Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Ms 13, 1898

Seed Sown Among Thorns


February 9, 1898

Portions of this manuscript is published in 4BC 1161; 7MR 178-179.

It is a great grief for true hearted souls who love God and keep His commandments, to pass through the experience of seeing men and women apparently taking their position on the Lord’s side, and then when some special requirement is presented, which calls for self-denial and self-sacrifice, as the tithing question, becoming offended, and walking no more with Christ, but away from Him. These give evidence that the seed of truth has fallen among thorns, and that the thorns have sprung up and choked it. If these men and women had been truly convicted of sin, if they had allowed truth to cleanse the soul-temple from defilement, the thorns would not have had so favorable a chance. They would have been unable to germinate. 13LtMs, Ms 13, 1898, par. 1

It is not the fault of the Gospel that apostasies occur. Those who apostatize are not truly converted. They have received the truth by halves. The light of truth has not been strengthened by practice, and it is soon quenched, leaving them in greater darkness than before. The seed was sown among thorns. Speaking of this class Peter says, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” [2 Peter 2:20, 21.] 13LtMs, Ms 13, 1898, par. 2

As men and women hear the truth, it works to cleanse the soul-temple from all defilement. But there are many thorns that spring up to defile, and unless this work of purification advances, cleansing the heart, refining and ennobling the character, old habits, the love of the world, the desire to obtain worldly gain, will reveal themselves. These will develop more and more decidedly, and the gospel seeds will die for want of cultivation. In some hearts the thorns that spring up are love of pleasure and worldly enjoyment. Men may profess to believe the truth, but if the truth does not sanctify them, if they do not gain decided victories as overcomers, these tares will grow. 13LtMs, Ms 13, 1898, par. 3

The warning is given, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” [1 John 2:15-17.] 13LtMs, Ms 13, 1898, par. 4

Cares, riches, pleasures, all are used by Satan as he plays the game of life for human souls. If these tares are not dug out of the heart, they will spring up and bear their harvest. The heart must be diligently searched as with a lighted candle, that all defects may be seen in the light of the law of God, His standard of character. Every briar and thistle must be uprooted as soon as it makes its appearance. If this is not done, men, women, and youth will sell their birthright for some worldly advantage. They may take the name of Christian; they may partially receive the truth. 13LtMs, Ms 13, 1898, par. 5

But the atmosphere surrounding those of the world is more in harmony with their worldly characters than is the atmosphere surrounding those who have separated from the world. Earthly tasks, habits, [and] practices suit their nature better than the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. The thorns in the heart, which were only cut off, not uprooted, grow apace. The tender plant of love for God and for the truth is keep in the shade. The thorns are cultivated until the whole heart is overgrown by them. 13LtMs, Ms 13, 1898, par. 6

Thus the enemy seeks to overcome humanity. And how helpless man is when he places himself in the enemy’s hands. The effort that would have placed him on vantage ground he never made. God’s call of mercy sounded in his ears, but he did not make decided efforts to obey. Every additional ray of light hardened his heart against increased light. The spell of delay was upon him, and he said to the Spirit, “Go thy way, for this time, and when I have a more convenient season, I will call for thee.” [Acts 24:25.] He folded his hands, content that at any time he could, if he chose, obey the call. But if not obeyed, the calls of the Holy Spirit to the soul leave less and less impression. Each may leave some impression, but it is soon forgotten. The next opportunity impressed him less. He felt less inclination to break away from worldly interests. He did not realize the importance of making a change, of heeding the word, “Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, and in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.” [Psalm 95:7-9; Hebrews 3:7-9.] 13LtMs, Ms 13, 1898, par. 7

The decisions we are now making will decide our destiny for eternity. Shall we not remember that Christ is the One who makes for us the only terms of salvation? Light is given us that we may profit by it. But the Lord does not drive any one into His fold. 13LtMs, Ms 13, 1898, par. 8

God is acquainted with every man. Could our eyes be opened, we would see that eternal justice is at work in our world. A powerful influence, not under man’s control, is working. Man may fancy that he is directing matters, but there are higher than human influences at work. The servants of God know that He is working to counteract Satan’s plans. Those who know not God cannot comprehend His movements. There is at work a wheel within a wheel. Apparently, the complication of machinery is so intricate that man can see only a complete entanglement. But the divine Hand, as seen by the prophet Ezekiel, is placed upon the wheels, and every part moves in complete harmony, each doing its specified work, yet with individual freedom of action. 13LtMs, Ms 13, 1898, par. 9

To those who have become children of God, Christ says, “Ye are laborers together with God.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] God would make men follow workers with Himself. He would have them use their entrusted powers to impress His character upon all with whom they have any connection. He has given to every man his work, and He will use all who act their part in His great firm to advance His kingdom in this world. 13LtMs, Ms 13, 1898, par. 10

Men add to the good in our world if they are under God’s control; but they add to the evil if they are under Satan’s control. Man’s influence is of value just as far as he is connected with God. As faithful sentinels we are to work for God, watching against the rebel foe. Before God every soul is charged with the responsibility for doing his work for time and for eternity. 13LtMs, Ms 13, 1898, par. 11

If a man acts well his part, throwing his whole energy into the work, consecrating his powers to do God’s will, his work will be as enduring as eternity. But if on the other hand, he chooses his own course, and carries out his own will, notwithstanding that he has had the same opportunities and could have called the same power to his assistance, he will be marked as an unfaithful servant. He is in rebellion against God, and in the day of judgment, he will receive a reward in accordance with his work. One man has been wise, laying upon the foundation gold, silver, precious stones; the other has built of hay, wood, stubble. Each will pass through the ordeal. The test will come not as in Noah’s day by flood, but by fire. 13LtMs, Ms 13, 1898, par. 12

Each man in this world is charged with his own salvation, which he is to gain through Christ. It is possible for him to do a work as enduring as eternity. If he loses his own soul, he will be charged also will the souls that might have been saved had he used aright his God-given talents. Had he complied with the conditions, had he acted his part by giving God’s warning and invitation, had he shown a living interest in the work of God in behalf of the souls for whom Christ paid the price with His own blood, he would have been accounted a faithful steward. In proportion to his faithfulness in co-operating with God would have been his reward. 13LtMs, Ms 13, 1898, par. 13

Just as far as we give ourselves unselfishly to God, so far shall we be honored by God. Those who have been blundering along, making little advancement, may be saved as by fire. They have worked in wrong lines, but if they repent, God will forgive them. Those who have done their best to elevate, purify, and ennoble humanity, who have knit their hearts to the hearts of others, and the hearts of others to God, will hear the words, “Well done good and faithful servant; ... enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” [Matthew 25:23.] Their work is imperishable. 13LtMs, Ms 13, 1898, par. 14