Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 10 (1895)


Lt 21a, 1895

Corliss, J. O.

Avondale, Cooranbong, Australia

August 20, 1895

Portions of this letter are published in Ev 166-167; 8MR 254; 4Bio 173, 251.

Elder J. O. Corliss
Sydney, N. S. W.

My Dear Brother:

I cannot sleep. I was awakened at one o’clock. I was hearing a message borne to you. A few seemed to be assembled in a council meeting. You were very sad and discouraged, your head was resting in your hands, and you were in apparent distress. One was speaking with authority; he put his hands on your head and said, “You are precious in the sight of God. He loves you. He knows that you love Him. The truth has not languished on your lips. But bear in mind that Christ is the Sin Bearer, and He has once suffered in the flesh to save you.” 10LtMs, Lt 21a, 1895, par. 1

Another impressive scene has passed before me. You were holding a meeting in which there was confusion. There seemed to be a controversy between you and some persons not of our faith, and you, my brother, were the aggressor. Satan and his agents were stirred at words from you, which irritated and provoked them. The Lord had cautioned you to watch, and not mar your influence by becoming excited and speaking words which would hurt you and endanger souls. The Lord did not inspire you to speak the words you uttered, or to do what you did. You had no reason to expect any different conduct from men who are disloyal to God and who trample upon His commandments. 10LtMs, Lt 21a, 1895, par. 2

When you decided to enter this discussion with Picton, the very same scene was presented to me as that which passed before me now in Cooranbong. This is why I then wrote immediately to you, for I knew that it was given to me as a warning that if you, my dear brother, were not constantly on guard, making Christ your strength, you would reveal the natural temperament of J. O. Corliss. 10LtMs, Lt 21a, 1895, par. 3

Your only safety is in joining yourself to Jesus and keeping close to His side. A knowledge of the truth alone is not sufficient for you. An understanding of the truth is a power, but the power that reaches the heart is revealed in representing the truth at all times as it is in Jesus. You are to bring every God-given ability into subjection to Christ. The Lord has given you much of His Spirit when you have hidden self in Him, but this discussion was at times very irritating and provoking to human nature, and you did not at all times have that full and complete victory which it was your privilege to have. 10LtMs, Lt 21a, 1895, par. 4

Sometimes words were spoken that did not give you strength, or give your brethren more confidence and power. Had these words been left unsaid, you would have revealed more clearly the contrast between truth and error. But you did not cover yourself with the armor heaven has provided. You are not ignorant of what you may expect from opponents because of the intensity of their hatred against the truth, and their deep and unreasonable prejudice. They were resolved at all hazards to stir you up and make capital of your hastily uttered words, for they wanted to find occasion against you. The desire on their part for a discussion was not a desire to obtain light, but to evade the light and to confuse those who were ignorant of the Scriptures. Wherein you trusted in God, and hid self in Christ, you were sustained, and God was glorified. Wherever your own spirit flashed forth, God was dishonored, and Satan triumphed. 10LtMs, Lt 21a, 1895, par. 5

The Lord was bringing conviction to the minds of the people. The ministers scoffed as the Word of God was made plain, and those in harmony with them would not open their understanding to receive evidence. But there were other hearers who saw great light. In the presentation of the truth there was a power that even the opposers could scarcely resist. But whenever a word was spoken that bore evidence that it was not dictated by the Divine Teacher, then the agents of Satan made the most of it. Men confederated together to overcome by assertions that were wholly without foundation in Scripture. Their weakness was apparent. The truth, presented in contrast with error, was clear to many minds and gave evidence that as a people we follow Christ in close adherence to the Word. 10LtMs, Lt 21a, 1895, par. 6

Christ met questioners by a plain “It is written.” “Have ye not read?” “What sayest the Scriptures?” “How readest thou?” He, the fountain of wisdom and knowledge, answered the questions of opponents, not from the depths of His own infinite wisdom, as He might have done, but from His own inspired Book. And all who would hide self behind Christ will follow Him in this respect. We are to show that we do not believe because of the assertions of any minister or council, nor on the authority of the fathers, but on this ground only, “Thus saith the Lord.” The souls whom Christ has given His own precious life to save are of too great value to be risked upon any man’s opinions and assertions. In matters that involve eternal interests, we are to rely upon Him whose Word is truth. 10LtMs, Lt 21a, 1895, par. 7

Imitate Christ. Do not be dragged into disputes over the opinions and erroneous theories of opponents, but ever feel and confidently say, “We are doing a great work, and we cannot come down.” [See Nehemiah 6:3.] Advance new truth. Let the rich truths that the people have never heard flash into life. Present the Bread of life, the water of salvation. Show all who have ears to hear what they must do to be saved. Just as soon as you begin to leave the lines in which Christ worked, and come down to echo the words of your opponent, you have turned aside from following Christ. Let not one sharp thrust be made. Heed not the dragon’s wrath and uproar, but speak the words of Christ, Thus saith the Scriptures. Do not pour out anathemas; leave that work to those who despise the truth. 10LtMs, Lt 21a, 1895, par. 8

That discussion at Ashfield was a partial victory, but not as clear and full as it might have been. The Lord worked in the power of His Spirit when the human agent looked to God and trusted to God and hid self in Christ. 10LtMs, Lt 21a, 1895, par. 9

At no time or place are we at liberty to act out the temper of the natural heart. This is what Satan wants us to do, but those who bear the most solemn message ever given to our world must lay off the pugilistic armor and put on the armor of Christ’s righteousness. We have no need to work in our own finite individuality, for then the angels of God stand back and leave us to carry on the warfare alone. When will our ministers learn of Jesus? 10LtMs, Lt 21a, 1895, par. 10

Our preparation to meet opponents or to minister to the people must be obtained of God at the throne of heavenly grace. Here, in receiving the grace of God, our own incompetence is seen and acknowledged. The dignity and glory of Christ is our strength. The Holy Spirit’s guidance leads us into all truth. The Holy Spirit takes the things of God and shows them unto us, conveying them as a living power into the obedient heart. We then have the faith that works by love and purifies the soul, which takes the perfect impress of its Author. God would have His messengers reach a far higher standard. 10LtMs, Lt 21a, 1895, par. 11