Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Ms 9, 1898

Our Talents


January 25, 1898

Portions of this manuscript are published in ST 08/18/1898; RH 01/24/1899. +Note

“A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said to them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, that he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 1

“Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said to him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou over five cities. And another came saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound: which I have kept laid up in a napkin: for I feared thee, because thou are an austere man, thou takest up where thou layest not down, and reapest where thou didst not sow. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 2

“And he said unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking that I laid not down, and reaping where I did not sow: wherefore gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have received my own with usury? And he said unto those that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. (And they said unto him, Lord, He hath ten pounds.) For I say unto you, That unto every one that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that he hath.” [Luke 19:12-26.] 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 3

The man entrusted with the one talent manifested an avaricious spirit. He claimed to have great discernment—such discernment as many pride themselves in possessing in this our day, a distrust of those who are doing service for God, a jealousy of God. He thought the Lord possessed a spirit like his own. But it was he who possessed the ungenerous, unjust attributes, not his Lord, who in his great mercy and love had entrusted his talent to him. His words plainly showed that he knew not the Lord. The principles which led him to rob God of His talent, made him ungenerous, and led him to covet that which was not his own. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 4

This man cast down his entrusted gift before the Lord, saying, “Lord, I know thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: and I was afraid and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.” [Matthew 25:24, 25.] 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 5

“The Lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, Thou knowest that I reaped where I sowed not, and gathered where I have not strawed: thou ought therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, that at my coming I should have received my own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant in outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” [Verses 26-30.] 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 6

Every gift of God to man is to be used, and by use to accumulate. Every faculty of the mind, every gift of grace that heaven has provided for the human agent, is to be freely imparted to others in refining, elevating, ennobling works. God has given the faculty of thought to be used as a sacred treasure; the wise improvement of the powers of the mind will increase our ability to represent the character of Christ to the world. The mind, the heart, the soul, the strength, are the entrusted gifts of God, and these are to be used for the blessing of others. We are to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 7

This work of improvement is an individual work, and the proper use of our powers will constitute us laborers together with God. We are to use our faculties faithfully, doing our best to improve in every possible way for the benefit of those of our own household. And this work will extend. Its influence will be outside the home circle. By the members of the family it will be communicated to all with whom they are brought into contact. The church will feel its influence. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 8

There must be no burying of our talents in the earth, there to corrode and rust through inaction. A persistent indulgence of self, a refusal to exercise our God-given abilities, will insure our eternal separation from God, the loss of an eternity of bliss. Every gift is from God, and is to be appreciated and sacredly cherished, for it is entrusted to the human agent to be instrumental in the saving of souls. These gifts are given to us in accordance with our ability to use them, and the wise improvement of each will prove a blessing to us, and will bring glory to God. Every gift gratefully received is a link in the chain which binds us to heaven. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 9

The gifts of him who honestly trades with his Lord goods shall be increased; but from him who does not shall be taken away even that he hath. In failing to put to the best use the entrusted endowments of heaven, in failing to exercise the gifts of God, improving his means and opportunities, he loses that which might have multiplied in his hands. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 10

A young man, employed to work for one who was seeking to love and serve God, left his account book open, and his employer, glancing at the open page, saw the record of one penny for a Sabbath donation while a little below was the entry of three shilling for attending a concert. None will be pleased to meet their unfaithfulness in the judgment, for the “wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful: but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” [Romans 1:18-21.] These words represent the case of the servant who hid his Lord’s treasure, in the place of using it to the glory of God. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 11

Spiritual idleness means spiritual unfaithfulness. Complaints are made of the injustice of God in the penalties attached to sin. False witness is borne against Christ. The charge is made that He is unreasonable in His requirements. He is accused of being a hard Master. But these excuses for not believing and obeying the truth reveal a stubborn, rebellious, unrepenting heart; the accusations brought against God are the measurement of their own sentence. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 12

Could every idler in the market place understand the penalty of slothfulness, he would be up and doing. Such do not receive credit even for their worthy actions. The Word declares, He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much. All his work bears the impression of unfaithfulness. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 13

How many will be disappointed in the day of final reckoning! “when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 14

“Then shall the king say to them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee: or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 15

“Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not, sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee a hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them saying, Verily, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.” [Matthew 25:31-46.] 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 16

The Jews to whom these words were spoken were not atheists or unbelievers, but the vital truths concerning Jesus Christ were misapprehended by them. They wrested the Scriptures to justify their own course of action, and they refused to receive Christ as the Messiah, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. They would not receive Christ although He came as the Scripture had foretold. The eyes of their understanding were darkened. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 17

John the Baptist had preceded Christ with the message, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” [Matthew 3:3.] He had called upon the Jews to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and, setting their affections upon heavenly things, subordinate the earthly to the heavenly. Christ offered to them the waters of life, that all men might be converted, and that they might honor the Son as they had professed to honor the Father. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 18

What constitutes the kingdom of heaven? It is a granted to the sinful in which to repent and become righteous, a dispensation of divine mercy, of forgiveness and peace. The blackness of wretchedness and sin is broken by the beams of the Sun of Righteousness shining forth upon a guilty world. It is not instituted by men; it is not according to the impulse of men; it is not mingled with partiality, or corrupted by hypocrisy. It is not for the few self-centered ones to share largely of the heavenly gift, while the stricken and unfortunate and those most in need of this favor are left desolate and forsaken. The kingdom of heaven is a dispensation of forgiveness and pardon to every one who will receive it. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name.” [John 1:12.] 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 19

When the Pharisees saw the spirit of Christ working in the hearts of the disobedient, when they beheld them coming to the righteousness of the just; when they saw impartial goodness and mercy, the attributes of the throne of God, extended toward them, their hearts were filled with hatred against Christ. And in hating Christ, who represented God, they hated God. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 20

The scribes and Pharisees were full of self-conceit, of ostentation and of show, and they were disappointed that Christ did not approve of these attributes. They were not deceived in the character of Christ. They saw the contrast between their own impurity and unholiness and the purity and holiness of Christ. In such a kingdom as He would set up, they would find nothing to nourish their pride and flattery. Had Christ fallen in with them and strengthened their high claims to superiority, they could have looked with favor upon Him. But when they saw the publicans and sinners following Him, they were exasperated. They saw these men listening with earnestness to His lessons, and the word went round, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” [Luke 15:2.] This was circulated as a slur upon His character. He was accused of encouraging this class in evil doing. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 21

In the price paid for his redemption, God had shown at what a value He estimated man. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16.] It was this teaching of Christ that called forth from the Pharisees such bitter hatred. That all were lost, that all were sinners, and needed forgiveness, that both Jew and Gentile were embraced in the work of the Redeemer, that every character must conform to the great moral standard, without excepting the Jewish nation—this was contrary to their self-righteous ideas, and they hated the Teacher. They would not tolerate the teaching that did not distinguish them as a holy people, a royal nation. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 22

Was the unbelief of the Jews excusable? Were they guiltless? Christ’s words to them made them responsible. He addressed them as responsible agents, setting before them their duty. God from heaven attested His divine mission, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” [Matthew 3:17.] But through the intensity of their passions, their prejudice and hatred against Christ, the priests and rulers had closed the eyes of their understanding that they should not discern Christ. His grand work of mercy and tender compassion were unheeded by them. The sick were healed, the sorrowing and suffering one were comforted and relieved, the dead heard His voice and came forth to life. But the rulers of Israel closed their hearts to the Messiah. Lessons and appeals fell from His lips with so convincing a power that they were convicted of the truth, but they resisted the impressions made by the Holy Spirit. Christ said to them, “Ye will not come to me that ye might have life.” [John 5:40.] 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 23

In rejecting Christ they put from them the blessings which He came to bring them. They bound themselves in everlasting chains of unbelief and resistance. They placed themselves in the position where the calamities predicted must come upon them, because they know not God, nor Jesus Christ whom He had sent. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 24

The ignorance of the Jews was inexcusable, and involved a fearful responsibility. They had had sufficient evidence. God gives sufficient evidence to every soul. He does not promise to remove every doubt, but He gives a reason for faith. It was not the work of the Holy Spirit to make men believe. Hear the message of the apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you, by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” [Acts 2:22, 23.] “Ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of Life, whom God hath raised from the dead: whereof we are witnesses.” [Acts 3:14, 15.] 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 25

“I wot that through ignorance ye did it,” said Peter; but this ignorance did not excuse the action, for they had had great light granted unto them. [Verse 17.] The statement is made that had they known that He was the Prince of life, they would not have crucified Him. But why did they not know? Because they chose not to know. They had no interest to search and study, and their ignorance proved their eternal ruin. They had had the strongest evidence on which to base their faith, and they were under obligation to God to accept the evidence He had given them. Their unbelief made them guilty of the blood of the only begotten Son of the infinite God. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 26

The followers of Christ will receive the same kind of treatment that Christ experienced at the hands of men. Men who have had light and evidence will turn as determinedly from Christ as did the Jewish nation. Christ declares, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world; therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they have kept my sayings, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they have not known him that sent me.” [John 15:18-21.] 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 27

“And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in him by the Spirit which he hath given us. Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” [1 John 3:23, 24; 4:1.] 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 28

As light is presented before us, we need to watch and pray; lest in the day of our opportunity, we follow the example of the Jews; lest we choose the sayings of men, rather than receive the truth that would disturb our complacency; lest we sacrifice the favor of God, and refuse to live the life of Christ. Those who refuse to follow where Christ leads cannot have that faith that works by love, and purifies the soul. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 29

When called to trial, they will yield up their faith in Christ as their personal Saviour and become open transgressors of the commandments of God. They choose to stand under the banner of the first apostate, the one who brought sin into the world. They choose to be one with transgressors, rather than be out of joint with their neighbors. In that great day when every man is judged according to his works, these will be found to be among the transgressors. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 30

Christ made no distinct claims to Messiahship. He did not choose to take a position of royal dignity. And His appearance as a man among men caused the multitude to be easily swayed by the prejudice which leavened the whole nation. From the time that Christ worked the miracle to feed the five thousand, and refused to become their king, His popularity began to wane, and He devoted Himself more earnestly to the instruction of His disciples. To inculcate the mysteries and truths of His work was His great burden. The twelve were far from being perfect in knowledge, and Christ would not leave them in uncertainty. His enemies sought to prejudice every mind possible. The open hostility of the Pharisees made it necessary for Christ to lay out in clear, decided lines the truths concerning Himself and unmask the hypocrisy of His enemies. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 31

As He neared the time of separation from His disciples, His teaching became more significant and mysterious to their minds. He presented Himself before the people as the bread of life. The multitudes were impressed by His teaching, large crowds followed Him, and precious rays of light were shed upon them; but the disciples no longer held to the hope that the Jews as a nation would receive Christ. And now as He clearly defined His spiritual kingdom and discouraged the idea of a temporal reign, the worldly minded among the people, and even of those who professed to be His disciples, turned from Him. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 32

Men may see difficulties in their pathway and, because they do not want to suffer inconvenience, may turn away from the most ample evidence. These crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Christ to open shame. By turning from the truth of God to a lie, they give proof that, were they living in Christ’s day, they would have treated the Saviour as did the unbelieving Jews. These will not in any sense be found excusable before God, before the angels of heaven, or men. Man’s own state of mind does not relieve him of responsibility; for he need not be in that state of mind that will lead him to refuse light. The mind that resists the truth will see everything in a perverted light. It will be fastened in the sure toils of the enemy, and view things in the light of the enemy. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 33

Saul of Tarsus was an example of this. He had no moral right to be an unbeliever. But he had chosen to accept the opinions of men rather than the counsel of God. He had the prophecies pointing to the Messiah, but the sayings of the rabbis, the words of men, were preferred. In his own wisdom, Saul knew not God nor Jesus Christ, whom He had sent. Afterward in repeating his experience, he declared that he thought he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Saul was honest in his unbelief. His was no pretension, and Jesus arrested him in his career and showed him on whose side he was working. The persecutor accepted the words of Christ, and was converted from infidelity to faith in Christ. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 34

Saul did not treat with indifference the unbelief which had led him to follow in Satan’s track, and cause the suffering and death of the most precious of earth—those of whom the world was not worthy. He did not plead that his error of judgment was excusable. Long after his conversion he spoke of himself as the chief of sinners. “For I am the least of the apostles,” he said, “that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” [1 Corinthians 15:9.] He did not make one excuse for his cruel course in following faithfully the impressions of a conscience that was false. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 35

No human being has any excuse for having a conscience which will permit him to cause pain or suffering to any of God’s children—by persecuting them with the tongue or by exerting an influence which will bring them into difficult places. Christ declares, “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offenses, for it must be that offenses come; but woe unto that man by whom the offence cometh.” [Matthew 18:6, 7.] 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 36

Those who believe in Jesus are very precious to him, and any injury done to them is as if done to Christ Himself. He identifies His interest with suffering humanity, and those who interpose their way and will between God and the souls who would do Him service will be punished in proportion to the right they have had. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 37

“It is enough for the disciple,” Christ said, “that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call they of his household? Fear not them therefore; for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; nor hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light; and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” [Matthew 10:25-28.] 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 38

There should be no reluctance on the part of man to make known the truth of the word of God because his neighbors are not pleased with his difference of opinion. This will be a trial of faith, and there will be a temptation to shirk responsibilities because the duties presented are not agreeable. But because your neighbors choose to stand with those who do not love God with the whole heart, but selfishly serve their own interests, is that sufficient reason why you should do the same? 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 39

When the invitation is given, Come for all things are now ready, will you say, “I cannot come to the gospel feast. I cannot heed your invitation. My neighbors will think me foolish, and will ridicule; and I cannot bear ridicule. I must not displease my neighbors. I must attend to my farm. I must work on the Sabbath. I must hire men to work for me on the Sabbath. If I keep the commandments of God, I cannot be in harmony with my neighbors.” When the gospel invitation is thus slighted—an invitation purchased at the cost of the life of the Son of God—Jesus says, Those who have despised My offer shall not taste of My supper. [Luke 14:16-24.] 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 40

The Lord is sending an invitation in this our day. Who will gladly accept it? Who will venture to refuse? 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 41

“For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.” [Isaiah 8:11, 12.] What is their fear? It is that, if they obey the commandments of God, they will be despised and ridiculed; if they come out from the world, they will be left to suffer want. Such a fear reveals a manifest unbelief in Him who provides all our blessings. He sends the showers upon our lands, He permits the sun to shine, that vegetation may flourish. One word from God could withdraw the rain and cut off our supplies of food. With locust and pestilence He could destroy our crops. He has borne long with the perversity of men, but He has their deeds written in the books of heaven, and He will repay. 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 42

Through His servant Isaiah God says, “Bind up the law, seal the testimony among my disciples.” “And I will wait upon the Lord that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in Mount Zion. ... To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” [Verses 16-18, 20.] 13LtMs, Ms 9, 1898, par. 43