Lt 19, 1897

1897

Lt 19, 1897

Haughey, J. H.

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

July 4, 1897

Portions of this letter are published in 3SM 252-255; VSS 65-66; SpM 90-92. +Note

My Brother:

Your letter has been received and read, and this is the first mail that could bear an answer to you. Lt19-1897.1

The subject that has been placed before me for counsel is one that needs to be carefully considered. Our sisters whose minds are agitated upon the subject of again resuming the reform dress should be prayerfully cautious in every move they make. We have now the most solemn, important test given to us from the Word of God for this special period of time. This test is for the whole world. The Lord does not require that any tests of human inventions shall be brought in to divert the minds of the people or create controversy in any line. Lt19-1897.2

It may be that some are thirsting for distinction in some way. If they are thirsting for a battle with satanic agencies, let them be sure that they first have on every piece of the armor of God. If they have not, they will surely be worsted, and make for themselves grievous trials and disappointments that they are not prepared to meet. Let all seek the Lord most earnestly for the deep and rich experience that is to be found in the subject of heart preparation to follow Christ wherever He shall lead the way. Lt19-1897.3

“If any man will come after me,” He says, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” [Matthew 16:24.] These words are to be weighed well. The man who wishes to follow Christ, who chooses to walk in His footsteps, will find self-denial and the cross in that path. All who follow Christ will understand what this involves. Lt19-1897.4

God’s tests are now to stand out plain and unmistakable. There are storms before us, conflicts of which few dream. There is no need now for any special alteration in our dress. The plain, simple style of dress now worn, made in the most healthful way, demands no hoops, and no long trails, and is presentable anywhere, and these things should not come in to divert our minds from the grand test which is to decide the eternal destiny of a world—the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Lt19-1897.5

We are nearing the close of this world’s history. A plain, direct testimony is now needed, as given in the Word of God, in regard to the plainness of dress. This should be our burden. But it is too late now to become enthusiastic in making a test of this matter. The desire to follow Christ in all humility of mind, preparing the heart, purifying the character, is by no means an easy work. Our sisters may be assured that the Lord has not inspired them to make a test of that which was once given as a blessing, but which by many was hated and despised as a curse. Lt19-1897.6

The reform dress, which was once advocated, proved a battle at every step. Members of the church, refusing to adopt this healthful style of dress, caused dissension and discord. With some there was no uniformity and taste in the preparation of the dress as it had been plainly set before them. This was food for talk. The result was that the objectionable features, the pants, were left off. The burden of advocating the reform dress was removed because that which was given as a blessing was turned into a curse. There were some things which made the reform dress a decided blessing. With it the ridiculous hoops which were then the fashion, could not possibly be worn. The long dress skirts trailing on the ground and sweeping up the filth of the streets, could not be patronized. But a more sensible style of dress has now been adopted, which does not embrace these objectionable features. The fashionable part may be discarded, and should be, by all who will read the Word of God. The time spent in advocating the dress reform should be devoted to the study of the Word of God. Lt19-1897.7

The dress of our people should be made most simple. The skirt and sack I have mentioned may be used—not that just that pattern and nothing else should be established, but a simple style as was represented in that dress. Some have supposed that the very pattern given was the pattern that all were to adopt. This is not so. But something as simple as this would be the best we could adopt under the circumstances. No one precise style has been given me as the exact rule to guide all in their dress. But this I do know, the very same objections, only much stronger exist today as when the short dress was discarded. The Lord has not indicated that it is the duty of our sisters to go back to the reform dress. Simple dresses should be worn. Try your talent, my sisters, in this essential reform. Lt19-1897.8

The people of God will have all the test that they can bear. Lt19-1897.9

The Sabbath question is a test that will come to the whole world. We need nothing to come in now to make a test for God’s people that shall make more severe for them the test they already have. The enemy would be pleased to get up issues now to divert the minds of the people and get them into controversy over this subject of dress. Let our sisters dress plainly, as many do, having the dress of good material, durable, modest, appropriate for this age, and let not the dress question fill the mind. Lt19-1897.10

I wish to have the people bear in mind the history of the spies. They went up to view the land which the children of Israel afterward inherited. But the unfaithful spies brought a false and exaggerated report of the difficulties to be encountered, so that the whole congregation of Israel received the unwelcome tidings. Caleb and Joshua alone brought a correct testimony. These two brave men stilled the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once, for we are well able to overcome it.” [Numbers 13:30.] They knew that no time was to be lost, because it would be noised abroad of their coming up to spy the land, and the people would be prepared to make determined resistance. “But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. ... The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants, and we were in our sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” [Verses 31-33.] Lt19-1897.11

The Lord manifested His displeasure because of their cowardice and unbelief, and his judgments were visited upon them just in accordance with their unbelief. Forty years they were to wander in the wilderness, and, said God, “ye shall know my breach of promise.” [Numbers 14:34.] The men who brought the evil report died by the plague before the Lord. Caleb and Joshua were the only adults who lived to go into the goodly land. Lt19-1897.12

“And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly.” [Verse 39.] When they heard that they were to wander forty years more in the wilderness, those who had refused to go up and possess the land at God’s command were then determined to go to the battle. But while they had been delaying, the people of the land had been preparing to meet and resist their passage. Lt19-1897.13

“And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the Lord hath promised: for we have sinned. And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the Lord? but it shall not prosper. Go not up: for the Lord is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye have turned away from the Lord, therefore the Lord will not be with you. But they presumed to go unto the hill top; nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and Moses, departed not out of the camp. Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.” [Verses 40-45.] Lt19-1897.14

The Lord has not moved upon any of our sisters to adopt the reform dress. The difficulties that we once had to meet are not to be brought in again. There was so much resistance among our own people that it was removed from them. It would then have proved a blessing. But there must be no new branching out into singular forms of dress. There have been plenty of strange doings in Battle Creek with the bicycle craze, which has greatly displeased the Lord and greatly dishonored the cause of present truth. God holds those responsible who have expended money in this direction. They have greatly injured the influence of the work and cause of God. Lt19-1897.15

Let there be no tests manufactured now to absorb time and minds to bring in new reforms. We have now to face tremendous issues, and all the time and power of our thought are to be called to the living issues before us. I know that the voice raised to create something new in the matter of dress now should be quenched. Put all there is of you in working to get as close as possible to perishing souls. See if you cannot, by a consistent, harmonious, all-round character, by the presentations of truth to individuals who are out of Christ, save some souls from ruin. Lt19-1897.16

I beg of our people to walk carefully and circumspectly before God. Follow the custom of dress in health reform, but do not again introduce the short dress and pants, unless you have the word of the Lord for it. Each of my brethren and sisters have a safer guide than any human agent. Let them understand that there is an individual duty for them to perform. This is but feebly understood by a large number of the members of the church. There is far greater need, in this day of deception and false claims, of heeding the proclamation of John, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” [John 1:29.] Lt19-1897.17

There are those who with all the light of the Word of God will not obey His directions. They will follow their own tastes and do as they please. These give a wrong example to the youth, and to those who have newly come to the truth who have made it a practice to copy every new style of dress, in trimmings that take time and money, and there is little difference between their apparel and that of the worldling. Let our sisters conscientiously heed the Word of God for themselves. Do not begin the work of reform for others until you do, for you will have no success; you cannot possibly change the heart. The working of the Spirit of God inwardly will show a change outwardly. Those who venture to disobey the plainest statements of inspiration will not hear and receive and act upon all the human efforts made to bring these idolaters to a plain, unadorned, simple, neat, proper dress that does not in any way make them odd or singular. They continue to expose themselves by hanging out the colors of the world. Lt19-1897.18

To get up a different style of dress will not change the heart. The difficulty is that the church needs converting daily. There are many things that will come to try and test these poor, deluded, spiritually-dwarfed, world-loving souls; they will have deep trials. Let there be no human-made test, for God has prepared to prove them and try them. If they will heed His admonitions and warnings, and humble their souls before Him, let Him be the object of their worship; He will receive them graciously. There are those who will never return to their first love. They will never cease to make an idol of self. Nothing in any line of human wisdom should be presented to test, for it will only give them an excuse to make the final plunge into apostasy. There are those who know not whom they are serving. Lt19-1897.19

Knowledge and power belong to God. The ignorantly guilty must learn and obey. We must wait patiently, and not fail nor be discouraged; for God has His purposes all arranged. While we are burdened and distressed, but waiting in patient submission, our invisible Helper will be doing the work that we do not see, and bring to pass in His providences events which will work decided reformations, or will separate these half-hearted, world-loving members of the church from the believers. Lt19-1897.20

The Lord knows all about every case, and how to deal with each. Our wisdom is limited to a point, while infinite wisdom comprehends the end from the beginning. Our whole term of probation is very brief, and a short work will be done on the earth. God’s own tests will come; His proving will be sharp and decisive. Let every soul humble himself before God, and prepare for what is before us. Lt19-1897.21

“I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.” [1 Timothy 2:8-11.] “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that if any obey not the word, they may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, and of putting on of apparel.” “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.” [1 Peter 3:1-3, 8.] Lt19-1897.22

This chapter is of great consequence to all who desire enlightenment. They must receive the Word of inspiration, and conclude that for their present spiritual good it is best to place themselves on the Lord’s side, and under His divine guidance heed and obey His “It is written.” Lt19-1897.23

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” [Verse 15.] The hope of the believer is the subject that is to occupy his thoughts. Nothing in the line of dress must divert the minds away from the truth. You are to bear witness for the truth for which you have the Word of God as Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus. A good conversation in Christ Jesus is a distinguishing contrast to the cheap, chaffing talk of hats, of dress, of fashion, and adorning of the person. Lt19-1897.24

“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: who shall give account to him who is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, and live according to God in the Spirit. But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” [1 Peter 4:1-7.] Lt19-1897.25

“Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” [Verses 16-19.] Lt19-1897.26

Let every one who claims to be a Christian bear in mind that they are to arm themselves with the same mind. When you shall obey these positive directions in the Word of God, then you may be used as missionaries in many lines to do the will of God, to sanctify the Lord in your hearts, and be ready always to give a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. Sisters can speak to sisters in the love that they have for their souls. Let not a thread of your own spirit be woven in with your words. You may do this, if you are sanctifying the Lord God in your hearts, for this means that you are uplifting your heart in prayer to God through Jesus Christ for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Lt19-1897.27

“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; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, which without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers: but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” [1 Peter 1:14-19.] Lt19-1897.28

Please read carefully these precious words given for you, for “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” [2 Timothy 3:16, 17.] Let these conscientious sisters, who would enter upon the work of dress reform, walk circumspectly, and work with that kind of labor that is corresponding with the burden of the message. Lt19-1897.29

In our intercourse and association with unbelievers, we must bear in mind that God has given to every one talents to use, and improve by using. The talent of speech is a gift of God, and when we hear so much useless, meaningless chit-chat, we may be assured that those who thus use this precious gift are not Christians. They are not abiding in Christ: nor is Christ abiding in them. Every tree is known by its fruits. “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart, bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” [Matthew 12:35.] What a flood of evil and rubbish flows forth because of the talent of speech. And how many are denying Christ by their speech! Instead of making a good confession of Christ by their manner of conversation, they say, “I know not the man.” [Matthew 26:74.] It is easy enough to have a form of godliness; but to make a whole-sided confession of our faith in Christ means that our words and dress and spirit shall testify to the fact. Lt19-1897.30

These things will prove to others just where you stand—under the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel, or under the black banner of the prince of this world. The entire man will reveal that we are volunteers for the one party or the other. If the tongue works iniquity, then all our words of profession are worthless; for in our words we say, “I know not the man.” Lt19-1897.31

Words and actions are a living testimony for or against Christ. No human being can communicate that which he has not. They may draw nigh unto God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him. All who confess Christ must have a Christ to confess. A whole Saviour gave His life for us, and the whole being—mind, heart, soul, and strength—must be fully consecrated in service to Him. A divided heart can not be used in His service. The words that fell from the lips of Christ were, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon; for either ye will love the one and hate the other, or else ye will hold to the one and despise the other.” [Matthew 6:24.] The conversation, the dress, the whole conduct, will be a visible expression of the grace, the love, the devotion within. The operation of the Spirit of God is revealed in that faith that works by love and purifies the soul; and the graces of Christ are manifested in the sanctification of the spirit. This is a true confession of Christ. Words and profession count nothing with any human being unless Christ is abiding in the heart. Lt19-1897.32

I write these things that you may understand what I say. The great testing time is right upon us, when every human being will take sides. Christ’s words are definite. “He that is not with me,” wearing My yoke of restraint, and lifting My burdens of obedience, “is against me.” [Matthew 12:30.] All who have given themselves unreservedly to Christ will not deny Him in their words, in their dress, in their spirit, or by their influence. If they know the man, they will do Him service with every jot of influence they possess. Lt19-1897.33

All who are self-exalted, and speak evil of others, are denying Christ. All who devote their time, and thought, and affections to dress, deny Christ. All who inconsiderately let flow a stream of idle, foolish words, jesting and joking, unkind, mocking words, deny Christ. Many who act a part in our Sabbath schools as teachers need a decidedly changed experience before they will reveal Christ. They love self, and they interpose their love of self between the soul and Christ. Their outward apparel hangs out the sign of their service. Those who devote time and money to outward display dishonor their Redeemer by misrepresenting Him to the world. They confess by their apparel that they are of the world. As the congregations assemble on the Sabbath, to say by this act that they worship God, many things in their apparel testify against them. Their influence denies the presence and peace and grace of Christ in the soul. Lt19-1897.34

Christ declared that those who honor Him, He will honor. [1 Samuel 2:30.] “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin.” [Proverbs 10:19.] Much talking does not speak forth the praises of Christ. Here is a work to be done. Every soul, unless daily converted to Christ, will dishonor God, and make the whole universe of heaven ashamed of them. They dishonor their own souls and do great injustice to themselves. The Author of our being claims from us, as His subjects, more, a great deal more, and of altogether a different character than we give Him. He has entrusted us with ability to learn of Him out of His Word, and with power to obey every requirement of His Word. This truth is able to make us wise unto salvation. Lt19-1897.35

“As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” [John 1:12.] In believing and doing His words, we are eating the bread of life; we are drinking of the blood of the Son of God. All such Christ declares, “hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. ... As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” [John 6:54, 57.] Lt19-1897.36