The Review and Herald


June 18, 1889

The Necessity of Dying to Self

[Sermon at South Lancaster, Mass., January 14, 1889.]


I feel very grateful to God that we can have his blessing; that we do not have to go on amid the trials and perplexities of this life, to meet the opposition of the world, in merely human strength. God's commandment-keeping people are described by the prophet as “men wondered at.” We are to be a people distinct from the world. The eyes of the world are upon us, and we are observed by many of whom we have no knowledge. There are those who know something of the doctrines we claim to believe, and they are noting the effect of our faith upon our characters. They are waiting to see what kind of influence we exert, and how we carry ourselves before a faithless world. The angels of heaven are looking upon us. “We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” RH June 18, 1889, par. 1

From the light which God has given me, I know that the Lord would do far more for us as a people if we would walk in humility before him. Every one of God's people will be tested and proved, and we want you to be in a position where you will bear the proving of God, and not be found wanting when your moral worth is weighed in the balances of the sanctuary. We want you to be constantly moving onward and upward; but that which hinders your progress in a large degree is your self-esteem, the high opinion that you entertain of your own ability. If there was ever a place where self needed to die, it is here. Let us see the death struggle. Let us hear the dying groans. Self-exaltation ever separates the soul from God, no matter in whom it is found, whether in those in responsible positions or in those who are in some less important place. Whatever has been done to attract the attention to self, has detracted from the glory that should have been rendered to God, and has brought leanness to your souls. It is through this avenue of self-esteem and self-sufficiency that Satan will seek to ensnare the people of God. RH June 18, 1889, par. 2

The Lord has very important lessons for us to learn; and if we have not a meek and teachable spirit, we shall not be where we can learn the lessons he desires to teach us. We shall think we are wise when we are not. We shall think that we know the whole story, when we have need to study the a-b-c's of the lesson. God will prove us again and again, until we overcome our besetments or are wholly given over to our rebellion and stubbornness. There is danger, when the Lord deals with us thus, that we shall rise up against him, and set ourselves determinedly not to submit to his will. We are living in solemn times. We are looking forward to the judgment, and onward to eternity, and it is fitting for us to walk in great humiliation of soul before God. RH June 18, 1889, par. 3

There have been those who have risen up against the testimonies that God has sent them. They have been willing to acknowledge that the testimony given to others was all right, and that the truth was pointed out in the cases of their brethren; but when their own errors were laid bare, and their own faults pointed out, they have declared that it could not be so. They have wrapped the garments of their self-righteousness around them, and have said, “That does not mean me.” A spirit of Phariseeism has been coming in upon the people who claim to believe the truth for these last days. They are self-satisfied. They have said, “We have the truth. There is no more light for the people of God.” But we are not safe when we take a position that we will not accept anything else than that upon which we have settled as truth. We should take the Bible, and investigate it closely for ourselves. We should dig in the mine of God's word for truth. “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” Some have asked me if I thought there was any more light for the people of God. Our minds have become so narrow that we do not seem to understand that the Lord has a mighty work to do for us. Increasing light is to shine upon us; for “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” RH June 18, 1889, par. 4

Truth is eternal, and conflict with error will only make manifest its strength. We should never refuse to examine the Scriptures with those who, we have reason to believe, desire to know what is truth as much as we do. Suppose a brother held a view that differed from yours, and he should come to you, proposing that you sit down with him and make an investigation of that point in the Scriptures; should you rise up, filled with prejudice, and condemn his ideas, while refusing to give him a candid hearing? The only right way would be to sit down as Christians, and investigate the position presented, in the light of God's word, which will reveal truth and unmask error. To ridicule his ideas would not weaken his position in the least if it were false, or strengthen your position if it were true. If the pillar of our faith will not stand the test of investigation, it is time that we knew it. There must be no spirit of Phariseeism cherished among us. When Christ came to his own, his own received him not; and it is a matter of solemn interest to us that we should not pursue a similar course in refusing light from heaven. RH June 18, 1889, par. 5

We must study the truth for ourselves. No living man should be relied upon to think for us. No matter who it is, or in what position he may be placed, we are not to look upon any man as a perfect criterion for us. We are to counsel together, and to be subject to one another; but at the same time we are to exercise the ability God has given us to learn what is truth. Each one of us must look to God for divine enlightenment. We must individually develop a character that will stand the test in the day of God. We must not become set in our ideas, and think that no one should interfere with our opinions. RH June 18, 1889, par. 6

Since my return from Europe, I have been pained to notice how men ask counsel of men, instead of seeking wisdom of God. We should make God our support. Those who bear responsibilities in our different institutions should go to him for wisdom. How much we need men of thinking, care-taking minds! But we lack these men. If every young man would seek for the truth as for hid treasures, if he would be meek and lowly, if he would be a learner in the school of Christ, we should not at this time be so destitute of talent. There would be scores that would be ready to take their places in the front of the battle, to bear burdens and share responsibilities. God wants men to develop characters to meet the demands of the time. This will be accomplished when the youth put their cases into his hands as they should. RH June 18, 1889, par. 7

We should have that love and compassion that will lead us to guard one another's interests. We should not become impatient because others hold views that we do not indorse, or have traits of character that are unlike our own. How glad we should be that we are not all fashioned after the same pattern. This would cause difficulty; for there is a great work to be done, and it will take men of varied minds and experiences to reach the different persons in society. We must have the help of God wherever we go. The servant of Christ must be looking to him continually for orders. Christ must be first, and last, and best in everything. Does God want you to grow in grace and knowledge?—Yes; he certainly does. He does not want you to make any man your criterion. He would not have you marked with the defects of any man's character. You are to be continually looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. When you do this, you will have a testimony fresh from heaven, full of dew and moisture. The light of heaven will be reflected in your very countenance, and will be revealed in your character. RH June 18, 1889, par. 8

“Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.... By him therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” I am anxious that we may obtain a living, choice experience in the things of God. Do the shepherds of the flock expect that God will work with them? From the light that God has given me, I know that there might have been twenty-fold more accomplished than has been accomplished, if the workers had sought God for strength and support instead of depending so much upon man. There is need of men of faith for this time, not simply to be preachers, but to be ministers to the people of God. We want men that walk with God daily, that have a living connection with Heaven. The Lord cannot work with those who are self-sufficient, and who exalt themselves. Self must be hid in Jesus. If we would see the deep movings of the Spirit of God, we must have the truth as it is in Jesus. The efficiency of a discourse depends on the application of the truth to the heart by the Spirit of God. When Elijah sought God in the mountains, a devouring fire swept by; but God was not in the flame. A tempest rose, the thunder rolled, and the lightnings flashed; but God was not in all this. Then there came a still small voice, and the prophet covered his head before the presence of the Lord. It is the still, small voice of the Spirit of God that has the power to convict and convert men's souls. RH June 18, 1889, par. 9

It is our work to reveal to the people the character of our Heavenly Father, and we ought never to make a display of self. Our strength is in working together with God. If we labor as Christ labored, we shall have the shield of Omnipotence to shelter us, and power will attend all we do. As we sailed from Europe, I noticed how the prow of the vessel plowed into the deep, and for miles and miles you could see the wake of its course. There was power and weight in its movements. We should not glide along without causing a ripple; we should carry a weight of influence with us, and speak as those who have authority. We must be connected with the God of power. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” As we carry the truth to the people, we should have a solemn sense of our responsibility, that we may not make a display of our talents and intelligence; but that the truth may cut its way to the very soul as an arrow from the Almighty. RH June 18, 1889, par. 10

O that all the messengers might teach the people, both by precept and example, what it means to hide self in Jesus! There is no need of our working in our own finite wisdom, no need of going a warfare at our own charges. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not: and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.” It is your privilege to go to God with your request, as children go to their parents. Ask his grace. Do not think of going into the desk without a deep, solemn conviction of the responsibility of your work. RH June 18, 1889, par. 11

A minister after preaching a discourse which fully convicted one of his hearers of the Bible truth, was accosted with the question, “Do you really believe what you have preached?” “Certainly,” he answered. “But is it really so?” said the anxious questioner. “Certainly,” said the minister, as he reached for his Bible. Then the man broke out, “O, if this is the truth, what shall we do? What shall we do?” “What shall we do,” thought the minister. “We?” Why, was not he a minister? What could the man mean? But the question forced its way to his very soul. He went away alone to plead with God as what he should do. He had the solemn realities of eternity to present to a dying world. For three Sundays his place in the desk was vacant. He was seeking an answer to the solemn question, “What shall we do?” RH June 18, 1889, par. 12

When this minister returned to his charge, he had an unction from the Holy One. He had realized that in his preaching he made little impression, and he had felt the terrible weight of souls upon him, and now he came to his desk, but not alone. There was a great work to be done, but he realized that he was not to do the work alone. He knew that there was a power behind him. It was God that was to do the work. God was to be magnified, and lifted up before the people. He presented the Saviour and his matchless love. There was a revelation of the Son of God, and a revival began that spread through the church and to the surrounding regions. RH June 18, 1889, par. 13

O that we might here see of the salvation of God! O that the shepherds of the flock and the workers might have intercourse and communion with God! How little we know of God! Those who minister in sacred things cannot afford to go into the desk unless they know God. The disciples were to tarry at Jerusalem until they were endowed with power from on high, and cannot we afford to tarry before God until we are ready for our work? Jesus has promised, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” O if he were with us, we would not be without sheaves to bear to the Master. What is the reason that men labor month after month and year after year, and bear no fruit? It is because they do not have Jesus with them. RH June 18, 1889, par. 14

When we went to Potterville, Mich., Bro. Van Horn said, “I am so glad this meeting is not like the meetings we had in the past. There seems to be so much more weight to the truth. There is not so much levity and jesting. The people seem to have a realization of the solemn importance of the truth.” Why should we not have a solemn realization of the truth at this time? What place have we for jesting and levity right here on the borders of the eternal world? We are to live to the glory of God. There are angels measuring the temple of God and those who worship therein; but how much there is of self. It is self, all self. RH June 18, 1889, par. 15

When Nebuchadnezzar glorified himself, and did not give praise to God, he was made an example before the world of how God regards this spirit of self-exaltation. As he walked in the palace of his kingdom, he said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” But there was an unseen watcher that marked his spirit and recorded his words, and a voice fell from heaven, saying, “O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken: The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” RH June 18, 1889, par. 16

Let not the messengers return to their fields of labor, until they can go in humility of spirit, with the power of the grace of Christ in their hearts, and with a deep experience in the things of God. We must be clothed with humility as with a garment. We must act our part. Let us do it here and now. Let us have the power of God manifested among us. Let us have the shout of the King in the camp. When we have humbled our hearts before God, his grace will be poured upon us, and we shall bear a clean-cut testimony that will cleave its way to the hearts of men. O that Zion might arise! O that she might respond to the message, “Rise, and shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee!” RH June 18, 1889, par. 17