Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)

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Ms 23b, 1896

How to Secure Peace

NP

July 25, 1896

Portions of this manuscript are published in UL 220; 15MR 158-161.

“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18. 11LtMs, Ms 23b, 1896, par. 1

Shortly before His crucifixion, Christ bequeathed to His disciples a legacy of peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you.” [John 14:27.] Christ bears the title of the Prince of peace, and yet He says of Himself, “Think not that I am come to find peace on earth; I am not come to send peace, but a sword.” [Matthew 10:34.] In explanation of this apparent contradiction, He has said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation;” “in me ye shall have peace.” [John 16:33.] He told them that the time would come when they would be hated of all men for His name’s sake; that they would be brought before kings and rulers; that to destroy their lives would be esteemed a service done to God and religion. This has been fulfilled. Every indignity reproach, and cruelty that Satan can instigate human hearts to devise has been visited upon the followers of Jesus. 11LtMs, Ms 23b, 1896, par. 2

We have been highly favored in living under a government where we can worship God according to the dictates of our conscience. But human nature is no more in harmony with then principles of Christ today than it was in past ages. The world is still in opposition to Jesus. The same hatred that prompted the cry, “Crucify him, crucify him,” and led to the rejection of Christ, still works in the children of disobedience. [Luke 23:21.] The same satanic spirit which in the Dark Ages consigned men and woman to prison, to exile, and the fagot; that conceived the exquisite torture of the inquisition; that produced the massacre of Saint Bartholomew, and kindled the fires of Smithfield is still at war with malignant energy in unregenerate hearts, who are saying of Christ, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” [Luke 19:14.] 11LtMs, Ms 23b, 1896, par. 3

The peace that Christ calls His peace, and which He bequeathed to His disciples, is not a peace which prevents all divisions; but it is a peace which is given and enjoyed in the midst of divisions. The peace that the faithful defender of the cause of Christ has, is the consciousness that he is doing the will of God, and reflecting His glory in good works. It is an internal rather than an external peace. Without are wars and fightings through the opposition of avowed enemies, and the coldness and suspicion of those even who claim to be friends. 11LtMs, Ms 23b, 1896, par. 4

Christ enjoins upon His followers to “love your enemies, ... do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you.” [Matthew 5:44.] He would have us love those who oppress us and do us harm. We must not express in words and acts the spirit they manifest, but improve every opportunity to do them good. 11LtMs, Ms 23b, 1896, par. 5

But while we are required to be Christlike toward those who are our enemies, we must not, in order to have peace, cover up the faults of those we see in error. Jesus, the world’s Redeemer, never purchased peace by covering iniquity, or by anything like compromise. Though His heart was constantly overflowing with love for the whole human race, he was never indulgent to their sins. He was too much their friend to remain silent while they were pursuing a course which would ruin their souls—the souls He had purchased with His own blood. He was a stern reprover of all vice; and His peace was the consciousness of having done the will of His Father, rather than a condition of things that existed as the result of having done His duty. 11LtMs, Ms 23b, 1896, par. 6

He labored that man should be true to Himself in being all that God would have him, and true to His higher and eternal interest. Living in a world marred and seared with the curse brought upon it by disobedience, he could not be at peace with it unless he left it unwarned, uninstructed, and unrebuked. This would be to purchase peace at the neglect of duty. 11LtMs, Ms 23b, 1896, par. 7

Every one who loves Jesus and the souls for whom He died will follow after the things that make for peace. But His followers are to take special care lest in their efforts to prevent discord, the truth is surrendered, lest in warding off divisions, they make a sacrifice of its principles. True brotherhood can never be maintained by compromising principle. As surely as Christians approach the Christlike model, and become more and more pure in spirit and in action, searching out and reproving sin, so surely will they experience the strength and venom of that old serpent the devil. The opposition of the children of disobedience is excited by a Christianity that is spiritual. 11LtMs, Ms 23b, 1896, par. 8

“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” [Romans 12:18.] A duty is here enjoined upon us. We are to strive to live at peace with all men. Every care should be taken on the part of Christians to give no offense, that the truth be not evil spoken of. But the text suggests that no amount of diligence and care will preserve this harmony in all cases. Dissensions will arise even between individual members of the Church, because they are not Christlike in character. 11LtMs, Ms 23b, 1896, par. 9

But there will be a point where members must be separated from its fellowship because of their unchristian course of action. In the home they are oppressive and a reproach to the cause of Christ. Their practices are inconsistent with truth and religion, and to retain them in church fellowship would be faithless to the Master. 11LtMs, Ms 23b, 1896, par. 10

The church, as a body is to do all in its power to promote union, and prevent schisms. This rule is designed to guide every individual member in his treatment of others. If unsound doctrine is introduced, it will endanger the flock of Christ. It is the duty of those in authority, who are jealous for the truth as it is in Jesus, to make a firm, decided protest. This expression of rebuke will often be used to create sympathy for the reproved. The harm that is thus done to precious souls and to Christ’s kingdom is not considered. At this crisis is the time to decide who are God’s faithful sentinels, who will be true to principle, who will bear in mind that truth is too dearly purchased for its least principle to be surrendered. 11LtMs, Ms 23b, 1896, par. 11

That peace and harmony is not worthy of the name which is secured by mutual concessions to avoid all differences of opinion. On points of feeling between man and man, concessions would sometimes be made, but never should one iota of principle be sacrificed in order to obtain harmony. All our words and actions pass in review before God, and if we wish to stand in the judgment as having done all that we could to have a correct influence over our fellow men, we must repay kind acts for acts of mischief and malice. Christ is our Pattern; He would have us follow Him. 11LtMs, Ms 23b, 1896, par. 12

To those who have been injured without a cause, the words of this Scripture apply, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” [Verse 18.] Their failure to comply with the instruction given in the text is not due to the course of action that they themselves have pursued, but to the envy, jealousy, and evil surmising of those who have been in the wrong. Thus a division is caused. How can it be healed? 11LtMs, Ms 23b, 1896, par. 13

Shall the man that has sinned against, misjudged, and maligned be called to account, to find something in his past course by which he can humiliate himself, and acknowledge himself in the wrong for the sake of making peace? No. If he has conscientiously gone forward under the oppression of wicked feelings that have been welcomed in the hearts of the fault-finding, if he has been patient under the abuse, if he has tried to do his duty, he is not to humble himself to acknowledge that he is guilty. He does the offenders a great wrong thus to take their guilt upon his soul, admitting that he has given them occasion for their course of action, when he has done so such thing. This is very gratifying to those who have done the work of the enemy; but heaven’s books record the facts just as they stand. 11LtMs, Ms 23b, 1896, par. 14

Concessions that are not true from the one who has been wrongfully treated gratifies the feelings of the carnal heart. Their position has been interpreted by them as zeal for God, when in truth it is zeal to do the work of the adversary of souls. They do not dig out from their hearts the root of bitterness, but leave the fibers to spring up when Satan shall stir them up again to active growth. But the axe must be laid at the root of the tree. Heart work is needed. True conversion is essential; the nature must be renewed after the divine image, until the work of grace is completed in the soul. 11LtMs, Ms 23b, 1896, par. 15

There is a work for us to do. We must begin here to cultivate against our traits of character which lead us to err in decisions that will make it hard and unfavorable for others. This is giving advantage to the enemy. We are not commended for a zeal that savors of Pharisaism, for this is not of Christ. We should not go to an extreme in false charity, neither of unbending severity in cases where kindness and mercy and love would have a telling power. 11LtMs, Ms 23b, 1896, par. 16