Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 127, 1899

The Parable of the Two Sons


September 5, 1899 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in OHC 81; HP 42; CG 248; 5BC 1097; RH 02/20/1900, 02/27/1900. +Note

“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves.” [Matthew 21:12.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 1

Christ drove the dishonest traffickers from the temple courts with heaven’s authority flashing from His face. His voice spoke to the conscience and soul with the power of God. “Take these things hence,” He said, “it is written, my Father’s house shall be called a house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.” [John 2:16; Matthew 21:13.] The guilty ones knew what these words meant. They feared the wrath of the Lamb. This was evidence which they had not looked for. Amazed and terrified they obeyed the command of Christ without excuse or resistance. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 2

When their terror was abated, they returned to the temple to find still further evidence of Christ’s Messiahship. The Saviour was healing the sick and dying. “The blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.” [Verse 14.] They heard the voice of rejoicing and the song of praise. In the very temple itself, the children who had been restored to health were waving palm branches and singing praises and hosannahs to the Son of David. Baby voices were lisping the praises of the mighty Healer. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 3

The scene was indelibly impressed on the minds and hearts of those who had come up to attend the feast. What greater evidence than this could Christ give? If such evidence as this could find no entrance into the hearts of those resisters of light, if such a scene as this did not bring conviction, if this light were not sufficient to drive away their prejudice and jealousy, what evidence should Christ give to break their rock-bound hearts? No evidence that He could give would break their stubborn wills. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 4

“And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? And who gave thee this authority?” [Verse 23.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 5

Christ answered them by asking a question, “I also will ask you one thing,” He said, “which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?” [Verses 24, 25.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 6

The priests and rulers were perplexed. “They reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? And if we shall say of men: we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. And they answered Jesus and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.” [Verses 25-27.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 7

In His wonderful deeds of healing, Christ had answered the question of the priests and elders. He had given them evidence of His authority, which could not be controverted. But it was not evidence that they wanted. They were anxious that He should proclaim Himself as the divine authority, that they might misapply His words, and stir up the people against Him. They wished to destroy His influence and put Him to death. Christ knew that if this people could not recognize God in Him, they could not believe His assurance that He was the Christ. They had seen the sick healed, and the dead raised to life. They had witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus after he had been in the grave four days. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 8

The moral supremacy of Christ was revealed in all His words, in every work of love and power; but they recognized it not. They thought to take Him by guile, and cause Him to speak something which they could use to His condemnation. But Christ not only evades the issue they hope to bring about, but turns the condemnation upon themselves. In the purity of John’s life and his self-denial, they had felt the power of God. Conviction had been sent to every soul. If they would not heed John’s warning, they would not heed the words of Christ. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 9

“But what think ye,” Christ continued. “A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, to work today in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second and said likewise, And he answered and said, I go sir, and went not.” [Verses 28-30.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 10

In these two sons are represented the obedient and the disobedient, the righteous and the unrighteous. The son who refused to obey the command, saying, I will not, represented the open transgressor, who cared neither for God nor man—those who make no pretension of piety, and who openly refused to come under the yoke of service to Christ. But these afterward repented went. When the gospel came to them in the message of John the Baptist, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” they repented and confessed their sins. [Matthew 3:2.] This class was in a much better condition to do the will of God than those who said, “I go, sir,” but went not. [Matthew 21:30.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 11

In the son who said, “I go, sir,” and went not, the Pharisees were revealed in their true character. The scribes and Pharisees knew the law. They professed to be obedient sons, but they did not keep the commandments of God. They arrayed themselves against Christ. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 12

The Saviour contrasted the two classes. The ones whom the Pharisees looked upon with contempt at first refused the invitation, but they afterward repented and went. The Pharisees who said, “I go, sir,” but went not, acted a deceptive part. The two cases thus presented, Christ asked, “Whether of them twain did the will of his Father?” Forgetting themselves the Pharisees answered, “The first.” Christ said to them, “Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of heaven before you.” [Verse 31.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 13

The door was open for them still. They could enter if they would. Christ longed to see them convicted and converted. What is it that holds them back? It is pride of their spiritual advantages. But the invitation is still held out to them. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 14

This parable is far-reaching and comprehensive. The work of John the Baptist is referred to by the great Teacher. This work was foretold by the angel who visited Zacharias in the temple: “And it came to pass that while he (Zacharias) executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, according to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude were praying without at the time of incense. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing at the right hand of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 15

“But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias, for thy prayer is heard, and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord; and he shall drink neither win nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” [Luke 1:8-17.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 16

The third chapter of Matthew tells of the work of the Holy Spirit through John the Baptist: “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.” [Verses 1-3.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 17

The words of the preacher in the wilderness were with power. He made no compromise with sin, and many were turned from their unrighteousness. “But the Pharisees and rulers believed not.” When John saw the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said unto them, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet to repentance, And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 18

“And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees; therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into his garner: but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” [Verses 7-12.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 19

Had the conversion of the Jews been genuine, they would have received this testimony of John, and would have accepted Christ as the Messiah, the one to whom all their sacrificial offerings pointed, He who was the foundation of their whole economy. But the Pharisees and Sadducees did not produce the fruits of repentance and sanctification and righteousness. They were of the class who said, “I go sir,” but went not. [Matthew 21:30.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 20

Christ declared John the Baptist to be the greatest prophet born of women. He bore his message unflinchingly, rebuking the sins of the priests and Pharisees, and enjoining upon them the works of the kingdom of heaven. He pointed out to them their sinful disregard of their Father’s authority in refusing to do the work incumbent upon them. Christ showed His hearers that they had had sufficient evidence that John was a messenger from God. And the Pharisees before that large concourse of people dared not deny that the messenger, who proclaimed the coming of One greater than himself, was sent of God. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 21

Christ Himself had gone to the Jordan, not to repent of sin, but to fulfill every specification required of the sinner. The Baptist saw the Saviour walking at a distance from him, and his face lighted up. “Behold the Lamb of God,” he cried, “which taketh away the sin of the world.” [John 1:29.] There Christ stood revealed before the people. The glory of God descended upon Him in the form of a dove like burnished gold, and the voice of the Infinite One declared, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” [Matthew 3:16, 17.] Then John knew him to be the Christ, for God had told him that He would give him a sign pointing out the Promised One. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 22

Christ reminded the priests and Pharisees of this recognition by God of John’s message and work. If you believe John to be a prophet, why do you not believe My testimony? He said. He told you plainly who I was, but you believed him not. You have refused to do the work God has appointed you in revealing Christ to an apostate world. You refuse to believe in the Son of God. You now ask Me for My authority for cleansing the temple courts, which you have defiled. You profess to be anxious to know God’s will, but you reject the evidence given in such abundance. The publicans and harlots whom you despise are receiving the message, and pressing into the kingdom of God before you. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 23

Christ explained why it was that the son who at first refused to comply with the request afterward repented. The Spirit of God was working in the disobedient hearts, and under the sharp, clear-cut preaching of John the Baptist, many sinners were brought to repentance. Publicans and harlots heard and accepted the invitation. We read that on one occasion, when the disciples of John had come to question the Saviour, when they “were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John. What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 24

“Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, Behold I send my messenger before thy face, to prepare the way before thee. For I say unto you that of those that are born of women, there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized of the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.” [Luke 7:24-30.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 25

Christ said to the unbelieving ones, “John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not; but the publicans and the harlots believed him; and ye when ye had seen it, repented not afterward that ye might believe him.” [Matthew 21:32.] This unbelief is not an impulse. You criticized John because of his self-denying life and strict, abstemious habits. You find fault with Me because I sit at the table with publicans and sinners. The Lord set His seal to the mission of John when publicans and harlots believed him. But you cherished unbelief. You did not repent. “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” [Mark 2:17.] You claim to be righteous. Why do you then object to My calling publicans and sinners to partake of the waters of life? 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 26

When Christ appeared in the garb of humanity, these souls who were not under the jurisdiction of priests and rulers heard His word, were converted, and believed and acknowledged Him. This work was foretold by the prophet Isaiah: 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 27

“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near to me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 28

“Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding? Is it not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest? And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness. The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 29

“For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off: that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him, that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought. Therefore thus saith the Lord that redeemed Abraham concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.” [Isaiah 29:13-24.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 30

The priests and elders of Israel were not what they professed to be. They spent their lives in outward ceremonies, and considered these services too sacred to be mingled with any secular business. Therefore their life was supposed to be wholly a religious one. But they performed their ceremonies to be seen of men, to be considered pious and devoted by the world. While professing to obey, they refused to render to God the obedience to which he had called them. They made the requirements of the law very exacting when it was for their interests to do this; but when they were shown that strictest obedience was required of them they reasoned away the force of God’s precepts to favor themselves. They were not doers of the Word which they professed to teach to others, and Christ declared, “Ye teach for doctrine the commandments of men.” [Matthew 15:9.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 31

In vision the Lord revealed to His servant Isaiah the true condition of ancient Israel: “Hear O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah, sinful nation; a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord: they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 32

“Why should ye be stricken any more? Ye will revolt more and more, the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it: but wounds, and bruises and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. Your country is desolate, your city is burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.” [Isaiah 1:2-8.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 33

This chapter faithfully presents the spiritual condition of the once favored people of God. The reason for their chastisement is given. The Lord had called Judah and Jerusalem to hold universal dominion. To the seed of David He had given the scepter. But now the Lord presents them as a people whom He will utterly destroy for their iniquities: 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 34

“Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts: and I delight not in the blood of bullocks or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations: incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with: it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 35

“Your new moons and your appointed feasts, my soul hateth: they are a trouble to me: I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes: cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment; relieve the oppressed; judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be like wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” [Verses 10-20.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 36

The condition of the men whom Christ drove out of the temple courts is here delineated. And these words show us in what light the Lord regards those who, while claiming to be righteous, transgress His holy law. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 37

But among this apostate nation there were some genuine conversions. By a wonderful revelation of God’s power, Paul was brought to Christ, and his case is set forth as one of genuine conversion. The priests and rulers had not the deep conviction of sin that Paul had. They would not admit that they needed conversion. Speaking of his experience, Paul said, “I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it, slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” [Romans 7:9-12.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 38

This lesson is placed before us for our consideration. Every soul is amenable to the law of God. The knowledge of the law brings the repenting, believing soul to Christ, to learn of Him and wear His yoke. “Learn of me,” Christ says, “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 11:29, 30.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 39

Self-righteousness is not true righteousness, and those [who] cling to it, and refuse to give it up, will be left to take the consequences of holding to a deception. Those who claim to keep the commandments of God, but who are unsympathetic and cold, self-important and self-centered, have not the love of God in their hearts to flow forth to others. They say, “I go, sir,” but they do not go. [Matthew 21:30.] The open sinner has far better prospects of gaining eternal life than have these pretentious ones. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 40

He who sees himself as a sinner, with no cloak for his sin, who sees that he is corrupting soul, body, and spirit before God, becomes alarmed lest he be eternally separated from the kingdom of heaven. He realizes his diseased condition, and finds healing in Christ who has promised, “Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” [John 6:37.] And God puts upon the repenting one the robe of Christ’s righteousness, and the angels of heaven rejoice over the one soul saved. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 41

No man can accept the gospel of Christ who refuses the admonitions of the Word of God, and follows a way of his own choosing. “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin. That walk to go down into Egypt, and that have not asked at my mouth, to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.” [Isaiah 30:1-3.] Will there be among the people of God in these last days those who pursue a course of action similar to that of rebellious Israel? Will those who have had privileges and opportunities, and before whom the Lord has worked in a marked manner, oppose righteousness? Shall there be among us those described by the prophet as “rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord, which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits. Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us”? [Verses 9-11.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 42

The Lord calls upon His people in 1899 to be converted. Great light has come to them, but the principles of the Word of God have not been carried into the practical life. If pride and selfishness and covetousness are not eradicated from the heart, they will poison every lifespring of the soul, and true liberality and Christian courtesy will not be exercised. The attributes of the unrenewed heart are cherished. The Lord cannot purify the soul until the entire being is surrendered to the working of the Holy Spirit. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 43

The Word of God is plainly expressed in His law. But only those who eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God can understand that Word to the saving of their souls. “The flesh profiteth nothing,” Christ said, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” [John 6:63.] No man can believe the Word of God, believing it to be inspired of God, without himself catching the inspiration of the Spirit that inspired the Word. A glory will flash before his eyes. He will learn the mysteries of heaven, and will unite in things unseen by mortal eyes. Perfect obedience to the Word will bring a sweetness, an assurance and confidence in God that cannot be described. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 44

It is right for us to love the Scriptures. We have for a teacher One who will mold and fashion our hearts and minds to understand the Word in its true light. If we will practice the truth at whatever self-denial and self-sacrifice to ourselves, we shall follow on to know the Lord, and we shall know that his goings forth are prepared as the morning. The Bible may be read in such a way as to glorify God. Not one word that has proceeded from the mouth of God will become null and void until prophesy becomes history, as in the case of the sacrificial offerings which prefigured Christ. Type met antitype in the death of the Son of God. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 45

In the cross of Calvary we may read the binding claims of the law of God. God could not change one iota of His law to meet man in his fallen condition, but He “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.] Those who venture to disregard the claims of the law of God may read their condemnation in the cross of Calvary. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. That which distinguishes God’s people from every other people is their obedience to the commandments of God. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 46

In our day we can see the great power of the adversary upon the human mind. Men professing godliness openly transgress the law of God. In every congregation there is a mixed multitude. Those who claim to be righteous, but who do not those things which God has commanded, are like the self-righteous Pharisees. They say, and do not. Like the Pharisees, they stand aloof from their fellow men. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 47

Christ gives us the test by which we prove our loyalty or our disloyalty. “If ye love me,” he says, “keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever. Even the spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him, but he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you ... He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” [John 14:15-17, 21.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 48

“If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him; and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” [Verses 23, 24.] “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you; and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” [John 15:10-12.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 49

Christ had educated the Israelites while He was their invisible leader in the wilderness. For forty years He had addressed them as His sons, and had commanded them to teach every requirement of the law both by precept and example. He taught them that their very prosperity and life depended on their obedience to all He had given in statutes and judgments. They were to be righteous in all their transactions one with another. It would make every difference to them whether they were obedient or disobedient, for God could not sustain them in transgression. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 50

The children of Israel made a solemn vow to God that they would be obedient. But they disregarded the Lord’s requirements. Some remained loyal to God, but the majority disregarded the Word and its requirements, and chose for their educational text books the written commandments of the rabbis. Man made laws were in abundance to confuse the senses. They taught for doctrine the commandments of men, setting the law of God at defiance. This men are doing today. In their observance of the first day of the week, they are exalting human enactments, and refuse to hear a plain, “Thus saith the Lord.” Because of this transgression, the Lord was about to divorce Himself from the disobedient nation. He had spoken to them through the prophets, and through Christ, the great teacher, the light of the world. If they desired to do right, the way was plainly revealed to them. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 51

They had before them the example of Nadab and Abihu. The disobedience of these men cost them their lives. Through the use of wine their senses became confused, and they used the common fire in the place of the sacred. They were slain before the Lord. Moses looked with agony of soul upon their punishment. He said to Aaron, “This is that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people will I be glorified.” [Leviticus 10:3.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 52

God forbade any manifestation of grief for Nadab and Abihu, even on the part of their nearest relations; “lest ye die,” he said, “and lest wrath come upon all the people. But let the whole house of Israel bewail the burning which the Lord hath kindled.” [Verse 6.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 53

There is a lesson to learn from this by all who have anything to do with God’s work. They are required to observe habits of strict temperance, to keep body, soul, and spirit under the protecting shield of God. Never tempt the Spirit of God. This sin has often led to the sin against the Holy Ghost, which has no forgiveness in this life or the life to come. Bear in mind that we shall reap that which we sow, whether it be good or whether it be evil. Those who sow to the flesh will of the flesh reap corruption; and we can none of us afford to do this. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 54

Let none flatter themselves that the sins of their youth can easily be given up by and by. This is not so. Every sin cherished weakens the character and strengthens the habit; and physical, mental, and moral depravity result. You may repent of the wrong you have done, and set your feet in right paths; but the mold of your mind and your familiarity with evil will make it difficult for you to distinguish between right and wrong. Through the wrong habits you have formed Satan will assail you again and again. You have so often been overcome by his specious reasoning, and he has his nets prepared to take you captive on those points where you have so repeatedly failed. In obedience to the requirement, “Go work in my vineyard,” your safety lies. [Matthew 21:28.] Heartily, boldly answer, I go sir. Do not wait a moment to consult with your friends in sin. Press right in to Christ’s ranks. Stand under Christ’s banner. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 55

Christ did not condemn the first son for refusing the command. At the same time He did not commend him. The class who act the part of the son who said, “I will not,” deserve no credit for holding the position they do. [Verse 30.] This open frankness is not to be commended as a virtue. This openness of character, sanctified by truth and holiness, will make them bold witnesses for Christ; but used as it is by the sinner, it is insulting and defiant, and approaches to blasphemy. Because a man is not a hypocrite he is nonetheless a sinner. When the appeals of the Holy Spirit come to the heart, our only safety lies in responding to them without delay. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 56

When the call comes, “Son, go work today in my vineyard,” do not refuse the invitation. [Verse 28.] Cease working on the enemy’s side and take your position under the bloodstained banner of the Prince of life. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. While it is called today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. It may be you will never hear the invitation again. A mere answer in the affirmative is not sufficient. We are to repent and forsake every sin and work the works of righteousness. Will the sinner acknowledge God’s claims? Will he serve the Lord God, or will he continue in sin? 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 57

By pledging his own life Christ has made Himself responsible for every man and woman on the earth. He stands in the presence of God, saying, Father, I take upon Myself the guilt of that soul. It means death to him if he is left to bear it. If he repents, he shall be forgiven. My blood shall cleanse him from all sin. I gave my life for the sins of the world. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 58

If the transgressor of God’s law will see in Christ his atoning sacrifice, if he will believe in Him who can cleanse Him from all unrighteousness, Christ will not have died for him in vain. By giving Himself a sacrifice to sin, Christ has given to every sinner opportunity to repent and be converted and become a laborer with God. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 59

Parents should ever keep the present and future good of their children in view by requiring strict obedience of them. When you ask your child to do a certain thing, and he answers, “Yes I will do it,” and then neglects to fulfill his word, you must not leave the matter thus. You must call your child to account for his neglect. If you pass it by without notice, you educate your child to habits of neglect and unfaithfulness. God has given to every child a stewardship. Children are to obey their parents. They are to help bear the burdens and responsibilities of the home; and when they neglect to do their appointed work, they should be called to account, and required to perform it. Your children are to be instructed and trained in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 60

We have before us the example of the Jewish nation, who jealously cherished their self-righteousness. They had not that faith which works by love and purifies the soul from all defilement. If the rejectors of life in Christ’s day had, on this and previous occasions, opened their hearts to appeals of the Spirit of God, they would have sympathized with the purpose and work of Christ. They would have seen in Him the antitype of all their sacrificial offerings, and the Jewish nation would have been saved from the terrible doom pronounced upon them by the One who gave His life for them. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 61

Israel would have had a God to deliver them from the bondage of the Roman yoke—a God who would have done more for them than a loving father could do for his child. Christ wept over the obdurate city, saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto you, how often would have I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” [Matthew 23:37, 38.] 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 62

The history of Israel as presented in this parable should be studied by all who would practice the teachings of Christ. The vineyard represents the church. The two sons are the two classes of men and women in the world. The Lord calls every member of His church to work in His vineyard. We are to understand our relation to Christ. Christ must abide in our hearts, that we may keep before us pure principles, high incentives to moral rectitude. Our work is not merely to promise, but to do. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 63

Honesty and integrity must bind us up with God to fulfill His word to the letter. Let those who hear the message God sends today beware, lest they follow the example of the self-exalted Jews. God does not propose to remove from our path everything that creates question or doubt in regard to the working of His servants. He gives ground for faith sufficient to convince the candid, sincere mind; but more evidence than this will never change the inward determination to resist light. 14LtMs, Ms 127, 1899, par. 64