Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12

131/457

Lt 110, 1897

Shannon, Brother

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

February 5, 1897

Portions of this letter are published in ML 331; CTr 83. +Note

Brother Shannon:

At eleven o’clock, p.m. Friday night, I am aroused to write out things which I dare not withhold. Sleep has passed from my eyes, and slumber from my eyelids. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 1

The Lord gave Abraham a lesson terrible in its significance. This lesson has been immortalized on the pages of sacred history, that from age to age all may learn that the Lord who gave, can also take away; that all is His. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 2

In a vision of the night, in his home in Beer-sheba, when he was one hundred and twenty years old, Abraham received the startling command, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” [Genesis 22:2.] His son, his only son, the son of promise, to be sacrificed. There was no more sleep for Abraham that night. The voice had spoken only to him and had been heard only by him. God had promised him that his name was to be perpetuated in Isaac, but here was a severe trial of his faith. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 3

Abraham had clung to the promise of a son from his own wife Sarah, and God had fulfilled His promise. But now God says, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest.” [Verse 2.] He left Ishmael out of the question, saying, “Thine only son Isaac.” Had Abraham been a selfish, coldhearted man, absorbed in ambitious projects, without a tender and affectionate attachment for his son, he would not have felt this terrible summons so deeply, but he loved his son tenderly. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 4

How could Abraham reason upon the former word of God? God had already told him that through Isaac his seed should be as the sand of the sea for multitude. As he stepped out into the night, he seemed to hear the divine voice that called him out of Chaldea fifty years before, and said to him, “Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars if thou be able to number them. So shall thy seed be.” [Genesis 15:5.] Can it be the same voice that commands him to slay his son? He remembered the promise, “I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth, so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.” [Genesis 13:16.] Is it not the voice of a stranger that commands him to offer his son as a sacrifice? Can God contradict Himself? Shall he cut off the only hope of the fulfillment of the promise? Must he become childless? 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 5

But Abraham does not reason; he obeys. His only hope is that the God who can do all things will raise his son from the dead. The knife was raised, but it did not fall. God spoke, “It is enough.” The faith of the father and the submission of the son was fully tested. “Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing that thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” [Genesis 22:12.] 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 6

Abraham’s test was the most severe that could ever come to a human being. Had he then turned from God, he would never have been registered as the father of the faithful. Had he deviated from God’s command, the world would have lost this rich example of faith in God and victory over unbelief. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 7

This lesson is given to shine down through the ages, that man may learn that nothing is too precious to give to God. Confidence in the divine Word will lead to a doing of that Word. It is when we look upon every entrusted gift as the Lord’s, to be used in His service in all ways and at all times, that we secure the heavenly benediction. Give back to God your entrusted possession and you will have more entrusted to you as a faithful steward, and will be able to answer when God calls. Keep your possessions to yourself and you will receive no reward in this life, and will lose the life which is to come. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 8

God tries the faith of His people today to test their characters. Those connected in any way with the school, which had long been delayed for want of means, who are willing to deny self and make sacrifices for God in times of emergency, are the ones whom God will honor with a partnership in His work. Those who are not willing to work for small wages, <under financial necessity,> in order to carry out the purposes which God has devised, will be tested and tried, that their course may appear to human eyes as it stands before the eyes of One who has a full knowledge of the heart and all its inward workings. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 9

The Lord speaks of some who will not open or shut the doors of God’s house for naught. My brother, you have developed a selfishness that has worked in various ways to the increase of itself. It has been strengthened by exercise, until the whole man has come under the jurisdiction of Satan, as was Judas. Judas had the privilege of being connected with Christ as one of His disciples. But his spirit did not agree with the principles Christ kept continually before them, and in the place of heeding these teachings, he worked against them. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 10

My brother, when work at the school was offered you for four shillings a day, and this was all your labor, for eight hours a day, was worth under the circumstances, and you refused it, were you in the service of men whose personal interest was being benefited? You were situated where you could have helped the work that God has signified should be done to establish a school. It was not men whom you insulted by your refusal to labor; it was God. This was the test of the depth and breadth of your heart interest in the school which is to do the very work which God has pointed out must be done. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 11

Brother Shannon has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. Said the divine Instructor, His heart was not right with God. His own interest came first. He would serve the Lord if in so doing he could reap all the benefit he desired. Brother Lawrence has also been tested. God put him in trial before the whole universe of heaven, and he was pronounced wanting. Men have had a much more favorable opinion of Brother Lawrence than the Lord has <given him,> for He has watched the principles that underlay the springs of action. Brethren Shannon and Lawrence have not discerned any difference between the sacred and the common. They have treated the Lord’s work as though it possessed no more sacredness than a common business enterprise. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 12

This work <on this ground> is to be a character-detector, trying the spirit of men, proving who will be trustworthy, the Lord’s faithful Calebs. Those who, in times of trial and pressure from want of means, will do their very best for God for the truth’s sake, showing that they have the fear of God before them, are the men God will choose as men to be depended on. They may have need of experience in many lines, but if they will not become offended and sit on Satan’s stool of idleness, submitting their minds, their hearts, and their physical powers to the enemy, if they will do their duty because they recognize that there are duties to be done, the Lord will increase their wisdom and understanding by giving them knowledge as He did Daniel, thus enabling them to be representative men. But God cannot use the men who respect only the value of men, who do not see that they should be willing to render service to God. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 13

All these <general> principles have been placed before Brethren Shannon and Lawrence, that they might see their force and necessity; but notwithstanding the light that the Lord has been pleased to give them, they have indulged their covetousness. They refused to come into working order. The spirit they cherished was an offense to God. He was working every moment in their behalf to keep them alive, and yet they refused to work for Him without stipulated wages; and He would not accept their service. They had their choice. While the school grounds, God’s property, were in want of faithful workers who would show what could be done on the land, because Brother Lawrence could not get the sum he desired for his labor, he refused, like a rebellious child, to use his hands or his <mind.> With the necessities of the case before him, he remained in idleness as far as doing good was concerned. What did he care? The treasury was almost empty, but what did that signify to him? 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 14

The Lord has recorded every thought and every feeling, and He has placed His estimate upon these men. By Him they are reckoned as unfaithful stewards. They have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. Brother Lawrence has been weaving the web of selfishness, every thread of which is deciding his future destiny for eternity. When he desired to purchase land, because he could not trade in the same way as he has done all his life, he refused to pay the sum which he himself <with his brethren> had stipulated. He would have taken any amount as a gift, irrespective of the fact that the other side would be robbed; and then he would have complained that the stewardship of others was faulty. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 15

Unless Brother Lawrence is converted, and his character transformed, he will be <no help> to the cause of God wherever he goes, <but a stumbling block.> His life is a long series of transgressions of the law of Jehovah. He could be a blessing to no church. He has not used his mind as a storehouse in which to place the inestimable treasures found in the Scriptures. He has not been learning in the school of Christ, although he has had every opportunity to hear the truth, to receive the truth, and to partake of the richest banquet that can be offered to human beings. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 16

Had he eaten of the Word of God, his spiritual experience would have been after the likeness of Christ, but he had drunk so deeply of worldly speculation in little things, with which Christ and the truth have no agreement, that he has formed an appetite for buying and selling and getting gain without bringing truth and righteousness into his business transactions. The spirit is the same in the deal, whether the transactions be large or small. He longs for the advantage to be gained by him, exactly as did Judas; and in many respects his case is worse than that of Judas, in proportion to the increased light that has come to the church since the ascension of Christ and the impartation of the Holy Spirit. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 17

God has given us great light and great opportunities. Brother Lawrence could have accepted the truth and taken it into the inner sanctuary of the soul, but his taste has not been cultivated in this line. He has formed a habit of seeking to obtain everything below its real value, and then selling it so that he will gain. He has been working in this line so long that his whole mind, soul, and spirit is leavened. If this spirit <continues to> be cherished, it will place him in the ranks of those who educate and train their powers in this line. Principle is sacrificed for an oft-practiced worldly policy, but the adept in such work is really despised by the world. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 18

Unfair dealing has been carried on upon the locality selected for this school. The virtue of the characters of some has been tainted and stained, and their influence has led many astray. God will not tolerate this work. If the one who has been working so perseveringly against his own eternal interests could see that God has no use for those who, like Nadab and Abihu, use common fire in place of the sacred, he would be alarmed. All the time that Brother Lawrence spent in idleness, he might have given to God. He might have given <back> to <God> his capabilities and the time he values so highly, and trusted to God to properly estimate it. A day lost passes into a mournful record in the books of heaven. A day spent in unselfish service for God is better than a thousand spent in self-serving. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 19

If Brother Lawrence had qualifications <as he considers himself to have> which he could see that his brethren did not possess, what was he here for unless it was to impart his knowledge faithfully, kindly, and interestedly? My brother, all the ability that you possess is God’s property. He could take away your reason and leave you as a beast of the field, as He did Nebuchadnezzar. God has borne long with your robbery of Him, but you have been so much engaged in an illegitimate business, that He will not favor you in any way after your day of test and trial is over. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 20

When you give God your heart, you will no more be blind in regard to right and wrong, as in the transaction of robbing a poor man of the money that was his just due. You will look with disgust upon the perverted principles that you have practiced for years. Your trade in regard to the horse and the cow speaks loudly, in unmistakable language <as to the kind of help you would be.> 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 21

You know not the time of your visitation. You know not what is due to your God. These transactions, which compose the texture of your character, make that character an offense to God. All such business is bad enough when done in the world; but God has a controversy with you, for you have robbed God. You would have robbed Him by bargaining for land at less than your own figures estimated it to be worth. Your sense of propriety is so far perverted that you traffic with property that has been purchased by money given for the service of God. <Will a man rob God?> 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 22

Had you commenced a work in your own heart, had you dedicated to God all your lent capabilities, you would have realized that all you have and are belongs to Him, and you would not have placed the sacred things on a basis with common things. You would long ago have fixed your supreme affections on Him who is too wise to err, who is altogether lovely, and the chiefest among ten thousand. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 23

If you are not on this ground to advance and build up the work in all lines where it is possible, what are you here for? You have taken from and lessened the facilities which will be essential to carry forward the work in this locality. If you took from the school the value of one shilling or one pound, this should make you afraid; but you have done more than this. God reckons up the time you spent in idleness, nursing a rebellious spirit. Did you think that when you could have helped, and would not, you were doing service to God? 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 24

You ought to see these things in such a light that you would abhor yourself for your narrow selfishness. You are blind, and by precept and example you have been communicating principles that will make others as blind as yourself. God looks at the motives which prompt to action. In His providence He has allowed matters to come to the light that will be reproved, and that most sharply. Wherein have you unselfishly benefited the school? You have withheld that which would have helped forward the work. You have looked on, sitting on the devil’s idle stool, seeing things which you thought you could improve; but you did not attempt to do this. <In whose service were you?> You might have helped in many ways if you had given heart, soul, strength, capabilities, all to God. When you do this, Christ will be yours, heaven will be yours, eternal life will be yours, all things, through Christ, will be yours. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 25

Did you come to this place to speculate with God, to see if you could not rob Him here as you have done throughout your life? You have placed yourself, not as a true, loyal brother, but as a faultfinder, waiting an opportunity to take from God, in jots and tittles, and in larger things. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 26

“The children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord. And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words. But they will not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a very pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument; for they hear the words, but they do them not.” [Ezekiel 33:30-32.] 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 27

“Wherefore the Lord saith, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 28

“Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding? ... And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off: that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just thing for a thing of nought.” [Isaiah 29:13-16, 18-21.] 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 29

All who fear God will accustom themselves to look closely at their principles in the light of the Word of God, and to regard with awful respect the commands of God. Their souls should be pervaded by a deep, abiding sense of the importance, sanctity, and authority of heavenly principles. They should maintain the most intimate connection with God, the pure, sacred spring from whence their strength and light is derived. Then brother will stand by the side of brother, and each will lift every jot he can possibly sustain. Those who do this will have help from God, and will be among those who will share in the triumphs of the truth. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 30

The Lord asks you again, “What doest thou here?” [1 Kings 19:13.] You have repeatedly stated that you were a man of your word, but you deny this by your actions. You have professed to believe in Jesus Christ, to be obedient to His requirements. Why do you not keep your word with God? Any man that is not true to God is not true to his neighbor in business deal. You flatter yourself that you are a man true to your word, but God declares this to be false. When you see a man with whom you desire to trade, you advantage yourself to his disadvantage, when the word of truth spoken by you would put him on his guard <that he would not cheat himself> and cause you to lose your chance. By carrying these matters through as you do, you act falsehoods. This you have done in your trading here. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 31

In order to favor you and retain you here, hoping that you could be a help, and that your influence would be a blessing, transactions in trade have been consummated that never would have been had you behaved as a noble Christian gentleman. But you have acted the part of a schemer. God has marked your actions from first to last. He has taken your measurement as if you were conducting a trade with Him, and thus it stands in the books of heaven. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 32

All these things make you an unsafe man. The only hope for your soul is a transformation of character. When you have a new heart, you will live in an atmosphere very different from that in which you have lived since you came here. When tempted to scheme in business you will strangle the first purpose Satan would form in your mind, so that it will not breathe the breath of life. You can reform; it will be a daily, hourly struggle; but if you come into conscious, loving communion with God, the principles of truth and righteousness and mercy will be more and more clearly discerned. You will then keep the last six commandments, which you have so often transgressed. You will not study how you can obtain an advantage of your neighbor, but you will aid others by your <supposed> perceptive faculties and by your sympathy. You will give tangible proof of your love by co-operating with Christ in helping your fellow men whom you must meet in the judgment. You will price your time as God’s time, to be used in His service, and you will earnestly strive to help others. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 33

With strenuous efforts and the continual grace of God you may overcome your practice of untruthful and dishonest trading. If you yield yourself to God, the deep and holy principles of His law will become part of your character. You will then love to minister to others. You will love to stimulate others to serve God. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 34

God has given you talents to use to His name’s glory, not for your own advantage. God despises your course of action; it is hateful in His sight. In your dealing with the school, God has permitted you to reveal your selfishness, that His reproof might come to you. Will you receive it? Do not longer flatter yourself that your word is so wonderfully sacred, because for years you have been piling falsehood upon falsehood in your deal with your fellow men. Your every offer of low sums for an article that you know to be worth more than you offer is a deception. <You would, when once in your possession, extol it [as] of much greater value.> A change in these things will elevate your whole being. If you will make a business of this work, if you will honor God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself, God will bless you. This is the whole duty of man. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 35

The perils of the last days are upon us. Let no one think that he has acquired a valuable acquisition when he has learned the tricks common with buyers and sellers. No man can pride himself on his truthfulness, for unless he has overcome, he does not know that truthfulness is. No one can know the strength of his truthfulness and honesty until he has passed the fiery ordeal of the temptation to acquire means in questionable ways. Men may, at one period of their lives, shudder at the thought of any species of dishonesty as seen in the practice of others, but if they do not cultivate strict integrity in every transaction, they will soon learn to sell their birthright for a mess of pottage. 12LtMs, Lt 110, 1897, par. 36