Lt 48, 1886

1886

Lt 48, 1886

Brethren Engaged in Labor in Nimes

Basel, Switzerland

August 24, 1886

This letter is published in entirety in 17MR 67-74.

Dear Brethren Engaged in Labor in Nimes:

I feel very grateful for the success you have had and sincerely hope that you will cling to the work until it is nicely bound off. When the first efforts are made in a place by giving a first course of lectures, there is really greater necessity for a second course than for the first. The truth is new and startling, and the people need to have the same presented the second time, to get the points distinct and the ideas fixed in the mind. Lt48-1886.1

I have been reading over some of the light God has given me. It is like this: There should be great wisdom used in the presentation of a truth that comes directly in opposition to the opinions and practices of the people. Paul’s habit was to dwell upon the prophecies when with the Jewish people and bring them down step by step and then after some time open the subject of Christ as the true Messiah. Lt48-1886.2

I have been shown that our ministers go too rapidly through their subjects and bring the most objectionable features of our faith too early into their effort. There are truths that will not involve so great a cross that should be kept before their minds day after day, and even weeks, before the Sabbath and immortality questions are entered into. Then you gain the confidence of the people as being men who have clear, forcible arguments, and they think you understand the Scriptures. When once the confidence of the people is gained, then it is time enough to introduce publicly the Sabbath and immortality questions. But men who are not wise advance these questions too soon, and thus close the ears of the people, when with greater care, and more faith and aptness and wisdom, they could have carried them along step by step through the important events in the prophecies and in dwelling upon practical subjects in the teachings of Christ. Lt48-1886.3

In efforts made in large cities, one half of the effort is lost because they close up the work too soon and go to a new field. Paul labored long in his fields, continuing his work for one year in one place and one year and a half in another place. The haste to close up an effort has frequently resulted in a great loss. Never weary the hearers by long discourses. This is not wise. For many years I have been laboring on this point, seeking to have our brethren sermonize less and devote their time and strength to making important points of truth plain; for every point will be assailed by our opponents. Every one connected with the work should keep fresh ideas. They should not allow themselves to become merely spectators, but interested workers watching for opportunities to speak with souls; to come close to them by personal, interested efforts. And by tact and foresight, bring all that is possible into your work to interest your hearers, but avoid long sermons, for they soon weary of this. They want a diversity of labor. Lt48-1886.4

The Bible readings are of great advantage and will do more to fasten the points of truth in the minds than many discourses. But short, plainly made points, avoiding all rambling, will be of the greatest advantage. God would not have you exhaust your energies before you come into the meeting, either in writing or in any other employment; for when you come with a tired mind, you give a very imperfect discourse to the people. Put your freshest energies into the work, and let not the slightest dullness or imperfectness be seen in any of your efforts. If from any cause you are tired, and exhausted, for Christ’s sake do not attempt to give a discourse. Let another who is not thus exhausted speak short, to the point, or else have a Bible reading; anything but sickly discourses. These will do less harm where all are believers; but when the truth is to be proclaimed before a people who are not in the faith, the speaker must prepare himself for the task. He must not ramble all through the Bible, but give a connected, firm discourse, showing that he understands the points he would make. Put all your energies and soul into the work. But every discourse given when the mind is wearied is an injury to the truth. Things must and will be managed by skilful workmen, rightly dividing the words of life, that the interest will be kept up. Lt48-1886.5

A few forcible remarks upon some point of doctrine will fasten in the mind much more firmly than to bring in a mass of matter where nothing lies out clear and distinct in the mind of those ignorant of our faith. There should be interspersed with the prophecies practical lessons of the teachings of Christ. There should ever be the softening, subduing influence of the Spirit of God upon our own heart. The self-denial and the sufferings of Christ should be brought into our labors and the great love wherewith He has loved us appear in all our efforts. Lt48-1886.6

I wish you to distinctly understand this point, that souls are kept from obeying the truth by a confusion of ideas, and also because they do not know how to surrender their wills and their minds to Jesus. They want special instruction how to become Christians. The work done for Christ in the world is not made of great deeds and wonderful achievements. These will come in [as] needed. But the most successful work is that which keeps self as much as possible out of sight. It is the work of giving line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; coming close in sympathy with human hearts. This is the service done to Jesus Christ that will be recognized at the last day. The worker has not made himself prominent, but just picked up the opportunities and privileges to do work for the Master which God alone counts of precious value. The little fillings in, the cup of cold water given, the word spoken in due season, all these count; and yet they have not been treasured up by the actor as any wonderful work “I have done.” The labor of love for Christ’s sake, if treasured by the giver, ends there, for he has all the reward he will ever have. But if he does this work for Christ’s sake, thinking not of the matter afterward, angels of God gather up these incidents and cherish them as precious pearls. Lt48-1886.7

The gentleness of Christ that is revealed in laboring for souls, while self takes no credit, will be rewarded. With God the deeds of all are counted for just what heaven values them, not as they are estimated by the worker. It becomes us to do no more than we can do with order, with thoroughness and exactitude. Lt48-1886.8

If our active temperament gathers in a large amount of work that we have not strength nor the grace of Christ to do understandingly and with order and exactitude, everything we undertake shows imperfection, and the work is constantly marred. God is not glorified however good the motive. There is a want of wisdom which is too plainly revealed. The worker complains of constantly having too heavy burdens to bear, when God is not pleased with his taking these burdens; and he makes his own life one of worriment and anxiety, and weariness because he will not learn the lessons Christ has given him, to wear His yoke and bear His burdens, rather than the yoke and burdens of his own creating. Christ says, “My yoke is easy, My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:30.] Then let every extra burden be left for Jesus, and all the necessary burdens He will also take and bear them, and us too. Lt48-1886.9

God would have us pay heed to His words. The carefully wrought service in the sight of God is of value, although easily overlooked by human eyes, yet indispensable in this world where we are doing our work. God wants intelligent workers, doing their work not hurriedly, but carefully and thoroughly, always preserving the humility of Jesus. Those who put thought and painstaking into the higher duties should put care and thought into the smaller duties, showing exactitude and diligence. Oh, how much neglected work is done, how much leaving things at loose ends because there is a constant desire to take on greater work. The work is slurred over that relates to the service of God, because they pull so much work before them that there is nothing done thoroughly. But all the work must bear the scrutiny of the Judge of all the earth. The smaller duties connected with the service of the Master assume importance because it is Christ’s service. Selfishness and self-esteem should be guarded against as your bitterest enemy. But how easily self finds opportunities to exhibit itself, and how Satan exults at the exhibitions, and how sorrowful and ashamed are the angels of God of man’s foolishness. How unlike Jesus Christ; in what contrast to the example He has given us in His own life. How far removed from His requirements, to crucify self with the affections and lusts. He that will be His disciple, He plainly states, can be so only on condition that He denies self daily, and takes up the cross, and follows Him. We are not only to be partakers with Christ in His sufferings and sacrifices, but we are to imitate Him in the daily small self-crossings and the denial of personal inclinations. Lt48-1886.10

What will be our feelings when we shall stand on the sea of glass? Shall we look back on the hours of our impatience here? Shall we stand upon the eternal hills of paradise and take in the events of our past life and see how many unnecessary trials we had because we thought God was dependent upon us to do everything? God help us to see our own littleness and God’s greatness. God forbid that we should have exalted ideas of our own greatness and exalt self. Magnitude of experience is no measure of worth. God has a standard so unlike human standards; and if we see God’s estimate of us, we would see value where we supposed was littleness and littleness where we supposed was greatness. Lt48-1886.11

It is the long connection with God which makes man of value. The divine principle in the man constantly growing reveals the heavenliness of his character and the value of his association with men. Brethren, you are all of value in the sight of God. He will not forget your labors of love. I would counsel you not to be in haste to move your tent out of Nimes. It may be advisable to change locations and have new congregations, but all the time you are making a second effort. Do it just as perfectly as if the first effort had not been made. Let every talent of the workers be put out to the exchangers, everyone do his level best, act an energetic part in the work and service of God. Lt48-1886.12

There are different kinds of work to be done. Souls are precious in the sight of God; educate them, teach them as they embrace the truth how to bear responsibilities. He who sees the end from the beginning, who can make the seeds sown wholly fruitful, will be with you in your efforts. Says Christ, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] Let not one discouraged thought or feeling come in. See and sense the value of human souls. Toil for them knowing you must meet these again. Oh, we have not fully learned the value of Christ or of His work. Work in faith; do your part, and believe the Lord will work with your efforts. God giveth the increase. Lt48-1886.13

You may do your work with fidelity and believe that the Lord will do His work. Never forget that you must reach the people through God. If your experience has been long, it is not its length that makes it valuable—it is not the knowledge that makes it of value—it is the praying, loving, godly life that is a sermon daily. I tell you [line illegible] of the world today is more Christlike men and women. The preaching the world needs is not only that which comes from the pulpit, but that which is seen in the every-day life—not only Bible precepts, but Christlike characters and heaven-born practices. The living, loving disciples of Jesus who have felt that it was more precious to commune with Jesus than to have the most exalted position and praise of men; hearts that are daily feeling the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, that are made strong and tender by inward conflict and secret prayer, and whose lives though humble are eloquent with holy deeds—these are the kinds of workers that will win souls to Jesus. In our ministry we must reveal Christ to the people, for they have heard Christless sermons all their lives. Lt48-1886.14

God and Jesus, His beloved Son, must be presented before the people in the wealth of the love They have evidenced for man. In order to break down the barriers of prejudice and impenitence, the love of Christ must have a part in every discourse. Make men to know how much Jesus loves them and what evidences He has given them of His love. What love can equal that which God has manifested for man by the death of Christ on the cross. When the heart is filled with the love of Jesus, this can be presented to the people, and it will affect hearts. Lt48-1886.15

Brethren, bring Jesus into your work. Be one in Jesus—of one mind, of one judgment. God will bless you, and you will see of the salvation of Jesus. But let not one exalt himself over another. Work for the Master, and do your work in such a manner as not to bring “I” prominent, but each esteem other better than himself. Let Jesus into your heart. Seek to glorify Jesus. Oh, self, self, how hard to crucify self; nevertheless self must be crucified, and then Jesus will reveal Himself as a mighty worker in your midst. Lt48-1886.16