Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Ms 37, 1885

Sermon/Address to Ministers



Previously unpublished.

The older laborers are doing too much, the younger laborers too little. More earnest labor can be put into the cause by younger men. The reason why many do not grow into men who can be depended upon for wisdom, tact, and keen foresight, is not that God has not given them capabilities, but that they do not use the powers they have. They are content with reaching a low standard. Many who consider themselves missionaries, come every way short of the reality. When the truth from the lips of God’s experienced servants comes home to the soul, they are affected, they have convictions that their life is not as God would have it. They feel themselves greatly deficient. They have cherished sins that they wish they had not, and they purpose to reform; but these reforms are fitful. Many are slothful, and do not, like Daniel, put forth determined effort to carry out their purposes in daily life. 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 1

There are men among us who go through life shorn of half, and some two-thirds, of their strength for want of firm determination to put away all evil. They do not see and realize that God claims from them symmetrical, decided mental and moral development. Many go crippled all through life, with defects that in the strength of Jesus they might overcome if they would make earnest effort to be perfect in their sphere as God is perfect in His sphere—missionaries and workers in the Lord’s cause, and yet carrying along blemishes as too precious to be given up. They are not transformed, but they engraft the truth upon the natural stock and never outgrow their defects, never reach for higher, holier attainments. Elevated, refined tastes and sentiments are not brought into their daily experiences. 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 2

Their language, both spoken and written, is very defective. Their accounts are so imperfectly kept that it is difficult to settle them. An unnatural manner of speaking destroys the melody of the voice. Uncouth attitudes and gestures detract from the force of the truth they present to the people. These persons might through the grace given them, become entirely different, both in manner and character. A few weeks or months of vigilant self-culture—of close, critical inspection of self, with earnest effort to correct every fault and supply every deficiency, to purify the soul and meet the perfect Pattern—would separate gross elements from them. Defects have been fostered by careless training. Let these workers read the Lord’s directions concerning His work in connection with the sanctuary; what care was manifested that it should be done with precision! 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 3

How careful every youth should be in his habits when he enters the army of the Lord. He is under drill that he may become a well-disciplined soldier. Precision and perfection of discipline are essential to success. In the army, no irregularities are allowed. If they were, on important occasions some men would be found out of place, and defeat and disaster would be the result. An ill-trained soldier would be likely to make some fatal blunder just at the moment when the greatest promptness and precision would be imperative. A discipline as perfect is no less necessary for the soldiers of Christ. Brethren, if you make blunders, let it not be in connection with the salvation of souls; let it not be in connection with God’s holy work. The mold you put upon this work will be far-reaching as eternity. Always consider that every error makes its impression on [page torn here] ... upon yourself. 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 4

Those who have low habits must overcome them. God has no use in His cause for men who have defects, and think it will not pay to seek for perfection of character and refinement of manners. If your life is disfigured with blemishes, and you do not want to be corrected; if you make little effort to overcome defects and reach a high moral standard, engage in some other work, I beseech you. The work of battling with objectionable traits of character, inherited and cultivated, is far from pleasant. It is the warring of the spirit against the flesh. But this must be a daily and hourly work, else our offerings will not be acceptable to a pure and holy God. He will not approve our course in accepting the responsibilities of preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ. 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 5

My brethren in the ministry, I address you with a heart that feels and is burdened daily because the efforts of those who preach the truth are so feeble. In order to be men after God’s own heart, to use your powers to the very extent of your ability, you must make improvement every day. This is the only way in which you can give full proof of your ministry. Show a continual advancement; never entertain the idea that it will not be worthwhile to strictly guard your habits. Practice neatness and order in everything you do. While you should not depend upon forms and a set routine, you should study to be orderly and consistent, making the Bible your highest standard. Schools do not make men, but they help them, in many ways, in acquiring correct speech, and refined habits. If you are really anxious to be men in the fullest sense of the term, “strong men,” “having the Word of God abiding in you,” you may indeed overcome the wicked one. [1 John 2:14.] Here is the highest kind of education that young men may attain. 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 6

I have a message to our ministering brethren, some who have been preaching the truth for years; you are not reaching the high standard as representatives of Christ. You need a more thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. You are too well satisfied with superficial attainments and are falling into habits of mental lethargy. Instead of growing in grace and the knowledge of the truth, some are growing away from both. Many have entertained the idea that Seventh-day Adventists must necessarily be a peculiar people, and some dwell with much satisfaction on the peculiarities that distinguish them from the world; but these peculiarities do not consist in oddities and eccentricities, sharp, blunt speeches, and rough, uncourteous ways. The peculiarity the apostle dwelt upon was the purity of God’s chosen amid a crooked and perverse nation, among whom they are to shine as lights in the world. Let no preacher plead for his own way, the indulgence of his own uncultivated taste, because the people of God must be peculiar. 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 7

God would have you peculiar so far as all approach to iniquity is concerned. He would have you peculiar in the grace of truthfulness and strict honesty in deal. He would have you peculiar in being patient under every provocation, for this is unlike the world. He would have you peculiar in chaste and holy thoughts, and then from the treasure of the heart will come pure and holy words. He would have you peculiar in that your words are select, well-chosen, your conversation in heaven, from whence you look for the Saviour. He would have you peculiar in your freedom from pride of opinion, not considering that you are of great account, and that your ideas are to be followed, for this is the way the world regard themselves. God would have you peculiar in not thinking more highly of yourselves than you ought to think, but esteeming others better than yourself. 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 8

“What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” [Micah 6:8.] This spirit will be unlike the world in every respect. But do not seek to make crosses for the people of God; do not set yourselves up to adopt odd ways, coarse manners, and eccentricities, because you want to show your separation from the world. Said Christ, “The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” [Luke 16:8.] They seek to be attractive in their manners, so as to have an influence. There is no sin in cultivating courteous, kindly ways. This is the custom of heaven. But when you sacrifice principle, truthfulness, to put on a worldly politeness, you are conforming to the world instead of being transformed by the grace of Christ. Christ would have every one of His followers like Himself—pure, holy, kind, courteous, refined, and ennobled; and this is the only way we can live unrebukable, without spot and blameless in this crooked and perverse generation, among whom we are to shine as lights in the world. 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 9

We have a truth that is unpopular because it leads us to depart from the customs and practices of the world. It separates us from the world. The Sabbath of the fourth commandment is enjoined upon us by the law of God, and that law must be obeyed; but the world has not courage to break away from the customs and commandments of men, to be so singular as to obey God rather than men. It is not required of any one of us to make duties and crosses to test the people. God’s Word has given the test, His moral law, and this is so objectionable to the carnal heart that few will accept it. When by their undisciplined habits the defenders of the faith make themselves repulsive to unbelievers, they lay a stumbling block in the way of sinners. 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 10

Every teacher of the truth is to be an example of piety. God’s word is pledged; in answer to the prayer of the contrite heart, He will pour out His Holy Spirit more and more upon the youthful laborers. But while you may rely upon God wholly, remember that in God you are to seek to become able ministers of the gospel of Christ. Train all your powers to do the very best service for the Master. 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 11

The mind becomes accustomed to negligent investigation. You take things for granted because they are advanced by others, and do not search the Scriptures yourselves and know for yourselves what is truth. The mind is satisfied with skimming the surface. There is no real depth and breadth in its reach. It is content with very meager attainments, and it becomes conceited. As Christ’s ambassadors, I exhort our ministering brethren to wake up their powers and put to task their mental capabilities. The Lord requires every one of us to make the most of the talents entrusted to him. 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 12

Every worker should cultivate the habit of doing his best. Even though he speak to but few, the preacher should not fail to do his best, so long as he claims to be Christ’s ambassador, speaking the words from the lips of Jesus. God requires that the highest energies be enlisted in His service. Make an effort to go to the bottom of every subject under investigation. Have a thorough knowledge of that which you are to present to the people. The truth should be made as clear and attractive as possible. 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 13

You need to make earnest, vigorous effort, and it will soon become easier than the superficial, because the mind is forced to rally its powers. And the very ambition and determination to sustain the mental tax, the satisfaction of obtaining real elevation of thought, is worth all the effort put forth. 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 14

God is not pleased with superficial attainments. He is not glorified when workers in the cause aim so low that their example is a positive injury wherever they go. The gospel standard is lowered. Religion is degraded. Empty pretension cannot supply the place of ability and intelligence. There has been too little said and done by our responsible men to impress upon the minds of all who enter the field as workers that they must have a dignity that savors of heaven, not of the earth. Will you impress upon every worker the dignity and importance of his work? 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 15

Brethren, angels of God are watching you. They read your every purpose. They sound the depths of your attainments. If your efforts were made before men whom you regard highly, whose good opinion you wish to retain, you would be ashamed of your superficial attainments, and would arouse from your careless inattention. Remember that angels of heaven are lookers-on; that you are a spectacle to angels and men. And it is not only heavenly angels that are watching your course of action, but evil angels, and they taunt the angels of God with your weakness, your defects, and your selfishness; they claim you as on their side, and urge that you shall not have the protection of heavenly angels, but be left subject to Satan’s devices. Will you consider how grieved the angels of God must be that they cannot carry to your heavenly Advocate a better report of those who claim to be His representatives? 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 16

Some are in sin, holding the truth in unrighteousness, defiled in heart, and handling sacred things with unclean hands. Shall this continue longer? Shall men engage in the work who are wholly unfitted for its responsibilities, who have no real devotion, no depth of character? 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 17

The worker must meet his work again. The impressions that have been made upon minds are ineffaceable; they will be a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. The work will tell in eternity. No man can correct the mistakes or supply the deficiencies of another. God calls you to come in close connection with Him, else your work will show the neglects of your life. I beg of you to put away your errors and your sins, and correct your careless manners. 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 18

There should be a sense of constant dependence upon God. It is not the smart sermon, the power of oratory, that reaches the hearts of the people; but it is the heart warmed with the love of Jesus. That man who preaches as though he were giving the last warning to his fellow-beings, not to meet them again till the cases of all shall be decided for life or death, will be thoroughly in earnest. He will not think of what others may say of his efforts, but he will have on his heart the burden for precious souls. They must not be lost; they must be saved. 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 19

What a work is before us! How sacred! How awfully solemn! I would say to every worker in this cause, “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet for the ground whereon thou standest is holy.” [Exodus 3:5.] Opening the Scriptures to others is a sacred work, cooperating with heavenly angels to exalt men to intelligence and purity. You cannot honor God with lower views than those which I present before you. 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 20

The churches that have had so great privileges, such precious opportunities, are without excuse before God if they do not use their influence to obtain more efficient workers, His men who will keep up every branch of the work, devoted men who know how to intercede with God. There must be a higher type of piety. There must be gospel simplicity. A chaste, intellectual, sound ministry is essential for this time. 4LtMs, Ms 37, 1885, par. 21