Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 15 (1900)

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Lt 119, 1900

Tenney, Brother and Sister [G. C.]

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

August 2, 1900

Portions of this letter are published in VSS 304-307. +Note

Dear Brother and Sister Tenney:

It is three o’clock in the morning. I am sitting up in my bed and trying to write you a few words. There are things on my mind which trouble me. Your case is a distress to my soul, because you are surely doing injury to the cause of God. You know your duty. You know that there is a course of action which as a representative of Christ you are to follow. When you act out your hereditary and cultivated tendencies, you are living a fickle kind of a life, because you are not then under the perfect control of God. You are losing ground, because you follow your own impulses, irrespective of consequences. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 1

He who is a Christian gentleman will be all the name signifies. He is sometimes obliged to refrain from doing things which mean no wrong and which may be right, but which would not bear a good appearance to all men. Consistency is to be cherished. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 2

You are too careless of your spirit and of your words. You injure your influence, so that you close the door of hearts which should be open to receive your instruction. In the Word of God you have before you the straight path. In your home life, in your association with your brethren, and in connection with the church, practice the Word which you preach to others. Your official duties will be pleasant when you take yourself severely in hand. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 3

My brother, do not defile your Christian influence by selfishness, by giving way to anger and fractious blame of others. Your character needs to be greatly changed and modified, else you will bring great perplexity and sorrow and keen anguish upon your brethren. They will not know how to treat your case so as to bring about the good they would be pleased to see you do as a Christian gentleman. Your Christian influence is marred. You, a minister of the gospel, having a knowledge of the truth and as an insight into it, will bring the truth into disrepute unless you make a change. You must be transformed in character by the sanctification of the Spirit of God. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 4

Your father’s influence over you was not good, and your character bears the impression of a warped disposition. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 5

It would be better for you to labor less and consider more carefully how you will proceed in the future. I advise you to throw off responsibilities, for you testify that you are not able to bear them and at the same time maintain your Christian dignity. You bear the traits of your father’s mismanagement. Your children bear the traits of your course of action. Unless you take heed, the church will bear the marks of your deficiency. For your present and eternal good it is time for you to cease to misrepresent Christ. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 6

A Christian is one who bears “the Christ likeness.” You will be made wise by counting the cost and then asking, “Will it pay? Is Patience or Passion to be victorious?” “Take heed to thyself and to the doctrine; for in so doing thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.” [1 Timothy 4:16.] Remember that when you preach the word of practical faith and obedience, you are preaching to yourself. Be not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of your own words. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 7

“If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little; but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe.” [Verses 6-10.] 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 8

At this period of time every minister of Christ is to heed the charge Paul gave to Timothy, “Take heed to thyself,” to your character, your words, your conduct, “and to the doctrine.” [Verse 16.] The minister must practice the doctrine he preaches, else he needs that some one should teach him the first principles of pure doctrine. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 9

My brother, you keep your mind in an unsanctified, unhappy state of insubordination to truth and righteousness. If you continue to cherish this contentious spirit, it would be well, for your present and eternal good, for you to place yourself in a different position, because you will set an example to the flock of God unworthy of a Christian minister. When your course of action is in harmony with the truth, you will show in spirit, word, and action the sanctification of the Spirit of God. You will show that you are a partaker of the divine nature. By beholding Christ you are to become changed into His similitude. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 10

If you continue to act as you have been acting, you will surely destroy the influence you might have if you were acting in accordance with the Word of God. Brother Tenney, you are not your own. You have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit. You are doing positive harm to your own family. Your hasty, severe utterances are hurting your wife and children. Your daughter has not received the mold of character which reveals the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. You cannot say in regard to your course, I am without fault. You cannot come forth and say as did Samuel, “Whose ox or whose ass have I taken?” [1 Samuel 12:3.] You must count the cost; for you are surely tearing your influence up by the roots. How can a man who cannot control himself be fit to be placed in sacred, holy office? 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 11

In the night season I have been bearing to you a most pointed, decided testimony. I presented to you that now, as we are about to leave this field, there is a positive necessity for you to take yourself in hand. You have to a large extent lost your influence with your family. And you will lose it with the church unless you are transformed by the grace of Christ. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 12

I said, Elder Tenney, the Lord has given me a message for you. Ministers of the gospel must keep self in continual subjection to Christ. But in your present state of mind you are not subject to the will or control of God. Self, poor, sick self, is revealed on every hand. When self dies, the peace of Christ will take possession of the soul. As long as you are a minister of the gospel, you are under the most solemn obligation to God to be wise, not in your own conceit, but wise in the wisdom of God. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 13

Every day hereditary tendencies to wrong will strive for the mastery. Every day you are to war against your objectionable traits of character, until there are left in you none of those things which need to be separated from you. Then you will think candidly and wisely how to take yourself to the Lord. You will forsee the evils which will come unless you change by avoiding the cause which produces the effect. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 14

You need now to understand as never before the softening, subduing power of true, Christlike character. You need to understand the warfare in which we are engaged. The power of holy living is far ahead of all doctrinal discourse. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 15

Paul relates his experience when he was converted. He says, “When the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” [Romans 7:9.] He became just what you must become, a living epistle, known and read of all men. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 16

Brother and Sister Tenney, you have the credit of religion to maintain in the family, and your chief concern should be by obeying right principles to avoid misrepresenting Christ. We need now as never before to pray with heart and voice for the Spirit of Christ to use us in His service through the sanctification of the Spirit. We need to pray that we may by uniting with our fellow workers build up God’s kingdom. We are never to be satisfied with self, but are ever to press upward, seeking to attain higher fervency and greater zeal. Our heart’s greatest desire should be to be found among the meek and lowly people of God. Then we can find souls and win souls. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 17

Those who minister in word and doctrine must first be partakers of the fruits of the Spirit. Bear this in mind. Bridle your disposition, and then peace and contentment will find room in your soul. If you wish your heart to overflow with the love of God, cultivate grateful thanksgiving for the unspeakable privilege of knowing the truth. If you would lose sight of self by beholding Christ, you would be changed from glory to glory, from character to character, and would rejoice in His redeeming love. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 18

We have no time for fretting over ourselves, no time to look on the dark side. There are souls to be saved. We must live in Christ and Christ must live in us, else we shall preach and labor in vain. Those who are brethren in the faith must stand together in oneness, striving to answer Christ’s prayer to His Father. Let us stop fretting. Let us put away all jealousy, all evil surmising. Let us put on Christ and walk in the light of the Sun of Righteousness. Preach the Word. Practice the Word. Then souls will be converted. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 19

At present your spiritual condition is a stumbling block to your best efforts. We have the most sublime truths ever given to men. How are we handling them? In Christ, dead to self, open your mouth, and God will fill it. Christ will impress the minds of your hearers. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 20

Co-operation with God means His co-operation with us. Co-operation with our brethren gives standing room for every one who does the work. Co-operation is now greatly needed. Seek not for the highest place. If you do, you will be given the lowest place. Have courage in the Lord. But do not think that you are the only agent through whom He will work. For Christ’s sake do your best, without speaking one ungrateful word to God or to your brethren. Then the Lord will bless you. We have not a moment to waste in regrets or recrimination. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 21

Take not your troubles to man, who may have no greater wisdom than you yourself. Take your troubles to Him who hears and answers prayer. Labor, labor with this poor soul and that poor soul. Keep your head out of books and your hand from writing. Seek the salvation of those who are ready to perish. How earnestly should we be engaged in laboring for souls as they that must give an account. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 22

In much love. 15LtMs, Lt 119, 1900, par. 23