Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)

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Ms 39, 1896

“Make Straight Paths For Your Feet.”

NP

December 31, 1896

Formerly Undated Ms 114. Portions of this manuscript are published in OHC 53; 3BC 1142, 1161; 6BC 1086; 7BC 921; 10MR 296-297; 11MR 49-51.

Many who claim to be Christians are not Christians. The position of the saved and the lost is not now as plain and unmistakable as it will be by and by. At times the contrast is scarcely discernible. Our only safety is in refusing to follow any one in a questionable course. Stand firmly for the right. When the Lord makes up His jewels the contrast between the righteous and the wicked will be decidedly marked. “Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not.” [Malachi 3:18.] Then murmurers and accusers, those who are envious and jealous, will be found standing on their own side, with Satan and his angels. 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 1

The man who loves God meditates on the law of God day and night. He bears the fruit of a branch vitally connected with the vine. He is instant in season and out of season, working always for the Lord. His work is not measured by the eight-hour system. He works at all hours and is never off duty. As he has opportunity, he does good. Everywhere, at all times and in all places, he finds opportunity to work for God. He is one of the Lord’s evergreen trees. He carries fragrance with him wherever he goes. Wholesome atmosphere surrounds his soul. The beauty of his well-ordered life and a godly conversation inspires in others faith and the hope and courage in the Lord. He heeds the injunction of the apostle Paul, “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.” [Hebrews 12:12.] 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 2

“Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way.” This Christianity in practice. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” [Verses 13, 14.] Give yourselves to the Lord, and then you will be prepared to work for Him. Do not exert an influence which will break the hold of any trembling soul from God. Remember that your conversation has a great influence for good or evil. By sowing evil in the minds of the weak, who have no vital connection with God, by telling them what little confidence you have in your brethren, you tear away the last shred of hold which their brethren have on them, because you destroy their confidence in them. 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 3

The words of the apostle should teach you to be very careful how you snap the thread of your faith by talking of your motes of difficulty and dwelling upon them until you make them appear large in your own eyes and in the eyes of others, who do not know them or you in your inner heart life. 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 4

Do not allow the devil to use your tongue and your voice to ruin those weak in the faith, for at the day of final reckoning God will call upon you to give an account of your work. Do not manufacture grievances. Do not think that you must receive special consideration, special favor. If you are not favored as you think you ought to be, do not let the root of bitterness spring up, whereby many are defiled. 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 5

By your words you may cause others to become suspicious. They will then think evil as you do, and will begin to accuse as you have done. Thus you put them on a track in which they cannot be at peace with their brethren. They sell their birthright for a morsel of sympathy, that they may hear themselves petted and praised by those who do not know whether their hearts are cleansed or defiled. What is the sympathy of poor mortals worth? God alone can look beneath the surface. He measures the spirit, and He alone can know what men are. 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 6

Seek to be an evergreen tree. Wear the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. Cherish the grace of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness temperance. This is the fruit of the Christian tree. Planted by the rivers of water, it will always bring forth its fruit in due season. 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 7

The Christ the Christian loves is the Bread of life. He who eats His flesh and drinks of His blood becomes one with Christ. The Word of God is his meat and his drink. He represents the character of Christ and is always fresh and green. His foliage is unwithering and unfading. He prospers in whatever he does; for he does not look merely to this present life to receive his reward; but labors earnestly and truly, and his reward is an eternity of blessedness. “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree; he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing.” [Psalm 92:12-14.] 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 8

God’s chosen ones are to reveal to the world their union one with another. It is not possible for a few to walk to heaven alone because they can agree with no others. God’s people are a unit. If some entertain ideas so peculiar that God’s people cannot accept them, they should compare notes in a teachable spirit, and be willing to learn. They should make the most strenuous efforts to be one, to come into the unity of the faith in the bonds of peace. 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 9

“So speak ye and do as they that shall be judged by the perfect law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say ye have faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works is dead, being alone. Yea, a man say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works. and I will show thee my faith by my works.” [James 2:12-18.] 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 10

The Lord has called us to unity in the bonds of Christ and fellowship and love. In His prayer for His disciples, Christ said, “Neither pray I for these alone; but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” [John 17:20-23.] 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 11

We see that which the Lord requires of us. Shall we not put our pride and our dignity where it will not be as easily bruised and wounded? Shall we not lay it all at the feet of Christ? Shall we not allow our minds to be sharpened by the Holy Spirit, that we may not act like children in our association with one another, but as Christ’s brave soldiers, going without the camp, and bearing the reproach for His sake? “A new commandment I give unto you,” Christ says, “that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” [John 13:34, 35.] Shall we not, at the beginning of the year 1897, covenant with God that we will not be like the children of the wicked one, pettish, envious, jealous, and full of evil surmisings, but like the tree that is known by its good fruit. Then by our unity and love for one another all men will understand that we are Christians. Shall we not cherish love, rather than strife and malice and hatred? 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 12

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you, continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” [John 15:7-14.] 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 13

“And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in times past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience; among whom ye all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” [Ephesians 2:1-8.] 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 14

No provision has been made for Christians to draw apart from each other. By our unity and love we are to reveal the character of Christ. “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and has given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savor.” [Ephesians 5:1, 2.] There is a class named in this chapter that we are not to associate with. If we cannot lift them up, they will pull us down. We know the will of God. Shall we not practice His Word? Shall we not love each other as brethren? 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 15

“Put on therefore as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things, put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of God dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” [Colossians 3:12-17.] 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 16

The Word of God clearly points out our duty. We are to cultivate kindness and forbearance and love. We are to represent Christ in character. Evil speaking, accusing, and faultfinding, misrepresenting our brethren because our own individual ideas are not considered as of the highest value, can find no place in a Christian’s life. By our conduct we show what our influence and the principles we hold are worth. If self is our center, self will be seen in all we do. If Christ is our center, we shall bear His likeness. 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 17

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” [1 Thessalonians 5:9-15.] 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 18

Are we striving most earnestly to obey these words? Shall we not eat and practice them? Shall we not draw nigh to God, fearing to sin against Him by being unjust to our brethren? Then we shall fear to offend His children. We will not wound or bruise His heritage. If we hope in His mercy for sinners, we shall manifest the most tender interest for all for whom Christ has died. We shall not, because our ideas are exalted and honored as we think they should be, handle the reputation of our brethren in a way that offends God, who loves them as He loves us, and who takes as much pleasure in them as He does in us. 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 19

Let those who believe the Word of God sink the shaft deep into the mines of truth. They will then behold wondrous things out of God’s Word. They will understand the prayer of Christ, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” [John 17:3.] The more one knows of God and of Jesus Christ, the more correct will be his knowledge of himself. 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 20

The Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. ... As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” [Psalm 103:13, 8, 12.] The Lord looks upon His redeemed heritage with pity. He is ready to pardon their sins if they will surrender and be loyal to Him. In order to be just and yet the justifier of the sinner, He lays the punishment of sin on His only begotten Son. 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 21

“The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in them that hope in his mercy.” [Psalm 147:11.] But it is only through the value of the sacrifice made for us that we are of value in the Lord’s sight. It is because of the imputed righteousness of Christ, that we are accounted precious by God. For Christ’s sake He pardons them that fear Him. He does not see in them the vileness of the sinner; He recognizes in them the likeness of His Son, in whom they believe. In this way only can God take pleasure in any of us. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” [John 1:12.] 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 22

The more perfectly the Lord sees the character of His beloved Son revealed in His people, the greater is His satisfaction and delight in them. God Himself and the heavenly universe rejoice over them with singing, because Christ has not died for them in vain. The believing sinner is pronounced innocent, while the guilt is placed on Jesus Christ. The righteousness of Christ is placed on the debtor’s account, and against his name on the balance sheet is written, Pardoned. Eternal Life. 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 23

But if men do not reflect the spirit and attributes of Christ, God cannot take pleasure in them. It depends upon the belief and the hope we have in the mercy of God whether we find our hearts’s best treasure. Those only who by prayer and watchfulness and love work the works of Christ can God rejoice over with singing. 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 24

Were it not for Christ’s atoning sacrifice, there is nothing in us in which God can delight. All the natural goodness of men is worthless with God. He will not take pleasure in any man that retains his old nature, and is not so renewed in knowledge and grace that he is a new man in Christ Jesus. Our education, our talents, our means, are gifts entrusted to us by God, that He may see how we will use them. If we use them to glorify self, if we live for self, the Lord says, I cannot delight in them, for Christ has died for them in vain. One word which exalts self causes the light of God’s countenance to be withdrawn. 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 25

The Lord takes none to heaven but those who are first made saints through the grace of Jesus Christ, those in whom He can see Christ exemplified. When the love of Christ is an abiding principle in the soul, we shall realize that we are hid with Christ in God. Then we can say, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” [Galatians 2:20.] Look to Calvary. Let every proud look be humbled. Look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” [Hebrews 12:2.] 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 26

The graces of Christ’s spirit must be cherished and revealed by the sons and daughters of God. By their humility, their penitence, their desire to be like Jesus, to be conformed to His will by practicing His lessons in their daily life, they honor Him. Their constant fear of God is a fear to disobey or disregard one injunction. They hope in God, and commit the keeping of their souls to Him, as unto a faithful Creator. “Thus saith the high and lofty One who inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” [Isaiah 57:15.] The cry of the broken heart is as music in His ears, because He can restore and heal. 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 27

“Ye are God’s husbandry.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] As one takes pleasure in the cultivation of a garden, so the Lord takes pleasure in His believing sons and daughters. A garden demands constant labor. The weeds must be removed; new plants must be set out; branches that are making too rapid a development must be pruned back. So the Lord works for His garden, the plants of the Lord. He cannot take pleasure in any development that does not reveal the graces of the character of Christ. The blood of Christ has made men and women God’s precious charge. Then how careful each one should be not to manifest too much freedom in pulling up the plants the Lord has placed in His garden. Some plants are so feeble that they have hardly any life in them, and for these ones the Lord has a special care. 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 28

“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write, These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” [Revelation 3:1-3.] Here is the work which every son and daughter of God must do. To adorn the doctrine of Christ our Saviour, we must have the same mind which was in Christ. Our likes and dislikes, our desire to favor self to the disadvantage of others must be overcome. Let the peace of God rule in your hearts. Christ must be in us a living, working power. 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 29

Our names are registered as Christians. We go to the Lord’s table; we profess to be sons and daughters of God, members of the Lord’s family, children of the heavenly King. Then let us show that we love Jesus by enthroning Him in the heart, by denying self for the sake of others. Let us work together harmoniously, staunch members of one family. The Lord knows the ways of His righteous children. Every word, every thought, every motive is open before the eyes of Him who sees all things. But too often those who claim to believe the truth deny Christ by the lack of faith they have in their brethren. Too often evil is watched for; things are seen in the worst light; words and actions are misconstrued and misinterpreted. Many talk vigorously about mere suppositions; but their own hearts, their own faults, trouble them little. If they would devote their tongues [and] their voices to the confessing of their sins, if they would humble their hearts before God, it would be better for them. 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 30

God has not made any man or woman a sin-bearer. He has not laid upon any soul the duty of confessing his brother’s defections and sins. Each one is to search his own heart, and confess for his sins. Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you. Leave your brethren in the hands of God. Let Him who knows the heart in all its waywardness be able to deal with you in mercy because you have shown mercy and tenderness, and compassion, and love. “Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.” [Hebrews 12:13.] 11LtMs, Ms 39, 1896, par. 31