The Review and Herald

331/1902

December 1, 1885

The Precious Promises

EGW

[The Hampshire Independent, published in Southampton, England, in its issue of September 5, 1885, contains the following report of a sermon delivered by Mrs. E. G. White in that city, August 30, 1885.] RH December 1, 1885, par. 1

Last Sunday evening Mrs. E. G. White, a lady recently from the United States, where she has labored for forty years as a speaker on temperance and other Christian duties, gave an address at the Philharmonic Hall, to a full house. RH December 1, 1885, par. 2

Taking as her text 2 Peter 1:1-11, she proceeded to read and comment: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” If we escape the contaminating influences of this degenerate age, we have earnest work before us, and we must have a living connection with Christ. We must have a knowledge of his life and character, and a desire to be like him. Then we must seek earnestly to overcome the temptations that are around us, and have faith to believe that his promises will be verified unto us. “And besides this,” says the apostle, “giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue.” The sinner who comes to Christ for pardon, hope, and salvation, must lay the foundation in a pure, virtuous character. Christ will not accept a polluted offering. The soul-temple must be cleansed from all defilement. Then the work of character building is begun aright. He that clings to cherished sins and continues to indulge sinful habits, cannot be a partaker of the divine nature; for he has not escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. RH December 1, 1885, par. 3

The apostle continues, “And to virtue, knowledge.” The Lord is not pleased to have any of us remain in ignorance. He would have us put to the best use the talents of reason and intelligence that he has given us. We are not excusable if we allow things of minor consequence to so occupy our God-given time that the mind will not be stored with useful knowledge. The mental powers should be taxed to think, and thus we will gain strength to reach any height in knowledge. We must not be satisfied with reaching a low level. There are high and holy attainments for us to reach. But we shall never make that advancement that God would have us until we have an experimental knowledge of Christ and his work of redemption. We must not allow earthly, temporal interests to absorb our minds and steal our affections from our Creator. Although the world with its customs. maxims, and amusements intrudes itself upon the mind, Christians will show by their words and deportment that they have chosen Christ as their portion; they have chosen to be partakers with him of his self-denying, self-sacrificing life, that they may one day be partakers of his glory. RH December 1, 1885, par. 4

The great temptation of this age is the indulgence of pride, the love of praise, and the love of the world. Time is golden; and a day spent in selfish gratification is a day lost to all eternity. But time employed in searching the Scriptures with a desire to learn the truth, will bring everlasting riches. Angels come near to pour light and knowledge into the darkened understanding, and the light thus given, strengthens the intellect, and quickens the perception to discern the precious gems of truth. Knowledge thus gained is not left to perish with common, earthly things, but will be carried with us into the eternal world, and through the ceaseless ages of eternity the riches of God's word will be continually unfolding. RH December 1, 1885, par. 5

The Bible is the only safe guide to the path of peace and happiness. It is God's directory, and the true Christian will make it the study of his life. As he connects himself with God, adhering firmly to principle, refusing to follow inclination or to be led into the deceiving customs and practices of the world, he will really occupy a similar position to that of Daniel. While in the courts of Babylon, temptations surrounded him, but he turned neither to the right nor the left to indulge self. He and his companions purposed in their hearts that they would not eat of the luxuries of the king's table, neither drink of his wine. They chose to eat simple food, that they might preserve their bodies in a healthful condition, and thus have clearness of mind. They did what they could to obtain knowledge, and then God worked for them, and “gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom.” These young men honored God, and God honored them. The pen of inspiration presents their cases before us, that we may follow their example. RH December 1, 1885, par. 6

To “knowledge” we are commanded to add “temperance.” It is the duty of true Christians to practice temperance in eating, in drinking, and in dressing. The Lord wants us to be examples of piety to those who know not Jesus and his matchless love. My sisters, we need a better knowledge of ourselves, a better understanding of this wonderful house in which the Lord has placed us. We want to know how to keep it in a healthful condition, so that the human machinery may act harmoniously. The better health of body and mind we possess, the more acceptable service can we render to God. Great evils follow the indulgence of perverted appetite. The blood becomes feverish and diseased, and impatience is the sure result. RH December 1, 1885, par. 7

The apostle adds: “And to temperance, patience.” Who ever saw an intemperate man or woman that exercised the grace of patience? How much unhappiness might be avoided if all would eat, and drink, and dress with an eye single to the glory of God! We cannot afford to make the world our criterion. We want to be right because it is right. It is the Bible standard that we are to reach. The Lord tells us to come out from the world and be separate, and his promise is, “I will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters.” What an exalted position is here offered us! The privilege of becoming members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. Some seem to think that it is demeaning to become a Christian. Not so. The religion of Christ never degrades. It refines, purifies, and ennobles the receiver, and fits him for the society of heavenly angels. The work of overcoming is a grand, a noble work. It is a hand to hand battle with the powers of darkness, and in this battle we must individually engage. RH December 1, 1885, par. 8

“And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity.” Here Peter presents to us the ladder of true sanctification, the base of which rests upon the earth, while the topmost round reaches to the throne of the Infinite. We cannot with one effort reach the topmost round of this ladder. We must climb round after round. It is in this struggle that we are in danger of becoming dizzy, and fainting and falling, unless we keep our eyes upward, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We see the heights to be reached, and become discouraged over future difficulties when it is present duties that demand all the power of our being. But we have the promise that divine aid will be combined with our human effort. We may be more than conquerors through Him that hath loved us and given his life a ransom for us. RH December 1, 1885, par. 9

Jesus has made an infinite sacrifice in behalf of the race. He stepped down from the eternal throne, laid aside his robes of royalty, clothed his divinity with humanity, and came to a world all seared and marred by the curse, that the lost race might one day be restored to their glorious Eden home. He has become the representative and surety for the race. He has brought the treasures of heaven within our reach, and it remains for us to say whether or not we will avail ourselves of them. It is only by the light reflected from the cross of Calvary that we can know the value of the human soul, or the depth of degradation from which man was rescued. It was to restore man to the perfection in which he was first created that this great sacrifice was made. With his human arm Jesus encircles the race, while with his divine arm he grasps the throne of the Infinite, thus uniting finite man with the infinite God and connecting earth with heaven. How can we neglect so great salvation? It is natural for man to cling to life. Some live through years of intense suffering, and still desire to have their lives prolonged. But when Jesus offers us life, immortal life in the mansions he has prepared for us, why do we turn from it and devote our time and energy to securing earthly treasures? RH December 1, 1885, par. 10

We all need Jesus to be our comfort and hope in affliction, suffering, and death. He has brightened the tomb for all who center their hopes in him. Through him life and immortality are brought to light. He is the Life-giver, and he it is who will break the fetters of the tomb when he shall come in power and great glory. Shall we, in view of the shortness of this life, neglect to secure that life which runs parallel with the life of God? Every day it is our privilege to live for Jesus. Commence the day with prayer; morning, noon, and night let your prayers ascend for wisdom and grace to overcome every device of Satan. Jesus is your only hope; upward to God be the soul's adoration. Christians should be the happiest people upon the earth. In the eyes of the world, houses, lands, and money make men honored and respected. Not so in the sight of God. He measures them according to their moral worth. If they live for display, to receive the praise of men, they will receive no other reward. Their names will be written in the earth to perish with all things perishable. If they live to honor and glorify God, if true goodness, benevolence, and the love of God are seen in their connection with their fellow-men, their names will be immortalized among the heavenly host, and Jesus declares that he will not blot their names out of the book of life. RH December 1, 1885, par. 11

The apostle continues: “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” The Christian's life is one of progression, not of backsliding. “For if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” I once knew a man in the State of Maine whose religious life was very consistent, but who seemed greatly depressed at times, fearing that he might become a backslider, and that through his example others might fall. One day he came to the prayer-meeting, his face radiant with hope and joy, and said: “I have found the way; I need never fall and dishonor my Saviour. By constantly adding grace to grace we may go straight forward in the Christian course. The apostle says, ‘If ye do these things ye shall never fall.’” Let those trembling souls who constantly fear lest they shall fall, fear no longer. Let them live upon the plan of addition, and God will work for them upon the plan of multiplication. The apostle has presented the only true sanctification. There are many today who claim that they are holy and cannot sin. The only correct standard of sanctification is the law of God. By it is the knowledge of sin. Genuine sanctification is the work of a life-time. It is climbing the ladder round after round. RH December 1, 1885, par. 12

None of the prophets or apostles made proud boasts of holiness. The nearer they came to perfection of character, the less worthy and righteous they viewed themselves. But those who have the least sense of the perfection of Jesus, those whose eyes are least directed to him, are the ones who make the strongest claims to perfection. Daniel was a man greatly beloved of God, yet he is presented on one occasion as confessing his sins and the sins of his people. If poor, fallen men would walk carefully and humbly with God, distrusting self and confiding wholly in Jesus, such a light and power would be revealed in our world as would be convincing to unbelievers. Jesus is our only hope; let us cling to him. The promise of eternal life is on condition of obedience. “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Now is the time to wash our robes of character in the blood of the Lamb. RH December 1, 1885, par. 13