Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14

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Lt 207, 1899

Haskell, S. N.; Irwin, G. A.

NP

December 15, 1899

This letter is published in entirety in 14MR 55-65.

Dear Brethren Haskell and Irwin:

I have just read your letters, and I will now try to write to you. The things of which you write are simply foolish imaginings which are presented to the people. The teachers who cherish them need to learn anew the principles of our faith. They need to be thoroughly converted. To make the statements they make, and hold the notions they hold, is like descending from the highest elevation to which the truth of the Word takes men, to the lowest level. God is not working with such men. 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 1

Having lost the grand truths of the Word of God, which center in the third angel’s message, they have supplied their place with fables. When they sink the shaft deeper into the quarries of truth, their lips will not utter the statements they have uttered in the past, statements which have no foundation in the Word of God. The Lord has declared what is truth. He has made plain the difference between truth and error. Truth is sensible, genuine; it bears the signature of heaven. Those who sow tares among the wheat are not true workers, and they should leave the work for sensible men. 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 2

My brethren, there is need of encouraging elevated principles. Those who cherish and advocate fanciful ideas need to be taught what is truth before they attempt to teach others. Man-made theories and suppositions are not to be allowed to enter the work. But do not give the impression that there are many who are going to foolish extremes. There are a few ill-balanced minds that are ready to catch at anything of a sensational character. But I tell you that there are many in America who are as true as steel to principle, and these will be helped and blessed; for they are weeping between the porch and the altar, saying, “Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach.” [Joel 2:17.] We must let the great principles of the third angel’s message stand out clear and distinct. The great pillars of our faith will hold all the weight that can be placed upon them. 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 3

Those who in this age of the world carry forward God’s work are to sink the shaft deep into the mines of truth, that they may find the precious, imperishable jewels. All must be careful what they present to the people as truth. Do not present your own imaginations as Bible truth. The enemy tries to warp and twist human minds. To the one who will listen to him, he presents ideas which are odd and peculiar, which will create a sensation. These he leads him to present to others, with a test which he has imagined. Thus Satan sets minds thinking in wrong channels, diverting them from the genuine tests which God has made in His Word. 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 4

Those who present the idea that the blind, the deaf, the lame, the deformed, will not receive the seal of God, are not speaking words given them by the Holy Spirit. There is much suffering in our world. To some, suffering and disease have been transmitted as an inheritance. Others suffer because of accidents. Cause and effect are always in operation in our world, and always will be. The Lord has afflicted ones, dearly beloved in His sight, who bear the suffering of bodily infirmities. To them special care and grace is promised. Their trials will not be greater than they can endure. 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 5

Paul had a bodily affliction; his eyesight was bad. He thought that by earnest prayer the difficulty might be removed. But the Lord had His own purpose, and He said to Paul, “Speak to Me no more of this matter. My grace is sufficient. It will enable you to bear the infirmity.” [2 Corinthians 12:9.] The Lord Jesus has bound up His interests with the interests of the whole world. His influence is an ever-widening, shoreless influence. Although unseen, it is intensely active. Wielded by the Father Himself, it is the element which is used in restoring the moral image of God in man. 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 6

The parable of the wealthy nobleman and Lazarus, who lay outside his gate, is a lesson to all. To the nobleman had been entrusted the talent of means. He enjoyed great blessings. But he was unfaithful to the One who had given him goods upon which to trade. The beggar lay outside his gate and entreated pity and help, but the nobleman neglected to do the very thing he might have done. The history of these two men shows how God will deal with His believing, suffering ones, and how with those who are spending for self-gratification that which they should impart to the poor. God chose not the rich nobleman. It is Lazarus whom He is represented as blessing and commanding. 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 7

There are living upon our earth, men who have passed the age of four score and ten. The natural results of old age are seen in their feebleness. But they believe God, and God loves them. The seal of God is upon them, and they will be among the number of whom the Lord has said, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.” [Revelation 14:13.] With Paul they can say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” [2 Timothy 4:7, 8.] There are many whose gray hairs God honors because they have fought a good fight and kept the faith. 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 8

There is no need of entering into controversy with the poor souls who think they are doing God’s service when they are believing the devil’s fables. When our young ministers hurt themselves and bring reproach upon God’s cause by placing solemn, sacred truth on a level with fables, let them be advised to become converted by closely studying the Word with men of experience, who for years have understood the truth. Let them turn from romance, from the fanciful interpretations which have no foundation in God’s Word. “What is the chaff to the wheat?” [Jeremiah 23:28.] We need, in this age of error, of day-dreaming and reverie, to learn the first principles of the doctrine of Christ. Let us strive to be able to say with the apostle, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [2 Peter 1:16.] The Lord calls upon us to follow high and noble principles. 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 9

I have been shown that there are those to whom the words apply, “When for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” [Hebrews 5:12-14.] 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 10

If ever any one needed such instruction as this, it is those who, while claiming to labor in the ministry, are preaching the productions of perverted imagination. Today, as in Christ’s day, odd, strange ideas are springing up. The truth Christ taught was grand and high and exalted. But though the Jewish people had been given great light, they did not bring into the practical life the great principles of love to God and man. 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 11

For a long time before the first advent of Christ, the rabbis had been working to make the truth of none effect. They seemed to have lost their common sense, and they labored to construct something original to preserve their influence. They made a show of victory by an endless repetition of fables and childish traditions. They manufactured cheap, inconsistent, frivolous sayings, and trivial forms, construing the truth into falsehood. Their minds became darkened. Unpracticed, the sacred truths lost their luster. Fabrications were made up, unnecessary duties enjoined, false tests made and presented. Sacred truth was dishonored by being brought into companionship with error. 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 12

Christ came to bring light and immortality to light. But the narrow, limited comprehension of the disciples led them to look up to the fables of the Jewish teachers as wisdom, and this imposed a restraint upon Christ’s teaching. He could not teach them as He would like to have done, because they mingled subjects of eternal interest with the traditions of men. Their imaginations were not sanctified. This determined the measure of the divine communication. Christ left unrevealed many things, saying, “Ye cannot bear them now.” [John 16:12.] 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 13

The Lord Jesus did not bring forth any of the cheap suppositions that some who claim to be teachers are manufacturing. There can be no value in the fables that are composed by guess work to make an impression on minds. Young men must be educated to keep within the bounds of “It is written.” Paul writes, “I charge thee therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word, be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables.” That time has come. I present the word of warning: “Watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” [2 Timothy 4:1-5.] 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 14

No one is to put truth to the torture by cheap imaginings, by putting a forced, mystical construction upon the Word. Thus they are in danger of turning the truth of God into a lie. There are those who need in their hearts the touch of the divine Spirit. Then the message for this time will be their burden. They will not search for human tests, for something new and strange. The Sabbath of the fourth commandment is the test for this time, and therefore all connected with this great memorial is to be kept before the people. 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 15

I am pained beyond what any language can express. Irreverence is coming in apace. I have words to speak to the young men who have been teaching the truth: Preach the Word. You may have inventive minds. You may be expert, as were the Jewish teachers, in getting up new theories; but Christ said of them, “In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men.” [Matthew 15:9.] They presented traditions, suppositions, and fables of all kinds to the people. The forms and ceremonies they enjoined made it simply impossible for the people to know whether they were keeping the Word of God or following the imaginations of men. 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 16

Satan is well pleased when he can thus confuse the mind. Let not ministers preach their own suppositions. Let them search the Scriptures earnestly, with a solemn realization that if they teach for doctrine the things that are not contained in God’s Word, they will be as those represented in the last chapter of Revelation. 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 17

Truth, present truth, is all that the Word of God represents it to be. The Lord would have His people keep themselves from all superfluities, from all that would destroy their influence and bring a reproach upon the truth. Will our brethren teach that which is not truth, which never will be truth? The gates of heavenly counsel are thrown open to all. Those who would be teachers must first be learners. Let those who are tempted to indulge in fanciful, imaginary doctrines sink the shaft deep into the quarries of heavenly truth, and secure the treasure which means life eternal to the receiver. In the Word there are the most precious ideas. These will be secured by those who study with earnestness; for heavenly angels will direct the search; but the angels never lead the mind to dwell upon cheap nonsense, as though it were the Word of God. 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 18

Let men humble their hearts before the Lord. Let teachers heed the Word of the greatest Teacher the world has ever known: “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 11:29, 30.] Manufacture not yokes for your own necks or for the necks of God’s people. Let no one struggle against natural claims, but against sin, which must be met and repulsed at every step. The way is plainly marked out. He that “will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” [Luke 9:23.] 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 19

“The light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single”—if special care is taken to keep every organ of the body pure and healthy, if temperance in all things is observed, if the physical and mental powers are exercised in accordance with an enlightened conscience—“thy whole body shall be full of light.” [Matthew 6:22.] Paul writes, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” [Romans 12:1.] 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 20

It is not our service to pray that colored hair shall become black, or that gray hair, which God pronounces honorable, shall become black. Those who set their minds laboring in this direction are not following on to know the Lord. They are starting in a course which will lead to the greatest, most God-dishonoring fanaticism. Our work is to form new habits of thought. Through faith in Christ we can do this. Natural propensities are to be controlled. Selfish inclinations are to be denied. Again and again some things hostile to grace and reform will start into life. Again and again we shall be called into the conflict to fight against hereditary tendencies to wrong. 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 21

What shall ministers teach the people? Certainly not fables. Certainly not their own foolish imaginings, which would put a yoke grievous to be borne upon the necks of poor souls. Such a yoke Christ has not formed. It galls; it brings unrest, disquietude, and discouragement. Bearing Christ’s yoke brings rest, peace, obedience; for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace which is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation, as it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” [1 Peter 1:13-16.] 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 22

There is among young men a burning desire to get hold of something new, even though it be of the cheapest quality. The Lord would not have the mind dwell on unprofitable nothings, seeking for what it will never find. He desires us to seek for a pure, clean soul, a soul washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb. It is the white robe of Christ’s righteousness that gives the sinner admittance into the presence of the heavenly angels. Not the color of his hair, but his perfect obedience to all God’s commandments, opens to him the gates of the holy city. 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 23

No one in this world is exempt from calamity, from misfortune and affliction. But if our hearts are washed in the blood of the Lamb, however poor and afflicted we may be, we are privileged to see in anticipation the joy that will be ours in heaven. Then let God’s promises be received and enjoyed by faith. Let none of God’s people believe the fables advanced by some regarding the color of the hair. The idea that persons who are deformed must be healed in order to be saved is a fable originated by someone who needs inward cleansing before he can receive the seal of God. In the great day of God, all who are faithful and true will receive the healing touch of the divine Restorer. The Lifegiver will remove every deformity, and will give them eternal life. 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 24

In God’s Word, the question is not, What is the color of the hair or the form of the body? but, Has the heart been purified, made white, and tried? 14LtMs, Lt 207, 1899, par. 25