Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 74, 1897

Our Words, Part 2


July 4, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in VSS 30-32, 34-35, 42, 43, 66, 127, 149, 189-190; 3MR 360-361; 6MR 265. +Note

Our education in regard to the science of conversation will be in every way improved if we make the Word of God our study. This branch of education has been woefully neglected. Many receive diplomas from college who have not earned them by gaining an all-round education. Teachers and pupils are apt to skip the important matter of the education of speech. For want of training in this line, students lose much. They go from school to be deficient all through their life-experience. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 1

Defects in the habit of speech are quite general. The flood wood, the rubbish, that composes the conversation of the present day is a disgrace to the name of Christian. What a mass of words come from human lips on trifling, common, earthly subjects; but scarcely a word is spoken in regard to the unseen, heavenly country, which, as pilgrims and strangers, men and women professing to be seeking. Those who talk thus honor neither themselves nor God. How will we learn to converse in the presence of the angels and of the saints in light unless we learn here in this life? 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 2

Let all who have placed themselves on the side of Christ, the greatest Teacher the world ever knew, learn from Him the art of conversation. In this science, practice makes perfect. If you are placed in the company of those whose flood of foolish talk bears all before it, change the conversation, if possible. By the help of the grace of God, quietly drop words, or introduce a subject, that will direct the conversation in a profitable channel. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 3

One of the finest and most elevating branches of education is that of knowing how to address members of the household, that the influence of the words spoken will be pure and incorruptible. The proper conversation of a Christian is that which will enable him to interchange ideas. Loud-voiced words, that help and bless no one, might better be changed for words of good, elevated, enlightened common sense. This line of work is the greatest missionary enterprise in which any Christian can engage. Those who use the organs of speech as the living machinery of God, become living stones in his temple, emitting light and knowledge. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 4

The warnings and instruction of the Word of God are least heeded on the subject of speech. If students would live according to the Bible rule, the glory of God would be their aim in the exercise of the God-given faculty of speech. They would diligently educate the tongue, so that it would not utter strange and perverse things. Thus they would indeed be overcomers in this exercise, which it is so difficult to practice. Great advancement would be made in garrisoning the citadel of the soul, that Satan should not enter to take possession. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 5

Let us come to the unerring Counsellor. What saith the Word of God? “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.” Notice these words. “And let the peace of God rule in your heart.” If you do this, a flood of words that have in them no virtue or goodness will not pour from your lips. “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.] 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 6

This is the education we need in our schools. The hasty, reckless use of the faculty of speech lies at the foundation of nearly all the church troubles that exist. Evil speaking should be dealt with as a misdemeanor that is subject to church trial and separation from church membership, if persisted in, for the church cannot be set in order in any other way. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 7

All who claim to be sons and daughters of God should be, in every sense of the word, missionaries. They may never be called to work in foreign countries, and they may be. But however this is, all should make painstaking effort in their education to use correct language. The power to transform the heart is not yours, but you are the channel through which is made known the manifold grace of God. The Holy Spirit is at your command. “Ask, and ye shall receive.” [John 16:24.] Heart-prayer will be heard in your own behalf, and in the behalf of the souls perishing around you. You will be heard by Him who dwelleth in the heavens. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 8

We should receive the education essential in the line of conversation, that we may know how to speak right words and how to speak in a proper tone, that our words may be a power for good. The truth is no truth to us unless it is brought into the inner courts of the soul. When this is done, our words are a channel through which truth is communicated to others. Sow the seed beside all waters, not knowing which shall prosper, either this or that. But be constantly educating yourself in how to use properly the faculty of speech. As you speak to others, lift your heart to God, praying that He will prepare their hearts to receive the heavenly seed. No man or woman can be that which they might be as laborers together with God in propagating the seed of truth without making earnest, painstaking effort in voice and word culture. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 9

Those who do God’s service receive light and knowledge from Him. These precious truths they reveal in their daily intercourse and association with others. Their conversation is with grace, seasoned with salt. Every converted soul will feel the burden resting upon him to introduce the leaven of truth into the heart and character and conversation. This is the declaration that those who wear Christ’s yoke will make in all suitable ways and on all proper occasions. Thus will they reveal the transforming grace of the truth of the Word of God. God requires all to serve Him to the full extent of their ability, praying for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and believing that they will receive an answer to their prayers. But who are working as God requires them to work for the saving of the souls for whom Christ has given His life? 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 10

The light given me by the Word of God is that the speech needs to be converted and sanctified. The Lord requires that education should be given in the science of conversation. This faculty has been much abused and perverted. It has not been held as a precious gift from God, to be used to glorify His name. The words are a power for good or evil, a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 11

Choice words must be spoken by those who would do service for Christ. Haphazard words, hasty, common words, talking for the sake of talking, when silence would be better, is a sin. Those who are the most wordy exercise no wholesome influence upon the society in which they live and move. Bible religion is not to be boastfully paraded, but quietly practiced in good words and works. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 12

Those who would bring forth precious things from the storehouse of the heart will avoid all cheap reading, all cheap ideas and talk. They will seek for the most precious store of information. They will search the Scriptures, that they may understand the Word of God. This is represented by Christ in the sixth chapter of John as eating His flesh and drinking His blood. “This is the bread that cometh down from heaven,” Christ said, “that a man may eat thereof, and not die. ... Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat of the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood dwelleth in me, and I in him. ... It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing, the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” [Verses 50, 53-56, 63.] 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 13

God’s children should learn the art of making the very best use of the faculty of speech. A heart that is converted to God will have a converted tongue. He who is thus converted will converse upon the highest and most important of all subjects. We must have an understanding of the great spiritual truths of the Word. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 14

We must cherish the truths that will refine, expand, and ennoble our religious experience. If the mind and heart are full of the love of God, this will be revealed in the conversation. It will not be a difficult matter to impart that which we eat and drink, and which enters into our spiritual life, for “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” [Matthew 12:34.] 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 15

Young and old, remember that you must feed upon the Word. You must seek the grace of Christ in order to unlearn the wrong habits of conversation that you may have fallen into. God would have you receive and believe in Christ, that you may receive of Him power to become the sons and daughters of God. Christ has purchased you with His own blood, and He expects of you more than you give Him. He wants you to rise to the high standard of Christian perfection. You must cultivate every faculty and power He has given you for wise improvement. You are not to be mere ciphers in the world. You are to use your time to acquire good sense and a stock of knowledge that if properly used will give a valuable experience. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 16

Cultivate the precious gift of speech, as an agency entrusted to you by God. Do not introduce frivolous nonsensical subjects of conversation. Talk so that minds not of our faith will receive the impression that sound speech and sound principles have been brought into your education. “Ye are the light of the world.” [Matthew 5:14.] Who are thus honored? All who have improved their opportunities to learn how to serve the Lord in the gift of speech. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 17

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him; (not in self, not by following your old habits, not by speaking your own words, and acting with foolishness and frivolity) rooted and built up (then there is to be an upward growth), and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” Do we, who make so high a profession, have corresponding works? Now comes the caution. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principalities and powers.” [Colossians 2:6-10.] 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 18

Will we give heed to these things? The Lord would have all Christians shine as lights amid the moral darkness of the world, revealing a better way than those [who are] of the world are following. By speaking well chosen words, Christians can lift minds into a higher, holier atmosphere. Speak interesting words. It is a sin for any Christian to indulge in the cheap rattle of conversation that is often carried on. If a love for divine things is cultivated, if Jesus abides in the heart by faith, the speech will reveal the presence of Christ. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 19

The extent of a Christian’s usefulness is measured by his power to communicate that which he has received, and which has become experience to him. Education falls short if students do not obtain a knowledge of how to use the faculty of speech, and how to use to the best advantage the education they have obtained. The youth are to commence when young to learn the proper manner of speech. “Young men likewise exhort to be sober-minded. In all things, showing thyself a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” [Titus 2:6-8.] “Let no man despise thy youth,” Paul wrote to Timothy, “but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” [1 Timothy 4:12.] 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 20

Unless teachers and students work for themselves, God can accomplish nothing for them. In their school work there may be earnestness and prayer, and yet no perceptive progress may be made. There may be those who have an intense desire to see the working of the Spirit of God in the hearts of the students, but unless the students can be convinced that the hindrance is with themselves, they will leave at the end of the term little better than when they came. The hindering cause is the talent of speech, so free, so common, so abundant, and yet so worthless. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 21

The soul will never free itself to come into the clear, deep knowledge of the love of God, until the speech is converted. They counterworking power of unsanctified, faithless, cheap words is the great hindrance to our prayers. God will draw nigh to every soul that will draw nigh to Him. But the Spirit of God will depart from those who leave the presence of God and enter into vain conversation, speaking many words that are of no weight or purpose. The spiritual experience of such will stop abruptly. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 22

The barriers you erect by indulging in wrong habits and customs separate you from Christ. These barriers between you and your God you may raise day by day. By choosing to make for yourself a clouded spiritual atmosphere, you are prevented from being in that pure, elevated atmosphere that should be breathed by every Christian. Do you know what it is to have that faith that works by love and overcomes the world? Remember that though the Scriptures are opened before you daily, and though you may listen as if pleased, yet unless you receive the truth you hear into the heart, they do not inspire you with the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. Unless you co-operate with God by doing His will, the labors put forth for you will be fruitless, for you yourself will counteract these labors by your unsanctified words. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 23

Your prayers, you say, are not answered. Do you wish to know why? It is because you prayed with a divided heart, and the faint whispers you sent heavenward did not reach the throne of God before you forgot your prayer. Had you prayed, had you watched, had you answered your own prayer by guarding your speech, that no word of a frivolous character, no word of evil speaking, no word of fretful repining, no harsh words, should escape your lips, you would have realized a great blessing, a steady, earnest, hopeful peace of mind. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 24

If students will have the moral courage to live the truth day by day, its sanctifying power will have a wonderful influence on their speech. They may make some alteration in their ways and manners, but no fruit is produced until the speech is sanctified. They may hear the truth, but they will make no decided change unless they eat the Word of God. Until the truth becomes a part of them, they may assent to it till it is opposed, but they show by their speech that the Word if not to them the bread of life. God has given to every one the opportunity and privilege of becoming a partaker of the divine nature, thus becoming one with Jesus Christ. But many show by their words that they do not feed on Jesus Christ, and therefore they cannot shine, they cannot communicate that which is not their meat and drink. Their use of the talent of speech shows that they have gathered only chaff. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 25

Providence goes hand in hand with grace. In His love Christ is knocking for entrance in the heart. But with many trash and nonsense bar the way, and Christ refuses to take up His abode in a heart filled with idols and rubbish. Such do not support the truth, but hinder its purpose and advancement. Apparently, there is a middle position; but no so. We are either gathering with Christ, our talent of speech is devoted to the good of others, or we are scattering away from Him. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 26

God has consented to use men as His co-laborers. Their measure of success is according to the degree in which they appropriate the truth by individual practice. No one lives to himself. Each will have a power of influence for good in proportion as he eats the Word of God. Then the light he receives from the truth of God as presented in His Word will be revealed in his conversation. To this end the teachers must have an experimental knowledge of the Word of God before they can properly communicate this to others. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 27

These special points are not brought in as essential in the education given in our schools. These lines must be taken up, and the difference between bearing wheat or tares in the words which are spoken must be made to stand out clearly. We must draw continually with Christ, learning of Him line upon line, if by any means some may be saved. Words that are in harmony with the words of the great Teacher must be spoken. Not one word should be spoken unadvisedly, for we are laborers together with God. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 28

Are you not God’s husbandry? Are you not His building? God is seeking to make you a temple for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Will you cooperate with Him, that the Spirit may do its office work upon heart, conscience, and character? There is room for teachers to work in this line, giving an all-round education. If this is not done, foolish conversation will close the way to the influence of the Spirit of God, and the instruction that, if received, would make students wise unto salvation will have no power upon mind or heart. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 29

“That we henceforth be no more children,” writes Paul, “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. ... Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor; for we are members one of another. ... Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. ... Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good, to the use of edifying. ... And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” [Ephesians 4:14, 15, 25, 29, 32.] 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 30

“If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. ... Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth. ... The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father, and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 31

“My brethren, these things ought not so to be. ... Who is a wise man, and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of the good conversation his words with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but in earthly sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” [James 3:1, 2, 5, 8-10, 13-17.] 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 32

Many precious opportunities are lost by inattentive, careless hearers. Notwithstanding all the earnest labor put forth, no fruit is produced. The daily walk is no better, no higher, than that of the worldling. There is no progressive development of Christian practice, springing out of Christian principle, the result and evidence of spiritual life within the soul. All such are represented by that class of whom the Lord spoke to the prophet Ezekiel, “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, as one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument; for they hear thy words, but they do them not.” [Ezekiel 33:31, 32.] 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 33

This class have no root in themselves. Their Christianity is superficial; it has not transformed their characters. They have a knowledge of the theory of the truth, but the heart is not melted, subdued, and converted. They believe for a time; but when tribulation arises and persecution comes for the truth’s sake, they are offended and fall away. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 34

A Herod, a Demas, an Alexander stand out in marked prominence on the pages of Inspiration. Like these, this class do their work under the training of the enemy. As long as their path runs smoothly and in accordance with their own particular ideas, they are well satisfied to float along; but when obstacles or trials are met, when their personal habits or selfishness are rebuked, they turn away like the displeased disciples. Describing this class, the great apostle to the Gentiles says, “Better had it been for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they had known it, to turn from the holy commandment given them.” [2 Peter 2:21.] Better, far better, had they never known the truth, than to have had a knowledge of it, and then turn traitor to its principles. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 35

“Thou desiredst not sacrifices, else would I give it. Thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” [Psalm 51:16, 17.] Please read the sixty-sixth and sixty-seventh Psalms. “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul. I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. But verily, God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.” [Psalm 66:16-20.] This is the way in which our tongues should be employed. If we enjoy the love of God in our hearts, we will have something to say. From the treasure of our heart we will bring forth good things. We will render to God the fruit of our lips. Our words will be words of praise and thanksgiving. 12LtMs, Ms 74, 1897, par. 36