Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 6 (1889-1890)


Ms 19, 1890

Cultivating the Graces of Christianity

Petoskey, Michigan

August 20, 1890

This manuscript is published in entirety in TM 147-158.

To the Ministers and Churches in the Ohio Conference:

During the late camp meeting I sent an appeal to you from the Lord, to correct existing evils. I did not write out all that I had to say to you, for I greatly feared that the letter might not reach you before the meeting closed. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 1

My brethren, we are living in a most solemn period of this earth’s history. There is never time to sin; it is always perilous to continue in transgression; but in a special sense is this true at the present time. We are now upon the very borders of the eternal world and stand in a more solemn relation to time and to eternity than ever before. Now let every person search his own heart and plead for the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness to expel all spiritual darkness and cleanse from defilement. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1 John 1:9.] 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 2

Through faith, irrespective of feeling, Jesus, the Author of our salvation, the Finisher of our faith, will by His precious grace strengthen the moral powers, and the sinner may reckon himself “to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ.” [Romans 6:11.] Simple faith, with the love of Christ in the soul, unites the believer to God. While toiling in battle as a faithful soldier of Christ, he has the sympathy of the whole loyal universe. The ministering angels are round about him to aid in the conflict, so that he may boldly say, “The Lord is my helper,” “the Lord is my strength and my shield;” I shall not be overcome. [Hebrews 13:6; Psalm 28:7.] “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” [Ephesians 2:8.] 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 3

The infinite wisdom and power of God are exerted in our behalf. The heavenly host are surely fighting our battles for us. They are always looking with intense interest upon the souls purchased by the Saviour’s blood. They see, through the sacrifice of Christ, the value of the human soul. It is always safe to be on the Lord’s side, not halfheartedly, but wholly. It is this halfhearted, indifferent, careless work that separates your souls from Jesus, the source of your strength. Let this be your prayer, “Take everything from me, let me lose property, worldly honor, everything, but let thy presence be with me.” It is safe to commit the keeping of the soul to God, who reigns over all heaven and earth. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 4

Will my ministering brethren in Ohio see that they work circumspectly, that they heed the charge of the apostle Paul to Titus? “Young men likewise exhort to be sober-minded. In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” (Titus 2:6-8); also read verses 11-15. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 5

I was shown that on the part of the ministers in all our conferences and churches there is a neglect to study the Scriptures, to search for the truth. If their minds were properly disciplined, and were stored with the precious lessons of Christ, then at any time and in any emergency they could draw from the treasure house of knowledge things both new and old, to feed the church of God, giving to every man his portion of meat in due season. If Christ is abiding in the soul, he will be as a living fountain, “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” [John 4:14.] 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 6

I tell you the things which I have seen, and which are true—that by well-directed, persevering effort there might be many, very many, more souls brought to the knowledge of the truth. O! the end is near. Who is ready for Christ to rise up from His throne to put on the garments of vengeance? Whose names are registered in the Lamb’s book of life? The names of those only will be there who follow the Lamb withersoever He goeth. Your erroneous ideas, your objectionable phases of character, must be given up, and you must be clothed with the garments of Christ’s righteousness. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 7

Faith and love—how destitute are the churches of these! The heavenly Merchantman counsels you, “Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” [Revelation 3:18.] God forbid that those who are preaching in our conferences should be like the foolish virgins, having lamps, but destitute of the oil of grace which makes the lamp burn and give forth light. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 8

O, we want more praying ministers, men who carry a solemn weight of souls, men who have a faith that works by love and purifies the soul. Without faith it is impossible to please God. How imperfect is faith in our churches! Why do we not believe that the Lord will do just as He says He will? 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 9

We are God’s servants, and to each of us He has given talents, both natural and spiritual. As children of God, we should be constantly gaining a fitness for the heavenly mansions which Christ told His disciples He was going away to prepare for them. [John 14:2.] He who lays hold upon the righteousness of Christ may become a perfect man in Christ Jesus. Working from a high standpoint, seeking to follow the example of Christ, he shall grow up into His likeness, possessing more and more refinement. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 10

The Saviour prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” [John 17:17.] Those who are disciplined by the truth will be doers of the Word; they will be diligent Bible readers, searching the Scriptures with earnest desire to understand the will of God and doing His will intelligently. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 11

The ministers in our conferences need to walk carefully before God. The apostle’s injunction, “Be courteous” [1 Peter 3:8] is greatly needed in their ministering, in watching for souls as those who must give account, in seeking to save the erring. You may be true to principle, you may be just, honest, and religious; but with it all you must cultivate true tenderness of heart, kindness, and courtesy. If a person is in error, be the more kind to him; if you are not courteous, you may drive him away from Christ. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 12

Let every word you speak, even the tones of your voice, express your interest in and sympathy for the souls that are in peril. If you are harsh, denunciatory, impatient with them, you are doing the work of the enemy. You are opening a door of temptation to them, and Satan will represent you to them as one who knows not the Lord Jesus. They will think their own way is right, and that they are better than you. How, then, can you win the erring? They can recognize genuine piety, expressed in words and character. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 13

If you would teach repentance, faith, and humility, you must have the love of Jesus in your own heart. The truth you believe is able to sanctify the soul and to fashion and mold the whole man, not only to change his words, and deportment, but to abase the pride, and purify the soul-temple from all defilement. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 14

Bible religion is very scarce, even in the ministers. I mourn day and night for the coarseness, the harshness, the unkindness in words and spirit, that is manifested by those who claim to be children of the heavenly King, members of the royal family. Such hardness of heart, such a want of sympathy, such harshness, is shown to those who are not special favorites; and it is registered in the books of heaven as a great sin. Many talk of the truth, they preach the theory of the truth, when the melting love of Jesus has not become a living, active element in their character. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 15

This is an age of almost universal apostasy. And those who claim to hold advanced truth mislead the churches when they do not give evidence that their character and works harmonize with the divine truth. The goodness, the mercy, the compassion, the tenderness, the loving kindness of God are to be expressed in the words and deportment and character of all who claim to be children of God, especially in those who claim to be messengers sent by the Lord Jesus with the Word of Life to save the perishing. They are enjoined by the Bible to put away all that is harsh and coarse and rough in their character, and to be grafted into Christ, the living Vine. They should bear the same quality of fruit that the vine bears. Thus only can the branch be a true representation of the preciousness of the vine. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 16

Christ came to our world to reveal the Father amid the gross darkness of error and superstition that then prevailed. The disciples of Christ are to represent Him in their everyday life, and thus the true light from heaven will shine forth in clear, steady rays to the world; thus a character is revealed entirely different from that which is seen in those who do not make the Word of God their guide and standard. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 17

A knowledge of God must be preserved amid the darkness that covers the world and the gross darkness that envelops the people. Age after age the pure character of Christ has been misrepresented by those who claimed to be believers in Him and in the Word of God. Hardness of heart has been cultivated. Love and kindness and true courtesy have been fast disappearing <from ministers and people.>. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 18

What can the universe of God think of this? Those who claim to be representatives of Christ show rather the <hardness of heart which is> characteristic of Satan, which made him unfit for heaven, unsafe to be there. Just so it will be with those who know the truth, and yet close the door of the heart against its sanctifying power. “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” [1 Corinthians 1:21.] The servants of Christ are not only to be instruments through the preaching of Jesus, to lead men to repentance, but they are to continue their watchcare and interest by keeping before the people, by precept and example, the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. They are to sanctify themselves, that their hearers also may be sanctified. Thus all will grow in godliness, going on from grace to grace, until the ambassador for God can present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Then the ministerial office will be seen in its true, sacred character. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 19

But the standard of the ministry has been greatly lowered, and the Minister of the true sanctuary is misrepresented before the world. God is ready to accept men as His co-laborers, and to make them the light of the world, agents through whom He can graciously infuse light into the understanding. If the men who bear the message have not Christ abiding in them; if they are not true—and some are not—may the Lord awaken them from their deception before it shall be too late. God wants men to be tender-hearted, compassionate, and to love as brethren. Jesus is waiting for them to open the door, that He may come in and infuse into their hearts the warmth of His love, His goodness, His tender compassion, that the worker may in all his connection with humanity reveal the Saviour to the world. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 20

Ministers too often act the part of critics, showing their aptness and sharpness in controversy. Sabbath after Sabbath passes away, and scarcely an impression of <the grace of Christ> is made upon the hearts and minds of the hearers. Thus the ministry comes to be regarded as unimportant. All heaven is working for the salvation of sinners; and when the poorest of the human family comes with repentance to his Father, as did the prodigal son, there is joy among the heavenly host. There is warmth and courtesy and love in heaven. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 21

Let ministers go before God in prayer, confessing their sins, and with all the simplicity of a little child ask for the blessings that they need. Plead for the warmth of Christ’s love, and then bring it into your discourses, and let no one have occasion to go away and say that the doctrines you believe unfit you for expressing sympathy with suffering humanity, that you have a loveless religion. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 22

The operations of the Holy Spirit will burn away the dross of selfishness and reveal a love which is tried in the fire, a love that maketh rich. He who has these riches is in close sympathy with Him who so loved us that He gave His life for our redemption. Paul, when speaking to the Corinthians, says, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” [2 Corinthians 4:7.] This is what Christ taught His disciples: “Without me ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 23

Paul would impress upon the minds of the ministers and people the reason why the gospel was committed to weak and erring men—that man might not receive the honor due to God only, but that God might receive all the glory. The ambassador is not to congratulate himself, and take to himself the honor of success, or even to divide the honor with God, as if by his own power he had accomplished the work. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 24

Elaborate reasoning or argumentative demonstrations of doctrine seldom impress upon the hearer the sense of his need and his peril. Simple, brief statements, from a heart made soft and sympathetic by the love of Christ, will be as the grain of mustard seed to which Christ Himself likened His utterances of divine truth. He throws into the soul the vital energy of His spirit, to make the seed of truth germinate and bear fruit. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 25

Will my brethren <take heed> that no glory is given to men? Will they acknowledge that Christ does the work upon the human heart, and not they themselves? Will my ministering brethren plead with God alone in secret prayer for His presence and His power? Dare not to preach another discourse until you know, by your own experience, what Christ is to you. With hearts made holy through faith in the Righteousness of Christ, you can preach Christ, you can lift up the risen Saviour before your hearers; with hearts subdued and melted with the love of Jesus you can say, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” [John 1:29.] 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 26

There is a sad neglect of reading the Bible and searching it with humble hearts for yourselves. Take no man’s explanation of Scripture, whatever his position, but go to the Bible and search for <the truth> yourselves. [After hearing Jesus, the Samaritans said,] <“Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” [John 4:42.]> There is the mine of truth. Sink the shaft deep, and you will possess that knowledge which is of highest value to you. Many have become lazy <and criminally neglectful in regard to> the searching of the Scriptures, and they are as destitute of the Spirit of God as of the knowledge of His Word. We read in the Revelation made to John of some who had a name to live while they were dead. [Revelation 3:1.] Yes, there are many such among us as a people, many who claim to be alive, while they are dead. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 27

My brethren, unless the Holy Spirit is actuating you as a vital principle, unless you are obeying its promptings, depending on its influences, laboring in the strength of God, my message to you from God is, “You are under a delusion which may prove fatal to your souls. You must be converted. You must receive light before you can give light. Place yourselves under the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness.” Then you can say with Isaiah, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” [Isaiah 60:1.] You must cultivate faith and love. “The Lord’s arm is not shortened, that it cannot save, neither his ear heavy, that he cannot hear.” [Isaiah 59:1.] Seek the Lord. Rest not until you know that Christ is your Saviour. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 28

I wish you, my brethren, to bear in mind that Bible religion never destroys human sympathy. True Christian courtesy needs to be taught and acted, to be carried into all your intercourse with your brethren and with worldlings. There is far more need of love and courtesy in our families than is now revealed. When our ministering brethren shall drink in the Spirit of Christ daily, they will be truly courteous, and will not consider it weakness to be tender-hearted and pitiful, for this is one of the principles of the gospel of Christ. Christ’s teaching softened and subdued the soul. The truth received into the heart will work a renovation in the soul. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 29

Those who love Jesus will love the souls for whom He died. The truth planted in the heart will reveal the love of Jesus and its transforming power. Anything harsh, sour, critical, domineering, is not of Christ, but proceeds from Satan. Coldness, heartlessness, want of tender sympathy, are leavening the camp of Israel. If these evils are permitted to strengthen as they have done for some years in the past, our churches will be in a deplorable condition. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 30

Every teacher of the truth needs the Christlike principle in his character. There will be no frowns, no scolding, no expressions of contempt, on the part of any man who is cultivating the graces of Christianity. He feels that he must be a partaker of the divine nature, and he must be replenished from the exhaustless fountain of heavenly grace, else he will lose the milk of human kindness out of his soul. 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 31

We must love men for Christ’s sake. It is easy for the natural heart to love a few favorites, and to be partial to these special few; but Christ bids us love one another as He has loved us. “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” [James 3:17, 18.] 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 32

You have a serious, solemn work to do to prepare the way of the Lord. You need the heavenly unction, and you may have it. “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, I will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” [John 16:23, 24.] Who can be trifling, who can engage in frivolous, common talk, while by faith he sees the Lamb that was slain pleading before the Father as the intercessor of the church upon earth? 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 33

By faith let us look upon the rainbow round about the throne, the cloud of sins confessed behind it. The rainbow of promise is an assurance to every humble, contrite, believing soul, that his life is one with Christ, and Christ is one with God. The wrath of God will not fall upon one soul that seeks refuge in Him. God Himself has declared, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” [Exodus 12:13.] “The bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant.” [Genesis 9:16.] 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 34

It is Christ that loves the world with a love that is infinite. He gave His precious life. He was the only begotten of the Father. He has risen again from the dead, and is at the right hand of God, making intercession for us. That same Jesus, with His humanity glorified, <with> no cessation of His love, is our Saviour. He has enjoined upon us to love one another as He has loved us. Will we then cultivate this love? Shall we be like Jesus? 6LtMs, Ms 19, 1890, par. 35