Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)

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Ms 30a, 1896

Message for the Church at Ashfield

Ashfield, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

October 4, 1896 [typed December 3, 1898]

This manuscript is published in entirety in HM 11/1897.

According to appointment, I met with the church at Ashfield Sunday evening, October 4. W. C. White went to meet his appointment at Parramatta, and there was no one at Ashfield to assist me. I opened the meeting with prayer, and then I spoke to the people under the deep moving [of the] Spirit of God. I had a decided message from the Lord for the people. I could not but present before them their danger. There are many, who, though members of churches, are unconverted. But there is no excuse for any one remaining in a cold, lifeless state spiritually. Christ has warned us, “Be not ye the servants of men.” [1 Corinthians 7:23.] But there is danger that we will serve men instead of serving the Lord Jesus. 11LtMs, Ms 30a, 1896, par. 1

The Bible is God’s voice speaking to us just as surely as though we could hear him with our ears. The Word of the living God is not merely written, but spoken. Do we receive the Bible as the oracle of God? If we realized the importance of this Word, with what awe would we open it, and with what awe would we open it, and with what earnestness would we search its precepts. The reading and contemplation of the Scriptures would be regarded as an audience with the Most High. 11LtMs, Ms 30a, 1896, par. 2

God’s Word is a message to us to be obeyed, a volume to be pursued diligently, and with a spirit willing to take in the truths written for the admonition of those upon whom the ends of the world are come. It must not be neglected for any other book. If we do not the ways of God, we need converting. If we practice this Word, it will start an elevating influence on our mental, moral, and physical life. Eternal interests are involved in this work; the truth must do something for the receiver. Let us study and eat the Word of God; for we are built up from that which we eat. When we open the Bible, let us compare our lives with its requirements, measuring our character by the great moral standard of righteousness. 11LtMs, Ms 30a, 1896, par. 3

The message to the church at Ephesus is a close, decided, personal testimony to them for leaving their first love, and an earnest call to repentance, lest their candlestick be moved out of its place. We need to heed these words of warning, and repent of our sins. But you cannot depend upon ministers to come and help you, for they must go to places where the word of God has never been heard. The last message of mercy must be given to the world. The members of our churches must read and study the Word of God for themselves, praying to Him for light and strength. 11LtMs, Ms 30a, 1896, par. 4

It is not enough in the Christian life that few changes be made. The work of reform must be deep and thorough. True Christians will not close their eyes to their own defective characters. Wrong habits, which have been formed, must be changed. Much talking that in no way glorifies God is done by professed Christians. Many gossip over the faults committed by others; but those who do this do not engage in Christian conversation with the one they think in the wrong. They have no desire to meet him face to face and in a kindly, Christian way tell him his faults and pray with him, and then leave the whole matter with God. 11LtMs, Ms 30a, 1896, par. 5

As long as the members of a church in any locality shall feel at liberty to handle character as they have done in the past, and to act as judges of one another, God cannot bless them. We must keep off the enemy’s ground. He is the accuser of the brethren, and accuses them before God day and night. He tempts them to sin, and constantly leads them to transgress the law of God. Then he presents their defection and transgression as a reason why he should work his will to destroy them, and why God should not interpose His power against Satan’s power. 11LtMs, Ms 30a, 1896, par. 6

I tell you in the name of the Lord God of heaven that those who profess to believe the truth need that transformation of character that will build up and encourage the church, in the place of weakening and destroying it. Jesus is the Restorer; Satan is the destroyer. You cannot afford to sow one seed of doubt, for one seed of doubt sown will spring up in other minds and bear a harvest that you will not care to garner. 11LtMs, Ms 30a, 1896, par. 7

We have no time to spend in cultivating and cherishing our unlovely traits of character. The hour of grace is fast passing. Christ has borne long with the world, but the cup of long-deferred wrath is fast filling. God has given us light, great light. Have we walked in the light? Have we lived the light? Have not some, fully satisfied with their own unsanctified, irreligious lives, walked directly contrary to the light? 11LtMs, Ms 30a, 1896, par. 8

I would ask you to look back and review the history of your lives. How is it with you in your families? Have your words been true and kind and pure and edifying? Or have the words you have spoken been of a repining, complaining character? Have you gathered up the objectionable features and the defects in the characters of others, and made them apparent, while you yourselves were unholy and unsanctified in thought and word and action. There is great weakness where there should be strength. 11LtMs, Ms 30a, 1896, par. 9

Time is passing. Christ speaks to your individual hearts, as He spoke to Philip: “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?” [John 14:9.] But thank God it is not yet too late to repent. Mercy still lingers. Will you, in this your day, heed the words of invitation and mercy? Will you know the things which belong unto your peace? The gracious invitation is still sounding. The things which belong unto your peace are still presented to you for acceptance. 11LtMs, Ms 30a, 1896, par. 10

This generation is making itself guilty of the rejection of Christ. He presents invitations and warnings. Shall these solemn warnings be rejected? Bear in mind that if they are, you yourselves are responsible. “Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.” [John 5:40.] The world is rushing on madly, blindly, infatuated with amusements, with horse-racing and gambling, without a thought of the final retribution that is coming. Whole cities are being destroyed by fire and tempest. Is your house built securely on the solid rock? 11LtMs, Ms 30a, 1896, par. 11

As a church will you work intelligently and considerately for God? As sons and daughters of God, will you prove yourselves to be the light of the world, shining amid moral darkness? Will you keep the standard of truth uplifted, testifying to the pure light of truth by your words and your influence? Will you help one another? To be faithful stewards of the grace of God, will you build one another up in the most holy faith? Will you strive to strengthen those who are weak in the faith? 11LtMs, Ms 30a, 1896, par. 12

Some have a strong, masterly spirit for the wrong. They are dead weights, stumbling blocks in the pathway of others, causing them to fail in doing their God-appointed work for time and eternity. But shall the temple of the human soul be thus wrecked for eternity? Will not those in this house of worship rise up, in their God-given, moral independence and say, “I will no longer give God a divided heart? I will serve Him with undivided affections. I will no longer misrepresent His sacred truth. I will arise and shine. I will sanctify myself through the truth. I will obey the truth.” Will you not make this resolve today, [1896]? Will you not today pledge yourselves before God to seek him with all your heart, to cease from all evil speaking, to put away every trait of character that has dwarfed and crippled your religious life? Will you not resolve to be fully on the Lord’s side? 11LtMs, Ms 30a, 1896, par. 13

Pardon and peace are yours today if you will reach forth your hand and take them as the first gifts of God. If today, in simple faith and sincerity of soul, you cast yourselves prostrate before the mercy seat, you will receive the pardoning love of Jesus Christ. Notwithstanding your ingratitude and unthankfulness, and your resistance of warning and invitations, Jesus will receive you just as you are if you will receive Him. Henceforth, wearing His yoke and lifting the cross, you will be able to say, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” [Galatians 2:20.] Let it be recorded in the books of heaven that this day, October [1896], this church made a covenant with God by sacrifice. 11LtMs, Ms 30a, 1896, par. 14

I invited all who wanted to give themselves to God in a sacred covenant, and to serve Him with their whole hearts, to rise to their feet. The house was full, and nearly all rose. Quite a number not of our faith were present, and some of those arose. I presented them to the Lord in earnest prayer, and we know that we had the manifestation of the Spirit of God. We felt that a victory had indeed been gained. 11LtMs, Ms 30a, 1896, par. 15