Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 53, 1887

Brethren and Sisters Attending Oakland Meeting

Basel, Switzerland

March 1, 1887

Portions of this letter are published in 3SM 154-155; CG 234; 5MR 124; 6MR 11-13. See 5T 532-541.

Dear Brethren and Sisters who shall attend the April meeting at Oakland, California:

My mind is much drawn out towards you as you assemble. Again and again I find myself talking to you in my dreams, but in every case you are in some trouble. But whatever shall come, let it not enfeeble your moral courage and cause you to degenerate to a heartless form. The loving Jesus is ready to bless abundantly, but we individually need to obtain an experience in faith, in earnest prayer, in rejoicing in the love of God. Shall any of us be weighed in the balances and be found wanting? We must watch ourselves—watch the least unholy promptings of our nature, lest we become traitors to the high responsibilities God has bestowed upon us as His human agencies. We must study the warnings and corrections He has given His people in past ages. We do not lack light. We know what works we should avoid, and what requirements He has given us to observe, so if we do not seek to know and do that which is right, it is because wrongdoing suits the carnal heart better than the right thing. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 1

There will ever be faithless ones who will have to be borne forward by the faith of others. They have not an experimental knowledge of the truth and have not felt its sanctifying power upon their own souls. It should be the work of every member of the church, not in a bluster nor for display, but quietly and diligently to search his own heart and see if his life and character are in harmony with God’s great moral standard of righteousness. The Lord has done great things for you in California, particularly in Oakland. But there is much more that He would be well pleased to do for you if you will make your works correspond with your faith. God never honors unbelief with rich blessings. Review what God has done, and then know that it is only the beginning of what He is willing to do. We must place a higher value than we do upon the Scriptures, for therein is the revealed will of God to man. It is not enough to merely assent to the truthfulness of God’s Word, but we must search the Scriptures to know what they contain. Do we receive the Bible as the “Oracle of God”? It is really a divine communication as though its words came to us in an audible voice. Oh, we do not know its value, its preciousness, because we do not obey its instructions. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 2

There are evil angels at work all around us, but because we do not discern their presence with our natural vision, we do not consider as we should the reality of their existence as set forth in the Word of God. If there were nothing in the Scriptures hard to be understood, man in searching its pages would become lifted up in pride and self-sufficiency. It is never best for one to think that he understands every phase of truth, for he does not. Then let no man flatter himself that he has the correct understanding of certain portions of Scriptures and feel it his duty to make everybody else understand it just as he does. This will never answer. Let intellectual pride be banished from us. I lift my voice in warning against every species of spiritual pride. There is abundance of it in the church today. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 3

When the truth we now cherish was first seen to be Bible truth, how very strange it appeared, and how strong was the opposition we had to meet in presenting it to the people for the first time. But how earnest and sincere were the truth-loving, truth-obeying ones. We were indeed a peculiar people. We were few in numbers, without wealth, without worldly wisdom or worldly honors; and yet we believed God, and were strong and successful, a terror to evildoers. Our love for one another was firm, it was not easily shaken. The power of God manifested in our midst, the sick were healed, and there was much calm, sweet, holy joy. But while the light has continued to increase, the advancement of the church has not been proportionate to the light. The fine gold has gradually become dim, and deadness and formality have come in to cripple the energies of the church. Their abundant privileges and opportunities have not led His people onward and upward to purity and holiness. A faithful improvement of the talents entrusted to them by God would have increased those talents greatly. Where much is given, much will be required. Those only who faithfully accept and appreciate the light God has given us, and who will take a high, noble stand in self-denial and self-sacrifice, will be channels of light to the world. Those who do not advance will retrograde on the very borders of the heavenly Canaan! 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 4

I have been shown that our faith and our works in no way correspond to the light of truth bestowed. We must have not a half-hearted faith, but perfect faith that works by [love] and purifies the soul. God calls upon you in California to come into close relationship with Him. One point will have to be guarded, and that is individual independence. As soldiers in Christ’s army, there should be concerted action of the work in the various departments. No one has a right to start out on his own responsibility and advance ideas in our papers on Bible doctrines and place them in the front when it is known that there are various opinions on the same subject and that it will create a controversy. The first-day Adventists have done this. Each one has followed his own independent judgment, and sought to present original ideas, until there is no concentrated action among them except perhaps that of opposing Seventh-day Adventists. We should not follow their example. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 5

Each soldier is to act with reference to the others. Our strength must be in God, and it must be husbanded to be put forth in noble, concentrated action. It must not be wasted in meaningless efforts. In union there is strength. There should be union between our publishing houses and our other institutions, and then they will be a power, and will stand, although they may be few in numbers. Good soldiers of Jesus Christ will not act independent of each other. Not a particle of strife or rivalry should exist between the workers. The work is one, superintended by one Leader. Occasional and spasmodic efforts have done harm. However energetic they may be, they are of little value, for the reaction will surely come. We must cultivate a steady perseverance, continuous searching to know and do God’s will. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 6

We should know what we should do in order to be saved. We cannot, my brethren and sisters, float along with the current of the world. The work for us to do is to come out and be separate. This is the only way we can walk with God as did Enoch. Enoch had divine influences working constantly with human effort. Like Enoch we are called upon to have a strong, living, working faith, and this is the only way we can be laborers together with God. We must meet the conditions laid down in the Word of God or die in our sins. We must know what moral changes are essential to be made in our characters through the grace of Christ, in order to be fitted for the mansions above. I tell you in the fear of God, we are in danger of living like the Jews, destitute of the love of God and ignorant of His power, while the blazing light of truth is shining all around us. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 7

Ten thousand times ten thousand may profess to obey the law and the gospel. Men may in a clear manner present the claims of truth upon others, and yet their own hearts be carnal. Sin may be loved and practiced in secret, the truth of God may be no truth to them. The love of the Saviour may exercise no constraining power over base passions. We know by the history of the past that men may stand in sacred positions and handle the truth of God deceitfully. They cannot lift up holy hands to God without wrath and doubting. This is because the mind of God has no control over their minds. The truth was never stamped upon the heart. “It is with the heart that man believeth unto righteousness.” [Romans 10:10.] Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all [thy] heart, and with all thy soul, and all thy mind and all thy strength. Are you doing this? Many are not. They never have done it. Their conversion was superficial. They drink up impurity with the Word of God. Satan stands by the side of souls when that Word is in their hands, and they clothe its utterances with their own evil, debasing imaginings. I have been shown this. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 8

“If ye then,” says the apostle, “be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on the things on the earth.” [Colossians 3:1, 2.] The heart is the citadel of the man. From it are the issues of life or death. Until the heart be purified, a person is unfit to have any part in the fellowship of the saints. Does not the Heartsearcher know who are lingering in sin regardless of their souls? Has there not been a witness to the most secret things in the life of every one? 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 9

I was compelled to hear the words spoken by some men to women and girls, words of flattery, words that would deceive and infatuate. Satan uses all these things to destroy. Some of you may thus have been his agents. If so, you will have to meet these things in the judgment. The angel said of this class, “Their hearts have never been given to God. Christ is not in them. Truth is not here. Its place is occupied by sin, deception, and falsehood. The Word of God is not believed and acted upon.” 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 10

“A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” [Ezekiel 36:26.] I believe with all my heart that the Spirit of God is being withdrawn from the world; and those who have had great light and opportunities and have not improved them will be the first to be left. They have grieved away the Spirit of God. The present activity of Satan in working upon hearts, and upon churches and nations, should startle every student of prophecy. The end is near. Let our churches arise. Let the converting power of God be experienced in the heart of the individual members, and then we shall see the deep moving of the Spirit of God. Mere forgiveness of sin is not the sole result of the death of Jesus. He made the infinite sacrifice not only that sin might be removed, but that human nature might be restored, rebeautified, reconstructed from its ruins, and made fit for the presence of God. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 11

I would say to my brethren in Oakland, do not be continually enlarging your publishing house. Bind about your plans. Do with some inconvenience. This will be your danger. In building your house of worship, you will, I fear, invest too largely. In building, consider that you may invest needlessly means which might be placed in another house of worship where the people greatly need it. Will you not consider this? 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 12

We should show our faith by our works. The greater anxiety should be that the church members may have a large measure of the Spirit of Christ. Having the mind and spirit of Christ will be the strength of the church. Ever work for unity. It is Satan who is working to have God’s children drawing apart. Love, oh, how little love we have. Love for God and love for one another. We are separated from the world by the Word and spirit of truth dwelling in our hearts. The immutable principles of truth and love bind heart to heart, and the strength of the union is according to the measure of grace and truth enjoyed. Well would it be for us to hold up the mirror, God’s royal law, and see in it the reflection of our individual characters. Let us be careful not to neglect the danger signals and the warnings given in His Word. Unless heed is given to these warnings, unless defects of character are vigorously overcome, these defects will overcome the one who possesses them, and it will be plainly seen by God’s faithful ones who these are, for they will lapse into error, apostasy, and open sin. The mind that is not elevated to the highest standard will in time lose its power to retain that which it had once gained. “When thou thinkest thou standest, take heed lest thou fall.” [1 Corinthians 10:12.] “Ye therefore beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away by the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” [2 Peter 3:17, 18.] 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 13

God has selected a people in these last days whom He has made the depositaries of His law, and this people will ever have disagreeable tasks to undertake. “I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil, and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars; and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name’s sake hast labored, and hast not fainted.” [Revelation 2:2, 3.] It will require much diligence and a continual struggle to keep evil out of the church. There must be rigid, impartial discipline exercised, for there will be those who have a semblance of religion who will seek to undermine the faith of others, and who are privily at work to exalt themselves and perpetuate their defects. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 14

The Lord Jesus on the Mount of Olivet plainly stated that because iniquity abounds, the love of many shall wax cold. He speaks of a class who have fallen from a high state of spirituality. Let such utterances as these come home in solemn, searching truthfulness to our hearts. Where is the fervor, the devotion to God, that corresponds to the greatness of the truth we claim to believe? The love of the world, the love of some darling sin, have weaned the heart from the love of prayer and from love of meditation upon sacred things. A formal round of religious ceremonies is kept up, but where is the love of Jesus? But spirituality is becoming dead. Is this dull torpor, this mournful deterioration to be perpetuated? Is the lamp of truth to flicker and go out in the darkness because it is not replenished with the oil of grace? 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 15

Oh, I wish that every minister and every one of our workers could see this matter as it has been presented to me. It is the self-esteem and self-sufficiency which are killing spiritual life. Self is lifted up. I is talked about. Oh, that self might die; but self dies hard. “I die daily,” said the apostle Paul. [1 Corinthians 15:31.] When this proud, boasting, self-sufficiency, and this complacent self-righteousness permeate the soul, there is no room for Jesus. He would be placed on the lower seat, while self would swell into importance and fill the whole temple of the soul. This is the reason why the Lord can do so little for us. Should He work with our efforts, the instrument would appropriate all the glory to his smartness, his wisdom, his ability, and congratulate himself as did the Pharisee, “I pray three times a day. I pay tithes of all I possess,” etc. [Luke 18:11, 12], I, I, I, until I finally falls into grievous sins. Then because it is I, thoughts are entertained that the Lord will not hold I to strict account. When I shall die, and self shall be hid in Christ, I will not be brought to the front so frequently. Shall we meet the mind of the Spirit of God? Shall we dwell much more upon practical godliness and far less upon the mechanical arrangements? 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 16

The servants of Christ should live as in the sight of God and in the sight of angels. They should seek to understand the requirements of our time and prepare to meet them. Satan is constantly attacking us in new and untried ways, and why should the officers in God’s army be inefficient? Why should they leave any faculty of their nature unused, uncultivated? There is a great work to be done; and if there is any want of harmonious action in doing it, it is because of self-love and self-esteem. It is only when we are careful to carry out the Master’s orders, without leaving our stamp and identity upon them, that we work efficiently and harmoniously. “Press together,” said the angel, “press together.” 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 17

I urge upon you who minister in sacred things to dwell more upon practical religion. How rarely is seen the tender conscience and true heartfelt sorrow of soul and conviction for sin. It is because the Spirit of God has not its deep movings in our midst. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 18

Christ is the ladder which Jacob saw whose base rested on the earth and whose topmost round reached the highest heavens. This shows the appointed method of salvation. We are to climb round after round of this ladder. If any one of us shall finally be saved, it will be by clinging to Jesus as to the rounds of a ladder. Christ is made unto the believer wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 19

Let no one imagine that it is an easy thing to overcome the enemy, and through faith and perfect obedience gain eternal life. Not one can be borne aloft to an incorruptible inheritance without effort on his part. To look back is to grow dizzy, to let go is to perish. Few appreciate the importance of striving constantly to overcome. They relax their diligence and as the result become selfish and self-indulgent; spiritual vigilance is not thought to be essential. Earnestness in human effort is not brought into the Christian life. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 20

There will be some terrible falls by those who think they stand firm because they have the truth; but they have it not as it is in Jesus. A moment’s carelessness may plunge a soul into irretrievable ruin. One sin leads to the second, and the second prepares the way for a third, and so on. We must as faithful messengers of God plead with Him constantly to be kept by His power. If we swerve a single inch from duty, we are in danger of following on in a course of sin that ends in perdition. There is hope for every one of us, but only in one way—by fastening ourselves to Christ and exerting every energy to attain to the perfection of His character. This goody-goody religion that makes light of sin and that is forever dwelling upon the love of God to the sinner encourages the sinner to believe that God will save him, while he continues in sin and he knows it to be sin. This is the way that many are doing who profess to believe present truth. The truth is kept apart from their life, and that is the reason it has no more power to convict and convert the soul. There must be a straining of every nerve and spirit and muscle to leave the world, its customs, its practices, and its fashions. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 21

I must say to you that God has shown that the truth as it is in Jesus has never been brought into the lives of many in California. They do not have the religion of the Bible. They have never been converted, and, unless their hearts are sanctified through the truth which they have accepted, they will be bound up with the tares, for they bear no precious clusters of fruit to show that they are branches of the living Vine. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 22

I speak to you from this far-off land, “Seek ye the Lord while He is to be found, call ye upon Him while He is nigh. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” [Isaiah 55:6, 7.] 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 23

The lives of many show that they have no living connection with God. They are drifting into the channel of the world. They in reality have no part or lot with Christ. They love amusement and are filled with selfish ideas and selfish plans, hope, and ambitions. They serve the enemy under the pretense of serving God. They are in bondage to a taskmaster, and this bondage they choose, making themselves willing slaves to Satan. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 24

Shall we, my brethren, elevate the standard of righteousness? Will parents bring religion into their homes? Will they do their duty before God in seeking to close every door to the enemy? Will they disregard the positive injunctions of God and connect their children with unbelievers because this is the choice of their children? Are there not reasons why the Spirit of God does not work with His people? Truth is kept in the outer court. Communion with God is forfeited to please worldly relations and friends whose hearts are constantly in opposition to the truth. The Searcher of hearts said [of] Abraham, “I know him that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment.” [Genesis 18:19.] God’s blessing was upon Abraham because he would cultivate home religion. He who blesses the habitation of the righteous says, “I know him that he will command his household after him.” There will be no betraying the truth on his part. There is a law. Abraham will keep it. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 25

If you want the blessing of God, parents, do as did Abraham. Repress the evil, and encourage the good. Some commanding may be necessary in the place of consulting the inclination and pleasure of the children. Blind affection will not be the rule of the house. Indulgence, which is the veriest cruelty, will not be practiced. Will my brethren and sisters consider these things as we are nearing the judgment? Bring your children with you into the house of God. Oh, the false ideas that are entertained, that the restraining of children is an injury, are ruining thousands upon thousands. Satan will surely take possession of them if you are not on your guard. Do not encourage their association with the ungodly. Draw them away. Come out from among them yourselves, and show them that you will be on the Lord’s side. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 26

Said Joshua, “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve. Whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood or of the gods of the Amorites in whose land ye dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” [Joshua 24:15.] Will those who claim to be children of the Most High elevate the standard, not for a day, not simply while assembled in your meeting, but as long as time shall last? Will they not be on the Lord’s side and serve Him with full purpose of heart? If you do as did the children of Israel in forsaking God’s express requirements, you will surely receive of His judgments, but if you put away sin and exercise living faith, the riches of heaven’s blessings will be yours. 5LtMs, Lt 53, 1887, par. 27