Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 8, 1887

Lockwood, Brother and Sister

Basel, Switzerland

February 11, 1887

Portions of this letter are published in TDG 50.

Dear Brother and Sister Lockwood:

I had hoped to be able to send you a letter of some length ere this, but I have had much labor to perform. I was called to Tramelan the fourth of February and returned the seventh. Spoke four times and wrote fifty pages of note paper. Since then we have been having special morning meetings. I have spoken four times. I am seeking to bring up the workers connected with the office to a higher standard. The Lord is not pleased to have those whom He has made the repositories of His sacred truth be content with a low standard. We have a great truth and great light, and if we walk in the light we will have our work corresponding with our faith. Oh, why are we not more alive? Why not rise to our high privilege and be a partaker of the divine nature? As the wax takes the counterpart of the seal, so the soul receives and retains the moral image of God. We become filled and transfigured by beholding His purity and righteousness. Our souls will become sluggish and our faith enfeebled unless we arouse and have a firm, steady, active faith. He that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as He is pure. 5LtMs, Lt 8, 1887, par. 1

The great sin of God’s people at the present time is we do not appreciate the value of the blessings God has bestowed upon us. We serve God with a divided heart. We cherish some idol and worship at its shrine. The truth of God is elevated and holy, sanctifying the soul if brought into the life and interwoven with the character. God is seeking with His truth to make us a separate and peculiar people. This is the influence of the truth. Our obedience and devotion are not equal to our light and privileges, and the sacred obligations resting upon us to walk as children of the light are not fulfilled by us. As Christians we fail to come up to our high calling. Warnings and reproofs have been given us from God, but only for a time have an influence upon us because we do not consider it as our lifework to press forward and upward to the mark of the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus. Oh, that God’s people would consider their superior advantages and understand from the light of God’s Word that we must be judged according to the light that shines upon our pathway. All the privileges and opportunities given us of God are for the purpose of making us better men and women. The people of God must move from a settled principle, making it their first principle to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness and then go on from light to still greater light. If we fail to improve the light and become cold and hardhearted, and are not easily impressed with the truth, and the energies of the soul become palsied, we cannot reasonably expect that judgment will begin in our favor because, like Capernaum, we are exalted to heaven in point of privilege. 5LtMs, Lt 8, 1887, par. 2

The blessed light that is now given us was not given to Sodom and Gomorrah, or they might have remained to this day. Every soul who really believes the Word of God will show the same by his works. The great goodness of God is displayed in His will. Whatever His will or word requires them to do they cannot be Christians if they neglect to do this. The truth is able to save our souls, for God by His own Spirit is a continual agent in it, and the divine agency makes the truth a sanctifying power. 5LtMs, Lt 8, 1887, par. 3

February 12, Sabbath morning

At half-past six we had our morning meeting. The Lord gave me much freedom in speaking to the people, and the fallow ground of hearts was broken up. Many confessions were made well wet down with tears, and we see that the Spirit of the Lord is coming in, and this makes me rejoice. We want the work to go deeper and be more earnest. I tried to impress upon the people that a happy flight of feeling was no evidence that we are in favor with God. We must have the living, abiding principles ever abiding in us, and we must not make an idol of impulse or a high degree of feeling. If we have pardon we must show repentance. We must have faith; and walk by faith; not feel that we must have assurance in feeling before we acknowledge ourselves children of God. The assurance is in God’s Word. God has said and it will be done. He who trusts in God must have due respect for all the means of help to obedience. The written Word, the services of God’s house, and the throne of grace—these are God’s blessings; and our work is to lay hold upon the promises of God. Rely upon them. Live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5LtMs, Lt 8, 1887, par. 4

Without holiness no man can see the Lord. Whatever his hopes or his profession, God calls for deeds and works, a meek and quiet spirit. Faith in God’s promises must be exercised while we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, God working in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure. We must be guarded constantly. We have a heaven to win, a possession to gain, that requires the stretch, the vigilant exercise of every spiritual muscle. Half-hearted work will not do here. God will accept nothing short of whole-hearted service, willing service. 5LtMs, Lt 8, 1887, par. 5

February 12, Sabbath, was almost entirely devoted to service. We have not had an exciting time, but firm conviction is taking hold of minds. We feel that we are advancing. We are trying to make the people understand that it is not God that is withholding His presence, but that we are not spiritual to discern His presence and to lay hold of His promises, and hold them by faith. Our hearts lie too much in vapors and mist of worldliness, sin and frailty through which only a dim light reaches us and penetrates this mist and fog that Satan pours in upon us, while the full brightness of Christ’s righteousness shines above us, and we scarcely look up. There are efforts that we must make. The cares of life will try us and we let them disturb our confidence in God and then we wonder why we have not more confidence, more comfort, and more peace and hope and joy. Oh, I wish we could see these things as they are and be sensible Christians. If we do not have ecstatic feelings, we begin to doubt whether we are Christians or not, when we should not look at our feelings, but at God’s Word, for there is our assurance. We must bring our hearts in a right position. We must put away all sin, all pride, all impatience, and all envy and evil thoughts, all jealousies, and then while working out our own salvation, it is God that worketh in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. 5LtMs, Lt 8, 1887, par. 6

We must hold fast the promises. These are the pledged words of Him who is truth and verity, and these are our assurances. They can only be appropriated to ourselves by individual faith. Learning their truth by our loving trust, we must learn not that man never, never is, but that we are always, blessed. How many blessings we lose because we slight and overlook what we have in yearning for that which we have not. Common mercies which thickly strew our pathway are forgotten and undervalued. We may learn lessons from the humble things of God in nature. 5LtMs, Lt 8, 1887, par. 7

The flower in dark and humble places responds to all the light it can get and puts forth its leaves. The caged bird sings in the prison cage, in the sunless tenement as if in the lordly, sunny dwelling. God knows whether we will make a wise and saving use of His blessings. He will never give them for us to abuse. God loves the thankful heart trusting implicitly in His words of promise, gathering comfort and hope and peace from them, and He will reveal to us still greater depths of His love. 5LtMs, Lt 8, 1887, par. 8

At nine o’clock there is a social meeting and then a sermon by Elder Ings. The German portion of the congregation receive a blessing as they had an opportunity to hear the testimony in their own language. Seventeen have recently come to the truth in Basel, for which we thank and praise God. In the afternoon a discourse is given to the Germans, and then there are three to be baptized, and the communion service is attended to. I am full of thankfulness to God for the mercies of this good Sabbath. We should have our life a clear, steady, burning light to the world. If we are not always on the mount, it is because God sees it would not be for our best good, because we would not see and be thankful for the lesser blessings. We should be thankful that He is still with us in the lowly valley of cares and troubles that press the soul. The Lord would have us look up and be grateful to Him that there is a heaven, that Jesus is preparing mansions for us where the weary will be at rest. Let us praise God from whom all blessings flow. Let us grasp by living faith the rich promises of God and be thankful from morning till night. 5LtMs, Lt 8, 1887, par. 9

February 14

This morning we have another meeting to seek God in prayer, and by humble confession. I shall speak from these words: “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” [Galatians 5:24.] I spoke pointedly upon this Scripture. The gospel demands from every human being an unreserved consecration to God of body and soul, with all their energies and capabilities throughout the entire period of our probation. In this work there is to be no indolence. There is required continual advancement while God claims every ordinary or peculiar power, endowment, and faculty He has given us in trust. To withhold these from God is robbery toward God, and every talent is given us as a sacred trust upon condition that it shall be used and improved, enlarged and strengthened by use in accordance with the will and design of the great Giver, that by this means divine light and power shall be communicated to the world through God’s appointed channel. 5LtMs, Lt 8, 1887, par. 10

In this work, if talents are well improved, increased talents are the results. To him that hath shall be given, and to him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. If heaven’s bestowed gifts are not appreciated and improved as God’s entrusted capital, if they are buried in worldliness, in selfishness, then the powers capable of blessing humanity decrease; and because the God of heaven is not sought unto and glorified as the source of all these precious endowments, the Lord is dishonored and He cuts off the supply in order to increase. To grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we must put to use by human exertion the physical and intellectual powers. All these powers are under contribution to God and must be taxed to the very uttermost. The youth and the child must be taught these lessons. I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. The favor of the newborn child of God in his first love is as sweet fragrance to God, and the simple testimonies, the cheerful service, and the grateful thanks are acceptable to God. Our social meetings have shown still more decided advancement. We are coming nearer to the point, nearer to the freedom and liberty of the children of God. 5LtMs, Lt 8, 1887, par. 11

Confession with weeping was made, and we see there is a deeper sense of how far they have come short from meeting the standard of righteousness. There is a firm purpose, and if we can by repetition of great and solemn warnings and precious inducements in the promises bring them to feel their great need and the attendant willingness of God to pardon and bless, we shall have gained a victory over Satan and over his devices. The faith, the sincere prayer, the spotless example God requires of every one of His followers. Not one is excused. They are His employed servants working for wages—even the light which is to come. To be unfaithful to God who has manifested so great interest for us is the basest ingratitude. 5LtMs, Lt 8, 1887, par. 12