Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 25 (1910 - 1915)

Ms 63, 1912

The Sermon on the Mount


August 29, 1912 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in HP 315. +Note

The crowd increased until they trod one upon another. The surging, anxious, eager throng pressed Jesus one way and another, backward and forward, until there was literally no place for Him to stand. Boats were near the shore, in which were fishermen listening to His words of instruction. Jesus beckoned to one of them to draw nearer, and when the fisherman had received Him into the boat, Christ bade him thrust out a little from the land, in order that the people might not injure one another in their efforts to approach Him, and that they might give better attention to His words because He was a little distance from them. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 1

In the fisherman’s boat, tossed up and down by the restless waves, sat the Saviour of the world, teaching the listening multitude on the shore. The Majesty of heaven sat not upon a kingly throne, but upon the unsteady seat of a fisherman’s boat to deliver His message of mercy. He was calm and patient. He bore with many interruptions and spoke words that found a response in many hearts. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 2

In many hearts His words did not appear to produce much effect; but a power attended them that aroused, stirred, and affected nations. After Christ arose from the sepulcher, His words were recalled and imparted new life, awakened new hopes, and worked for the salvation of many. All His words of instruction were then studied with a new and deeper interest. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 3

After He had finished speaking, He requested Simon to launch out into the deep and said, “Let down your nets for a draught. And Simon, answering, said unto Him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless, at Thy word I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.” Luke 5:4-7. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 4

When Simon saw the miracle of the fishes, he was so convinced of the power of God, and had so great a sense of his own unworthiness and perverse unbelief, that he felt as though he had no right to be in the presence of Christ. “He fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken. ... And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” Vs. 8-10. They were called from their former work to labor in a higher sphere, henceforth to fish for souls. They were called to work and to endure suffering for Christ’s sake. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 5

When Jesus said, “Follow Me,” how little they knew to what they were called! Had all the trials, disappointments, and sufferings that afterward came been opened before them, their hearts would have failed. But in His wisdom, God conceals the future from us. We have to do with the duties of today only. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matthew 6:34. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 6

Could the disciples have known the exalted character of the work upon which they had entered, and the praise, honor, and glory that awaited them if they faithfully performed their duty, they would have accepted their work, although they knew that their lot would not be one of joy and ease and earthly honor. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 7

Christ brought about the event upon the lake to teach His disciples a lesson of faith and perseverance. In their work for the salvation of souls, they would meet with just such disappointment. They would become weary and discouraged and feel that further effort would be useless. Yet they were to obey the words of Christ and leave the result with Him. With His assistance, their efforts would prove wholly successful. If they would rely wholly upon the divine power to move hearts, the result of their efforts would be like the miraculous draught of fishes. It was necessary for them to understand where to labor and how to allure souls. Although disappointed time and again, they must still wait patiently, with faith and confidence, continuing their labor. And frequently, all unexpectedly to themselves, the net cast on the right side of the ship would bring a harvest of souls like the draught of fishes. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 8

The story of the miraculous draught of fishes was noised abroad and awakened in the minds of the people a still greater interest to learn more of the teachings and works of Christ. Multitudes pressed around Him until He could not find a place to stand. He went up into the mount and called His disciples to Him. In all His lessons of instruction, He chose to have His disciples about Him, for their attention would then be less diverted from the great truths that He desired to impress upon their hearts, not alone for their own benefit, but for the benefit of those who should afterward believe on their word. Christ began His memorial sermon on the mount by showing that true happiness consists in practical godliness. To the darkened understanding of His hearers, He opened the only true way to obtain peace in this world and true happiness in the world to come. Distinctly and with simplicity, He pointed out to them the true path to present happiness and the sure road to eternal, blissful joy. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 9

Upon His hearers, Christ impressed the truth that a possession of the grace of the Spirit will insure the only blessings that can bring true happiness. The grace of God in the heart will bear fruit in good and righteous actions. God, Jesus, and the heavenly angels account as truly blessed all who possess these inestimable qualities. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 10

The multitude were amazed at His doctrine, which was in such marked contrast to the precepts and customs taught them by the scribes and Pharisees. The people had been taught that their happiness and blessings depended in a great measure upon the amount of the things of this life that they possessed. To aspire to fame and worldly honor, to have the praise of men, to be called “rabbi,” or to be extolled by the multitude as being very religious was accounted the crown of happiness. But in the presence of the multitude, Jesus declared that this was all the reward that such men would have; for they would receive no reward in the kingdom of heaven. Those who had lived for and attained to worldly honor had not obtained the favor of God and were destitute of His love. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 11

Jesus spoke with earnestness and certainty. There was a convincing power, a commanding authority, attending His words, unlike anything they had ever heard before. Many heard with solemn interest. They were deeply convicted that this wonderful Teacher was actuated by the Spirit of God and that His doctrine must be divine. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 12

Jesus especially sought to convey His ideas with clearness and to present them as living realities, so that minds would grasp and retain them. The same principles were to be taught by the disciples, in order to lead those who should believe on their word to a correct knowledge of the way to salvation. His instruction was also given to benefit the disciples, whose lives were to be governed by the principles contained in His lessons, in order that they might be enabled by precept and example to impart to others the knowledge they had received. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 13

After Jesus had explained what constitutes true happiness, He more definitely pointed out the duty of His disciples, as teachers chosen by God, to lead others into the paths of happiness and eternal life. He knew that His disciples would frequently be disappointed and discouraged because they would meet with opposition and their testimony would be rejected by many. He showed them that at the very time, when they were passing through great suffering for His name’s sake, they would have reason for the greatest joy. He said: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 14

Christ taught His disciples that the pains and afflictions that would attend them would be their greatest blessings. Hardship is profitable, having an influence to deaden affection and love for the world and to lead to an increased faith and a higher, more pure, and more constant trust in God. Losses and disappointments would result in great gain to them. Instead of dreading and shunning trials of faith and patience, they should be cheerfully received; for they are God’s agents to refine and are more precious than gold. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 15

Jesus wanted His disciples not to cast away their confidence when persecuted by men. They were not to be bowed down with depression, or to mourn over their hard lot; but rather to “rejoice, and be exceeding glad;” for great would be their reward in heaven. He showed them that their trials would not be of a more severe character than others had passed through before; “for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you,” He said. [Verse 12.] 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 16

The divine Teacher impressed upon the disciples their responsibility in connection with their influence in the world. He said, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted?” Vs. 13. He showed that salt which has lost its savor is utterly useless. If they, while claiming to be His disciples, would not work the works of righteousness, they would be similar to salt which had not retained its virtue. If they desired to retain their influence for saving souls, they must possess the true characteristics of a Christian, the graces of the Spirit; their words and works must be in accordance with the teachings and the life of Christ. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 17

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before me, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Vs. 14-16. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 18

Although they might claim to understand the principles of holiness that He inculcated, yet if they did not themselves practice the truths that they taught, they could exercise no saving influence over others. Their teachings would be fruitless, and they would be despised by those whom they sought to instruct. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 19

Jesus desired them to understand that if they expected to conduct others in the true path of righteousness, they must be diligent themselves in maintaining righteous actions. Their example in the right direction would be a power for good. It is the works, the actions, that weigh with God and that move the hearts of men and women to accept the light of truth. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 20

“Ye are the light of the world,” said Christ. [Verse 14.] In His time moral pollution, disease, and death abounded everywhere. Darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people. But Christ’s disciples were represented as a light shining amid the general gloom of iniquity, its cheering, guiding rays making plain the dangers in the pathway of sinners and revealing to their darkened understanding the pathway of truth and holiness. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 21

If those who claim to be Christ’s followers, and who have a knowledge of the truth, are not careful to present the truth to others in a proper manner, those in error and darkness will see no beauty in it. The truth can be presented in such a manner as to make it appear disgusting. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 22

In bearing a light on a dark night, to direct the footsteps of others, frequently the light-bearer becomes careless, permitting his own body to come between the light and those whom he is guiding. Thus those who follow lose the benefit of the light. This is the case with some who hold up the light of truth to others. They reveal their own selfish interests, their lack of consecration, their errors, their defects of character, all of which affect their actions and make their dark bodies conspicuous, but benefit no one by the truth which they professedly believe. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 23

The light of truth should be allowed to shine so that men, by seeing the righteous course of those who know the truth, will acknowledge that there is a power in the truth, because it has accomplished so great a work for those who have received it. They will fall in love with the principles of holiness that shine forth in the lives of the representatives of truth, and they will accept the truth, and glorify God by consecrating themselves to Him, to become lights to the world in their turn. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 24

Merely talking the truth will not save souls. Teachers of truth must have their own souls energized by the love and power of the truth. They should be patterns of purity, fruitful in all good works. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 25

The scribes and Pharisees were closely watching to find something in the teachings of Christ that they could condemn. They had never before listened to such words of wisdom. But the principles taught were so contrary to the instruction that they had given to the people that they knew if His teachings were received, their own lives would be condemned. They had dwelt upon the law of Moses; they had taught the Jewish traditions and customs as the commandments of God, when these manmade laws did not help the people to keep the law of God in their hearts because of their love for Him. The teachings of Christ swept away the useless traditions that had been made of vital consequence, and the Jewish leaders were filled with envy and hatred. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 26

As Christ explained to the disciples their duties in order to work the works of righteousness, the scribes and Pharisees saw that the principles He inculcated condemned their doctrine and their lives. They hated Him and attempted to prejudice the minds of the people against Him by whispering to one and another that His teachings were in opposition to the law of Moses and also the prophets; for He had not called the attention of the people to the law. If they could arouse the indignation of the Jews and turn the people from Christ, they would gain their object. But Jesus understood their secret whisperings. He was well acquainted with their inmost thoughts and the purposes of their wicked hearts. With a clear voice and in an emphatic manner He spoke to the multitude: 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 27

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 28

With terrible distinctness these words fell upon the startled ears of the guilty scribes and Pharisees. He laid the axe at the root of the tree. He charged back upon them what they had unjustly charged upon Him. He laid open their hypocrisy and presumption in venturing to substitute traditions and customs and practices of men in place of the commandments of Jehovah, and in attempting to make the commandments of God mean that which God never designed them to mean. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 29

Christ assured those who questioned His authority and were jealous of His instruction that He had not come to destroy the law, to lessen its holy claims, or to detract from its sacred dignity. He had come into their world to justify the claims of the law. If any part of God’s law, that was in majesty and grandeur spoken form Sinai’s mount, could have been changed or abrogated, Christ would not have needed to come to the earth in the likeness of sinful flesh. It was because God’s law was changeless and could not meet man in his fallen condition that Christ consented to leave His home, His riches and glory, and Himself die to save the disobedient race. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 30

Jesus plainly stated that He came to fulfil the law of God to man, to explain its nature, and by His own example of obedience to enforce its precepts, bearing the penalty of transgression of the law, as had been prefigured in the ceremonial law. Thus He fulfilled the prophecy concerning the Messiah. He particularly stated that no part of the moral law or the obligation of man to obey it should be abrogated, neither was the ceremonial law to end before it should find its fulfilment in Himself. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 31

Christ said, “One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.” [Verses 18, 19.] The least disobedience to any of God’s commandments is highly offensive to God. Whoever himself disobeys God, and by his example and doctrine teaches others to disobey the law, dishonors God, the great Lawgiver. God does not acknowledge such a one as a minister of righteousness, but regards him as a transgressor, a rebel against the divine government. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 32

Christ positively declared that He came not to make void the moral law, but to enforce it as man’s rule of action. Carrying out its principles in His own life, He sought to establish it and to lead men to love it and to practice its principles in their daily life. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 33

After Christ had explicitly declared His respect and reverence for His Father’s law, and had enjoined its exalted claims upon all, He further fearlessly declared to His followers, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” [Verse 20.] In their observance of the law and in outward forms of religion, the Pharisees were very strict, while in their hearts they were corrupt, proud, and hypocritical. They were filled with bitter hatred and opposition to the will and character of Christ. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 34

The scribes and Pharisees had a selfish righteousness, consisting of externals. Christ taught the people that God required a righteousness that led them to conform the heart to His revealed will. A genuine work of grace must be internal as well as external. Jesus impressed His hearers with the fact that God’s law extends even to the thoughts, to the intents and purposes of the heart. He taught that men might in their hearts violate the law without manifesting in feelings or outward conduct that they were not reconciled to its claims. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 35

Jesus gave the disciples special instruction on how to fulfil the law by observing all its claims and carrying out its holy principles in the life. While professing to have such reverence for the law, the scribes and Pharisees had by their traditions made the commandments of none effect and had taught the people to follow their example. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 36

The teachers of the present day are engaged in this same work of breaking the commandments of God themselves and teaching other men to break them. In the place of the commandments of God, they teach the customs and traditions of men. In their opposition they are bold, notwithstanding the plain, explicit teachings of Christ, that should make them tremble lest they be denied an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven. But they continue their evil work, regardless of the words of Christ, that those who break one of the least of these commandments, and teach men to do so, shall be least, or of no esteem, in the kingdom of God. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 37

The scribes and Pharisees sought to condemn Christ for not conforming to their ideas of keeping the law. They sought diligently for something in His life or teachings whereby they might accuse Him, and thus justify them in condemning Him to death. But Christ, by revealing their hearts to the multitude and severely censuring their course of evildoing, silenced them, and in so doing He but increased their hatred of Him. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 38

Christ declared to the multitude that the law of His Father is steadfast and changeless. Till heaven shall pass away, no vestige of it remaining, till the throne of God shall cease to exist, till nature is dissolved, the ten precepts of Jehovah shall remain, immutable and eternal. 25LtMs, Ms 63, 1912, par. 39