Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 9 (1894)


Ms 37, 1894

Sermon/Dedication Sermon at Prospect Church.

Prospect Church, New South Wales, Australia

September 16, 1894

This manuscript is published in entirety in BEcho 10/01/1894, 10/08/1894.

“And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the temple those that sold oxen, and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: and when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.” [John 2:13-16.] These were the words He spoke at the first cleansing of the temple; and at the second cleansing of the temple, just prior to His crucifixion, He said unto them, “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” [Matthew 21:13.] That was a very decided statement of condemnation. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 1

Why was it that Christ’s indignation was stirred as He came into the temple courts? His eye swept over the scene, and He saw in it the dishonor of God and the oppression of the people. He heard the lowing of the oxen, the bleating of the sheep, and the altercation between those who were buying and selling. In the courts of God even the priests and rulers were engaged in traffic and merchandise. As Christ’s eye swept over that scene, His appearance attracted the attention of the multitude, and suddenly every voice was hushed, and every eye was fastened upon Christ. When once their attention was called to Him, they could not withdraw their eyes from His face, for there was something in His countenance that awed and terrified them. Who was He? A humble Galilean, the son of a carpenter who had worked at His trade with His father; but as they gazed upon Him, they felt as though they were arraigned before the judgment bar. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 2

What was it that He saw as He looked upon that temple court converted into a place of merchandise? They were selling oxen and sheep and doves to those who would offer a sacrifice to God for their sins. There were many poor among the multitude, and they had been taught that in order to have their sins forgiven, they must have an offering and a sacrifice to present to God. Christ saw the poor and the distressed and the afflicted in trouble and dismay, because they had not sufficient to purchase even a dove for an offering. The blind, the lame, the deaf, the afflicted were in suffering and distress because they longed to present an offering for their sins, but the prices were so exorbitant they could not compass it. It seemed that there was no chance for them to have their sins pardoned. They knew that they were sinners, and needed an offering, but how could they obtain it? 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 3

Christ’s prophetic eye took in the future, took in not only the years but the ages and the centuries. He saw the downfall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the world. He saw how priests and rulers and men in high position would turn away the needy from their right, and even forbid that the gospel should be preached for the poor. In the temple courts were the priests clad in their temple garments for display, and to mark out their position as priests of God. The garments of Christ were travel-stained. He had the appearance of a youthful Galilean, and yet as He took up the scourge of small cords, and stood on the steps of the temple, none could resist the authority with which He spoke, as He said, “Take these things hence,” and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers and drove out the sheep and the oxen. [John 2:15, 16.] The people looked upon Him as though spellbound, for divinity flashed through humanity. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 4

Such dignity, such authority, shone forth in the countenance of Christ that they were convicted that He was clothed with the power of heaven. They had been taught to have great respect for the prophets, and the power displayed by Christ convinced many who had not closed their hearts against conviction that He was the One sent of God. Some said, “He is the Messiah,” and those to whom He revealed Himself were indeed convicted that He was the Teacher sent of God. But those who stifled the voice of conscience, who desired riches, and were determined to have them no matter in what way they were to be obtained, closed the door of their heart against Him. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 5

The moneychangers, who were there for the purpose of changing the Roman money for the money that was to be used in the temple, were displeased at His action. Their merchandise was robbery of the people, and they had made the house of God a den of thieves. These men beheld in Christ a messenger of vengeance, and fled from the temple as though a band of armed soldiers were on their track. The priests and the rulers also fled in dismay, and the traffickers in merchandise. As they fled, they met others on their way to the temple, but they told them to go back. They said that a man having authority had driven out the oxen and the sheep, and had expelled them from the temple. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 6

When Christ had expelled those who had sold doves, He had said, “Take these things hence.” [Verse 16.] He had not driven the doves out as He had the oxen and the sheep, and why? Because they were the only offering of the poor. He knew their necessities, and as the sellers were driven from the temple, the suffering and the afflicted were left in the temple courts. Their only hope had been to come to the temple where they might present their offering with a petition to God that they might be blessed in their fields, in their crops, in their children, and in their homes. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 7

The priests and rulers had fled terrified and awed from the midst of the people; but after they had recovered from their fright, they said, “Why did we go from the presence of that one man?” They did not know who He was. They did not know that He was a representative of the Father. They did not know that He had clothed His divinity with humanity; and yet they had a consciousness of His divine power. Christ had looked after the fleeing multitude with a heart of the tenderest pity. His heart was filled with grief that the temple service had been polluted, and had misrepresented His character and mission. In His pitying love He longed to save them from their errors. He longed to save the priests and the rulers who, while claiming to be guardians of the people, had oppressed them, and turned aside the needy from their right. But the priests and rulers recovering from their dismay, said, “We will return, and challenge Him, and ask Him by what authority He has presumed to expel us from the temple.” 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 8

But what a scene met their eyes as they entered again the courts of the temple. Christ was ministering to the poor, the suffering, and the afflicted. These had cried in their anguish because they could not find a relief from their affliction and their sin. They had heard of this man Jesus; they had heard a rumor concerning His compassion and love. They had heard how He had healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, and made the lame to walk; and one cry for pity went up from their lips. One after another they began to relate the story of their affliction, and He bent over them as a tender mother bends over her suffering child. He bade the sick and the afflicted to come forth into health and peace. He gave the suffering tender comfort. He took the little ones in His arms, and commanded freedom from disease and suffering. He gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, health to the diseased and comfort to the afflicted. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 9

When the priests entered the temple, they heard acclamations of joy and songs of praise. They heard men glorifying God for the wonderful works that were done among them. They heard mothers bidding their children to praise their deliverer, and to give thanks to Him who had brought comfort and relief, health and peace. He gave them an evidence of His divine mission! He was doing the very work which had been prophesied that the Messiah would do. He had opened the book of the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue at Nazareth and had read the description of His mission. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” [Luke 4:18.] 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 10

The priests and rulers and scribes ought to have known that He was the Anointed of the Lord, for they claimed to be expositors of the prophecies. The Holy Spirit also wrought to present the prophecies to the minds of those who beheld the wonderful works of Christ in the temple. But many of them closed their hearts to conviction, for they did not like Him. They questioned, What business had He to interrupt their work? The stalls were their own, and they had paid a sufficient price to the temple authorities for the privilege of selling the sacrificial offerings to the people. When they returned, they asked, “What sign showest thou that thou doest these things?” [John 2:18.] Had He not given them a sign? Had He not flashed light and sensibility into the souls of these men? But they determined not to yield to conviction, but to close the door of their hearts against Jesus. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 11

On their way to the temple, they had given vent to their hatred, and had said that they would kill Him, and be rid of the troubler. When they asked for a sign, Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” [Verse 19.] Their hearts were full of avarice and selfishness, they had oppressed the widow, the fatherless, and the poor, and had refused to give them an offering at the small price which they could pay. When the poor had presented their affliction to them, they had turned away as unfeeling as though the afflicted had no souls to save. They had pointed the finger of scorn at them, speaking vanity, and charging the poor with sin, declaring that their suffering and poverty was a curse from God on account of their transgression. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 12

Men who could thus deal with the afflicted, were not above planning the murder of the Son of God. Whoever indulges an unkind, unmerciful or envious disposition, is cherishing the very same spirit that put to death the Saviour of the world. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 13

When Christ said, “Destroy this temple,” He was referring to Himself, for they had just been talking of putting Him to death. Then said the Jews, “Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?” [Verse 20.] They were speaking of the temple at Jerusalem, but “he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this unto them; and they believed the scriptures, and the word which Jesus had said.” [Verses 21, 22.] But the Jews did not believe on Him. They hated Him, for He had interfered with their gain-getting, and they knew that He read their hearts as an open book. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 14

“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name when they saw the miracles that he did.” [Verse 23.] He gave them heaven’s evidence of His divine mission, but He “did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and he needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.” [Verses 24, 25.] He had to watch them continually, for they were ever on His track, seeking for something by which they might accuse Him. The question is today, How is it with the inhabitants of the world? How do they treat the house of God? Have they not filled the churches with sacrilegious things? Have they not failed to learn the lesson of Christ and made His Father’s house, not a house of prayer, but a den of thieves? 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 15

As Christ talked with the scribes and Pharisees, His prophetic eye was taking in the future. He heard the tramp of the Roman army and saw Jerusalem given up to their avarice. He looked forward to the time when the protecting care of God was no longer exercised for the rebellious city. He saw that the angel of mercy would fold her wings and take her departure. Christ looked even beyond this; he saw the inhabitants of the world just previous to His second coming, and declared that the condition of society would be similar to that of the world at the time of the flood. He said, “As the days of Noah were, so shall the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” [Matthew 24:37-39.] What was it that caused the destruction of the people in the world before the flood? It was their own sin; for the thoughts and imaginations of their hearts were only evil, and evil continually. They trampled upon the commands of God, as did the Jews, and suffered God’s retributive judgment. “Even so shall it be when the Son of man is revealed.” [Luke 17:30.] 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 16

The heart of Christ was ever touched with human woe. It was His tenderness of heart that caused Him to come to earth to bring salvation to our world; it was love that led Him to step down from His throne, to lay aside His royal robe, and clothe His divinity with humanity. Every voice ought to be proclaiming, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!” [John 1:29.] In the highways, in the byways, the people of God should be proclaiming the message of truth. Some will hear and will be converted, and some will not. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 17

In the time of Christ there were many priests that believed on Him, but they would not acknowledge Him for fear they would be turned out of the synagogues. They feared they would not be popular, and that they would be in disgrace if they followed in the footsteps of Christ. The mission of Christ was to seek and to save that which was lost, and we thank God that there are a few who will take their position upon the commandments of God, even though it places them on the unpopular side. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 18

We are glad that we have been able to unite our mites together and to erect a house in which to worship God. Let us praise Him with heart and soul and voice. You have taken hold of the truth for the truth’s sake, and have decided to obey the Word of God. You have embraced the seventh-day Sabbath according to the commandment of God. The commandment says, “Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it.” [Exodus 20:9-11.] 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 19

It requires moral courage to take a position to keep the commandments of the Lord. An opposer of the truth once said that it was only weak-minded people, foolish, ignorant persons, who would turn away from the churches to keep the seventh day as the Sabbath. But a minister who had embraced the truth replied, “If you think it takes weak-minded persons, just try it.” It takes moral courage, firmness, decision, perseverance, and very much prayer to step out on the unpopular side. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 20

We are thankful that we can come to Christ as the poor suffering ones came to Christ in the temple. We hope that this house will be a house of prayer, and that those who enter here will realize that they are coming to meet with God. Christ has said, “Where two or three are met together, there am I in the midst.” [Matthew 18:20.] We do not expect to be able to furnish you with a minister always; but you must have root in yourselves. You must learn to draw for yourselves from the fountain of life. You have not dared to trample under foot the commandments of God, and have stepped out on unpopular truth, let the result be what it may. Will the Saviour ever turn away to leave you to struggle alone? No, never. But He never told His disciples that they should have no trials, no self-denial to endure, no sacrifices to make. The Master was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, how that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty, might be rich.” [2 Corinthians 8:9.] We thank God that in your poverty you can call God your Father. Poverty is coming upon this world, and there will be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation. There will be wars and rumors of wars, and the faces of men will gather paleness. You may have to suffer distress, you may go hungry sometimes, but God will not forsake you in your suffering. He will test your faith. We are not to live to please ourselves. We are here to manifest Christ to the world, to represent Him and His power to mankind. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 21

We have been hewn as rough stones from the quarry of the world. Will He leave us with our rough edges, leave us to practice close dealing, and to manifest selfishness? Never. He brings us into His workshop to be hewed and squared, polished and finished, for the heavenly building, for you are to be framed into a holy temple unto the Lord. When the truth is received, the rough character changes, and worldliness, selfishness, and pride are worked out of the heart. The office of the Holy Spirit is to work the man. It is not our place to work the Holy Spirit. If we are ignorant when brought into the truth, we are not to remain so. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 22

Was Christ ignorant? He was the greatest Teacher the world ever saw. He chose the unlearned fishermen to be His disciples in order that they might learn of Him, and become wise unto salvation. Why was it He did not choose the scribes and the Pharisees? It was because He could not trust them. He said of them, “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” [Mark 7:7.] Why is it that the Lord does not choose the learned and the popular today and work with the churches? It is because they follow the same course as did the scribes and the Pharisees. But the greatest Teacher the world ever knew says to you, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I” (the Son of the infinite God) “will give you rest.” But there is something more. He continues, “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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30.] 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 23

Christ said, “I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” [John 15:10.] Christ is testing us today to see if we will be obedient to the law of God as He was, and be fitted up for the society of heavenly angels. God wants a loyal people. Rebellion originated in heaven; but it is not to be found there again. If we are willing to inquire, What is the way of the Lord? to do justice and judgment, to seek mercy and to walk humbly with our God, we shall hear Him say, “Child, come up higher.” He has builded for us a city, and He is not ashamed to call us brethren. He will gather the strangers and the pilgrims to Himself. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 24

We hope that this house will be a place where the honor of God shall dwell. Let every one who comes to worship here surrender himself to God, with all the affections and desires. Satan will try to work upon human hearts to cause dissension among brethren, to weaken faith. Faith! Of course we want it. Faith and works go together, and faith is made perfect by works. We want the faith that works, that works by love, by the love we have for Jesus Christ. If our hearts are all aglow with love for Him as our personal Saviour, we shall do the work of God. Dissension will not enter here, for you will be one, as Christ is one with His Father. Your old passions will be put away, the soul temple will be cleansed by the work of the Holy Spirit, and Christ will abide in the heart. And through Him we shall be able to do all things. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 25

Standing under the broad shield of omnipotence, we do not feel that we are in the minority. God is a majority. Wherever we shall go, we shall remember those who worship here, and shall pray that others may unite with you. We are to consider that Christ has set us to be a light amid the moral darkness of the world. We are not to misinterpret the character of God, we are not to be fretful, to speak out what we think, to blame and criticize and censure others; but we are to let the Holy Spirit fashion the character after the similitude of Christ. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 26

Now let us see what Jesus will do for us if we let Him. In His prayer for His disciples He said, “And now I come to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” [John 17:13.] Is it possible to have joy in obeying Christ? It is the only real joy that any soul can have. You may have what you call a “good time,” and laugh and joke; but your joy will only be a foolish gratification of a mind that is not well balanced by the Spirit of God. Christ continued, “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.” [Verse 14.] 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 27

Do you expect that the world will love you when you go contrary to the customs and traditions of the world? Do you expect to be treated better than was the Master of the house? “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” [Verse 17.] You have received the truth. Now do not feel that you must hide it under a bushel. Let it be known to others, let it shine forth, that others may be saved, may be sanctified through it. Be a living example, be under the control of the Spirit of Christ. Jesus says, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” [Verse 20.] This tells you your duty. The word of those who believe is to be as seed sown in the hearts of others that will spring forth and bear fruit unto life eternal. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 28

Christ prays for the unity of His people, and says, “That they all 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.” [Verse 21.] What a oneness is here represented! In this unity, divine credentials are presented to the world, that they may believe in Jesus. “And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them: (that is the character which Christ has, His righteousness); that they may be one even as we are one.” [Verse 22.] 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 29

Christ within is the glory of God, the hope big with immortality and eternal life. “That they all may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; that the world may know,” and now comes the greatest assertion that has ever been made in behalf of His people, “that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” [Verses 22, 23.] Can we take that in? The “God of heaven loves us as He loves His Son.” All the world is in rebellion against God, but those who struggle, who strive, who agonize to enter in at the strait gate, are beloved of God with peculiar tenderness, and they shall find the broad path, for, “thy commandment is exceeding broad.” [Psalm 119:96.] “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” [Psalm 19:7.] 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 30

When the world is brought in connection with the converted people of God, they realize that they have been transformed in character, and thus they glorify God. Of them Jesus says, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory,” (they are to behold His divinity, His oneness with the Father which He had from the beginning,) “which thou hast given me, for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” [John 17:24.] Christ said to His disciples, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you ... I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” [John 14:2, 3.] 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 31

“O righteous Father, the world knows all about thee.” Is that the way it reads? Does the world know all about you, brethren? Jesus says, “The world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” [John 17:25, 26.] Praise God, brethren, with heart and soul and voice. Even when amid trials, we should be the happiest people on the earth, because our life is hid with Christ in God, and when He shall appear, we also shall appear with Him in glory. We are not living for the applause of the world; we are living for the future, immortal inheritance. We are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. When sorrow takes hold of your soul, when persecuted and afflicted, lift up your head, for your redemption draweth nigh. You are to have a life that measures with the life of God. You are not to seek to meet the world’s standard, but to be a commandment-keepers, to be members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King, and to enjoy eternal riches. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 32

Climb the ladder of progress heavenward. Christ is the ladder, whose base is on the earth, and whose topmost round reaches to the highest heaven. God is above the ladder, and His glory is shining on every round. You must climb the ladder by clinging to Christ, and finally reach His everlasting kingdom. I pray you in the name of Christ, put on every piece of the armor of God, and fight manfully the battles of the Lord. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” [Ephesians 6:12, 13.] 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 33

When you are met with sneers and ridicule, rejoice that your names are written in the books of heaven, that you are to be made immortal, to have an abundant entrance into the kingdom of heaven, because you are law-abiding citizens of the heavenly country. You shall see the King in His beauty, and dwell with Him, and have a life that runs parallel with the life of Jehovah. 9LtMs, Ms 37, 1894, par. 34