Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Ms 163a, 1898

The Two Great Principles of the Law


December 10, 1898

Previously unpublished.

“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Christ knew the heart and the designs of His questioner, and He threw upon Him the burden of the answer. “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” He asked. “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” “Thou hast answered right,” Christ said, “this do, and thou shalt live.” [Luke 10:25-28.] 13LtMs, Ms 163a, 1898, par. 1

Let those who profess to be Christians remember that profession will not save them. The life which Christ alone can give is given only upon condition of obedience. This obedience takes in the whole man—mind, heart, soul, and strength. God calls for a full and entire surrender of the whole being. This is true sanctification. “This do, and thou shalt live,” is the only genuine definition of sanctification. [Verse 28.] 13LtMs, Ms 163a, 1898, par. 2

To love God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves are the two great principles of the law. “Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 13LtMs, Ms 163a, 1898, par. 3

“And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thine house, and on thy gates.” [Deuteronomy 6:3-9.] Upon these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Those who keep the first four commandments will not transgress the other six, for supreme love to God involves all other requirements. 13LtMs, Ms 163a, 1898, par. 4

Man is not to dishonor his Maker by having any other gods. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” is the command. [Exodus 20:3.] Self is to be brought into entire obedience to God. This is the first great command, and upon this hang all the rest, because this is the substance of all obedience. 13LtMs, Ms 163a, 1898, par. 5

Love to God depends on a conception of His goodness, His excellence, and a knowledge of His will. It requires an appreciation of His character. It is essential to our eternal well-being to know more of God. His law is the transcript of His character, and to disregard this law is to connect with those of whom Paul declares, “They did not like to retain God in their knowledge,” because they wished to use their God-given powers in self-service. [Romans 1:28.] 13LtMs, Ms 163a, 1898, par. 6

Those who claim to be children of God, and yet do not obey His commands, although they know them and advocate them, are regarded by God as fraudulent bank notes. They are not genuine. They claim the name of Christians, but in reality they are heathen. God’s ministers preach the Word with power sent down from heaven, but no permanent impression is made upon the hearts and minds of many. The messages given by God in His Word are not received and practiced. What does this mean? It means that it is not thought necessary to bring the controlling power of God into the daily and hourly transactions of life. God is not known by experience, and He is not a power to lukewarm Laodiceans. He cannot encircle them with the realities of the unseen world. The eternal reward of the faithful does not impress their minds. The great day of God, which is right upon us, awakens neither alarm nor rejoicing in the heart. There is a form of godliness, but not the power of the truth. Wrapped in self, nothing can help them until they realize their true condition. 13LtMs, Ms 163a, 1898, par. 7

Without faith, a working faith, it is impossible to please God. Truth may be made ever so clear, it may be urged home ever so strongly, yet if not received in faith, it cannot work in the heart. The themes presented may be ever so glorious, yet if not mixed with faith in them that hear, the work of presenting them will be labor spent in vain. The message may be one of hope, which if received would be a savor of life unto life; but if not received and acted upon, it is a savor of death unto death. Until the faith that works by love and purifies the soul opens the door for the heaven-sent blessing, [the] blessing lies at the door. 13LtMs, Ms 163a, 1898, par. 8

To those who do not practice it, the Word of God is a dead letter. Christ says of such, “I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” [Revelation 3:15, 16.] He cannot present their case to the Father. If they realized that they were sinners, He could plead in their behalf, and the Lord would arouse them by His Holy Spirit. But they are worse than dead in trespasses and sins. They hear the Word, but make no application of it to themselves; instead, they apply the Word spoken to their neighbors. 13LtMs, Ms 163a, 1898, par. 9

Our eternal interest depends upon our obedience to the law, and therefore we are to make it our first business to seek the Lord most earnestly, that we may have a knowledge of Him. This is to be our first consideration. All else is to be made secondary to this object. The Word which is our guide, declares, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” [Matthew 6:33.] 13LtMs, Ms 163a, 1898, par. 10

Seeing that all the powers of the mind, soul, and strength are to be given to God in order that we may use our capabilities to His glory, and in this way increase them and form characters that are perfect, we need to search the Word of God most earnestly and diligently, using every faculty we possess to learn our duty to our Creator. We may understand that no requirements made without ample provision for the fulfillment of the requirement. Through the redeeming grace of Christ, men may accomplish everything that God requires of them. 13LtMs, Ms 163a, 1898, par. 11

It is our duty to use all our powers in an effort to study God, to know more of God. All our qualifications are to be used in the work of becoming acquainted with Him. Let us contemplate the holiness of God. Let us think of His attributes. Let us study His character in the light of His Word, working as those who realize that they are judgment bound, that they will be called upon to give an account for the words they speak, and the attributes of character they possess. Everything depends on whether we are prepared to do the will of God, or to discard His will. 13LtMs, Ms 163a, 1898, par. 12

We love God with an intensity proportionate to the knowledge we have of His attributes and the value we place upon the object of which we are in pursuit. Love for God can never be hid. It has a reflex action upon all hearts. Supreme love to God is shown by doing His commandments. To love God with all the heart is to obey His law with pleasure, to meditate upon the eternal excellency of His character. 13LtMs, Ms 163a, 1898, par. 13