Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 10 (1895)


Lt 29, 1895

Hare, Robert

Norfolk Villa, Prospect St., Granville, N. S. W., Australia

March 22, 1895

Portions of this letter are published in VSS 283-285, 321, 329, 340-341, 345.

Dear Brother Hare:

I want to speak to you upon some points in relation to your ministry. We are living in an important time, and there are many souls who are not at rest. The truth has been brought before the minds of some of this class, and you should make the most of your opportunity to press home upon the conscience the claims of the present truth. Be careful, my brother, that you do not soar too high. Let the truth come from your lips in plain, decided utterances. Break the bread of life to suffering, starving souls. You have made a mistake in weaving into your discourses so many things which the Holy Spirit could not impress upon the soul. 10LtMs, Lt 29, 1895, par. 1

The members of the various churches are very ignorant in regard to the Bible, and the simplest lessons on practical godliness come to them as a new revelation. They need to know what is truth. Do not take up lines of thought that will simply please the fancy or gratify curiosity. Break the bread of life to the people. Let every discourse that does not enlighten the soul, that does not answer the question, What must I do to be saved? be cut off from your program. Preach the testing message of the third angel. It is essential that our ministers preach the truth that has a direct bearing on the message for this time, and that they present the subjects in the most simple language. What must I do to be saved, and the righteousness of Christ, are themes that are of vital importance to the people. 10LtMs, Lt 29, 1895, par. 2

You have been too anxious to present lines of thought that would bring glory to yourself. You have thought it was necessary to dwell upon subjects which do not enlighten minds in regard to vital truth, or make clearer the way to present salvation. For Christ’s sake keep to the point. In every discourse break the bread of life, present fresh manna, lay upon souls the solemn responsibilities that God has placed upon them, and keep in view eternal realities. Call the attention of the people to vital questions, and keep them to the point of decision, asking them, “What are you going to do?” Cooperate with heavenly intelligences. When you allow your mind to be diverted from plain lines of truth and to be engrossed with subjects that please your fancy, you are simply losing time. The Holy Spirit does not work with you, and thus you make a mistake. 10LtMs, Lt 29, 1895, par. 3

In every congregation there are souls upon whom the Spirit of the Lord is moving, and they need help in order that they may understand what they must do to be saved. You have often presented grand scenes before them which they could not comprehend. Those who are imaginative may grasp these lofty thoughts, but to the larger number such discourses are only as Greek. Dwell upon truths that convict and convert souls. God is at work in the tent, though there be few or many present. From unfeigned lips you should breathe a prayer that God would guide you to give to every man his portion of meat in due season, and so aid you that you will not get above the simplicity of the gospel to dwell upon favorite subjects which will not enlighten the darkened conscience, or convince men of sin, of righteousness and judgment to come. In distinct lines, present to your hearers what they must do to be saved; lead them into the paths of truth and holiness. As the flock of the pasture, lead them where they may drink the water of salvation. 10LtMs, Lt 29, 1895, par. 4

Many voices are advocating error, but let your voice advocate the truth of God. Study to present subjects that will be as green pastures to the sheep of God’s fold. Do not lead them forth into waste tracts where they will be no nearer the fountain of living water than they were before hearing one who claims to be an advocate of truth. In no uncertain language bring home the decisive question to the minds of the hearers. In place of unfolding the Scriptures, instead of making plain the positive requirements of God, you have presented themes that divert the thought from the testing truths for this very time. But all that you say, though it seems very beautiful to you, is simply the fruit of your own imagination. It is you that speaks, the Holy Spirit does not speak through you, and your hearers are neither convicted nor converted. 10LtMs, Lt 29, 1895, par. 5

The solemn, important truth should be heard by the congregation who gather to listen to one whom God has sent to present the message for this time. You should present the truth as it is in Jesus, making plain the requirements of the law and the gospel. Present Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and speak of His power to save all who come unto Him. Present line upon line, precept upon precept. The most wonderful descriptions will not feed the soul that is starving for the bread of life. In every discourse it is the efficiency of the Holy Spirit that will make the ministry of the Word effectual. Time and opportunity are too valuable to be wasted, and those who know not the truth should not be obliged to listen to words that do not enlighten the mind. 10LtMs, Lt 29, 1895, par. 6

For years the people have been in barren pastures where no water is. Starving souls need a nutritious spiritual diet. Speak the truth to the people in love, do not feed the imagination. Follow the example of Christ, imitating His simplicity and earnestness. Keep as close as possible to His themes, and follow after His method of teaching. Christ is removed from before the eyes of the people, but His minister is to be His representative, and the Holy Spirit is to work with the speaker of truth and with those who hear Him. What will move the obstinate heart? The love of Jesus alone as He manifested it in His sacrifice on the cross. It is the sacrifice that was made upon Calvary that will melt and subdue the soul. 10LtMs, Lt 29, 1895, par. 7

The Captain of our salvation who was made perfect through suffering is to be lifted up as the ascended Saviour who intercedes for His people, presenting His own merits, not as a petitioner to move the Father to compassion, but as a Conqueror who claims the trophies of His victory. He is able to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God by Him. Make this fact very plain to the people, for it is new to all who hear it. “But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost all that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” [Hebrews 7:24-26.] 10LtMs, Lt 29, 1895, par. 8

The teaching of the Spirit is often perverted on account of passing through the corrupt channel of humanity. We may spend a long lifetime in studying the Bible, and yet leave half its treasure unexplored. The Holy Spirit imparts fresh ideas as the word of God is presented. Christ speaks through His human agent, and His Spirit comes close to every heart. It is Christ who opens the understanding in order that the soul may discern truth as it is in Jesus. 10LtMs, Lt 29, 1895, par. 9

I have been shown congregations whose minds were carried to a height on themes of imagination. The people listened as if entranced, and it was supposed that the sermon had proved a great success; but when the discourse ended, the spell was broken. Following the people to their homes, listening to their conversation, proved that the truth woven in with beautiful descriptions had left little impression on the mind, had fixed no lasting fact in the memory concerning the conditions of salvation. They had been carried away by their feelings, and the impression had been so slight as to be easily effaced by something else of an interesting character. Their interest had been as the dew, or the morning cloud, that passeth away. 10LtMs, Lt 29, 1895, par. 10

Unless men are led to value the truth as a choice possession, to receive it as that which will sanctify the soul, no lasting good has been accomplished. He who presents eloquent words, simply causes the people to forget the truth that is mingled with his oratory. When the excitement passes away, it is found that the Word of God has not been fastened upon the mind; nor have the simple gained in understanding. The people may go away from the church and may speak in admiration of the oratorical powers of the man who has preached to them, but they may not be convicted by the truth or brought any nearer to the point of decision. They speak of the sermon in the same way as they would of a play, and of the minister in the same manner as they would of an actor at a theater. They may come again to listen to the same kind of a discourse, and may again go away unimpressed and unfed. 10LtMs, Lt 29, 1895, par. 11

People should not be encouraged to prize oratorical display. This kind of sermonizing has the same kind of an effect upon the mind as does the reading of an exciting story. It has a stimulating effect, but does not transform the character. The influence of this kind of preaching has been made plain in the results that have followed. The people are attracted to the man, and think no one is equal to him; but I have been shown that as it was in Palmerston, so it is in other places, that no solid foundation is made for the organization of a church. When such a minister leaves those who have apparently embraced the truth, it is made manifest that the people are not bound up with Christ, but have been bound to the man. Christ was as a stranger to them, and they knew Him not. The people left His company, and walked no more with Him. 10LtMs, Lt 29, 1895, par. 12

The messengers of God are to deliver the last, solemn, testing message of mercy to a fallen world. If the minister exhibits himself, he interposes himself between the message and the people. If he educates himself to present the truth in a certain manner, he can make his work of no effect, and leave it so that it will ravel out. This is because the Holy Spirit does not work with his efforts. The people are encouraged to look to him and to exalt him, and Jesus is not the One who is seen, but the man [who] steps into the place of the crucified and risen Saviour. The minister may preach a discourse which will go clear above the people into the clouds and stars, but leave no lasting impression upon the hearts of his hearers. Unless conviction is fastened on a heart, then time and means are expended to no effect. Of what value is it that the people think much of the minister, when they do not have a regard for saving, testing truth? 10LtMs, Lt 29, 1895, par. 13

The Holy Spirit must work the man; the man must not endeavor to work the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not a servant, but a controlling power. The Holy Spirit causes the truth to shine in every mind, and speaks through every discourse where the minister surrenders himself to its working. The Holy Spirit walks with the soul by the way, and talks with the human agent. It is He who gives the atmosphere that surrounds the soul, and speaks to the impenitent through words of warning. It is the Holy Spirit that points the soul to Jesus, the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. The Holy Spirit gives efficiency and wisdom to the human agent for the salvation of souls. The message that is to be given to the people is to rouse them from their lethargy, to convince them of sin, and to turn them from transgression. Christ’s witnesses are to hold for the Word of life. 10LtMs, Lt 29, 1895, par. 14

Only the most earnest, persevering labor can accomplish anything in this time; but we are to do everything that can possibly be done to win souls to Christ. We should pray, presenting our petitions to the throne of grace. Many whom you address are dead in trespasses and sin. Let the work that needs to be done, go forward. “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression and the house of Jacob their sins.” [Isaiah 58:1.] I have been shown that your past labors would have been far more efficient in establishing souls in the truth, if you had cut out from your discourses, in a large degree, your favorite themes. The people do not need them, but they do need to know what is truth. 10LtMs, Lt 29, 1895, par. 15

The salvation of souls is the end of a minister’s labors. You cannot be excused altogether from visiting the people. Ministers can do much more for souls by coming in personal contact with them than by the ministry of the word alone. As ambassadors for Christ, we are to do everything possible in every line by which we may save a soul from perdition. We are to do all we can to build up the soul who is just entering upon a new experience. It is not praise we want, but results. God accepts the work at our hand that builds up souls in the truth and righteousness. Let us do whatever we can do by holy living, by fervent prayer, by painstaking efforts to discharge our duty, and by showing loyalty to our crucified and risen Saviour. 10LtMs, Lt 29, 1895, par. 16

Bear in mind that we can make no atonement for the sins of any transgressor; but we are to make every effort possible to lead them to seek God while He may be found, to call upon Him while He is nigh. The minister may spend too much time in study, and depend more upon human wisdom than upon the wisdom that cometh only from above. In the heavenly court, pure eloquence is that which cometh from hearts that are filled with love to Christ and with love for souls for whom He has given His life. Learning and eloquence are not to be despised, but when the truth is spoken in clear, simple language that may be grasped by humble minds, it is pronounced eloquence in the courts of God. Let truth be exalted above everything else. 10LtMs, Lt 29, 1895, par. 17