Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)


Lt 35a, 1877

Clough, Caroline


November 6, 1877

Portions of this letter are published in CTr 317-318.

[Dear Sister:]

[First six pages missing.] ... [Does the commandment read: “The seventh day is] the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. In it you may or may not work just as it suits your convenience”? No, “in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” [Exodus 20:10, 11.] 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 1

I said Mary must not, while in our employ, show such open disregard of the Sabbath. The answer came again, “Oh, you are so narrow, so contracted. Your view of things is so small.” I know, sister, this was untrue, and you knew not what you were talking about. You continued, “I am satisfied with my sabbath and do not intend to change my views.” 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 2

The Lord has a Sabbath and man has a sabbath. One is human, the other is divine. We may choose the common, unsanctified by God, or we may choose the divine. You said, “There are only a few weak people who observe the Sabbath, and are they the only ones to be saved, and all the world is to be lost? Our good men of our church and our great men do not keep the particular Sabbath of the fourth commandment. If it is so essential to salvation that we should keep the Sabbath, I guess they would know it and keep it too. I will risk it anyway. If I keep the day everybody keeps, I will be safe. I have a very merciful God who is not as narrow and rigid as you folks are. I am glad of this.” 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 3

I answered, “Adam and Eve had a bitter experience in their life. They ventured to transgress a prohibition of God, and what awful consequences followed as the result! The floodgates of woe were opened to our world, and the holy pair lost Eden in consequence of their disobedience. From your standpoint the taking of that fruit forbidden of God was a simple thing, unworthy the notice of God, and yet the retribution followed in the fall of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from Eden. From your standpoint God was not merciful, but severe and exacting. He has given His darling Son from heaven to save the fallen race, making it possible for man to be so elevated by the merits of Christ that fallen man may keep the law of God through the merits of the blood of Christ. The valuable sacrifice made to pay the debt of man’s transgression exalts the law of God, evidences its sacred character.” I said, “‘This is the will of God that ye keep His commandments.’” 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 4

The very words you use to excuse the violation of the Sabbath is the excuse of the sinner and the backslider and the infidel. God is too good and merciful to punish the sinner, therefore he continues in sin. The mercy of God does not excuse the sinner or lessen his guilt of the transgression of the law of God. If mercy could have covered the sinner, why was Jesus suffered to come and die? Mercy can only cover the guilt of a sinner after the sin has been repented of and forsaken. God has placed the Sabbath law in the very bosom of the decalogue, and you may just as well plead innocence for stealing or for murder or adultery as for the transgression of the Sabbath. You may just as well plead the mercy of God because Christ has died as a reason why you should break the other nine commandments as why you should transgress the fourth. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 5

Because the world chooses to break the fourth commandment, will that justify me in the day of judgment? You may plead God’s mercy, but you will ever find justice and mercy go hand in hand; they are sisters. Your answer was: “That is a different thing, a very different thing. You are a little, few, weak people, and you think you are right, all the rest of the world wrong.” But still I was not made to see or feel the difference—why one precept in the ten moral laws of Jehovah should be disregarded with impunity and the rest respected. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 6

Because the world does this is no evidence. We are exhorted to come out from the world and be separate, and touch not the unclean; “and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18. “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore shall be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:4. Christ declares Himself to be the light of the world. “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehendeth it not. ... He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” John 1:3-5, 10, 11. As the world knew not Christ, neither will they know His followers. It is in no way safe to make the world’s faith our faith, the world’s practice our example. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.” 1 John 3:1. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 7

You claimed to have liberty in prayer and in meetings. Is this the criterion of Christian character? Dare you trust to feelings as an evidence of fellowship with God? “To the law and to the testimony: If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20. The mild beloved disciple has said, “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4. The Word of God is very plain and pointed. It is dangerous business to profess to be a follower of Jesus and in works deny Him by indifference even to one of His requirements. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 8

The history of the Reformation teaches us that the church of Christ is never to come to a standstill and cease reforming. God stands at the head, saying to them as He did to Moses, “Go forward.” Cf. Exodus 14:15. “Bid the children of Israel, Go forward.” God’s work is onward, step by step His people advance onward, through conflict and trial, to final victory. The history of the church teaches us that God’s people are not to be stereotyped in their theories of faith, but to be prepared for new light, for opening truth revealed in His Word. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 9

The past history of the advancement of truth amid error and darkness shows us that sacred truth is not cherished and sought after by the majority. Those who have advanced in reform, obeying the voice of God—“Go forward”—have been subject to opposition, torture, and death; and in the face of gaping prisons and threatened torture and death, they deemed the truth for their time of sufficient importance to hold tenaciously, yielding their life rather than to sacrifice their faith. They counted not their life dear unto them if sacrificed for the truth of God. The truth in our day is as important as it was in the days of the martyrs. We should cherish the principles of truth just as sacredly as they cherished the truth in their day, in face of the world and every species of opposition. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 10

What if in Luther’s day men had taken the position you take, covering their disobedience to God’s requirement with: “God is too merciful to condemn me for not taking unpopular truth. Our great men and our good men do not accept it. I will run the risk of transgressing God’s law because the world rejects it. I am a Methodist. I am satisfied with my religion. I shall always be a Methodist. I will risk going with the crowd.” 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 11

If I go with the crowd the Bible tells me I am in the broad road to death. Said the Majesty of heaven, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:14. We are accountable for the light which shines in our day. Christ wept in agony over Jerusalem because they knew not the time of their visitation. It was their day of trust, their day of opportunity and privilege. Jerusalem’s sin was her abuse of past privileges. The record of hundreds of years of privileges and blessings enjoyed by the Jewish nation was unfolded to the eye of Christ. The foul ingratitude, the hollow formalism, the hypocritical insincerity of hundreds of years called these tears of irrepressible anguish from His eyes. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 12

The loss of one soul is represented as a catastrophe in comparison with which the gain of a world sinks into insignificance. Those tears of Jesus embraced all time. In Jerusalem is represented every soul who neglects present privileges and refuses the light which God sends them. Have the counsels of God been cherished? Have the entreaties and warnings of His servants been accepted? Has remonstrance been heeded? Oh, that we may individually improve the golden moments of this “thy day” lest the word shall come, “but now they are hid from thine eyes.” [Luke 19:42.] If light shines in our day we are to receive the light, appreciate it, and walk in the light without waiting to see whether the great men or learned men accept it. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 13

I quoted the words of Christ, “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.” Matthew 5:17-19. Solemn words, definite and plainly stated. Jesus looked down through centuries and saw that the Christian world would think and teach that the death of Christ abrogated the Father’s law. He therefore makes a plain statement to undeceive all minds that want to be undeceived upon this point. Those who choose fables because they are more agreeable to the natural heart will be left to strong delusions, to believe a lie. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 14

How many are not only transgressing the law of God themselves, but are teaching others to do so by their indifference and their disrespectful speeches in regard to those who do keep the law of God. All this direct and indirect influence will be met in the judgment. The ten commandments are the requirements of God for all time and are binding upon every man, woman, and child, laying them under perpetual obligation. They can never be repealed or their binding force lessened while the human family continues and while men have property, life, and character to be protected. While good and evil results are the effect of man’s conduct, just so long will the law of God control us. When God consents that man need not love Him, reverence His name, or keep His Sabbath holy, then will the law lose its force. Obedience is required not only to one precept, but to all. He that offendeth in one point is guilty of all. The ten precepts of Jehovah are like ten links of a single chain; the violation of one breaks a link, and the chain is severed. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 15

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” Psalm 19:7. Because God is merciful is no evidence He will not punish the transgressor of His law. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 16

Men have died without keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. They were good men and lived up to all the light they had. They could not be responsible for the light that they never had. We are accountable for the light which shines in our day. To excuse our transgression of God’s law because good men in generations past did not keep it would be folly. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 17

“This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.” John 3:19. “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.” John 15:22. Cf. John 9:41. It is never safe to be indifferent to light. If professedly great and good men do not obey the law of God, is it any reason we should transgress? Men who are lifted up in self-confidence and pride will venture to do many things the simple, humble Christian would never venture to do. It was the scribes, the rulers, the priests, men in holy office, men who believed their righteousness was above the whole world, who persecuted Christ. These pious pretenders were the fiercest persecutors Jesus had. They were bitterness itself, cruel as the grave. They could smite God’s dear Son. They could with revengeful cruelty exult in His weary, pale, suffering appearance. It was the teachers of the people that mocked Him while He hung upon the cross. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 18

Professed Christians of today who reject light will be no more favorable to those who receive and rejoice in the light of truth than the Jews in the days of Christ. If they had known that He was the Prince of Life, they would not have crucified Him. Why did they not know? Because they refused every evidence given them that Christ was the Messiah. God gives light today upon truth, but men, without searching with humble heart to compare Scripture with Scripture, take the course the Jews took. They will look upon the believers as a little, weak people, a few fanatics, and will speak derisively of them. They will belittle their faith. They will love and cherish the lies some have made up in regard to them. They will repeat the foolish stories that have come to their ears and belittle the faith of a God-fearing, conscientious people who would sacrifice their life rather than one principle of truth. They are God’s faithful noblemen in the world, and yet are jeered at and ridiculed and laughed at for their peculiar faith. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 19

I hope, my sister, if you have felt at liberty to do this, that you will do so no more, and that you will not repeat your stories that are nine tenths of them fabrications. If you have spoken derisively of the faith of God’s commandment-keeping people, I hope you will do so no more, for you are making yourself a co-worker with the adversary of souls to tear down that which God is building up. A little company have volunteered to place themselves in the gap to make up the breach that has been made in the law of God. For anyone who would discourage or weaken the hands of one engaged in this work—unless he repents—it would be better in the day of God if he had never been born. We should all consider, in belittling the law of God, the example we are giving to those around us. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 20

The Sabbath is of divine appointment. It stands in the center of a list of divine requirements. What right has man to drop out one of these rules of life? Who has authorized the blotting out of the fourth any more than the second or the eighth? If the fourth commandment is not binding upon man, how then can the law of murder be binding? The moral law is not exclusively Jewish. The ceremonial, the social, and the political laws delivered to Moses when he was in secret council with God on the mount were for Israel; but the moral law, spoken in awful grandeur from the smoking mount, in the hearing of all the people, and written on the tables of stone, was for all men who should live upon the earth till the close of time. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 21

The Sabbath is mentioned among things which are to be remembered, and not to pass out of our minds. It is endeared to God as a memorial of His creative works. It is the prince of days, bearing the holy signet of Jehovah. He sanctified and blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart for man to keep holy in respect to Himself. God has declared that He will certainly punish a violation of His day, and He will bless those who observe it according to the commandment. Very great and professedly very good men may show no regard for this sacred institution, but this will be no excuse for me. We have God’s word against theirs. Which shall we heed? They may, by their practice, show contempt of that which God has sanctified. God has, on the other hand, rested upon that day and blessed it. Whose example is it safest to follow?—the practice of man or the example of God Himself who made and sanctified the day of His rest? 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 22

“Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it.” Isaiah 56:2. “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isaiah 58:13, 14. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 23

Christ, the Saviour of the world, did not have the multitude believe on Him, notwithstanding the miracles which He wrought. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 24

Dear sister, it is not enough to confess Christ. His image must be reflected in us. Our natures must be softened, refined, and elevated. We must exemplify Christ in our daily walk at home, abroad, everywhere. Our conversation must not be rambling upon everything. Our words must be select, our conversation on heavenly things. And there is a power in silence. Meditation and prayer will close the door to many of Satan’s temptations. The religion of Jesus Christ will not make us coarse and rough, but the sanctifying power of grace will soften the very tones of our voice until it will become habit to think before we speak and then utter words which will edify those who hear us. You have a precious gift, but do not be offended if I say you counteract your influence by the words you utter. Your deportment is not faultless. You may be a power for good. You may be an example to others to win souls to the truth, but your spirit must soften and you be assimilated to the Spirit and character of Christ. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 25

You may think it is unbecoming in me to write to you thus. I know my letters, written with tears and anguish of heart, were despised, and raised in you and Mary a resistance against me. I wrote those letters under the solemn conviction of the Spirit of God and would not take them back if I could. And yet I venture again, not to talk with you, because that would be useless, but to write to you. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 26

My dear sister, I am younger than you, but, as an ambassador of Christ, I address my own sister whom I love, whom I want should be presented perfect in Christ. You have a work to do for yourself which no one can do for you. Because persons laugh at your odd expressions and seem to be amused with your rough speeches, you think perhaps it may pass current among them and you do not guard yourself on these points, but cultivate unnatural tones of voice when it should be exactly the opposite. You should cultivate softness of voice and refinement of speech. I speak of these things because they detract from your usefulness. We are having an opportunity now to fit for the society of heavenly angels. We must be as near like them here as possible that we may unite with them. Let us try, sister, to be as perfect as we can here in this world and be an example for others. You can accomplish anything you undertake in skilful, tasteful work. Your efforts put forth in this direction, to refine and elevate ourselves in words and character, will be efforts well made. Christ is a perfect pattern. If we follow Him, we shall be like Him. All our singular oddities will disappear before the refining grace of God. All our careless, reckless, rough, uncourteous speeches will be put away, and we shall be lifting up the soul continually to purity and holiness in this life, fitting for the immortal life. Let us, my dear sister, put a watch before the door of our lips. Let us pray more and talk less, and have our words seasoned with grace that they may minister grace to those who hear them. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 27

I do not write because I do not have affection for you. No, no. That is not love and true affection which would cover up and gloss over errors of words, voice, or deportment which are deleterious to the Christian character and spiritual advancement. That spurious love which would hide and cover up and pass over wrongs which, if cherished, hinder the perfect Christian example is not the love which Christ had. Perfection of character God requires. Let us work to the point. We want to stand together in the city of God. We want to live together in the presence of our dear Redeemer. In order to do this our character must not have a spot, a wrinkle, upon it. Now is our time to wash our robes of character in the blood of the Lamb and make them white that we may be worthy to stand around the throne of God. If you see me in word or in act wrong, I will take it kindly of you to tell me of it. I will not resent reproof. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 28

May God help us to make thorough work for eternity, to be sanctified through the truth and receive the crown of immortal glory, is my prayer. 3LtMs, Lt 35a, 1877, par. 29