Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)

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Ms 26, 1896

Systematic Benevolence.

NP

September 25, 1896

This manuscript is published in entirety in RH Supp. 12/01/1896. +Note

“Hearken unto me, my people, and give ear unto me, O my nation; for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people. My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust. Lift up your eyes to the heaven’s, and look upon the earth beneath; for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that they dwell therein shall die in like manner; but my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness (which is His holy law, the transcript of His character) shall not be abolished. Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool; but my righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation from generation to generation.” [Isaiah 51:4-8.] This whole chapter is worthy of close, earnest study, and we would do well to commit it to memory. 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 1

“And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. If ye will not hear it, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings; yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart. Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feast; and one shall take you away with it.” [Malachi 2:1-3.] 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 2

The Lord requires of all who claim to be His people far more than they give Him. He demands that all who claim to believe on Jesus Christ, reveal to the world, by their fruits, that Christianity which was exemplified in the life and character of Jesus Christ. If the Word of God is enshrined in their hearts, they will give a practical exhibition of the power and purity of the gospel. The gospel thus given to the world is of much more value to them than sermons, or professions of godliness that do not reveal good works. Let all who name the name of Christ remember that individually they are making an impression, favorable or unfavorable to Bible religion, on the minds of all with whom they come in contact. 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 3

“And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the Lord of hosts. My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips; he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity. ... But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts. Therefore have I made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.” [Verses 4-6, 8, 9.] 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 4

They claimed to obey the law of God, but where its requirements interfered with their personal interests, they were not heeded. They were very strict in the observance of some portions of the law, but offended God by lightly esteeming those requirements which touched their earthly treasures. 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 5

Christ declared, “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. ... This do, and thou shalt live.” [Luke 10:27, 28.] This commandment, which He had given to Moses when enshrouded in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, He again lays down as the condition of eternal life. 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 6

In (Leviticus 19) are recorded words given by Christ to Moses to speak to the children of Israel. Read what the people of God in ancient times were enjoined to do, and what not to do; for these are the principles contained in the royal law: “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor.” [Verse 15.] Personal preferences and partiality are not to appear in the life-practice of the Christian. 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 7

“Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him.” [Verse 17.] Here faithful dealing with sins practiced by those who claim to be children of God, is enjoined. Be they men in poverty, or be they mighty men, handling large responsibilities, no partiality is to be shown to those in the wrong, no hypocrisy practiced in dealing with them, whatever their position. If that position involves sacred interests, God’s faithful watchmen are to be the more earnest and determined that in the fear of God not one evil principle shall pass unnoticed. If those in the wrong refuse to repent and correct their faults, let them be separated from the work, for the corrupting principles of evil will leaven all with whom they are connected. 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 8

“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord.” This authority is undisputed. “The stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard in weight, or in measure. Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the Lord.” [Verses 18, 34-37.] “Sanctify yourselves, therefore, and be ye holy; for I am the Lord your God. And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the Lord which sanctify you.” “And ye shall be holy unto me; for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.” [Leviticus 20:7, 8, 26.] “Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right or to the left. Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.” [Deuteronomy 5:32, 33.] 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 9

Here is the work of the minister of righteousness: “The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity; For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.” But a solemn charge is made by the Lord God of Israel: “Ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts. Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law. Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers? Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god. The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the Lord of hosts. And this ye have done again, covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.” “Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Everyone that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?” [Malachi 2:6-13, 17.] 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 10

The words in (Malachi 3:1-4) lay down the work essential to be done in the church of God. “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold he shall come, saith the Lord of host. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” A message which is as a two-edged sword is to be given to the people, to clear away the evils that are seen among them. A living testimony that will awaken the paralyzed conscience, is to be borne. A work is to be done to cleanse our institutions from every evil. 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 11

“And I will come near you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his rights, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.” [Verse 5.] All the sins here specified have been coming in among the people who claim to be the people of God; and it is high time that there was a reformation, a transformation of character. Who among us, who are called commandment-keepers, have been “partial in the law,” neglecting the living principles which are a transcript of the character of God? Has not the imperfect example of those who have departed from the law of God caused many to stumble at the law? “Therefore have I made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.” [Malachi 2:9.] 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 12

There can be no offering made to the Lord in righteousness until practical right doing is brought into the daily life. When does God say that the offering of Judah and Jerusalem shall be pleasant unto Him as in the former years? When “he shall be a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” [Malachi 3:3.] 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 13

“Then I turned,” writes Zechariah, “and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll. And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll; the length thereof is twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits. Then said he unto me, This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth; for every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and everyone that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it. I will bring it forth, saith the Lord of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof, and the stones thereof.” [Zechariah 1:1-4.] 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 14

“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy. Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your God. Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God. And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord, ye shall offer it at your own will. It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow; and if ought remain until the third day, it shall be burnt in the fire. And if it be eaten at all on the third day, it is abominable; it shall not be accepted. Therefore every one that eateth it shall bear his iniquity, because he hath profaned the hallowed thing of the Lord: and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.” [Leviticus 19:1-8.] “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” [Malachi 3:6.] 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 15

God has revealed His character toward fallen man by giving them a Saviour, Jesus Christ. He covenanted not to stir up His wrath against the perversity of His children, not to censure them in His hot displeasure, until every advantage had been given them through all their period of probation. And even when they shall refuse His warnings, His messages of invitation, the presentation of His righteousness, when they continue to sin in the face of light and evidence, still He will not break forth upon them His great anger. He leaves all judgment to His Son, whom He gave as a sin offering for the world. 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 16

God has a yearning desire to save the purchase of the blood of Christ from the sure result of a wrong course of action, which, if persisted in, will bring upon them the wrath of the rejected Lamb. Mercy, rich and free, is presented in the gift of Christ’s righteousness. Those who scorn this precious gift, who despise and reject the Saviour, who refuse the invitation, “Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.” [Isaiah 27:5.] Reject the offer of the attributes of a character which will constitute them sons and daughters of God. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (what name? Immanuel, the Son of God); which were borne, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” [John 1:12-14.] 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 17

The Word is our Instructor. All who will be doers of the Word, in sincerity and truth, will behold His glory, “the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Then there is indeed a new birth, a transformation of character. “Of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.” [Verses 14, 16.] This makes us “living epistles, known and read of all men.” [See 2 Corinthians 3:2.] “He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hands. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” [John 3:33-36.] 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 18

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassion fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” [Lamentations 3:22, 23.] “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts.” This is the message which must be proclaimed. “Return unto me, and I will return unto you.” “But ye said, Wherein shall I return?” [Malachi 3:7.] God gives his people reproofs, warnings, and instruction. But there seems to be a manifest neglect of righteous principles. The Lord sends messengers to bear to the churches His reproofs and warnings, that their wrong may be corrected, and to give the invitation, “Return unto me, and I will return unto you,” and yet self-vindication is shown in the words, “Wherein shall we return?” 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 19

The reproof and warning and promise of the Lord is given in definite language in Malachi 3:8. “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me.” But the question of the disobedient is, “Wherein have we robbed thee?” The Lord answers, “In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.” [Verses 8, 9.] The Lord of heaven challenges those whom He has supplied with His bounties to prove Him. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” [Verse 10.] 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 20

This message has not grown weak because of its age. It is just as binding now, just as fresh in its importance, as God’s gift are fresh and continual. There is no difficulty in understanding our duty in the light of the Word of God, this message given by His holy prophet. We are not left to stumble along in darkness and disobedience. The truth is plainly stated, and it can be clearly understood by all who wish to be honest in the sight of God. 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 21

“Your words have been stout against me saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully (margin, in black) before the Lord of hosts?” [Verses 13, 14.] God does not require His people to do this. Christ is the light of the world, and He says, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” [John 8:12.] But the mournful complaint continues, “And now we call the proud happy; yes, they that work wickedness are set up; yes, they that tempt God are even delivered.” [Malachi 3:15.] This is the language of a soul in darkness. It is the sure result on the character of everyone who cannot see and understand his obligations to give to God that portion which He has specified as His own. The Lord lays His hand upon that portion which He has specified that you shall return to Him, and says, I allow you to use my bounties, after you have laid aside the tenth, and come before me with gifts and offerings. 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 22

The tithe is not the poor fund. Strictly, honestly, and faithfully, if possible without any failure, this is to be brought to the treasury of God. With it God’s faithful messengers are to be sustained who are opening the Word of God, and communicating the light received to those who are in darkness. 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 23

God’s delegated messengers are not to hover about the people who have heard and received and been long in the truth. God’s people are not to be weak, dependent on human beings to do their God-given work for them. His messengers are to carry the triumphs of the cross of Calvary into new regions, calling upon the church to send their prayers as sharp sickles into the harvest field. 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 24

Much more labor than should be, is devoted to the churches. The world is to receive the message. Let the church appoint pastors who are devoted to the Lord Jesus. If those chosen show that they are unfitted for their charge, if they do not do their work faithfully, if they neglect to appoint officers who will be faithful to their charge and see that the tithe is brought in, if they neglect this part of the work, which involves so much—a blessing or a curse—they should be relieved of their responsibilities, and other men should be tested and tried. 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 25

God’s messengers should see that His requirements are faithfully discharged by the members of the churches. It is because so little is made of God’s special injunctions that darkness and temptation and trial are brought upon the church. God says that there should be meat in His house, and if the money in His treasury is tampered with, if it is regarded as right for individuals to make what use they please of the tithe, which is especially devoted to the support of those who are bearing God’s message to the world; the Lord cannot bless. He cannot sustain those who think that they can do as they please with His money. 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 26

The Lord calls for your tithes to be put into His treasury, and besides this, He calls for your gifts and offerings. No one is compelled to present his tithe, or his gifts and offerings, to the Lord. But just as surely as God’s Word is given to us, just so surely will He require His own with usury at the hand of every human being. If men are unfaithful in rendering to God His own, if they disregard God’s charge to His stewards, they will not long have the blessing of that which the Lord has entrusted to them. 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 27

The Lord has given to every man his work. His servants are to act in co-partnership with Him. If they choose, men may refuse to connect themselves with their Maker, they may refuse to give themselves to His service and trade upon His entrusted gifts; they may fail to exercise frugality and self-denial, and may forget that the Lord requires a return of what He has given them; but all such are unfaithful stewards. A faithful steward will do all he possibly can in the service of God. The one object before him will be the need for the message of truth to be given, not only in his own neighborhood, but in the regions beyond. When men cherish this spirit, the love of the truth, and the sanctification they will receive through the truth, will banish avarice, overreaching, and every species of dishonesty. 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 28

In our transactions with our fellow men, as well as in our relations with God, we are to show strict justice and honesty. Our fellow men are of as much value, as estimated by the price Christ has paid for them, as we are, and God calls upon us to treat them as we would wish to be treated. He wants no sharpers connected with His work; He wants no men to handle His work who will deliberately contrive to place before their fellow workers or strangers plans which will mislead. Those connected with God’s work are not to take advantage of others, in order to bring means into the treasury, while they themselves improve every opportunity to gratify their own desire for property and for wealth which they have not earned. The Lord will not sustain in His service men who are self-indulgent, who do not represent to those associated with them the character and work of Christ. 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 29

By every species of unfair dealing, either with God or with our fellow men, we are sowing the seed for a very bitter harvest. The Lord requires all who claim to be His servants to reveal the principles of heaven in all their works. They are to show kindness to all men, cherishing patience, long-suffering, forbearance, [and] generosity. This is living the gospel, and only to those who thus serve Him will God say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” [Matthew 25:21.] 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 30

It will not be long before probation closes. If you do not now serve the Lord faithfully, how will you meet the long list of unfaithful dealings? Not long hence, a call will be made for a settlement of accounts, and you will be asked, “How much owest thou unto my Lord?” [Luke 16:5.] I would beseech all who have refused to deal honestly with God, to think of their deficiency, and if possible to make restitution. If this cannot be done, in humble penitence pray that God for Christ’s sake will pardon your great debt. Begin now to act like Christians. Make no excuse for failing to give the Lord His own. Now, while mercy’s sweet voice is still heard, while it is not yet too late for wrongs to be righted, while it is called today, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts. 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 31

God calls for fathers, for mothers, and for their children to become co-partners with Him in the great work of rescuing their own souls from Satan’s power by uniting with Christ, by striving with heart and mind and strength to save themselves through faith. When you have been converted through the grace of Christ, God calls upon you to wear the His yoke, and labor in His lines to save other souls that are bound up with Satan, who do not realize their danger and peril. Hear me, for Christ’s sake, hear me. The season of God’s mercy will soon be ended. The calls for sinners to repent and be converted will soon be heard no more. That God whose calls you have refused, that Saviour whose spirit you have grieved and insulted, will soon rise in His anger to punish transgressors. Dare we think of what the wrath of the Lamb means? 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 32

Every day you remain in sin you are grieving God by your impenitence. Will you not remember that the time is just upon you when the last day of mercy will come? Then God will rise up out of His place to punish the world for their iniquity. Then the earth shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. The tempests of God’s wrath which have been gathering will burst with pitiless fury. I beg of you, who shall read these words, to hear me for your soul’s sake. Venture not one step further in your impenitence. “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.” [Psalm 2:12.] 11LtMs, Ms 26, 1896, par. 33