Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)


Ms 16, 1896

“Let Him That Thinketh He Standeth Take Heed Lest He Fall.”


May 10, 1896

This manuscript is published in entirety in 19MR 108-122.

“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness.” [1 Corinthians 10:1-5.] The experience of Israel, referred to in the above words by the apostle, and as recorded in the 105th and 106th Psalms, contains lessons of warning that the people of God in these last days especially need to study. I urge that these chapters be read at least once every week. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 1

“Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them, as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” [1 Corinthians 10:6, 7.] 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 2

In the hearing of all Israel, God had spoken in awful majesty upon Mount Sinai, declaring the precepts of His law. The people, overwhelmed with the sense of guilt, and fearing to be consumed by the glory of the presence of the Lord, had entreated Moses, “Speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” [Exodus 20:19.] God called Moses up into the mount that He might communicate to him the laws for Israel, but how quickly the solemn impression made upon that people by the manifestation of God’s presence passed away! Even the leaders of the host seemed to have lost their reason. The memory of their covenant with God, their terror when, falling upon their faces, they had exceedingly feared and quaked, all had vanished like smoke. Although the glory of God was still like devouring fire upon the top of the mount, yet when the presence of Moses was withdrawn, the old habits of thought and feeling began to assert their power. The people wearied of waiting for the return of Moses, and began to clamor for some visible representation of God. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 3

Aaron, who had been left in charge of the camp, yielded to their clamors. Instead of exercising faith in God, trusting to divine power to sustain him, he was tempted to believe that if he resisted the demands of the people they would take his life, and he did as thy desired. He collected the golden ornaments, made the molten calf, and fashioned it with a graving tool. Then the leaders of the people declared, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” [Exodus 32:4.] 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 4

When Aaron saw the image he had graven, he pleased the people, and he was proud of his workmanship. He built an altar before the idol, “made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.” [Verses 5, 6.] They drank and feasted, and then gave themselves up to mirth and dancing, which ended in the shameful orgies that marked the heathen worship of false gods. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 5

God in heaven beheld it all, and He warned Moses of what was taking place in the camp, saying, “Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it forever. And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” [Verses 10-14.] 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 6

As Moses came down from the mountain with the two tables of the testimony in his hand, he heard the shouts of the people and, as he came near, beheld the idol and the reveling multitude. Overwhelmed with horror and indignation that God had been dishonored, and that the people had broken their solemn covenant with Him, he cast the two tables of stone upon the ground, and broke them beneath the mount. Though his love for Israel was go great that he was willing to lay down his own life for them, yet his zeal for the glory of God moved him to anger, which found expression in this act of such terrible significance. God did not rebuke him. The breaking of the tables of stone was but a representation of the fact that Israel had broken the covenant which they had so recently made with God. It is a righteous indignation against sin, which springs from zeal for the glory of God, not that anger prompted by self-love, or wounded ambition, which is referred to in the words of Scripture, “Be ye angry and sin not.” [Ephesians 4:26.] Such was the anger of Moses. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 7

“And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it. And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief. For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” And Moses “saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies.)” [Exodus 32:20-23, 25.] 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 8

To us the warning is given. “All these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come.” [1 Corinthians 10:11.] Mark the influence of their extremes and fanaticism in the service of the great master worker, Satan. As soon as the wicked one had the people under his control, there were exhibitions of a satanic character. The people ate and drank without a thought of God and His mercy, without a thought of the necessity of resisting the devil who was leading them on to the most shameful deeds. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 9

The same spirit was manifested as at the sacrilegious feast of Belshazzar. There was glee and dancing, hilarity, singing, carried to an infatuation that beguiled the senses. Then the indulgence in inordinate, lustful affections; all this mingled in that disgraceful scene. God had been dishonored; His people had become a shame in the sight of the heathen. Judgments were about to fall on that infatuated, besotted multitude. Yet God in His mercy gave them opportunity to forsake their sins. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 10

“Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s side?” The trumpeters caught up the words, and sounded them through the trumpet, “Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.” [Exodus 32:26.] All who were repentant had the privilege of taking their stand beside Moses. “And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 11

“And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.” [Verses 27, 28.] There was no partiality, no hypocrisy, no confederating to shield the guilty, for the terror of the Lord was upon the people. Those who had shown so little sense of the presence and the greatness of God, and who, after the exhibitions of His majesty, were ready to depart from the Lord, would be a continual snare to Israel. They were slain as a rebuke to sin, and to put a fear upon the people to dishonor God. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 12

I cannot now consider this history further; but I ask you, in every city, in every town, in every household, I ask every individual to study the lesson of this Scripture, bearing in mind the words of inspiration, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” [1 Corinthians 10:12.] Here is presented the only election that is brought to view in the Word of God. It is those who take heed lest they fall that will be accepted at last. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 13

There can be no presumption more fatal than that which leads men to venture upon a course of self-pleasing. In view of this solemn warning from God, should not fathers and mothers take heed? Should they not faithfully point out to the youth the dangers that are constantly arising to lead them away from God? Many allow the youth to attend parties of pleasure, thinking that amusement is essential for health and happiness; but what dangers are in that path! The more the desire for pleasure is gratified, the more it is cultivated, and the stronger it becomes. The life experience is largely made up of self-gratification in amusement. God bids us to beware. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” [Verse 12.] 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 14

I ask you who are living at the very heart of the work to review the experience of years, and see if the “well done” can truthfully be spoken to you. [Matthew 25:21.] I ask the teachers in the school to consider carefully, prayerfully, Have you individually watched for your own soul as one who is co-operating with God for its purification from all sin and for its entire sanctification unto God? Can you by precept and example teach the youth sanctification, not devotion to the arch deceiver, but sanctification through the truth unto holiness, obedience to God? 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 15

Have you not been afraid of the Holy Spirit? At times it has come with all-pervading influence into the school at Battle Creek, and into the schools in other localities. Did you recognize it? Did you accord it the honor due to a heavenly Messenger? When the Spirit seemed to be striving with the youth, did you say, Let us put aside all study, for it is evident that we have among us a heavenly Guest? Let us give praise and honor to God. Did you, with contrite hearts, bow in prayer with your students, pleading that you might receive the blessing which the Lord was presenting to you? The great Teacher Himself was among you. How did you honor Him? Was He a stranger to some of the educators? Was there need to send for someone of supposed authority to welcome or repel this Messenger from heaven? Though unseen, His presence was among you. But was not the thought expressed that in school the time ought to be given to study, and that there was a time for everything, as if the hours devoted to common study were too precious to be given up for the working of the heavenly Messenger? 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 16

If you have in this way restricted and repulsed the Holy Spirit of God, I entreat you to repent of it as quickly as possible. If any of the educators have not opened the door of their own hearts to the Spirit of God, but closed and padlocked it, I urge you to unlock the door, and pray with earnestness, “Abide with me.” When the Holy Spirit reveals His presence in your schoolroom, tell your students, The Lord signifies that He has for us today a lesson of heavenly import, of more value than our lessons in ordinary lines. Let us listen; let us bow before God, and seek Him with the whole heart. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 17

Let me tell you what I know of this heavenly Guest. The Holy Spirit was brooding over the youth during the school hours; but some hearts were so cold and dark that they had no desire for the Spirit’s presence, and the light of God was withdrawn. That heavenly Visitant would have opened the understanding, would have given wisdom and knowledge in all lines of study that would be employed to the glory of God. The Lord’s Messenger came to convince of sin, and to soften the heart hardened by long estrangement from God. He came to reveal the great love wherewith God has loved those youth. They are God’s heritage; and educators need the “higher education” before they are qualified to be instructors and guides of youth. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 18

The teacher may understand many things in regard to the physical universe; he may know all about the structures of living things, the inventions of mechanical art, the discoveries of natural science; but he cannot be called educated unless he has a knowledge of the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. A principle of divine origin must pervade our conduct and bind us to God. This will not be in any way a hindrance to the study of true science. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the man who consents to be molded and fashioned after the divine similitude is the noblest specimen of the work of God. All who live in communion with our Creator will have an understanding of His design in their creation, and they will have a sense of their own accountability to God to employ their faculties to the very best purpose. They will seek neither to glorify nor to depreciate themselves. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 19

The knowledge of God is obtained from His Word. The experimental knowledge of true godliness, in daily consecration and service to God, insures the highest culture of mind, soul, and body; and this consecration of all our powers to God prevents self-exaltation. The impartation of divine power honors our sincere striving after wisdom for the conscientious use of our highest faculties to honor God and bless our fellow men. As these faculties are derived from God, and not self-created, they should be appreciated as talents from God to be employed in His service. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 20

The heaven-entrusted faculties of the mind are to be treated as the higher powers, to rule the kingdom of the body. The natural appetites and passions are to be brought under control of the conscience and the spiritual affections. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 21

The Word of God is to be the foundation of all study, and the words of revelation, carefully studied, appeal to and strengthen the intellect as well as the heart. The culture of the intellect is required, that we may understand the revelation of the will of God to us. It cannot be neglected by those who are obedient to His commandment. God has not given us the faculties of the mind to be devoted to cheap and frivolous pursuits. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 22

The case of Daniel is an instructive one. Daniel was taught by God, and he co-operated with God. He exerted all his powers to work out his own salvation, and God worked in him to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Of Daniel and his companions it is written, “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” [Daniel 1:17.] These youth were sincere, faithful Christians. True education must be all-sided, not one-sided. Such an education Daniel and his fellows were determined to have. They sought to acquire knowledge for a purpose, to honor and glorify God. They must perfect a Christian character and have a clear intellect in order to stand as the representatives of the true religion amid the false religions of heathenism. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 23

To them the will of God was the supreme law of life. They practiced temperance in eating and drinking, that they might not enfeeble brain or muscle. In order to preserve health, they felt that they must avoid the luxuries of the king’s table, and they would not partake of wine or any stimulating drink. Under God they were in perfect training, that all their faculties might do highest service for Him. God required these youth to keep themselves from idols. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 24

The religion of Jesus Christ never degrades the receiver; it never makes him coarse or rough, discourteous or self-important, passionate or hard-hearted. On the contrary, it refines the taste, sanctifies the judgment, purifies and ennobles the thoughts by bringing them into captivity to Jesus Christ. God’s ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. The living God has given in His holy law a transcript of His character. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 25

The greatest Teacher the world has ever known is Jesus Christ. And what is the standard He has given for all who believe in Him to reach? “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” [Matthew 5:48.] As God is perfect in His high sphere of action, so man may be perfect in his human sphere. The ideal of Christian character is Christlikeness. There is opened before us a path of continual advancement. We have an object to reach, a standard to gain, which includes everything good and pure and noble and elevated. There should be continual striving and constant progress onward and upward toward perfection of character. See 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Romans 15:4; Colossians 2:8-10. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 26

This is the will of God concerning every human being, even your sanctification. In urging our way upward, heavenward, every faculty must be kept in the most healthy condition, to do the most faithful service. The powers with which God has endowed men are to be put to the stretch. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” [Luke 10:27.] Man cannot possibly do this of himself; he must have divine power. What shall the human agent do in the great work? “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” [Philippians 2:12, 13.] 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 27

Without the divine working, man could do no good thing. God calls every man to repentance, yet man cannot even repent unless the Holy Spirit works upon his heart. But the Lord wants no man to wait until he thinks he has repented before he takes his steps toward Jesus. The Saviour is continually drawing men to repentance; they need only to submit to be drawn, and their hearts will be melted in penitence. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 28

Man is allotted a part in this great struggle for everlasting life; he must respond to the working of the Holy Spirit. It will require a struggle to break through the powers of darkness, and the Spirit works in him to accomplish this. But man is no passive being, to be saved in indolence. He is called upon to strain every muscle and exercise every faculty in the struggle for immortality; yet it is God that supplies the efficiency. No human being can be saved in indolence. The Lord bids us, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” [Luke 13:24.] “Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:13, 14. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 29

I entreat the students in our schools to be sober-minded. The frivolity of the young is not pleasing to God. Their sports and games open the door to a flood of temptations. You are in possession of God’s heavenly endowment in your intellectual faculties, and you should not allow your thoughts to be cheap and low. A character formed in accordance with the precepts of God’s Word will reveal steadfast principles, [and] pure, noble aspirations. The Holy Spirit co-operates with the powers of the human mind, and high and holy impulses are the sure result. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 30

Daniel and his companions had a conscience void of offense toward God. But this is not preserved without a struggle. What a test was brought on the three associates of Daniel when they were required to worship the great image set up by King Nebuchadnezzar in the plain of Dura! Their principles forbade them to pay homage to the idol, for it was a rival to the God of heaven. They knew that they owed to God every faculty they possessed, and while their hearts were full of generous sympathy toward all men, they had a lofty aspiration to prove themselves entirely loyal to their God. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 31

To meet the appeals of the king and his counselors that they could comply with the royal edict, they had a store of arguments set forth most eloquently. The demand appeared contemptible to them. With Daniel as their companion, they had prayed and fasted that they might understand the dream which God gave the king. The Lord had heard their cries, and had given to Daniel wisdom to interpret the dream; thus their own lives and the lives of the astrologers and soothsayers had been saved. Now the very men who had escaped death through the mercy of God to His servants were led by envy and jealousy to secure the decree in regard to the worshiping of the golden image. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 32

The king declared to the three Hebrew youth, if “ye fall down and worship the image which I have made, well; but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace, and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hand?” The youth said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.” [Daniel 3:15-19.] 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 33

Those faithful youth were cast into the fire, but God manifested His power for the deliverance of His servants. One like unto the Son of God walked with them in the midst of the flame, and when they were brought forth, not even the smell of fire had passed on them. “Then Nebuchadnezzar spake and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, who hath sent his angel and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.” [Verse 28.] 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 34

Thus these youth, imbued with the Holy Spirit, declared to the whole nation their faith, that He whom they worshiped was the only true and living God. This demonstration of their own faith was the most eloquent presentation of their principles. In order to impress idolaters with the power and greatness of the living God, His servants must reveal their own reverence for God. They must make it manifest that He is the only object of their honor and worship, and that no consideration, not even the preservation of life itself, can induce them to make the least concession to idolatry. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 35

These lessons have a direct and vital bearing upon our experience in these last days. My soul is deeply stirred at the things that have been represented before me. I feel an indignation of spirit that in our institutions so little honor has been given to the living God, and so much honor to what is supposed to be human talent, but with which the Holy Spirit has no connection. The Spirit of God is not acknowledged and respected; men have passed judgment upon it; its operations have been condemned as fanaticism, enthusiasm, undue excitement. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 36

God sees that which the blind eyes of the educators cannot discern—that immorality of every kind and degree is striving for the mastery, working against the manifestations of the power of the Holy Spirit. The commonness of conversation and the low, perverted ideas are woven into the texture of character, and defile the soul. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 37

The low, common pleasure parties, gatherings for eating and drinking, singing and playing on instruments of music, are inspired by a spirit that is from beneath. They are an oblation unto Satan. The exhibitions in the bicycle craze are an offense to God. His wrath is kindled against those that do such things. For in these gratifications the mind becomes besotted, even as in liquor drinking. The door is opened to vulgar associations. The thoughts allowed to run in a low channel soon pervert all the powers of the being. Like Israel of old, the pleasure lovers eat and drink and rise up to play. There is mirth and carousing, hilarity and glee. In all this the youth follow the example of the authors of books that are placed in their hands for study. The greatest evil of it all is the permanent effect these things have upon the character. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 38

Those who take the lead in these things bring upon the cause a stain not easily effaced. They wound their own souls, and will carry the scars through their lifetime. The evildoer may see his sins and repent; God may pardon the transgressor; but the power of discernment which ought ever to be kept keen and sensitive to distinguish between the sacred and the common is in a great measure destroyed. Too often human devices and imaginations are accepted as divine. Some souls will remain in blindness and insensibility, ready to grasp cheap, common, even infidel sentiments, while they turn against the demonstrations of the Holy Spirit. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 39

It is a fearful thing for any soul to place himself on Satan’s side of the question, for as soon as he does this a change passes over him, as it is said of the king of Babylon, that his visage changed toward the three faithful Hebrews. Past history will be repeated. Men will reject the Holy Spirit’s working and open the door of the mind to satanic attributes that separate them from God. They will turn against the very messengers through whom God sends the messages of warning. Even now I fear that the very things I am seeking to make plain will be misapplied, misinterpreted, and falsified. Some have felt it a virtue to educate themselves in this line, and by their misapplication they make of no effect the messages God sends. 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 40

I urge upon all to whom these words shall come, Review your own course of action, and “take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come upon all them that dwell upon the face of the whole earth.” [Luke 21:34, 35.] 11LtMs, Ms 16, 1896, par. 41