Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Lt 5, 1898

Michaels, Brother


April 12, 1898

Portions of this letter are published in OHC 105; 3MR 320-321.

Dear Brethren:

Some things have been urged upon my mind about which I felt so deeply, and suffered such agony of soul, that I became very sick. I could not sleep through the night for more than two hours after this matter was brought before me, for I could not see in what way it could be treated. But light came to me in the night season. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 1

There is need of different elements in the Echo office and in the North Fitzroy church. Christ announced Himself as the Light of this world, and those who follow Jesus should walk no more in darkness, but should have the light of life. By His pure doctrines, Christ revealed the contrast between truth and error, light and darkness. To Him, truth, all truth, was ever present and self-evident. He uttered no worthless sentiments, notions, or opinions, but spoke only important truths. “Every one that is of the truth,” He said, “heareth my voice.” [John 18:37.] If this were the case with those who claim to know the truth today, we should have from them the unmistakable evidence that they hear the voice of Jesus, and obey. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 2

Our Lord and Saviour was the great teacher sent by God. He was perfectly acquainted with the need of all in our world, perfectly acquainted with the principles of truth, which is the gospel unto salvation, for He was the foundation of the whole Jewish economy, and that economy was the gospel in figure and symbol. Having stood in the councils of God, the elements of truth, from the least to the greatest, were always familiar to His mind. All the treasures of heaven were given to Him to bestow upon the fallen race, that He might give all the needed help to every soul, to enable men to break the chains of sin-slavery, and become free men and women in Christ Jesus. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 3

He revealed the infinite mind of God, and spoke with personal knowledge, for He was the expression of the mind of God to man. He unfolded truth of the highest order, for He was Himself the Word and the wisdom of God. He presented truth with the authority of a divine Oracle, and with a power and knowledge that He was unfolding truth of the highest magnitude, even the words of eternal life. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 4

The science of true godliness was the life which through Jesus Christ runs parallel with the life of Jehovah. It is enduring, because the student can take it with himself into the higher grade, the courts above. Minds must be kept up, up, up. There must be no cheap, downward tendencies allowed. That which the universe of heaven deems important in all education is that kind of knowledge which has been revealed from eternity, and which enters into His purposes, expressing His mind, and involving His glory. This is the true science of all education. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 5

The revelation of what concerns man’s eternal destiny has been largely laid aside as a mystery. Other reading and other principles have been brought in. Human inventions, called education, have been counterworking the infinite counsels of heaven. This is called higher education, but it is an insult to God. The themes that are to be man’s study throughout eternal ages are so momentous that they not only disdain the discoveries of man, but engross to themselves the undivided attention of the only begotten Son of God. True education would have held its sacred, holy principles belittled and degraded had it been mingled with the topics now called by men the higher science of education. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 6

Christ, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Light of the world. He contemplated the situation of the world. He saw that eternal interests were involved in the choice man should make. An immortal crown was presented for the overcomer, and unhappiness and eternal ruin for those who neglected the science of salvation, which is the only term to which higher education can be applied. That which is of the earth is earthy. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 7

The message of deliverance is granted to all. We are to wear Christ’s yoke, and bear His burdens. Other knowledge than this may be acquired by ordinary means, but the way of salvation, the science of true higher education, can be found only in the Word of God. The value of this education is revealed. It is certain that man will lose eternal life unless he gains this knowledge. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 8

“I am come a light into the world,” Christ declared. [John 12:46.] Should He withdraw His beams, the world would be shrouded in eternal darkness. Christ is the light of the world, ascending the firmament of truth, and shining in clear, distinct rays. He is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. He is the greatest Teacher, the greatest benefactor, the world will ever look upon. He combines within Himself all the several qualities of beneficence. In imparting the gospel, He was pouring out all the resources of heaven. As the great Physician, He was bringing to suffering humanity a balm for all their woes. He lived not to please Himself. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 9

He enwrapped in the garments of His righteousness all who came to Him for refuge. He assumed human nature that He might display in humanity the perfect obedience that God requires from the subjects of His kingdom. He desired to show men and women that their happiness consisted in their obedience. He rejoiced in the anticipation of doing for His followers more abundantly than they could ask or think. “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink,” He cried. “The water that I shall give him shall be unto him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.” [John 7:37; 4:14.] 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 10

The teachers of Christ’s day did not receive His words. After rejecting the truth, they labored to retain their influence over the people by an endless repetition of fables and childish traditions. But when they refused the light of the world, they lost their wisdom. Christ said to them, “Ye teach for doctrines the commandments of men.” [Matthew 15:9.] Trivial and unessential forms and ceremonies were made by them as important as the law of Jehovah. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 11

These things disgusted sensible people, and when they flocked to hear Christ, they were astonished at His doctrine. Never man spake like this man, they declared. The subjects He presented were high and elevating, plain and simple. He treated His hearers as men capable of securing a life that measures with the life of God. He carried them to the very threshold of heaven, that truth, eternal truth, might efface the things of earth that were absorbing their minds. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 12

Christ brought the eternal future to view. Some were afraid of His searching parables. But He declared, If any man will do the will of God, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. [John 7:17.] Those who have yielded their will to God are trained in Christ’s school to do all justice possible to His divinity. They are disciplined to habits of obedience, to do service to God. We are not creatures devoid of moral nature. The gospel does not address the understanding alone. If it did, we might approach it as we approach the study of a book dealing with mathematical formulas, which relate to the intellect alone. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 13

The Word of God is what it claims to be in the sixth chapter of John—the bread of life—for it represents the body and blood of the Son of God. Its aim is the heart. It addresses our moral nature, and takes possession of the will. It casts down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and brings into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. It is the wayward heart that has dragged down the faculties of the soul. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 14

All who would learn the science of salvation must be submissive students in the school of Christ, that the soul-temple may be the abiding place of the Most High. If we would learn of Christ, the soul must be emptied of all its proud possessions, that Christ may imprint His image on the soul. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 15

The greatest and most dangerous deception is upon those in our churches who think that a bare assent to truth is sufficient. This is not all that God expects. He expects to see in us that faith that works by love and purifies the soul. Then we shall have such a view of Christ’s infinite sacrifice in our behalf that the soul will be softened and humbled and made full of thanksgiving to God. An intense desire will be begotten by the Holy Spirit for a favorable opportunity to witness for Christ and to express gratitude and devotion to Him who has redeemed us. Loyalty and love will be seen in all the service. A burning desire to be like Christ will keep the soul tender, leading it to give vent to grateful emotion, and in the sight of heaven to offer thanks to God for His goodness, His love, and His compassion. Such have a grace that cannot be repressed into a tame, every-day evenness of assenting to truth, while the heart is not affected. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 16

Oh, how much more safe it is to agonize to enter into the strait gate! It is only at the altar of God that human beings can receive the celestial torch. Poor souls may kindle their own fire, and try to walk in the light of the sparks of their own kindling, but they will lie down in sorrow. All self-importance, all striving for the mastery, is born of self-exaltation. This spirit is now so prevalent that the Lord can do very little for humanity, lest men take the glory to themselves, and disparage others. Puffed up and self-inflated, they greatly hurt their own souls and wound the souls of those with whom they have to do, as though they possessed far more wisdom than their brethren. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 17

When the soul feels its poverty, and lies low at the feet of Christ, the Saviour puts it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who leads it into all truth. The Holy Spirit takes the words that fell from the lips of Christ, and presents them with a living power to the tender, contrite, obedient soul, that Christ’s followers may reveal the gospel by living the truths they profess, and express the perfect image of their Author. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 18

We are to learn, ever learn, daily learn, to deny self. Take up the cross of self-denial and self-sacrifice. My brother, I have something to say to you. Words were spoken to you by the Lord. What are you doing to prepare a people for eternal life? You are perilously behind the spirit of the truth. You have not had a correct conception of your duty. Your soul must be purified. You must rise above the frosty atmosphere in which your spirit lives and breathes. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 19

You are crippling your powers of conception in regard to the work of saving souls. Satan is blinding your mind, and many other minds, so that you cannot see that there is a most solemn work to be done, to save those ready to perish. Can you not see the vast procession of all kindreds, tongues, and nations passing in unbroken ranks to perdition? What are you doing to save them, my brother? What kind of treasure are you laying up in heaven as the result of the work you are now doing? Your faith is not growing stronger. Are you bearing the message of truth wherever you go, so that the printed pages you carry from place to place are as a light shining in the dark? 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 20

All around us men, women, and children, who know not Christ and the truth, are perishing. A vast, countless army is passing into the perils of the last day, without knowing the time of its visitation. This is the period of probation, the only time when salvation can be secured. Oh, if we occupy the position of agents responsible to God, what are we about? Have we hearts that throb with the heart of Christ? Are we in deadly earnest to warn, reprove, rebuke, with all longsuffering and doctrine? Are we faithful stewards of the grace of Christ, or are we careless, self-loving, looking for the employment that will best serve self? 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 21

Have we hearts that can feel, or are we among that number who have ears but hear not, eyes, but see not? Can we not understand the declaration of eternal truth in regard to the curse that must come upon the nations that know not God, and that right early? Why then is no effort made to save souls? Why do not the churches that have heard the last message of mercy awake to their duty? We have been entrusted with the gospel. Light has been given us to give to others. Take nothing into your hands to handle, representing hay, wood, stubble. Just according to the food you give your mind will be your advancement or your weakness of conception. You will assimilate to the standard of the matter you handle. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 22

We ask, Where is the travail of soul for the sinners perishing in their sins? A decided change must be made in our churches. A self-denying, cross-bearing, working church is a living church. Wherever they may be found, the churches professing godliness, but which do not bring godliness into the daily practice, are as signboards, pointing the wrong way. Self-denying, cross-bearing believers, who give self without reservation to Christ, and who are not adulterated with worldly theories, will not be sour and intractable, neither will they set themselves up as superior to others. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 23

Let those who are striving for the victory, strive lawfully, that is, let them have that faith that works by love and purifies the soul. Let them put on Christ, manifesting His meekness and lowliness. Let them hide themselves behind Christ. Then the Saviour will appear in their words, their actions, their deportment. They will be kind, courteous, tender-hearted, pitiful, full of compassion and divine-human sympathy. Self will not press itself into notice, but will give honor to those to whom honor is due. A vital piety, a renewing of the mental and spiritual powers will be seen. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 24

But too often self, self, self stands directly in the way of God’s working for the members of our churches. Self-love makes it impossible for the Lord to pour out His Spirit on those who should have it. Those who handle sacred things should allow nothing to intercept the rays of light coming from the throne of God, by which God would make them lights in Him. Simplicity, true modesty, humility, and meekness will make them as savors of life unto life. But if they lack these graces, they will move in self-confidence, and will not discern that spiritually they are walking over the ground trodden by the Pharisees of old. They will lose the power to distinguish between light and darkness. They will unwittingly sustain evil, while they see nothing attractive in God’s faithful messengers, who are true to principle, through whom God works. They will pick to pieces the very men God honors, while they connect with those who misunderstand and misinterpret, receiving their words as if from God. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 25

The Lord can do little for this class. When souls are convicted of the truth, they do not travail in soul for their conversion. If through the work of the Spirit of God these souls are led to take their position for the truth, they are not in a position to educate them, and lead them to advance step by step. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 26

The Lord wants His professed followers to be His followers in reality. The religion of Christ will reveal itself in those who possess it, as a vitalizing, pervading principle. A living, working, spiritual energy, it is seen and felt. Those who possess it reveal the freshness and power and joyousness of perpetual youth, and the divine impress is upon the character. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 27

I have been shown what the people of God may be, and what they are not today. The Lord will give mental and even physical health to those that seek Him. He will renew their powers day by day. By His omnipotent grace, He will refresh the souls of His people—those who serve themselves, who live for themselves? No; those who serve Him with the whole heart. Then they are prepared to refresh others with the grace which has refreshed, strengthened, and uplifted them. They have drank of the waters of life, and they show that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Their whole work is to co-operate with God. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 28

What we all need is to be converted to Christ. He says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30.] There is to be a rearranging, a reconstruction of the minds of those who believe the truth. They are to be molded after the divine similitude, else the Lord cannot manifest His power in them and through them as His co-workers, for they will surely mislead through want of spiritual eyesight. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 29

Provision has been made for great stores of wisdom to be given to man. The Lord is waiting for the proper channels through which this wisdom can safely flow. Just as soon as the soul is lifted up unto vanity, just as soon as men begin to look upon themselves as specially righteous and the favored of heaven, they cease to walk humbly with God. They work in self and not in God. Those who have put confidence in them, as men fit for any responsible position, have not the discernment to see that a change has come. But just as long as the human agent walks softly before God, just as long as men are simple-hearted, humble, self-denying followers of the Saviour, others will take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus, that they have learned of Him. They can communicate to others the measure of wisdom that God has given them. God has hidden this wisdom from those who look upon themselves as wise and prudent, and has revealed it unto babes. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 30

If the people of God derive spiritual enlightenment from God, they will, in diversity, and as branches of the True Vine, show that unity that Christ has enjoined upon them. If they are humble, they will appreciate the words of Christ, which enjoin humility and unity. They will cherish Christian affection, banishing sloth and lukewarmness. They will draw nigh to God, earnestly interceding for the grace that will give them efficiency and success in representing Christ. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 31

A marked change is to be made in the line of hospitality. God is displeased with the selfish spirit manifested for “me and my family.” For some reason, this spirit is prevailing more and more largely. Every family that cherished this spirit needs to be converted to the pure principles Christ has given of the gospel life. Those who shut themselves within themselves, who are unwilling to be drawn upon to entertain others, lose many blessings. Invite your brethren and sisters to your homes. Make no extra parade, but when you see their necessity, take them in. Do not separate so far from God that you refuse to entertain them. There are privileges in social intercourse. Acquaintances are formed and friendships contracted. The expense incurred is profitable, for unity of heart is often the result. “Behold, how good and how pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” [Psalm 133:1.] 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 32

There is altogether too little sociability, too little of the spirit which makes room for one or two or three more at the family table without any embarrassment or parade. Entertaining friends has been the means of the conversion of many souls. Praying together will blend hearts in unity. But, some say, it is too much trouble. It would not be if you would say, You are welcome to what we have. A welcome is more appreciated by the unexpected guest than the most elaborate preparations. Those who live in the light of God’s countenance bring heavenly angels with them, and although the entertainers may not realize it, they entertain angels unawares; and these angels leave a blessing behind them. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 33

The exhortation is given by Paul, “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: that ye receive her in the Lord as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succorer of many, and of myself also.” [Romans 16:1, 2.] Phebe entertained the apostles, and was in a marked manner an entertainer of strangers who needed some one to care for them. Those who travel from place to place as missionaries should be entertained by those for whom they labor. Make a home for them, even if it is at considerable sacrifice. 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 34

“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil.” We need to practice these words of inspiration. Let there be no linking up with sin, but hate sin with abhorrence. “Cleave to that which is good.” Be cemented with that which is good. Cherish an unalterable attachment to whatever leads to God or contributes to the well-being of our fellow creatures. “Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another.” This is one of the Christian graces that is strangely neglected. “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” [Romans 12:9-12.] We have every encouragement to do this, for He who pledged His life to save the fallen race, has pledged Himself to be our personal Intercessor, saying, “I will pray the Father for you.” [See John 14:16.] 13LtMs, Lt 5, 1898, par. 35