Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Lt 19a, 1897

My Brethren in Battle Creek

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

July 27, 1897

Portions of this letter are published in 2SM 147-153; 5MR 413-414.

My Brethren in Battle Creek:

We are living in the last days of this earth’s history, and we may be surprised at nothing in the line of apostasies and denials of the truth. Unbelief has now come to be a fine art, which men work at to the destruction of their souls. There is constant danger of there being shams in pulpit preachers, whose lives contradict the words they speak; but the voice of warning and of admonition will be heard as long as time shall last; and those who are guilty of transactions that should never be entered into, when reproved or counseled through the Lord’s appointed agencies, will resist the message and refuse to be corrected. They will go on as did Pharaoh, and Nebuchadnezzar, until the Lord takes away their reason, and their hearts become unimpressible. The Lord’s word will come to them; but if they choose not to hear it, the Lord will make them responsible for their own ruin. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 1

In John the Baptist the Lord raised up for Himself a messenger to prepare the way of the Lord. He was to bear to the world an unflinching testimony in reproving and denouncing sin. Luke, in announcing his mission and work, says: “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” [Luke 1:17.] 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 2

Many of the Pharisees and Sadducees came to the baptism of John, and addressing these, he said, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance; and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire, whose fan is in his hand, and who shall thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner: but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:7-12. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 3

The voice of John was lifted up like a trumpet. His commission was: “Show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” [Isaiah 58:1.] He had obtained no human scholarship. God and nature had been his teachers. But one was needed to prepare the way before Christ who was bold enough to make his voice heard like the prophets of old, summoning the degenerate nation to repentance. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 4

And all went forth into the wilderness to hear him. Unlearned fishermen and peasants came from the surrounding countries and from regions nigh and afar off. The Roman soldiers from the barracks of Herod came to hear. Chieftains came with their swords girded by their sides, to put down anything that savored of riot or rebellion. The avaricious tax-gatherers came from the regions round about; and from the Sanhedrin came forth the phylacteried priests. All listened as if spellbound; and all came away, even the Pharisee, the Sadducee, and the cold, unimpressionable scoffer of the age, with the sneer gone, and cut to the heart with a sense of their sin. There were no long arguments, no finely cut theories, elaborately delivered in their “firstly,” “secondly,” and “thirdly.” But pure, native eloquence was revealed in the short sentences, every word carrying with it the certainty and truth of the weighty warnings given. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 5

The warning message of John was in the same lines as the warning to Nineveh, “In forty days, Nineveh shall be destroyed.” [Jonah 3:4.] Nineveh repented, and called upon God, and God accepted their acknowledgement of Him. Forty years of probation was granted them in which to reveal the genuineness of their repentance and to turn from sin. But Nineveh turned again to the worship of images; her iniquity became deeper and more desperate than before, because the light had come and had not been heeded. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 6

John called every class to repentance. To the Pharisees and Sadducees he said, Flee from the wrath to come. Your claims to Abraham as your father are not of the least value to you. They will not impart to you pure principles and holiness of character. Ceremonial sacrifices possess no value unless you discern the object, the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world. You turn from God’s requirements and follow your own perverted ideas; and you lose those characteristics which constitute you children of Abraham. And, pointing to the rocks in wild confusion around through which the stream was winding its course, he said, “God will of these stones raise up children unto Abraham.” [Matthew 3:7-9.] 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 7

John the Baptist met sin with open rebuke in men of humble occupation, and in men of high degree. He declared the truth to kings and nobles, whether they would hear or reject it. He spoke personally and pointedly. He reproved the Pharisees of the Sanhedrin because their religion consisted in forms and not in righteousness of pure, willing obedience. Their forms alone were of no value to God. He addressed the soldiers who were made to serve the Roman power, and which often provoked in them insubordination and a spirit of defiance. He spoke to Herod in regard to his marriage with Herodias, saying, It is not lawful for thee to have her. [Matthew 14:4.] He spoke to him of a future retribution, a future judgment when God would judge every man according to his works. John made no reference to the Roman laws, but to the divine statutes given by the Lord God of heaven. There is a distinction made by the great Lawgiver between divine and human enactments. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 8

“And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and saith unto him, Master, what shall we do?” Did he say, Leave your toll and custom houses? No, he said to them, “Exact no more than that which is appointed you.” [Luke 3:10-13.] If they were taxgatherers still, they could hold just weights and balances of truth in their hands. They could reform in those things that savored of dishonesty and oppression. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 9

“And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. ... And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people. But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison.” [Verses 14, 18-20.] 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 10

Christ also spoke pointedly to every class of men. He reproved those who dominated over their fellow men, those whose passions and prejudices caused many to err and compelled many to blaspheme God. The sword of truth was blunted by apologies and suppositions; but Christ called things by their right names. The axe was laid at the root of the tree. He showed that all the religious forms of worship could not save the Jewish nation, because they did not behold and receive by faith the Lamb of God as their Saviour. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 11

Just such a work and message as that of John will be carried on in these last days. The Lord has been giving messages to His people, through the instruments He has chosen, and He would have all take heed to the admonitions and warnings He sends. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 12

The message preceding the public ministry of the Son of God was, Repent, publicans; repent, Pharisees and Sadducees, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” [Matthew 3:2.] Our message is not to be one of “peace and safety.” [1 Thessalonians 5:3.] As a people who believe in Christ’s soon appearing, we have a work to do, a message to bear—“Prepare to meet thy God.” [Amos 4:12.] We are to lift up the standard, and bear the third angel’s message—the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 13

The message we bear must be as direct as was the message of John. He rebuked kings for their iniquity. He rebuked the adultery of Herod. Notwithstanding his life was in peril, the truth did not languish upon his lips. And our work in this age must be as faithfully done. The inhabitants of the world at this time are represented by the dwellers upon the earth at the time of the flood. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 14

The wickedness of the inhabitants of the old world is plainly stated: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” [Genesis 6:5.] 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 15

God became weary of these people whose only thoughts were of pleasure and indulgence. They sought not the counsel of the God who had created them, nor cared to do His will. The rebuke of God was upon them because they followed the imagination of their own hearts continually; and there was violence in the land. “And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” “And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them from the earth.” [Verses 6, 12, 13.] 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 16

In His teaching Christ referred to this careless disregard of principle. “But as the days of Noah were,” He said, “so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” [Matthew 24:37-39.] 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 17

Look at the picture which the world presents today. Crime and bloodshed, dishonesty, fraud and bankruptcies exist on every hand. The widows and the fatherless are robbed of their all. Plays, amusements, and horse-races occupy the mind. Rewards are offered to those who excel in these sports, thus keeping the mind in a constant strain of excitement, such as was before the flood, before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and of Nineveh. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 18

The inhabitants of the earth had the warning given them prior to their overthrow; but the warning was not heeded. They refused to listen in the days of Noah; they mocked at his message. Righteous men lived in that generation. Before the destruction of the Noachic world, Enoch bore his testimony unflinchingly. He, the seventh from Adam, makes reference to the state of the world, and in prophetic visitation saw the condition of the world at the present time. He said, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all the ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 19

“These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaking great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” [Jude 14-16.] Then he leaves the testimony for the believers, “But, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. How they told you that there should be mockers in the last time, who would walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the spirit.” [Verses 17-19.] 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 20

There are special duties to be done, special reproofs to be given, in this period of the earth’s history. The Lord will not leave His church without reproofs and warnings. Sins have become fashionable; but they are nonetheless aggravating in the sight of God. They are glossed over, palliated and excused; the right hand of fellowship is given to the very men who are bringing in false theories and false sentiments, confusing the minds of the people of God, deadening their sensibilities as to what constitutes right principles. Conscience has thus become insensible to the counsels and the reproofs which have been given. The light given, calling to repentance, has been extinguished in the clouds of unbelief and opposition brought in by human plans and human inventions. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 21

It is living earnestness that God requires. Ministers may have little learning from books; but if they do the best they can with their talents; if they work as they have opportunity; if they clothe their utterances in the plainest and most simple language; if they are humble men who walk in carefulness and humility, seeking for heavenly wisdom, working for God from the heart, and actuated by one predominating motive—love for Christ and the souls for whom He has died—they will be listened to by men of even superior ability and talents. There will be a charm in the simplicity of the truths they present. Christ is the greatest Teacher that the world has ever known. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 22

John had not learned in the schools of the rabbis. Yet kings and nobles, Pharisees and Sadducees, Roman soldiers and officers, trained in all court etiquette, wily, calculating taxgatherers, and world-renowned men, listened to his words. They had confidence in his plain statements, and were convicted of sin. They asked of him, “What shall we do?” [Luke 3:10.] Even Herod Antipas had his last opportunity to hear the truth through this messenger of God. The opportunity came for John to speak face to face with the royal commandment-breaker. And of Herod it is stated that he “heard him gladly.” [Mark 6:20.] He was glad of an opportunity to ask him, “What shall I do?” Herod heard the straightforward reproof of his character and life-practice. He knew he told him the truth. He knew him to be a just man and an holy. But while he respected his frankness, he did not fall in love with his practical godliness. And for his reproof of the wicked king, John lost his liberty and his life. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 23

In this age, just prior to the second coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven, the Lord calls for men who will be earnest and prepare a people to stand in the great day of the Lord. The men who have spent long terms in the study of books, are not revealing in their lives that earnest ministry which is essential for this last time. They do not bear a simple, straightforward testimony. Among ministers and students who suppose they must ventilate their learning there is need of the infusion of the Spirit of God. The prayerful, earnest appeals that come from the heart of a whole-souled messenger will create convictions. It will not need the learned men to do this, for they depend more on their learning from books than upon their knowledge of God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. All who know the only true and living God will know Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and will preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 24

Something must be done to save the people of God from being deceived and led astray. There may be those whose hearts are accustomed to resistance who will seek to do harm to the one who has reproved them, and resort to the law for “damages” done to their poor temporal life, poor souls. Cain killed his brother because, when Abel reproved him for disregard of God’s expressed requirements, he thought he had done him damage. But the Lord said to Cain, “Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” [Genesis 4:6-8.] 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 25

“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” [Hebrews 11:4.] “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that ye should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” [1 John 3:10-12.] 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 26

Does any one suppose that the messages of warning will not come to those whom God reproves? The ones reproved may rise up in indignation and seek to bring the law to bear upon God’s messenger, but in doing this, they are not bringing the law upon the messenger, but upon Christ, who gave the reproof and the warning. When men endanger the work and cause of God by their own wrong course of action, shall they hear no voice of reproof? If the wrongdoer only were concerned, and the work reached no farther than himself, he alone should have the words of warning; but when his course of action is doing positive harm to the cause of truth, and souls are imperiled, God requires that the warning be as broad as the injury done. The testimonies will not be hindered. The words of rebuke and warning, the plain “Thus saith the Lord,” will come from God’s appointed agencies, for the words do not originate with the human instrument; they are from God, who has appointed them their work. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 27

If a suit is instituted in earthly tribunals, and God suffers it to come to trial, it is that His own name may be glorified. But a woe will be upon the man who gives himself to do this work. God reads the motives, whatever they may be. I pray that the Lord will teach our brethren to be straightforward, and make no compromise in the matter. The cause of God has been bruised and wounded by men connecting with it who refuse to keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment, and the sooner they are separated from it, if they refuse to reform, the better. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 28

But the Lord has a controversy with those who have acted in an underhanded manner, those who have failed to do their duty in their responsible positions of trust. Every soul is worth saving, and this poor soul might have been saved from the tempter’s power if those connected with him had faithfully done their duty. The Lord holds them accountable for their neglect of frank, open dealing. Years ago a plain, straightforward work should have been done. But the message given was withheld. If that message given of God had been faithfully delivered at the right time; if as faithful stewards of the grace of God, His people had come close to the erring and prayed with and for him, and perseveringly set matters before him as God had pointed out; if they had striven to save his soul in the place of daubing with untempered mortar, there would not be the showing that there is today. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 29

God requires that things be set in order. He calls for men of decided fidelity. He has no use in an emergency for two-sided men. He wants men who will lay their hand upon a wrong work and say, “This is not according to the will of God.” It is this miserable work in dealing with wrongs that God has condemned. It has been hurting souls and marring His work, so that the Lord has ... [unfinished sentence]. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 30

For years great peril has been threatening the work of God. The Lord has sent warnings and reproof, but they have not been heeded. In the Battle Creek buildings important interests have been piled up which should have been distributed over a larger territory. Man’s reasoning and devising has made things very complicated and hard to disentangle. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 31

Let the men who are so fearful of their record here in this world only be one quarter as anxious to have their record good on high, to have their motives pure and lofty and unsullied, and they will feel safe in committing their case to God’s tribunal. Then they can say, It is a small thing for me to be judged by any man’s judgment. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 32

Let them assure themselves in the Lord that the decrease is not Christ’s decrease, that their course has been straightforward, that His sacred cause has not been imperilled by human reasoning or man’s judgment. When every one connected with His work will humble themselves before God, One who is mighty in counsel will be their wisdom, their ambition, their joy. If Christ is exalted, then all is well. Let self be hid. O, there has been such a grieving of the Spirit of God, by professed believers, in the manifestation of feelings of jealousy, of envy, of ambition. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 33

The work that will meet the mind of the Spirit of God has not yet begun in Battle Creek. When the work of seeking God with all the heart commences, there will be many confessions made that are now buried. I do not at present feel it my duty to confess for those who ought to make, not a general, but a plain, definite confession, and so cleanse the Lord’s institutions from the defilement that has come upon them. They do not meet the point. They do not see. They do not repent. They do not cleanse the soul-temple. The evil is not with one man or with two. It is the whole that needs the cleansing and setting in order. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 34

“Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” [John 1:29.] Unless there is a thorough reformation and turning unto the Lord, He will surely turn His face from His institution, the publishing house. Take no false panacea for wounds and bruises. Go to Jesus. Tell Him that you must be cleansed and restored. There is not one beyond hope if you will come just as you are. You may put on counterfeit garments of righteousness. You may smile and say that all these difficulties are made up of little or nothing. But God says to you in Battle Creek, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” [Luke 13:3.] 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 35

Go and tell Jesus of your great needs, the unfaithfulness, the blindness, the lack of discernment. The great want of the soul is truth in the inward parts. Time is too short now to let warnings go unheeded. Should God send me to Battle Creek, I would go. I would bear the testimony given me of God. I would not change a single word from what I have given you. I would lift up my voice as did John and say, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” [Matthew 3:2; Mark 1:15.] “Escape for thy life.” [Genesis 19:17.] It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 12LtMs, Lt 19a, 1897, par. 36