Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 10 (1895)


Ms 58, 1895


Hobart, Tasmania

December 11, 1895

Previously unpublished.

I went to the tent this afternoon at 3 p.m. to fulfil my appointment. I did not expect to have much of a congregation, but we had a good congregation of most intelligent-looking men and women. My text was Luke 14:2-14. The Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and I spoke with great freedom in the demonstration of the Spirit and power of God. All listened as if spellbound. I am told one man said, “I could have listened another hour and a half and not become weary.” Two outsiders were talking together and one said to the other, “They are certainly right on the Sabbath question.” “Yes,” answered the other, “that is so.” The interest is greater than it has ever been in this island. 10LtMs, Ms 58, 1895, par. 1

I felt that I had a message for the people. I spoke of the dangers which our Saviour saw imperiling the souls of men in striving for the highest place, as given in Luke 14:8-11. This was spoken as a parable, but it described scenes He had witnessed Himself in actual life. 10LtMs, Ms 58, 1895, par. 2

He closes His parable “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” [Verse 11.] How much need have we to practice this lesson spoken in a parable, in humbling in the place of exalting ourselves! How much better will be our situation, to be honored with lifting up, in the place of lifting up and exalting ourselves. I can only intimate a few ideas now, but Maggie Hare has taken down the discourse. 10LtMs, Ms 58, 1895, par. 3

“Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsman, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” [Verses 12-14.] 10LtMs, Ms 58, 1895, par. 4

I presented before them that this Scripture could be fulfilled in the doing of the words of Christ in their coming celebration of Christmas. Much money will be spent in the gratification of appetite through hurtful indulgences and the use of stimulants which weaken the brain and the physical powers. Guided by a star, the wise men from a far-off country came to find Jesus, and when they found Him they presented to Him an offering of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 10LtMs, Ms 58, 1895, par. 5

The gifts are now given to the human agents. Jesus is forgotten and does not so much as come into mind. There is so little remembrance of Jesus, so little thought of the great Giver of all mercies and blessings. Christ, who died to save the souls of the human family, is left out of men’s calculations. Looking down from heaven He sees every kind of selfishness and self-indulgence—all dishonoring God and honoring the human instrument. Nearly everything is made to flow in earthly, selfish lines. 10LtMs, Ms 58, 1895, par. 6

There comes to my mind the fig orchard. All the trees were sear and brown but one fig tree, and that tree, with green leaves and flourishing leaf-covered branches, was in advance of all the other trees. Jesus came and searched from the topmost bough to the lowest branches and turned away grieved, for He found nothing but leaves. This tree was an exception to all the other trees. Covered with green foliage, it gave pretentious reason to suppose there was an abundance of fruit. Our Lord was hungry and wanted to find fruit, but His search revealed nothing but a mass of deceptive foliage. 10LtMs, Ms 58, 1895, par. 7

For the moment, He invests that dumb fig tree with moral qualities. He makes it the expositor of moral truth. The Jewish nation stood forth superior to all other nations upon the face of the earth, for light, for a knowledge of God. They proudly claimed to be the repository of divine truth, and of exalted righteousness, for to them had been committed the oracles of God. For themselves alone? No! Decidedly no! But they had, in their pride and self-righteousness, built up walls of separation between them and the world and refused to make any effort to let the light of truth be communicated to the world. They bore no fruit to the glory of God. 10LtMs, Ms 58, 1895, par. 8

The Lord Jesus was hungry for sympathy, for cooperation with Him and His work. This nation, claimant of righteousness, notwithstanding the mercies and advantages bestowed in earthly and spiritual blessings, returned no fruit to satisfy the hunger of God. They did not let their light shine to the world in good works. Christ had given them every evidence of His love in coming to our world to save perishing souls, but no love responded back to God. 10LtMs, Ms 58, 1895, par. 9

Jesus cursed the barren fig tree. He had testified to His disciples, “For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 5:20.] There were leafless trees in that fig orchard, but nothing was expected of them. They made no pretensions to religious piety or righteousness. They were in darkness and error, waiting for a light to lighten the Gentiles. 10LtMs, Ms 58, 1895, par. 10

Christ’s mission was to bring light to the Gentiles. “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Isaiah 9:2. Of the Gentiles it could be said, “The time for figs was not yet.” [Mark 11:13.] But like the pretentious fig tree, the Jews, who had been highly exalted in point of privilege, bore no fruit in all goodness and righteousness and truth, proving before the world what is acceptable to the Lord, and reflecting back in good fruit—in love, devotion, and Christlikeness of character—the blessings God had given them. They made their vaunting boasts of their knowledge and superior piety, far above that of the world’s Redeemer. They stood out in proud defiance, self-confident but giving no light to the world in practicing the precepts of Jehovah—a fig tree having outward religious forms, plenty of leaves; but that which would have satisfied the hungry, longing soul of Jesus Christ was fruit corresponding to the love and grace and mercy that Christ had given them. He was hungry for love and devotion in return, hungry to see in them fruit corresponding to the advantages they had received. But all true and acceptable righteousness was wanting. 10LtMs, Ms 58, 1895, par. 11

How many in their religious life are symbolized by the fig tree! What have we returned to God for all the bounties He has given us? He gave His life. He came from heaven to seek and save perishing souls. For our sake He became poor that we through His poverty might be made rich. What love is expressed in behalf of the human family! He offers them the rich treasures of heaven. He offers to them peace which the world cannot give or take away. He offers to them a vital connection with Himself, that they shall become sons and daughters of God. What an honor! But all the universe of heaven is looking upon the impenitent, stubborn, rebellious souls that refuse the heavenly gift, and with sadness He exclaims, “Ye will not come unto me.” [John 5:40.] 10LtMs, Ms 58, 1895, par. 12