Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 8 (1893)


Lt 56, 1893

Stephens, Brother and Sister

Ormondville, New Zealand

November 18, 1893

Previously unpublished.

Dear Brother and Sister Stephens,

I awake this morning at an early hour to present to you the message that the Lord has given to me for you. During the night season I have been in earnest conversation with you both in reference to the message I am to bear to you. I am deeply burdened because of the peril in which your souls are placed. In the night season I said to you, Brother and Sister Stephens, as God’s ambassador, I present to you your peril. There are some things which you have placed before me in conversation, which I must present to you in the light in which God has show them to me. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 1

The Lord has wrought a good work for you and Brother Berry, and if you will follow on to know the Lord He will lead you in straight paths. But you have a work to do for yourselves that God cannot do for you. You must place your will entirely on the Lord’s side. You have not a long period of probation, but only a limited time in which to make your calling and election sure, and the Lord bids you to follow Him, that you may not walk in darkness, but may have the light of life. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 2

You mentioned some matters to me over which you were troubled. You asked why it was that our ministers are so devoid of business talent and financial ability? This was in no wise an unreasonable question. But has not our heavenly Father a knowledge of these things? He has called some men to the ministry of the Word, but has He not also called men to the work whose experience and ability qualifies them to take charge of the business part of the cause of God? The Lord has called men to the ministry, but He has also given to every man his work according to his several ability. “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability.” [Matthew 25:14, 15.] 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 3

God has entrusted to all men talents of ability, of means, of influence, and He enjoins upon every man the duty of being a faithful steward of his Lord’s goods. The Master expects that we shall use the talents He has given us in a way that will glorify Him and build up His kingdom in the earth. He would not have us place the means He has entrusted to us in a bag with holes. We are to use our talents as He has directed and ever have His name’s honor in view. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 4

Christ has paid the ransom for every soul, and the Word of God plainly declares, “Ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” [1 Corinthians 6:19, 20.] The Lord has greatly honored you in giving you the precious light of truth. He has done great things for you. It is your privilege to use your God-given powers to His glory. He has led you step by step and has given you many advantages. He has reached forth His hand to help you, to strengthen and bless you. He has spoken to your heart and has opened your understanding to perceive the light of truth of this time. He has encircled yourself and wife in the arms of His mercy and love, and called you to the privilege of bearing the cross and of lifting the burden, yet you have not united in church fellowship. This is not as it should be. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 5

There are some hindrances to your taking this step that you alone can remove. You have a part to act in becoming a free man, for as long as the power of perverted appetite holds control over you, and you indulge in the use of the narcotic tobacco, you are a slave to habit. The use of tobacco is injuring you both mentally and physically, and as it stands between you and your duty to God, it has assumed the form of an idol. In not overcoming this habit, you are failing to act in harmony with the convictions of the Spirit of God. God has given you light and grace, but this tobacco habit keeps you from coming into full recognition as a member of the church. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 6

No one [but yourself] can do this work of separating yourself from the unclean thing. It rests wholly with yourself as to whether or not you will discard this practice that keeps you a slave to your pipe. You cannot claim that you have the moral power of a man in Christ Jesus until in the faith of what God has given, and of what He will give, you overcome this defiling practice that is injuring both your mental and physical powers. This habit is mastering, overcoming, you, beclouding your mind and making it impossible for you to discern sacred things. You are on losing ground. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 7

The conditions upon which a man may become a member of the kingdom of God are, “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” [Ecclesiastes 12:13.] When the lawyer came to Christ, asking, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? How readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou has answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” [Luke 10:25-28.] 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 8

This is the truth that is to be brought home to every mind and conscience. The declaration is too plain to be misunderstood. All who do not obey God are cursed with a curse, but to those who obey him are promised blessing and peace. God is looking down upon the inhabitants of the world. He sees those whom He has blessed and sustained, whom He has watched over and provided with food and clothing. He notes those who lay hold of the advantages which His liberality has provided, as though they were their own, as though they themselves had created the bounties He has given and had perfect right to appropriate the treasures of earth as best suited their convenience and pleasure. They do as did Adam in Eden, and do not consider a “Thus saith the Lord,” any more than he did when he took of the forbidden tree. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 9

God has made provisions of such a character that suffering and want need not exist in our world. God instituted the tithing system by which tithes and offerings are to flow into the treasury of the Lord’s house, so that there may be means in the treasury to sustain and carry forward the work of the gospel in the earth. He has provided that there may be “meat in mine house” [Malachi 3:10], that is, means whereby warnings and entreaties may be sent to the world. If men become selfish, if they misplace the means that God has entrusted to them, and fail to act the part that God has designed they should act to sustain his work, then they will have to render an account to God for the souls that are lost through their neglect to co-operate with divine agencies. They will have to render an account for the retarding of the advancement of the work of God in the earth. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 10

The salvation of the human family was laid in sacrifice—the sacrifice of Him who was equal with God. The Lord declares, “I have set (or anointed) my King on my holy hill of Zion.” [Psalm 2:6.] Isaiah says, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The might God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of his father David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” [Isaiah 9:6, 7.] 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 11

David says, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.” [Hebrews 1:8.] This exalted Saviour came to our world and died in order that we should not eternally perish. He practiced piety, self-denial, and self-sacrifice and set us an example that we should follow in His steps. He not only declared that the law was binding, but honored it by rendering perfect obedience to its claims. For our sake He become poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 12

I speak to you the message that God has given me. “Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price.” [1 Corinthians 6:19, 20.] And what a price! May the Lord God of Israel help you to see that it is the greatest honor that can be bestowed upon men to have the privilege of linking up with Christ, to wear His yoke, to bear His burden. Hear the Word of the Lord that is spoken to finite, mortal man, “Ye are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] What material are you bringing into this character building? “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever.” [Romans 11:33-36.] 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 13

In consideration of the fact that we owe all to God comes the earnest entreaty. “I beseech ye therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, (who gives liberally, making his sun to shine on the evil and on the good.) 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, (not retaining your inherited and cultivated sharp traits of character) that ye may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measures of faith.” [Romans 12:1-3.] 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 14

You should carefully read and consider this chapter. Romans 12. The words therein are as appropriate for you as though they [had] been addressed to you personally, and as though you had listened to them from the lips of Christ Himself. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 15

I have also a few things to say to you in regard to your son. It has been presented to me in clear lines that you are in need of wisdom from above. You have not managed your son in the past in a way that God could approve of your course. A similar method of treating him now, when he has arrived at the age which he has, will not meet the approval of God. Your son’s marriage has not been after God’s order; for your son does not know how to treat a wife. Self is his highest object of affection. If he is crossed in any way, he is sullen, unthankful, unholy. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 16

Yet, Sr. Stevens, your son is your idol. You have thought that your management was good, but in his case it has proved just about his ruin. He has wrought ruin for himself, and ruin for the one with whom he has connected himself in marriage. She loves your son; but he loves himself, and indulges himself in every gratification possible. He is even now petted and indulged in his perverse ways; but let me tell you this kind of management in his case is ruining him, making him a curse to himself and to others. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 17

Eli pursued a course of indulgence toward his sons, and you have his example before you. God warned Eli as to what the sure result would be; but he did not heed the warning. Were your son permitted to do so, he would waste all your substance, and idle away his time. He has no love for any kind of employment that calls for earnest thinking and for taxing exercise. Labour is not according to his ideas, or in harmony with his inclinations. His course is an offense to God, for he has not educated and trained his powers to serve in the advancement of that which is noble and good. He is content to live upon his parents, and to let them provide for his necessities. While he lives in idleness, your petting and humoring him is not doing him good, but working for him only injury. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 18

Your son’s ways are not ways of pleasantness. His course is one that God altogether disapproves. For years he has pursued a course that is ruinous to his present and future usefulness, and you as parents have not restrained him, but have rather sustained him in his evil ways and allowed him to act out that which was in him. You as parents have failed to urge home upon his conscience that fact that he was under obligation to God to render honor unto you. You have not exercised a restraining influence over him, although you were largely responsible for his behavior. The mother has idolized her son, not because of his piety, amiability, his goodness and truth of character, but notwithstanding all his self-will, all his antipathy to the truth of God, his enmity to the holy law of Jehovah. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 19

December 11, 1893

Wellington, New Zealand

The past night has been one of gratitude and thanksgiving to our heavenly Father because He has moved upon the hearts of the people to come out and hear the messages of warning for this time, and that the truth has triumphed in this place. Praise His holy name. But I felt very sorry that Brothers Stevens and Forest felt so little interest in the meeting, and did not realize that it was necessary for them to attend the meetings from the beginning to the close. Had you had a true sense of your great spiritual need, had you had a desire to have had a better knowledge of God and felt the urgency of having communion with God, you would not have manifested so marked an indifference in regard to the camp meeting that was at great expense brought to your very doors. You will never know how much you have lost. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 20

One thing has been made manifest, and that is that those who permit earthly and temporal matters to so engross their minds that eternal realities are lost out of their reckoning do not prove faithful stewards of the grace of God. You have not been walking wisely. You have allowed your mind to dwell upon some matters that seemed objectionable to you and have allowed these objectionable things to swallow up everything else. But was this manifesting the wisdom that will make you wise unto salvation? 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 21

Brother Stevens, you have made the remark that it was a strange thing that there was so little business ability among those who profess to believe the truth. I admit that your statement is true, and I wish that there were more men among us who had ability and experience in this line. But it is a fact that men who have given their life to worldly pursuits, who have been cultivating sharp, business traits of character in worldly lines, do not come into the truth in large numbers. They are too worldly-wise, and their whole tenor of life and texture of character are after a worldly order, and to them the preaching of the cross is foolishness. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 22

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 23

“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise: and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” [1 Corinthians 1:18-31.] 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 24

Please read with much prayer the first, second, and third chapters of 1 Corinthians. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 25

If our brethren who are supposed to be wise in financial matters utterly fail to give us the benefit of their wisdom in devising plans and in suggesting methods for the advancement of the work of God at this interesting, solemn period of the earth’s history, what can we do but depend upon those who have a less business ability, and a more limited experience? “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, and precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 26

“If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise, ... let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, the Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours ... and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” [1 Corinthians 3:11-21, 23.] 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 27

Is it not time for you to arise and shine? Bro. Stevens, you are backsliding from God. You needed all the strength you could have obtained during the precious meetings at the campground. The Lord has spoken through His messengers and has suffered you to show that your heart was on your idols. Had you [and] Bro. Forest and Bro. Berry felt as you will one day wish that you had felt, you would have obtained increased light and rich blessings during the solemn convocation of the people of God. But to a large degree you brethren acted as though you had but little personal interest in the meeting. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 28

Bro. Stevens, did you realize that the angels of God were witnesses to your course of action, and that you were giving worldlings a very objectionable testimony concerning the truth you professed to believe? Were you aware that all your transactions were written in the books of heaven just as they appeared to God? During the first part of the meeting Bro, Berry was interested, and blessed, but after awhile he united himself with you and Bro, Forest, and your association worked injury to your souls. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 29

You did not come to the meeting to learn in the school of Christ. You did not come to unite yourself with God. Your idols separated your soul from your Lord. O, search and see what it is that engages your thoughts and affections, that takes your strength, and dulls your perceptions so that you do not have a sense of the times in which we are living. Eternal realities are soon to open before us, and you need, if ever a man needed, the awakening power of God. You needed the precious influence of the meetings you have missed. Had you come as one hungering and thirsting for righteousness, your heart would have been filled with the love of Christ. 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 30

Consider now the great love wherewith Christ hath loved you; look upon the great sacrifice that has been made in your behalf in order that you might be saved, and then be determined that you will respond to this wonderful love, and that you will not be conformed to this world, but that you will be transformed—by the renewing of your mind. Every day you need the mind of Christ; you need transforming grace. May the Lord help you and strengthen you and qualify you to be a representative of Christ, having a character that is pure and holy. Bear in mind that if you lose heaven, you lose all; you lose an eternity of bliss. You cannot afford to make any mistakes where eternal interests are concerned. Be careful to seek for pure and undefiled religion, for without holiness “no man shall see the Lord.” [Hebrews 12:14.] 8LtMs, Lt 56, 1893, par. 31