation. To cherish these selfish desires is fatal to spirituality and will place the soul in a position where it may become hopelessly deluded and imperil others in the same delusions. Those who have sympathized with him who would exalt himself, praising and flattering him, have helped him to take it for granted that he is all right, and what he thinks himself to be. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 24

If the Lord corrects this self-important man through any of His acknowledged agencies, He also corrects those who have helped him on in his sad course of self-sufficiency which has led him to disrespect the church, to disregard the agencies God has employed to correct the erring. Those who have flattered him think that they are his best friends, but in this they are deceived, for they are his greatest enemies. They stand in a position where they make of none effect the message which God sends by His delegated servants and interpose themselves between God and the one He would undeceive, and these equally deluded ones will misinterpret, misconstrue, and prevaricate, that they may carry out the line of work upon which they have entered. They are drawing off from the body and constantly casting about in their minds as to how to promote the schemes in which they take such interest. The root of bitterness is continually springing up in words and actions, and many are defiled. Envy, jealousy, evil surmising, evil thinking, and hatred all rankle in the heart; but all these will break forth under one pretense or another and make manifest what is in the heart. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 25

Selfishness is the want of Christlike humility, and its existence is the bane of human happiness, the cause of human guilt, and it leads those who cherish it to make shipwreck of faith. Those who encourage others in drawing off from the body are doing Satan’s work. While they will not submit to the delegated authority of the church, they will place their necks under a yoke of bondage in subservience to the rules and regulations of some manmade order in lawful contract with those who are wholly on Satan’s side of the question. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 26

Desire for exalted position will become more and more manifest as we near the judgment, and the grace of humility will be less and less revealed. If men would seek for usefulness in life, for true goodness of heart, if they would sever every cord that binds them in unholy alliance to the world and would stand wholly upon the Lord’s side to be led and taught of God, then the life of Christ would be imitated. Those who profess Christ would not then seek to meet the world’s standard, and the spirit of rebellion, discord, and apostasy would not be found in the church. Men would not worship man and receive in faith his boastful words in which there is not truth. It is just in proportion as a man’s heart is devoid of meekness and lowliness that he esteems and exalts himself. But those who receive and honor Christ as their Redeemer will put away everything like pride of heart, check every selfish tendency, curb every desire to elevate self by depreciating others. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 27

The fact that the world becomes your advocate is nothing that bespeaks your favor, Dr. Burke; for the favor of the world fosters the pride that is inherent in your nature and encourages you to reach beyond your measure in boastful pretensions. The favor of the world is no help to you in receiving the mold of Christ upon your character. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 28

In His life upon earth, Christ continually exerted an influence to destroy selfishness and pride in the human heart and to encourage tenderness, pity, and compassion toward others, manifesting meekness and fidelity. Those who would have contentment and rest must come to Christ and learn of Him meekness and lowliness of heart. We have a work to do to follow Christ. Jesus had startling, sublime truths to reveal to the world, and yet there was nothing boastful in His words or manner. His whole influence was against vain boasting and pride in human wisdom. Jesus blessed His followers by humbling their pride, by giving them large sympathy with their fellow men. He never did encourage men in their admiration of men. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 29

Jesus clothed His divinity with humanity, and it was fitting that He should bring the whole weight of His influence against the revealings of human pride and self-esteem. His own life was a constant rebuke to every ambitious feeling, every manifestation of pride. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 30

The world did not know or love Him, for He was unlike men and did not seek for their praise or applause. His tastes, aims, and pursuits were so unlike the world’s that the world did not think Him worthy of notice. Men did not call the attention of people to Jesus, although His works were such as no other man could do, not even the greatest of the earth. No one could have fellowship with Jesus and could acknowledge Him as their Teacher and Master until the pride of the human heart was subdued. No one can have fellowship with Jesus unless he humbles himself, for in no other way can he have the mind of Jesus and be able to sympathize with His feelings. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 31

Jesus says, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” [Matthew 11:28, 29.] Jesus took such a position of humility that in order for man to come into union with Him he also must become meek and lowly of heart. All ambition for supremacy in His disciples Jesus rebuked and gave lessons in humility to His disciples that are written for our admonition and warning. Jesus asked His followers, “What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace; for by the way they had disputed among themselves who should be the greatest. And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.” [Mark 9:33-37.] 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 32

The soul finds rest only in cherishing meekness and lowliness of heart. The peace of Christ is never found where selfishness reigns. The soul cannot grow in grace when it is self-centered and proud. Jesus assumed the position that man must take in order that the peace of Christ may abide in the heart. Those who have offered themselves to Christ to become His disciples must deny self daily, must lift up the cross and follow in the footsteps of Jesus. They must go where His example leads the way. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 33

The followers of Christ cannot be in conformity to the world, in harmony with the enemies of the Lord. For Christ’s sake, for the truth’s sake they will be grieved when they are misrepresented by the world, and they will be misinterpreted because the world will not be able to understand their motives of action, but they will not resent the injury but will seek grace to bear it patiently. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 34

“For it became him (was expedient for Him) for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons into glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” [Hebrews 2:10, 11.] The humble self-denial of the life of Jesus must characterize the life of His followers. The only way to counteract the work of the enemy upon the hearts of men which leads them to praise and flatter and glorify themselves and others, is to lead a life of humility after the example of our Saviour. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 35

Jesus would have His followers become one with Him. Their life is not to be bound up and controlled by worldly influences until they receive the mold of the world. The fruits borne upon the Christian tree are not the fruits of vain and selfish ambitions. There is less and less spiritual power among those who claim to be the commandment-keeping people of God, because of strife for supremacy. When a man loves God supremely and his neighbor as himself he will have a kindly, sanctified affection toward all others, and heart will respond to heart where the Spirit of the Lord reigns. All envy, all heart burnings, all strife, all hatred will be expelled from the soul, and perfect love will take possession of the breast. No thought of evil will be encouraged toward any of God’s creatures when the soul is the temple of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit of God will rule the man, and he will drink of the blood of the Son of God and become a partaker of the divine nature. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 36

We claim to be keeping the commandments of the Lord. Shall we who profess to believe the same faith, to be united in the same church fellowship, shall we give ourselves to Satan to become his servants to do his errands as did Judas the betrayer of the Master? Those who yield to Satan’s temptations to do this kind of work will take up the most objectionable features of a brother’s character and place his mistakes and errors in the worst possible light; but Christ says, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” [Matthew 25:40.] Christ identifies Himself with His people. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 37

Those who exalt themselves misstate and misinterpret the actions of others that they may make their own course look justifiable; but if they are not converted, they would do to the Master as did Judas when he betrayed his Lord. Those who are doing this Judas-like work have had the privileges and advantages that a knowledge of the truth brings to its possessor, and they claim to love and fear God. They have an outward appearance of devotion, but their hearts are far from God. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 38

Those who have a connection with secret societies, who take secret vows, are binding themselves up with the tares, although they may think that they are the pure grain. This class do not discern their danger; they do not feel the necessity of separation from the world in order that they may stand in the light as the children of God. 5LtMs, Lt 28, 1888, par. 39