Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 182, 1897

“Ye Are God’s Husbandry”

Sunnyside, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

September 24, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in TDG 276; 11MR 37-39.

“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” 1 Corinthians 3:9-13. 12LtMs, Ms 182, 1897, par. 1

We need to understand that individually we are in copartnership with God. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” He admonishes us; and adds, “for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12, 13. Here is the co-operation of the divine with human agencies. 12LtMs, Ms 182, 1897, par. 2

“Ye are God’s husbandry.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] Will the students apply this lesson while they are working upon the land, tilling the soil, plowing and harrowing, putting all the skill they possess into the work of bringing the land into a condition where it will be fit for the planting of the seed, and the trees, preparatory for the harvest? Will they bear in mind that they are God’s husbandry, a part of the Lord’s farm, and that in this term of school there is a great deal of work to be done by those who are appointed to watch for souls as they that must give an account? There are hearts that need much more labor bestowed upon them because the soil has not been under the plow or the harrow. The hardened soil must be broken up and subdued, so that the Word of God, the gospel seed, may find favorable soil for the production of a harvest. 12LtMs, Ms 182, 1897, par. 3

Let the students call all their faculties of discernment to bear upon this subject. Let their skill interpret the figures used. The earth has to be worked to bring out its varied properties favorable to the growth of the seed and fruit. But the harvest will reward the painstaking efforts made in a supply of food for the necessities of man. 12LtMs, Ms 182, 1897, par. 4

The former and the latter rains are needed. “We are laborers together with God.” [Verse 9.] The Lord alone can give the precious former and latter rain. The clouds, the sunshine, the dews at night—these are heaven’s most precious provisions. But all these favors graciously bestowed of Heaven will prove of little worth to those who do not appropriate them by diligent, painstaking effort on their part. Personal efforts must be put forth in agriculture. There is the plowing and replowing. Implements must be brought in and human skill must use them. The seed must be sown in its season. The laws which control seed time and harvest must be observed, else there will be no harvest. 12LtMs, Ms 182, 1897, par. 5

There must be an intelligent, harmonious co-operation of the divine and human. The working of the soil is a lesson book which, if read, will be of the greatest benefit to every student in our school. They may understand that surface work, haphazard half-effort, will reveal itself in the harvest to be garnered. 12LtMs, Ms 182, 1897, par. 6

The apostle brings in another figure: “Ye are God’s building,” an edifice to be erected. [Verse 9.] The construction of a building calls for skill in using the timber which God has caused to grow for the happiness and blessing of man. The Lord has provided the forest trees, and now man must use the trees. They must be cut down and prepared by saw, and axe, and wedge, and hammer, to be fitted for the building. 12LtMs, Ms 182, 1897, par. 7

Preparations have been made to build a house for God. The word has come, Arise and build a house for the Lord. The workmen have taken hold nobly and the angels of God, we testify, have been in their midst. This is the work the Lord would have done in Cooranbong, and let not one in our school work become discouraged. 12LtMs, Ms 182, 1897, par. 8

This is a lesson to be applied to our spiritual building of character with solid timbers. The very best kind of timber was secured for the building of our church. We did not stint in measurement, for we wanted the presence of the people who needed to assemble to worship God, and we wanted the heavenly angels and Jesus Christ in our midst. Let us apply the figure, “Ye are God’s building”—a temple prepared to be a home where God shall preside, a home where God’s attributes shall be constantly shining forth in our characters, showing that we are living with God’s presence. The inner sanctuary of the soul is consecrated to God and we are to keep the soul dedicated, cleansed, purified for the sacred repository of truth. 12LtMs, Ms 182, 1897, par. 9

“Ye are God’s building.” [Verse 9.] Thus is presented the co-partnership of the human and the divine. All the power is of God. “Without me,” says Christ, “ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] Then how many hours is it safe for us to try to work alone? All the glory proceeds from God and should flow back in all possible ways to God, through our co-operation with God. All the responsibility is left upon our willing, our working in harmonious connection with God. 12LtMs, Ms 182, 1897, par. 10

We need to consider carefully our own spiritual interest. If we are abiding in Christ, we shall not allow ambitious business transactions, even in our service for Him, to come before the spiritual fragrance that should characterize our association with our brethren, so that the crude elements in our characters shall break forth into action. In all the mechanical business our hands and minds shall undertake, let us be sure that we represent Christ’s kindness, His long forbearance, His compassion, His goodness and love. 12LtMs, Ms 182, 1897, par. 11

We cannot afford to become too absorbed in our business transactions, even in doing service to God. We must strive prayerfully to hold in check our over-ambition in any enterprise, lest we run ahead of Jesus and meet obstacles that test and provoke us. If we will walk in the companionship of Christ, He will prepare the way for us, for His righteousness goeth before us, and the glory of the Lord shall be our reward. We are to follow where Christ leads the way. He makes no crooked paths for our feet to travel. 12LtMs, Ms 182, 1897, par. 12

We are dishonoring the Lord Jesus if we claim to be following Him and then are in altogether too great a hurry to take time to pray, “Lead me, my Saviour, by Thy Spirit. Imbue me with Thy Holy Spirit that I may be pleasant in all my words, cheerful and thankful day by day, testifying that Thou leadest me.” 12LtMs, Ms 182, 1897, par. 13

As we listen to words of instruction that fell from His lips when He was instructing His disciples, we are to appropriate these words as if spoken directly to us, and He will purify us from vain ambition that has a desire to please and glorify self. Our individual selves must not get in the way. The Lord Jesus will purify our motives if we will let Him do this by working out our own salvation with fear and with trembling. 12LtMs, Ms 182, 1897, par. 14